Monday, October 31, 2005

Horace Cooper: Rosa Parks, Where Have You Gone?

Law professor Horace Cooper, a member of The National Center's board of directors (and a founding member of Project 21), has a column on Rosa Parks posted at that I like a lot.

An excerpt:
But Rosa Parks was not the first black person in Montgomery to refuse to give up her seat; she was the first black person whose rights had been violated that the nascent civil rights movement was willing to stand behind... [She] was regarded as one of the finest citizens of Montgomery...

...The success in Montgomery transformed Dr. King into a nationally known figure and triggered other bus boycotts, ultimately igniting a nationwide assault on the injustice of segregation...

...Worse than perhaps the troubling trend towards an ever expanding definition of civil rights grievance and a glaring failure to acknowledge significant progress and achievements has been the civil rights community's almost wholesale rejection of the notion of using the finest individuals or causes as occasions to promote their goals...

...Redefining civil rights to include a license for criminality, unjustified racial animus and even misogynistic gangsta lyrics has taken the noble cause of civil rights equality down an unfortunate path that must be reversed...

...We would be well served to remember Rosa Parks' legacy. Decent and morally upright, she played a key role in a long, primarily nonviolent struggle to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to blacks in America.

That battle has largely been won. There is still more work to do. But as we wage the peace, it's vital that it be done in a morally clear and unambiguous manner. To rephrase Paul Simon, "What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Rosa Parks has left and gone away?" Let's hope not.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Southern Appeal Sings for Joy

Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal is moved to song by the nomination of Samuel Alito.

Hat tip: Daou Report.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 AM

Spinning Wheels

From Britain's Daily Telegraph:
A mother spent two hours waiting with her sick baby on a hospital children's ward while the doctor they were due to see was passing in front of them on a unicycle. After Paula Dadswell complained, she received a letter from hospital managers assuring her that in future all unicycling on the ward would be restricted to 'special occasions.'
I'm glad they got that straightened out.

Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:12 AM

Manny Miranda on Samuel Alito

Manny Miranda of the Third Branch Conference has this to say about President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito:
The nomination of Samuel A. Alito to service on the Supreme Court is consummately in keeping with President Bush's trust and mandate from the American people to be a steward, together with the Senate, of the third branch of government. Judge Alito is a constitutionalist who has weathered one of the more liberal federal circuit courts in the country. As former counsel on religious liberty for the Senate Majority Leader, I know Judge Alito is a special friend of religious liberty -- America's first civil right. Judge Alito is immensely well qualified. When he is confirmed, Judge Alito will add to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. When this nomination comes to the Senate floor, it deserves an honest up or down vote, and in the process, the American people deserve a national debate worthy of us.

As with Chief Judge John Roberts, the President has hit a grand slam with this nomination. Moreover, the president has ended the corrupting practice of stealth nominations, a presidential act of statecraft for which he will be long remembered.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tactical Genuises -- And Some Who Aren't

Quote of the Day:
Rome cranked out military worthies faster than the Clintons created scandals.
Speaking of Clinton scandals, several Clinton defenders have been on cable TV lately, saying the Libby legal matter is more serious than the Clinton perjury because Libby's alleged offenses deal with national security, and Clinton's with sex. Isn't that a dangerous argument, from a spin perspective? Assuming Libby did lie, it is at least possible that his motive was (at least partially) national security -- whereas it is undeniably clear that Clinton was covering up adultery. So the matter spins two ways.

Personally, I think at the point in time in which a spinner (of either party) is going to the trouble of travelling to a TV studio for no higher purpose than to say "your crime is worse than our crime," he or she might as well just stay home with a good book. In fact, the Good Book might be especially appropriate, because the only real point here should be that no one should be lying. No spin needed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:57 AM

Pathetic Bozo Alert

I read the papers this morning thinking that there is nothing more pathetic than journalists decrying the culture of leaking that goes on in Washington while playing the leak game themselves with zeal, but then I read this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:21 AM

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Krauthammer on Realism, Oppression and Scowcroft

Charles Krauthammer hits another home run with this zing on Bush 41 National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft:
Realists prize stability above all, and there is nothing more stable than a ruthlessly efficient dictatorship. Which is why Scowcroft is the man who six months after Tiananmen Square toasted those who ordered the massacre; who, as the world celebrates the Beirut Spring that evicted the Syrian occupation from Lebanon, sees not liberation but possible instability; who can barely conceal a preference for Syria's stabilizing iron rule.

Even today Scowcroft says, 'I didn't think that calling the Soviet Union the 'evil empire' got anybody anywhere.'' Tell that to Natan Sharansky and other Soviet dissidents for whom that declaration of moral -- beyond geopolitical -- purpose was electrifying, and helped galvanize the dissident movements that ultimately brought down the Soviet empire.

It was not brought down by diplomacy and arms control, the preferred realist means for dealing with the Soviet Union. It was brought down by indigenous revolutionaries, encouraged and supported by Ronald Reagan, a president unabashedly dedicated not to detente with evil, but its destruction -- i.e., regime change.

For realists such as Scowcroft, regime change is the ultimate taboo. Too risky, too dangerous, too unpredictable.
About six months after the fall of the Berlin Wall I toured parts of Eastern Europe. Returning, I was invited to the White House (not me alone -- a group) for a discussion about the arms control negotiations that then were occurring with the Soviet Union. It quickly became apparent that the Bush 41 national security officials present were treating Eastern Europe as a continuing part of the Soviet Empire. I contested this and was rebuffed several times, politely but firmly. To them, the world stood as it had in previous decades. I persisted, to no effect, except that in my frustration at the horror that the Soviet Union was ending and the White House appeared not to be noticing, I began to cry. This quite unintentional action mortified me, but such was the passion of the moment, and it had the effect upon the Administration people present (gentlemen all) that the sight of a woman crying always has. I give them high marks for their solicitations ("It's okay, ma'am! Really, it will be fine!"), but on the issue of the Cold War ending, they remained unmoved and unseeing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 AM

Five Best Books on Environment

Bestselling author Michael Crichton, writing in, recommends five books that "question the conventional wisdom on the environment":
"Playing God in Yellowstone" by Alston Chase
"The Culture Cult" by Roger Sandall
"Man in the Natural World" by Keith Thomas
"The Skeptical Environmentalist" by Bjrn Lomborg
"The Logic of Failure" by Dietrich Dorner
Crichton supplies mini-reviews in his essay.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:16 AM

Friday, October 28, 2005

Global Warming Joke of the Day

Peyton Knight writes to say:
An actor, a daytime talk show host, and an activist all get together to discuss "one of the most important issues facing all of humanity."

That's it.


Well, it would be if it weren't so sad.

Yesterday on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Leonardo DiCaprio joined former Environmental Defense activist and United Nations Earth Summit architect Michael Oppenheimer to hype -- what else -- global warming. According to Leo DiCaprio, recent hurricanes and tsunamis are a harbinger of worse things to come.

Right after a segment covering the problem of sex offenders who prey on children, Oprah gracefully segued:
So there is another frightening problem affecting our world, the whole world, that I believe we all need to know about. Have y'all noticed something's going on with the planet? Have you -- really? Haven't you felt that something's going on? OK. The deadly hurricanes were my wake-up call. And I know a lot of other people are wondering if these extreme weather patterns that we're having have something to do with something else that's going on; global warming, perhaps. Why should you care? Well, you're about to find out. Leonardo DiCaprio is here to share some of his thoughts on an issue that he has been passionate about for quite some time.
Now, if Ms. Winfrey is concerned about global warming and the hurricanes it supposedly spawns, and she really, really wants her disciples to care as deeply about it as she does -- can't she find someone more credible to make her case than a Hollywood actor? Someone like, oh I don't know, perhaps the director of the National Hurricane Center?

On the heels of similar chicken-little scaremongering spewed by Barbra Streisand last month, NHC Director Max Mayfield put the lie to any actors eager to play the part of meteorologist. Mayfield said:
Hurricanes, and especially major hurricanes, are cyclical. We'll have a few decades of really active hurricanes, and then inactive periods, followed by active periods again.

So I think that this activity that we're in can be explained without invoking global warming. The bad news here is that we are in this active period, and the research meteorologists tell us that it may last another 10 or 20 years.
For his part, Leo DiCaprio showered Oprah with gratitude for providing him a soapbox to wax misleading:
Well, first of all, I want to thank you, and I'm sure every environmentalist around the world would thank you a thousand times over for bringing this topic up on your show, because it's something that hasn't really gotten enough attention in the media nowadays.
Now, while a thinking person would certainly understand Leo getting the science and the facts wrong on global warming, keeping up with current media is something that should be well within his grasp. Though it apparently isn't.

A Google News search for the term "global warming" brings up 7,490 hits. I'd say it's getting enough media attention. Moreover, judging by the biased, left-leaning type of media it's getting, Leo should be quite pleased.

Ms. Winfrey then aired various excerpts from a new drama -- er -- "documentary" cleverly titled "Global Warming," which features Leo, Oppenheimer, "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David, and of course, Oprah herself. After admiring herself on the screen, Oprah remarked:
So, you know, I look at this and feel it. You know, I don't know a lot about it. I mean, I'm here to be educated by you and Dr. Oppenheimer.
Kudos to Oprah for at least acknowledging her ignorance of the subject.

She may "feel it" -- but she clearly doesn't get it.

And since she doesn't get it, what is she doing on a documentary about it?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:31 PM

The Senator From I-Told-You-So?

This AP story on the Miers nomination wrap-up is unusually colorful.

Addendum: It also appears to be word-for-word the same as this Dana Milbank column in the Washington Post. What gives?

(Link error corrected -- sorry.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:38 PM

Insist On Obesity Liability Waiver

The Center for Consumer Freedom suggests that folks who hand out candy on Halloween first get trick-or-treaters to sign this document (pdf).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 AM

Good Thing They Aren't Teenage Girls

The story "Right's Victory in Miers Case Backs Bush into a Corner" in the Globe and Mail begins:
The Christian right is ecstatic. Their campaign to scuttle the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court succeeded yesterday, demonstrating their political heft with a beleaguered President who needs every friend he can get...
To whom does this Canadian newspaper refer? Jim Dobson? Jerry Falwell? Chuck Colson? Richard Land? Jay Sekulow? Pat Robertson?

All backed Miers.

One delineation between Miers-backers and Miers-skeptics I rarely if ever saw noted in the press was this simple human difference: People the White House telephoned for support early in the process (hmmm, dare I say, "kissed up to?") were far more likely to support Miers. Some media-identified leaders apparently are a bit vulnerable to seduction.

Good thing they aren't teenage girls.

The White House has now learned the hard way that conservative troops really aren't "poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:08 AM

A Bitter Man

From the Christian Science Monitor, an anecdote about a man who appears to be a tad bitter:
Beltway politicos, famously slow to adopt technology, are wooing blogs - all but Trent Lott.

'Bloggers claim I was their first pelt, and I believe that. I'll never read a blog,' says the former Senate majority leader, who forfeited that title after bloggers Joshua Micah Marshall and Glenn Reynolds picked up a racially charged remark, drawing the attention of mainstream media (MSM) and his Senate colleagues...
The blogging world will survive this snub, but if Trent Lott had been the sort of fellow to read blogs, he might have had more of an inkling of how the public would react to his comments about Strom Thurmond's justifiably ill-fated 1948 presidential run, and saved himself the heartache of losing the title and prestige that clearly meant a lot to him.

I personally think Senator Lott was so used to Senate insincerity -- those folks say nice things about one other all day while simultaneously stabbing each other in the back -- that he thought he could say anything nice he wanted about Strom Thurmond without anyone taking it seriously. There is, however, a world outside the U.S. Senate -- even for Senators.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Arlen Specter on Miers Withdrawal

In a Senate floor speech about the Harriet Miers nomination today, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) said:
I respect Ms. Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw from consideration for the Supreme Court.

At the same time, I do regret that our constitutional process was not completed. Instead of a hearing before the Judiciary Committee and a debate on the Senate floor, Ms. Miers' qualifications were subjected to a one-sided debate in news releases, press conferences, radio and TV talk shows, and the editorial pages. I acknowledge the rights of everyone to express themselves as they see fit. But that should not have precluded Ms. Miers from getting basic due process.

There was a decisive imbalance in the public forum with a case for Ms. Miers not heard because of the heavy decibel level against her.

I have repeatedly noted her excellent work in handling complex civil cases. Had the constitutional process been followed with a hearing, she would have had an opportunity to establish that her intellect and capabilities demonstrated in her thirty-five year professional career could be carried over in the field of constitutional law and the work of the Court.

Whether she would have been confirmed remains an open question. But at least she would have had the major voice in determining her own fate.

Ms. Miers did deliver late yesterday evening, on time, her responses to the Committee's request for supplemental information on her questionnaire. Eight large boxes are in the Committee's possession but now there is no reason to read or analyze those responses. The Judiciary Committee carefully did not intrude on the President's executive privilege. The Committee studiously avoided asking what advice Ms. Miers gave to the President and that limitation would have been continued in any hearing with an adequate range of questions available to enable the Committee to decide on her qualifications for the Court.

We must guard against having the Miers proceedings become a precedent for the future.
Specter's comments have the whiff of elitism. One gets the sense that, like Senator Lott, Senator Specter didn't like mere citizens expressing a point of view.

Well, Senator, tough cookies. Silly cookies, too. Harriet Miers and the White House apparently made the decision that the Senate could not be relied upon to confirm her. Citizens groups could have raised the roof, but if Senators weren't agreeing with the "outside groups" (as if citizens groups are "outside" America!) it would have meant nothing. The groups simply would have been ignored, as they are so often, on so many matters.

The Senator's "one-sided debate" observation is silly as well. Ms. Miers had the White House behind her. The debate was not one-sided, it simply appeared that way because the White House was not answering the questions that were being raised. Furthermore, Senators (including Senator Specter), after private meetings with Ms. Miers, were raising even more questions. If the Senators had come out of meetings with Miers expressing firm confidence in the nominee, or if the White House and its varlets had given good solid responses to the questions of critics, the outcome would likely have been much different.

Finally, Ms. Miers's nomination did receive procedural due process, until such time as she removed her name from consideration.

If billboards were permitted on Capitol Hill, I'd buy a big one reminding Senators that they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everybody else. Wouldn't help, though. They'd probably just consider it more unwelcome advice from an "outside group."

P.S. On the due process question, my comments to Senator Specter apply to former Senator Dan Coats as well. Harriet Miers got turned down for a promotion. She isn't getting thrown in jail.

Besides, the most powerful man in the world -- the guy who got her into this -- now owes her a big, big favor. There are worse things.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:50 PM

Black Conservative Reaction to Withdrawal of Harriet Miers

Project 21 has a press release out on Harriet Miers's decision to withdraw.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:46 PM

Miers: Withdrawal With Honor

Not so quotable:
I hate to see a woman go down this way. I really, really do.

-Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
But you like it when men do, Dianne?

There is no shame in Harriet Miers's dignified withdrawal. The fit wasn't right, but that is no reflection on the lady. Many, many people who are in a position to know have said she is a very intelligent person of high moral character and great kindness. She simply trained for a different aspect of law -- one in which, by all accounts with which I am familar, she excelled.

In my judgment, Ms. Miers erred in accepting the nomination, but it probably is her habit to accept all the assignments the President gives her and tackle them with zeal. Because she reportedly did not know she was even under consideration for a Court appointment, she scarcely had any time to consider the matter when it first was presented to her. As such, it is more than understandable that her habit of a lifetime -- to serve the client to the best of her ability -- determined her response.

If there is blame in this episode, the bulk of it goes to those Supreme Court justices, past and present, who have seen themselves as lawmakers, thereby making it impossible for citizens who prefer to be governed by the elected branches to take any chances whatsoever with Court nominees, even those of demonstrably high character and great intelligence.

Godspeed, Ms. Miers. We wish you success and happiness. You have our respect.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 PM

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If There Is No News, Couldn't We Stop Talking?

I don't suppose the mainstream press would agree to stop reporting the supposedly-pending Fitzgerald indictments until information is actually available?

No, I thought not.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:10 PM

Journalistic Fakery

From David Almasi:
On October 19, the USA Today web site posted a photo of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that was augmented in a manner in which her eyes virtually glowed and did not appear to be focused. After blogger Michelle Malkin posted the original photo alongside the USA Today version on October 26 - and Malkin's posting was picked up by the Drudge Report - USA Today editors quickly replaced the doctored photo with the original.

USA Today posted this explanation:
Editor's note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.
It took eight days to notice their standards had been compromised?

Regrettably, this seems to be yet another example of people not worrying about slights - even racial ones, usually abhorred these days - when it comes to black conservatives. Secretary Rice holds a very special place in the hearts of her detractors, with cartoonists and commentators feeling free to compare her to Aunt Jemimna, saying she needs re-education to find her blackness and calling her names such as "Brown Sugar." And they largely get away with it.

Remember when Time magazine darkened the skin tone of a photo of O.J. Simpson? That was "infamous." When the slight involves a black conservative, however, the criticism is deflected.

These are comments on this most recent incident from members of The National Center's black leadership network, Project 21.

