Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Refreshing Change

Donna Brazile, a talented Democrat political consultant, has a wonderful piece in today's Post.

On Thursday night President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for George W. Bush -- in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday night, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

This is EXACTLY the type of teamwork we need now. The tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists, the Kos Kids, the trolls at the Democratic Underground, have all been shamed by what Brazile, an African-American from New Orleans, writes. Read the whole article.

I fully expect Ms. Brazile to work her ass off in 2008 to get a Democrat elected President, and Republican strategists ignore her at their peril, but right now we need to work together to get the Gulf Coast back on its feet. I hope there will be more of this spirit of cooperation, from both Democrats and Republicans alike, in this endeavor. This was a class act.

Also, who was it that suggested that in order to aid in the recovery, and help mitigate the expense on the federal budget, each member of Congress should give up on major piece of pork spending in their district? First, we should elect that person to Congress. Second, why isn't this idea getting more attention?

UPDATE: InstaPundit has found some bloggers (imagine that, bloggers breaking a story.) that have found some pork fat.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Edsel. New Coke. Times Select.

Thanks for the link, Slate.

Next week, the New York Times will start charging to read their opinion columnists.

No, really, I'm serious.

For $50 per year, you too can have the grand privilege of reading Maureen Dowd's tortured efforts to make her political opinions seem insightful through the use of Sex In The City metaphors. You can read Bob Herbert bemoan racism in this country by deconstructing every action by the government, the private sector, and individuals through the prism of race. (Bob is unaware, apparently, of irony. Hypocrisy too, for that matter.) Frank Rich is included with that $50, and worth every penny too. Where else can you find someone who will blame Bush for everything wrong in the world, up to and including someone eating the last jelly-filled doughnut in the break room? Did I mention Tom Friedman? Operators are standing by! Without this subscription you will miss the chance to read Friedman continually over-reach by wandering out of his area of expertise, foreign affairs, particularly the Middle East, and playing on the freeway of domestic politics and economics. And speaking of economics, we can't leave out Paul Krugman. Hell, he is worth the $50 alone. I mean, where else can you pay so little to witness someone make a complete jackass out of himself in public? The only thing left for this guy to do is to date Divine Brown or attempt to jump the Snake River on a motorcycle.

Krugman is walking proof that an economist is the only profession in which a person can be wrong all the time and never lose his job. He should have told the Times about the elasticity of demand and suggested they pay us to read these hacks.

And an update, via Mickey Kaus:

Calame vs. Krugman: It's taken NYT Paul Krugman only four months to alienate incoming Times ombudsman Byron Calame to such a degree that Calame is taking the argument public, having posted an item complaining that the NYT "Columnist Correction Policy Isn't Being Applied to Krugman." The previous ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, waited until the end of his tenure to do that. ... Krugman must be a joy to deal with! And he'll be in an even less prickly mood next week when he has to effectively offer a supplemental-reading Web seminar on finance to TimeSelect subscribers!

More from Mr. Kaus:

Premium Discontent at the NYT: "No one has argued that we shouldn't do this," says New York Times editorial page editor Gail Collins regarding TimesSelect, the plan under which non-subscribers will now have to pay $49.95/year to read NYT op-ed columnists. Hmmm. One wonders: Has Collins talked to Maureen Dowd? .... P.S.: I actually don't think the Times columnists--Dowd, and Krugman, anyway--will lose their audience the way LAT entertainment critics lost their audience when they were put behind a subscription wall. But that's in large part because Dowd's column, and others, will almost certainly be posted unofficially on various free websites. When the NYT's lawyers shut down one--Dowdster!--another will pop up. That may be why the NYT execs feel they have to also have the columnists do something extra for TimesSelect customers in addition to writing columns. John Tierney is going to run a book club. Thomas Friedman is going to answer his email! Nicholas Kristof will come to your house and bake a cake. ... P.P.S.: It seems to me, though, that the NYT is missing an obvious, lucrative marketing angle. It would be a variant of the idea my college friend Mark had for a Reverse Record Store--you'd go and pay them $11.99 and they'd take your money and use it (along with the $11.99 payments of others) to bribe Paul McCartney to not make an album that year. Similarly, imagine TimesDelete: for $19.95 a month, say, TimesDelete's premium subscribers could vote on one op-ed columnist to take an extended vacation. If more people picked Krugman rather than Brooks, Krugman would get his salary plus a bonus on the condition that he maintain a meaningful silence for several weeks. The race would be tight every month, I should imagine, with Republicans and Democrats trying to outvote each other. But you can't play if you don't pay! I'd say this is surefire, supplemental revenue stream would bring in way more than the puny $20 or $30 million dollars a year the Times might hope to make from TimesSelect, especially if the business model were extended to the news pages. Adam Nagourney--your ship has come in!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Delusions of Tom DeLay

