Thursday, October 06, 2005

Latest Honour Killing in Britain

This one has a twist though. The girl fled the country so they killed the boyfriend instead. Wizbang says this is a sign of progress among Radical Islam. In a very backhanded way I have to agree. Why is it always the women (who have no power in the Islamic world) who get killed or raped or ostracized when a man and woman voluntarily do something that offends their 8th century sensibilities?

LGF pointed me to the article in the UK TimesOnline. It is worth a read.

FBI/Whitehouse Spy

The NYT is, of course, covering the Philippine spy (HT: RantingProfs)

Peggy Noonan on the Miers nomination

As usual, Peggy Noonan ("The Miers Misstep", OpinionJournal) says much of what I am thinking and feeling but does so in a much more elegant and well written way. Love that woman. I wish she would run for something and that I could vote for her.

Boston Traffic

This is another reason I would never live in Boston. (HT: Wizbang)
After an extended chase, several Boston police officers on bicycles caught some teens joy riding.

Wizbang on paternity

In Who's your Daddy?, Wizbang points out that many men who have been paying child support are now finding out that they are not the father. This creates a moral problem.
Many of those men who accepted a woman's word and paid child support for years have had niggling suspicions that they were not truly the child's father, and in quite a few cases have gone to labs to confirm or deny those suspicions. And that leaves us to the obvious question: suppose a man has been paying court-mandated child support for years, then finds out another man is the father. What should be done?

It's a hell of a tough question. The justice side of me says he ought to be released from further payments, and the mother should repay him for the child support she had received. The law-and-order side of me wants the woman charged with fraud. The compassionate side of me worries how this will affect the child, as they suddenly lose the man they thought of as their father and their support.

I would add here that several states have laws that say that if the couple was married at the time, the man is responsible for support irrespective of the child's lineage. I would also offer a fourth, and my personal favorite, solution to the problem. The state should force the mother to give them the list of possible candidates. Once the actual father is found, he is responsible to pick up the ongoing tab. The mother who lied is responsible to pay back half of all illegitimate payments. If the real father has means he is responsible for the other half.

In any case, it is immoral to continue to force the falsely accused father to pay. In places where that is the law, the law should be changed. We don't want to hurt the kids but we have to make individuals responsible for their actions, including lying to a man about whether a baby is his.

more on the N.O. busses

Wizbang has their best bit of original journalism in a while here. There were more busses that weren't flooded and weren't used. Interesting and sad.

Another story that says nothing

This AP story on nominee Miers tells me absolutely nothing useful. Go read it and then come back.

First, I am not sure that her choice of church is all that relevant. It could be interesting background given that she had to make a choice to stay with the existing group or follow the split-off group. Why did the group split off? Everything potentially useful is in the first paragraph as far as I can tell.
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is among a group of congregants of a Dallas evangelical church who recently broke away due to differences over church rules and worship styles.

Which church rules and on which side is the group the nominee chose? There is also a statement from a friend who claims that she believes life begins at conception. That may be very interesting to some but I see know reason to believe with her, as with Chief Justice Roberts, that personal beliefs will necessarily translate into judicial actions. I hope it does not for either, or any other judge. Isn't that the point of being a strict constructionist?

more on the Oklahoma bomber

This story continues to get worse and continues to be ignored by the MSM. RantingProfs hits the media incompetence on it. Jon Dougherty at WND hits the story again today.
The student who blew himself up outside a packed Oklahoma University football stadium Saturday night tried to buy large quantities of ammonium nitrate – a key ingredient in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing – the week before, according to a new report.
Furthermore, Hinrichs was a roommate of a Pakistani student,
In the spring of 2005, Hinrichs moved into university-owned apartments, where witnesses reported seeing him visit the Norman mosque Moussaoui attended.

The fact that he had a Pakastani roommate is not, in and of itself, damning. Couple that with visits to the mosque that Moussaoui attended, an attempt to buy a bunch of nitrate, having significant quantities of explosives and jihad materials in his house and blowing up with a volitile explosive 100 yards from a full football stadium. It adds up to us getting pretty lucky this time to me. It certainly sounds like a recipe for a whole bunch of people getting killed or injured.

Richi on the CNN stupidity

Richi picked up my post on the idiocy of the CoSG in the prisons. He lives there and picked up an important thing I missed. I have been caught doing the "stupid American" thing and transposing England and Britian in my head. I appologize. I wonder if CNN will? :-)

Thomas vs. Miers

Many are suggesting that the Miers nomination is similar to that of Justice Thomas. I would have to agree that many at the time felt there were more qualified candidates than Justice Thomas. That said, Justice Thomas was a Yale grad (as a black conservative that is a significant accomplishment). He led the EEOC which produced more than its share of political controversy which he defended masterfully. He was a very outspoken conservative whose views on a number of topics was stated and known. He was very active in the conservative movement, one of if not the most active prominent black person so involved at the time. He had writings that you could look at and decide what he was about. He had a brief but interesting history on a federal court that could be examined. The liberals were out to get him from the beginning.

Where is the similarity to Ms. Miers? I think this comparison is wishful thinking. Justice Thomas turned out to be even more conservative, more constructionist, and a more brilliant scholar and writer than even his staunchest supporters would have believed at the time. We can only hope that there will be such a similarity in this case but the only similarity I see between the two cases thus far is that they are both affirmative action picks. Clarence Thomas argued against affirmative action in his hearings. Will Ms. Miers? Will she state that she thinks Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided? Thomas was attacked because blacks are supposed to blindly support affirmative action (according to the left anyway). Women are likewise supposed to support abortion on demand.

Many people felt that Chief Justice Roberts wasn't as conservative as they would have liked. They looked and said, we could have done better but he is a viable choice. They looked at Clarence Thomas and said, we could have done better but we will support him. They looked at Miers and said this is unacceptable and scary.

Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt and others are arguing that while not one of the better choices we should support this choice. I would argue that unless something awful comes up she will be confirmed, with or without that support. Thus, the argument is irrelevant. Senators in general, and Republican Senators in particular, do not have the spine to stand up and publicly argue that a Presidential crony is unacceptable when they are surrounded by cronies. I fervently hope she does turn out to be another Justice Thomas. If she does and still is 5+ years from now I will come back and apologize and sing her praises from the rooftop. She may turn out to be a better choice than Roberts was, only long history tells the final story. To stay silent because "our leader has spoken" makes the conservative base no better than the liberal one. We are supposed to disagree, learn from it, and move on while trying to do better.

Is this different than Roberts? So far it is. The base accepted Roberts fairly quickly and the lefties only did so after he kicked the Democratic Senators' butts in the hearings. Even then, half, FULLY HALF, of the Democratic Senators voted against an extremely mainstream brilliant man. I predict that Justice Miers will get more votes from them and if not totally, nearly sweep the Republican votes as well. I pray President Bush is smarter than I think he is on this.

In closing on this topic, I do not think poorly of Harriet Miers. She is clearly a competent, accomplished, hard working, loyal woman. Were it not for the fact that her single largest accomplishments occurred under President Bush himself and her record there will and should remain closed, I would have said "this is not a great choice but the President has the authority to have her on the court." I am not attacking her. I just believe that, while commendable, that is not enough for one of nine spots on the court in an era where the courts are continuing to legislate from the bench. I am attacking a single decision made by my President that I continue to disagree with. I similarly disagree with his incompetent policies and lack of enforcement on immigration. I largely agree with his GWOT policies and other things. I still believe we are much better off than we would have been with a (God forbid) John Kerry or equivalent thereof in the White House.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Python and Alligator kill each other

Check out this story:

A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said.
The snake was found with the gator's hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Mazzotti said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach as the snake tried to digest it.


How did we survive?

SlagelRock has a hysterical post similar to others I have seen floating around the Internet for years. Children today do not understand how very different (and better, I think) it was to be a kid 30-60 years ago. Go have a read. If you have kids, think long and hard before you read it in their presence.

Blessing of the animals

Tammy Bruce posted reminding us that last weekend was the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. She posted some interesting pictures of pets getting blessed. I thought I would take this opportunity to try posting a picture for the first time here. If I succeed you will have a picture of Tigger.

Should Britain change it's flag?

From the "you must be joking" file, check out this article from CNN. (HT: LGF)
British prison officers who wore a St. George's Cross tie-pin have been ticked off by the jails watchdog over concerns about the symbol's racist connotations.

Just so we are all on the same page here, a bunch of prison officials have been told that they cannot wear pins (which were purchased as a cancer fund raiser, btw) that display the banner of the patron saint of their nation because a few criminals are offended by it.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, said Tuesday the red cross was an insensitive reminder of the Crusades.

"A lot of Muslims and Arabs view the Crusades as a bloody episode in our history," he told CNN. "They see those campaigns as Christendom launching a brutal holy war against Islam.

