|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, August 05, 2005
This just in by urgent e-mail from a friend
In light of the recent security alerts in London, the French government has announced within the last hour that it has raised its terror alert level from 'Run' to 'Hide'. The only two higher levels in France are 'Surrender' and 'Collaborate'. The rise comes only days after a fire which destroyed France's only white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the nation's central military capability.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
John Roberts is a Catholic, and that is an issue for some people. Catholicism was an issue for a lot of people in the United States in the 1850's, when the Know-Nothings were riding pretty high.
But shortly before the Know Nothings, in 1836 to be exact, Roger Taney became the very first Catholic to serve on the United States Supreme Court. He was appointed as its Chief Justice by President Jackson. It was about 60 years until another Catholic joined the Court, so the Know Nothings may have had quite an effect.
Taney served until 1864 - and was the author of the majority opinion in the notorious Dred Scott case, which helped to ignite the Civil War. Dred Scott was decided in 1857, the same year in which Taney's wife and youngest daughter died of yellow fever. Most historians of the Court agree that Taney is one of the Court’s great Justices, despite having authored that opinion.
If John Roberts is confirmed he will be the 10th Catholic to sit on the Supreme Court. The others are:
Roger Taney, chief justice 1836-1864
Edward White, 1894-1921; chief justice 1910-1921
Joseph McKenna, 1898-1925
Pierce Butler, 1923-1939
Frank Murphy, 1940-1949
William Brennan Jr., 1956-1990
Antonin Scalia, 1986-present
Anthony Kennedy, 1988-present
Clarence Thomas, 1991-present [converted after joining the Court]
If Mr. Roberts is confirmed, 40% of all of the Catholics who have ever served on the Court will be probably be serving simultaneously on the day he takes his oath of office.
Journalistic Curiosities(0) comments
Writing in OpinionJournal's Political Diary, a daily e-mail service not available on the net, John Fund perceptively notes:
It's a safe bet that the kind of story that Washington journalists cover least well is one in which they play a starring role. That helps explain why the reporting in the Valerie Plame scandal has been so myopic and limited ... What's more, the audience is left with the suspicion that many journalists "reporting" on the scandal know more of the truth than they're telling their readers and viewers. .... Isn't it about time that the Beltway media turn ever so slightly away from their obsession with Karl Rove and ask a few questions about journalists involved in the Plame story who are not named Robert Novak?I completely agree. Such questions should be asked, and with a very healthy and heavy dose of skepticism directed at such Nonvaks. Currently, the audience is not left just with the suspicion that many journalists "reporting" on the scandal know more of the truth than they're telling their readers and viewers. The audience, if it is paying attention, is left with the impression that many of those same reporters are employing seriously misleading language and playing cute rhetorical games, starting with TIME magazine's Matt Cooper (see here and here and here, for example). New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has been laughably elliptical and disingenuous in discussing his reporter, Judith Miller. And what is known about the Plame affair suggests strongly that Washington reporters routinely grossly exaggerate the extent of their nameless leaks. A single "I've heard that, too," seems to effortlessly become "Senior White House sources noted ..."
And there's worse. Remember Howard Fineman's central role in the Plame matter? I can hardly remember myself. But as I noted not so long ago, a 2003 Web article by Howard Fineman purported to provide some backstory for the Plame affair explain why the White House might have considered it particularly significant that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA:
I am told by what I regard as a very reliable source inside the White House that aides there did, in fact, try to peddle the identity of Joe Wilson's wife to several reporters. But the motive wasn't revenge or intimidation so much as a desire to explain why, in their view, Wilson wasn't a neutral investigator, but, a member of the CIA's leave-Saddam-in-place team.Have we heard much of Mr. Fineman's "inside story" or his theory or of him in the Plame matter recently? How about his book deal - since he has the "inside scoop?" How about the White House "aides"(note the plural)? Has Mr. Fineman disgorged his infomation to the special prosecutors or is he now sharing a cell with Judith Miller for refusing to do so with Newsweek's support? Answer: None of the above. All of which strongly suggests that Mr. Fineman knew and knows nothing special.
[UPDATE: More possible disingenuousness from the Nonvaks is noted by Kausfiles (channelling Maguire):
[Tim] Russert may have gone beyond simply remaining silent and actually misdirected the public, allowing NBC to suggest, with its Luskinesque denial, that he didn't tell Libby anything about Plame.More reasons why parsing Mr. Russert's casual offerings (or those of Messrs. Cooper or Fineman) is a waste of time. If one wants to make something of Mr. Russert, place him under the journalistic equivalent of an oath and ask close, precise questions in a context in which he cannot later claim he was "speaking informally" or the like.
