Monday, October 31, 2005

Media Continues To Sink Lower

Quote from CBS's John Roberts (no, not the chief justice):
So, Scott, you said that -- or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean that Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?
Does it help that they are apologizing now?

Jason, over at Polipundit, is fond of calling the Democrats the Mediacrats, in a not-so-subtle swipe at the Democratic Party and the mainstream media often working together on most issues. I usually think such comments are childish and just server to lower what should be a meaningful debate over political issues. But maybe he's on to something...

Reaction To Alito Nomination: How Times Have Changed

By now I'm sure you've heard that Samuel Alito has been nominated by President Bush. I'm still reading reactions and biographical information on Judge Alito, but one thing has struck me initially.

The left is going ape over the nomination, with Harry Reid threatening a filibuster. Not all of the Gang of 14 agree with that view, so it is unclear at this point whether Reid's comments are once again an empty threat. But what I find amazing is how much the tenor of the debate between Republicans and Democrats has changed in the last 15 years. The Bench section of the National Review (which has pages and pages on the nomination) had three quick posts here:
Approved unanimously for the federal Court of Appeals judge by Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, and unanimously by the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee, in 1990.
and here:
Ted Kennedy on Alito, from 1990

Alito has “a distinguished record” ... “[w]e look forward to supporting you.”
and here:
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): Alito is “the kind of judge the public deserves — one who is impartial, thoughtful, and fair.”
Things will definitely different this time around. How times have changed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

NY Times: Completely Biased And Utterly Despicable

Michelle Malkin has a truly frightening post about the depths to which the New York Times will sink to push its agenda. I highly suggest you read the whole thing, but just in case you don't, I'll summarize here.

When the NYT celebrated the death toll in Iraq hitting 2,000, they published this quote from a letter that Corporal Jeffery Starr sent to his girlfriend before his death:
"I kind of predicted this," Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. "A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."
Seems horrible, doesn't it? A young man who feels his own death approaching. However, Starr's uncle wrote to Malkin, asking if she would publish the more complete quote from the letter. She did so in the post above. Here's the complete quote:
"Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."
His uncle then added:
What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what's going on. It would honor Jeffrey's memory if you would publish the rest of his story.
Michele Malkin's blog will reach far more people, but I'm happy to do what I can to make sure Jeffery's true thoughts are known to as many as possible.

The unmitigated gall of the New York Times to take the dying words of a proud fallen soldier and twist them to their own design is disgusting. There are many people who think that the war in Iraq is unjust and doomed. To the New York Times, I say quote those people in your worthless tabloid. Leave the writings of honorable men and the truth alone.

Rarely do I agree with Bill O'Reilly, but I must say I have had enough. If you have a subscription to the New York Times, please cancel it now. If you are a member of their moronic pay-to-view online version, please cancel it now. The only thing the editors at the times care about more then shoving their agenda down the throats of every reader is money. Don't give them any more of yours.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Media Capitalizes On Miers Withdrawal

My initial reaction to the Miers nomination withdrawal was a prediction that the media (and the Democratic Party) would point to it as an indication of a critical weakness in the Republican Party.

It took about 6 hours for my prediction to come true.

Miers Withdraws Nomination

Harrier Miers has asked that her nomination to the Supreme Court be withdrawn and President Bush has accepted.

Reactions are everywhere of course: BlogsForBush, Polipundit, Redstate, Hedgehog Report, Althouse, Instapundit, Powerline, Captain's Quarters and Hugh Hewitt. I'm sure the moonbats at Kos are going ape, but I've long since gone to that site.

Most of the reaction has already turned to who the next nominee will be. People are calling for another Roberts or someone to unite the base. The problem with that last one is that the Republican base (just like the Democratic base) is not a monolithic block. For some an ultra religious, ultra conservative who will cause an epic fight in the Senate will unite them. Fiscal conservatives who call themselves Republicans might not feel unity in the face of such a nominee.

The most important part of this story has been for the most part ignored. Conservatives are so happy the nomination has been withdrawn they yet to see the gigantic opportunity this has created for the Democrats (and the media). Expect to see the word lame duck being used frequently in the coming articles. If Bush picks an explosive nominee that is successfully filibustered, many will suggest (gleefully) that nothing else he wants to accomplish for the next 3.25 years will be passed by the Senate. The media won't suggest this weakens the Republican Party; it will print as fact every day that this has destroyed it. Conservative bloggers will express outrage at the articles, but they should hardly be surprised.

The only potential upside to the Republican Party is this scenario. The seeming weakness in the Republicans (and Democrats will see it as much larger than it is) will allow those in the far left of the Democratic party to push things farther left. Every indication is that a more moderate Democrat is much more likely to be successful. So if a Kos-supported candidate gets a nomination, this whole Miers nomination debacle could end up helping the Republican Party.

But it is going to be a long, ugly road in either case.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

USA Today Alters Condoleezza Rice Photo

This is now common practice, but bloggers have caught USA Today altering a photo of Condoleezza Rice to make her look, well, demonic. Many people have covered the story in the blogosphere; one person who took up the fight the hardest was Michelle Malkin.

The good news is that under pressure from Malkin and others, USA Today has switched the photo to the unaltered version. An editor's note now precedes the article:
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.
I'm a photographer in my spare time and there really is no way that sharpening can have this effect. Here's the unaltered photograph:

Here's the altered version:

Just to check, I loaded the unaltered version and applied way too much sharpening to it.

These are small images, but you can see that while there are horrible artifacts, you don't really get the demon eyes. The altered USA Today image has more pronounced eyes and none of the other sharpening artifacts (look at the cheeks, for example). More on how this can't be sharpening in the Malkin post. Maybe USA Today uses a special Halloween sharpening algorithm? Or maybe, just maybe, the story in USA Today was about the war and the media has an agenda? Nah, can't be.

Blacks in Baseball

The same week that civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks dies, the Associated Press provides a report on the number of black players in Major League Baseball. The headline is "Astros first W.S. team in 52 years without black player".

First off, this article shows how far we have come in this country. The last World Series team without a black player was the NY Yankees in 1953. At that point, just six years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, the team had never employed a single black player. Half a century later we're no longer concerned about prejudice preventing an individual from taking full advantage of his gifts and participating in society. No serious person believes that the Astros have no black players because they are racist. Today the concern is whether we have the "right" number of each group in a given profession and how to achieve that elusive goal, even when the causes may have very little to do with race.