OK, a lot of Christians and Jews see the red crescent and the Saudi flag as an insensitive reminder of the Muslim horde invasion of southern Europe. A lot of Christians and Jews see both the Crusades and the invasion that precipitated them as a bloody episode in our history. They see those campaigns as Islam launching a brutal holy war against Jews and Christians.

Read the quoted paragraphs again and then mine immediately below it again, paying attention to how similar they are. I find both statements preposterous. The problem is so many only find mine to be so. Why is that? Why are they allowed to be offended by inoffensive things but I am not? Why can't we just say "grow up" to people like this?
Doyle added that it was now time for England to find a new flag and a patron saint who is "not associated with our bloody past and one we can all identify with."

I would add that I have quarter so you can call somebody who cares.

Hugh still doesn't get it

I listened to part of Hugh's show yesterday and checked his blog this morning. He is missing the point that most of us are trying to make that are offended by the SCOTUS nomination of Ms. Miers. He points to Beldar's post on it who spends most of his post arguing that others are being stuck up because she is a practicing lawyer and not someone who wrote law review articles and appeared before the SCOTUS. He doesn't get it either. I think picking someone that is exceptional but spent his/her time doing "common" law and not high level "appellate" law would be fine. I would imagine that many/most of the conservative lawyers and law professors who oppose her on SCOTUS would too.

A quote from Beldar:
Moreover, the classic meaning of "cronyism" is selecting someone for a position that they're incapable of earning and totally unfit for on their own. If all Harriet Miers had to commend her, as Prof. Barnett claims, is that she's been George W. Bush's lawyer, and if we could find no reason in her record, other than Dubya's friendship, even for her to have held that position, then a charge of "cronyism" might be appropriate.

The classic, and as far as I know, only technical meaning of "crony" is an old and tight friend. The classic application of the term is an old friend who got their job because of that friendship, and only because of it. It does not, as Beldar claims, necessarily mean that they are totally unfit for the job. I am not claiming that. Others are questioning it but it is usually not their main point. What "crony" does mean is that without the friendship in question someone who is more qualified for the job would have gotten it. That is certainly the case with Ms. Meirs nomination. Ergo, it is a crony appointment. Period.

I cannot speak for others but when I have said she is unqualified I do not mean incapable or unfit. I simply mean unqualified. What are the qualifications for SCOTUS? There is many points of view on this. Mine are as follows.

- The nominee should be well versed in the law. Pass.
- The nominee should be in the mainstream (the real one, not the made up one from the wacko lefties). Pass.
- The nominee should be committed to the proper place of the judiciary in our system of government (no legislating from the bench). We think she passes.
- This nominee (because of the promises to the base) should be a strict constructionist. We have no clue but she and the President claim so.
- The nominee should be an exceptional talent that stands out among their peers. FAIL.

Again, there are only 9 of these people. Good enough simply isn't good enough.

The problem I, and others, have is not that we question that she is capable. I assume she is. President Bush is not the smartest guy in America but he is not so dumb as to be President and hire a personal counsel that is not highly capable. The problem is that there are so many who are so obviously much more capable.

From John at Powerline:
Republican Presidents should be known for putting the most highly qualified, brilliant legal thinkers on the federal appellate courts, especially the Supreme Court. If the Democrats want to nominate hacks, that's fine. But the Republicans have a stable of potential nominees who are leaders in the profession and are top-notch thinkers in the tradition of Scalia and Thomas. John Roberts was one, and he is typical of the kind of nominee that the public should expect from Republican Presidents. There were plenty more where Roberts came from. President Bush missed an opportunity to drive home with the public the fact that the most brilliant and most principled thinkers in the legal profession are conservatives, not liberals.

Amen! Aside from her work for the President, which we will likely get to know little about, the woman does not stand out from hundreds if not thousands of other practicing attorneys. That makes it a crony appointment and we should and do expect more.

Taiwan is a part of China

Somebody noticed that the google map lists the island of Taiwan as a "province of China" and the Taiwanese are not happy about it. While I do not agree with the official positions, it is worth noting that the Taiwanese government (ROC), the mainland Chinese government (PRC), the United States, and the UN all officially recognize it as such.

"Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state. Taiwan is not part of China," David Huang, whip for the Taiwan Solidarity Union legislative caucus, told the Taipei Times.

While that is a heartwarming statement that many of us with were true and hope to see made true, it is not the official position of even his own government. They do claim to be an independent state, but one that is a part of "One China". And the claim of true independence is even a bit dicey, "self-ruled" or some such is the official language on that. We do not have official diplomatic or trade relations with them and they are not a member of the UN.