Of course, before Bill Clinton ran for president the particular brand of skepticism being practiced here by Kaus/Maguire wasn't even thought necessary. In the years B.C. (Before Clinton) the mainstream media did not broadly consider "misleading by material omission" of a type prohibited in the public securities context by SEC Rule 10-b-5 to be acceptable, clever and even "brilliant" in the national political context. But the mainstream media got very comfortable with accepting and advancing such manipulative devices in its coverage of Mr. Clinton and his people. Now the mainstream media includes some of the major practitioners of the dark art among it's top Washington reporters, editors and columnists! Charming.]
Mr. Fund is right on target. And there is a second-order conclusion that derives from his analysis: Carefully collecting and analyzing the fine structure of what is being reported about the Plame/Rove/Wilson matter is a fool's errand unless one enjoys sniffing red herrings willfully dragged across one's path by journalists involved in the Plame story who are not named Robert Novak (Nonvaks). For example, some quite reasonably ask whether Plame "authorized" her husband's Niger trip or merely "suggested" it - but then go to Nonvak transcripts and articles for answers or evidence. Please. Lots more of that kind of labor is being performed. The laborers should save the time, memory chips and bandwidth. It would be more profitable and productive to sip a margarita by the pool.
One could do worse than to read the extensive New Yorker magazine article on the life and hard times of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and contemplate how it came to be that such a remarkable man, almost a unique man, has assumed such a starring role in the Democratic Party. Read the whole thing, but here are some choice passages:
Yes, it's a remarkable man, almost a unique man, that the Democrats of the Senate have chosen as their leader. How many United States Senators have physically beaten their future father in law to the ground? - or physically struck any relative? - or wanted to kick their own well-wishers in the shins? How many Senators who have lost a brother to alchoholism have only been seen by one of their closest aides to cry at the death of a boxing coach and political mentor? How many law school students think their dean has an obligation to bail a student out of the consequences of a failed auto transmission? How many Senators take violent exception to something that appeared on the competing party's web site right to the President, and then not bother to check to see if the offending passage is deleted - while continuing to complain to reporters about it? How many Senators could dismiss an entire class of judicial nominees as "all unqualified", even though many of them received "well qualified" ratings from the leftish ABA? How many Senators repeatedly call a president a "liar," including for merely taking a decision that the president says is based on "sound science" - without citing a shred of evidence that the president didn't believe that? And how many Senators who say they are O-so-interested in judicial precedent don’t know that the Supreme Court has squarely articulated in its own opinions the standards it follows (or at least says it follows) in considering whether it should overturn one of its own precedents? (Contrary to Sen. Reid’s apparent understanding, the Court’s standards – as set forth in the Court’s own precedent - are not the same for every type of precedent.)
While the story is not yet completely told, it now looks as though Mr. Roberts will be confirmed, much to the frustration of most activist Democrats. And it also looks as though the Gang of Fourteen agreement will play a significant role in assuring that confirmation - and, most likely, future Bush appointments to the Supreme Court, too. So Harry Reid seems not to have done so well in that deal, after all - although he worked for it behind the scenes.
Yes, it's a remarkable man, almost a unique man, that the Democrats of the Senate have chosen as their leader. Vain, violent, ignorant, insecure, vindictive, small minded, corrupt, emotionally bitter and incoherent, ineffective, insightless and unwilling or unable to suppress his own petty feelings for the good of the nation or his colleagues. A man who seems to believe that the world owes him a living and hasn't yet paid out enough in dividends and interest. Why did the Senate Democrats elevate him to be their leader?
That's a secret; and that would be telling.
Man Without Qualities is the Featured Blog of the Week at Conservative Friends.
Monday, August 01, 2005
An astute reader e-mails about this correction by the New York Times to an earlier Times story that included a nasty quote from an unnamed source. The correction includes this bizarre assertion:
The Times's policy does not permit the granting of anonymity to confidential news sources "as cover for a personal or partisan attack." In fairness the quotation should not have appeared.My astute reader observes:
Is it possible to name one leak in the Times which doesn't fit one of these two rubrics? Oh, sure, the occasional whistleblowing saint, of course, but those never get The Times in hot waterÂ? only "personal or partisan attack[s]."Can it be that the Times really fails to understand that the nameless leaks it exploits - especially in the political arena - are overwhelmingly provided by people engaged in a "personal or partisan attack?" How witless can the Timespeople be?
Aside from understanding that its supposed "policy" is hugely honored in the breech, the Times shouldn't care if a nameless leak is motivated by a "personal or partisan attack" in the first place. Such a motivation may be grounds for requiring extra verification of the leaker's assertions. But the Times should be in the business of broadly reporting facts and news because that is what the Times leads its readers to believe the Times is in fact doing. If some newsworthy fact happens to be lobbed into the Times' possession as part of a nameless "personal or partisan attack," and that fact can be adequately substantiated, then I say - and the Times' readers expect that - laissez les bon temps rouler! For example, Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," is widely believed to have been motivated by a desire to launch a really nasty "personal and partisan attack" - but just as widely believed to have benefitted the country with his unattributed information stream. But the Times' says its alleged "policy" would prevent it from including Mr. Felt's contribution unless he had agreed to be named. Who at the Times is writing this stuff?
