Over the past year Jay Leno has had a number of conservative figures on the Tonight Show. They include Bill O'Reilly, Shepard Smith, and others. Dennis Miller has also been on to pontificate. Of course, Leno has liberal guests as well, but we did think it strange to see O'Reilly and Smith, who strike us as uninteresting, offensive, and puerile. Some time ago we suspected that Leno had a conservative streak in him, and that seemed to be justified when Fox News Sunday ran a clip of Leno during last week's roundtable. The topic was Al Gore's potential move to start up a liberal radio network (or some such thing). To make a point, Tony Snow showed the following clip:
LENO: "Gore says there's no outlet in this country for the liberal viewpoint. You know, except for ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, Bravo, BET, Showtime, Lifetime, MTV, Oxygen, National Public Radio and IFP."
"Other than that, there's nothing."
Leno's joke was repeated in the Washington Times by Suzanne Fields in her Op-Ed.
We think Leno has every right to do what he does, and we're not calling for any action. However, it does seem strange to us that he's promoting people and notions from the bellicose right. But then, they have become the voice of "mainstream conservatives".
The Washington Post has a detailed story about New York Times reporter Judith Miller and her influence over U.S. military officials and operations. She is also closely connected to Ahmed Chalabi of the INC. In the wake of this news, Eric Alterman writes, "... if this story is true, it is really beyond belief." We agree. Miller has become part of the team(s), and should not be considered an impartial reporter. We diagram key points from the Post story below:
UPDATE: Miller has connections with Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum (story)
Donald Rumsfeld is an advocate of using relatively small military force to get the job done. He's following in the footsteps of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who felt the same way and put that idea to the test on 25 June 1876.
The folks over at busybusybusy have really been busy lately. Check out the impressive set of "shorter" postings that have appeared over the last two weeks. They are excellent distillation of essays by major pundits (liberal and conservative). Save time! Get to the 35-word essence of what George Will said (down from the original 800 words; a 95% reduction).
Often after reading lengthy and unfocused essays, you have to re-read it and figure out what the main points were (especially with W. F. Buckley Jr.). No more. busybusybusy has done it for you. A public service, if there ever was one.
All this talk about how "diversity" is needed in universities, companies, and the military is really besides the point. Do we really need diverse points-of-view in mathematics class? Basically, the diversity argument is being used to promote affirmative action, and we're not convinced by it. Why not state the truth? That some groups have been discriminated against for a long time, had 2nd class status (economically and socially), and need to be given preferential treatment in order to bring them into the mainstream of society. The notion that preferences should only apply to proven instances of past discrimination strikes us as unnecessarily limiting. O'Conner was close to the truth when she wondered if affirmative action would be needed 25 years from now. If one looks at the history of other groups (Irish, Italians), it takes about 100 years for assimilation. Taking the end of Jim Crow laws in the 1960's as the starting point, African-Americans probably will be substantially integrated into society in another 50 years or so. That sounds about right.
CAVEAT: We think that normally it takes about 100 years, but note that due to the current drug laws, an incredible proportion of black men have been in jail or prison (about 1/3, if you can believe it). While we're not going to go so far as to say that the drug laws are a proxy for Jim Crow, they're pretty darn close. We will be very interested to see how African-Americans fare when soft drugs are decriminalized (yes, it's going to happen).
Has there been a more vigorous critic of Bush in the Senate other than Robert Byrd? He keeps on going, as they say. His latest (via Buzzflash) is about covering up (as it applies to Bush/Iraq/WMD's/deception).
From a news story about the Republicans pressing for a change in filibuster rules, we found in the message thread a link to a thoughtful essay on the topic at the American Enterprise Institute (yes, them). Excerpt:
The Framers knew all about filibusters and about the traditions of unlimited debate in parliaments and previous legislatures. They wrote a provision in Article II giving each house of Congress the sole power to set its own rules. They did not specify that those rules barred provisions to allow unlimited debate, or to have a higher number than a majority to shut off debate, either on a bill, a confirmation, or a rule itself. Therefore, it is clear that the Framers were willing to allow them in either house.
Remember that Rule XXII, the cloture rule that provides for an end to debate and a specified time for votes, does not raise the bar on passage of a bill or nomination from 50 to 60, or on a rules change from 50 to 67 or two-thirds of those present and voting. It lowers the bar from 100. There is no rule in the Senate--and there has not been one for nearly 200 years - that forces the previous question and an end to debate. Before Rule XXII was instituted in 1917, there was no way, if a single determined Senator took the floor and kept it, to force action on a bill or a nomination. The Senate operated under unlimited debate. It did so through the lifetimes of all the Framers. Not one objected to the way the Senate operated during this time as a violation of their constitutional intent.