It sucks, but Google is technically acurate and they are now in a pickle. If they don't change it the Taiwanese and most of the free world will be pissed at them. If they do change it, the PRC will make a big grandstand about it. My guess is the latter will happen. It will be interesting to see how much bluster the PRC throws up.

The National Anthem has 4 Stanzas

I didn't know that. If I have ever heard more than the first one I do not remember it. The entire text is here (HT:Trophy Husband). Read it but don't tell any libs. They will want the singing of even the first stanza declared unconstitutional if the see the rest of it :-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Now that we have that piece of business out of the way, I am very disappointed in this choice.

First, it is clearly an affirmative action pick. I don't think you play social politics with something as important as this. Many are upset for this reason. It is not my primary beef. Had I believed that he picked a highly qualified minority or female judge over a more qualified white male I would not have said a peep.

Second, it is cronyism. President Bush has been rightly criticized for putting too many cronies in important positions. Every president in my lifetime has done this far too much, IMO, and President Bush is no exception. But this is the single most important appointment power a President gets. These people have lifetime appointments and there is nobody who can overrule them. Putting cronies on the circuit court or the appeals court is wrong, but there is a difference. The Supreme Court can, and does, overrule them. This makes the potential damage an unqualified or politically motivated lower court judge can do MUCH smaller than the Supreme Court. Randy Barnett has a great post at OpinionJournal about the real reason that Alexander Hamilton supported the Senate "advise and consent" clause. He believed it was to prevent President's from appointing cronies to important positions and wrote so.

Most importantly, I don't think she is qualified. I don't know the lady. I am sure she is a bright and competent lawyer. That is not good enough. Look at the resume of John Roberts and compare it to the resume of Harriet Miers. I don't care how many things she was the first woman to do. I do not make light of the reality of the glass ceiling in some places today and most places in years gone by. But she wasn't the first woman to do anything really extraordinary.

Harriet was the first woman to be hired at one of Dallas's top law firms, the first woman to become President of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas. Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas. In recognition of her achievements paving the way for women lawyers, Harriet's colleagues in Texas have honored her with numerous awards, most recently the Sandra Day O'Connor award for professional excellence.

There is some question of the term "top" in regard to her law firm. Apparently, it was one of the larger firms, but not considered "top" in terms of quality. Put that aside for a moment. She was the first woman to do many of these things in Dallas or Texas. She was not the first woman to do any of these things anywhere in the US. Many of the things she was the first woman to do are not impressive. They are the sorts of things that the really talented wouldn't apply for, such as the Dallas Bar Association President. A make-work job with a title, pure and simple. The only one of the things that she is listed as being the first woman to do that I would consider a boost to her or anyone being an SCJ is to head a law firm. It suggests that she is a capable lawyer who was respected by her peers at the firm. I appreciate and admire the fact that colleagues in Texas have honored her with awards for "being the first woman to...". It must encourage more girls and young woman to set their sites high. Great. Does it support a contention that she would be a good SCJ? Nope.

Let me not beat around the bush about this (sorry, couldn't help myself). There are 9 people allowed to be on that court at any given time. NINE. They make decisions on legal cases that affect all 380 million of us and occasionally billions more around the world. Anyone nominated to 1 of 9 lifetime, unelected, uncorrectable positions in the most powerful country on earth should be more than impressive. You should look at their resume and say "WOW! This person must be really, really smart. This person understands the law and can execute based on that understanding. I would hate to have to debate this person on any legal topic for money." I don't want a good, accomplished lawyer who is a friend of the President and believes that judges shouldn't legislate from the bench. I want somebody impressive to even the impressive among us.

All Presidents should be held to that standard by the Senate. I have seen resumes of folks at a lot of blogs that impress me. They are out there. Some of them are even women and minorities if the President insists on that requirement.

Justice Ginsberg should not have been confirmed. She had an impressive resume and is apparently a very impressive legal mind. She is really and truly WAY out of the mainstream. I don't think the same could have been fairly said about Clinton's other appointment. He was liberal, but he was mainstream liberal. He was qualified and the the President was a liberal, so you vote yes.

Robert Bork should have been confirmed. He was a mainstream conservative who didn't hide that fact. He was and is also one of the greatest legal minds of our time.

Ms. Miers should not be confirmed because she is not qualified given the competition that is out there. She is further, an unqualified crony and that is a good reason for a Senator to vote no. It has been done before but that doesn't make it right.

I wish her well staying in her current job and whatever she does after that. I think that the Supreme Court should be reserved for people that are out of her (and my) league.


