Today, March 1st, marks the anniversary of a significant event in my life. Six years ago, Crystal and I went on our first date. It was pouring rain that night. If memory serves me right, Louisville, where we were living at the time, got a total of ten inches of rain that night. That's the kind of thing that can kill a date--and a relationship--but despite the fact that we were both soaked, that the streets were six inches deep in water, that my shoes, socks, and even my trousers were wet up to my knees, and that our umbrella was totally useless, we laughed about it. I already knew Crystal was special, but this helped confirm it.
We dined at Utopia, a restaurant serving eclectic international cuisine, and then saw the flick Jerry Maguire. Your typical dinner-and-a-movie date, really, aside from the rain, but we had fun and enjoyed talking and looking at each other over the table.
Since our first date was on the first (and easy date to remember, I always joked), I got in the habit of giving Crystal a little gift on the first of the month. Six months after that first date, I gave her an antique wooden box containing an engagement ring (that's a story in itself, actually). Less than nine months after that, we were married. I'm truly blessed and fortunate not only that we were both among the statistically insignificant number of people to marry for the first time in our 30s (I have no idea if that's true or not, BTW; it's a Simpsons reference), but to have won the heart of such a fine, beautiful, intelligent, loving woman.
We celebrated by going to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner, and now that the girls are in bed, we're going to watch Jerry Maguire again. So y'all please excuse me while I wrap this up. Good night!
Carol Channing is getting married again -- to her childhood sweetheart from 70 years ago.
The 82-year-old singer-actress said Harry Kullijian, with whom she grew up in San Francisco, tracked her down after reading about himself in her memoirs. Kullijian had been trying to reach her for 60 years, she said.
"Since our spouses have both passed away, we were able to get together again, renew our love, and would like to announce our engagement," Channing said Thursday. "There are no immediate plans for a wedding date, but this is the happiest moment of my life."
Kullijian, 82, is a co-owner of the Mervyn's department store chain. Channing, who starred on Broadway in "Hello, Dolly!" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," has been married three times. Two marriages ended in divorce; her third husband, to whom she was married for 42 years, died in 1999.
CalPundit Kevin Drum has this to say about a Weekly Standard column expressing annoyance--get this--about folks on the left--like Drum--who lean toards support of the war but refuse to worship at the altar of Once Again Bush Gets It Exactly Right. Personally, I'm far from convinced--especially in light of wildly exaggerated earlier claims by this Administration and its sympathizers--that Iraq poses a sufficient threat to justify an invasion. But on top of that, I share the reservations Drum expresses:
As I recall, Republicans mostly spent their time muttering conspiratorially during the 1990s whenever Bill Clinton suggested taking a harder line against Iraq, and we all know that Rumsfeld and Cheney were busy buying and selling vast quantities of goods and services to Iraq during that period. Nor were Republicans exactly at the front of the parade when NATO finally took action in Kosovo. So I'm not quite sure how it is that these were the guys who saw the light before all the rest of us on the subject of using American military power for the greater good of humanity.
And just for the record, my complaint with Bush is primarily that he has prosecuted this war so cynically and incompetently. He blatantly timed his Iraq campaign for electioneering purposes, thus destroying any hope of getting a true bipartisan consensus on the matter; his disdainful treatment of Europe destroyed any chance of support from the populations of those countries; his complete indifference toward the Israel-Palestine problem destroyed any hope of getting support from the Arab world; and his unwillingness for six straight months to commit himself to a multilateral post-war rebuilding effort has made the entire world believe that we are intent on building a latter-day Roman empire — a laughable idea that either of our previous two presidents could have put to rest with a single speech.
Even in the best case it would have been hard to organize worldwide support for this war, but Bush's contemptuous tone toward enemies and allies alike and his unwillingness to engage in anything resembling true coalition-building has made it far harder. This war may be something that needs to be done, but we will be paying the price for George Bush's incompetent handling of it for years to come.
Bush's incompetent handling of the ramp-up to his desired confrontation with Iraq seems likely to cost the US far more in American lives, money, international prestige, time, resources, antiterrorism efforts, and credibility than even their most optimistic projections can justify. Even if one acknowledges that the Iraq situation demands attention--and I've never denied that--there's little reason to trust Bush to do it. Some prefer the comfort of viewing this situation as obstinance among the skeptics. But the tragedy is that Bush has had more than a year to present something other than ominous speculaton, unsupported assertions, half-baked theories, disingenuous associations with 9/11, and demonstrably false accusations, and has conspicuously failed to do so. An alcoholic, too, will blame others when they no longer tolerate his or her excuses and lies. But in each of these cases, the fault is their own.
One more thing: I must refute the column's assertion that "the objects of your scorn--even that notoriously "flighty thinker," George W. Bush--were right about Iraq months or even years before you saw the light." This Administration has tried on any number of justifications to sell its cherished war, while all along pursuing the objective they brought with them into office: regime change. Simply because some accept, however reluctantly, the necessity of dealing with Saddam, or feel that Bush's recklessness has painted us into a corner in which we have few options--does not at all support the assertion that most people embrace the neocons' odious notion that the United States should wage unprovoked war on anyone the Administration doesn't like. In my view that outlook is wrong, and remains so even if and when the United States defeats Iraq militarily. I fervently hope the lessons on how wrong that notion is do not rain down too harshly.
