Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Nominated 

Now this is more like it! I think that an excellent measure of the quality of the candidate is the amount of clamoring that it immediatelly elicits from the left. So by the sound of things, we should be in good shape with this one:
Abortion emerged as a potential fault line. Democrats pointed to Alito's rulings that sought to restrict a woman's right to abortion. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's views on the hot-button issue "will be among one of the first items Judge Alito and I will discuss.


"The Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. A rare Democratic senator who opposes abortion, Reid chided Bush for not nominating the first Hispanic to the court."

The National Review is already throwing its weight behind him, noting his firm devotion to the "limited role that our courts play in our constitutional system." The very fact that Democrats try to construe this as conservative, or political at all, speak to the merits of this choice. The fact of the matter is that the interpretation of the constitution isn't a matter of conservative and liberal, but rather one of choosing either to uphold the strict foundational doctrine of our country, or distort the founding documents to serve passing politcal fancy. That the left sees him as a threat to their ability to hijack the only branch of government they still control should be good enough for most thinking Americans to support Alito. It's more than enough for me.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Putting the court in its place 

After the terrorist bombings in New Delhi there's a lot we could learn from the Indians:
"These are dastardly acts of terrorism," Singh said in a brief televised statement. "We shall defeat their nefarious designs and will not allow them to succeed. We are resolute in our commitment to fighting terrorism in all forms."

If only he would run for congress! It seems that Condi gets the point, but that's no surprise:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also condemned the attacks, which she said were "made more heinous in that they deliberately targeted innocent civilians preparing for holiday celebrations."

Rice said the attacks served as a "another sad reminder that terror knows no borders and respects no religion."

With all the hullabalooh about judicial nominees and CIA leaks, its easy to forget about the men and women who are fighting so far away, regardless of who gets nominated, rejected, leaked, fired or probed. They fight on so that we won't have to live with the scenes from New Delhi here in America, or in Iraq for that matter. Even though I'm sure this blog will heat up in the coming weeks with the fervor of a new nominee, I feel like a little perspective is in order. No matter what happens, we have them to thank for being able to argue about it at all.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bubonic Plague and AIDS 

Apparently plague survivors had (and their descendands have) a gene that protects them from both the plague and the modern scourge HIV. If both your parents have the gene, you're immune to HIV.

Hopefully in a few years genetic engineering will help use this knowledge to create a way to implant the gene in non-carriers and thus defeat AIDS.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdrawn 

IT'S A FAKE!. Miers withdrawn. Well, that changes things. Was it on purpose? Hard to say, but the short term will be bad publicity either way. Already democrats are accusing him of bowing to extremists (envision the Democrat playbook: If he pushes her, she's a radical. If he abandons her, she was a moderate, and he's bowing to radicals). What's coming next? It seems that this was a smart move in the long run, even if it wasn't on purpose. Getting the base fired up would have backfired if he had pushed Miers, but now that he has withdrawn he has a chance to play off the momentum of newly energized conservatives, fired up after a disappointing nomination forced vocal opposition. If he goes for broke with a real traditionalist nominee, he will regain the base's support, and force the democrats to roll over and play dead, or show their true faces and risk it all in an interm election where they will be seen as the party of procrastination and negativity. This could be good.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

1491: A book to blow your mind 

I've been waiting for this book, 1491, to come out ver since I read an abreviated version of it in the Atlantic Monthly about four years ago. When I first read that article I was in complete shock. The amazon rain forest a creation of man--the population of America in 1491 higher than that of Europe--a more equal society than europe--the genetic engineering of maze...!

The book makes me want to switch from Ancient Rome and Greece in my academic specilization to instead studying this amazing revision of history.

Salon reviews the book here.

Here are some reviews by major US newspapers.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Could the new James Bond not suck? 

We can hope that the franchise moves towards the relevance that its source material has always contained...

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

This is an imortant time... 

...yet few people know it. Why should you remember this weekend? Because there is democratic success in Iraq. And I don't exagerate. See for yourself.

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The horror, the horror 

I hope you don't have a heart of darkness (yeah, yuk yuk), and that you're having a lovely day. Now read this about how the 1918 Spanish flu has been recreated in the lab. Sorry for ruining your day...

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Bacteria-killing Pencil 

A beam of plasma that kills bacteria, but doesn't hurt human flesh. That's pretty awesome. I assume it kills virii too, but the acrticle doesn't seem to say... If it does, this is pretty amazing.

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Kauss on unequal speech 

See why giving reporters more rights than the rest of us is just insulting.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Journalists as priviledged nobility 

If the government grants someone a title and priviledges, isn't that nobility? Soon, we may have government-approved 'journalists' with special priviledges that ordinary citizens don't recieve. No, these people won't be elected and won't really be answerable to the people, unless the government yanks titles when the people complain. But isn't that what the government does now when it fires its employees...?

Gee, I want these special priviledges, since I don't want to live as a second class, non-journalist citizen. Guess I'll need to always be a part-time member of this elite caste...