Second, I fail to see how the lack of blacks in MLB is a "huge, huge problem for baseball", as Astros GM Tim Purpura is quoted as saying. At this point in time professional sports are about as close to a meritocracy as anything is in our society. People of all races have the opportunity to play if they're good enough to be there. Even if there are pockets of lingering racism in sports (and no doubt there are) there are enough open minded executives to sign and play anyone who can hit a ball, or throw a pass, or shoot a basket.

I agree that if there truly is "a perception among African-American kids that they're not welcome here, that baseball is not for inner-city kids," as Joe Morgan says then this is a problem. You want your talent pool to be as broad as possible and the same goes for your customer base. But I wonder if the lack of interest in baseball in cities has more to do with the development of organized youth sports in this country than anything else. Growing up in the city I played stickball or pickup games in the streets or school yards. These days there is more of an emphasis on organized leagues, with uniforms and coaches and facilities and away from pickup sports for fun. It's a lot harder for a kid growing up in a city, where space is short, to play baseball when there's a perception that you have to have all of the trappings rather than just playing with what you've got.

I can also understand how a great ballplayer like Morgan can be very disappointed when the community he identifies with doesn't embrace the sport that he loves. I hate the fact that baseball is no longer the prime sport in this country. But this is a marketing problem, not a race problem.

CNN's Online Poll on Casualties

In a post yesterday, Dan pointed out CNN's online poll on how many casualties did people expect when the war in Iraq began. I think it's worth pointing out that as of Tuesday morning with 227,445 votes cast 73% say they did expect this many casualties. There's no way to determine how many of these people expected the doomsday scenarios in 2003 (house to house fighting in Baghdad, massive US casualties from the start) or how many simply understand that deaths are inevitable in wartime. Either way it's clear that a large percentage of respondents are not shocked at the number 2000 in the way that the folks at CNN no doubt hope.

CNN Celebrates 2,000 Deaths In Iraq

CNN was in rare form yesterday. The news of 2,000 U.S. fatalities in Iraq was meet with a blitz of seemingly preplanned stories that--there is no other word for it--seemed to celebrate the death of 2,000 U.S. soldiers. Or perhaps more specifically, to celebrate another chance to push their agenda and attack President Bush.

The main story on CNN is filled with subheadlines such as "Journal chronicled fears" and snippets such as:
Jones, 45, had volunteered to deploy to fill a vacancy in the 48th Brigade. His jailer's wage didn't always cover the bills, and Jones hoped hazard pay from Iraq would help his family's financial struggles.

But no pay could compensate for these hazards. The June 26 explosion that jolted Kinlow left Jones with a scratched cornea. Then, a few weeks later, came Kinlow's death.
No mention was given to the accomplishments made while he was in Iraq.

Along the pushing the agenda lines, the results of two polls were released at the same time. The first was entitled, "Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak," found the surprising results that prepped with continuous stories about the leak by the media and no official information, people thought something bad had happened. Shocking. The second was even more contrived, stating "Poll: Bush would lose an election if held this year." Two things to note about the poll. One, Bush loses to a Democratic candidate, not John Kerry. So the results discount any of the negatives about John Kerry that caused people to vote for Republican instead of Democrat. Given the number of anti-Kerry votes that occurred in 2004, this fact alone makes the poll meaningless. But there is also this gem:
However, all the numbers are within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, so it's possible that the public's opinion has not changed at all.
Excellent. So the results of the biased poll are inconclusive, yet they are published right next to the headline and melodramatic story of the 2,000 death in Iraq. A coincidence, I'm sure.

Finally, the QuickVote of the day was "When the war in Iraq started, did you believe the U.S. would suffer so many casualties?" I guess gives everyone the opportunity to see that no only was Bush wrong, but we all knew he was wrong from the beginning.

It would be nice to see CNN (and the bulk of the rest of the media) show an ounce of professionalism. Given their recent behavior, I think it is safe to put your scales away as there is sadly no need to even check.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Casualty Counting

U.S. military deaths in Iraq have reached the 2000 mark, the AP reports here. To his credit, the reporter devotes significant space to the military spokesman's email remarks:
"The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."
"Celebrate the daily milestones, the accomplishments they have secured and look to the future of a free and democratic Iraq and to the day that all of our troops return home to the heroes welcome they deserve."
But naturally, this only follows typical anti-war boilerplate:
The grim milestone was reached at a time of growing disenchantment over the war among the American public toward a conflict that was launched to punish Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for his alleged weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found.
As with most MSM accounts of U.S. casualties, no context is provided. It is only reported that
Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander, Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas, died Saturday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, of wounds suffered Oct. 17, when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, the Defense Department said.
Nothing is said about what Sgt. Alexander was doing in Samarra on the 17th, or what his unit has and is accomplishing. Nothing is provided to even hint that Sgt. Alexander may have given his life for a cause worth fighting for. This is so expected by now as to be almost not worth pointing out. Reports like this do a disservice to the soldiers who have died by painting them as helpless victims and to the American people who are not receiving the whole story. Thankfully there are alternative media sources to get the rest of the story out.

Thank you Sgt. Alexander for your service to our country and sacrifice for the cause of freedom

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thoughts On The Gorbachev Speech at Miami University

Below, I posted that Gorbachev would be speaking at Miami University tonight. I did manage to listen to the speech and wanted to post some quick reactions here.
  1. It was difficult to concentrate during the speech. Gorbachev spoke in Russian and a translator provided the English translation. Both microphones were at the same volume and it was hard to discern the English. I suppose I'm just not accustomed to hearing a translated speech but it was distracting. Particularly when Gorbachev--a dynamic speaker--would deliver a section of the speech with energy and the translator would continue in a dull monotone.
  2. Gorbachev said that he never knew whether his translator was faithfully translating his words, or giving his own speech. In the end, he said he decided to go with an approach President Reagan had taught him: trust, but verify. The comments received big laughs from the audience.
  3. Much of the speech was a history lesson. He did his best to downplay his importance, stating that the living conditions for the people were so bad under the communist system and that the system was so fundamentally broken, that change was inevitable. He related an anecdote where a high-ranking member of the communist party canceled a meeting where talk turned critical towards the government. Gorbachev's lesson was that a meeting could be canceled; you can't cancel the events and realities that were driving the change.
  4. Gorbachev praised President Reagan and Schultz for their dedication and professionalism during the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms (and other cold war) negotiations. In a very Russian moment, he also praised Reagan as being a "worthy opponent".
  5. He was very critical of Yeltsin, saying that he moved too fast with reforms after Gorbachev left office.
  6. He ended with a critical rant against President Bush. Specifically he disagreed with the invasion of Iraq without U.N. approval. He thought that it was wrong to demean and marginalize the U.N., as they are all the world has. He did acknowledge that the U.N. has problems, noting that he suggested many reforms to the U.N. during his presidency.
  7. On a more personal note, I stopped by the a local pizza place that was a frequent hangout in college. While I was there, a number of people involved with bringing Gorbachev to campus stopped in for a slice or two. I heard them say they had offered to "buy him as much vodka as he wanted" but he declined to go out with him in the evening. If Gorbachev has shown up in my favorite pizza place in Oxford, OH...well, let's just say it would have been blog-worthy.
Overall, I liked the speech, except for the end. The beginning of the speech discussed the fall of communism and the process by which he initiated change in great detail. The end seemed hurried and offered little explanation other than "Bush bad, U.N. good." As Keith notes, below, the way the U.N. handles Syria will be a good test to see if they can reclaim some legitimacy in international politics. I have severe doubts, but I'm willing to give them a chance, to see how they do. (I think the change in leadership in Germany, coupled with Chirac's reduced popularity could allow for more definitive action.)