Once again, the GOP is whining about how this whole Estrada deal is political, and payback to the White House (let's also not forget that Estrada was on Bush's legal team that took Bush v Gore to the Supreme Court in 2000). I'm not necessarily denying that, but it's hardly the first time politics has tinged the nomination process (the favored Republican tactic during the Clinton years was to hold nominations up in committee, which is why citation of the GOP Senate's actual voting record is misleading at best). And anyway, I don't really have a problem with it. In fact, P.L.A. reminds Mr. Bipartisanship Bush that "you reap what you sow."
And anyway, given that this is politics, after all, once again I wonder why the GOP doesn't reserve some of its umbrage toward Mr. Bush. Bush's renomination of Estrada swiftly on the heels of the Senate's majority tilt was widely seen as an "in-your-face" move against the Democrats by Mr. Uniter Not A Divider. (Let's not forget, not caring whose toes he or his advisers steps on--even, now, the GOP Congress--in his attempts to get his way seems to be a Bush hallmark, and it hasn'tgone unnoticed.) Perhaps if Bush had waited, Estrada's nomination would have stood a better chance. Repubicans may be peeved at the tactics that are causing them to lose this round, but let's not forget that Bush set the game clock. The GOP ire is not so much, I think that--gasp!--politics is being played as that this time they seem to be losing.
But while it's hard for me to muster much sympathy for those poor, beleagured Republicans, I do believe that this process is going to far. That's why I don't really think the precedent is all that bad--I think Presidents should get the Senate to advise and consent, and not merely rubber-stamp ideological appointments at the opportunity of a razor-thin majority. I am sure that the President and Senate--of whatever party--could work out a group of potential nominees that would minimize the kind of controversy we've been seeing. Yes, I think the chances of extreme ideologues--of either stripe--would be diminished. And no, I don't really have a problem with that, either.
The girls playing with their bewildering array of toys.
The other day, my oldest girl (who's three and a half) told me she felt that my leaving for work every weekday meant I didn't love her. I did my best to explain why I had to go to work, and that it meant that I really did love her. But I know she likes having me around, which is really nice, when you think about it. I have a few other things I intend to post today, but y'all will understand if I don't spend a lot of time online today.
It's every parent's duty to teach their children the important things. That's why, as my daughters and I were watching our traditional Saturday Morning Godzilla Movie (Destroy All Monsters), I was pleased to see that my oldest girl really gets it:
Me (as Japanese tanks moved in for the traditional futile defense of Tokyo): Is that going to work?
I was peripherally aware that Cartoon Network shows a lot of anime, but checking the schedule, I was astonished to see how much I've been missing! I can do without DBZ, but I've been meaning to check out Cowboy Bebop, so I may have to set my VCR for some more taping.
The good news is that, after giving it a rest for a couple of days, I finally finished Parasite Eve 2! w00t! There are two final bosses--an enormous, blob-like monster I've seen called the "Reactor" or the "Ultimate Being," which fills the center of a chamber in which the player character Aya is trapped. Aya basically has to run around the perimeter and attack barious parts of its body, each of which has a unique attack, while avoiding damage. After the player dishes out enough damage, the critter's central core opens up and it emits a mega-blast at intervals; unfortunately, that's also the opportunity for Aya to attack the monster's vulnerable inner core. I've "died" several times because I've misjudged being outside the range of the blast while lining up for a shot. (Indeed, "target fixation" is a regular problem I have when playing combat flight sims or video games...I'll focus on lining up for an attack so intently that I'll either take an attack or fly into terrain--oops!) This time, though, I had more success by employing the following tactics:
Attacking the lower section to reduce the rate at which it rotates, allowing Aya to outrun attacks
Destroying one of the monster's arms to provide a safe zone
Attacking the back to expand the safe zone
Deliberately not taking out the monster's head; its exposed neck can inflict highly inconvenient blindness
Taking out the other arm
Taking out the head and neck in rapid succession; doing so meant saving up Aya's energy powers and relying on grenades for the previous attacks
Finally, methodically avoiding the core blasts and firing a grenade into the exposed innards.
Even so, Aya had to pump something like 55 M203 40mm grenade rounds into the thing--along with I don't know how many bursts of her combustive mitochondrial energy powers--to defeat the beast. However, after that tense battle, the subsequent boss was something of a pushover: Aya just stayed around the room's perimeter and toasted it with a laser. Winning the game allows the option to replay with extra weapons and boosted powers, and also unlocks more challenging levels.
I didn't mention it at the time, but I donated platelets last Thursday. Donating platelets takes longer, so I show up two hours before work, but is no more difficult, as long as there's a movie for me to watch. (The even gave me, not only a cookie, but a swell insulated mug!)
I've been giving blood since I was 17, and I haven't thought about it much. I long ago lost track of how many gallons I've donated over the years. But when our daughter Naomi was born, my wonderful wife lost a considerable amount of blood. There was a short but very unpleasant period after Omi was born when Crystal was away getting treatment and I had no idea what was happening. They wound up giving her several units of blood, and I'm most grateful that she recovered fully.
Someone's donation may well have saved my wife's life. I can never thank that person; all I can do is hope that I can return the favor to someone else some day.
Giving blood is quick--the whole pricess should take less than a lunch hour--easy, and safe. (Needles are used once and discarded; there's no possibility of contracting a bloodborne disease from donating.) I've volunteered at blood drives, and most people feel fine afterwards, although some may experience a little dizzyness. Often, larger companies sponsor bloodmobilies (and if yours doesn't, you could suggest it.) Most importantly, there's almost always a shortage of blood. Look for the collection agency in your area, and if it's at all possible for you to donate, please do. Your donation could literally save a life. I know.
Goldberg uses about a thousand words to say, basically, "McCarthyism was really not that bad because, after all, there really were a lot of Communists around back then." This is essentially the same argument that Glenn Reynolds has made in the past (though it usually takes him only a sentence or two), and I can't tell if they are being deliberately dishonest or if they really don't get it.
The problem with McCarthy — and McCarthyism — wasn't that he uncovered lots of communist spies, but that he didn't uncover many communist spies. While other, more careful investigators had some success, McCarthy himself was extraordinarily unproductive.
What McCarthy did do was accuse everyone under the sun of being a communist. If you had belonged to the communist party as a student in the 30s, you were a communist. If you belonged to the ACLU, you were a communist. If, like Fred Fischer, you belonged to the Lawyer's Guild for a few months after you graduated from law school, you were tarred as a communist on national TV.
It's not McCarthyism to accuse a communist of being a communist. It is McCarthyism to accuse someone of being a communist who has only a vague association with communist friends, groups, or ideas.
...What we're afraid of is a repeat of the climate of hysteria McCarthy created, where far more innocent people had their careers ruined than were ever actually convicted of any treasonous behavior, where the old saying was turned on its head and ten innocent people were ruined for every guilty person who was sent to prison. I hope this doesn't happen today, but it's right to be on guard against it. I don't know why Goldberg feels the need to disagree.
Think Kevin Drum is exaggerating about hysteria? Think again.
None of the news stories I've seen so far even asks the obvious question: Was the decision that Hubbard needed to "spend more time with his family" his, or the President's?
His resigning, and his being fired, are two very different events. Did he finally decide that the cost, in professional terms, of defending the indefensible was getting too high? Had he lost one too many internal battles, and decided to stop trying to provide adult supervision to the fiscal behavior of the credit-card conservatives? Or did the Mayberry Machiavellis just decide to complete a clean sweep of the economic team that presided over the disaster of the last two years?
It's hard for me to believe that no one in the Washington press corps knows the answer; what's the point of all that suck-up journalism if it doesn't buy you access? The stories I saw didn't quote any statement from the President, which might or might not have provided a hint.
But I'd settle for simply having the question posed. "White House officials asked on background were unwilling to say whether Mr. Hubbard's departure was on his own initiative or at the suggestion of the President or his senior staff." That would remind the naive reader that the question was open, and assure the sophisticated reader that the reporter was actually trying to do some reporting, rather than copying press releases over in his own handwriting.
No kidding! I don't believe a liberal media, but I sure long for a competent one.
You--yes, you!--can do better at balancing the budget than the Bush Administration (then again, a myopic armadillo* could do a better job...). Nathan Newman informs me of the newly-updated National Budget Simulation, a nifty little Web-based game that lets you juggle expenditures and revenue to balance the national budget. It's interesting to see the trade-offs necessary to reduce the defecit!
According to the simulation, just eliminating the Iraq war and the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts reduces the defecit by 262.98 billion to a manageable $94.02 billion. (Hmmm--that suggests that Bush's agenda is largely responsible for the deficit--duh!--but after all, the Administration's own statements are often contradictory on that score!)
By tinkering with a few other changes--"simplifying the tax code" (in my case, that means reducing deductions/loopholes) by 20% and trimmin bureaucract (general administration) 10% gave me a $314.66 billion reduction, for a deficit of $42.34 billion, even with a 10% boost in veterans' spending.
*No disrespect toward armadillos was intended in comparing them with the Bush Administration.
When Rep. Dennis Kucinich opened his Democratic Presidential bid with a flip-flop on his abortion views, I was skeptical. But after Josh Marshall's recent revelations of Kucinich's flirtation with racially-tinged politics, I agree with Kos: There is no place in the Democratic Party for a politician who employs the brand of racially divisive tactics Kucinich is alleged to have done, regardless of his or her stand on abortion. I urge Kucinich to immediately and publicly explain, apologize for and repudiate such tactics, and for Democrats withhold their support until he has done so.