This is even more stupid than the constitutionality of campaign finance laws that do nothing but limit speech. There are probably very few things that would cause the founding fathers to roll over in their graves, but stuff like this has to qualify.

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The white house is sexist 

This is disgusting, limiting the choice of who will fill the supreme court vacancy left by O'Connor to a list of only women.

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On Chronyism and Meirs 

Mr. Goldberg says that politics, at its heart, is all about chronyism. Read to the end, and see why I agree with him. If you agree with Aristotle that man is a political animal, than chronyism is the natural course of things, and not necessarily bad at all.

Now, if Bush was appointing his longtime legal-scholar friend who was well respected and a genius, I'd have no problem with that. Ms. Meirs very far from that thresh-hold, though.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A liberal's paean to W.F. Buckley 

From the WaPo's Mr. Dionne. The whole piece is an interesting history of Buckley's contributions to the conservative movement, and was quite enlightening to me since I wasn't alive for conservatisms rebirth and comeback. Here's the interesting closer to the piece:
My main criticism of Buckley is that he was far too effective on behalf of a movement that I think should be driven from power. And if you read that as a compliment, you're right.

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Why Miers is a poor choice 

Her closest colleages don't know what she really thinks... So, how can the White House say that she's safely an 'originalist' and a conservative?

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Terror Reminders, and selective memory 

[HUGE Update:] Why isn't anyone talking about this failed suicide bombing outside the Oklahoma football game? Home grown Islamic terror? This is huge! More to come, but read below, as this only strengthens my point.

Reminders of the importance of the fight in Iraq are popping up all over, especially in the last few days, where we have seen both a foiled terror plot in New York, and an intercepted letter from high level Al Qaida operative Ayman al-Zawahri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi regarding the nature and purpose of the conflict.
Whitman said the letter demonstrates "that there is this detailed planning and intent on the part of the insurgents in Iraq to one day control that country and to really try to extend their extremism to neighboring countries. It demonstrates to me they clearly understand the importance and significance of the battle in Iraq right now."

Meanwhile, this sort of nonsense makes me more than a little sick and frankly enraged. In an op-ed entitled "Shared Fantasies of Bush and al Qaida?," WaPo columnist William M. Arkin writes:
That's it? Ten plots, 3,000 terrorists, more than one-half the leadership? I know these numbers are intended to convey that the war on terrorism has been a success. To me though, it just conveys how stuck the Bush administration is in a go-nowhere-fight-forever-kill-the-terrorists-one-at-a-time strategy.
The White House and much of Washington continues to be stuck in a post 9/11 nightmare where I believe the groupthink imagines a monumental threat to the United States and western society that just doesn't exist.

Yes, President Bush, extremism will exist after Iraq. It is made all the more potent and rewarding as we bumble about labeling it "evil" and ignoring what it feeds on.

How can an ideology that seeks to eradicate the American way of life, regardless of how many lives must be lost, be they Arab or otherwise, not be called evil? This is a group that claims to typify the result of American policy on the Middle East, yet will openly risk and expend the lives of the people it claims to represent. Somewhere in the strange argument espoused above, the author loses sight of the fact that regardless of any perceived US involvement in all manner of atrocities, the US did not fly planes into buildings, nor did it plant bombs in the London underground, or try to smuggle bombs into the New York Subway in baby carriages. A shared fantasy, indeed, but one that is shared only by those who would seek to do us harm and those who cannot seem to understand why.

Its funny sometimes to think that the enemy may get it better than we do. The main stream media, which continues to ignore successes in Iraq and blame the US for terrorism while bemoaning the lengthy coalition timeline in Iraq, cannot seem to fathom that not only is our continued presence in Iraq imperative to the success of the fledgling democracy, but it weighs heavily on the security of the United States and our allies in the middle east. Al Qaida continues to fight the US and coalition forces because the success or failure of there long term agenda depends on it. If they fail, and the US succeeds in not only liberating the Iraqi people from tyranny but also in rooting out terror from Iraq, there will be nothing left but retreat and defeat for Al Qaida. When it becomes clear that democracy, equality and freedom are not something unique to New England liberals, but an inherent and inalienable right possessed by all people, there can be no more tolerance for oppressive regimes and terror roots across Syria, Iran and elsewhere. More than simply securing Iraq, and the United States, against terror, this operation is fundamentally reshaping the politics and make-up of the Middle East. And, as the President called attention to, the war on terror is not confined to Iraq. We have to continue to be vigilant here and elsewhere, let we forget that it was not a President, a Party or a People that was attacked four years ago, it was an idea. The ideal and way of life that can only be called American cannot thrive and cannot be called true freedom in a world where terror is left unchecked, and tyrants traffic fear in the night. The freedom and prosperity of the US is not self-sustaining, and we cannot allow ourselves to believe otherwise.