Mark Quinton Jordan, a financial planner living in Baltimore, Maryland:
I would like to believe that the photo published by USA Today on October 19 was simply the result of poor quality control, but give me a break. I might even be inclined to accept their lame explanation if this type of photo or similar cartoon depictions of Ms. Rice were a rarity in the print media. But Secretary of State Condolezza Rice is a black conservative and a key member of the Bush Administration and, as far as the left and the civil rights dinosaurs are concerned, anything goes.

We need only flash back to some of the demeaning and juvenile cartoons of Secretary Rice published during the presidential race and her confirmation hearings to get a sense of how far into the abyss these people will descend in an effort to hurt an opponent. USA Today's photograph portrays Secretary Rice with a demonic gleam in her eyes. I am convinced that, as we approach the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, we will see an increasing number of these "lapses" and the accompanying excuses.

What else can they do when confronted with the bitter reality of their growing cultural impotence and inability stop an impending political implosion?
Deroy Murdock, a syndicated columnist living in New York City:
First, there was CBS News' and Dan Rather's fake documents about George W. Bush's military record. Then Reuters photo-enhanced a picture of President Bush's note in which he asked Secretary of State Rice how he could diplomatically excuse himself for a restroom break during the United Nations General Assembly. Now, USA Today has manipulated an image in which Secretary of State Rice herself has had the whites of her eyes lightened to the point that she looks a little crazed and the pupils don't quite point in the same direction.

These developments represent breaches of journalistic ethics. The American people have decreasing faith in the news media, which seem increasingly comfortable twisting and shading the truth rather than reporting it - that is, when they do not simply fabricate things as former anchorman Rather, the New Republic's ousted Stephen Glass and the New York Times' expelled Jayson Blair all did.

Also, this journalistic fakery almost always occurs at the expense of Republicans and conservatives. Rather than keep their opinions on their editorial pages, the mainstream media's liberal agenda now even uses Photoshop to embarass Republicans, free-marketeers and Bush Administration officials. The perpetrators of these misdeeds should be ashamed of themselves and deserve to have their TV shows unwatched and their publications unpurchased by increasingly vigilant American news consumers.
Addendum 10/27: Mr. Big recreates the photoshop work.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:47 PM

Protesting Steele-as-Sambo and Other Racial Stereotypes

Scripps-Howard columnist and Project 21 member Deroy Murdock has this to say about the doctored photo of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele that appears on "The News Blog":
This is just one more example of the Left's bigotry towards black conservatives. Rather than engage us in serious debate, they make Michael Steele, Maryland's democratically elected lieutenant governor, look like Black Sambo, one of the ugliest of the ugly racist stereotypes -- complete with extra-darkened skin, huge red lips, and illiterate lingo ("I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House" [U.S. Senate]). Cartoonists have depicted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a bird with fat lips and as a barefoot mom in a rocking chair on a rural porch. Radical calypso singer Harry Belafonte compared Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, to house slaves. One magazine a few years ago portrayed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas shining fellow Justice Antonin Scalia's shoes. The same magazine published an illustration of Thomas as a lawn jockey.

Largely having retired such stereotypes and images from polite company, it is nauseating that they now only survive among the American Left. Out of answers and devoid of ideas, all they can do is excavate the iconography of the Ku Klux Klan to attack honorable, black American public servants who do not drink the liberal Kool-Aid. If the American Left's reservoir of decency were not running on fumes, they would denounce such racist rhetoric and instead, debate the issues. I am not holding my breath.
Addendum 10/27/05: An interesting follow-up story can be found here.

Addendum 10/29/05: Robert George at RAGGED THOTS has plenty of coverage of this and also links to other blog coverage, as well Washington Post and Baltimore Sun reports, of the story.

Addendum 11/2/05: For the reference of those who want to see the photo of Michael Steele as doctored by blogger Steve Gilliard (and later deleted by Gilliard from his website): Michelle Malkin has posted it on her blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:50 PM

Dittos, Professor & Sorry, Hugh

Professor Bainbridge posted on this first and well, so I am not going to say as much about Hugh Hewitt's "Not One of Us" remarks as I otherwise might.

However, the Professor's remark about Hugh's misinterpretation of the Cato Institute's Roger Pilon's use of the term "one of us" deserves extra dittos. This is Hugh's comment:
The difference between conservative legal elites' support for Justice Thomas and their split over Miers is that Justice Thomas was indeed "one of us" in their eyes, meaning one of the Capitol's regulars at roundtables and seminars and receptions prior to his elevation to the D.C. Circuit. Justice Thomas had many personal friends who went to the mat for him against the onslaught in 1991.
I'm going to be obnoxious and claim decent experience, as the CEO of a conservative think-tank that has been based on Capitol Hill for my entire 23-year-tenure, with what a Washington conservative/libertarian means when he says "one of us" in conversation. What he means is what Professor Bainbridge says, that is, someone who thinks the way free-market conservatives do on philosophy and principle. It is shorthand, frankly, for someone who values philosophy over career and (sorry, Hugh) political party.

For example, in the 1980 presidential primaries, Ronald Reagan was "one of us," while George H.W. Bush was not.

This phrase is very commonly used in DC's conservative/libertarian circles, and, as such, its meaning should not be in any doubt.

And, by the way, yes, Clarence Thomas did have a lot of personal friends supporting his confirmation in 1991, but, speaking as one who was involved, he had even more supporters who had never met him yet were glad to be supportive -- because Thomas, philosophically, is and was "one of us," and the nation knew it because of Thomas's professional record.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:48 PM

I'm Sure It's a Fluke

I admit to a certain fondness for the Washington Post's new "who's blogging this?" feature:

Post graphic
Hat trick!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 AM

Trent Lott to Citizens' Groups: Shove Off

From the Washington Post, Trent Lott tells citizens' groups to take a hike, as outside views are not wanted on Supreme Court nomination:
Lott cautioned that outside groups have a limited ability to influence senators of either party. 'I'll call them when I need to hear from them,' he said. 'As far as I'm concerned, they can all shove off, left and right.'

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

Clues About Miers Increase Confusion

It is getting harder to determine Harriet Miers's positions on key issues, as the Washington Post reports on page one today.

On the one hand, we have earlier reports that Harriet Miers supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion; on the other, these new Washington Post reports of Miers speeches in which she seems to be saying that she opposes a government ban on abortion.

Unfortunately, the Post does not, at least so far, appear to have posted the transcripts of these newly-reported speeches, so all we're left with is more confusion.

Addendum: It is later in the day now, and the Post has posted links to two PDFs of 1993 speeches by Harriet Miers on its webpage. The links are:
Spring 1993 Harriet Miers Speech to the Executive Women of Dallas

Summer 1993 Harriet Miers Speech on "Women and Courage"
I read both speeches, and remain as confused as ever. Even when read in context, the first speech appears to endorse keeping abortion legal -- a position hard to reconcile with her 1989 answer on a Texans United for Life questionnaire, in which she indicated support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

One hopes the answer is not that Ms. Miers tailors her views to suit her audience.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 AM

Donald Trump, Pathetic

Donald Trump has a blog.

If post titles such as "Donald Trump: Headliner in an Arena of Wealth-Seekers" float your boat, here's the link.

Beware of posting comments, however. Blogger Ike Pigott posted a comment asking about Trump's attempt to force elderly widow Vera Coking from her Atlantic City home of 36 years so Trump could build a limousine parking lot on her land. As blogger BL Ochman reports, the pointed question was edited into something quite fawning by Trump's webmaster before it was posted on Trump's blog.

(Coking, by the way -- this being pre-Kelo and thanks to legal help from the Institute for Justice -- defeated Trump and was "allowed" to keep her own property.)

Speaking of sore points, "The Donald" seems to feel a need to advertise his sexual prowess. Take a look, if you can stand it, at the text of his October 25 radio commentary, which, his website claims, is heard on 400 stations. Trump, who soon will be old enough to receive Social Security, has two themes in his 153-word commentary: He wants listeners to know sex was a big part of his college life, and he thinks -- believe it or not -- that it is a "problem" if college students don't want to have sex during their college years.

Trump's text:
Have you heard about one of the newest, most popular clubs at Princeton University? It's a student formed group promoting chastity. Can you believe it? Chastity?...

Club organizers say they knew before they ever showed up on campus that sex would be a big part of college life, but many of them were surprised at how prevalent it would really be. Maybe they should have spoken to me about it. [Emphasis added.]

They started the club to let students who didn't want to be part of the scene know that they're not alone. They were surprised at how many students were interested in being involved. Well, when I know a student that doesn't want to be involved in sex, that's a big problem. That student is very unusual.
That's where the commentary ends. No larger point seems to have been sought after, let alone achieved.

Donald Trump may be marketing machismo, but to me he seems to be reaping ridicule.

Kind of pathetic, really.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Republican House Speaker Goes Populist

When presented with the opportunity to educate the American people about market economics, our Speaker of the House choose instead to champion ignorance.

Link is to Pravda.

More here, here and here.

Note: Yes, The National Center has received contributions from the fossil fuel industry. In 2004, such contributions totalled one sixth of one percent of our total income. This year to-date, such contributions total zero.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:13 PM

Professor Bainbridge on Loyalty

Professor Bainbridge says loyalty is a two-way street.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:41 PM

La Shawn Barber on Rosa Parks

La Shawn Barber seems to be the lead blogger commemorating the life of Rosa Parks.

Many links, plus comments.

Addendum: John Meredith, Project 21 member and son of civil rights pioneer James Meredith, has this to say about the legacy of Mrs. Parks:
Rosa Parks started a tidal wave of social consciousness in this country that ended the government's disenfranchisement of millions of black Americans. Without Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. would probably have remained a pastor at a little-known church in Atlanta, Oprah Winfrey would still be in the backwoods of Mississippi and John Lewis would never have been empowered to represent the people of Georgia in the U.S. Congress. But Rosa Parks's biggest impact on the fabric of America is the hope that the movement she started provides for today's economically disenfranchised of all races. The legacy of Rosa Parks will always provide inspiration for those seeking to escape the shackles of poverty and enjoy the promise of the American Dream.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:13 PM

Jim Inhofe's Discretionary Spending Amendment

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) says he will introduce the following amendment
Beginning with Fiscal Year 2007 and thereafter, non-defense, non-trust-fund, discretionary spending shall not exceed the previous fiscal year's levels... without a 2/3 vote.
to the "FY '06 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill and keep introducing until it succeeds."

I'm all in favor of not increasing discretionary spending, but, assuming this Inhofe amendment passes at some point, if at a later date, a spending increase was sought, wouldn't it be possible to lift the requirement of a 2/3rd vote by a simple majority vote?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 AM

Monday, October 24, 2005

Do They Not Bleed?

I was glad to see this conclusion to John Fund's excellent Wall Street Journal piece on the Harriet Miers nomination today:
The damage to [President Bush's] relations with his conservative base would blow over quickly if Mr. Bush were to quickly name a well-qualified nominee who was not a sphinx when it came to judicial philosophy. Perhaps this time he might even expand the talent pool to include--gasp--men.
On the other hand, John is a white male, so he probably should be ignored.

(Yes, I am kidding.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Thinking as a Wonk

This guy Matt Drudge is linking to says human beings soon will live 1,000 years or longer.

We really, really have to get going on Social Security reform.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:45 PM

Sunday, October 23, 2005

LiLPoH: Icing the Cake

Jack Rich says the support of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-in-Polite-Conservative-Circles for Harriet Miers is just "icing on the cake" for her opponents.

Increasingly, that's hard to argue.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:34 AM

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Nuts and Sluts: North County Reviewed by Power Line

Regarding the Anita Hill "nuts and sluts" reference John Hinderaker is wondering about on Power Line this evening as he previews the film North County: The reference presumably is to David Brock's 1992 description of Anita Hill as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty."

For the uber-feminists, the Hill-Thomas clash was always about something larger -- specifically, the confirmation of their self-identification as victims of nasty sexually-harassing men -- than about Clarence Thomas. As such, David Brock's 1993 magnum opus, "The Real Anita Hill," is viewed by the left as a key part of the Hill-Thomas story, although Thomas was confirmed in 1991.

David Brock, of course, now runs the leftie web media-monitoring site Media Matters, and the feminists stopped talking about sexual harassment about the time Bill Clinton's proclivities became known.

What's interesting about North County is Hollywood's willingness to explore the sexual harassment theme. Apparently, even as "Commander in Chief," a TV show about a female President, is supposedly trying to help us envision Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief executive, North County is taking a stand against sexual harassers and those who enable them.

Hollywood, apparently, is not getting its plot lines straight.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:53 PM

Global Warming and Hurricanes

Next time someone blames global warming for hurricanes, just read this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:19 PM

Friday, October 21, 2005

Congressional Action: Hurricane Katrina Relief Problems

On October 21, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) shared on the Senate floor a summary of a diary kept by a constituent who observed serious command and control problems during Hurricane Katrina relief operations:
Mr. President, I rise to discuss the situation in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, as it relates to the Katrina hurricane. I do that because of a very devoted constituent by the name of Craig Van Waardhuizen of 3716 Pearl Lane, Waterloo, IA. We are members of Prairie Lakes Church, Cedar Falls, IA, a Baptist church. He approached me because he had bad experiences in trying to help people in Louisiana at the height of the hurricane and the period of time thereafter.

He says things just were not right. That is quite obvious to all of the country. I had a chance to hear it from a person who witnessed it. He kept a diary of his experiences. He is a sincere enough individual to spend time with me, sincere enough individual to put things down in writing, and he is a sincere enough person who would like to have things that happened to him not happen again in a future natural disaster.

So I promised my friend in Waterloo that I would make sure the entire Senate knew of his situation. It will be on record for people to refer to so corrective action can be taken.

I suppose most of this falls in the area of FEMA's responsibility, but I am not so sure but what some of it doesn't fall into the area of local responders and to State people as well. But FEMA is the one most referred to. So I am going to spend my time reading word for word from this diary so that people will know the trials and tribulations of one bus driver, trying to help people all the way from Iowa, going to Louisiana to help people there who had problems.

This starts on September 1, which is the Thursday after Katrina hit. I believe Katrina hit either on that Saturday or Sunday, the 27th or 28th of August. Presumably some time after Katrina hit, my constituent friend was desiring to help the people in need there. He was affiliated with a bus company that could provide transportation. This starts on September 1, but presumably on the days of Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before September 1, he was trying to get involved in helping:

September 1, 2005, Thursday: Another day of searching on the internet and contacting our motorcoach associations has brought no success as we (Northwest Iowa Transportation, Inc.) look for ways to help in New Orleans. We have coaches and drivers available to go help in moving people out of the New Orleans area. However, we do not believe that we should just drive down to New Orleans without any contact. It is discouraging when you want to help and yet can't find the avenue to help.

September 2, Friday: There is a light in the tunnel. Today we were contacted by Utah Transportation Management to see if we had any coaches and drivers that could go help in evacuation of New Orleans. Finally a way to head to New Orleans and provide the assistance that we have wanted to do since a hurricane hit last Monday. Since this help will fall under FEMA we will be able to use four drivers and two motorcoaches to drive straight through to New Orleans. After finding three other drivers who were willing to help in this effort I head out to New Orleans. We pack extra supplies in the coaches along with water and food for ourselves. We also take along extra paper towels and toilet paper. About 9:00 p.m. we head south from Waterloo-

That is Waterloo, IA-- ready to go provide assistance to those in need.

Saturday, September 3: Driving straight through the night and switching off with driving we arrive at the staging area at Le Place, LA. The first thing we notice is the large number of motorcoaches waiting in the staging area and many more like ourselves, just pulling in. Our first order of business was to get in line to refill with fuel. We didn't stop for fuel on our way as we had been told that FEMA would provide fuel for all motorcoaches when we arrived at Le Place. We are ready to go to work and start moving people. The fuel was brought in by the National Guard and they did all the refueling in Le Place. Finally, it was our turn to get fuel. While fueling, we visited with the other drivers to find out what had been happening. We learned that after fueling you would get in another line and wait for orders. Nobody seemed to know who was in charge of the operation and there was very little communication. Finally a man with an orange vest came and asked us to get in line to go transport people. We lined up with 12 other coaches. Nobody moved until the state patrol was ready to provide escort. At last we have action. We are headed into New Orleans to do what we came down to do, move people. We had traveled about 10 miles when we were pulled onto the shoulder. No reason given for pulling all of us over. We sat and waited on the side of the highway wondering what was going to happen.

After a waiting about 45 minutes we started traveling again, and it was soon apparent that we were headed back to the staging area. This whole operation seems to lack leadership and direction. We arrived back at the staging area at Le Place. Then we were sent down I-10 to the scale house and were staged with about 40 other coaches. Even the State patrol assigned to us didn't know what was going on. About 10 pm a deputy sheriff patrol showed up with some food for us. They didn't have any news or information. About 11 pm the State patrol said to stay with the motorcoach as we might be called upon at any time. As drivers we decided to get as much rest as we could while we had the opportunity.

So then presumably they slept the evening. That is a presumption on my part because it goes on now to Sunday, September 4. This is the fourth day of this tribulation.