A Telling Statement From the UN

The United Nations recently issued a report accusing the Syrian government of direct involvement in the murder of Rafik Harin, former Prime Minister of Lebanon. A report in the Times of London says that the initial version of the report implicated specific members of the Syrian government, including family members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but the names were redacted after a meeting with Koffi Annan. (Thanks to today's Best of the Web for the pointer.)

The Financial Times reports that the US and France are jointly calling for UN Security Council action on this issue. The US seeks full cooperation from Syria with real consequences if the allegations can be proven. Specifically, there is call for action under chapter 7 of the UN Charter, "which deals with threats to international peace and security and can eventually lead to the use of force." (FT)

But will the United Nations actually do anything about this? The a quote from the Chinese ambassador shows how useless the UN is as an institution:
We have to be very careful with chapter 7. It is the dog that will bite, not just bark.
In essence he's saying that we should be very careful about actually taking actions beyond making statements and issuing warnings, because real actions might upset the commercial interests that the member states have in the region. Hopefully the case against the evil eye doctor's regime will be so clear cut that the UN will have no choice but to take real action. But anyone who expects action or results from the folks in Turtle Bay is hopelessly naive.

Gorbachev Speaks At Miami University

I'm home in Ohio and just found out that Gorbachev is speaking tonight at Miami University, my Alma Mater.

In a change for writing about things I read about elsewhere, I thought I'd go listen to the speech and blog about it later. Blog reporting?

Update to follow.

Harriet Miers is Tony Womack

Thinking about the Harriet Miers nomination has given me some insight into my own political leanings. But not in a substantive sense, but rather on an emotional level. During the weeks since the White House announced the nomination the questions, gaffes and missteps have continued to accumulate. The inadequate Senate questionnaire, appeals to her religious background to indicate conservative bona fides, concerns about her dealings with Ben Barnes (the source of the National Guard memos last year) while head of the Texas Lottery Commission. All on top of the obvious questions about her qualifications and charges of cronyism. I've become increasingly frustrated both with the choice of Miers and the way the White House has gone about defending her. As this has gone on I've had the urge to tune the story out, just to avoid the frustration.

I realize the reaction is very much akin to the one I have when my baseball team goes through a bad stretch. Even though I'm a huge baseball fan, when the team goes through a period where nothing seems to go right it's just not as much fun to turn on the ballgame. Even more so when the reason for the losing is the fact that they're pitching Kevin Brown every fifth day or hitting left fielder Tony Womack in the lead off spot - choices that anyone paying attention could have predicted would turn out poorly.

Make no mistake - Harriet Miers is a Tony Womack. Womack is a lousy hitter and a merely adequate fielder whose only redeeming attribute was basestealing ability. Miers has only moderate professional credentials, minimal government service, no judicial or meaningful appellate experience and her only "redeeming" quality is how well the President knows her. This season Womack played as well as one would have expected given his record - he was one of the worst everyday players in the league (87 out of 994 according to VORP). The Miers nomination is similarly going in a way that someone (or more specifically the White House) could have predicted. According to VORP, Womack was rated 9 runs worse than a replacement left fielder, with replacement meaning the generic player that any team could find in the minors. Miers appears to be a worse SCOTUS nominee than a generic appeals court judge nominated by a Republican president.

The question is what happens next? The Yankees saw the error of their ways mid-season and relegated Womack to the bench for pinch hitting duties. This was one reason (out of many) that the Yankees turned their season around and ended up finishing atop the American League East (well, tied anyway). Will President Bush see the error of his ways and withdraw this nomination in time to save it? Is the George in the White House more or less stubborn than the George who is the Boss in the Bronx?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More Evidence Against Global Warming

Greenland's ice cap is thickening. What is most amusing about the article is that it does it's best to say that thickening ice is consistent with global warming.
However, they [scientists at Global Ocean Studies and Operational Oceanography in Norway] said that the thickening seemed consistent with theories of global warming, blamed by most experts on a build-up of heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.

Warmer air, even if it is still below freezing, can carry more moisture. That extra moisture falls as snow below 32 Fahrenheit.
I really don't follow this. It's warmer air, but still below freezing, so how can this cause the melting that some fear? My favorite phantom fear is this one:
Most models of global warming indicate that the Greenland ice might melt within thousands of years if warming continues.
A thousand years? Certainly there won't be any technology or societal changes in the next 1000 years, so it makes sense to run models based on current conditions out for ten centuries. Global warming theories would be easier to take seriously if they weren't based on scientific theories that so often ignore good scientific practice.

Positive Iraq Reporting By The AP

I point out negative Iraq reporting by the AP frequently, so it is only fair to point out the rare positive piece. But I did notice this article about high morale for U.S. troops in Iraq.
"This is what I do for a living," said Sgt. Maj. William Doherty of Boston, just minutes after being awarded a Bronze Star for his response to an insurgent attack where shrapnel from a grenade tore through his thigh.

The military's efforts were slowly stabilizing Iraq, he said. "This place is a lot better for these people to live in," he said of Baqouba, where he was injured this spring. Doherty said most soldiers from his unit, in the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, had re-enlisted and that morale remained "very high."

There are a few negative remarks scattered throughout the article, but overall the tone is a positive one. I wouldn't have guessed the AP capable of such an article, but I'll enjoy it as a pleasant surprise.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Blogosphere Replacing The Media

Previously, I wrote about how bloggers were asked to review the movie Serenity. It was yet another examples of the blogosphere being accepted as a legitimate concept and continuing to become a parallel to more traditional media sources.

