Peace through victory - the American way.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Good News For The Padres, But Not On The Field.

If this story (here) is true, Padres fans will be get to continue listening to one of the best play-by-play announcers in baseball. Ted Leitner is returning to broadcast another Padres season on the radio next year.

Whether Leitner will have anything worth announcing is an open question. The team lost attendance this year due to their lackluster play. Winning the Western Division and finishing over .500 didn't make up for the team's lousy baserunning, lack of clutch hitting, shaky defense, weak fundamentals, and boring, boring, boring offense. The only thing the team had going for it last year was bullpen pitching, the starts of Jake Peavy all year, Pedro Astacio in the last half of the season, and Adam Eaton in the first. Not enough.

This team has a lot of rebuilding to do over the off-season. Again, damn it. Again. And it hasn't started off well. Ramon Hernandez is probably going to play somewhere else and Brian Giles has declared free agency. (Here and here.) But, hey, at least we've still got Ryan Klesko and Chan Ho Park.


(Search terms: Padres.)

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U.S. Army Brings Electrical Power To Iraqi Neighborhood.

Few media stories talk about the reconstruction taking place in Iraq. Most newspapers run wire-service reports from Iraq that focus on the political changes taking place in Iraq and the body-counts. This is a different kind of story from the U.S. Central Command's electronic newsletter. (Here.)

The U.S. Army and Iraqi officials recently collaborated to bring electrical power to a poor neighborhood north of Baghdad. The area's electrical system had suffered neglect during Saddam's rule. The new system brings power to 715 home residential networks.


(Search term: Iraq.)


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Babelizing Peace Through Victory.

This site (here) does amusing literal translations from English to a foreign language and back again.

Mister Americano's slogan came out this way.

Original English Text:
peace through victory - the american way

Translated to Japanese and back to English:
Victory - peace due to the American manner

Translated to Chinese and back to English:
Victory - peace as a result of American mode

Translated to French:
Victoire - paix en raison de mode américain

Translated back to English:
Victoire - peace because of American mode

Translated to German:
Victoire - Frieden wegen des amerikanischen Modus

Translated back to English:
Victoire - peace because of the American mode

Translated to Italian:
Victoire - pace a causa del modo americano

Translated back to English:
Victoire - peace because of the way American

Translated to Portuguese:
Victoire - paz por causa do americano da maneira

Translated back to English:
Victoire - peace because of the American in the way

Translated to Spanish:
Victoire - paz debido a el americano de la manera

Translated back to English:
Victoire - peace due to the American of the way



Senator Lindsey Graham for SCOTUS.

The biggest loser in the Harriet Miers saga is the nominee herself. The attacks will cease now that she has withdrawn (story here) but these past weeks must have been bruising.

The clear winner is the conservative punditry who turned their savage tongues on Miers from the start because she was not one of their own. Their denunciations of the President went way over the top as well, with their charges of cronyism and incompetence. What really rankled was George Will's charge that George W. Bush is not suited to choosing a justice for the Supreme Court because he does not understand constitutional philosophy or some such nonsense. But George Will is, of course. Thanks, George, for telling us that Lewis Powell was THE conservative justice. Who'd have thunk it?

Mister Americano was unhappy with the Miers pick because he, too, would have preferred a more clearly conservative nominee. But he remained neutral on the choice out of political loyalty to the President. That loyalty was sorely tested by the release of Harriet Miers' speeches from 1993. To the President's and Miers' credit once those speeches came out, they withdrew her nomination.

So what should President Bush do now?

Mister Americano is ambivalent. One side says go for broke with Janice Rogers Brown or someone of her ilk, if they'll agree to endure the nomination process. Another side says stick it to the privileged pundit bastards. Already they are laying down challenges to the President and saying that he'd better not nominate Alberto Gonzales or someone like him. It's either one of their cronies or it's nobody.

The President's constituency for the next nomination is the Senate not the pundits. Are Orrin Hatch or Lindsey Graham interested in wearing black robes at their day jobs for the rest of their lives?

Hatch has cross-over appeal as proven by his practice of working with Ted Kennedy. Graham was in the Air Force for 6 years and a lawyer in private practice before entering politics. He served in Congress and now in the Senate. In the Senate he serves on the Judiciary Committee. And he's already a judge. Here's what his official bio (here) says:
"Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is the only U.S. Senator currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Reserve Judge to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals."
Not just a judge, but an appellate judge.