Last night was a long night with little sleep as it is hard to sleep on the coach. About 4 am a group of school buses arrived from Houston, TX. They had been told to report to this staging area and wait. The morning passed by very slow and we never saw or heard from anybody that knew what was actually happening. This is really amazing as we are all here to work and provide help and we are just sitting along the interstate. At the scale house on the other side of the interstate a unit of federal border patrol agents is also waiting for instructions. They have been waiting since Tuesday for orders.

So that means that they had been waiting for 5 days, the Federal border patrol was waiting -- that's my assumption -- waiting for orders. My writer says:

I asked the state patrol to radio to the main staging area where we fueled to see what was going on. The patrol had as many questions as we did. It sure seems like mass confusion and no clear leader. I really wonder who is in charge of this operation. About noon a guy shows up in an orange vest and tells us that we are moving to a new staging area at Lake Charles, LA. Soon the rumor is going around through the drivers that we will be moving people out of temporary shelters to better places. We move to Lake Charles with high hopes that we will finally be moving people. At the edge of Lake Charles we are pulled onto the shoulder of the interstate. With over 60 motorcoaches sitting on the shoulder of a major interstate (I-10), this is an accident waiting to happen. The school buses from Houston are headed back to Houston as they were told there was no work for them. What a waste of resources to have them drive all the way from Houston to New Orleans only to turn around and head back. A highway patrol escort arrives and leads us to a large parking area at the Lake Charles airport. We are all parked in a row with no other instructions. When the last coach is parked a man who tells us he is the dispatcher for this operation arrives and tells us that we are going to regroup.

This man has made arrangements for us to have a hot meal supplied by the Lake Charles Firefighters in the armory at the airport. During this meal he informs us that rooms in a motel have been reserved for us for the night. As we sign up for our rooms we are told to report back tomorrow at 1:30 pm for more instructions. Since the rooms are in Beaumont, TX he arranges to have five motorcoaches to take us as a group. At least we will have a good bed to sleep in tonight and we will be able to take a shower.

Now, Monday September 5.

Continued conversation with other drivers reveals only rumors and no facts. About noon we head back to Lake Charles to report in at this temporary dispatch office at the airport. When we report in, we are told there will be no movement until tomorrow. This is disappointing and hard to understand, especially as we listen to the radio and hear about this huge need to get people moved. Seems to me that there has to be a better way to organize and run this system. Who is in charge and who gives the orders to all of us (drivers)? There is very limited and very poor communication. If I ran operations like this, the company would lose all of its business and drivers. Calling back to the office--

I think he means his own office--

and to any other contact I can come up with doesn't provide any help. About 2 pm the dispatcher comes around looking for two coaches that have two drivers. We are just what he is looking for and we offer to be of service. He tells us to head to Fort Smith, AR as soon as we can hit the road and to report in at Fort Smith. We head right out and make the trip to Fort Smith. As we are going down the road we find out that a mistake has been made. Instead of Fort Smith at Fort Smith, AR, it is Fort Chaffee. The drive to Fort Smith is a long one, about 500 miles. Upon arrival we are to report to Fort Chaffee for instructions. As we are travelling we begin to notice many other motorcoaches headed the same direction.

September 6, Tuesday.

We arrive ..... and find the directions we were given in Lake Charles to be wrong. Finally, we arrive at Fort Chaffee and enter the base. The guards at the gate are very surprised to see us and they wonder why we are reporting at 2 a.m. The guards give us direction to the area where the people are housed. We get to that area only to find out nobody knows why they sent us to this base. Once again I get on the phone calling the numbers I was given. These calls just get voice mail and nobody ever returns the calls. One of the guards gives me the phone number of the base commander. I give him a call (at 2 a.m.) and have a nice conversation with him. I can see that he has no information to help us out. He suggests getting a motel room and coming back in the morning. There are no motel rooms available and it is now 4 a.m. We decide to head back into Fort Smith to top off the fuel tanks and get a hot breakfast. Looks like we are in a race headed nowhere. At 8 a.m. we report back to the base. We are wondering why we were sent over 500 miles to just sit and wait. The guards at the base are telling us that the people are being moved out to other places to live. Many of the other coaches from Lake Charles are showing up this morning. About 10 a.m. there is movement and they begin to load coaches to move people on. Some guy comes along and tells us to hang in there and we will soon be working. At noon we are moved into position to load people. However, we received no instructions or information as to where we will be going. Even the people we are loading don't know where they are headed. What a way to treat people who have lost everything they have. Soon we are loaded and waiting to go someplace. A representative of the state of AR comes aboard and wishes the people a good future. At the same time we are told we will be escorted by the state police to Siloam Springs, AR. We are part of a 12 coach move with a highway patrol escort for every three coaches. The drive is supposed to take about 90 minutes. The actual drive took us over three hours as the escort never went faster than 40 mph. All of the people are very thankful for the help in moving them and they are very pleasant considering what they have all been through.

Finally we arrive at Siloam Springs at a church camp. It seems like the whole community is here to welcome the people and help them make a home. It is very heart touching to see all the generous help. We unload and clean our two coaches. Feeling tired and hungry we head back towards Fort Smith. After what happened last night we see no need to arrive at Fort Chaffee in the middle of the night. We find rooms in Fayetteville and shut down for the night. The whole trip is nothing like we had hoped or thought it would be. Maybe we will feel better in the morning.

Morning is September 7, Wednesday. So this would be the seventh--it is my judgment this is the seventh day that my constituents were going through this trial and tribulation.

Our week of service is almost over and we sure haven't [done] much of any good. We have spent more time driving around empty as they have moved us all over. This morning we went back to Fort Chaffee and waited for new orders. Many other drivers were also waiting to see what we were to do. About noon we get the word that we were to report back to Lake Charles for the next duty. Here we go again on a 500 mile drive with no passengers. Does anybody really know what is going on? As we drive to Lake Charles, we know it will be about 9 p.m. when we arrive. Hopefully somebody will be around to fill us in. No such luck. When we arrive at Lake Charles the parking lot is filled with hundreds of motorcoaches. There are hundreds of coaches and drivers. Many drivers are very upset as they just sit idle. At Lake Charles we are told to report back in the morning and we are also told good luck on finding any lodging. Looks like another night of sleeping in the coach. I make some phone calls and find out there are some rooms at the casino. I call them and ask about rooms and explain what we have been doing. The manager gives us a deal on three rooms for the four of us. At least we will have a bed to sleep in and be able to take a shower in the morning.

September 8.

This will be Thursday.

This is the last day that we can help as we need to return to Iowa tonight. The coaches need to be back to go on charter trips. We will report to the temporary dispatch office early. With hundreds of coaches just parked it doesn't look good. The dispatcher said there is no work today and the next opportunity might be tomorrow. I ask if there is anybody that needs to move north as we could take people north as we head home. Nothing available today and with all the idle coaches it looks bad for tomorrow. I sign us out and we start back home. I am glad that we came down and tried to help. There is a huge sense of disappointment in the fact that we drove about 3,000 total miles and only hauled 47 people 103 miles. It seems like a huge waste of valuable resources and money. Especially as I look over a parking lot filled with hundreds of motorcoaches.

Somebody made the order to get all these coaches here and now they sit idle. It easy to see why people get frustrated with the system. Along with these coaches sitting idle, many school buses were moved to the area and never used. They were sent back home as they weren't needed. Today we learned that in the city of New Orleans all of the school buses were left to get caught in the flood. Why weren't they used before the hurricane and flood to get people moved out of harm's way in New Orleans. There are a large number of public officials at all levels and the news media pointing fingers trying to put the blame on FEMA when they should look at themselves. Why did the school buses get left and not used? Why didn't people heed the notice to get out and move to a safer area?

I think the whole process needs to be looked at and evaluated for making improvements. We were not the only ones to wonder what was going on. Almost all the drivers were asking who is in charge and where are the lines of communication. Of all the people who gave us orders, none of them seemed to understand operations and dispatch. From my viewpoint, it appears to me that many of those who were supposed to manage the coaches didn't have any idea of what to do and just how much help they needed.

September 9.

After driving through the night we arrived back in Iowa. We are tired and ready to be back in our own homes. The hardship we went through was very minor compared to what all the displaced families were going through. As a team, we all agreed that we would go again and we would do whatever we could to provide assistance to people in need. Hopefully, if there is a next time, there will be better organization and all involved parties will work together.

About 10 a.m. I received a call from the dispatcher in Lake Charles saying he had a trip for us. He was looking for us and wondered where we were. This is a good example of poor management as this was the same person I had signed out with yesterday morning in Lake Charles. What a joke and what a lack of management. I just hope that all of the drivers and coach companies didn't get mad at the system. If they did get upset with the whole system, there might not be enough help the next time.

I would go and help again. It seems like the call to come and help was about two days late. Then when the call went out, too many resources were brought into play and then there was overkill. I do hope to be able to sit down and talk with somebody who evaluates this operation.

Let me say parenthetically that he is going to continue to talk to other people, but he asked me to be part of this communication, to lay out, as he saw it, the problems, in hopes that action will be taken here and at the local responder level and the State level to make sure these things don't happen again.

I am going to say that sentence again that I just was distracted from.

I do hope to be able to sit down and talk with somebody who evaluates this operation.

Someway, somehow, there has to be a method to get operation managers in the right place to guide a mass movement of people as fast as possible. Maybe when this is all over people will have time to look back and make new plans.

The saddest part of this whole experience was the difference of the news media coverage to the real situation. The devastation was huge. The generous helping spirit of the American people was huge. A large number of resources available and there were people willing to provide assistance. Yet, many of these resources were poorly used as the lines of command and communication were poor. We went down to New Orleans to work hard and help. That goal of providing help was not accomplished in my eyes. Yes, we moved about 94 people on our two coaches. However, we only moved those people 100 miles and we spent the rest of our time driving empty as we were moved from place to place. There needs to be a better system of command and coordination.

I am very thankful for this opportunity to go and help, no matter how small the help seemed to be. The people we moved were very thankful and they greatly appreciated the efforts of many. My heart hurts for those people who have lost everything but their lives. I also know that we had the right kind of intentions as we went to help.
Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

Internal Washington Post E-Mails Show Paper Editors Wary of Web Success

Based on these internal e-mails, it looks like some editors at the Washington Post dead tree edition aren't very happy that the web version of the Post is doing well.

The web version, apparently, is outside their control. It's also growing -- one editor frets it has more readers than the paper version -- and is making money, besides.

More info on the angst is available here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:57 PM

Trafalgar 200: "England Expects That Every Man Shall Do His Duty"

Two hundred years ago today, 27 ships of the British Navy under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson won a decisive victory at the Battle of Trafalgar over a combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships. 22 French and Spanish ships were sunk.

Napoleon never again contemplated an invasion of Britain. The battle was a milestone in the defeat of Napoleonic France.

The Battle of Trafalgar was the most significant naval action of the Napoleonic Wars and of the 19th Century. It marked the beginning of over a century of British naval dominance.

Our British allies are today celebrating this event (go here for extensive multimedia resources).

Writing in the Scotsman (paid subscription required) today, author Arthur Herman writes:
Does anyone still care about the battle of Trafalgar? The empire which it secured 200 years ago, is long gone. The triumphal sense of British destiny, which sustained the Victorians and fed on the mythic image of Nelson dying on his flagship in the hour of victory, has vanished...

The Royal Navy has shrunk away to a shadow of its former self, while Nelson has become a tarnished figure....

So it would be easy to dismiss 21 October and the great hoopla over Sea Britain as just an exercise in nostalgia for a vanished navy and empire, and for an era when the Royal Navy ruled the waves with "wooden ships and iron men."

But that would be wrong. The secret to the battle ... has to do with the very nature of the sea fight in the age of sail, the horrific din, confusion, and carnage, with 60 great sailing ships locked in close combat in an area not much more than a mile and half square, and with more than 47,000 human beings risking instant death.'s worth remembering that the average British seaman at Trafalgar was not a professional warrior.

In most cases, he did not want to be there. He might have been an American or a Dutchman (there were 12 nationalities on HMS Victory alone); more likely than not he had been impressed against his will...

And yet he or she had been thrust into a battle where death or mutilation came at any moment from cannon balls, bullets and deadly wooden splinters the size of a forearm whizzing in every direction, as well as by tumbling masts and spars - a battle in which they not only endured but rose to genuine heroism and self-sacrifice.

It was the average British sailor, not Nelson, who triumphed at Trafalgar. Nelson's plan to break the French and Spanish line and force a "pell mell battle" was as risky as it was innovative.

If he had not had British crews, the best trained in the world, under his command, he would have been steering to certain defeat. "But I knew what I had under me," Nelson had written about his men and his victory at the Nile seven years earlier, "so I went on the attack."

Risking death in battle, defeating the French, and then keeping the fleet together in the terrible storm afterwards - a hurricane which, we now know, probably killed almost more sailors than the battle itself. How did they do it?

Nelson's contemporary, the military theorist Karl von Clausewitz, put his finger on it. He said there are two kinds of courage in battle. One depends on an emotional impulse triggered by patriotism or religious fanaticism or ideological fervour. It's the kind that drove the armies of the French and Russian Revolutions, and the Japanese and Germans in the Second World War. We see it every day in Iraq's insurgents, or the suicide bombers on a Spanish train or London tube.

The other kind of courage rests on a calm deliberate training of mind and body, until courage becomes a habit not just "in the face of physical danger, but in the face of responsibility."

The first type of courage looks impressive; but the second, Clausewitz says, "is more certain, because it has become a second nature" to those who have it, both on the battlefield and off.

That is the kind of courage the British sailors at Trafalgar had. It's the kind American and British sailors and soldiers showed on D-Day and in Burma in the Second World War, and show every day in Iraq in regiments such as the Black Watch. They were and are not driven by fanaticism or hate or an arrogant warrior's code. They just know they have to stay with the job with all its ugliness and horrors, until they reach the victorious end.

In short, as Nelson himself said, they do their duty. And as long as free societies ask the best of us to keep doing that, the memory of Trafalgar should and will endure.
In our own, insignificant tribute to the heroes of Trafalgar, and those who fight for freedom everywhere, we have added this eyewitness account of the action at Trafalgar to this blog's list of historical documents.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:32 PM

Vote on Bridge to Nowhere

KTVA Anchorage has posted a poll:

Are you for or against the bridges?

No registration, nor local residency, is required to vote.

The "bridges," of course, refers to the Congressional allocation of $452 million in tax funds for two bridges in Alaska, one of which has been dubbed "the bridge to nowhere." The matter was the subject of a verbal scuffle in the Senate Thursday.

Despite rather ardent support from Alaska's Congressional delegation, in Alaska itself, it appears, the bridge appropriations are not receiving unanimous support.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Congressional Action: Federal Spending Priorities

On October 20, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) addressed the issue of excessive federal spending:
Mr. President, I have offered a second-degree amendment that deals with a subject that has been on everyone's mind. It has been in every newspaper in the country. It is about almost $500 million for bridges in the State of Alaska... that are very low on the totem pole in terms of the needs of the country.

...we find ourselves in a significant difficulty as a nation. We had the worst natural disaster to hit our country we have ever experienced. We are in a war. We added $600 billion to our national debt this last year. That is not our national debt. That is our children's and our grandchildren's national debt. That is over $2,000 per man, woman, and child. In this country this year we added to what they are going to have to pay back, compounded at 6 percent over the next 30 years, $30,000 to $40,000.

I think it is important for us to look back at history a little bit to help us get redirected in terms of our priorities. There was a President who faced tremendous difficulties in our Nation. His name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He made a lot of great decisions for our country -- enabled us to win World War II through his leadership. But less well known is FDR's decision to slash nondefense spending by over 40 percent between 1942 and 1944. Among the programs that were eliminated entirely were FDR's own prized creations. By 1944, such pillars of the New Deal as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration, and the Work Projects Administration had been abolished. In 1939, those three programs had represented one-eighth of the Federal budget. Roosevelt and the Congress of his day knew what to do in an emergency. Indeed, he chose to begin the reordering of budget priorities long before Pearl Harbor.

In October 1939, one month after Hitler invaded Poland, Roosevelt wrote Harold Smith, his budget director, ordering him to hold budgets for all Government programs at the present level and below if at all possible. The next month he told him the administration would not undertake any new projects, even laudable ones. He told reporters that the next year his policy would be to cut nonmilitary programs to the bone. He kept his word. Between 1939 and 1942 spending for nondefense programs was cut by 22 percent. Everyone realized that no matter how popular or deeply entrenched the program, the Nation's priorities had to change.

I believe we find ourselves as a nation at that point in time again. With the catastrophe we have seen to our gulf coast, with the war in Iraq, with the energy crisis, and with the budget deficit, it is time for us to change our priorities...

...I think it is important also to know what the people of Alaska think. I ask unanimous consent to submit for the RECORD quotes from letters to the editor and editorial opinions from the major newspaper in Alaska on the status of these two bridges...