The trend is continuing. Recently, Republican members of the U.S. House invited a number of bloggers to come to Washington and ask questions. The press release for the event can be seen here.
During the first ever Blog Row, Members were able to take questions and provide in depth answers while bloggers posted comments and summaries throughout the entire two and a half hour forum. The House Republican Conference reached out to bloggers nationwide, with eleven able to attend the event and post live from the Capitol. Today twenty-three Members spoke at "Blog Row' on everything from belt tightening in the budget to the recent elections in Iraq.
I'm not even really that interested in the questions that were asked, nor in the answers that were given. But I do find it fascinating that bloggers were asked to come to Washington and representatives took time out of their schedules to meet with them. This is a trend that you are going to see more and more as time passes.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Cheeseburger Bill vs. Warning Labels For French Fries

A while back, Keith posted about a silly lawsuit in California that would require warning labels for french fries. Thankfully, the rest of the country doesn't seem to agree with this silliness. I hadn't heard of this before, but there is a bill in Congress (being called the Cheeseburger Bill) that would block lawsuits by people claiming that fast-food chains caused obesity.
"As one judge put it, if a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonald's products is unhealthy and could result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
I had little respect for the documentary Super Size Me. The diet followed there was specifically designed to be make McDonalds look bad. While some may argue that's the point of a documentary, it doesn't mean I have to respect it. I'm glad to see others feel as I do.

Bill O'Reilly On Modern Newspaper Decay

Bill O'Reilly has an interesting talking points article up entitled, "Your Freedom and the Press." I didn't see the episode of his show that he refers to in the article (apologies to Mr. O'Reilly, but I rarely watch his show), but apparently the Dallas Morning News tried to tie his program to the death by murder of six Mexicans in Georgia. Ignoring that one case, I found his comments about modern newspapers more interesting.
Recently, The L.A. Times changed the editor and editorial director because of falling circulation. The result is a better, more fair newspaper out there.

Profits at The New York Times company are down more than 50 percent. There's a civil war in the paper's newsroom over the Judith Miller situation. And the paper's perceived arrogance has alienated many readers. Other newspapers having similar problems.

Typically for O'Reilly, he's calling for a boycott--this time of newspapers and mainstream media.
The only thing more powerful in the media than ideology is money. Hurt these charlatans in the wallet, and changes will be made. Turn off the smear merchants on TV, they'll disappear. Only you, the American public, can bring fairness and accuracy back to the media.
I think there is some (though not enough) evidence that this is happening already.

(As a bonus, under the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" section in to the same column, check out the silliness in Berkeley over Veterans Day. Ridiculous indeed.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Anbar Campaign In Iraq

I know that pointing out an Instapundit link is somewhat like telling people that the sky is blue, but I can't pass this one up. Glenn links to The Fourth Rail, where Bill Roggio details the military strategy used in Iraq over the past year. The text is interesting and they have a flash video showing the campaign visually.

What struck me the most when reading the post was (embarrassingly) how I've been influenced by the media's coverage of Iraq. (And from reading many of my posts here I think you'll agree that I'm usually on my guard against such things.) What is clear from watching the video, linked above, is that there is a definite strategy being employed by U.S. and Iraqi forces. While I was aware that the media has focused on the negative, with the daily count of casualties, and ignored the successes for the most part, I was unaware that they have neglected to cover the details of the anti-terrorist plan--or even that there was a plan at all.

You get the feeling from watching the news that U.S. troops are just driving around like policemen, occasionally falling victim to car bombs and other attacks. The coverage seems to indicate that the U.S. was ill-prepared for the occupation and has followed no coherent strategy. Clearly that is not the case.

The New York Times' Global Warming Agenda

Steven Milloy has an interesting article in his junk science series over at FoxNews. The article concerns two of my favorite subjects--New York Times bias and a debunking of global warming.

On Oct. 10, the NYT published an article entitled, "As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound." The article discusses investments being made to control rights to land that this being revealed by the melting of the northern polar ice cap. The arctic region holds a huge amount of natural gas and oil resources, so obviously there is a lot of money to be made. That in itself is an interesting story. However, the Times felt compelled to add this:
The Times spotlighted, for example, a Denver entrepreneur who purchased a “derelict Hudson Bay port from the Canadian government in 1997” for $7. The entrepreneur, who estimates the port could bring in as much as $100 million per year, “is no more to blame than anyone else for a meltdown at the top of the world that threatens Arctic mammals and ancient traditions and lends credibility to dark visions about global warming,” reported the Times.

“It’s the positive side of global warming, if there is a positive side,” the transportation minister of Manitoba told the Times.

What I love here is that global warming is stated as a fact, as if the article were discussing the law of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics. Milloy provides some interesting data that refutes the theory of human activity causing global warming. I suggest you read the whole article, linked above, if you are interested but the most compelling data were presented in a graph here, along with this analysis:
Now if the 1880-1938 warming trend had continued up until this day, there certainly would be some significant warming in the Arctic region to talk about. From 1918 to 1938, alone, the Arctic warmed by 2.5 degrees Centigrade. But the actual temperature trend is much different, showing that there’s been hardly any overall temperature change in the Arctic since 1938.


During the warming period from 1880 to 1938, it’s estimated that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide – the bugbear of greenhouse gases to global warming worriers – increased by an estimated 20 parts per million. But from 1938 to 2003 – a period of essentially no increase in Arctic warming – the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide increased another 60 parts per million. It doesn’t seem plausible, then, that Arctic temperatures are significantly influenced by atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.
It is unfortunate that no matter what the real truth, if you repeat something often enough it starts to be perceived to be true. I'm sure if a poll were conducted of young Americans, a vast majority would indicate that irresponsible human activity has resulted in catastrophic global warming. But as a scientist I find it disheartening that propaganda and not data becomes the basis for "the truth".

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Impossible Iraqi Vote

I was trying to gather a number of reactions to the Iraqi vote, but stumbled upon one that pretty much says exactly what I was hoping to say. The blog is Murdoc Online (hat top Instapundit) and you can read the full post here. The post is so succinct that my excerpts here will almost quote it in entirety. The post begins with the following observations.
Recall that it would take many months and many thousands of American lives simply to conquer Iraq.

Recall that, even if we managed to get control, the Iraqi people would never regain their sovereignty.

Recall that, even if we did give Iraq back to the Iraqis, it would simply be a puppet government that ruled.

Recall that, even if the government ever allowed elections, the Iraqi people wouldn't be interested in participating.

Recall that, even if the Iraqis did want to vote, the violence in Iraq would prevent them from doing so.

Recall that, even if elections were held, they would be so corrupt as to be worthless.

Recall that, even if a freely-elected government was formed, they would never be able to keep control.

Recall that, even if a new Iraqi government did manage to run things, they would never agree on a permanent charter.