Plus he's part of the Gang of 14 who helped break the logjam in the Senate and get Bush's judicial nominees through, and he's vocally parted with the President on certain issues, so he's not a crony.

Mister Americano is convinced. Senator Lindsey Graham should be the next nominee to fill the John McKinley seat on the Supreme Court.



Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Voting On Miers.

Mister Americano has been appalled at the lack of partisan loyalty displayed by the conservative punditry over the nomination of Harriet Miers. It reveals that the conservatives who had supported Bush are not partisan Republicans they are idealogues loyal to their cause and nothing more. Not content with less than a full loaf, they'd rather have no loaf at all. The President has given conservatives a pretty full loaf on judicial confirmations at every level of the federal judiciary so far. These conservatives have treated the President terribly by attacking his judgment and abandoning him over this nomination. He deserved better from them.

Miers appears to be a well-regarded lawyer who has practiced with competence and professionalism her entire career outside government and inside it. There ought to be room on the Supreme Court for a person of that caliber.

But this fight has never really been about qualifications. It's been about the punditry's juvenile desire to have a fight with the Democrats and their disappointment that one of their own cronies was not picked.

Mister Americano has taken no position to date on whether Miers ought to be confirmed and will not do so now. The hearings ought to count for something so he will remain neutral until then. Miers appears qualified and deserves a hearing. She should not withdraw and the President should not pull her nomination.

But in the interest of being counted in this poll (here) of the blogosphere, Mister Americano says this: "I am neutral on the Miers nomination."



Monday, October 24, 2005

Pssst! Didja Hear? War Is Bad.

The Union-Tribune today reviewed a play that recently opened in San Diego about women who served in Vietnam. (See review here.) Apparently, the play is timely because Vietnam is like Iraq. Or so says the reviewer, Anne Marie Walsh.
"Now, in the midst of another seemingly endless war against an intractable home-based insurgency in Iraq, Mo'olelo Performing Arts has revived [Shirley] Lauro's play in a professional and often powerful production. Company founder Seema Sueko's stated goal is to open dialogue about the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts and to educate audiences about the human costs of every war."

There's a rash of anti-war plays these days and "A Piece of My Heart" is apparently the latest. It seems to be a common goal of these plays to educate audiences about the human costs of every war.

Well, excuse us if Mister Americano is not impressed. Artists are constantly telling us about the human cost of war. We get it already. War is hell. General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of this site's favorite American generals, said that a long time ago. He also advocated the killing of 300,000 Southern males as a precondition to peace. Here's an example of his thinking.
"I was satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the south must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory."
A brutal thought? Yes. But immoral? No.

The slave-holding society of the Confederacy deserved the destruction it received at General Sherman's hands and the true believers who fought and killed for it deserved their fates. Would any true-believing anti-war activist or artist living in America today seriously argue that the benefits to our country of fighting the Civil War --- for instance, freeing the slaves, the passage of the 14th Amendment, the unification of the country --- were outweighed by the costs of that terrible conflict? Of course not.

Mister Americano would be more impressed if some cutting-edge artist dared to produce a play that addressed the human benefits of some wars. For instance, already in the 21st Century the United States has launched two wars against both theocratic and secular fascist regimes and liberated some 50 million people. There have been terrible costs to each liberation but the costs of each war have to be weighed against the benefits..

It's probably too much to ask of most artists that they produce plays about the benefits of war. Even cutting-edge artists know they can only go so far before alienating their audience.

Nor is Mister Americano impressed with this kind of theatrical review.
"The show opened Friday, the same day that former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the Army Reserve commander reprimanded for her lack of oversight at Abu Ghraib, unloaded during a local radio show. Demoted by the Bush administration for not keeping 'a few bad apples' in line at the detention center, she told a different story. She reiterated that political higher-ups should be held responsible for creating the punitive culture that allowed the abuse.

Comparing Lauro's behind-the-scenes heroines of Vietnam to the highly public roles of Karpinski or the pathetic, pregnant Pfc. Lynndie England or the media-created war hero-for-a-day, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, will surely get people talking. Military women have moved from their invisible service jobs into their age-old virgin-whore, hero-scapegoat roles in Iraq. And now, a woman Secretary of State talks of another decade-long commitment and makes noises about Syria, eerily reminiscent of the ill-fated U.S. decision to invade Cambodia. This is progress?"

Excuse us, but this is a review?

And to answer the reviewer's question, yes, this is progress. America's Secretary of State during wartime is a woman. Women have moved beyond their invisible service jobs to more public roles in government and more central roles in the armed forces. Inevitably some will succeed and some will fail. That we apparently only hear about the failures says more about the media's focus on everything negative in this war than it says about society's attitude towards the women who serve. In today's non-traditional warfare there are no frontlines and woman are serving in combat. That is progress of a kind and their contribution is deserving of respect.



Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brazil Shoots Down Gun Ban.

There's good news from South America for the right to own guns. Brazil's voters defeated a draconian attempt to ban gun and ammunition sales to private citizens. (Story here.) The gun banners tried to use Brazil's high-crime rate as a justification to ban private gun ownership. The opponents carried the day by making the common-sense argument that without being able to own guns ordinary citizens would have to rely on the police for protection, a job they aren't doing too well at the moment. Of course, that's not how the news article characterizes it.
"While supporters argued that gun control was the best way to staunch the violence, opponents played on Brazilians' fears that the police can't protect them."

Apparently, the National Rifle Association helped to defeat the ban. And people say exporting US culture is a bad thing.

Meanwhile, here in California, Mister Americano will be eligible to buy another handgun come October 26, 2005, as it'll be 30 days since he bought his .357 Ruger SP-101. California limits handgun purchases to one every 30 days. He's looking for a decent .22 handgun for target practice. Any suggestions?



Friday, October 21, 2005

The Elected "Cabal" That Hijacked Foreign Policy

This story (here) reports on a speech given by former Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson in which he accuses Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of running a cabal that has hijacked foreign policy from the bureaucracy.

Oooo, how scary is that? A secret cabal led by the second-highest elected official in the United States is running the foreign policy not an unelected bureaucracy.

But wait it gets worse. Later in his speech Wilkerson refers to the cabal as the "Oval Office cabal" and says this about President George Bush's involvement in the cabal.
The president’s role has been very integral to the process. When the president’s weight is needed, the Oval Office is entered by one person and the president’s role is obtained.
(See transcript here.)

What is this country coming to? How far has our democracy fallen? The two highest elected officials in the United States government are part of a cabal that has taken decision-making on foreign policy away from the unelected bureaucrats of the State Department who generally opposed the White House policy.

My God, it's time for a revolution!


Afterword: As is typical of reporting, the news story linked above simplifies and sensationalizes what Wilkerson said. The point of his reference to the so-called "cabal" was to argue that Cheney and Rumsfeld are bad managers because they cut out of the decision-making process the people who have to implement the decisions. Not a bad point, really, if true. On the other hand, the people who have to implement the decisions have to realize that their role precisely is to implement the decisions made by others. A major problem the Bush Administration has faced since 9/11 is the resistance of the unelected government to the policies of the elected government. The little told aspect of the Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby story is that it all came to a head because of bureaucratic opposition to the Bush Administration's push for the liberation of Iraq. That's the real story, not that elected officials are trying to make policy and have unelected officials carry it out.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pundits To Bush: "Cronyism For Me But Not For Thee."

The anti-Harriet Miers temper tantrum continues. Below all the conservative pundits' fine arguments about qualifications, intellectualism, accomplishment, etc. is this bottom line: President Bush didn't pick one of their cronies from their list of preferred candidates.

Near the end of a fine post refuting Judge Bork's embarrassing anti-Miers essay, Hugh Hewitt, figures that out.
I really don't know what to make of the anti-Miers collective, except that they are anti-Miers, and have a list of a few people they'd have preferred to see nominated.
Judge Bork and the anti-Miers crowd are increasingly defined by their Potter Stewart-like standard for SCOTUS nominees: They'll know a good one when they see it.
(See post here.)

The upshot of this is that the conservative pundits will never unite behind the President and this nominee, no matter how Miers does in the hearings. Their position is not really based on qualifications or a lack thereof. Their complaint is that their crony wasn't picked.



Sunday, October 16, 2005

Avian Flu For Me And You?

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the news coverage of Avian Flu is the media's general failure to explain how the flu is transmitted from chickens to people. (This AP story, here, from today is a notable exception.) Can the flu be transmitted by handling, cooking, or eating chickens from the Supermarket? Or is the flu transmitted by handling, being exposed to, and slaughtering live chickens?

Avian Flu is breaking out among birds in Asia and Europe. But the reported human cases of Avian Flu have all occurred in Southeast Asian countries. This chart (here) shows that the known cases and deaths have all occurred in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Is there something about those countries that increases the risk of transmission from chickens to humans? This story (here) suggests there is.
"[U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike] Leavitt, who is expected in Indonesia today, told reporters the trip has given him a realistic view of the challenges in Asia, where people and animals living closely together is rooted in the culture.
'I was at a market in Cambodia and talked with a pig vendor who traveled 600 kilometers (373 miles) the night before to sell her pigs," he said. "She had carried them on the top of a bus in a box next to a load of chickens, and I was sitting next to her . . . with several other baskets of geese and several baskets of turkeys and ducks . . . right next to pigs.'" [Ellipsis in original.]

The article fails to explain how transmission may occur, however. That information is easily found on this website (here) from the World Health Organization.
"Direct contact with infected poultry, or surfaces and objects contaminated by their faeces, is presently considered the main route of human infection. To date, most human cases have occurred in rural or periurban areas where many households keep small poultry flocks, which often roam freely, sometimes entering homes or sharing outdoor areas where children play. As infected birds shed large quantities of virus in their faeces, opportunities for exposure to infected droppings or to environments contaminated by the virus are abundant under such conditions. Moreover, because many households in Asia depend on poultry for income and food, many families sell or slaughter and consume birds when signs of illness appear in a flock, and this practice has proved difficult to change. Exposure is considered most likely during slaughter, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for cooking. There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or eggs can be a source of infection.

Does the virus spread easily from birds to humans?

No. Though more than 100 human cases have occurred in the current outbreak, this is a small number compared with the huge number of birds affected and the numerous associated opportunities for human exposure, especially in areas where backyard flocks are common. It is not presently understood why some people, and not others, become infected following similar exposures."

Thus, rhe risk of getting Avian Flu from chickens seems slight for consumers who typically have no contact with live chickens.

If the Avian Flu virus ever mutates and becomes transmissible from human to human that's when we'll be in trouble. Big Trouble. (Read more about that here.) Although the risks of infection for most people are not high at this time, the consequences of the Avian Flu spreading and mutating are very high. The best defenses at this time are culling and quarantining. Hong Kong's decision to slaughter its entire chicken supply in 1997 is credited with having prevented a pandemic. (Here.) Hence Romania's decision the other day to quarantine villages and slaughter thousands of chickens where Avian Flu was found. (Here.)

In the meantime, chicken anyone?.



Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who Declared Which War? Or How President Bush Became A Lame Duck.

"It is madness for a 37% president to declare war on his strongest supporters, but that is exactly the strategy that this unwise nomination has forced upon President Bush. And every day that passes, he will get angrier, the attacks will get fiercer - and his political position will weaken." That's what David Frum says on his Diary at National Review Online. (See his entire post here.)

It's not madness for the president to fight back and defend his nomination. The madness is in the minds of the conservative pundits who have decided to go to war over the Harriet Miers nomination. It's amazing chutzpah for Frum to accuse the President of declaring war on the conservatives when it's the conservative pundits who have decided to declare war on George W. Bush. And it's their war that is helping to bring the President's favorability ratings down.

God only knows why the right has declared this war. The Miers pick is clearly designed to avoid another David Souter problem and the pick seems like a reasonable choice to make. After all, the problem with Souter happened because Bush's father didn't know him; Bush knows Miers. The conservatives are upset because they don't.

It's unfortunate that the President apparently fell into the trap of making the Justice John McKinley seat a "woman's" seat simply because Sandra Day O'Connor occupies it right now. (See here.) And it would have been great fun to see a knockdown dragout fight in the Senate over a staunchly conservative judge. Janice Rogers Brown, for instance.

Yet unlike the conservative rebels President Bush has political instincts, he can count, and he has a memory. The Senate has 55 Republicans but that includes 7 in the Gang of 14 and half a dozen or so who are pretty liberal. To be plain, it's a Republican majority not a conservative majority. Bush went to the mat for conservatives with John Bolton and look what his 55 Republican majority got him: a recess appointment.

The President deserves better from his fellow Republicans and conservatives than he's gotten over Miers. Bush has been good on judges for his entire term. He's pushed the Iraqi liberation and continues to do so. National Review Online, for instance, has been in the forefront on that one. The President has generally been good on conservative issues. To the extent he has strayed from the compound it's because the USA is populated by more than just rightwingers. He's the President of the United States of America, not the Conservative States of America. Perhaps the conservatives pushing this war against Bush would like to secede like that other CSA did about 7 score years ago?

In fact what the conservative war against Bush shows is that he is now officially a lame-duck president. Hurricane Katrina started the transformation. Katrina's first blow came during the event when the media coverage of the fiasco in New Orleans finally gave the left a tangible event on live TV to attack Bush for incompetence and then for cronyism over the "Brownie" situation. Bush's political capital started to deplete rapidly with falling approval numbers. Katrina's second blow came from the right after Bush promised to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the Gulf Coast. The right started to grumble over Bush's statement and decided it was time to stand up to federal spending and say "this far and no further." Why they didn't go after the Congress, who must initiate spending bills is beyond me. Instead it was Bush's promise to rebuild that began the right's public split with the President. Bush's approval ratings began to recover after Katrina but his political capital with conservatives depleted further.

Then came Harriet Miers and everybody's a Bush basher now.

This conflict is over whether Bush's decision to appoint Miers should be trusted. The right has decided that just trusting Bush isn't good enough anymore. Their declaration of war is fast depleting the rest of his political capital. How can Bush lead now if his own base won't give him the benefit of the doubt and trust his judgment?

This split is a political tragedy. The conservative pundits have turned on the best and most successful conservative politician this country has seen in the last 50 years. That includes Reagan. Reagan's coattails were non-existent; Bush's have been formidable. That apparently doesn't matter to the conservative pundits waging war against the President. All that matters to them is that George W. Bush chose somebody he knows and trusts to be on the Supreme Court instead of one of their own.

Conservative pundits are leading the Republican Party off of a cliff by taking down their most effective leader. If there were any justice the pundits would crash first and cushion the fall for the rest of us. But that won't happen because the punditry will be unaffected if the Republicans lose the majority. They'll still have their jobs pontificating. Jobs that will be so much easier because being in the minority will let them be 100 percent pure in their conservatism. No more having to defend messy compromises that come from being in the majority.

Who knows if that will come to pass. But why should we trust the political judgment of a conservative punditry that has nothing to lose over the outcome of their war on George W. Bush?



Friday, October 07, 2005

Link To Excellent Case For Harriet Miers

This link (here) is a great defense of Miers from a conservative perspective. She might not be as much of a cipher as people believe. Once her conservatism becomes more obvious, the conservative pundits who have gone off their rockers in opposition to her might regret having given the left the ammunition it needs to attack the nomination. Don't think for a minute that the charges of cronyism, lack of qualifications and intellect, and all the other charges being hurled at Miers by conservatives won't be quoted by the Dims once it suits their purpose to weigh in on the nomination.



Wednesday, October 05, 2005

If The Right Can't Trust Bush On Miers Why Should They Trust Him On Anything?

The teeth gnashing on the right continues over President Bush's selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. It's clear the right wing punditry had their list of candidates they expected Bush to select from and he didn't. This has given them the vapors and has led to anguished confusion over why Bush rejected their sage advice and selected Miers instead of one of their own.

National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg explores this subject in his syndicated column on (Column here.) Goldberg lists four reasons circulating among conservative pundits for Bush's selection.
-He had no choice. He's weakened by Katrina, Iraq and the polls, and he can't afford Armageddon in the Senate. A stealthy, female nominee who was all but pre-approved by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is the prudent step at this time. In other words, she's confirmable, and at the end of the day the one indispensable qualification for any nominee is that they can actually make it to the bench.

-She's a crony. This isn't really a theory so much as an observation. She meets the dictionary definition of a crony: a longtime personal friend. She was Bush's personal attorney and in the White House she was his trusted gatekeeper. Bush prizes loyalty above most other considerations and has a long history of picking loyalists above more credentialed outsiders. Bush knows her "heart" and trusts that she reflects his views.

