Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Needless Update

I'll post something substantial either later in the day or tomorrow. Just wanted to inform the millions of readers that I like to pretend I have, that all is well.

Oh, and I do plan on starting on my theology blog real soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Counterattacks, Dirty Tricks, and Hard Questions

The GOP has put out a new ad, attacking the Democrats for attacking Bush's handling of prewar intelligence. It uses quotes from high-profile Dems (Dean, the Clintons, Ted Kennedy, etc) favoring the removal of Saddam. On a purely visceral level, it's damn effective. It's dirty, but effective. The ad does a good job of making the Dems look stupid. That, combined with Bush's open assault on Democrats at his Veteran's Day speech, amounts to a major counterattack by the President and the GOP.

Bush can't really vindicate himself on the current status of the war in Iraq, or his handling of it, but the plan seems to be to diffuse the "Bush lied" argument (an argument I never supported- Bush didn't deliberately make up intel), and say that "hey, the Dems were wrong, too, and now they're trying to play politics, and it's hurting the troops."

The Democratic argument is that Bush had special intel that the Congress didn't have, and thus made the decision to invade based on that intel, and he went to war on flimsy grounds. The fact is, unless this is true (meaning Bush had more intel than Congress), the Democrats have a problem. They have to take a lot of the blame for giving the President the authority to go to war (if they're going to criticize the handling of prewar intel, or the case for war). It;s not fair to blame Bush for esentially coming to the same conclusions that a lot of other Democrats did. However, it's entirely legitimate to criticize the conduct of the war, and considering the mistakes made and still not owned up to, even pro-war hawks like myself ought to expect that. Of course, this should lead to actual results-meaning that it should help us win in Iraq, and not just bash Bush.

That being said, this won't really help Bush gain support for Iraq. The CIA-leak case is a bog problem whether you supported the war or not. But, this will hurt Democrats, unless they can come up with a consistent alternative to Bush's approach, that hopefully doesn't involve artifical timetables for withdrawal. And hopefully Bush will seriously consider coming to terms with the reality in Iraq, that hopefully goes beyond the "stay the course" mantra we've all become accustomed to hearing.

Also, in another dirty ad from the far-right side of the aisle comes a particularly nasty ad in support of Judge Alito. This ad is standard form in the crusade against "activist judges," so I'm not surprised. To be fair, the pro-choice group NARAL did put out that vicious ad attacking Chief Justice Roberts, but all that shows it that both sides can play dirty.

Although the right seems to do it a helluva lot more often.

hat tip: Ann Althouse

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eddie Guerrero: 1967-2005

The wrestling world, and wrestling fans everywhere are devastated by the loss of Eddie Guerrero, at the age of 38. He passed away Sunday. They had a great tribute show on Raw last night. You'll be missed, brother.

RIP, Eddie. You were truly one of the best ever.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Alito and Race Baiting

Apparently the next chapter in the war over judges has begun, and it's the "race baiting chapter." A memo was released earlier this week reflecting on Judge Alito's legal history, and it showed how he failed to prosecute mobsters in one of the longest federal trials in history. Apparently, the memo referenced his nickname "Scalito," given to him to show him being a Scalita lite, in terms of their shared judicial philosophy and ideology (Scalia+Alito=Scalito). The DNC started putting out the memos. This case was one of 15 cases mentioned in the report.

How do Matt Drudge, Orrin Hatch and Chris Matthews see this?

According to them, the Democrats are anti-Italian. Would to God I was making this up.

The crew over at DailyKos covered this. They were not happy, to say the least.

I really don't need to add anything else. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how the Right pulled ant-Italian bigotry out of the report, unless it was in their minds to begin with.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Blogosphere Under Siege

The House today, with bipartisan support, passed a bill that would exempt bloggers from FEC campaign finance regulations. It passed 225-182, 47 votes shy of a clear two-thirds majority that would have allowed it to pass under the rules in play. For all intents and purposes, "the vote in effect clears the way for the FEC to move ahead with court-mandated rule-making to govern political speech and campaign spending on the Internet."

Newsflash to the Congress: This is tyranny. The campaign finance laws wear never meant to go this far. Bloggers for all sides of the political spectrum are up in arms over this, and rightly so. The story continues (hat tip: Yahoo):

Opposition was led by Rep. Marty Meehan (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., who with Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), R-Conn., championed the 2002 campaign finance law that banned unlimited "soft money" contributions that corporations, unions and individuals were making to political parties.

"This is a major unraveling of the law," Meehan said. At a time when Washington is again being tainted by scandal, including the CIA leak case, "it opens up new avenues for corruption to enter the political process."

Actually, what it does is in effect allow the government to regulate what bloggers can say and link to.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, said the federal government should encourage, rather than fetter, a phenomenon that was bringing more Americans into the political process.

"The newest battlefield in the fight to protect the First Amendment is the Internet," he said. "The Internet is the new town square, and campaign finance regulations are not appropriate there."