Unlike the recent Lott fiasco, Marshall's revelations--while disturbing and certainly an issue that demands an explanation--are not overwhelmingly damning. (It seems to boil down to a 30-year-old quote by a campaign manager quoted by a paper Marshall acknowledges seemed to have a feud with Kucinich, with nothing attributed directly to Kucinich.) I am not condoning the racially-tinged political tactics Kucinich is alleged to have engaged in 30 years ago. However, it should be clear that one article citing secondhand sources is not as ironclad as a statement made on national television. This issue demands scrutiny and immediate clarification by Kucinich. And should subsequent inquiry reveal anything resembling the kind of pattern that emerged with Lott, Kucinich should either step down or be emphatically rejected by voters.
Update:Ampersand says there's no "there" there: "[I]f Kucinich was really "constantly telling people" such racist bile, then Cleveland Magazine should have been able to dig up a quote on the record - or at least a second person to support Ms. Sutch's account. That the evidence is so weak - in a magazine article that is obviously out to smear Kucinich - suggests that there really isn't much real evidence of racism."
The administration's domestic policies have always depended on misdirection, saying one thing in public while pushing measures inconsistent with the public statements on the legislative and regulatory fronts. The media has largely permitted the administration to get away with this--and that's due in part, although not entirely, to the Democrats' inability to present a consistent, sustained opposition to the administration's dishonesty. It's long past time to fight back.
...[T]he article states, "[f]ocus groups conducted by various Democrats have shown that the American people trust Bush." But if that's so, it's because the participants in those focus groups haven't been paying attention. Especially on economic matters, George W. Bush has based his policy proposals on lies and deceptions at least since the 2000 campaign, when he attacked Al Gore's "fuzzy math" as a way of distracting attention from the mathematical deficiencies of his own proposals. The dishonesty has only become more blatant with time, as the administration trumpets the endorsement of respected economists who have taken no position on the president's tax proposals. The whole point of the Democrats' nascent campaign is to emphasize that trust in the president is unwarranted.
Second, the article asserts, "[s]enior Democrats also risk alienating Bush, whom several Republicans described as peeved that Daschle and others are questioning his honesty." Well, if Bush is peeved, that puts him more or less on equal footing with congressional Democrats, many of whom--even those who had supported the tax cuts and the use of force against Iraq--found themselves targeted by the president in last fall's elections. If playing ball with the administration doesn't yield benefits--and clearly it hasn't for Democrats on the Hill--they might as well take him on. The president has certainly given the Democrats enough to work with.
[M]y fundamental argument against invasion and overthrow has always been that without a clear and convincing act of aggression by Iraq, it is the worst kind of hubristic folly to put a US army on the ground in the middle east so soon after 9/11 under circumstances that appear to make Osama bin Laden’s worst accusations appear to be true. Only a megalomaniac would believe that it is wise, without adequate preparation and long term planning, to take actions seemingly designed to prove to the millions upon millions of would-be terrorists that bin Laden is right. Could we not have at least waited until the dust settled on the World Trade Center before elevating bin Laden to the status of prophet?
And to so miserably fail to make a credible case tying Saddam to 9/11, to rush headlong with little real deliberation (the phony UN debate notwithstanding), to fail to bring along world opinion and prepare the American people, and most of all to treat this war as if it exists in a complete vacuum without any consequence to the larger issues of Islamic terrorism, the Israeli Palestinian conflict and anti-American sentiment that is growing and metastasizing with every step they take toward invasion is to consciously and actively make the situation more dangerous.
Let's not forget that earlier this month bin Laden--or someone claiming to be him--more or less openly stated that a US attack on Iraq would be playing into his hands. And the Administration made a buffoonish attempt to spin the tape into the ever-elusive link between Saddam and al Qaeda. Need I add the shame of the conspicuous absence of OBL from the Administration rhetoric, save for lame attempts to link him and Saddam? I agree that it isn't only about the man Bush declared we should get "dead or alive," but I do believe that the man we blame for 9/11 should be brought to justice or proven dead. If bin Laden's alive, he's hiding somewhere. We went to war against Afghanistan--correctly, in my view--to get him. His elusive specter damages US credibility in the Islamic world. We should not rest until we have brought bin Laden to justice.
Last night I got an opportunity to watch some of the mecha anime my lovely wife taped for me from Cartoon Network's Giant Robot Week. I caught, for the first time, the first episode of Martian Successor Nadesico, plus episode 1 of Neon Genesis Evangelion (which I've seen on my DVD). I really enjoyed Nadesico; like some of my favorite anime--Project A-ko, for example--it makes sly references to a number of anime conventions in the context of an interesting storyline populated by likable character. Not surprisingly for anime produced for TV broadcast, the animation wasn't exactly top-notch, but acceptable, and the characters and mecha were well rendered. And I could see why the online comic MegaTokyo has goofed on the character Ruri's catchphrase "baka" (idiot). (In the above image, Ruri is the one with light blue hair. Why light blue? See this Destroy All Monsters article to find out.)