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible. "

My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing. Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

Has "The Distinguished Majority Leader" seen the recent highway bill? The Republicans have been lucky that in the last six years the Democrats have been imploding as a party; that is the only way they have remained in the majority. What happened to the Republican Party of 1994? Have they done nothing but prove Lord Acton's theory that power corrupts?

The words government and efficient are oxymorons, most people understand this, and DeLay's statement is moronic. Is this the face Republicans want of their party; an ethically-challenged controversialist who apparently finds government spending, and waste, only a problem when the opposition is in power?

Unless things change soon the Democrats will be able to run, in 2006 and 2008, as a party of fiscal restraint and sound foreign policy. Who would have thought this was ever possible?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Questions Roberts Won't Get From The Democrats

Sen. Kennedy: "Judge Roberts, let's say a young man from a well-known family is involved in an accident. This young man has a very bright future in, public service, let's say, and someone is hurt in this accident. I'm sorry? Well, killed, actually. And it takes this person a while to report it to the police. How long? Well, let me put it this way, it makes the 18 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon tape seem really short. Anyhow, if this person is really sorry for what happened, I mean, the damage to his career could be tremendous and this person was from a prominent family, but if this person feels badly over what happened, would a suspended sentence be acceptable in such a case?"

Sen. Biden: "Along those same lines, Judge Roberts, let me ask this: Another young man gets a very important job, let's say for the sake of argument 29 years old and Senator, respectively, and some day wants a sort of promotion. In the course of trying to get this promotion, he, well, he sort of borrows from a speech made by someone else in his line of work. It is entirely innocent, mind you. He hasn't broken any laws, has he?

Sen. Durbin: "Thank you for your patience in answering these questions, Justice Roberts. If I might, I would like to play a little word game. I am going to give you the names of four things, and you tell me which one doesn't belong. Pol Pot, a Soviet Gulag, Guantanamo, and Nazis. No, I'm sorry Judge, that was a trick question. They all belong together. I yield back my time."

Sen Schumer: "I'd like to ask a question about me, if I could. About what I think and about what I plan to do. Now if I, Senator Charles Schumer, wanted to do something I really wanted to do, could I? I want to say that Hurricane Katrina was invented by Karl Rove to kill black people. I am protected by the First Amendment, aren't I? I really want to know how this might affect me, personally. And since you are under oath, you have to admit that I am a handsome man. I mean, look at me! I thought you would agree with me, after all, I am right! But really, enough about me, we are here to ask you questions. Mine is this: what do you think of me? And if I might ask, could the camera remain on me while Judge Roberts answers the question?"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mike Brown Is Out At FEMA

Good. Now the Bush Administration has an opportunity to appoint someone with, um, experience in disaster relief and terrorism response.

Be Careful What You Ask For

It has been said that perhaps the most important decision a President can make in domestic policy is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice. This is undoubtedly true, particularly in this time of judicial hegemony. With the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist and his decision to nominate John Roberts as Chief, President Bush now has the opportunity to nominate another jurist to the highest court in the land. It seems clear that the "institutional Left"; People For The American Way, MoveOn, NARAL, and on and on and on, will oppose anyone selected by Bush. More troublesome for the White House is opposition from its political base.

The Washington Post has a story about the pressure being applied to Bush from the Right regarding the nomination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, whom they fear is not conservative enough. They recall the nomination of David Souter by Bush's father and most decidedly do not want another unpleasant surprise. In the past Republicans have not had a stellar track record of choosing Supreme Court Justices who remain "conservative", and Souter is just the latest instance in a group that would include Earl Warren, Harry Blackmun and current Justice John Paul Stevens. It is not as if such fears are unfounded. On the other hand, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, is waiving of the White House on Gonzalez, claiming it is "too soon" to nominate him, whatever the hell that means.

