Saturday, October 22, 2005

Getting Antiwar Weary

Glenn Reynolds:
If Bush's effort here fails, it won't be because the antiwar critique of bloodthirstiness and warmongering is correct. It will be because Bush hasn't been vigorous enough in toppling governments and invading countries in the region. What happens with Syria in the next little while may answer that question.
Bush's options are limited when it comes to toppling governments. Iraq could still slip back into dictatorship, despite our best efforts, but considering what was ahead of it if Saddam hadn't been overthrown, it still had a positive result. Can you imagine what it would have been like if we had let things be, and heither of Saddam's sons were to replace him?

Whatever happens, the way to assure a bad outcome would be to listen to the antiwar crowd and pull out too soon.

God's punishment?

I've kidded here that Katrina was God's punishment, but I wasn't serious. Some people are. Sure, New Orleans was a den of wickedness. It still is. But so are a lot of other cities. They're a long way from Sodom and Gommorah, however, where not even 10 good people could be found. The natural calamities will continue. War will continue. Those things have been prophesied. However, they are not necessarily God's punishment.

If you want God's guidance for these times, here it is.


National Review surveys its handiwork. Of course, conservative critics of the Miers nomination were just doing their job, but I wonder what might have happened if they hadn't led the assault. There was an assessment begun by George Will that Miers couldn't do the job and it spread in the way that liberal claims that "Bush lied" did. Pretty soon it was common "knowledge." And that's all Bush's fault for being blindsided. Even if she gets confirmed now . . . Even if she turns out to be a good justice, the relationship between Bush and conservatives will never be the same.

There is something seriously wrong with MSM and not just those with a liberal bias. They shoot first and ask questions later, when they ask questions at all. The fundamental criterion and judgment was made by Will: She's not one of the leading lights of American jurisprudence. She's not one of us, the BosWash elite.

What concerns me is that I suspect that someone who sees himself as one of the leading lights is not as likely to feel the need for restraint that is so lacking in our courts these days. A little humility might do a lot more than all the brilliance at the National Review.

Do we need the CIA anymore?

Stephen Hayes:
FOR FOUR YEARS, A slow-motion war between the CIA and the Bush administration has been unfolding over America's airwaves and on its front pages. A principal weapon in this war has been the deliberate leaking of information to the media.
But how did the press get hold of the fact that the Plame matter was referred Justice?
The CIA referral to the Justice Department was classified, an intelligence source tells The Weekly Standard. Anyone who disclosed the existence of the referral and described its contents broke the law. The agency, however, has thus far refused to send a referral to the Justice Department that could result in an investigation into the source and effects of that leak. Why? An intelligence source tells The Weekly Standard that there are limits--of time and manpower--to how many such referrals the CIA can make. Perhaps. But there's another possible explanation: The second leak came from the CIA itself, and lawyers there are reluctant to call for an investigation for fear of what such an investigation might reveal.
As Jed Babbin asked yesterday, why isn't Fitzpatrick doing something about the leaks from the Grand Jury? It's getting to the point where one must wonder about what's not being leaked. Bush has his own DCI, now, but it's beginning to look like we need a purge.

Read the whole thing.


For those moral equivocaters out their This is evil:
One is Ibrahim Ighnamat, a Hamas leader arrested last week by Israel in connection to his role in organizing a March 1997 suicide bombing at the Apropos cafe in Tel Aviv, which killed three and wounded 48. Another is Jamal Tirawi of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Mr. Tirawi had bullied a 14-year-old boy into becoming a suicide bomber by threatening to denounce him as a "collaborator," which in Palestinian society frequently amounts to a death sentence.

And then there is 21-year-old Wafa Samir al-Bis, who was detained in June after the explosives she was carrying failed to detonate at an Israeli checkpoint on the border with Gaza. As Ms. Bis later testified, her target was an Israeli hospital where she had previously been treated--as a humanitarian gesture--for burns suffered in a kitchen accident. "I wanted to kill 20, 50 Jews," she explained at a press conference after her arraignment.
Of course, all this is done in the name of freedom and nationalism, but consider this:
Yet the checkpoints and curfews are not gratuitous acts of unkindness by Israel, nor are they artifacts of occupation. On the contrary, in the years when Israel was in full control of the territories there were no checkpoints or curfews, and Palestinians could move freely (and find employment) throughout the country. It was only with the start of the peace process in 1993 and the creation of autonomous Palestinian areas under the control of the late Yasser Arafat that terrorism became a commonplace fact of Israeli life.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

How Hard We Make It

Clint Taylor, a friend of Peter Robinson's:
Although I may not share Hugh's degree of enthusiasm for the Miers nomination, I think he's dead on about judging not being rocket science. I might draw your attention to a Mr. Hamilton writing in Federalist 83.

Hamilton is disputing a misinterpretation of constitutional guarantees of a jury trial--that because the constitution only mentions them in regard to criminal trials, jury trials are therefore to be prohibited from civil trials: "With regard to civil causes, subtleties almost too contemptible for refutation have been employed to countenance the surmise that a thing which is only NOT PROVIDED FOR, is entirely ABOLISHED." Hamilton is thoroughly contemptuous of these "subtleties" of interpretation, and notes that "The rules of legal interpretation are rules of COMMONSENSE, adopted by the courts in the construction of the laws."

I don't expect that will change any minds on Miers, but I think it's a valuable explication of the importance of common sense in writing Constitutional law, as opposed to some sort of esoteric, gnostic penumbra-perceiving arcana imparted only to The Chosen Ones at the top-flight law schools.

Yes, American Express gets blogging.

Rob at Business Pundit write:
Companies that want to work with bloggers have to let go of the control. Yes, it is risky. But without risk, there is no reward. Kudos to American Express for taking a chance. Yes, they are paying me, but they didn't ask me to write this, which is exactly why I am. Weird. Counterintuitive. But it's like dating. When you finally stop trying so hard to manage impressions and put up a front, that's when you get in a relationship that really works out.
It would help WSJ to decide which of its stories would be most likely to entice new subscribers.

The Corner isn't completely aroung the bend.

There's Peter Robinson, who has discovered this timely quote from Justice Joseph Story, who probably would have been sneered at by the BosWash conservative elites today:
"Constitutions are not designed for metaphysical or logical subtleties. . . . They are instruments of a practical nature, founded on the common business of human life, adapted to common wants, designed for common use, and fitted for common understandings. The people make them; the people adopt them; the people must be supposed to read them, with the help of common sense."
That would suggest that they also aren't designed to give Judges some power of divination to interpret them in such a way as to extend their reach without submitting their additions to the ratification process.

Bad news for Hillary?

The Senate votes to release the report by Independent Counsel David Barrett on his investigation of Clinton's HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. This is said to include some facts about "problems at the office of criminal investigation at the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice" during the Clinton years. You just know Byron York will get one of the first copies.

George Won't

Maybe it's just that I resent his sneering attitude toward Harriet Miers, but George Will seems to have a sour attitude about everything. It's as if he thinks he's too smart for the rest of us, and will be well satisfied if all our efforts in Iraq go to hell. Does he really think that nobody else recognizes that possibility? It's pretty elementary that if you want to accomplish something, you keep your goal in front, rather than dwelling on the possibility of failure. Nobody expects George Will to be a cheerleader, but his sniffy grumbling seems more resentful than realistic. If he needs an epitaph, I recommend, "I knew this wouldn't turn out well."

"those who care about the press"

As I got ready to watch Meet the Press today, the question in my mind was: how will Meet the Press deal with the issue dominating the thoughts of those who care about the press this Sunday? I'm talking of course about the long-awaited "full accounting" by the New York Times of its role in the Miller case and Miller's role in Plamegate.

After all, even though the accounts, one by the Times and one by Miller herself, are full of holes, it's at least obvious that the Times has taken a big first step in trying to deal with these facts: (a) the Times is a major news outlet, (b) the Plame saga is a huge news story, and (c) one of the Times's own journalists is a participant in the story.
That phrase "those who care about the press" intrigues me. It implies that the press is something more than just a business. It's not a job, it's a cause. Maybe that's why so many bloggers hold it in contempt. We don't see it as that much different from any other job, but it seems to hold itself in some kind of awe, as if only the anointed could ever be reporters. Too bad it's become nothing more than an "intellectual's" route to stardom.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Valerie Flame

A caller to the Hugh Hewitt show, Jed Babbin guest hosting, mentioned that she had read this book authored in part by Judith Miller and that Miller's sources included someone in the CIA's WMD department, where coincidentally Valerie Plame works. Could it be that Miller knew Plame before she ever spoke to Scooter Libby or Karl Rove?

I don't have access to the book so I can't confirm this report, but it could blow this whole investigation sky high. Miller had a deal where she was not be asked about any sources other than Libby and Rove.

What's your exit strategy?

A caller to Jed Babbin, who's guest hosting Hugh Hewitt's program suggested that we start asking liberals what their exit strategy is for the War on Poverty. I'll remember that next time some idiot complains about the cost of the War in Iraq. So far, it's the most successful thing we have to show as a response to 9/11. Of course, there are probably a lot more successes that we don't know about.

Truer words were never written

Richard Cohen:
The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals.

It occurs to me that this is an example of how blogs surpass newspapers. Cohen said pretty much all he had to in the first paragraph, but he's paid to pad it. I'd rather read his blog than his column.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Can Microsoft cope with real competition?