The filibuster is basically a conservative instrument; it delays government action in order to overcome intense minority opposition and to build broader popular support. Do conservatives really think they will always be in charge, that impediments to government action will be to their detriment instead of to their advantage? Do constitutionalists really want to stretch the document beyond recognition for a short-term political gain, getting a few of their allies or buddies onto the bench?
From another posting in the thread: "... the judicial system is designed to be non-partisan. There should be neither Conservative or Liberal judges appointed to the bench. Since they are appointed for life it is important that they stay above of the partisan fight and be interpreters of the law, period." That's somewhat simplistic, but it gets to the heart of the matter. If a supermajority is (effectively) required for judicial nominations, then partisan judges are less likely get on the federal bench, and that's a good thing.
* fil·i·bus·ter Etymology: Spanish filibustero, literally, freebooter Date: 1851 1 : an irregular military adventurer; specifically : an American engaged in fomenting insurrections in Latin America in the mid-19th century 2a : the use of extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly. b : an instance of this practice
Via the always stimulating Cal Pundit comments area, we went to whitehouse.org's Patriotic Posters page. Some good stuff. Excellent Photoshop* work. WARNING: Occasional strong language (e.g. here).
* - is "photoshop" entering the public domain? From an article on copyrights:
The owner of a trademark can lose it if they aren't seen to actively protect it. "Escalator" used to be a trademark. So did aspirin, cellophane, cornflakes, thermos, trampoline, and many other common words; these words passed into common usage because their owners didn't defend them. You can see, then, why major corporations get so twitchy when people start saying things like, "Would you xerox this for me?" and "Hand me a kleenex."
There are a couple of good reviews of Sunday's Meeet The Press dust-up between Howard Dean and Tim Russert. Of interest is Russert going to the Treasury Department for "impartial" figures showing how tax policy affects citizens. What did the Treasury supply? In at least one instance, a highly atypical family that will have taxes cut from $2,000 to $45 under the Bush plan. First of all, is that extremely low rate of taxation something to be celebrated? Either it's exceptional, and therefore unfair to the rest of us, or it represents a really bare-bones federal government. A back-of-the-envelope-estimate: If all households were taxed at that rate, total federal revenues from income taxes would be about $5 billion, or about 1/400th of the current budget. Talk about shrinking the size of government.
Also, the $2,000 to $45 tax example has been used by Bush in several speeches this year, so it's really more of a selling point, instead of a typical case.
In any event, Russert uses that peculiar example to claim that if the tax cuts were to be rolled back as Dean proposes, it means a tax hike of 4,000%. Wow! Somebody stop that man!
The two reviews of MTP worth reading are at Liberal Oasis, and American Politics Journal's Pundit Pap (scroll down to MTP).
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? In the interview on GMA, Diane Sawyer remarked that "Republicans censured McCarthy". Ann Coulter - if she knew the history her book is supposed to chronicle - should have said "Some did, but not a majority of Republicans." Which would have been technically true since the Senate vote was 67 -22, but Republicans were split evenly, 22 - 22. Instead, Coulter gave a peculiar response (if memory serves, about not impeaching Ken Starr). Talk about not knowing your material.
FOOTNOTE MADNESS: Here is how those footnotes can really add up. From the book: (these are all consecutive sentences in the book, where there were paragraph breaks)
While journalists assailed Bush for creating an atmosphere of intolerance for those who "object to patriotic oaths," they didn't mind creating an atmosphere of intolerance toward those who support patriotic oaths.6
Later, while campaigning at a naval base, Bush said of Dukakis, "I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks a naval exercise is something you find in the Jane Fonda Workout Book."7 Again, there were wails of "McCarthyism" all around. Showing the left's renowned ability to get a joke, one reporter earnestly demanded to know: "Did Bush mean to imply that Dukakis is anti-military?"8 Bush responded to the hysteria over his Jane Fonda joke, saying, "Was that funny? Reasonably funny? A naval exercise -- I thought that was pretty funny."9
Historians claimed they had not seen "patriotism used with such cynical force" since the fifties. It was "disturbing," historians and political analysts said, for Bush to manipulate symbols to "raise doubts about the Democratic nominee's patriotism."10 Historian William Leuchtenburger, at the University of North Carolina, said, "I don't recall anything like this before. I don't think there has been an issue like this -- an issue so irrelevant to the powers of the presidency."11
6. Phil Gailey, "Bush Campaign Takes a Disturbing Turn with Attacks on Patriotism," St. Petersburg Times. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid.