I suggest that this outcome is contrary to US interests and wonder exactly what the Bush Administration plans to do about it, and when we might expect to see results. Bush's persistent "my-way-or-the-highway" approach has left him spectacularly incapable of the negotiation that's essential to diplomacy. And yet the evident failure--indeed, counterproductiveness--of Bush's hard-line stance has led the Administration with little choice but to take tentative steps it had harshly criticized in previous administrations--and with a heaping helping of loss of face as an unwelcome bonus. Indeed, the conflict evident within this administration has led to confusing signals and a percption that it has no coherent Korea policy--that it's reacting to events rather than following a plan. This lack of initiative is a grim and disturbing concept to contemplate, and wholly and completely unacceptable. And, predictably, the Responsibility President has sought to distract the nation from his incompetence in dealing with Korea by--yes!--blaming Clinton. (To whatever degree one agrees with that assessment, it does not excuse Bush's failures one bit, and is therefore not only irrelevent but a pathetic confirmation of Bush's cluelessness.) As Bush marches to his war with Iraq, I hold that the Korean situation is a much greater threat than Saddam, that Bush's protestations to the contrary are wholly unconvincing, and utterly fail to perceive any progress by this Administration in addressing the crisis.
In his speech last night, Bush outlined his optimistic vision for a postwar Iraq as a beacon of democracy filled with happy citizens who love us, engendering a positive change so profound it'd sweep the entire Middle East. One could argue that Bush's vision, while laudable, is merely a best-case scenario that doesn't address, let alone refute, many other less savory possibilities. One could argue that Bush's citation of Iraq as a supporter of Palestinian terrorism perplexingly overlooks overt support from erstwhile ally Saudi Arabia and leaves the US open to charges of double standards. One could argue that a regime consisting of the Baathist power structure that simply substitutes US military officers for Saddam's cadre is unlikely to produce such stellar results. One could argue that Bush's stated vision of a united postware Iraq clashes with its declared policies on minorities like the Kurds. One could argue that his statement that "We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more" is disturbingly vague and hardly constitutes a declared exit strategy. One could argue that promises of democracy in Afghanistan--and even Kuwait--remaining unfulfilled lend the Administration's claims little credibility. One could argue that even as Bush finally acknowledges the war will not be easy and incur some costs, the Administration's essentially asking for a blank check--asking for funding only after the war begins--is disingenuous at least.
But each of those arguments--potent as they may be--aren't necessary in light of what Bush's speech--and earlier statements by this Administration--reveal about the goals of US policy: it isn't about disarmament--it has never been about disarmament--it's about regime change. But that's a rationale that, however fervently elements of this administration embrace it--the world, and many Americans, reject.
It's quite simple, really. Most of the world would like to see Iraq disarmed of whatever weapons of mass desctruction it may still have (the existence of which, remember, the US has still to demonstrate). Many people in the US, and most of the world, do not approve of an unprovoked war to force a change in government. Yet that's exactly what Bush insists on, even as his earlier grandiose claims of a dire Iraqi threat--fears shared by precisely none of Iraq's neighbors--have revealed themselves to be hollow. That simple fact explains the Administration's constant statements that inspections (which I view as making progress, albeit imperfect) won't work: They won't bring about regime change. But the Amdinistration has simply failed to convince nations that--while not condoning Saddam's odious rule--are content for now to see any potential Iraqi threat neutralized that an invasion is the only answer. That's why--even while many acknowledge the value of the return of inspectors to Iraq--they regard Bush's position as merely seeking a pretext to invade. Indeed, this Administration's now-obvious pursuit of the regime change policy is doing damage to US international relations that more than offsets any miniscule threat Saddam poses. And it's all Bush's doing.
There are some policies that, no matter what benefits they might purport to offer, simply should not be contemplated, and an unprovoked attack by the US is one of them. In the face of a policy regarded as so risky and damaging to US interests, no alternative plan is even required (although I'm still considering my suggestions). Bush's adamant stance toward Iraq is seen by some as resolute--but that presupposes that Bush truly seeks a resolution to the matter short of war; a prospect many find hard to credit. Unfortunately, such a hard line creates problems of its own: If one gives the perception that war is inevitable no matter what, one gives one's opponent little motivation to compromise at all. Such behaviour--coupled with the tremendous damage to the US's reputation and international goodwill--seems reckless rather than resolute.
On the eve of Bush commencing his long-desired hostilities, we're only now starting to get more information about the costs of the war. For starters, there's the report that the White House has effectively doubled its earlier estimate of the funding necessary--without factoring in occupation or reconstruction. And MSNBC reports that "President Bush [vowed] that the United States would stay in Iraq as long as necessary in a reconstruction effort he likened to the campaign to rebuild Europe and Japan after World War II."
(For those of you keeping score, that's a massive long-term quagmire commitment of arms, soldiers and money in a region that may view us as occupiers rather than liberators.) But let's see what Joshua Marshall has to say:
I think proponents of the root-and-branch approach miss an important part of why Germany and Japan worked. It's called World War II. One of the reasons the Germans and the Japanese stood still for what we accomplished in their countries is that we had just spent a couple years thoroughly bludgeoning their countries. Day and night bombing against major population centers, the disruption of the economies, the very real threat that if it wasn't us it'd be the Russians taking over, etc.
By 1945, we had pretty much destroyed the Germans' and Japanese' will to fight. And they were pleasantly surprised when they discovered how relatively benign our rule was. The same set of circumstances won't apply to Iraq. And that should be a cause of real concern.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told us that Republicans had said that the DC Circuit court didn't need any more judges when Clinton was in office because the case load had declined, and there were plenty to cover it. Now that the caseload has declined even further, and a Republican is in office, that Circuit now needs another judge. He also pointed out that many of Clinton's nominees were anonymously blocked, whereas what the Democrats were presently doing was part of the public record.
For the record, I fully support this filibuster; I've already contacted my Senators to let them know. Partisan bickering over judicial appointments didn't start in 2001, and the Republican cries of "foul" basically don't find a sympathetic ear with me. My sense is that the Democrats are going to emerge from this game of hardball a little stronger, and of course I like that idea. And let's remember the purpose of the Senate WRT judicial appointments is to advise and consent, not rubber-stamp appointees whose submission was itself seen as an overtly political move. If a President's nominee can't garner 60 votes, the President should seriously reconsider submitting that nominee--especially a President who campaigned as a "uniter, not a divider."
My friend Dodd links to this primer on what to do if pulled over by the police, including handy do's and don't's about consenting to searches. (I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be polite to the officer, and it's sad if people have to be reminded to.) Dodd follows up with what to do if you happen to be in possession of a legal firearm at the time.
In 1867/68, the Tokugawa era found an end in the Meiji Restoration. The emperor Meiji was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo which became the new capital; his imperial power was restored. The actual political power was transferred from the Tokugawa Bakufu into the hands of a small group of nobles and former samurai.
There was only one problem with President George W. Bush's claim Thursday that the nation's top economists forecast substantial economic growth if Congress passed the president's tax cut: The forecast with that conclusion doesn't exist.
Bush and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer went out of their way Thursday to cite a new survey by "Blue-Chip economists" that the economy would grow 3.3 percent this year if the president's tax cut proposal becomes law.
That was news to the editor who assembles the economic forecast. "I don't know what he was citing," said Randell E. Moore, editor of the monthly Blue Chip Economic Forecast, a newsletter that surveys 53 of the nation's top economists each month.
"I was a little upset," said Moore, who said he complained to the White House. "It sounded like the Blue Chip Economic Forecast had endorsed the president's plan. That's simply not the case."
We've seen this sort of thing over and over: Confident assertions, boldly stated, that turn out to hold no water. Shouldn't we expect more from the President of the United States?
Meredith takes issue with a recent WaPo article that concluded that Democrats run a risk in attacking Bush on his (tattered) credibility:
When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he reportedly responded “because that’s where the money is.” Mr. Bush should be attacked on the grounds of honesty and credibility because he so often lies, distorts and deceives.
Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and I average 532 home runs.
Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and I average 3018 hits. Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx and I average almost 1500 RBIs. Ricky Henderson, Lou Brock and I average 780 stolen bases.
My prowess is not limited to offense. Cy Young, Walter Johnson and I average 309 wins. Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and I average almost 3300 strikeouts.
Even the casual fan knows that a player with those statistics is a lock for induction into the Hall of Fame. I would like to thank Mr. Bush for helping me see that no matter how long the odds, I should never have doubted the possibility of making the Hall of Fame.
A prosecutor was trying to block a death row inmate from having his conviction reopened on the basis of new evidence, and Judge [Laura Denvir] Stith, of the Missouri Supreme Court, was getting exasperated. "Are you suggesting," she asked the prosecutor, that "even if we find Mr. Amrine is actually innocent, he should be executed?"
Frank A. Jung, an assistant state attorney general, replied, "That's correct, your honor."
That exchange was, legal experts say, unusual only for its frankness.
After a trial and appeal, many prosecutors say, new evidence of claimed innocence should generally not be considered by the courts.
It may surprise a lot of people to know that I'm not reflexively against the death penalty. I believe, for example, that serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy are appropriate candidates for execution, as they're always going to pose a threat to society. But--considering that opposition ot the death penalty does embrace alternatives like life in prison with no opportunity for parole--the question for death penalty supporters is, exactly how many innocent people is it acceptable to execute? I've yet to hear a satisfactory answer to this question.
May 26, 1972: Transfers to Alabama Guard unit so he can work on Senator William Blount's reelection campaign. According to his commanding officer, Bush never shows up for duty while in Alabama, nor can anyone confirm he ever serves in the Guard again. [Emphasis added]
August 1972: Bush is grounded for missing a mandatory physical.
November 1972: Bush returns to Houston, but never reports for Guard duty. [Emphasis added]
(via Testify!, which says, "[T]his is something that Bush should clear up for us." At least!)
Update: Here's more from ABC News back in 2000: "Gov. George W. Bush’s campaign workers have concluded that no documents exist showing he reported for duty with the Alabama National Guard as ordered in 1972." And this from the Boston Globe:
In his autobiography, ''A Charge to Keep,'' Bush said he flew with his unit for ''several years'' after finishing flight training in June 1970. His campaign biography states that he flew with the unit until he won release from the service in September 1973, nine months early, for graduate school.