...The first is from Dave Person, Ketchikan, the very place where 50 people live and a $230 million-plus bridge is going to go to service them. So you can get perspective on this, $230 million for 50 people, where there is a ferry service already running every 15 to 20 minutes that takes 7 minutes to cross, is enough money to buy each one of them a Learjet. Think about that for a minute -- a bridge longer than the Golden Gate for 50 people to a small area in Alaska. That is enough money to buy every one of the inhabitants a speedboat to cross any time they wanted. They could cross and leave the speedboat for somebody else to pick up and buy a new one the very next day and still not spend this much money.

So the fact is, it is the priorities we have in our country that are askew today. The priority of spending almost one-half billion dollars on bridges to a very small section of the population needs to be addressed.

...let me quote Dave Person from Ketchikan: Thinking about the immense disaster in the Gulf States, it occurred to me the most effective thing we can do as residents of our island would be to return the money earmarked for our Gravina Bridge.

This is the people of Alaska, with compassion. They know what is right. They know what we should be doing.

Here is another citizen from Alaska: I am embarrassed to see the town of Ketchikan become synonymous with a $300 million bridge. If there were an election right now on using the money for the bridge or building up the New Orleans levees or repairing a bridge in New Orleans, almost everyone in town would say no to the bridge. Anchorage Daily News.

And: The decent -- that is, the American thing -- for Alaskans and our congressional delegation to do would be to send these one-half billion dollars south to the real needs of millions, rather than spending them here in Alaska on legacy projects that benefit a few.

Anchorage Daily News, September 13, 2005:

This money, a gift from the people of Alaska, will represent more than just material aid; it will be a symbol for our beleaguered democracy.....

I would assume that most Ketchikan residents would agree that thousands of suffering fellow citizens and billions of dollars of destroyed economic and social infrastructure are of higher priority than our ability to drive to the airport...

...It is my understanding this amendment is going to be vigorously opposed by the home State Senators. This has nothing to do with my respect for them but has everything to do with my respect for our country and our desire to change the way we put our priorities on spending. If you think about the unfunded liabilities that are coming, $37 trillion on Medicaid and Medicare, another $8 or $9 trillion on Social Security, a debt that is soon to reach, by 2009, 2010, $12 trillion, how much more can we give to our kids, our grandchildren?...
Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

Eminent Domain Reform Needed

The National Center's environment and regulatory staff is calling on all states to adopt policies to prohibit governments from taking private property for economic development or to increase tax revenue.

Says Peyton Knight:
One man's blight is another man's castle. Without proper restrictions and well-defined parameters, governments will exploit the blight loophole and continue to abuse eminent domain power.
Read all about it here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:48 PM

Blogging Notes

Miscellaneous notes about blogs and bloggers...

ProfessorBainbridge has been my #1 blogger of choice on the Supreme Court nominations. Today he's got an interesting debate going with David Limbaugh over the question: Does the Constitution require the Senate to reject Supreme Court nominees only over questions of character and competence, or may the Senate reject a nominee for any reason -- or no reason -- as it chooses?

Furthering the conversation on Constitutional debates, The Paragraph Farmer is fisking Hugh Hewitt's fisk of Robert Bork. (Speaking of Hewitt, when did the pro-Miers people start calling themselves "anti-anti-Miers" people?)

I've only been reading PostWatch for three days, but it already is a must-read blog for me. My only concern: Given the quantity of quality output Christopher Fotos is putting on that blog, isn't he in danger of burning out? I'm one who hopes not.

I agree with I Respectfully Dissent that Tucker Carlson did an excellent job handling the ex-White House officemate of Harriet Miers who called critics of the Miers nomination "far right." It was nice to see someone get called on using that epithet.

Jeff Quinton is requesting honeymoon advice.

Thanks to Political Site of the Day for the recognition Thursday.

Finally, a note about my blogroll policy. If you have a blog and have me on your blogroll and I have not reciprocated, feel free to drop me a note. I might not get to it for a while, but I'll try to reciprocate. Two caveats: Because this is a think-tank blog, I don't link to candidate or campaign blogs. And, as I try to keep this blog PG or better, if I click your link and I see breasts, you are out of luck with me unless you have a cooking blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:18 PM

Fred Barnes on Childish Conservatives

Fred Barnes had to know his criticism of conservative Bush critics as "in some ways childish" (especially as he had it published in a conservative journal and declined to back up the insult with examples), would create at least a bit of a fuss.

Any chance Fred Barnes is doing a favor for White House staffers who do him the favor of being valued confidential sources?

Maybe not, but whenever a journalist opines against critics of a source, the possibility of a conflict of interest has to be considered.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:25 PM

Stop Congressional Spending Now

Mark Tapscott is covering the Senate reaction to Tom Coburn's anti-pork amendments, while Power Line reports that Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is threatening Senators who vote against pork.

At about the same time as the Senate vote, a new "Stop Spending Now" coalition, whose lead organizers are the American Conservative Union, Heritage Foundation, and the Club for Growth, had a press conference calling upon Congress to cut spending. The Family Research Council and the National Center for Public Policy Research (we joined the coalition late yesterday and lent only moral support today) also are members.

As you can see from the facial expression of Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner (left), in this photo taken at the Stop Spending Now press conference, these guys are serious.

The ACU's David Keene (at the podium above), citing a Cato Institute study, charged that "discretionary spending increased by 48.4% during Bush's first term, more than double that of the 21.6% increase during the entire Clinton administration and embarrassingly higher than the 48.3% increase resulting from Lyndon Johnson's entire discretionary spending spree."

Ed Feulner essentially said that, unless Congress gets its act together, the U.S. will be worse off than France. The situation is really that bad.

I urge folks to read Ed Feulner's remarks in full. It's a short, important, and scary read.

Ed Feulner's remarks are available online here; the remarks of David Keene can be accessed here. I don't have access to to the remarks of Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth (the club should email these remarks to Club members - hint, hint), but the Club's blog does have extensive coverage today on the pork issue.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:25 PM

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Congressional Action: Peter DeFazio on Taxes and Drowning

On October 19 Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) addressed the House of Representatives:
Madam Speaker, April Fool's Day has come early to the United States House of Representatives. The Republicans are in charge. They control everything, and in the last 5 years our debt has increased 60 percent to $8 trillion. That is $27,000 for every American. Well, not for every American, only for working Americans because the rich are exempt from taxes.

What they are talking about here, the hard-working Americans, the only people who got a pay raise last year, the people who earn over $1.3 million a year.

Madam Speaker, 99 percent of the people in this country had their real incomes go down last year, but not that group. That is who the Republicans want to protect here. It is trickle-down economics. They say we need it now more than ever. How else are we going to recover from Hurricane Katrina? They want to give the wealthiest among us, the top one-tenth of 1 percent, the millionaires, tax breaks, and they will trickle-down on America.

Well, the people of the Southeast have been trickled down upon. And, in fact, some of them drowned because of the incompetence of these people.
Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

Specter and Leahy on Miers Today

For those who may be interested, here's a PDF copy of the letter that Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy, respresenting the judiciary Committee, sent to Harriet Miers today, asking, in Specter's words, "many, many questions."

To follow is a transcript of remarks to the press by the two Senators today. Some of it is uninteresting, but I get the sense that the Senators are buckling their figurative seat belts. Specter seems to be saying that he's seeing more public interest in this hearing than in Clarence Thomas's, and that's saying something.
SPECTER: The confirmation hearings on Ms. Harriet Miers are scheduled to begin on Monday, November 7. It has not been easy coming to a date because it was only yesterday that we received a response to the questionnaire.

And Senator Leahy and I took a look at it and agreed that it was insufficient and are sending back a detailed letter asking for amplification on many, many of the items.

The FBI report which was supposed to been in last week is still not yet at hand but may be in hand later today or may not be.

Senator Leahy and I worked, as I think you all know, very coordinately on the Roberts hearing. And to the extent that it was a success, it was because we worked together, and in the context of very frequently disagreeing with some elements of our own party in what we did.

And that same factor is at work now on a whole range of issues, and scheduling is number one.

It was only two weeks and two days ago that Ms. Miers name was sent to the Senate. It seems like a year and a half ago for all that has happened. And we were unable to arrange a scheduling time before the recess. And Senator Leahy and I talked many times during the recess and again on Monday and again yesterday. And there are divergent views as to when the hearings ought to start.

There is a keen interest in many quarters on concluding before Thanksgiving, and that's a fine target if it can be accomplished. But we're going to do it right. We're not going to do it fast.

And there are some good reasons not to start as early as November 7 because of the questionnaire not really being completed. And the ABA report's going to be pushed very, very tight to get it done during the week of the 7th -- and the FBI report.

And Senator Leahy will express himself on that, and he's got concerns on his side. But my final thought was if we don't start, we're not going to finish. And we may not finish before Thanksgiving. We're going to have to take whatever time we need.

We do not have much paperwork. We do not have much of a record. And there are going to be requests to have very extensive lines of questioning, and we will accommodate that as they arise.

But I think it's been a chaotic process, very candidly, as to what has happened, because of all of the conference calls and all of the discussions, which are alleged in the back room -- I don't know, although we're looking into them.

And when Ms. Miers has met with senators, including me, we like to inform the media, and you tell the public because there is a very, very keen interest in what's going on here. I haven't seen as much interest in a nominee in the time that I've been here as there is in Ms. Miers.

And really it is not the best format to talk to the nominee behind closed doors, then come out and share the information with the media, but I think that that's part of our process and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

But I am very anxious to get this hearing into the hearing room, where we have a stenographer and we have a witness and we have orderly procedures, and we ask questions and we seek answers and we get follow-up questions and take the proceedings away from the back rooms and away from the conference calls and away from the corridors and do it like the Constitution says it ought to be done.


LEAHY: Thank you, Arlen.

I share -- one, I appreciate very much what the chairman has said. We have worked together for a long time. Some have suggested it goes back to our days as prosecutors and that kind of common bond that we share.

It's also respect for the Supreme Court. Whoever goes on there is on there for a lifetime. I've said over and over again that we 100 senators stand in the shoes of 280 million Americans in deciding who goes on the Supreme Court.

The rights of every single person in this room and all other 280 million Americans is affected by whatever that person might do on the United States Supreme Court. And I think there's a very real responsibility for us to do it right, not do it politically, but to do it right.

And the chairman said it's more important to get it right than to get it done fast. I couldn't agree more. And we will.

The letter than we're sending out today is -- I'm sure there will be copies here somewhere -- but this letter is very specific to the White House. The questionnaire that came up, the answer to the questionnaire that came up was -- the comments I have heard range from incomplete to insulting. Certainly, it was inadequate and it did not give us enough to prepare for a hearing.

We will need to have more.

Now, I want to make sure she's going to be an independent justice, that she's going to be independent of the White House.

Some are saying, Well, we can be sure she'll vote just the way the president wants her to. Well, nobody should have assurances -- I don't care if it's a Democratic president or a Republican president -- that the nominee's going to vote the way they may want.

This is the beauty of our system in having these lifetime appointments so that somebody that is confirmed, they can say to the president, Thank you very much for the nomination, I'll see you, and go on and be independent.

Now, this is a very fast schedule. Senator Specter and I met with Senator Frist and Senator Reid last night and discussed it. There are, as he said, some on my side who are very concerned about it. We did not have an end time. And whether we get out in Thanksgiving or not is not my concern; my concern is that it is done right.

And if the questions are not answered or if they are answered as incomplete as they have been, then it's going to be a long hearing indeed.

But I appreciate working with Senator Specter. He and I have a good personal relationship. We talk -- we're on speed dial on each other's phones and we talk many, many times on this. We work together. We keep our word to each other. And we try to have something where at least the other 98 senators know what they have when they get done. That's what we're trying to do today.

It will mean canceling a lot of hearings and other matters between now and November 7th. The chairman has agreed to that. I think we almost have to, because it's also a busy time in everything from appropriations -- I spent the morning in Agriculture, which I do try to remind people it's one of the other committees I serve on -- this morning and we have a lot of things to get done.

QUESTION: A question on logistics. Will this be one location or two?

SPECTER: Where we're going to have the hearings?

LEAHY: You didn't like the caucus room?

SPECTER: I sense a movement among the media to hold down the costs and have it just one spot. So we've decided to hold the hearings in one spot -- this room.


SPECTER: We're going to do it in one room. We're going to do it in Hart. I understand there were some costs involved in the transition, and we don't want to make it more expensive or more difficult for anybody, so we will begin and hold all the proceedings in the main hearing room in Hart.

QUESTION: Have any of your agreed to not exercise your right to hold over a nominee? Do you maintain that right to hold over this nominee?

SPECTER: No agreement.

LEAHY: We discussed it. I don't think either on the Republican side or the Democratic side you would have agreement today, and I think that's appropriate. This is not a John Roberts where we've had a whole lot of material -- still as much as I would have liked -- but a whole lot of material, the August recess time to go through it, and a person of a different nature.

When we went into those hearings, I think everybody knew they were going to be able to get the answers they wanted, so we were able to work as Senator Specter and I did -- the two us, we worked out a time and went forward.

I think it's far too early to do that. If there is such a time, I know that I can work with the chairman.

I don't think you'd get that kind of agreement on either Republican or Democrat.

SPECTER: And projected schedule -- just projected and not certain, depends on what happens -- would be to start on the 7th and use that week for the hearing, and have an executive session on Tuesday, the 15th. Anybody wants to carry it over -- every senator has an absolute right under our committee rules to carry it over. And if that went down, it would take it into Thanksgiving week.

If that right is not exercised and we conclude the committee work in the morning, as we did with Roberts, and go to the floor the next day on the 16th and 17th and 18th -- which will be Friday -- or even the 19th to vote, that's the projection. And it will depend very much on how it goes.

LEAHY: I don't want any of you to be nervous, but my wife and I, at breakfast this morning, decided, as much as we like Thanksgiving at our farmhouse in Vermont, we are planning on having Thanksgiving in Washington.


Well, whatever you read into that.

QUESTION: Senator Specter, what was so insufficient about Harriet Miers' questionnaire, especially considering you didn't join in with Democrats for a request for additional information on John Roberts?

SPECTER: I'm joining with Democrat. It's in the singular. His name is Leahy. Nobody else's name is on the letter but his and mine.

Well, I'll give you one illustration. On the civil cases which she has handled, Mike O'Neill (ph) and our Judiciary staff sent home with me over the recess a big binder of opinions. And I talked to you about some of them, the easements and the in personam jurisdiction and the patents for Microsoft, et cetera.

She gave us a skimpy little group. But no reason we should know more about her cases than she does. And we will make the letter publics.

LEAHY: And keep in mind, one of the major issues you're going to have -- well actually, there's a lot of issues -- well, one is just the obvious one on questions of recusal.

If you have a lot of matters worked on in the White House that are on their way ultimately to the Supreme Court or off to the courts of appeals, possibly to the Supreme Court, including the issue of just the justices deciding which cases to take, well, then you've got some real issues of recusal.

QUESTION: Do either of you ever remember asking a Supreme Court nominee to provide their questionnaire, in all the years that you've been on the...

SPECTER: All the years that I have been chairman, I've never done that.


LEAHY: I was chairman for a while. I didn't, either.

QUESTION: Do you remember this ever happening before? Has this ever happened before?

SPECTER: Oh, I think probably so, that there's been supplements. Goodness knows, after the hearing (inaudible) short of an issue, questions come up by the reams. We're very good at asking questions -- I mean, having our staff draft questions which we ask.

QUESTION: You describe the (inaudible) as chaotic. Does that reflect the level of preparation or coordination from the White House at all?

SPECTER: On the insufficient response to the questionnaire?

QUESTION: Well, you describe the whole process of the nomination so far as chaotic, and you alluded to some conference calls.

SPECTER: Well, a good part of what I'm talking about as chaotic is not the White House. The insufficient response to the questionnaire is the White House. And, frankly also, the nominee. What I'm referring to are all of the forces which are at work out here commanding media attention and commanding public attention.

There has been controversy before this nominee who's uttered a formal word than I have ever have ever heard. That's what I'm referring to.

I mean, we're conducting inquiries into collateral matters like who's on the conference call and who said what to whom. And I read in the Post yesterday that one of the individuals was adamant because there was no guarantee as to how she was going to vote on Roe. I never heard the likes of that.

The core of judicial independence is not knowing how they're going to vote, and the word guarantee was used. Sounds as if you're buying a washing machine.


LEAHY: You know, if somebody were to guarantee how they were going to vote on a particular issue that might come before the Supreme Court, they're not qualified to be on the court. And I think that John Roberts, I think every single nominee I've ever voted on would agree with that -- Republican and Democratic.

We do not have enough -- as far as chaotic, we don't have enough in this questionnaire, the answers so far, to go forward. That's why we have to have more.

In her own interests, I would think she would want more. So in the White House, the president made the nomination, they would want more. Today, there isn't enough. Let's hope by the time of the hearing, there is.

QUESTION: Senator Specter, would you be able to make an informed decision about this nominee if she refuses to, in accordance with the president's strictures, on not revealing executive deliberations, positions she took or advice she gave on constitutional issues...

SPECTER: Boy, that's a tall bridge you're asking me to jump off on. I'm going to -- as I've said before, I'm going to jump off that bridge if and when I come to it.

QUESTION: You've asked for a lot of additional information here. You said in the past that you were looking at Harriet Miers to guide you as to when she would be prepared for the hearing.

So my questions are twofold. First, did she tell you that she would be prepared by November 7th? And, second, what is the urgency...

SPECTER: Is this a two-part question or...

QUESTION: Yes, this is the second part.

What is the urgency to have the hearings on the 7th when you asked for so much information and you said yourself that she obviously needs a lot of time to prepare?

SPECTER: The answer to your first question is that I talked to her a week ago Monday, on the 10th, and said: We're not going to start these hearings until you're prepared. And she said November 7th she'd be ready to go.

The question of the urgency -- when you have a date, it is a tremendous factor in getting people focused. And I want to get this process focused. And to use the analogy to trial work, which is very apt, when you get to the courthouse steps, you get matters resolved in the court.

And I want to get this -- folks, we're never going to finish these hearings unless we start them. And both Senator Leahy and I have made it emphatic that starting them on the 7th does not give us any day as to when we're going to finish them.

LEAHY: I intend to, once the revised questionnaire comes up -- and I would hope they do it as quickly as possible and I would hope that this time they get it right and get it complete -- that I'll meet again with Ms. Miers, at least have another private meeting with her.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about what was said in the conversation where she called you and told you that your interpretation of what had been discussed on Griswold wasn't really accurate?

SPECTER: Would I talk a little bit about that? No.


I've already said as much as I'm going to, but that will be a prime subject for the hearing.

QUESTION: Is that one of the confidential closed-door meetings that you are troubled is influencing this hearing?

SPECTER: Yes. That's one of them.

I've had to -- this will be the 11th that I've participated in. Pat's had one more than I. And I've never walked out of a room and had a disagreement as to what was said. And as I have said publicly, I accept her version.

And the only answer to avoiding that is not to say anything. And people want to know about her and about what these conversations are, and our practice I think uniformly is not to say everything but to say some of the things which are appropriate. And that's one of the risks you run.

And the sooner we get into a hearing room where there's a stenographer and a public record, the better off the process is.

LEAHY: If I could add just an editorial comment on this.

I've dealt with Senator Specter on a lot of legal issues over the years, certainly on Supreme Court cases and nominees, I've never known him to be anything less than precise on discussing cases and I've never known him to make a mistake on what he heard.

Having said that...

SPECTER: Or any other mistakes?


LEAHY: There was that vote in -- you know, we may disagree on some philosophical issues. I've never known him to make a mistake on what he has heard on the interpretation of a case in a judicial matter.

I raised the point, as you know, in our private meetings, about this Dr. Dobson who had said that he had somehow a wink and a nod or some private assurances.

And I asked her, and re-asked her and re-asked her -- because I said I was going to report it to the press and I wanted to make absolutely sure I had it clear from her -- had she given or had she authorized anyone to give private assurances to anybody about how she would vote? She said, No, on both accounts.

I intend to re-raise that question again, of course, because there continues to be, at least if the news accounts are accurate or some of the transcripts I've seen are accurate, these private assurances seem to be -- continue to be given by some. I'd like to know why.

QUESTION: Outside of the delicate issues of executive privilege, do you think that there are some issues or some documents the White House could turn over, maybe on policy issues, and there's some things that (inaudible) committee are trying to find some middle ground, because there is so little information? Is that something you would be in favor of trying to find, some area where you get something from the White House...

SPECTER: Yes, we're trying to do that. And Senator Leahy can speak for the Democrats, but a number of Republicans have asked for non-privileged information. There's a very keen interest in learning more on all sides.

But this is going to be an unusual hearing where I think all 18 senators are going to have probing questions.

QUESTION: Does that include you, as far as (inaudible) Republicans asking for more information?


QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, today the House passed the food company lawsuit liability bill.

I'm wondering if that's something you're in favor of, if you're going to be able to take that up (OFF-MIKE.

SPECTER: What's the bill again?

QUESTION: The protecting food companies -- the cheeseburger bill -- on lawsuits..

LEAHY: Probably not the number one.


SPECTER: We will take a look at that legislation just as soon as we can -- the cheeseburger bill...


... and if I can get Senator Leahy's concurrence, we're going to move it right ahead of the Miers nomination.


LEAHY: I somehow had this image of John Belushi, you know?

QUESTION: Senator, Ms. Miers was said by the White House to have been actively involved in previous judicial nominations. How do you explain that her questionnaire was (OFF-MIKE)?

SPECTER: I really can't explain it. I think, in fairness to her, she's facing a lot of questions at the same time. She's making the rounds, seeing a lot of senators. She's studying the cases. She's got some duties which persist and she can't avoid as White House counsel. And she's a very, very busy person.

And that's why we're being so careful and not starting them until we have a date which she's comfortable with.

QUESTION: Senator, can you elaborate on what you would consider from the White House non-privileged information and give some idea of what information does that involve?

SPECTER: Well, I can give you an illustration -- and I say this at some risk, but I think this is totally accurate. She said that -- I inquired about, when she functioned as White House counsel on judicial selection, about Roe, did she ask the nominees where they stood on Roe v. Wade -- not asking her, but asking about nominees. And she said, I'll answer that question. And we do not have a litmus test, and we do not ask people who are being considered for federal judgeships.

That's an illustration of a question which she was prepared to answer. And I said, That's a significant answer and I'd like to see you do more of that.

I should also note that the president has not yet said he wants any type of executive privilege here. And of course that's very limiting even if he does -- and only one person can claim that. The witness can't claim executive privilege. Only the president can.

And then there are a lot of cases -- sort of the number that came up during the Clinton administration, when the courts ruled very dramatically how limited it could possibly be.

QUESTION: Senator Leahy, you described the system, called the responses insulting. Will you give me an example or two of what was insulting about the responses?

LEAHY: Well, just the fact that we put together -- this was not a questionnaire from Republicans or from Democrats. We put together a very thorough questionnaire. Senator Specter and I and our staffs worked very closely to make sure that it was a -- I was going to say bipartisan, actually a nonpartisan -- but just a good questionnaire.

And the fact that many of the questions really weren't answered at all -- you've got a one-word answer and you've got a two-part question; that's not answered.

And it's almost like -- and we spend a lot of time on this because, again, not to play gotcha, but we have a responsibility to 98 other senators who then have a responsibility to every person in this country.

We're working hard to carry out our responsibilities, not have this thing taken by winks and nods and quiet promises over conference calls; we'd actually like to know what the heck is going on.

And I sure want to know before I vote.

Now, I said with John Roberts, there were some questions I wish we could have had information on, but at least when I got done I felt I had enough to make up my mind, and I did. I cast my vote. I'm very, very comfortable with my vote, because I had enough to make up my mind.

And I've taken -- incidentally, I've taken exactly the same position with Democratic administrations. When they filled out questionnaires for judges or anybody else, I'd say: You better be thorough on them because if I don't like them, you got a problem.

SPECTER: Listen, we're only going to take 35 more questions, so can you make them brief?


Let's see how many questions we have so we can see where we're going to go. One, two, three, four -- we'll take the last four questions.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Senator Leahy, are you insulted personally by her lack of responsiveness?

LEAHY: I have seen an incomplete questionnaire.

We sent out, I thought, a very good questionnaire. I was satisfied with the questionnaire that went out. Democrats and Republicans on the committee -- and you know this is a committee that goes across the political spectrum -- were satisfied with it.

I don't know of anybody who would tell you in that committee that they were satisfied with the responses. So I would describe myself as unsatisfied, and I have to be satisfied before I'll vote for anybody, Republican or Democrat.

QUESTION: A question about providing more policy decision documents or questionnaires while she was running for Dallas City Council: Why was it that you all specified that? Is it that you believe there are additional questionnaires on her abortion views, for example, that you should be aware of? Or were the records incomplete that you got yesterday?

SPECTER: Well, I believe she had provided relatively little as to what she did when she was on city council.


SPECTER: Well, the inquiry as to whether there are any more questionnaires like the one which came to light yesterday, we want to be sure that she searched the files.

And from the balance of her answers, they're incomplete. We want to be sure that that question is not incompletely responded to.

LEAHY: If you want an interesting thing -- and I would emphasize as I did with Roberts -- abortion's only one issue. There are so many, many other issues.

A question that could be asked by somebody who is either against Roe v. Wade or for Roe v. Wade, one question could easily be asked: If you're in favor of a constitutional amendment,does that mean that you feel that the only way Roe could or should be overturned would be through a constitutional amendment? That would be an interesting question to ask. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody does.

QUESTION: Senator Specter, are you putting into writing your request for more documents from the White House?


QUESTION: And will you make that available to...

LEAHY: I think we have copies...

SPECTER: We are putting it in writing and it will be made available to the media, to the public.

QUESTION: Was this the extent of it...


LEAHY: Well, let's see what the answers are in this letter.


SPECTER: I've only seen a draft. I can't (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Senators, based on what you're hearing from you colleagues on the (OFF-MIKE)

SPECTER: (inaudible) we're going to say, no. I'm going to say, no.

QUESTION: What about you?

LEAHY: I have asked all Democrats -- I've made the same request of my caucus and everywhere else.

As you know, rarely we'll ever discuss anything from caucus but I can tell you this: I've made the same request I made during the Roberts, and that is keep your powder dry, wait until we've had the hearing, and then make up your mind.

As you recall, last time with Roberts, that's exactly what happened: Half the Democrats voted for him; half the Democrats voted against him.

SPECTER: I think Senator Leahy has stated that preeminently fairly -- preeminently fairly: Give this nominee a chance to be heard.

And that's why we're moving to a hearing just as promptly as is reasonable, given all the background circumstances.

Thank you all very much.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:26 PM

Miers Critics "Far Right," Says Miers's Ex-White House Officemate

Adding to the sexism, elitism, faith, and threat cards in the White House arsenal, comes the "far right" card.

Speaking in support of Harriet Miers on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show last night was Brad Blakeman, described by Carlson as "a former deputy assistant to President Bush [who] shared an office with Harriet Miers for three years."

I'm posting the entire transcript of the Blakeman interview below. Go to the parts in bold to see the "far right" business.
CARLSON: one of the many questions regarding Harriet Miers has been answered, in part, anyway, in a questionnaire Miers filled out while running for the Dallas city council in 1989. She clearly indicated, or seemed to, that she's opposed to abortion, unless the mother's life was in danger.

Some conservatives are not satisfied with that, but one who appears to be, joins us now from Washington. He is Brad Blakeman. He's a former deputy assistant to President Bush. He shared an office with Harriet Miers for three years.

Mr. Blakeman, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON: So what does this mean? Does this mean Harriet Miers is opposed to Roe vs. Wade?

BLAKEMAN: Not at all. I think that judges every day have to put aside their personal beliefs and rule on the law as given.

In this case, with Harriet Miers as a justice of the Supreme Court, Harriet will be called upon to interpret the Constitution. You're supposed to set aside your personal feelings or values and rule as the Constitution dictates. And Harriet will do that.

CARLSON: But how does she feel about Roe vs. Wade?

BLAKEMAN: I don't know. I never had a conversation with her, and as the president has said, neither has he. And as Harriet has told a senator she's met with on the Hill, that "nobody knows how I feel on that issue."

CARLSON: How about other constitutional issues? We've been talking about this almost every day for the last couple of weeks. I've been kind of, you know, a little harsh about Harriet Miers.

BLAKEMAN: A little?

CARLSON: Yes, a little, and I feel that way, and I feel frustrated, because I don't really know what she believes about anything, constitutionally. Can you give me a couple of her opinions on constitutional issues that might help our viewers understand who she is and what she might do if she's confirmed?

BLAKEMAN: Well, Harriet Miers is the first to tell you, she's not a constitutional lawyer, but our Founding Fathers put forth in the Constitution that-if they thought the smartest people on the planet were judges, then they would have set forth in the Constitution, "Mr. President, you have to pick from the judiciary."

It's quite the contrary. Our Founding Fathers wanted a diverse Supreme Court, and Harriet Miers, if confirmed, will be the only justice of the Supreme Court, as it presently exists, that is not a judge. You don't have to be a constitutional scholar.

CARLSON: I couldn't agree more. I don't have a problem with that at all. Some of the smartest people I know didn't graduate from high school, including some people I'm related to. So look, that doesn't bother me. I just-I think it's fair to ask, what are her opinions on the Constitution? I mean, don't you think it's a fair question?

BLAKEMAN: I think it's a fair question, and I think Harriet Miers is going to answer those questions before the Senate, and both Republicans and Democrats will have a crack at it. And quite frankly, Harriet Miers will rise and fall on her own testimony.

And I submit to you that don't underestimate Harriet Miers. I worked with her for three years. She's able. She's...

CARLSON: I believe that. Sure.

BLAKEMAN: She's affable. And she's going to do a great job.

CARLSON: She'll do better than people think. I don't think there's any question about that.

Now, as just a political question, quickly, this information we got today, that she checked a box in '89, saying she was opposed to abortion except when the mother's life was at risk, this is the kind of information that would have made evangelical critics of the president feel a lot better, had it come out two weeks ago, two and a half weeks ago, before her nomination was announced.

Is the White House P.R. operation-outreach operation so screwed up that nobody thought to send this to allies of the White House?

BLAKEMAN: No. I think, Tucker, the president could have put forth Mother Teresa, and there were some on the far right that said, "Well, you know, she's not really religious enough for me."

CARLSON: That's totally not true. You know that that's not true.

BLAKEMAN: No, it is true. The fact of the matter is, the far right...

CARLSON: Hold on. Wait. Hold on. Slow down.

BLAKEMAN: The far right thinks that...

CARLSON: What do you mean, the far right? What is it with the name calling? Why is it every time you talk to somebody from the White House, the far right, the sexist, the elitist? Why are you calling names? Why don't you make an argument that makes sense, rather than calling people names?

BLAKEMAN: You have to call it as you see it. Our critics come from the far right and the fringe of our party. And what they want is they think the Constitution should read, "for special interest groups (ph)."

CARLSON: I don't respect that at all. I think that's totally unfair thing to say. I've asked you totally fair, direct questions about what this woman believes. That's a legitimate concern. And to marginalize my opinions or those of any of the...

BLAKEMAN: I didn't single you out, Tucker. I just...

CARLSON: I know a lot of the-I'm offended by your characterization of the critics of her nomination, because many of those critics, many of whom I know very well and have worked with and eaten dinner with, aren't on the fringe of anything. They're totally mainstream, thoughtful, really smart people who have legitimate concerns. They're not name calling.

BLAKEMAN: Well, don't take it personally. All I'm saying is that the critics have said that the president should have sought more advice and consent of them. And quite frankly, had the president done that, those-those people would have deep-sixed the nomination of Harriet before the president had an opportunity to nominate her.

CARLSON: I think you're right. I think that's a good point. And some of those people whine a lot. I agree with you, too. I understand the president's frustration with his allies, because they always want everything to be perfect. I get it. I've seen it a million times.

But you haven't answered my question I just asked you, which is what is it with this sexist, elitist, far right stuff? Why-why attack people, A, who support you politically, pretty reliably, and B, who have legitimate concerns? That's what the left does. That's an unfair, sleazy, and might I add, stupid tactic, because it doesn't address the real issues.

BLAKEMAN: It isn't. And again, please don't take it personally. I'm not directing it towards you.

CARLSON: It's not just you. The president's wife said it. She accused it of being sexist.

BLAKEMAN: Like the Democrats, we have a fringe to our party.

CARLSON: Like who?

BLAKEMAN: You don't think that there's a fringe to the Republican Party?

CARLSON: I don't know. Maybe I'm on it. Tell me. Who's on the Republican fringe?

BLAKEMAN: The most severe critics of Harriet Miers. I'm not going to single anybody out.

CARLSON: Just single out a group. Give me a sense. Who's on the fringe?

BLAKEMAN: Have unfairly attacked the president for exercising his constitutional responsibility. I think it's unfair. Many-many have called for her to resign, outrageous.

CARLSON: Well, hold on. You may not agree with it.

BLAKEMAN: They ought to give her an opportunity to appear before the Senate, and then have the Senate give her an up or down vote. Don't you think that's fair?

CARLSON: I think it's fair, but I also think it's completely fair for people who pay close attention to politics, who know-including some people who used to work at the White House, some you know, David Frum, who was a speech writer at the White House. I'm certain he's one of the people you're talking about.

BLAKEMAN: I don't think he was on the senior staff. David Frum was a speech writer.

CARLSON: As I just said, David Frum was a speech writer at the White House.
Are you saying that he's on the fringe of something? No, he's not. He's completely. He's a supporter of Bush. He voted for him. He's a supporter of the war in Iraq. Right? So I guess that's my point, when you don't have an argument, you attack your opponent...

BLAKEMAN: I do have an argument.

CARLSON: ... By calling names.

BLAKEMAN: No, I do have an argument. The argument is, let the process work as intended. The president has the right to send up his nominee to the advice and consent of the Senate.

CARLSON: Of course.

BLAKEMAN: And not the advice and dissent of a Senate committee. She deserves a full vote of the Senate, and she also deserves the ability to sit in the witness chair and answer your tough questions and other people's questions.

CARLSON: Well, and I hope the name calling will stop when she finally does.
And just for the record, I haven't seen anybody contest the president's right to appoint someone to the Supreme Court.