UPDATE: Guess what? No mention today of Coulter in the National Review Online's The Corner. What is the world coming to?
Your tax dollars are paying for this, so where's Dean's speech? And Kerry's? And all the others?
By the way, Bush's speech was full of conservative bromides (e.g. "I will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, applying the best and most innovative ideas to the task of helping our fellow citizens in need. There are still millions of men and women who want to end their dependence on government and become independent through hard work."). Yeah, right. Worth a look, if you can stomach it.
In the Los Angeles Times there is a story about Apple's new, very fast processor, and also about some new features they are providing (in the instant-messenger class). The story ends with: "Apple's efforts to add features to iChat underscore the degree to which computer makers are pushing communications and entertainment instead of traditional workplace productivity functions to persuade people to buy new PCs." posted by Quiddity at 6/24/2003 05:09:00 AM
We posted a set of quotes from Bush's mid-term politicking in October and November 2002, focusing on his claims that Iraq had WMD's and ties to al Qaeda (here and here). But for some reason we skipped his speech of 7 October 2002. That was the "big one" in terms of laying out the reasons for (eventually) going to war against Iraq. Reading it now, it's clear there was a lot of emphasis in the wrong places (to put it charitably). Here, for instance, are some of the more notable comments Bush made on that day: (emphasis added)
Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons.
Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action -- why be concerned now; about the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror.
By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector of the U.N. has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."
Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
... surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States.
We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.
Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem.
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. ... . Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.
After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.
The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end.
We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I'm convinced that is a hope against all evidence.
Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq.
I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable.
DEPARTMENT OF COINCIDENCES: Just after finishing this post, we went to the New York Times and to read Krugman's latest. He also refers to the October 7 speech.
Josh Marshall (of TPM) directs our attention to a Weekly Standard article, The War Against Bush, that challenges a recent New Republic essay about the Bush administration's dishonesty in the push for war. We took a look at the Standard's article, and were surprised to read the following: (emphasis added)
... Ackerman and Judis focus their analysis of the Saddam-al Qaeda relationship on the alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001. They write: "None of the intelligence agencies could place Atta in Prague on that date. (Indeed, receipts and other travel documents placed him in the United States.) An investigation by Czech officials dismissed the claim, which was based on a single unreliable witness."
But there are times Atta may have been abroad that are not accounted for in these documents and receipts. And assessments of the reliability of the witness vary, with some high-ranking Czech officials insisting to this day that the meeting took place. It's fair to say the alleged Atta meeting was disputed, but it's hardly accurate to imply that officials were unanimous in their belief that it didn't happen.
Got that? The claim that a meeting took place is disproved by records showing Atta was not in Prague, the report that he was there came from an unreliable witness, and Czech officials have dismissed the claim. But that doesn't stop the Weekly Standard writers. No. They doesn't even require evidence for their position. After all, "there are times Atta may have been abroad that are not accounted for in these documents and receipts." Who could disagree? Atta might have been on the moon, for all we know. Or maybe Atta met Bin Laden in Tokyo, after conferring with Marley's Ghost. Anything is possible when you don't have positive information. And simply to cite people, like "some high-ranking Czech officials," who offer an opinion, sans evidence, is not compelling.
Clean layout, crisp summary of the issues, link-heavy, progressive, frequent posts, and the blogger is not much older than Matt Yglesias. Or so he claims. The only drawback is he's a supporter of Kucinich, but then, nobody's perfect.
In a U.S. News & World Report column about frivolous lawsuits, owner Mort Zuckerman serves up a couple of doozies:
"A woman throws a soft drink at her boyfriend at a restaurant, then slips on the floor she wet and breaks her tailbone. She sues. Bingo -- a jury says the restaurant owes her $100,000! A woman tries to sneak through a restroom window at a nightclub to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She falls, knocks out two front teeth, and sues. A jury awards her $12,000 for dental expenses."
Great stuff -- and, unfortunately for Zuckerman, totally bogus. ... Ken Frydman, Zuckerman's spokesman, did not dispute that the pair of cases in the column two weeks ago were imaginary, but would not address whether the magazine will publish a retraction.
... there is considerable evidence that high-ranking officials, possibly including the Vice President, knew in advance of the State of the Union address that Iraq had not purchased uranium from Niger. If so, all of the officials involved in that process of deception should be severly disciplined.
Which spurred us to thumb through the ol' United States Constitution, where we encounter:
Article II Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Article I Section 2. The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment. Section 3. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.
So, at least we wouldn't have to put up with Rehnquist's absurd attire. (Click on that last link, if you dare!)