Recall that, even a charter acceptable to all government leaders was written, the Iraqi voters would never approve it.

Recall that, even if voters did approve a new constitution, it would be without much participation of the Sunnis and would therefore be meaningless.

So how did the AP spin the Iraqi vote?
Oct. 16, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday despite strong opposition from Sunni Arabs who turned out in surprisingly high numbers in an effort to stop it.

The constitution's apparent victory was muted, though, by the prospect that the vote result might divide the country further.

This is not from an editorial mind you. If you truly believe that the American media is not heavily biased against the Bush administration then I'm afraid nothing will convince you otherwise. I can only hope the extent to which the mainstream media pushes its own agenda at the cost of the truth will become obvious to more and more people. Let us all hope.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Flood Waters In New Orleans Not As Toxic As Feared

I noticed this article in USA Today: Katrina's floodwaters not as toxic as expected. The article starts with the following.
The New Orleans floodwaters described as toxic in news accounts of Hurricane Katrina's impact were actually about as dangerous as the city's normal storm water runoff, according to surprised researchers at Louisiana State University.
Well, at least they are surprised. Let's see what we have. The number of deaths from hurricane Katrina (thankfully) was far less than reported than initial reported by the media. The wide-spread lawlessness reported turned out to be not as wide-spread and not as lawless. And now the deadly, toxic flood waters are found not to be that deadly or toxic. Was there anything else that was reported as horrific that may be found, upon review, to have been less severe than first thought? Perhaps: It is all Bush's fault?

I don't really think this was a case of bias by the media. I think it was simple sensationalism in an attempt to attract viewers. Ever since helicopters chased down O.J. Simpson in the infamous white bronoco, it seems that every major news story must be met with round-the-clock news coverage. Inevitably with such coverage, the camera time starts to outstrip the flow of information and fact-checking is seemingly the first victim.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Breakthrough Deal Reached On Iraqi Constitution

In case you missed it, it is being reported (MSNBC via the AP) that Iraqis have reached a deal on the constitution.
Under the deal, the two sides agreed on a mechanism to consider amending the constitution after it is approved in Saturday’s referendum. The next parliament, to be formed in December, will set up a commission to consider amendments, which would later have to be approved by parliament and submitted to a referendum.
This seems to be enough to get at least some of the Sunnis to change their mind about the constitution.
A top Sunni negotiator, Ayad al-Samarraie of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said the measure would allow it to “stop the campaign rejecting the constitution and we will call on Sunni Arabs to vote yes.”
It already appeared that the Iraqi constitution was going to be approved. But if it is approved by Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni people, it will obviously grant a lot of legitimacy to the document. As always the situation in Iraq remains unstable, but this is good news.

Personal Experience In Iraq

Powerline posted a letter from Major E., who is temporarily back from Iraq. Not surprisingly the major is a conservative and unhappy with the news coverage of Iraq. One could dismiss his opinions as military propaganda, but I found the letter to be an interesting alternative to the death-count articles written by the media.

He ends with:
As far as the situation in Iraq is concerned, suffice to say that things are going much better over there than is being reported, and I am confident that the voter participation in the upcoming constitutional referendum and in December's elections will confirm that.

The anti-Iraqi forces seem to win the battle for daily headlines, but we win on the big events--because, as on January 30th, the victory was so big as to be undeniable. More important that scoring PR points, though, is the fact that life of the average Iraqi is improving and the legitimacy of the new government is growing.

I hope that is all true.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Al Qaeda In Gaza

Powerline has a disturbing post about a reported Al Qaeda presence in Gaza since Israel withdrew settlers and troops. If these reports turn out to be true, it will be interesting to see the reaction from the Bush administration and from other world leaders.

For many that opposed the war in Iraq, the actions were decried as creating a breeding ground for new terrorists. If peaceful withdrawal and retreat is also found to create a breeding ground for new terrorism, what will the conclusion be then?

Schroeder Out, Merkel In

According to the BBC (hat tip: redstate), it appears the Angela Merkel will become the first woman chancellor of Germany. She comes to power through a coalition of Christian Democrats (Merkel) and the Social Democrats (Schroeder). The best part of the news is that Schroeder is said to have no part in the coaltion.

This could obviously be a fantastic opportunity to improve American-Germany relations. I need not detail the behavior and comments of Schroeder in the past--one can only assume things will be better from here.

The deal is very odd, however. In agreeing to step aside, Schroeder apparently argued for the Social Democrats to get eight seats on the cabinet, while Merkel's Christian Democrats get only six seats. This seems like a very unstable situation to me, though I am woefully ignorant of the details of German politics. More thoughts on that can be found here.

Wanting War Over Judicial Nominees

I continue to read reactions to the Miers nominations with a sense of disgust. The nomination certainly seems to have brought out the worst in people. I agree with Lorrie Byrd at Polipundit that sadly the debate has turned from real issues to a great deal of sniping and insulting.

The Miers nomination has shown just how complicated the political landscape is in the U.S. The media loves to paint a simple picture, using red and blue to make things clearly black and white. But the shades of gray have always been there. As an example, take the view of Polipundit, who has now switched his position and opposes Miers:

Some will argue that defeating Miers in the Senate would be politically damaging to the GOP. But it would be worse for Miers to be confirmed and become another O’Connor. Miers’ confirmation would be terribly demoralizing to conservatives like me, who donate thousands of hard-earned dollars to Republican candidates every year. We did not help elect a Republican president, and 55 Republican senators, so that we could get another O’Connor on the Court.

A coalition of, say 30 conservative Republican senators, and 21 liberal Democrat senators, could stop Miers from being confirmed. And so they should. Mushy moderates, like the Gang of 14, are the biggest supporters of this nomination; it’s about time that principled ideologues, on both sides of the aisle, asserted their supremacy.

Can you imagine how messy this would be if it actually came to pass? The 21 most liberal Democratic senators band together with the 30 most conservative Republican ones to stop the nomination. OK, then what? So that Bush would take that as a cue to nominate a "true conservative", the Democrats filibuster, and the Republicans scramble to go nuclear? Clearly the White House feels that in the end, the filibuster would hold and the more conservative nomination would ultimately fail.

The more conservative side of the Republican party seems itching for a fight. So much so that they suggest working with the very people they want to fight, just so the fight can occur. I can't believe that this is approach is good for the country.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bush's Best Speech That Nobody Heard

I'm a little perplexed by the timing of Bush's most recent speech, concerning Iraq and the war on terror.