Without his legislation, Hensarling said, "I fear that bloggers one day could be fined for improperly linking to a campaign Web site, or merely forwarding a candidate's press release to an e-mail list."

Exactly right. The broad powers the government would have in this regard are so open to abuse that on its face it's a bad deal. However, Meehan and Shays disagree:

But Meehan said no one wants to regulate bloggers. He said he and Shays have an alternative that would protect the free speech rights of bloggers while closing the cyberspace loophole where a lawmaker could vote for a prescription drug bill and then ask pharmaceutical interests to write six-figure checks for campaign ads for them to run on the Internet.

I'd sure love to see how they're going to reconcile that with the Constitution. They'd better come up with something quick. BTW, it shouldn't be lost on people how much bipartisan support this bill had:

Bloggers from liberal and conservative perspectives made similar predictions at a hearing on the subject in September. "Rather than deal with the red tape of regulation and the risk of legal problems, they will fall silent on all issues of politics," said Michael J. Krempasky, director of the Web site RedState.org.

and this:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has introduced a companion bill to the Hensarling measure, but the Senate has yet to take it up.

This is one of those issues you have to draw the line on. Congress needs to make this right. House members and Senators, of either party, who support the curtailing of free speech of the blogosphere, be ye warned: Elections are coming up real soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

More on Pajamas Media

Look, my previous post on Wolcott still stands. My views on him are established. I still stick up for David Corn, but it seems that they may have real problems over at Pajamas Media, and it goes beyond the fact that right-wingers like Charles Johnson of LGF are running things.

Take this as you will, but I found this interesting.

Wolcott Strikes Again

This time he's gone after David Corn, because he's on the editorial board for Pajamas Media, an up-and-coming network of blogs, covering the political spectrum, that happens to be founded by right-of-center bloggers. The fact is, there are a lot of suspect and scurrilous types associated with that group, and clearly the politics of many of those bloggers (certainly LGF) are not mine, and certainly not David Corn's, but there are some good blogs and bloggers at PM. Liberal and conservative blogs. In fact, half of them are already on my blogroll.

The fact is, James Wolcott sees anyone who even hangs out with pro-types as traitors to his cause. Liberal hawks, Liberals who hangs out with conservatives, were all suspect in his eyes.

BTW, Corn's on the Editorial Board for God's sake.

UPDATE: Apparently it's been revealed that Judy Miller is keynoting at Pajamas Media's opening gala. Maybe there's more cause for concern than I thought...

Honestly, I'm still not sure how this will turn out. I'm just saying the Left shouldn't hate on David Corn because he's blogging over there.

Just Thinking Out Loud...

I've always believed that the whole crusade over "activist judges" is essentially a fight about judges either side doesn't like. Conservatives want conservative activists on the Court to counteract the perceived (and in a number of cases very real) liberal activism of previous years. Liberals want to stop them, and a lot of liberals want their own activists on the Court to stop the conservatives, and/or force their own liberal agendas. Of course I'm talking about the ideologues here. It's safe to say that the ideologues are looking for their own personal agendas, driven by the political whims of their ideological votaries. So I wonder, could a Constitutional amendment doing away with life tenure for judges solve this problem? I haven't really thought this out completely, but it seems that if activists are able to make laws, and basically affect law for subsequent generations, wouldn't limiting the term help to minimize any damage done?

OTOH, bad judges can wreck the Constitution in a short span of time, and leaving judgeships at the mercy of the political machinery would only make things worse. Perhaps we'll all just have to commit ourselves, and compel our leaders to commit themselves to putting forth good judges, free of ANY bias at all.

Judge Alito and Harry Reid's Line in the Sand

Bush has nominated Judge Samuel Alito for the SCOTUS, in order to replace the manifestly bad choice that was Harriet Miers. The far-right is happy again, and apparently are back to believing that judges should have an up-or-down vote. Honestly, as with Chief Justice Roberts, Alito is certainly qualified, and while he is a clear-cut conservative, it doesn't appear yet that he's a rank ideologue. The Dems are already talking filibuster though, and the Repubs are talking about the nuclear option. As I said, I think we ought to wait to see Alito's record before we judge. Barring extreme cases, I'm not a big fan of the filibuster (although the nuclear option is plainly against the rules), and at very least, we should wait until we hear his record before we throw down. BTW, it's not good policy to block him just because he's pro-life. Blocking him because he's pro-life is bad form.

In more Senate news, Harry Reid has thrown down the gauntlet. He forced a closed session to debate the issues of Iraq war intelligence that the Repubs have been stalling on for months. Needless to say, the Repubs were pissed. Really pissed. They called it a stunt, and Frist looked like he was going to explode. Note to Frist: Get over it.

Here's what Reid said:

“The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions,” Reid said before making the motion which sent the Senate into a closed-door session.

Regardless of one's view of Iraq, this is hard to argue with.

To see how the hearing went, the AP story is here.

Note to Republicans: The Senate isn't a purely majoritarian body. You can't get everything you want.