And yet since the travesty of the Robert Bork hearings, subsequent Presidents have been effectively forced to choose a nominee with an obscure, or ideally non-existent, judicial provenance. Setting aside partisanship for a moment, as well as whether it had any basis in fact, Ted Kennedy's "Robert Bork's America" speech was powerful political theatre.

So what we have now are "stealth" nominees who, not without reason, are disinclined to engage in intellectually vigorous debate. This is a consequence of ideology overwhelming the advice and consent privileges granted the Senate by Article 2, Section 2, and this is true of the tactics by both parties. What we need is a fair hearing for all Federal court nominees that afford a potential judge or justice an opportunity to discuss their judicial philosophy without fear of being "Borked".

By "fair hearings" I mean the type of shameless self-aggrandizement that is apparently indispensable in becoming a Senator. What is the over and under on the number of questions asked to actually determine an answer a Senator wants to know? My guess is three to five. (And I hope that a couple of them relate to Kelo.) The rest will be something along these lines:

Sen. Leahy: Judge Roberts, it is good to have you here today. Now isn't it your plan, in the first week on the bench, to overturn Brown and Roe? Furthermore, have you stopped beating your wife?

Sen. Cornyn: Judge Roberts, I enjoyed our breakfast of apple pie and discussing our mothers, Now onto pressing matters, what are your thoughts on puppies?

There isn't a member of the Senate who doesn't know how they are going to vote. Everything else is just window dressing and that is too bad. But it is, after all, politics.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What Color Is The Sky In Mayor Nagin's World?

Tim Russert, for my money the most fair-minded and tough interviewer on television, shows why Mayor Nagin of New Orleans still just doesn't get it.

Nagin is a little more generous to President Bush than he was in earlier rants but lays into Governor Blanco for the state response, all the while still (deftly) refusing to take any personal responsibility for the failures and shortcomings of the preparation for the hurricane and the immediate response afterwards.

Particularly galling is his assertion that he will lead the effort to re-build and that only New Orleanians will have any say in the manner in which it is rebuilt. This is a statement of almost unbelievable hubris and ignorance. If the Federal government is going to pour an estimated $100 billion into rebuilding the areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina, local officials are going to have to take a backseat to the professional grandstanders, members of Congress. Secondly, if the taxpayers are going to subsidize this effort, Mr Mayor, then you bet your ass we are going to have something to say about how the city is rebuilt. If you choose to do it unilaterally you better call Bob Vila.

My God, we all know by now that Mike Brown was unqualified to be the head of FEMA, how the hell did Mayor Nagin get elected in New Orleans?

Four Years

The Washington Post has an article in today's paper about how the anniversary of the September 11th attacks may, in time, fade in our collective memory and become a "holiday" like Memorial Day. I think that won't happen.

The unfortunate reason is that the war against terrorism has no end in sight. Every previous war America has fought, even in Vietnam, has had an end of victory, armistice, or withdrawal. In the current conflict, victory, if it is even possible in the true sense of the word, will take a generation at best. The other two outcomes, armistice or withdrawal, are simply incompatible with a desire to remain a free people.

It was four years ago today that America was jarred out of its post-Cold War reverie. It took our country less time, from 1941 to 1945, to defeat the Axis powers in a global war. Our current conflict will not resolve itself quickly or as definitively. The war on terror resembles the struggles against Communism in the decades following the Second World War, with the notable exception that the Soviet Union was a monolithic power that could be deterred from attacking America. This is not the case in our fight against the murderous fanatics that have targeted innocent civilians in New York, Washington, Bali, Madrid, and London. The list could go on. The sad fact is that the only way the memory of 9/11 will fade is that if it is replaced by an attack of greater barbarity and evil and therein lies our remembrance and, equally important, the lesson, of this anniversary.

UPDATE: This via ABC:

Sept. 11, 2005 — In an apparent Sept. 11 communiqué broadcast on ABC News, an al Qaeda operative threatens new attacks against cities in the US and Australia.
"Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, God willing. At this time, don't count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion," the tape warns. "We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators."