Politics: October 2005 Archives

Sunday Thoughts

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Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, says, "if I had known the details of Judy's entaglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and paerhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises." So if her source had been a Democrat, he'd feel better about supporting Judith Miller?

Miller's attorney is Bob Bennett, which I presume is the same Bob Bennett who defended Preident Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal.

And to tie these two scandals together further, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said on Sunday's Meet the Press, "I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Note that Hutchison voted that President Clinton was guilty on the charges of perjury and objstruction of justice in his impeachment trial. Russert -- not remembering her vote -- brought up that trial, and she responded: "Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice."

Actually, not in the impeachment trial, no, those were the only two counts they voted on. She continues:

"And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are.  But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime.  I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country.  And I think we have to weigh both sides of this issue very carefully and not just jump to conclusions, because someone is in the public arena, that they are guilty without being able to put their case forward.  I really object to that."

I don't think Starr went for "technicalities" (even if you think it is reasonable to label perjury and obstruction as such). I think he investigated charges as was his job, and in the end, the only strong charges that remained were obstruction and perjury. And I don't think Fitzgerald is going for "technicalities," either.

And while on the same transcript, let's not presume the Republicans are the only ones who think the public is stupid. Chuck Schumer goes through and lists many reasons why Miers would not be a good Supreme Court Justice, which are many of the same reasons the conservatives opposing her are giving: "The first is qualifications.  Does she have a good, firm knowledge of the law, of constitutional law?  ... Second is independence.  The president seemed to nominate judge Miers or Miss Miers because he knew her, he was close to her. ... And third, and most importantly, and in this one I would agree with George Allen and some of the very conservative people, we have to know her judicial philosophy."

That's fine, but then two seconds later, he adds: "I will say this, if he were to withdraw the nomination, it would be a stunning defeat for George Bush, and here's what I think it would show.  I think it would show that a small group way over at the extreme had power over the White House. After all, not a single Republican senator has at this point called for Harriet Miers' resignation.  And so if President Bush is going to march to the drum of a group that I think most Americans would consider out of the mainstream, it's going to be a real revelation to the American people and that's why I think he can't do it."

So she is not a good candidate, and you agree with the conservatives about why she is not a good candidate, but for Bush to back down would show people with "extreme," "out of the mainstream" views (which were the backbone of one of the main campaign promises that got him more votes than any President in history, and which also happen to mirror your own views, as just stated!) have power over the White House. Senator Schumer, verily, I say to you: you are full of crap. slashdot.org
So this black activist, Kamau Kambon, thinks the white man wants to kill off the black man. Alrighty.

He talks at about 3:33:00 into the four-hour stream. That's where the quotes from the article are from, like the ones where he says the white man should be exterminated. He was serious too: I thought maybe it was a silly Bill Bennett-like intellectual exercise. But nope, he meant it.

A few hours earlier in the stream, at 0:34:30, he talked too, and was even crazier: he actually said: "I have a new book that was just published, and it's entitled: 'A Secret Letter Smuggled Out of America to the Chairman of North Korea.' And the purpose of this book is to explain that we need a external ally outside of the shores of this country. And we need a external ally that has supreme power and nuclear capability."

Combining that with his later comment that "we have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet," and it's clear this guy is pretty sick.

He's been a visiting professor at NCSU since 2003. I think his time there is probably at an end. He may even end up in jail for his clear calls for genocide. slashdot.org

Earl vs. DeLay

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Why do people feel the need to come to a conclusion about whether DeLay is guilty, or whether Earl is a rogue prosecutor? Maybe both are true. Or maybe both are false. We have a guy on the one side with questionable political motivations who has provided no evidence and can't be trusted, and on the other side we have a guy with questionable political motivations who has provided no evidence and can't be trusted.

Pretty much everyone I've seen attack DeLay or defend Earl over this are liberals and Democrats who want to bring him down. And pretty much everyone I've seen defend DeLay or attack Earl over this are conservatives or Republicans who want DeLay to remain in office.

The Island of Conclusions is pretty crowded these days.

Now Playing: Extreme - Rest In Peace
WASHINGTON -- President Bush today nominated Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Almost immediately, conservative Republicans questioned FSM's lack of judicial experience; Democrats cited FSM's lack of record on federal and Constitutional issues; and those on the left and right questioned whether FSM was nominated for its religious beliefs, and whether it would be able to separate its religion from its legal opinions.

Scientists asserted that there was no scientific evidence proving the nomination happened at all. slashdot.org

Lying Lawyers

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I know, the adjective is redundant.

In WA there's an initiative, I-330. It basically limits noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. There's plenty in there to criticize, and no law is perfect.

But the lawyers who oppose I-330 are not content to argue the initiative on its merits. The first thing they did was get their own ballot initiative, I-336, which purports to try to solve the same problem (rising malpractice insurance costs) in a different way: by going after "bad doctors."

And, of course, they were highly deceptive in getting this initiative on the ballot. To people sympathetic to I-330, they made it sound like the two were complentary, taking on different sides of the same issue. To people opposed to I-330, they made it sound like it would solve all the problems I-336 tried, but would fail, to fix.

And to some people, they were even saying to go ahead and vote no on both if they weren't sure about what they were doing, showing their real goal is not to win I-336, but to confuse people enough so I-330 will lose.

Now that the election is only a month away (well, less, now), the anti-I-330 people have stepped it up. Their first TV ad said that "under I-330, you'd be giving up your right to a jury or court trial." This is absoultely false. What I-330 does do is allow arbitration to be an option, that both parties have to agree to.

I know their point is that I-330 allows the health care companies to essentially force arbitration on the consumers. But it's not clear that is true, and what is clear is that the consumer must be clearly notified of this waiver and has the option to not sign. And again, instead of arguing the actual point, they exaggerate to the point of lying. They could have used an accurate wording: "you may be giving up ... ." Instead, the lie, and say, "you would be giving up ... ." They can't help themselves.

And their new ad is even worse. They get a sympathetic case, a guy who is in his 60s or 70s, who had a doctor ruin his trachea, who has had many operations to try to fix it. And he is speaking, and you can barely make out the words, and he says "this $350,000 limit would apply to everyone, no exceptions. Even to someone like me."

But what they do not say is that it only applies to noneconomic damages. Through omission and juxtaposition they intentionally imply that the limit applies to all damages. But no, the limits do not apply to anything economic: "someone like him" would still be able to sue, without limit, for lost wages (actual and future), medical costs, long-term care costs, and so on. "Someone like him" would, if he won the lawsuit, surely receive damages of tens, maybe even hundreds, of millions of dollars.

But what does one expect? Lawyers lie. It's what they do. Especially the malpractice and personal injury breed. slashdot.org

Iraqi Constitution

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So what if some provinces disagree with the Constitution? So did some of the original 13 states.

Like New York. Hm. OK, not a good example. It's all liberal and stuff, and gave us Chuck and Hillary. Hm. And the last to ratify was Vermont, which gave us that turncoat Jeffords, and gay unions, and Howard Dean.

Oh noes! The Iraqis are in more trouble than we thought! slashdot.org
"Which party do you want to control Congress?" Since there are 535 members of Congress and no one gets to vote for more than three of them, and those votes often have a lot less to do with parties than incumbencies ... who cares which party anyone wants to control Congress? slashdot.org

Revisionism of the Week: Wilson

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If someone broke the law in leaking Joe Wilson's wife's identity, they should be held accountable for it, absolutely. And even if the law was not broken, they should probably be fired.

However, I heard one guy this weekend say Wilson was "more accurate" than Bush in his criticism of Bush, and someone else said Wilson was the "first real critic" of Bush's stance on WMD in Iraq. Neither of these statements is true. Wilson came along late to the party, many months after people like Scott Ritter, and Wilson was almost entirely wrong in his criticisms.

Wilson's main claim was that Bush lied in those "16 words" ("The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa") in his State of the Union address in 2003. However, Wilson's report actually supported Bush's "16 words," rather than refute them, as his report showed some evidence that Hussein did want to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger, and was trying to make it happen. And he offered no valid refutation of any kind against those "16 words;" he focused significantly on the forged memo, which was not referenced or used by Bush in the "16 words." (Read more on FactCheck.org.)

On Meet the Press, Wilson noted when he first heard the "16 words," he thought they were not about Niger, "because he would know better if he was." But how could Wilson even know that? Bush was talking about British intelligence, which Wilson was not privy to. That basically sums up Wilson's entire problem: his entire argument against Bush was a straw man, arguing against things Bush didn't say.

Wilson was wrong, partisan, and deceptive.

None of this in any way justifies a breach of national security, as has been alleged, nor any coverup, but let's not lionize Ambassador Wilson for his dubious contributions in a quest to make the alleged crimes seem more egregious. slashdot.org

New Words

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The other day I came up with a name for the practice of trying to come up with a metaphor or narrative to explain complex subjects, and then shoehorning and cherry-picking the facts to make it fit. I call this "Friedmanism," named after Thomas Friedman, its currently most-well-known practitioner.