CARLSON: To nominate somebody.

BLAKEMAN: Sure, they do. A lot of folks have called for her to step down. That's outrageous.

[APPARENTLY CARLSON:] They don't like her. They think she is unqualified. "New York Times" last week three printed columns she wrote, the Texas Bar Association, frankly were moronic. I am sure you read it. I think you read them. I think it's fair to read that. It's not an attack on her personally. I'm sure she's s delightful. But to read those, I think an honest person can say, boy, I have concerns. Maybe she should step down. I think it's a fair conclusion to reach. Just my opinion.

Anyway, Brad Blakeman, thanks for joining us.
So, why was a fellow who considers the conservative movement to be "far right" a deputy assistant to President Bush?

Last night on MSNBC, was he speaking for the White House?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 PM

Dick Morris, Brainpower, and Harriet Miers

It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that I am not a member of the Harriet Miers confirmation team. That said, I think the column critical of Miers Dick Morris wrote for today's Hill newspaper, in which Morris claims Miers lacks the brainpower to be a Supreme Court justice, is wrongheaded and unjustifiably insulting to Miers.

Inadvertently, it is insulting to Morris as well, as it displays his ignorance.

Morris writes, in part:
My mother used to say: It's not enough to be Hungarian. You still need a little talent, too. To paraphrase her, its not enough to be conservative, you still need to have the brainpower to be a Supreme Court justice. And, if Harriet Miers is confirmed, she likely won't be in the same league with her colleagues in terms of gray matter.

Fifty years ago, it was OK to name a Supreme Court justice who was a layman. Hugo Black was a senator from Alabama. William Douglas was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Earl Warren was governor of California. The court was still dealing with broad and basic issues such as school segregation, reapportionment, the broad outlines of defendant rights, the application of the 14th Amendment to the states and the right of privacy.

But today's court is much more than a legislative body on which people whose heart is in the right place should be picked to serve. It is an assemblage of experts in constitutional law who dice, prune, shape and redefine previous doctrines and decisions to apply to the new matters at hand. A modern Supreme Court justice is not some legislator who decides to vote for the plaintiff or the defendant. He or she must be a scholar who can argue and articulate new variations on old doctrines and find four other justices who see things the same way.

Some question Miers's conservative credentials. That is not my worry. I'm happy that she may not be a knee-jerk right-winger. My worry is that she is just not competent enough to serve on the court...

Talk-show host and former Supreme Court clerk Laura Ingraham (how low we all eventually fall in search of a living!) says it best. "How can you expect a general-practice lawyer like her to go head to head with a Stephen Breyer? "
This article is so comprehensively bad it would be a waste of time to criticize it fully, but a couple of points:

Morris must be a devotee of the "living Constitution" school of thought (which, for those of you not familiar with it, holds that federal appellate justices are a kind of uber-citizen who has the right to amend the Constitution without resorting to the cumbersome formal amendment process other citizens must use). Otherwise, Morris would never think that interpreting the Constitution now is any harder than it was 50 years ago, or that the issues facing the Court today are any more complicated than they were in the past.

Does Morris think the Founding Fathers would be over their heads if they were resurrected to serve on the Court today?

I don't know enough about Miers to judge her capabilities or her views (I suspect Morris is in the same position), but I also take exception to Morris's view (and Laura Ingraham's, if Laura was quoted accurately and in context) that a "general practice" lawyer couldn't handle court duties. Some could; some couldn't. Possibly the fact that it is fashionable to denigrate lawyers (and has been since Shakespeare's time) has kept society from recognizing that, while all professions have their share of incompetents, lawyers practicing at the top of their profession have to be very, very smart indeed.

The White House claims that Harriet Miers has been practicing at the top of her profession. I don't know if this is true, but I note that Morris didn't even try to challenge it, which probably means he had no evidence for doing so.

I submit that, on an IQ basis, if the White House is right, she would have to be smart enough for the Supreme Court.

For heaven's sake, we have had senile Supreme Court justices, and not all that long ago. It was scandalous, but most people didn't even notice.

(Hmmm... perhaps that last point may have something to do with why the Court is resistant to permitting C-Span coverage of oral arguments.)

Bottom line: Being a good U.S. Supreme Court justice is about more than IQ. It also is about having the wisdom to know when decisions aren't the Court's to make, and the discipline to leave those decisions to the people.

The public face of Harriet Miers's career hasn't shown us if she has these latter qualities. The White House has yet to demonstrate it.

That's the real issue.

Dick Morris just doesn't get it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 PM

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Global Warming Does Not Cause Earthquakes

While trying to encourage two MSNBC guests, one described as having a degree in Russian and the other a high school diploma, to blame hurricanes on global warming, guest host Catherine Crier noted that "a quarter million people have been killed in these sorts of weather events" this year.

Catherine Crier must have forgotten that earthquakes (and earthquake-related tsunamis) are very different from hurricanes.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:02 PM

Congressional Action: Rebirthing Therapy Condemned

On October 18, Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) introduced S. Res. 276, which subsequently was adopted. It read:
Whereas "rebirthing" is the most dangerous form of attachment therapy, a controversial and scientifically unsupported form of therapy that claims to treat emotionally disturbed children by using physical restraints;

Whereas rebirthing techniques attempt to reenact the birth process by restraining a child with blankets or other materials and forcing the child to emerge unaided;

Whereas rebirthing techniques are based on the erroneous assumption that a reenactment of the birth process will treat children with reactive attachment disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by the inability to form emotional attachments, by purging the child of rage resulting from past mistreatment and allowing the child to form stronger emotional attachments in the future;

Whereas attachment therapists claim rebirthing techniques create new bonds between adopted children and adoptive parents and often use rebirthing techniques in therapy sessions with adoptive families;

Whereas in 2000, Candace Newmaker, a 10-year-old child from North Carolina, died from suffocation, after being wrapped in flannel sheets, covered with pillows, and leaned on by 4 adults to simulate contractions, when Candace became trapped by the sheets because she was forcibly restrained by these adults and could not emerge through her own efforts to be reborn into her adoptive family;
Whereas between 1995 and 2005, at least 4 other children in the United States have died from other forms of attachment therapy;

Whereas the American Psychiatric Association, a national medical specialty society that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses, maintains that no scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of rebirthing techniques;

Whereas in 2002, Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., President of the American Psychiatric Association, condemned rebirthing techniques as ``extreme methods [that] pose serious risk and should not be used under any circumstances''; and

Whereas several States have enacted or are considering legislation to prohibit the use of rebirthing techniques: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that-

(1) rebirthing, an attachment therapy technique that reenacts the birth process by physically restraining a child and forcing the child to emerge unaided, is dangerous, potentially life-threatening, and unsupported by scientific evidence; and

(2) each State should enact laws prohibiting the use of rebirthing techniques.

Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM


I really like this new blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:52 PM

Right to Privacy; No Right to Privacy

This just showed up in my in-box:
Monday, October 17, 2005

Statement by William Reynolds
Communications Director and Legal Counsel
Senator Arlen Specter
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

"In their meeting this afternoon Sen. Specter thought Ms. Harriet Miers said she agreed with Griswold v. Connecticut and there was a right to privacy in the Constitution. After Sen. Specter commented on that to the news media, Ms. Miers called him to say that he misunderstood her and that she had not taken a position on Griswold or the privacy issue. Sen. Specter accepts Ms. Miers's statement that he misunderstood what she said."
Glad we cleared that up.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:03 AM

Washington Post: The Conservative Machine and Miers

The Washington Post, in an article by Peter Baker, takes a look today at "the conservative machine's" efforts (or lack thereof) on behalf of Harriet Miers.

I agree with Baker's main thrust, but have some notes around the margins.

Baker says, in part:
The apparatus constructed largely by Bush strategist Karl Rove and deployed effectively on behalf of recently confirmed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has splintered over Miers and broken free from its commander. Conservative organizations that generated millions of e-mail messages on behalf of Roberts have silenced their servers. Airwaves that sizzled with commercials demanding a Senate vote just weeks ago carry no such ads into living rooms now. The followers of these groups are not flooding their senators with supportive telephone calls and letters.
I agree with the main point, though I disagree with the notion that the conservative "apparatus" that weighs in on judicial nominations was "constructed largely by... Karl Rove."

Baker also says:
The split seems to be evolving into one of the most profound schisms in years within a conservative movement whose unity has buoyed Bush through his most difficult moments and earned the envy of the political left. While conservative groups have disagreed over policies in the past, rarely have they turned against a president so normally aligned with them on such a central, legacy-building priority.
Rarely, but not never. Recall Medicare, 2003 -- the White House throws Medicare deeper into insolvency while surrendering the best chance for fundamental reforms that could both have improved the program's financial stability while increasing health care options and quality for seniors. The conservative movement was appalled, but our Chief Executive was bailed out by the Republican Congress (how many years was that vote held open?). Also recall McCain-Feingold, in which President Bush apparently let a bill he opposed on Constitutional grounds become law for political reasons, figuring the Supreme Court would do his job for him -- which it didn't.

There's an irony for you. If the White House and Congress had fought harder for Constitutional government, maybe we wouldn't be quite so unwilling to "just trust" on Supreme Court nominations.

In the Medicare and McCain-Feingold cases, the White House got off more easily than it otherwise would have, because conservative anger at Congress in the first instance and at the Supreme Court in the second took heat off the President. However, in the Harriet Miers case, Bush has no one to hide behind.

The "schism" that would concern conservatives would be one that occurred over core principles, and (despite what one hears by a handful of commentators who, perhaps due to personality, don't work well in coalitions) we aren't having any serious splits over principles.

Frankly, politicians come and go. On the whole, I think very highly of President Bush, but we must be realistic. Before long, he's going to be fundraising for his presidential library and inhaling the rarefied air of "former president." We'll still be working the trenches while he's showing deference to his successor (in the way of Bush 41 and Reagan) by not speaking out on policy from retirement.

Finally, Baker did well, in my view, to include the following:
"We've been there for him because we've considered ourselves part of his team," [the American Conservative Union's David] Keene wrote in an essay printed in the newspaper the Hill and e-mailed to fellow conservatives. "No more. From now on, this administration will find it difficult to muster support on the right without explaining why it should be forthcoming. The days of the blank check have ended."
Keene captured the sentiment exactly, but liberals shouldn't get too gleeful. We're still part of George Bush's team, whenever he's still part of ours.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 AM

Monday, October 17, 2005

Top Magazine Covers

Commissar at The Politburo Diktat is showcasing some of his favorite magazine covers of the last 40 years, and linking to a display the top 40 magazine covers as selected by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Its clear when reviewing the ASME 40 that some were selected for their originality while others must have been chosen for political/cultural appeal.

Interestingly, the ASME list of 40 contains only 3 from the 1980s. A bad decade for creativity, or was the political karma not to ASME's liking?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:32 PM

Rush Limbaugh on Conservatives and Miers

From the Wall Street Journal Monday, commentary by Rush Limbaugh:
The Miers nomination shows the strength of the conservative movement. This is no 'crackup.' It's a crackdown. We conservatives are unified in our objectives. And we are organized to advance them. The purpose of the Miers debate is to ensure that we are doing the very best we can to move the nation in the right direction.
Poor Rush. He's going to lose his seat at the "table of power."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

Bush White House Threats on Miers

Is the White House getting desperate over Miers?

President Bush's "friends" threaten Bush will exact retribution against conservatives who oppose the Miers nomination:
Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. 'They're crazy to take him on this frontally,' said a former West Wing official. 'Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it.'

-From "Why They Can't Hit The Right Note" Time, by Mike Allen, posted online 10/16/05.
Too bad Time doesn't name names.

If this stupid "threat" was sanctioned, the White House is feeling exceptionally desperate.

Things I wonder...

1) Where is the "table of power"?

2) If we have a seat on it, how is it we asked question #1?

This reminds me of when husband David and I were told we were banned from the White House of Bush 41 because we took the conservative position on a major issue instead of the Bush White House position, and the score read: Conservatives 1, Bush White House, 0.

The ban itself wasn't much (they let me in later when I had the honor of being invited to Clarence Thomas's swearing-in ceremony on the White House lawn). I assumed even then it really only meant that certain individuals on the staff were really mad, so I'd better not ask them for any favors (like the chance to get a picture of myself sitting at the "table of power," maybe wearing a funny hat). Nonetheless, it was a nice ego boost.

By the way, I very much doubt any genuine conservative ever used the phrase "self-righteous right-wingers." That's not how conservatives talk about each other, even when we're mad. Moderate Republicans do use those terms, but we haven't taken orders from them since they told us en masse back in 1979 and early 1980 that Ronald Reagan was unelectable. So, the "former West Wing official" can just go back to his job at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, and we'll go on wondering what Harriet Miers believes about original intent.

Steve Bainbridge also is blogging the "threat." He doesn"t seem a bit cowed to me.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 AM

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hillary's Re-Invented History

The Sunday Washington Times did me the honor of publishing one of my blog posts in its commentary section.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Slave Syndrome" Questioned

Project 21's Kimberley Jane Wilson says anyone who embraces "slave syndrome" "is more of a slave than our ancestors ever were."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:25 AM

Friday, October 14, 2005

Stand in the Trenches: Peter Singer, Again

No, Mary-Eileen, it isn't just you.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 PM

Ten Outstanding Conservative Senators

Human Events Online has published their list of the top ten conservative Senators.

At a time when grassroots conservatives are frustrated by ridiculous waste like spending a half million in tax dollars painting a plane to look like a fish, among other frustrations, it is good to be reminded that Congress is not monolithic.

Hat tip:

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 AM

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A President Named Bush

There is a story I could tell, of a President named Bush, who was perceived by the conservative base to be one of them. He had come to conservatism rather late in life, and hadn't always pleased the faithful. But all in all, he was good far more than he was bad, and tried to do his best. He was a likable guy besides, the kind you could see coming over to your house for barbecue, except that he was President, and would never come, but for all that, in your mind's eye you could see him on your lawn, telling the kind of stories that are maybe a little old but not too old to be good, and you liked him, and were pleased to be in his company.

And then came the time that this President, perhaps growing used to being popular, and being surrounded by those who told him he was wise, and maybe getting a little tired of waking every day to a fight, made a decision that he thought would please those who were in the mainstream, without angering his base too much. So he made his decision, and called it good, and rejoiced that those who usually vilified him were silent. But the conservatives were shocked, and many who thought more of him were saddened, and although they loved him, and wished him well, they wondered if he might change his mind, or if the legislature might undo this decision, which they thought he soon might come to regret.

At first these conservatives who dissented were marginalized, and ridiculed, for it was said they had no where else to go, and that they might cost themselves the next election. They had been abandoned not only by their President, but also by their leader on Capitol Hill, and because the opposition was not attacking the President's decision, the odds of defeating him were steep indeed.

But even as these conservatives were derided for valuing their beliefs more than victory, they reminded themselves that sound doctrine is sound politics; maybe not on day one, but for all the days after. And so, they began to protest, and the radio hosts with their audiences began to chime in, saying we love this President, but this is a wrong thing, and we must undo it, even if it makes the opposition glad.

The White House became incredulous, and complained of feeling betrayed, and dropped hints of retribution. But their anger was to the conservatives like the scent of victory; its perfume began to fill the land.

The President's allies began to feel desperate, and to cast false accusations, but still the rebels continued, calling the decision "a symptom of a more fundamental opposition to conservative values and beliefs..." (1) The mainstream media was agog, saying "It took only two breathtaking weeks for George Bush to sink into a quagmire of indecision and ineptitude. It could take him the rest of his Presidency to dig out." (2)

The protests continued, and noting the public sentiment, the expedient Republicans began to speak out, saying maybe the conservatives are right, maybe this is not something we should do. And although the Senate Democratic leader went on television, and expressed support for the President, he could not hold his party together. On the day the vote was held, it came to pass that the Republicans defected, with 60 percent of them voting against the President's wish, while 58 percent of the Democrats joined them in the rebellion.

And a major news magazine would later report, when it all was done, that thanks to "an angry coalition of right-wing Republicans... the fiasco was the worst setback of his presidency... a politician's worst nightmare... Despite the arm-twisting, the defections mounted. In fact, they were fueled to some degree by resentment of [White House] tactics, which some Republicans derided..."

"A stunned White House tried to pick up the pieces," the magazine continued, but "the Republican rebels seemed intractable." (3)

A top presidential advisor, surveying the damage after the defeat, called the conservatives "stupid," but soon faded into obscurity. The conservatives had tasted victory. Years of triumphs had begun.

As a bonus, here's a picture of one of the conservative protests described in this true story.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:42 AM

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Laura Ingraham Poll: Support for White House Position Doubles

Are polls showing the White House gaining ground with its "Miers critics are sexist" line of reasoning?

Why, yes. When I first reported on this poll on the Laura Ingraham website on October 6, a whopping one percent of respondents thought conservative opposition to Miers was based on sexism.

Now it's doubled!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:27 PM

Time to Let the Animosity Go, Buddy

Given the last sentence of this obituary, you'd think the guy's family wouldn't advertise that he was named in honor of a Republican President.

Hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham, and others.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:15 PM

Patrick Leahy: On Miers, No Dissent Permitted

Senator Patrick Leahy speaking on conservatives (apparently), Harriet Miers and the Supreme Court nomination:
" faction should be permitted to hound a nominee to withdraw before the hearing process has even begun."
What's the plan, Pat? Repealing the First Amendment or simply inventing a penumbra that conveniently invalidates it in cases of political dissent?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:59 PM

Gerhard Schroeder: Anglo-Saxons Are to Blame, Boo-Hoo-Hoo

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, showing the temper and reasoning ability of a kindergartener, lashed out at George Bush's handling of Katrina today, apparently hoping to distract attention from the fact that his professional and private lives are utter disasters.

From Reuters:
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has led Germany since 1998, said for the first time on Wednesday he would not play a role in the next government, in an emotional farewell including broadsides at the United States and Britain.

...He quickly composed himself, hitting his stride in a passionate defense of a strong German state and lashing out at 'Anglo-Saxon' economic policies favored in Britain and the United States, which he said had 'no chance' in Europe. In an apparent reference to Hurricane Katrina, Schroeder castigated Washington for liberal, hands-off policies that left it exposed in times of crisis. The Bush administration was widely criticised for its response to the devastating storm. 'I do not want to name any catastrophes where you can see what happens if organized state action is absent. I could name countries, but the position I still hold forbids it, but everyone knows I mean America,' he said to loud applause.
My paternal ancestors were German. They came to America and thrived under "Anglo-Saxon economics." Apparently Schroeder believes modern-day Germans have none of my ancestors' fine qualities.

Ralph Peters has a nice pre-buttal to Schroeder and others in "Old Europe" ("We thought you were adults, but, from across the Atlantic, you look like spoiled children.") circa May 2003.

Germany, wake up. The world likes your money, but if you don't get your work ethic back, you'll lose even the friends you bought.

Addendum: Ace of Spaces wasn't as kind to Schroeder as I was.

Addendum #2, 10/13: Debra Saunders has a look at "our betters" in Europe on, while David's Medienkritik zings Schroeder from up close.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:09 PM

Ticking Off Senate Republicans

Though buried deep in a Washington Times story, this is no small thing:
A second meeting last week between [Republican Senate] staffers and White House officials devolved into a confrontational affair. Republican Senate aides who attended that meeting say the White House no longer returns their phone calls and e-mails seeking information about Miss Miers.
Can President Bush get a nominee confirmed without Senate Republicans? Short answer is "no." Not returning calls is insulting to Senators -- many of whom tend to insult easily at the best of times.

Harriet Miers may wow 'em at her confirmation hearings, but the bar seems to be steadily rising.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 AM

Laura Bush Fights the Last War for Women; the Wrong War for Harriet Miers

In response to Laura Bush's remarks about Harriet Miers today:
I know Harriet well, I know how accomplished she is, I know how many times she's broken the glass ceiling herself. She is a role model for young women around our country.
That's fine as far as it goes, but "role model" is not the job description of a Supreme Court justice. To the extent that Harriet Miers is a role model because of past barriers broken, she is one regardless of whether she ever sits on the high court.

I personally believe, female-role-model-wise, Mrs. Bush is fighting the last war. American women have broken the glass ceilings. What we can't figure out is how to still have time to raise our kids properly with all that broken glass at our feet.

Based on her biography, I don't think Ms. Miers has an answer to that one, but even if she did, it would not -- by itself -- make her Supreme Court material.

Extremely popular, yes. Supreme Court material, no.

Here's an idea, Mrs. Bush: Rather than tell us Harriet Miers is someone young women can look up to, tell us what Harriet Miers thought of John Roberts's dissent in the Rancho Viejo "hapless toad" case.

When the Senate confirmation hearings begin, Senators won't ask serious questions about glass ceilings, but they will ask about the hapless toad.

I sure hope the Bushes know her answer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hillary Clinton's Feminist Tale

Hillary Clinton must be dumb as a post. Either that, or she spins fiction.

An October 8 Newsday story about Hillary Clinton's induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame begins:
Inspired by Alan Shepard, the first American to journey into space, a 14-year-old from suburban Chicago wrote a letter to NASA in 1961 asking what she needed to do to become an astronaut.

Back came a curt reply: Girls are not being recruited by the nation's space program.

"It had never crossed my mind up until that point that there might be doors closed to me simply because I was a girl," recalled the letter writer, better known today as former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The rejection stung her to the core, opening up the teenager's eyes to sexual stereotypes, career barriers and discriminatory practices that soon came under assault from landmark laws beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"We have made so many advances in the last 40 years that are really unprecedented in the history of the world," said Clinton, one of 10 women inducted Saturday in the National Women's Hall of Fame...
It simply would not be possible, unless one were in some form of isolation, to spend one's girlhood during the 1950s and not notice that there were some "doors closed" to women. I was born in 1959 and knew it by kindergarten.

Either Mrs. Clinton is, or used to be, dumb as a post, or she made the story up.

As it happens, Mrs. Clinton doesn't always tell the letter-to-NASA story the same way.

As she was inducted in the the National Women's Hall of Fame this weekend, Senator Clinton said the young Hillary Rodham was 14 and inspired by Alan Shepherd's 1961 trip into space when she wrote to NASA.

But in this transcript of a May 2005 commencement speech by Senator Hillary Clinton, archived on Senator Clinton's own website, the young Hillary Rodham is 12 when the incident occurs: "I wrote off to this new agency called NASA, and asked how a twelve-year old girl could become an astronaut..."

And in this bio on the website of the National First Ladies Library, for which she, along with the other living current and ex-first ladies, serves as an honorary "chairperson" (apparently the title "first lady" can imply gender but not the title "chairman"), Hillary Rodham is an adult when she applies to NASA: "Occupation before Marriage: As a young woman, Hillary Rodham worked as a babysitter both after school and during her vacation breaks, sometimes watching the children of migrant Mexicans brought to the Chicago area for itinerant work. She applied to NASA and was stunned when she was told that girls were not accepted for the astronaut program..."

Mrs. Clinton's story contains some truths, however. NASA was created when Hillary Rodham was 12 and Alan Shepherd did go into space when she was 14.

As to the Women's Hall of Fame: Amusingly, of the four living women inducted into the "the National Women's Hall of Fame" on Saturday, two made it to fame and fortune through their husbands -- both of whom are Democratic Party politicians.

Consistency, thy name is feminism.

A list of the 217 women inducted the National Women's Hall of Fame can be reviewed here. Leftie political activists Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, who promoted the Equal Rights Amendment, made it in -- but not rightie political activist Phyllis Schlafly, who defeated the Equal Rights Amendment.

To the victor goes no spoils.

Mrs. Bill Clinton, Mrs. Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt made it in, but not Mrs. Jerry Ford nor Mrs. Ronald Reagan nor Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower nor Mrs. Richard Nixon (I hardly needed to tell you no Nixon would be in) nor either Mrs. George Bush.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of Democratic President John F. Kennedy and founder of Special Olympics and a leader in the field of helping people with disabilities made it in while Betty Ford, wife of Republican President Jerry Ford and founder of the Betty Ford Center and a leader in the field of treating people with addiction is not in. (I'd make some crack about this but the women in the Kennedy family have been treated so badly by the men in the Kennedy family that I have a personal rule not to pile on.)

The lesson of the National Women's Hall of Fame: When bias isn't sexism, its okay.

Fortunately, a woman needs a Hall of Fame the way a fish needs a bicycle.

P.S. Husband David tells me I shouldn't doubt Hillary Clinton's veracity: He says a woman named after Sir Edmund Hillary would never tell a lie.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:26 PM

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Manny Miranda on Harriet Miers Nomination: Was It For This, Mr. President?

"Was it for this, Mr. President? Was it for this that so many Americans made so many sacrifices, worked so hard, gave up family time, made life-changing decisions, took pains? Was it for this that so many prepared the way for so many years? Was it for this we gave you and 55 senators a mandate?

"...we are reminded that 40 other Supreme Court justices had never first served as a judge. True, and that includes most of the Warren Court that wrought so much harm to the Constitution. Surely, this is an argument intended to comfort the least thoughtful.

"We are reminded that John Marshall, the great chief justice, had never been a judge. If Miers had fought in the American Revolution, had associated with James Madison and George Washington, and been chosen by them to be the most impassioned and learned advocate for the new American Constitution's ratification, had she served in the earliest House of Representatives, or as secretary of state for John Adams, I would think then that Miers was as qualified as Marshall...

"...I want a judge who will rule as we want, but not at the cost of the very thing that separates us from banana republics..."
-Manny Miranda, writing in Human Events
I've been reading commentary about Harriet Miers since October 3, and Manny Miranda's essay is the best one yet. I've been reading it aloud to people, which is something I don't normally do. Every paragraph is a zinger, and I wish I could just repost the entire thing. But I don't have to, because you can read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:03 PM

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hubris: Miers Confirmation Preview

Joe Biden gets the last word in this pictorial send-up. I found it hilarious.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:24 AM

Friday, October 07, 2005

LiLPoH: A Letter That Won't Be Written

Jack Rich has a draft ready, though, just in case.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:21 PM

Clarence Thomas No Rubber Stamp

Geraldine Ferraro just claimed on the Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes show that Clarence Thomas is merely Antonin Scalia's rubber stamp on the Supreme Court.

Since neither Alan Colmes nor Rich Lowry (substituting for Sean Hannity) contradicted her there, let me set the record straight.

David Garrow, in his 2004 New Republic review of the Thomas biography "Doubting Thomas," by Ken Foskett, addressed this allegation directly (go here for the New Republic version or here for a Sheridan: Con-Law blog reprint):
The popular fiction that Thomas [is] nothing more than the hapless dupe of Justice Scalia,' says ["Doubting Thomas" author David] Foskett, betrays 'an obvious racist subtext.' 'Because I am black, it is said that Justice Scalia has to do my work for me,' Thomas mockingly observed in 2000. The widespread perception is rooted in the simple truth that 'he is really the only justice whose basic approach to the law is the same as mine,' Scalia told Foskett. Yet during the court's 2003-2004 term, Scalia and Thomas voted together in only 73 percent of cases, and six other pairs of justices agreed with each other more often than Thomas and Scalia did.
But even when Thomas and Scalia do vote alike, how can Ferraro know that Scalia is not following Thomas, rather than Thomas following Scalia?

Or anyone "following" at all?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:38 PM

Bill O'Reilly v. Charles Rangel

Here's hoping Bill O'Reilly's O'Reilly Factor staff puts the video of O'Reilly's interview of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) tonight on one or both of O'Reilly's's two websites (here and here).

The interview, in my view, was one of those watershed moments in which the thinking of a person or political movement is peeled back like an onion to reveal the, well, onion inside.

O'Reilly was questioning Rangel about his September 22 comparison of President Bush to Bull Connor. O'Reilly asked Rangel the simple question about fighting poverty: What do you want President Bush to do? Rangel dodged it so O'Reilly asked again and Rangel dodged it repeatedly. As it goes on you see Rangel look increasingly cornered and O'Reilly increasingly incredulous that Rangel can't handle what ought to be the world's easiest softball question.

Charlie Rangel has been in Congress since 1971 - time enough to develop a point of view on the best way to fight poverty.

Conservatives have claimed for some time that the Congressional liberals have no policy agenda. This interview could be Exhibit One in their case.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:06 PM

Ed Gillespie, Conservatives & Miers: Setting the Record Straight

OK, retracted.

I just received a gracious phone call -- especially considering what I have been writing -- from Ed Gillespie. He made a compelling case that he was not referring to conservatives when he referred to some critics of the Harriet Miers nomination with the terms "sexism" and "elitism," but to others who said things that, when he described them, did sound rather sexist and elitist.

Ed says he understands that conservative concern is based on "philosophy and not knowing what [Harriet Miers's] is." I believe him when he says he didn't mean us with those words -- frankly, it didn't sound like something Ed Gillespie would think. Ed is, after all, definitely one of us. (Conservative, that is.)

I suppose my own rhetoric on this issue could be, well, a little calmer, when one gets down to it.

Thanks for the call, Ed. I appreciate it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:13 PM

Ronald Cass: Conservative Critics are Whiners

Admittedly, the field is competitive, but I think this is the most obnoxious criticism yet of those of us who are wary of taking a chance (again!) with the Supreme Court. (Do read the whole thing.)

Ed Gillespie, step aside.

This essay by Ronald Cass of the Committee for Justice concludes:
It's time for those who have made common cause with the President to give him exactly the presumption that the Constitution does and political alliance should - that he has the right to make appointments of anyone who has the competence and temperament for the job. The presumption is that he has done this.

Now it's time to stop whining before the next turn of the political wheel gives conservatives something real to whine about.
Better to whine now than when it is too late, Mr. Cass.

The President has his constitutional perogatives, and we citizens have ours: Dissent.

"Presuming" a stranger would be great on the Court hasn't worked out too well in the past. Pardon us for noticing. And we also can't help noticing that many White House allies are substituting attacks on conservative critics in place of explanations about what this nominee believes. Given that the latter would be more persuasive than the former, we can only suppose they have no idea. This is not encouraging.

Forget Roe v. Wade for a moment -- what are Harriet Miers's views on the Commerce Clause? I knew Roberts's because I could read them.

How about an essay telling us about her beliefs rather than us about ours?

Who knows, by the time the confirmation hearing is over, we may love this lady. Or not. (Most likely, we'll still be guessing.)But we don't love having to guess and no matter what adjective gets thrown at us -- elitist, snob, sexist, whiner, or whatever is coming next -- we aren't ever going to love having to guess.

Would these White House people have us go to the voting booth and make choices about Senate and Congressional candidates without knowing anything more than an outline of their resumes and endorsements from one man and from others who make it painfully clear they don't know much? I certainly hope not.

A Supreme Court nomination is no different.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:05 PM

NewsBusters: "Snobbery" Allegations Should Be Sourced

I have a post up at NewsBusters analyzing a Christian Science Monitor article on the Miers nomination.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:22 AM

Europe, Once Again

The EU says foreign governments will be taking control of the Internet away from the United States while the UK Guardian claims claims "there is little the U.S. government can do but acquiesce."

Socialists. They just can't help themselves. See something good and they just have to nationalize it.

Hitler was like that, too.

Addendum (10/8): Adam Thierer of the Progress and Freedom Foundation and Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute have a piece on this in the Wall Street Journal (subscription and registration required). It inckudes this ominious warning:
A global Internet regulatory state could mean that We Are the World -- on speech and libel laws, sales taxes, privacy policies, antitrust statutes and intellectual property. How then would a Web site operator or even a blogger know how to act or do business? Compliance with some 190 legal codes would be confusing, costly and technically possible for all but the most well-heeled firms. The safest option would be to conform online speech or commercial activities to the most restrictive laws to ensure global compliance. If you like the idea of Robert Mugabe setting legal standards for everyone, then WSIS is for you.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:04 AM

Doesn't She Know?

From the Houston Chronicle, this quote from Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, to critics of the Harriet Miers nomination:
Be quiet for a little bit and listen, just shut up for a few minutes and give the lady a chance to find out who she is.
And he's apparently a supporter.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:51 AM

Charles Krauthammer Says: Withdraw Miers Nomination

Charles Krauthammer takes President Bush to the woodshed over the Harriet Miers nomination. Not just once...
...nominating a constitutional tabula rasa to sit on what is America's constitutional court is an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom.
...but over...
To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution and to that vision of the institution.
...and over...
The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence.
To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution and to that vision of the institution.
There's lots more.

Krauthammer also zings Congressmen and our 28th President.

He must have been highly motivated.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Thursday, October 06, 2005

On Miers, White House Arguments Improve -- Somewhat

My sense is that the White House is having a better day today than yesterday in making pro-Harriet Miers arguments. In one conference call I listened in on, which, as it was not off the record, you will probably not read about in the Washington Post, there was a tantalizing hint that one of the reasons the White house wants Miers is that Bush wants someone in Court conferences who understands the national security implications of certain court cases.

If this is truly a motivation (as it may not be), it is a much better argument than "trust me."

On the flip side, another argument trotted out by a Miers supporter should be retired immediately. That argument is that Miers is a Texan, that Texans above all believe in loyalty, therefore, Miers will always vote on the court in a manner loyal to George W. Bush.

Putting aside the dubious reliably of the Texan-as-superhero-archetype as a guide for making Supreme Court appointments, this contention utterly misses the point. We don't want a nominee who will be loyal to Bush or any person or political party. We want a nominee who will be loyal to the Constitution as written.

In fairness, it should be noted that the person making this argument is not on the White House payroll, and it is impossible to tell on a telephone conference call if the Administration representatives participating were cringing as this argument was being made.

Addendum: If this American Spectator piece by John Wohlstetter is correct, the national security angle may not work for Ms. Miers. Meanwhile, the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill is noting parts of a piece on this blog in which a young conservative who used to work at the White House (who also is the son of Congressman Jim Ryun) describes his effort to get a Christian Christmas card message approved by Harriet Miers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:49 PM

Whiff of Stupidity, I'd Say

**Scroll down to the end for a link to Ed Gillespie's reply to this post**

The White House treats women like morons by pointedly treating us as so dumb we need quotas, as if we women can't stand on our hind legs as well as men, and then calls us sexist for noticing.