If Cheney is impeached (impeacheneyed?), who will Bush turn to?
NOTE: We try to keep the image size under 800 pixels wide for the 25% of our visitors with 800x600 displays. That means the text is slightly less readable than we would like. Just thought you should know why.
Not Geniuses is an interesting weblog that has three contributors - each with a distintly different point of view*, but trending liberal. It deserves a look. Our favorite commentator is Joe Rospars, who recently penned a good commentary about the White House editing of the EPA report, and conservatives' (dis)respect for science.
* - E.g. in their (collective) blogroll, they have Tacitus as well as Liberal Oasis. Go figure.
Governor Rick Perry called for a 30 day session set to begin June 30th, and the focus will be 'Congressional Redistricting'.
State Democrats kept it from happening in the regular session by running off to Oklahoma so a vote couldn't be taken.
The Texas House Democrats may not be able (or willing) to do it again. The first time, it only involved a few days, but Perry can call sessions again and again.
News reports are that "[Democrats are] likely to look to the state Senate. Two-thirds of the Senators would have to vote in favor of taking up redistricting. And the Senate is two Republicans short of having that majority."
However, it's entirely possible that a couple of Senate Democrats could be peeled off by giving them ultra-safe Congressional districts to run in.
We suspect that the legislation will go through, but then be challenged in court.
ADDENDUM: We read "Republicans say the current districts don't accurately reflect the Republican-leaning voting habits of Texans." (It's something we also heard Brit Hume say recently.) Currently the Texas representation in Congress is 17 Democrats - 15 Republicans. But what about Florida? There, the representation is:
R - Miller, Jeff; Florida, 1st D - Boyd, Allen; Florida, 2nd D - Brown, Corrine; Florida, 3rd R - Crenshaw, Ander; Florida, 4th R - Brown-Waite, Ginny; Florida, 5th R - Stearns, Cliff; Florida, 6th R - Mica, John; Florida, 7th R - Keller, Ric; Florida, 8th R - Bilirakis, Michael; Florida, 9th R - Young, C.W.; Florida, 10th D - Davis, Jim; Florida, 11th R - Putnam, Adam; Florida, 12th R - Harris, Katherine; Florida, 13th R - Goss, Porter; Florida, 14th R - Weldon, Dave; Florida, 15th R - Foley, Mark; Florida, 16th D - Meek, Kendrick; Florida, 17th R - Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana; Florida, 18th D - Wexler, Robert; Florida, 19th D - Deutsch, Peter; Florida, 20th R - Diaz-Balart, Lincoln; Florida, 21st R - Shaw, E.; Florida, 22nd D - Hastings, Alcee; Florida, 23rd R - Feeney, Tom; Florida, 24th R - Diaz-Balart, Mario; Florida, 25th
18 Republican, 7 Democratic Representatives in a state that has two Democratic Senators, and was evenly divided in the 2000 Presidential race.
Sounds like the Democrats "deserve" to pick up five seats - about the same amount they would lose in Texas under the Perry/DeLay scheme.
In a New York Times Magazine article about the new-found popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (aka P.B.R.), we read:
The single key text in Stewart's [Pabst's marketing manager] codification of the meaning of P.B.R. is the book ''No Logo,'' by the journalist Naomi Klein. Published in 2000, ''No Logo'' is about the incursion of brands and marketing into every sphere of public life, the bullying and rapacious mind-set that this trend represents and evidence of a grass-roots backlash against it, especially among young people. Klein's view is that this would feed a new wave of activists who targeted corporations. Stewart's view is that the book contains ''many good marketing ideas.'' He says it ''really articulated the feelings, the coming feelings, of the consumer out there: eventually people are gonna get sick of all this stuff'' -- all this marketing -- ''and say enough is enough.''
This story comes out right in the middle of baseball season, which allows us to rant about an extremely irritating development: The presentation of ads during televised baseball games - when the "long shot" from center field is shown. There, the pitcher winds up, throws the ball, and the trajectory of the ball crosses in front of an ad as it moves toward the batter. This unnecessary distraction used to be confined to the American League (Seattle was the first, if memory serves), but soon afterward all teams were doing it. For a while the Premium games (playoffs, World Series) were exempt, but they succumbed as well. From our point of view, it makes the game totally unwatchable. In no other sport (auto racing excepted) are we aware of a case where an ad is placed so the viewer must see it while following the movement of a ball, puck, or player. How much money is raised by baseball's every-pitch-you-see-an-ad situation? We suspect it's pretty small. And all it does is ruin the game.