From many accounts, it was an excellent speech for Bush. Here is Donald Sensing's take. Here's a view from a blog I'm not familiar with, but was linked by Instapundit. Glenn at Instapundit had this to say. If you scroll to the bottom of this reaction, by the California Yankee, you can see a set of links to many more positive reactions. Not surprisingly, GOPBloggers calls it one of the finest speeches on terrorism. A full transcript can be found here.

So why then, was the speech delivered at 10 AM EDT? If you noted in the reviews most people either missed the speech live, caught part of it, or only heard it on the radio while doing something else. Personally, I read the news articles the previous day that the speech was planned, did not note that it was in the morning, and was therefore confused when I realized I had missed it. Also note that none of the major news outlets carried it. While the major network and cable news have been biased against Bush (except FoxNews, of course), they typically will show a presidential speech presented in the evening hours.

While I think the clamor over the Miers nomination is overblown, I do agree that it appears that the White House didn't think they could win a fight over a conservative nominee. And now Bush gives a tell-it-like-it-is speech on terrorism, but it's scheduled so only astute political junkies will hear it?

Color me confused.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Miers Nomination And A Split Republican Party?

The Washington Post has an article concerning how discontent of some over the Miers nomination has caused a split in the Republican party. The do try to spin it into the worst news as possible with:
The tenor of the two meetings suggested that Bush has yet to rally his own party behind Miers and underscores that he risks the biggest rupture with the Republican base of his presidency. While conservatives at times have assailed some Bush policy decisions, rarely have they been so openly distrustful of the president himself.
Naturally the more conservative blogs (ala Polipundit) find such commentary laughable. While I agree that the spin by the WaPo is exaggerated, it sadly isn't that unrealistic. One has to look no further to the comments posted on Polipundit itself to see some of the most childish, vindictive posts among a group of people that sometimes approach being a pro-Bush echo chamber.

I think the Miers nomination has revealed a truth that has been avoided since the last election; while 62M+ people voted for Bush, they voted for him for a variety of reasons.
  • for his stance on social issues; specifically pro-Life and a traditional view of marriage
  • for his understanding that 9/11 was not an isolated event and that action must be taken
  • for his promise to nominate judges would aren't activists and wouldn't legislate from the bench
  • because he is a Republican and Republicans traditionally stand for smaller government
  • because he wasn't John Kerry
Everyone who voted for him didn't do so for all of the reasons above. Those who are hoping for a smaller government are noticeably disappointed; see the porkbusters campaign. Those that wanted an aggressive stance against terrorism are much more pleased.

It is easy for people to get confused between these issues. Bush promised many times that his court nominees wouldn't legislate from the bench. He never promised that they would have a paper trail of being 100% pro-Life. In fact, he often said (and has said again recently) that he doesn't have an abortion litmus test for his nominees.

So in Harriet Miers we have a woman who is known to be pro-Life as a personal choice and reported to be an originalist by Bush and people who know her. Yet if you read through conservative commentary, that is not enough for people. They want the paper trail that says she is going to strike down Roe v. Wade and strike it down as soon as humanly possible. Such demands are as ridiculous as complaints from the left about Roberts from the opposite direction.

In the end, I do agree with Polipundit and others--many who voted for Bush in 2004 would do so again. The fracture that the WaPo hopes for is much less severe than they would suggest. But to those that are bickering about the Miers nomination the loudest, I can only suggest you read this post by the Anchoress, and grow up.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Disputing George Will's Column On Miers

The argument over the Miers nomination to the Supreme Court continues to rage across the blogosphere. There's really no way to capture all of the discussion in a single post, so I'll focus on an interesting slice of the discussion.

At townhall, George Will blasted the president's choice, in a column title Miers is the wrong pick. Not surprisingly coming from George Will, the crux of his argument centers around intellectual superiority and how Harriet Miers has not demonstrated that she has any. Specifically he notes:
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers' nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers' name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.
Basically he's saying if you asked a bunch of smart people, none of them would pick Miers.

Reginald Brown has responded negatively to Will's column. His response has been posted at the Volokh Conspiracy. Brown takes Will to task on each an every point. It is an interesting read so I suggest you follow the link and read the whole thing. Specifically, in response to the point I singled out above, Brown writes:
Will’s second argument is that the President didn’t consult with serious people before making the choice of Miers. This is also a silly argument. We know that the President consulted with eighty members of the Senate, including all of the Republicans on Senate Judiciary. He also reached out to people like Leonard Leo and Jay Sekulow. And he has serious, principled conservatives, like Bill Kelley, on the White House Counsel’s Office staff. These aren’t cronies or toadies who will only tell the President what he wants to hear.
I think Brown sums it up the best at the end of his response:
I love George Will’s work, and he’s a great conservative, but he’s way off-base with today’s column.

Why Not Use The Military In Disaster Relief?

There's an interesting debate that seems to be on the back burner at the moment, concerning whether using the military in a lead roll in disaster relief is a good idea.

The idea of course started when the National Guard appeared far more efficient at restoring order to New Orleans than other federal, state, and local governments did combined. We know now that the chaos in New Orleans was greatly exaggerated by the media, but the success of the guard's efforts still cannot be denied. Recently, President Bush has suggested using the military to handle an outbreak of the avian flu.

This suggestion has raised concerns and drawn criticism from Instapundit (here and again here), Austin Bay, and even a front-page-linked article on CNN. I don't agree with the severity of these concerns.

Austin Bay suggests that using the military in a lead roll would confuse local and state disaster preparations. I suppose depending on the quality of the local resources that could happen. But in New Orleans, things looked pretty confused until the military arrived.

Other have noted that using the military puts soldiers in the awkward position of having to use force against U.S. citizens, should that be necessary. While obviously a horrible situation, it is one the local police forces are put into each and every day.

In the CNN article, Gene Healy of the CATO institute said this about modifying the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which bans the military from participating in police-type activity on U.S. soil.
"What it does is set a high bar for the use of federal troops in a policing role," he wrote in a commentary on the group's Web site. "That reflects America's traditional distrust of using standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that's well-justified."
That is probably the most persuasive of the counter-arguments. The United States as a police state is an image that is both foreign and abhorrent to most Americans.

But if we aren't comfortable using the military, how is the federal government to be prepared to take the lead roll in disaster management, as the media and the country now seem to demand? Do we have a parallel agency in the government with thousands of trucks and a force trained to evacuate millions of people on short notice? Does this agency have its own security, if situations turn lawless? Does this security force have the budget to train thousands of responders, giving them the discpline to be organized in a chaotic situation? In a time where porkbusters is gaining momentum, I just don't see where the money comes to fund such an agency within the federal government.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Data On Ronnie Earle

I've avoided blogging about the DeLay indictments because, to be honest, the whole thing seems like a non-issue to me. Either the charges are bogus and DeLay will be exonerated or the charges are real and we will have learned that a politician did something dishonest--I'm sure you will be as shocked as I am. I suppose there is a 3rd possibility that DeLay is innocent but the trial will somehow be fixed, but I'm going to trust the legal system for now.