As noted by the Washington Post, this quote comes from an off-the-record meeting (that one reads about in the newspapers all the time), and is genuine:
White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism."
I've always had a high opinion of Ed Gillespie; that anyone representating the White House told conservatives something this dumb, however, tells me the White House is desperately clutching at any argument it can find.

Get a clue, White House. Tell us about your nominee's judicial philosophy. Or, if you cannot, withdraw the nomination.

Insults are no substitute for what really needs to happen here.

Addendum: As of now, the afternoon of Oct. 6, Laura Ingraham has a poll on her website (scroll down, on the left) asking visitors to describe conservative opposition to Harriet Miers as 1) elitist, 2) sexist, or 3) based on principled concerns.

I know this poll is on her website because I listened to Laura's radio show this morning. This is something I do because I like Laura's show. I just thought I would mention this in case folks thought I have, White House-like, a personal quota system mandating that a certain percentage of the talk radio hosts I listen to have to be women.

Addendum #2 (10/7/05): Go here to see that Ed Gillespie wasn't referring to conservatives when he used the words "sexism" and "elitism."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:28 AM

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I'm Hoping Ted Stevens Would Be Worth as Much as a Fish

Given this story, I'm wondering how much the federal government would pay me to paint my house to look like Senator Ted Stevens.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:08 PM

Defeatism in Defense of the Constitution is No Virtue

Not for the first time, my friend Mark Tapscott is bringing a fresh approach to a discussion, in this case, the Harriet Miers confirmation debate.

Mark says Miers isn't the issue, the "weak-kneed Senate GOP leadership is":
...while I sympathize mainly with those who believe Bush has missed an historic opportunity by not nominating a Brown, McConnell or Luttig, it appears to me most everybody is missing the fundamental point.

That point is this: As long as the Senate GOP leadership refuses to confront head-on the Democrats' abuse of the filibuster and end it, the Democrats have a veto if they choose to use it. And choose it they will for any nominee short of one with an undeniably perfect record - John Roberts - or one with no record at all, Harriet Miers...

...Put simply, with Frist and the Senate GOP leadership, we get a Roberts or a Miers. There is no in-between.
Two Robertses would have been better, but another fundamental point is missing:

Why don't we let the Senate liberals vote down our best candidate? It's not like we don't have more.

I ask you: Who wins if the Senate Democrats filibuster one well-qualified originalist nominee after another?

The answer: America, the American people, the court and conservatism.

Such a strategy would result in: 1) the educational value of a national debate about why the filibusters were occurring (philosophical differences), and 2) the eventual confirmation of a well-qualified originalist, because there are more qualified candidates than the left can possibly filibuster.

Just ask the Federalist Society.

Yes, by the cautious standards of Washington politics, my prescription is a high-risk strategy, but is it a higher risk than to one to the nation of nominating and confirming an unknown? Not on your life (or, rather, not on the lives of one million little babies annually who need us to be right on this so that they might be born).

And, yes, I know we would be going into battle with the Republican Senators we have, rather than the Republican Senators we wish to have. But after the third or fourth successful filibuster, if it actually came to that, the words "Republican primary" would start to resonate pretty strongly amongRepublican Senators.

Even if Ms. Miers is 100 percent solid philosophically and intellectually, as President Bush says and very likely truly believes she is, he can't know -- because she can't know -- how well she would be able resist the media vilification and public pressure that gets put on any prominent public figure. However, there are solid, intellectual originalist candidates who have been in the arena (in Teddy Roosevelt's immortal phrase), and, as such, have been tested.

To repeat, tested. Not, "I've worked with her for ten years so trust me on this, why don'tja?"

I think it was and remains a great and possibly permanent loss to the nation that Robert Bork never joined the Supreme Court. But that loss was magnified by the fact that the justice we got instead was Anthony "Swing Vote" Kennedy -- a man, I remind everyone, who was said at the time of his nomination to be a sure vote for overturning Roe v. Wade because, by all reports, he is and was deeply religious and a member of a pro-life church.

(Gee, I think I've heard that phrase somewhere else recently.)

At the risk of being derided by "GOP-Uber-Alles" crowd, including bloggers who post that there is a direct correlation between length of service in the conservative movement and defeatism (the reverse actually is true -- good grief, folks, look around once in a while), let me share that I was on Capitol Hill (and working hard on these issues) when Judge Bork was defeated. I was outside the Senate waving a "We Love You Clarence" sign (and doing other things) when Clarence Thomas was drafted into what became the precedent that conservative Supreme Court nominees must be pure as the driven snow (my illusion to the color white is intentional; the Senate treated the conservative Clarence Thomas more harshly because of his race) while liberal Presidents can debauch interns in the White House and lie about it under oath. I was working on Supreme Court nominations when George W. Bush was still drinking and getting rich off baseball. And -- as I am not the issue -- literally millions of movement conservatives, in one way or another, were there, too, writing letters to Senators, donating to conservative candidates and groups, educating their fellow citizens, running for office, and more. Some of them were even studying and practicing constitutional law so that, at some future date, when a God-fearing, Constitution-respecting President needed good candidates for appellate courts, there would be good candidates to choose from. So I, and I know others, don't particularly care for the notion that we in the conservative movement have to sit still and take whatever George W. Bush throws at us, or that he and we together (I do believe Bush is with us in his heart) have to settle for unknown nominees for no greater reason than fear the left may win a round or two in the Senate.

I say to the GOP-Uber-Alles crowd: It is not those of us who think we can do better than a stealth candidate who are the defeatists.

It is those of you who are afraid to fight for the Constitution.

In his clarion call of conservatism, Barry Goldwater declared that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Could defeatism in defense of the Constitution be any different?

Addendum 1 (10/5/05): One of the White House talking points on Ms. Miers is that because Miers has served at the President's side for 10 years, she fully understands and is dedicated to his focus, perspective and goals. That argument reminds me of this quote...

For seven and a half years I have helped the President conduct the most difficult job on earth.

...from this speech.

We all know how that turned out.

Addendum 2 (10/5/05): Gail Russell Chaddock of the Christian Science Monitor has an on-the-nose piece in the October 6 edition on conservative reaction to the Miers nomination. Chaddock captures the sentiment very well.

Noteworthy quote from Paul Weyrich: "I can tell you that ... the grass roots are just heartbroken by this nomination."

Ms. Chaddock says that, prior to the Miers nomination, the White House gave "key conservatives... a list of three names, including [Miers'], and asked for comment. For the most part, there wasn't any."

I think the White House needs to expand its list of key conservatives, and pronto.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 AM

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Professor Bainbridge: Not Trusting Bush

I wish I disagreed with Professor Bainbridge on this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:46 PM

Pardon Us for Noticing

I read this essay in the American Thinker after hearing Rush Limbaugh read part of it on the air today.

When Rush read it, this section lept out at me:
There is a doom-and-gloom element on the Right which is just waiting to be betrayed, convinced that their hardy band of true believers will lose by treachery those victories to which justice entitles them. They are stuck in the decades-long tragic phase of conservative politics, when country club Republicans inevitably sold out the faith in order to gain acceptability in the Beltway media and social circuit.
I think the timing is off here.

Conservativism was NOT in its "tragic phase" when O'Connor and Kennedy were appointed. It was NOT in its "tragic phase" when Souter was appointed.

What it was in was its "making bad Supreme Court appointments" phase. True, that phase started earlier (much earlier) but most of us are not stuck in the Eisenhower era, or an earlier one.

Just how many Kennedys, O'Connors and Souters are we supposed to put up with before noticing that the presidents conservatives elect often seem to have bad judgement in making Supreme Court nominations?

It seems to me that quite a few of the folks who complain that the Right isn't thrilled about having an unknown as a nominee are doing nothing more than complaining that we've noticed a trend here.

However, changing the subject somewhat, once I read Thomas Lifson's piece, another part of it caught my eye even more:
Ms. Miers embodies the work ethic as few married people ever could.
Good grief! I was a workaholic before I got married -- or so I thought. Before I got a husband and children, I didn't even know what work was.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:49 PM

Energy Hog: A Bad Play Then, A Worse Play Now

Thoughts from Peyton Knight:
On July 15, 1979, Jimmy Carter delivered what became infamously known as his "malaise" speech. That evening he peered out into family rooms across the country, and lectured Americans for their "self-indulgence and consumption." Carter intoned, "We've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose."

Of course, Americans weren't to blame for the energy crisis. They hadn't done anything wrong. The "material good" that was most important to them was a simple tank full of gasoline -- such a thing being necessary to work, produce, and feed their families. They weren't "longing for meaning," they were longing for a leader who recognized America's growing productivity and accompanying thirst for energy. They weren't to blame for the energy crisis, and they knew it. They let Carter know it shortly following his speech.

Regrettably, the Bush Administration seems to be reprising this broken play.

Yesterday, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman unveiled a new government mascot dubbed "Energy Hog." The creature lives at A quick trip to the site reveals its creators' clear intent. Americans need to be shamed, perhaps even humiliated, into giving up basic daily accoutrements because an energy crunch is looming.

The front page of the site displays eight, grotesque, cartoon hogs, and a profile of each reveals that hog's energy sin. Ivanna Hamm's sin is "lots of hot liquids." Sammy Swine is to blame for using "old, broken-down appliances." Freddie (who lacks a clever last name) is guilty of harboring "high-class chandeliers" and light bulbs. There's even a Kelvin Bacon who has a dastardly penchant for setting the thermostat in his home to a personally-desired temperature.

Soon, the Energy Hog will be popping out in newspapers, billboards, radio, and television. Bodman is also urging Americans to drive slower to save gasoline. Fifty-five miles per hour, to be exact. Slower than the maximum speed on many interstates and highways. This is a solution to our energy woes?

Hurricane Katrina revealed the very delicate balance between America's energy supply and energy needs. There is little or no room for error.

Yet, it has been thirty years since an oil refinery was built in America. Over that same period, our gasoline use has increased 25 percent. Arcane environmental laws and the strict ideologues that exploit them have crippled our nation's ability to meet its growing need for fuel. America simply must increase its refining capacity.

Now is a time for leadership, and real solutions to what has become an embarrassing situation for the world's lone superpower. Instead, we have a cartoon hog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 AM

Access to Consumer Products a Fundamental Right?

From Reuters:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who became internationally known for his campaign a year ago to legalize gay marriage, said on Monday he considered wireless Internet access a fundamental right of all citizens.
At the rate this guy is going, I would not be surprised to see him proclaim my children have a fundamental right to have a puppy.

When David Almasi shared this Reuters article with me, I at first thought it was a parody. Now I just wish it was.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:31 AM

Monday, October 03, 2005

Black Conservatives Speak on Miers Nomination

As promised earlier today, Project 21 has released a variety of comments on President Bush's handling of the historic opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:28 PM

Hugh Hewitt: Conservative Camps on Miers

Hugh Hewitt on some of his fellow conservatives being disappointed in the appointment of a Supreme Court appointee whose views on the Constitution are largely unknown, as headlined on
The Miers nomination is turning into a Rorschach test dividing conservatives into the camp that understands governing for the long term and those that are so emotionally fragile or contingent in their allegiance that anything they (1) don't understand or (2) disappoints in any way becomes an occasion for panic and declarations of irreparable injury.
What about emotionally-fragile conservatives who understand governing for the long term? Where would they stand on Miers?

The issue is not the character of the critics but the beliefs of the nominee. About which we know little.

Addendum (10/4): ProfessorBainbridge's post on Hugh Hewitt's take on movement conservatives and the Harriet Miers nomination is extremely through and highly recommended. I wish I had written it.

Addendum #2 (10/6): The Paragraph Farmer is worth reading on this.

Addendum #3 (10/6): John Rabe says:
Hugh Hewitt keeps claiming that true conservatives don't understand that President Bush is governing for the "long-haul." No. It's Hewitt who doesn't understand conservatism. Fighting these battles and setting a vision, even against difficult odds, is governing for the long-haul. Expedience always reaps only a short-term benefit.
Also, his post here really sums up the feelings of many conservatives.

Addendum #4 (10/6): I just got around to reading the transcript of the Hugh Hewitt-Stephen Bainbridge debate on Harriet Miers on Radioblogger, and its got the best line I've seen yet encompassing the conservative criticism of Bush's decision to nominate a stealth candidate. Quoting Abraham Lincoln speaking of General George McClellan, Professor Bainbridge says of Bush:
I gave him this great army, and he won't use it.
As history records, it was only after Lincoln replaced McClellan with a fighter (U.S. Grant) that the North won the war.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:29 PM

Leftie Latinos Vy for Quota Slots

This is what happens when you play diversity politics (from the AP):
President Bush's decision to make White House counsel Harriet Miers his second Supreme Court nominee upset Hispanic groups that had hoped to see the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

"President Bush has again ignored highly qualified Latino judges, attorneys and law professors who could serve the nation ably on the United States Supreme Court," said Ann Marie Tallman, executive director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, after Miers' nomination was announced Monday...

"The failure of this administration to nominate a Hispanic judge to the Supreme Court is a slap in the face to all those highly qualified Hispanic judges that dutifully serve on our federal courts across the nation," said Raul Yzaguirre, former president of the National Council of La Raza. "Our community continues to contribute to the greatness of this nation and yet, we are ignored for a vital role on our third branch of governance."
When you play interest-group politics, no one is happy, and no one wins.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:30 PM

On Harriet Miers: Women Preaching, Dog Walking

The White House distributed information on Harriet Miers today that contains these passages:
* Like Justice O'Connor, throughout her career, Ms. Miers has been a female trailblazer.

* In 1972, Ms. Miers became the first woman hired at Dallas's Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. In March 1996, her colleagues elected her the first female President of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell, at that time a firm of about 200 lawyers. She was the first woman to lead a Texas firm of that size.

* In 1985, Ms. Miers was selected as the first woman to become President of the Dallas Bar Association.

* In 1992, she became the first woman elected President of the State Bar of Texas. Ms. Miers served as the President of the State Bar of Texas from 1992 to 1993.
Things like this set my teeth on edge. While I acknowledge that the picture painted is one of an intrepid, intelligent go-getter, the "Oh look! A woman achieved something!" tone reminds me of Samuel Johnson's 1763 quote:
Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.
Have we achived nothing since then? Can we not get beyond the notion that a successful female is an object of wonder and awe and simply discuss qualifications?

Such as the nominee's views on, oh, I don't know, maybe the Constitution?

Johnson, in another context, said of some individuals of good character and worth who nonetheless by temperament were undeserving of meritorious positions: "A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden."

I want to know: Is Harriet Miers a star of the field, or of the garden?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:42 AM

Manny Miranda on Miers

Only minutes after Bush appeared at the White House Monday to announce the nomination, Manuel Miranda, a conservative strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a scathing statement: 'The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had been the president's lawyer. The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it.'

While cautioning that 'the president deserves the benefit of a doubt,' Miranda added, "Something has been left unachieved by the Miers nomination. A Republican president has yet to erase the stigma of the (1987) Robert Bork hearings and the David Souter nomination. The nomination of Harriet Miers has not rid us of the repugnant situation that a jurist with a clear and distinguished record will not be nominated for higher service. The nomination did not rid us of the apprehension of stealth nominees.
It would be nice to get the verb "bork" out of the dictionary, or at least get it relegated to "archaic" usage status.

That won't happen if the presidents elected by conservatives find ways not to fight.

Harriet Miers may be great, for all I know, but it would be better if we didn't have to guess.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 AM

Project 21 to Address Miers Nomination

Project 21 members have actively debated judicial issues and nominations iin the publoc square since the group was founded in 1992.

Today's nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court will be addressed by Project 21 in a press statement later today, after Project 21 members have a chance to think through their views. (Project 21 members: If you have an opinion, and want to be quoted, call or email the office.) I will be interested to see if the members all tend to agree with one another (and, if so, what that opinion is) or if opinions are all over the map. (My own opinions are all over the map, and I'm just one person.)

Project 21's Mychal Massie was quick with an opinion on the nomination this morning, so I'll share it:
Our Constitution reserves the duty of selecting justices to the president, and President Bush promised the American people he would select individuals who honored the original intent of the Constitution's authors. We are hopeful that, having served at the President's side for a decade, Harriet Miers would help him fulfill this promise.
He also had a comment for the Senate:
It would be our hope that those who have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution would honor that oath by fulfilling their responsibilities in a way that is both civilized and consistent with what our Founding Fathers envisioned.
More Project 21 opinions to come.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 AM

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Europe Not Christian

The Prime Minister of Turkey's says Europe's decision over the admittance of Turkey into the EU will determine the continent's future:
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Europe would squander the chance to overcome longstanding Christian-Muslim suspicions if it stepped back from its commitment to full membership for Turkey.

"This is a test for the EU," Mr. Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development party in a regular Sunday address. "The EU will either decide to become a global actor or it must accept that it is a Christian club."
Nope. Niall Ferguson has the depressing reality. Europe isn't Christian and it hasn't been for decades.

Some Christians do live there. That's about it.

But from your lips to God's ear, Mr. Erdogan.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

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