According to Jon Dougherty at WND (I haven't found a second source but his article is pretty well sourced itself), the Oklahoma University student who "committed suicide" is more than we were first told. He had a cache of explosives at his house.
Hagmann also said those same sources indicated police and federal agents "had pulled additional explosives from [Hinrichs'] house," including triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, "homemade explosive [that is] very potent but relatively easily manufactured."

So it looks like he was somewhat into it, not just a kid who went over the edge one afternoon. This is bad. But wait, it gets worse!
The confiscated jihad documents "referenced bomb-making manuals and that type of thing," Hagmann said, who added Hinrichs' apartment in Norman, Okla., is "located near the Islamic Society."

This is very, very bad. I was afraid of this when I heard how quickly the FBI took over the investigation (as opposed to assisting, being involved, etc).

How big was the cache?
WorldNetDaily reported earlier that officials carted away a huge cache of explosives from Hinrichs' apartment. Police were overheard telling residents it would take "several trips and could take up to 24 hours" to remove it all, according to the Daily Oklahoman. A canister trailer used for detonating or transporting potentially explosive material was being used to haul items away.

Explosives are usually hauled off in small units to reduce the impact of an unitended explosion, but 24 hours?

Why do spammers spam

Richi wrote a pretty good article with mathmatical estimates that shows the answer to the question and the solution to the problem. Don't get me wrong, these people are somewhere below pond scum on the morality scale, but somebody is clicking the links because I keep getting more and more of it.

Stop clicking on the links. And refuse to buy from companies that you see advertising this way. It is all about the $$ so you have to vote with yours.

On a similar topic, Richi gives us another pointer to another tool to avoid. Challenge/response is not only not a solution to the spam problem, it is another problem that has been created by spam.

Dumping politicos in manure?

WARNING: If you have a weak stomach do not click on the spectacle link here shortly after or while eating.

While I agree with Tammy Bruce that this is an interesting spectacle, I wonder if these people thought about the possible health consequences.

interesting experiment

Vic Fleischer apparently created a group blog that he is getting his law school seminar students posting to. The seminar is on executive compensation which is a somewhat controversial topic in the business world. I will be watching to see the thoughts that come from his students. Professor Bainbridge plans to do the same with his corporate governance seminar next spring. That should be worth a look too.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Michael Barone on....

The Tom DeLay Indictment

The Politics of Abortion

The Casualties of the Iraq War

I will not be arrogant enough to attempt to expound on such brilliant analysis

UN wants to control the Internet

Wizbang points out this good post by Meryl Yourish on why the UN having any control over the Internet is bad idea. It is actually worse than her analysis. There are a variety of reasons why this is a bad idea, some of which she hits on the head. Here is my short list.

1. Constraint of the freedom of speech. By this I mean out and out oppression of certain types of speech. For proof see this LGF article on the insanity of European "sensitivity". Do we really need to ban Pooh and Piglet from the Internet or our places of business?

2. Defamation and Libel laws. We have a different sense of the law in these matters and allowing the UN any control over the Internet could supplant our own laws prohibiting me from declaring that the "President" of Syria is a terrorist and a thug, for instance.

3. Domain Name Registration. We have a privately managed system that is controlled by US law on who can and cannot control certain domains. This system is imperfect but pretty darn good. Can you imagine the EU being in charge of this process? Instead of $8/domain/year it would be $800, with all profits going to Saddam's remaining buddies.

4. Taxes. There are currently no fees in the US imposed by our government for access to the Internet. This is true for dial-up accounts, home broadband, coffee shop access, work access, or use at your local library. Do you think that would remain the case if the UN had any say? This is the only thing I do on a regular basis besides sex with my wife that isn't explicitly taxed. I, for one, would like to keep it that way.

There are more, but this is the top 4 that the average non-geek can easily comprehend. The list gets much longer for those of us who deal with the IETF and other such standard's bodies on a regular basis.

Hugh 2, Libs + MSM 0

Go read the PBS NewsHour transcript of Hugh taking apart the MSM coverage of Katrina and the email exchange between Hugh and the CBS PublicEye Editorial Director, as published by the latter, and explain to me why I should have any respect for the MSM as it is currently constituted.

In case you were wondering

In case you were wondering if the center-left and center-right intersect I offer the following 3 posts from Tammy Bruce:

Tammy on Pres. Bush's spending

Tammy on Pres. Bush's further spending

Tammy on Neville Chamberlain

I rest my case.