That being said, I noticed something interesting about the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, at the end of a grapevine piece by Brit Hume.
What's more, an assistant Austin DA tells filmmakers that Earle single-handedly pushed the DeLay investigation over his colleagues' objections, telling his staff "just keep hacking at it." One critic says Earle doesn't distinguish between what's illegal and what he thinks is wrong, saying, "you say...'Is that against the law?' He will say it's wrong. You say, 'Well, OK... Where is it that it is against the law?'"
This insight seems to me to feel right, without knowing any of the particulars of the case. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that DeLay did something questionable, but not illegal. And it also gives motive to Earle beyond the "he has it out for Republicans" mantra that you read about from conservatives.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Giuliani Will Consider Presidential Run

While in Denmark, Giuliani told reports he will decide "next year" if he is going to run for president. Maybe he wants more time to look at the results of the Patrick Ruffini straw poll, which has him ahead by a significant margin among realistic candidates.

And so it begins... Is there any doubt, really?

My Take on Miers

In my last post I made it clear that I don't think that Miers was the best candidate for the job. She doesn't have the A list credentials that scream qualified that Roberts does - Harvard law, SCOTUS clerkships, judicial experience (even if limited in Roberts' case). This will give Democrats an opening to oppose or at least batter her in confirmation hearings in the absence of much of a record on the issues. In addition, it looks like a reward for a political crony, a charge that has been leveled against the Bush administration numerous times and particularly so of late (Michael Brown at FEMA).

But does this mean that she will be either a poor justice or not conservative? I can't speak to the former, but as for the latter question we should remember that she was intimately involved in the selection process acting as White House counsel. She knows what the president wants in a justice, both on principle and in terms of Republican politics. Someone this involved is likely to be on the same page as Bush. Without needing to ask, the president probably knows her opinions on a variety of issues. While it's certainly possible that she follows the party line to some extent (representing her client's views, as Roberts often stated) it's more likely that she is a conservative.

Her close involvement with the president makes it very clear that she is no Souter, in the sense of a nominee whose views are an enigma to the president. The elder Bush did not know David Souter - he was suggested by Chief of Staff Sununu and Senator Rudman. GWB knows Miers well and as such is much less likely to be surprised by her later than GHWB was with Souter.

Do we know that Miers will be a reliable conservative? No. But that unfortunately is part of the point of choosing her. The Democrats don't know either. Some, including Hugh Hewitt, think we should trust the president implicitly while many others on the right apparently do not. I do feel like his past record on judicial nominees should at least entitle Bush to some trust from his supporters, but not unconditionally. I'm disappointed in the choice but hopeful.

If nothing else I hope that those conservatives who feel betrayed and are claiming that they will not support Republicans in 2006 will at least wait before making any final decisions. If she is confirmed she will have plenty of opportunities to establish her judicial philosophy before the 2006 elections (e.g. the partial birth abortion cases), thus possibly vindicating Bush's faith in her.

Ideological Tests = Harriet Miers

The US Constitution provides that the president nominates Article III judges subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. As I understand it traditionally, this advice and consent role was viewed as a way to guard against the appointment of obviously unqualified people. As this list on the Senate's web site shows, plenty of nominees for SCOTUS have been opposed vigorously through the years or even defeated. But at least for the last 100 years or more the great majority of Supreme Court nominees have been approved, many by voice vote (can anyone imagine such a thing today?). The logical conclusion is that most nominees were qualified and were approved based on that fact. In effect elections mattered and the man who won the presidency got to decide who sat on the court.

Shortly after George W. Bush took office, the senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer, decided that ideology should play an important part in the judicial selection process and his office put out a press release trumpeting this view. As Schumer reminded us during the Roberts hearings this started as a minority opinion among the Democratic caucus but he soon convinced the majority of his colleagues from the left. This led to filibustering of appellate court nominees, ended (for now) by the Gang of 14. The Democrats now feel justified in opposing any nominee with a paper trail supporting conservative opinions simply because they do not think he will produce the results that they want. There is little expectation that a highly qualified but outspoken nominee in the mold of Justice Ginsburg could get the 90+ votes that she received.

So where does this leave us? The president made a campaign promise to nominate justices in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. But even with Republicans holding a solid majority in the Senate he can't do nominate someone with that kind of record because either the Democrats would filibuster or the Republican caucus would be likely fracture over the abortion issue (Snowe, Collins, Chaffee and Specter would be likely to oppose an avowed anti-Roe nominee). In fact any nominee with a clear conservative record will be very difficult to confirm. This tends to eliminate many of the brightest lights of the judiciary or academia. Judges like McConnell, Luttig or Posner who are eminently qualified and have written extensively would ignite a firestorm. As much as the base on both sides would love to see a knock down, drag out fight, politicians by nature don't like to go this route. It provides too much risk, and risk isn't conducive to maintaining political power. (All politicians tend to be conservative in this respect.)

Instead we get a nominee with lesser credentials and no paper trail. In essence the president trades qualifications for confirmability. The imposition of an ideological test results in justices who are less qualified and country loses the possibility of service from some of the best and brightest.

This is not to say that Miers would not be a good Supreme Court justice. She might be. However, there is little reason to think that she is the best person for the job. I would rather have the best legal minds on the highest court in the land. But I suspect we will face the prospect of the best being out of contention unless and until one party achieves a stable, filibuster proof majority.

CNN: Continued Unprofessional Bias

CNN is really trying my patience. The stream of completely biased stories flowing from them is almost enough to make me give up with pointing them out. Almost--but thankfully for the truth, not enough.

Just yesterday, I posted about progress in Iraq. Specifically, I mentioned a military operation that killed 36 terrorist near the Syrian border. It was noted that no serious American causalities were suffered during the fighting.

Sadly, that has changed, as one U.S. soldier has died from wounds received from an explosion. How do I know this? Because CNN is now leading with a front-page linked story title: U.S. soldier dies in western Iraq. The story of the mission to stop terrorist exploiting the Syrian border didn't make the front page of CNN to my knowledge. But once a U.S. soldier dies, it suddenly becomes front page material. They also prominently continue their ghoulish count near the top of the article:
Since the start of the Iraq war, 1,939 U.S. troops have died.
My condolences and sincere thanks go out to this as-of-yet unnamed soldier's family. I appreciate the sacrifice that he made for me. I can only hope that one day the reporters and editors of the CNN can be professional enough not to use a man's death to fuel their agenda, but I fear I am hoping against hope.