-She's a woman. Again, this is no theory either. But Mrs. Bush has stated that she thinks there should be another woman on the court, and many moderate Republicans and Democrats - including Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter - have indicated that they'd be inclined to vote for a woman.

-She's an evangelical Christian who's been a member of the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years. Marvin Olasky and James Dobson, two leaders of the conservative evangelical community, came out early to endorse her. Not only does this suggest that they believe she's a cultural conservative with settled views similar to the president's about church-state issues and abortion, but it offers an opportunity to have this important political constituency represented on the court. Identity politics isn't just for Latinos, blacks and women anymore.

Goldberg's is a fairly calm voice in this otherwise overwrought debate. He doesn't decide which reason he believes motivated Bush and he acknowledges that none of the reasons are bad ones. He does question the selection of Miers because Bush is calling on conservatives to trust him even though he picked somebody they didn't recommend and don't know. As Goldberg puts it,
But President Bush has put himself in the awkward position of asking his base to trust him at precisely the moment the base was expecting Bush to demonstrate their trust was well-founded in the first place.

The unspoken fear is that Miers will not be a reliable conservative vote. It's the fear of David Souter. It's also the fear of Anthony Kennedy who has begun to "evolve" on the bench and move away from the right. To combat that fear the right had their list of candidates whose known conservatism suggested they'd be reliable conservative justices. The President seems to share that fear so he did the same thing the pundits did, it's just that he had a different list than the pundits had. So he picked Miers, whom he knows well enough that he is assured she won't turn out to be a Souter or a Kennedy. Instead of speculating on why Bush might have chosen Miers perhaps the conservative pundits should listen to Bush explain his reasons. It might calm them down.

Here's what he said at his press conference (transcript here).
Secondly, she knows the kind of judge I'm looking for -- after all, she was a part of the process that selected John Roberts. I don't want somebody to go on the bench to try to supplant the legislative process. I'm interested in people that will be strict constructionists, so we -- and I've told that to the American people ever since I started running for office. I said, vote for me, this is the kind of judges I'll put on the bench. And there should be no doubt in anybody's mind what I believe a judge -- the philosophy of a judge. And Harriet Miers shares that philosophy.

Thirdly, I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today. She'll have more experience, she'll have been a judge, but, nevertheless, her philosophy won't change. And that's important to me. It was important to me when I picked Chief Justice Roberts; it's important for me in picking Harriet Miers.

Goldberg is right that this pick requires the conservative punditry to trust that Bush is correct in his assessment of Miers. So what. If Bush can't be trusted to know a colleague he's worked with for as long as he's worked with Miers then what can he be trusted with? If the base is going to abandon Bush on this selection because they don't trust his judgment then they might as well go all the way and just abandon Bush entirely. Given the commentary by some pundits in recent weeks the thought has probably crossed their minds. (See this astounding piece by Peggy Noonan here recommending a conservative revolt over spending prompted by Bush's promises to spend whatever it takes to rebuild New Orleans, for instance.)

Here's something else the President said that demonstrates he is more aware of political realities than his conservative critics who want him to go to war over his judicial picks.
Finally, I got some interesting suggestions. I actually listen to the senators when they bring forth ideas. And they brought forth some really interesting ideas during the course of our conversations, some told me directly, many brought to me by people on my staff. And one of the most interesting ideas I heard was, why don't you pick somebody who hasn't been a judge? Why don't you reach outside the -- I think one senator said, the "judicial monastery."

I thought it was an interesting idea. And I thought long and hard about it. I obviously looked at whether or not other Presidents had done -- made that decision; they had. And so, recognizing that Harriet will bring not only expertise, but a fresh approach, I nominated her. And she'll be a really good judge. And as I said, I appreciate the reception she's gotten at Capitol Hill. After all, they're going to -- they'll decide.

That last quote is a recognition of reality by the President.

First, Bush has to satisfy the Senate and at 55 Republicans his majority is not filibuster proof. The majority is also composed of several Republican Senators who do not share the conservative judicial philosophy of the President and his conservative base.

