Wednesday, 26 Oct 2005
This post at Cinomed made my whole day. Don't underestimate what he's about to do.
Tuesday, 25 Oct 2005
Chances are that the Grand Jury investigating the Plame leak will reach some sort of decision this week. They may or may not indict high-ranking members of the Bush administration, and the charges may, or may not, mostly involve perjury.
I have zero patience for the intellectual dishonesty already on display in some corners of the internet. On the one hand, we have people saying that perjury is a serious crime when the other guys do it, but when our guys do it, it's only a technicality. On the other, we have people here who equate indictment with proof of a massive administration conspiracy, unless it was our president's staff who was indicted, in which case it's just unproven character assassination.
Let's cut the crap here. Perjury under any circumstances is a serious crime. It's serious because it undercuts one of the primary mechanisms of the balance of power; it's serious because those in a position of public responsibility and public trust are rightly held to a higher standard when they misuse of their authority, and, most importantly, it's serious because if I did it, I'd be in trouble, so if they do it then they don't get a free pass.
Perjury is no less significant if the underlying crime cannot be proved. The 'Martha Stewart defense' is, in plain language, just a way of saying "It's OK that I lied because you had no right to ask me your questions in the first place". Of course we have a right to ask these questions. That's what a Grand Jury does. You have no right to privacy there.
On the other hand, let's remember that an indictment is not a conviction, either. Apply the same standards you would want applied to the members of your own party, or to the average guy on the street. Don't be a punk about it, and don't let anybody read what you wrote about Clinton's staff being indicted and give them any cause to call you out as a hypocrite. Indictments at this level look bad because they are bad, and they demand serious attention. The outcome matters, be it vindication or guilt.
I don't have a dog in this race. If Bush's people did something really wrong, I want them hammered for it. I also want everybody, on both sides, to be held to the same standard. If we are going to start enforcing the laws about what we leak to the press, let's remember that the reporters and the whistleblowers have a role in this, too. Nobody is above the law. Nobody gets special status.
Personally, I think little will come of this. If there is anything more substantial here than an attempt to conceal an otherwise lawful act I'll be very surprised. The one thing we can count on is a flood of self-righteous irrationality no matter how this turns out.
If there is something serious here, than let's have at it. If it's nothing, then let it go. We have much bigger fish to fry.
Wednesday, 19 Oct 2005
You may have noticed that many reader comments have recently disappeared. The folks who provide me my (free) commenting service seem to have had a software problem.
Please don't think I've suddenly gone all Stalinist on you and deleted the past...!
I've used YACCS to manage my comments for years now and they have always done a great job, and they have never asked a dime from me in return. I remain grateful that they can manage to offer the level of service that they do. These things happen.
Friday, 07 Oct 2005
My opinion on Judge Miers is different than most, because I'm probably asking a different question than most people are.
The bottom line here is simple - is Miers going to vote the way you'd want? More precisely, is Miers more likely to vote the way you'd want than the person who would replace her?
I have no idea, and neither do you.
Remember, the choice here is not between Miers and the nominee of your dreams. It's between Miers and whoever gets confirmed in her place. Even if you hate Bush and hate Miers, you're still in the same boat. Are you really convinced that you'll like the next one better?
Even if we knew who this other person was, we'd still be in the dark. Pretend for a moment that an exact clone of Judge Roberts, who we now know as well as we'll know any nominee, was the person who would take Miers' place if she were not confirmed. In five years would he be more or less likely than Miers to vote your way on something like Kelo? On a definitive Second Amendment case? On an important War On Terror issue?
You can try to guess about things like their temperament of their philosophy or their background, but none of it matters. Souter has background in spades, but I assure you, that has been of little comfort to me over the years. Does it matter that a bad decision was made for you by a highly educated and nimble legal theorist with a consistent and well-defined constitutional philosophy, or is a bad decision wearing lipstick still just a bad decision?
This seems odd. Nine Supreme Court Justices hold a third of the government in their hands; they are, as individuals, more powerful than your average Congressman or Senator, and probably more powerful than even the Vice President. Over the course of his or her stay in Washington, any Justice can expect to leave more of a lasting mark on history than the VP of the man who appointed them. Yet somehow it makes sense that we cannot ask them substantive questions about their views before appointing them to life terms?
If there is a good argument against term limits for these people, I haven't heard it.
By 'term limits', I simply mean that after 18 years on the bench, they would have to step down. We could phase it in so that we'd appoint a new one every two years.
I'm not suggesting that future Justices run for office or anything.
Our Enemy Defined - But Do You Buy It?
Thursday, 06 Oct 2005
Whenever someone uses the phrase "War On Terror", it leaves open the question of who, exactly, the enemy is.
One excellent description follows. I think it's important, because I'm willing to bet that our country is neatly divided between those who agree with what is written below, and those who do not. Many Americans believe that what follows is exaggerated, even untrue. What's your call?
...All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.
[...] Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for our world.
We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it -- in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, [they] want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East... They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.
Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. [...]
Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.
Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. [...]
Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. [...]
Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.
Me, I believe every word, and I believe it with deadly seriousness, too.
How many of you guessed this was from the President's speech this morning? You can read the rest here.