Massachusetts has chosen a different standard than Microsoft's for its business software.
Three weeks after Massachusetts ratified its latest Enterprise Technical Reference Model — a statewide standard that, starting January 1, 2007, disallows the use of Microsoft's Office file formats in favor of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) — Microsoft is taking its case to the court of public opinion. In the process, Alan Yates, general manager in Microsoft's Information Worker Group (the group that Office is a part of) contacted me to see if I was interested in hearing Microsoft's side of the story.
Does anybody care what Microsoft's side is? It's been found to be a monopolist in court. That by itself is enough for me to want to stay clear. I don't understand why we have allowed Bill Gates to get away with this so long, but it's about time. Microsoft has destroyed companies like WordPerfect not by producing a better product but by tying it to its monopoly over the OS. WordPerfect was created here in Utah, and produced a lot of jobs, which are now gone or in Canada, thanks to Microsoft's tactics. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. are Microsoft's cash cow. Maybe this will loosen its grip and allow competition to get going again.

Don't blame us! It's capitalism's fault.

More on how Yahoo! put commercial interests ahead of freedom of speech in China. I don't think you can excuse this by claiming that your competitors would get a jump on you if you don't sacrifice people to your drive to get in on the ground floor.

Miers again

The Washington Post is trumpeting a story that Harriet Miers
agreed in 1989 that she would "actively support" a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother.
This should be a so-what story, but it isn't because the Supreme Court took it upon itself to override the legitimate decisions of state legislatures and make a national law that half the country thinks allows murder.

The problem with this is that while it has given the pro-abortion groups a lot of comfort, they may not feel the same if the court turns and says abortions are illegal regardless of what the state legislatures say. The point is that this is not how the Constitution says we are to make laws. It leaves such matters to "the people," not judges, and I can only interpret that as meaning the duly elected legislatures. Using the arguments that led to Roe v. Wade, you can make an argument that almost anything should be a personal right, and if the Supreme Court is dumb enough to listen, that's the end of democracy.

Update: Miers' responses to the Senate questionaire were released today. Her comments about judicial activism and the proper role of the courts were encouraging to me. The intellects in Boswash aren't too impressed, but I'm beginning to think they don't really mind judicial activism as long as it flows in the direction they want it to. I don't know whether she'd vote to overrule Roe v. Wade or not, but she's left that open. Stare decisis shouldn't be a shackle binding the law to badly reasoned decisions, which I think Roe is. And the reasons for upholding it given by Justice O'Connor among others were even worse. Basically, they argue that since the the Supreme Court's job is to settle divisive issues, once it has tackled that tough task its ruling should be given extra weight and not revisited. That presumes that it is the Court's prerogative to settle political debates. It's called the fallacy of begging the question. Unless the Court enjoys watching these tawdry political spectacles that treat confirmations as ehanced political campaigns, in which the people themselves don't have more than a secondary voice, it needs to recognize the truth of Miers statement that "parties should not be able to establish social policy through court action, having failed to persuade the legislative branch or the executive branch of the wisdom and correctness of their preferred course. Courts are to be arbiters of disputes, not policy makers." By failing to do so, the Court has disrupted the balance of powers, overridden democracy without justification and earned the disrespect and resentment of a large part of the citizenry.

Why does this have to be so difficult?

They're starting to figure it out

Jacob Weisberg is looking beyond a celebration over the indictment of Karl Rove and possibly even Dick Cheney. I think that a lot of links in Washington may dry up if Rove or Libby gets indicted. I would serve journalists right if it did. This wouldn't have happened if the press hadn't made such a big deal out of what was obviously a non-scandal.

The Washington Post is breathlessly reporting that Fitzgerald is looking into Cheney's involvement:
The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.
Suggests to whom? This would make sense if she were really a covert operative. She wasn't and isn't. Otherwise, wouldn't the CIA have made a fuss over her appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair?

Oh, well. Some bloggers [cough, Tom Maquire] are into this up to their armpits. Fortunately, though, most of us have other things to think about.

Howard Kurtz looks at the fury swirling over this case and finds a tornado that could tear through Washington, but leave the rest of the country safe, dry and astonished.

Update: Fox News reports on Brit Humes grapevine that the stories about the investigation pointing toward Cheney are greeted with a laugh at the White House.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Reviewing my position on Miers

I was all set to post a comment I made at Baldilocks, but just heard that Miers told Sen. Specter that she believes that Griswold was right and that there is a right of privacy in the Constitution. Now I'm not so sure I want her on SCOTUS. However, Griswold ruled that Connecticut could not outlaw sales and use of contraceptive devices. I agree with that, but not with the Supreme Court's agreeing to overrule the state legislature. Hard cases make bad law. I would have used the same reasoning as Justice Roberts on the DC Circuit Court's decision on the "French fry" case. Sometimes legislatures just make bonehead laws, but I'm not sure that means the courts have to rush in to fix them.

I don't know whether she should be confirmed or not, but frankly I'm not sure about anybody else either, and I don't think that the ability to write scintillating opinions is enough of a qualification. I started to read Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but since I'm not a law professor and don't have a case it's pertinent to, and it's over 100 pages long, I'm probably not going to finish. Why can't these people limit their opinions to the same length they impose on lawyers?