Second, Bush must reckon with the principles laid out in the Gang of 14's filibuster buster agreement. That agreement includes the stipulation that the President should consult with the Senate before he sends them a nominee. Bush goes along with that agreement by consulting with the Senate and by saying publicly that the consultation guided his selection. This makes it very hard for the 7 Democrats in the Gang of 14 to support any filibuster the other Democrats might launch against Miers and it also increases the likelihood that the 7 Democrats will vote for Miers.

It would be a huge mistake for Republicans to split their party over this selection. But if it comes to that and the conservative punditry decides they're better off leading a revolt against Bush, the question Republican voters should ask themselves is who do they want to follow into a political battle? Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al, who won two national elections and increased the Republican majority or the likes of Bill Kristol, David Frum, George Will, and the rest, who haven't won a single election anywhere so far as I know.



Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Second Amendment Disaster Preparedness Kit, Part Two.

This is the latest addition to the mister americano emergency survival kit. The Ruger SP-101, 357 5-shot revolver. The round next to the gun is the spare 38 caliber +P safety slug from Glaser. The rounds are not cheap; a package of 6 goes for about $20. But the ammunition is touted as being safe for home defense because the plastic tip design reduces over-penetration and ricochet. So the neighbor's dog on the other side of the wall is safe.

The neighbor, too, I guess.



Peavy Goes Down And Pads Go Down With Him.

True to form the Pads never gave up in their first game of the series against St. Louis even though they ended up losing 8-5. The loss came after Ramon Hernandez struck out with 2 out in the 9th and the bases loaded. The Pads never give up no matter what.

The troubling part of the game was Jake Peavy's unusually bad performance: 8 runs in less than 5 innings. Turns out the reason Peavy did so poorly is because he started the game with at least one broken rib. The broken rib wasn't discovered until an MRI was taken after the game. Peavy appears not to have known that he had the broken rib before the game but he did know he had an injury. It's not clear from these stories (here and here) whether the team knew about it but the trainer appears to have been in the dark.

Peavy's strongest suit is his intense competitiveness and his talent will be missed. If he failed to tell the team about his rib pain before the game then it's not the team's mistake, it's his. If he did tell them, the question is what did they do to investigate the injury. Either way, it's looking like it was a huge mistake to let him start game 1 of this series.

Of course, Peavy's problems on the mound don't account for the Pads failure to push any runs across the plate in the first innings when they had several chances. But that's the Pads' offense we've seen all year.

Pedro Astacio's gonna have to dial it up on Thursday to tie the series for the return to San Diego. A good chance given Pedro's outstanding performance in the last month of the season.


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Monday, October 03, 2005

Isn't The Left Supposed To Be Hysterical Not The Right?

Ever since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the right wing supporters of George Bush seem to have gone off the deep end. First, they decide that it's finally time for them to really speak out against the spending frenzy the federal government has been on under Republican control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress. And what prompted that? It was the President's statement that the federal government would spend whatever it takes to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But Bush's answers on the cost of rebuilding New Orleans have been in response to persistent requests that he tell reporters right now how much the rebuilding will cost. Understandably, Bush couldn't give a definitive answer. He gave the correct answer that it'll cost however much it costs. But apparently, that's not the right answer. Instead the President is supposed to tell the people of southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that, hey, we'd love to help rebuild your states but we have to be fiscally responsible so don't expect us to pay for it. Yeah, that's a brilliant political strategy and really smart policy to boot.

Now, the right wing punditry has just gone loony over the President's selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. You'd think Bush had just appointed Lawrence Tribe to the Court.

The complaints about Miers are so shrill because the right wing pundits don't seem to know much about her. Right wing fears about judges are that their candidates will go astray on the court like Earl Warren did, and Anthony Kennedy and David Souter continue to do. With Miers being such an unknown quantity fear rushes in to fill the void. One thing the right ought to consider is that Miers is a known quantity to Bush. Unlike Souter, for example, who was not very well known to Bush, H.W.

It would have been great political theater if G.W. Bush had picked a more conservative candidate and forced a toe-to-toe confirmation fight in the Senate. But it's not clear why that would have been a smart strategic move what with the Democratic threat of a filibuster and the likelihood that Republicans would have to exercise the so-called nuclear option. Right wing pundits and activists may have been itching for just such a partisan judicial confirmation fight but it's pretty doubtful that the majority of American voters would have welcomed it. Republican credibility to run the government would have suffered from such a fight.