Neither assertion is true. Bush flew with the 111th for 22 months, until April 1972, and never flew again. Bartlett said last week that he could say unequivocally that Bush was not grounded by his superiors. Asked that question last July, Bartlett, after conferring with Bush, was more equivocal: He said Bush could not recall ever being grounded.
...The official record that chronologically lists Bush's service includes no evidence of service between May 1972 and October 1, 1973, the official date of his discharge. [Emphasis added]
MR. FLEISCHER: You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. (Laughter.)
Not acceptable? Washington is counting on it!
Update: I just watched the video, and while it's a scream, I'd disagree with the characterization that Fleischer was "laughed out of the room." His statement was greeted with derisive laughter that persisted after he left the room, and Felischer appeared to me to be surprised--if not dismayed--at the skepticism with which his, um, statement was met. I'm gonna watch this one again and again.
Last December, we mentioned the sinking of the automobile transport ship Tricolor and the navigation hazard the wreck posed to shipping in the English Channel. A salvage company recently announced that the wreck has been so battered by collisions that plans to float it have been abandoned in favor of slicing the hulk to pieces. A spokesperson for the salvage company said, "Essentially we couldn't consider it a ship anymore, just a pile of scrap." Water damage to the electronic components of the ship's cargo of cars means they will have to be junked as well.
Alaskans could soon receive enough free Nike sneakers to outfit every high school basketball team in the state. There's just one catch: they have to collect them as they wash up on the beach. The 33,000 floating shoes were part of a shipment appearently washed overboard from a container ship. An oceanographer was quoted as saying that beachcombers will also have to match up pairs on their own.
"Nike forgot to tie the laces, so you have to find mates," said Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer in Washington state who tracks flotsam. "The effort's worth it because these Nikes have only been adrift a few months. All 33,000 are wearable."
...A little research by Ebbesmeyer confirmed that a ship lost cargo Dec. 15 during a storm, including three 40-foot containers carrying an estimated 5,500 pairs of shoes each.
A Nike spokesperson said that as an alternative, beachcombers can return the shoes to the company for recycling.
The researchers presented 166 female undergraduates with a report in which five (fictitious) women rated the physical attractiveness of a man, and indicated whether they were interested in dating him. The female students were more likely to express interest in the man if more of the women in report had also done so.*
Calli Cox, the woman in charge of Media Relations claims that Shane’s World Studios is the only company that shoots college porn for legally aged college students.
Cox and crew have visited Arizona State University, Indiana University and plan to visit a California university in the very near future. "We just showed up at ASU and hoped for the best. Since then, we plan everything out ahead of time. We help host parties off campus. We do campus radio interviews. We don’t ask university permission," said Cox.
..."These students are of legal age to fight and vote; why should they have to ask permission to receive oral sex on camera?" she asks.
The article also cites spokesperson Cox as clariftying her, er, role in the festivities:
"I fill in wherever. I usually MC the parties and sometimes act as talent myself," said Cox. "It’s a pretty small group, but we are all close and have our duties down pat."
What was apparently the spacecraft's last signal was received Jan. 22 by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network. At the time, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from Earth; the signal, traveling at the speed of light, took 11 hours and 20 minutes to arrive.
The signal and the two previous signals were very faint. The Deep Space Network heard nothing from Pioneer 10 during a final attempt at contact on Feb. 7. No more attempts are planned.
Pioneer 10 was launched March 2, 1972, on a 21-month mission. It became the first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt and the first to obtain close-up images of Jupiter. In 1983, it became the first manmade object to leave the solar system when it passed the orbit of distant Pluto.
Although Pioneer 10's mission officially ended in 1997, scientists continued to track the TRW Inc.-built spacecraft as part of a study of communication technology for NASA's future Interstellar Probe mission. Pioneer 10 hasn't relayed telemetry data since April 27.
Nathan Newman has the skinny on By Any Means Necessary, a so-called pro-affirmative-action group that has used violent tactics to insert itself into grass-roots rallies. Now BAMN is going mainstream with a planned rally coincinding with the Supreme Court's consideration of an affirmative action case. Worse, the group has chalked up a number of endorsements by groups that apparently hadn't bothered to check out BAMN's sordid history. Nathan:
In twenty years of political organizing, I have never seen such violent and thuggish behavior, a step beyond the worst sectarian acts I had ever imagined. ...Across the country, in southern California, Michigan (and here), and other areas, this group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) would disrupt student-led organizing around affirmative action, claiming it was the true civil rights leader and that all alternatives had to be destroyed or subordinated to BAMN.
...Unfortunately, after talking with leaders at a number of the endorsing organizations, most of them hadn't bothered to even research the group they were endorsing, even though the simplest Google search would have yielded up much of this violent history. A number were horrified but also seemed to feel in the short-term, with the Bush and Supreme Court assault on affirmative action, they just had to grab at the mobilization that was available.
Which is what sectarian thugs like BAMN and the RWL count on in their violent strategies. [Emphasis in the original] If they can destroy alternative coalitions at the grassroots, they can count on lazy or ignorant national leaders to endorse them as the only available game in town.