And when that metaphor or narrative relies heavily on psychoanalysis, such as where Friedman's colleague Maureen Dowd tries to link most of what President Bush does to his relationship with his father, I call that "Freudmanism."

Also, I came up with a new euphemism for illegal immigrants: "Wannabe-Americans." slashdot.org

Straw Men

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We put up reskeys (formkeys replacement) on journals. There was a Slashdot-specific file that was not updated, so for like 5-10 minutes, you couldn't post new journal entries. I checked to see who was affected, and cyranoVR was one of the two, so I checked back later to make sure he could post now, and sure enough, he did.

I only mention this post because I see a lot of people use this same "argument": we shouldn't just confirm whoever the President wants, without full questioning! That's a nice argument, except that no one of any consequence is arguing the contrary position. The President and the Senate are all committed to a complete and thorough hearing process, where no question is off-limits.

(Maybe Bush would prefer her to get a quick pass with no real questioning, but he knows that is not how it works, and hasn't said or done anything to try to force her through in such a manner.)

Of course, there's much debate over what questions should be answered, but not what should be asked, or how much should be asked. It's simply not an issue, at all.

Further, moreso even than with Roberts, both the right and the left are going to want to grill Miers. The Republicans do not want to give her a pass, they want to make sure she is going to be good before they vote for her; Senators think long term better than most people, and they won't approve of a Senator just because she is the President's choice and may be pro-life/anti-Roe, if it also means she will strike down a whole slew of laws the Senate passes, etc. And it goes without saying that the same holds true for the Democrats. slashdot.org


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I don't see how anyone can be so much against Harriet Miers when we don't even know anything about her yet. What's the point? How about wait until the hearings?

Gary Bauer says she "sounds to me a lot like another swing vote." Based on what?

Bill Kristol is calling for her ot be withdrawn because she is an "unknown and undistinguished figure." Sorry, I must have missed the part in the Constitution that said you must know about her, or that she have a certain sort of pedigree.

David Frum says she is someone who has "never found it necessary to express herself on any of the great issues of the day," "not someone who thought deeply or hard about legal issues." The former being true is a good thing for a justice who is to follow the law, not passion; the latter, if true, will be revealed in the hearings: it was perfectly evidence that Roberts was such a deep thinker, and she will be held up to his standard, still fresh in our minds.

Charles Krauthammer says if she were not a Bush crony, her appointment would be a joke.

President Truman nominated former U.S. AG Tom Clark, and Truman was attacked in the Washington Post for cronyism, saying she was unqualified except for that he was a personal friend of the President. Clark was confirmed, and was a well-respected member of the court.

Truman called Clark the biggest mistake of his Presidency, but mostly just because Clark wasn't a good crony: he sided against Truman when he seized the nation's steel mills to avert a strike (after advising Truman, as Attorney General, that Truman had the right to do it! Bad crony! No cookie!). Who can say what Miers will do in a similar situation?

Interestingly, LBJ engineered Clark's retirement in 1967 so LBJ could nominate Thurgood Marshall. Clark's son Ramsey was the new AG, and LBJ told Ramsey he thought there was a conflict of interest there, if Ramsey were to represent the government in front of his father. And thus LBJ got to nominate the first black justice to the Supreme Court.

Bottom line: let's just wait and see, for crying out loud. Be concerned, but don't jump to conclusions until they are warranted.

I may very well oppose Miers, but why would I do that until I actually had facts on which to base such opposition? slashdot.org

Don't LOOK Dumb

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Maybe you do not understand how someone who has never been a judge could sit on the Supreme Court. That's fine. No reason why you should understand that.

But trust me when I say that when you speak of the circumstance as though it is a crazy thing, that it shouldn't happen, that Bush is stupid or evil for doing it, makes you look dumb. Because you are, in fact, ignorant, and the more strongly you express your ignorance the more dumb you look.

About a third of our Supreme Court justices have had no previous experience as a judge (including chief justices William Rehnquist and Byron White). Miers, in this regard, is not an exception. And in fact, many in the Senate -- in both parties -- were hoping for someone who wasn't a judge to be nominated.

So fine, don't understand how someone who is not a judge could serve on the Supreme Court. But realize your lack of understanding doesn't change the fact that there's nothing unusual or wrong about it, and expressing your lack of understanding in strong terms pretty much just makes you look stupid.

(Note: I am not saying Miers is a good choice; I don't know much about her, and have no opinion at this time. I'm just saying if she is a bad choice, it is not for lack of experience as a judge.) slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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