The right needs to get a grip.

The President's opponents are emboldened by his falling popularity due to the continuing conflict in Iraq, the weak response to Hurricane Katrina, and the hype over Tom DeLay and the other so-called scandals. If the right wants to kill Republican government they should attack the President on his decision to spend what it takes to rebuild New Orleans. That'll show the country how compassionate conservatives are. And they should undermine the President's judicial picks by jumping all over Bush's selection of Miers on the very day that she is chosen.

But if they want to maintain Republican control of the federal government it's time for them to grow up and start thinking ahead a few steps.

Justice Stevens is 80 something and Bush has three more years in his term. It's likely that Bush will have at least one more opportunity to pick a Supreme Court justice. Moreover, he'll have three more years to continue appointing judges to the federal circuit courts. By avoiding a highly partisan fight over a Supreme Court justice that might have energized the base but that would have alienated all those swing voters who don't like partisan fights, Bush has retained credibility for his ability to choose justices and preserved the credibility of the Republicans in the Senate. This will serve Republicans and conservatives better in the next few years as Bush continues to send judicial candidates for all levels of the federal courts to the Republican-controlled Senate.



Sunday, October 02, 2005

Link To Remarks By General Petraeus

General Petraeus spoke to Princeton University about the situation in Iraq. A student attended and reported on the speech on his blog. Read the report here. It's enlightening.



Which Minority Candidate Will Be Germany's New Chancellor And Who Will Make The Decision?

The past two Presidential elections in the United States have aroused much criticism of the electoral college system and the way that we here in the US run our elections. Whatever one may think of US democracy its virtues are the winner take all voting and the requirement that the President receive a majority of votes in the Electoral College to win.

Look at what is happening in Germany today. (BBC story here.) No party has received enough votes to put together a majority in the Parliament. Nor have the two major parties received enough votes to allow them to put together a governing coalition with ideologically allied parties. And neither of the two major parties is willing to let the leader of the other party have the Chancellorship as part of a so-called grand coalition.

A new government will emerge when the political parties finish their negotiations and come up with a formula for governing. Maybe the minority left wing parties will get over their intramural differences with the Social Democrats and form a coalition. Maybe the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats will convince the Greens to join them in a strange left to right coalition. Maybe the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats will join together. Who knows what will happen at this point?

But here's the bottom line. The new Chancellor will be from a party that failed to win the votes of a majority of Germans. And whoever takes the position of Chancellor will not have been chosen by the voters. The new Chancellor will take his or her office as a result of wheeling and dealing among the politicians who run Germany's political parties. At least in the United States the President takes his or her office by winning a majority of the electoral votes as determined by the results of the 50 state elections. A much more democratic result.



Padres Take Best One-Run Record Into The Playoffs.

The San Diego Padres ended their regular season with an 82-80 record by winning against the hapless Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pads enter the post-season with the worst record for a playoff team in baseball history. Their record is considerably worse than their playoff opponents' records as well.

But one thing the Padres have going for them as the playoffs begin is that they have played through extreme adversity this year and have never folded as a team. They may lack power and speed and clutch hitting and they may not be managed intelligently all the time but they have a strong pitching staff that keeps the team in every game. And as a team, they never give up.

This has translated into the best record in one-run games of all the playoff teams. St. Louis, the Pads' first opponent in the playoffs, surprisingly, has the worst record in one-run games of the playoff teams. And it's a losing record at that. On the other hand, St. Louis has an incredibly successful record in games where the run difference is more than one. And every other team in the playoffs except for the Pads has a winning record in non-one run games.

Overall W L L10
Atlanta 90 72 4-6
St. Louis 100 62 5-5
Houston 89 73 6-4
San Diego 82 80 6-4

One-Run W L
San Diego 29-20
Houston 25-21
Atlanta 23-20
St. Louis 21-25

Others W L
St. Louis 79-27
Atlanta 67-52
Houston 64-52
San Diego 53-60

What difference does any of this make? Well, it shows that the other teams have more offense than the Pads do. It also illustrates that for the Pads to succeed in the playoffs their pitching staff has to keep them in the game. They just don't have the bats to blow away their opponents.


Go Peavy! Go Pedro! Go Eaton! Go Hoffman! Go Linebrink! Go Aki! And the rest! Go!