Miers Nomination Part Of A Deal With Democrats?

There is increasing speculation that the Miers nomination is the result of a deal with democrats in the senate. A good summary of the theory can be found at Power Line.
Why would Bush accede to the Democrats rather than fight for another Roberts-type conservative? The only reason I can think of is that liberal Republicans in the Senate, starting with Arlen Specter, told him they wouldn't back him up if he replaced Sandra O'Connor with a strong conservative. There are enough RINOs in the Senate to make such a threat credible, I think.
Instapundit notes, at the end of a long post on Miers, that this GOP press release page has three quotes from a Harry Reid press release, all praising Miers.
"I Like Harriet Miers, As White House Counsel She Has Worked With Me In A Courteous And Professional Manner."

"I Am Also Impressed With The Fact That [Miers] Was A Trailblazer For Woman As A Managing Partner Of Major Dallas Law Firm And The First Women President Of The Texas Bar Association."

"In My View, The Supreme Court Would Benefit From The Addition Of A Justice Who Has Real Experience As A Practicing Lawyer. The Current Justices Have All Been Chosen From Lower Federal Courts, A Nominee With Relevant Non-Judicial Experience Would Bring A Different And Useful Prospective To The Court."
Rarely do I find myself agreeing with Harry Reid, but I did note here seemingly impressive resume, as recounted by President Bush during his nomination announcement.
Harriet was the first woman to be hired at one of Dallas's top law firms, the first woman to become President of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas. Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas. In recognition of her achievements paving the way for women lawyers, Harriet's colleagues in Texas have honored her with numerous awards, most recently the Sandra Day O'Connor award for professional excellence.
Note the O'Connor connection. Finally, and I'm not sure what this means, but the front page story on CNN has a picture of Miers and Reid, not Miers and Bush. Since that picture is likely to change (and is an AP photo) I think I am OK in copying it here.

Reactions To The Miers Nomination

This morning President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to fill O'Connor's seat on the supreme court. The blogosphere has since erupted into the most confusing web of cross-linked posts I have ever seen. From reading the reactions either Bush knows something a lot of people don't, is hoping Miers isn't confirmed, or just made a colossal mistake.

In the "trust the president camp", I found the following.

Lorrie Byrd
at polipundit:
I really hope that she will be able to handle the questioning by the Senate judiciary committee even half as well as Roberts did. From the brief statement I heard her give I did not get the impression that she is a terribly tough cookie, but I guess we will find out soon enough. Again, on that subject I am having to trust that the President knows her well enough to know that she is up to the task.
Hugh Hewitt, in a post title Do You Trust Him? ends with this:
The president is a poker player in a long game. He's decided to take a sure win with a good sized pot. I trust him. So should his supporters.
World News has a seven part series on Miers, with five pro posts, one con, and one view from her pastor. Here's the link to part one; use the controls at the top to navigate between the seven posts.

The negative posts are almost too numerous to count. You could start with Ankle Biting Pundits, which has a huge list of mostly negative reactions.

The Anchoress, who predicted the pick, is in the Miers is a decoy camp:
My own prediction: She may not make it to the Supreme Court. Bush may not even intend for her to get there. She may be, rather than the “misdirection,” many expected, an out-and-out decoy, floated to allow both the liberals and the conservatives to blast her out of the water so that Bush can then put up another candidate that both left and right - after having behaved very badly over Miers - will not dare to behave badly over, again.
Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly thinks Miers is a true conservative wrapped in an enigma.
I think they're all missing the point. Yes, Miers is a Bush crony, and that's surely part of the story, but the bigger point is that Bush and Rove are practical politicians who know perfectly well that the kind of candidate the activist base likes is wildly unpopular with the public, because the ultraconservative agenda itself is wildly unpopular with the public. A "distinguished constitutionalist track record" is the last thing Bush and Rove want. A cipher is the best chance they have to get a real conservative on the court, and they know it.
Michelle Markin is shocked, saying:
It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony/"diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste.
You can also read disappointment that she is 60, which really confuses me. On one hand, people don't think she is a good choice; on the other hand, they are upset she won't serve on the court forever. Color me confused. And apparently over at DailyKos (which I am loathe to link to or read) they are suggesting that she must be a lesbian because she has never been marred. Someone explain to me again why the most liberal blog would be upset if she was a lesbian? Isn't accepting alternative lifestyles something you would expect a liberal to do?

My own take? My initial reaction is the Bush made a mistake on this one. The only thing that is clear from reading about Miers is that she is a very, very religious person. So that is going to upset the left. But it isn't going to be enough to placate the right. I wouldn't be surprised to see the nomination fail. While that might be good for the court if she truly isn't qualified, the media would latch on to it as a failure by Bush and the cries of lame duck would begin.

Time will tell, but this is certainly an interesting twist.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Progress In Iraq

While the official replacement for Chrenkoff's "Good News From Iraq" series can be found here, there were a couple of stories that caught my attention this weekend.

The first is a post at Pubilus Pundit, detailing the waning opposition to the Iraqi constitution. (The piece has also been noted by instapundit and blogsforbush.) Notable outtakes include:
While we can’t perfectly predict what will happen, major leaders on the playing field are saying that they will not mount strong campaigns against the constitution, and will focus instead on the December elections.
Since it will be likely approved, the shaping up of the December elections is even more interesting now than the October referendum. If you take into account what I just wrote, people are beginning to opt for good governance over religious ideology in government. This attitude, combined with high Sunni turnout, will lead to a huge drop in the representation of religious parties.
Additionally, the author takes the media to task for once again being unprofessional in a desire to paint a negative picture of what is happening in Iraq.
Even as violence escalates in the country as the October referendum nears, the media is reporting that and only that. They were content to chastise the supposed failure of negotiating a liberal constitution even before the negotiations were over, and have since failed to do a follow-up showing just how promising the developing political situation amongst the various sectors of civil society is.
The other story that I noted was on the recent success of a military exercise to hit Al Qaeda in Iraq operating near the Syrian border. U.S. forces have killed 36 terrorists while suffering no serious casualties. Marine Col Davis notes:
"There's only so many of them out there," Davis said of the insurgents. "The enemy has a problem out here — every time he shows up he gets bombs dropped on his head ... What you're seeing now is the dissolution of their network."
It will certainly be a rocky ride between now and the vote on the Iraq constitution (and beyond to the December elections). But the news out of Iraq is not all bad and I think it is important that people realize that. I'm sure that the NYT will be reporting this good news just as soon as they finish their 54th editorial attacking President Bush.