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Re: Withdraw / Scotus 

See here for my thoughts. I support the President's decision, but I thnk there were better candidates for the job. Demanding he remove the nominee doesn't seem like a good idea to me, since we know he won't do it, and it will only weaken the chances of any nominee being passed by dividing the conservative base needed. In terms of actual credentials, as long as we're flaming NR again, see here:
If you leave out the departing O’Connor, the only Justice with any significant private practice experience left on the Court is Kennedy, at about 14 years. Souter and Scalia had a handful of years right out of law school; believe me when I tell you that doesn’t count. Thomas had a couple of years in-house at Monsanto between government positions. Roberts had 10 years at Hogan & Hartson, but as I understand it, it was exclusively appellate work, which only barely counts.

J. Harvie Wilkinson (my Con Law professor years ago) has no private practice experience. Michael Luttig had about 4 years.

Miers, by contrast, has over 25 years as a commercial litigator. Though I’ve seen some of the derisive comments about the intellectual rigor of that branch of the profession as compared to the supposedly more rarified field of Constitutional Law, that is nonsense. A good commercial litigator’s practice is, in fact, one of the most intellectually challenging careers in the profession. Every case, every business you represent, and every deal is different. You have to explain unfamiliar and complex commercial issues (which are found in both “large” and “small” cases) to judges and juries.

That being said, I would have liked him to go balls out and choose Janice Rogers Brown myself.

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Socially irrelevant my ass 

This greatly offends me...

I don't think defining modern economic theory, having several branches of different academic disciplines being called the 'Chicago' school, and being the home of brilliant scholars like Leo Strauss makes Chicago socially irrelevant.

I mean, let me point again to ECONOMICS. Socially irrelevent... Chr*st. I think it's just Ivy envy that they're not as smart as Chicago grads, just better connected...

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Withdraw This Nominee 

I wholeheartedly second this opinion

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

SCOTUS thoughts 

I am still trying to get my footing after Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a move that seems strange to me in light of the rallying support he received for nominating John Roberts amidst calls to seek women, minorities and other non-qualification relevant attributes. But the issue of qualification seems to be the central one in this round, mainly since nobody seems to know whether she is qualified or not. Richard Lowry opines:
We don’t know much yet about Harriet Miers, except that she is the anti-Roberts, a nominee whose credentials are less than sterling and whose qualifications for the Court are less than obvious.

It might turn out that she is an outstanding justice. But there is no way for anyone besides President Bush’s immediate circle to know it. Of course, other Supreme Court justices have come without experience on the bench. Chief Justice Earl Warren was governor of California. Harriet Miers was “an elected member of the Dallas City Council,” as Bush put it in his announcement of her nomination.
Of course, Miers currently has a heavy-hitting job as White House counsel. That is testament to a certain legal acumen, and she has apparently impressed people with whom she has worked closely. But given the significance of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest Court, this is a rather thin qualification. Indeed, the most important reason Miers was picked is that Bush is comfortable with her.

Now, I feel that the personal approval of the President is a strong qualification in itself, since we have seen Republican presidents nominate a seemingly more qualified (and conservative) judge he was unfamiliar with before, with less than savory consequences. But at the same time, I can identify with those who are calling this the ultimate act of "crony-ism" from a Whitehouse that has been continually (and wrongfully) accused of nepotism since it came to power. A trusted friend, indeed a valuable asset, but what else? I also wonder whether this was a wasted opportunity.
The amazing amount of support Roberts received from both sides of the isle testifies to the ability of a strong character and sterling resume to win over even some of your harshest critics. And its no secret that he had the Presidents personal approval, even friendship, or that he has sided with a more conservative interpretation of the law before. It seems to an outside observer to suggest that Bush had plenty of leway to push the envelope by nominating another such qualified candidate, or perhaps one who is more judicially conservative, having been handed the formula for success in the confirmation process. I am not alone in this sentiment, although the over all feeling amongst conservative circles on campus seems to be one of reluctance: a "wait and see" sort of attitude. The consensus also appears, however, to be that she will be approved.
And perhaps there lies the only shred of genius in this move. For the right, her conservative qualifications seem strong, albeit hard to find. Her writings on civil rights and the second amendment are staunchly in line with my own, and that of most conservatives. And her writings on crime, punishment and personal responsibility also speak to an attitude of traditional legal ideology. (For quotes on both, see this TIME article) Yet what Democrat wants to be the one to vote down a woman as "unqualified?" A woman who has been out in favor of gay civil rights for more than 15 years. It also helps that Harry Reid seems to like her too. Her philosophy seems sound, and despite questions about her experience and closeness to Bush that make her potentially difficult to gather support for, she is certainly difficult to oppose. And that may be all it takes.

[Update:]Check out this Volokh post for more upbeat news on the "right to bear arms" issue, perhaps her strongest selling point currently. Also note that her support of "civil rights" is not the same as supporting gay marriage, and she was openly against repealing the Texas sodomy law. "Gay" civil rights is a non-issue, and this can only be an asset in selling her to lefties.

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Mandarins 

Read this article, which is about liberal education and who should be running nations. Well, it's a lot more complicated than that, but I need to think about it more before I start describing it more, since I will need to render my opinion on the article and its topic material when I do so. However, like I said above, read the article. It raises a lot of interesting ideas, at the very least, that deserve serious thought.

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