What is most frustrating it that major progressive groups seem to continually fall into this pattern of endorsing thuggish sectarian groups, instead of building real democratic coalitions of their own. It was only recently, with the major February 15th mass marches against the Iraq War, that mainstream peace organizations formed a real national alternative to the Workers World Party front group, ANSWER, which had seized leadership of peace rallies for nearly a year.
Hopefully, just as ANSWER is being marginalized by new democratic antiwar coalitions, BAMN will be marginalized in the affirmative action movement [Emphasis in the original] as mainstream civil rights groups realize what a thuggish organization they have gotten into bed with.
Nathan has tons of links making the case; check it out.
Regardless of one's stance on affirmative action, violent tactics such as BAMN's are absolutely not to be tolerated and should not be rewarded with a de facto leadership position in whatever movement. I hope those of us who beleive that individual organizations do not condone BAMN's tactics will spread the word and urge them to take their support elsewhere.
To my mind, the bad guys have clearly won. They've made the Administration, which was predisposed to secrecy, violence, and intolerence, adopt poorly executed internal security programs that are little more than systemic hazing.
Incidently, Jim Roux was my attorney and family friend; he visited my home, drank my coffee, played with my children, and died on 9/11. I'm not a piqued innocent. What I see in US airports today is thuggery attempting to pass for security, and I've lived in or traveled through areas of Europe and Asia with elevated levels of security.
To me, the "rush to war" isn't about a schedule, it's about a state of mind, namely the fact that they had already decided when they started that there is going to be a war. The rest is just details.
That's a point I made in the comment thread to Dodd's post, when I conceded that "rush" isn't a technically accurate term; I tend to favor "march to war," because, as Craig pointed out in Mathterw's comment thread, it seems like Bush has long since decided on war, regardless of arguments, circumstances, developments, or consequences.
Dodd has a point when he says "it would rather have to seem inexorable for it to work as coercion...Bush's public stances would look the same whether he really wants to go to war no matter what the circumstances or is just determined to do so if he must," but it really boild sown to a matter of trust. As I've said, I don't trust this administration's motives, credibilty or competence WRT Iraq. It also presumes that the course Bush is leading us on is the one most closely aligned with our natinal interests, and given the fact that inspections have failed to reveal much in the way of an Iraqi WMD program--an certainly demonstrated that Saddam is much farther away from having nukes than the Preaident has suggested--I'm leaning toward the idea that invading Iraq is not going to be worth the cost in international goodwill if nothing else.
When I cam home from work yesterday evening, my daughter Cecilia greeted me holding a Williams-Sonoma catalog she'd found; the cover showed a batch of cookies. Naturally, she wanted to make some. I knew we didn't have time to make cookies from scratch, so I looked in the cabinets for brownie mix. No such luck, but Cecilia saw the couple of boxes of cake mix I keep on hand. She said, "Daddy! You're a genius! We can make a cake!" Awww! I had to explain we didn't have time to finish a cake before her bedtime.
So I decided to run to the local supermarket and grab some of that refrigerated cookie dough. There I discovered that our local store now carries a rack of cheapo DVDs...and for the unprecedented low price of a measly three bucks each!
I managed to resist buying one (and Cecilia helped me make the cookies), but I can feel them calling even now...
It's Giant Robot Week on Cartoon Network! My lovely wife taped today's episodes of Martian Successor Nadesico (which I haven't seen yet) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (of which I have the first for episodes on DVD).
I was able to devote several hours this weekend to my efforts to finish Parasite Eve 2. (As a result, I have not yet responded to several comment threads; please rest assured I plan to). I was nearly successful; last night, I reached the save point just before the final boss battles. However, I was unable--in the couple of minutes before I decided to pack it in and go to sleep--to defeat the first boss. Still, I should have that game finished by the end of the week. (After that, I'll probably pick up either Final Fantasy Tactics or FFVII.) w00t!
As I've mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the anime DVD Gunsmith Cats that my lovely wife got me for Valentine's Day. I wanted to note how I first heard of the OAV...that was through an excellent Anime Music Video from More Than Toast. I downloaded the "Pistol Packin' Rally" video that creator Grungetta made by setting footage from GSC to the Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters hit "Pistol Packin' Mama." If you have the bandwidth, I suggest you check it out; it's excellent.
My friend Onye called me last night to let me know that Springsteen was performing on television, and so I was able to catch the last few minutes of Springsteen's performance. I was pleased to note that he, like myself, is sporting a soul patch (not shown in the above file photo).
Here's what things looked like Satruday evening around dinnertime...
...while here's the same scene Sunday morning, with at least four additional inches of snow.
Meanwhile, here's a shot looking down my street.
Update: I was remiss in mentioning that yesterday, just as I was contemplating the unpleasant prospect of venturing out in that mess to pick up some provisions, our friend Onye called from the grocery store and offered to bring us a few things. Having supplied us with crucial consumables like milk and bread, Onye stayed for some spiced tea. She has our gratitude!