In sum: It appears that the Times fails to understands its own policy, its own business and its own readership. Trifecta.
It is unceasingly amazing just how lacking in insight and self-understanding the Times has become. I have to believe that at some point in the past the people running the Times were actually aware of what they were doing when they built the paper into a hugely influential machine. But that time has long past. The current crop of Timespeople resembles some bizarre version of Eloi and Morlocks.
MORE (AND A LITTLE DIFFERENT): From Hoystory.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
... it isn't like running with Bill.
That's what the Man Without Qualities is increasingly convinced Hillary Clinton and many of her denialist supporters are going to have to find out the hard way. For example, the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization described in some guileless quarters as consisting of "influential [Democratic] party moderates," has named Sen. Clinton "to direct a new initiative to define a party agenda for the 2006 and 2008 elections." That appointment most clearly reflects the now well-documented dwindling to near nothingness of the "centrist" wing of a party whose official leaders are the anything-but-centrist Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Howard Dean. But to Hillary's supporters like Ron Brownstein, the appointment shows that Hillary, too, has become "moderate:"
[T]he appointment solidified the identification of Clinton, once considered a champion of the party's left, with the centrist movement that helped propel her husband to the White House in 1992, to present herself as a moderate on issues such as national security, immigration and abortion.Mr. Brownstein is not alone in puffing hot air into the balloons said to have transported Sen. Clinton's closer to the winning center. Jacob Weisberg, for example, proves that he should write Hallmark Valentine cards with But Why Can't Hillary Win? - an amazingly misdirected Hail Mary airily dismissing all obstacles to Sen. Clinton's path to the White House. For Mr. Weisberg no excuse is too insubstantial to counterbalance a possible Hillary Clinton negative. For example, suppose one argues that she seems now to oppose more free trade, citing her "no" vote against CAFTA - where 11 of her fellow Democrats (including Sen. Jeffords) had the guts to vote "yes"? Some observers see CAFTA's Congressional close shave as a sign that protectionists have captured the Democratic mainstream and the Congressional Democratic naysayers. (UPDATE: John Fund reports on OpinionJournal.com that Democratic leaders are especially mad at two Black Caucus Members from the same New York that Sen Clinton purportedly represents, Edolphus Towns and Gregory Meeks, for voting aye on CAFTA in the House.) But for Mr. Weiss it's no problem: Despite her pandering vote against CAFTA, [Sen. Clinton is] a confirmed free-trader. Well, now that you've explained it that way, Mr. Weisberg .... (Mr. Weisberg does admit that the Senator is not "likeable" - apparently her one real obstacle in his judgment.)
One could go on through a longish list of obstacles that Mr. Weiss (and others with similar agendas) either misstate (thereby avoiding the obstacle-making issue) or dismiss with silly counter arguments. But what about the big enchilada, Sen Clinton's putative abortion rights reach-out? A few months ago, marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Sen. Clinton gave a speech that the ever-obliging New York Times covered under the headline "Clinton Seeking Shared Ground Over Abortions." Since then, many of her fans (and some who are not her fans at all) have proclaimed her supposedly brilliant move, including William Saletan in a particularly risible Slate article, Safe, Legal, and Never:
Clinton isn't trying to end the abortion war. She's repositioning her party to win it. .... Clinton recalled. "In China, local government officials used to monitor women's menstrual cycles and their use of contraceptives." In both cases, "the government was dictating the most private and important decisions," said Clinton. "With all of this talk about freedom as the defining goal of America, let's not forget the importance of the freedom of women to make the choices that are consistent with their faith and their sense of responsibility to their family and themselves."Of course she didn't say "never," she said "not ever have ... or only in very rare circumstances" - which is just a bloated and less memorable restatement of Bill's old "safe, legal and rare." Mr. Saletan's willfull misquote seems a particularly egregious example of the Senator's fans hearing only what they want to hear. But for the moment set aside Mr. Saletan's curious aphasia and his equally curious adoption of the new Democrat faith that magic words will set them free (and put them in office), and consider instead a major detail of the big picture: President Hillary Clinton and the Supreme Court. The bottom-line question: Is Hillary Clinton suggesting that as president she would not impose a pro-Roe v Wade litmus test on her Supreme Court picks? Is she saying that she would adopt standards for such picks that would be substantially different than those of her husband, Al Gore or John Kerry? Candidate Bill Clinton declared: "I hate to have any litmus tests, but ... I would want to know that Roe v. Wade would be secure." He later noted, "I'm pro-choice and I would expect to make appointments accordingly." He clarified even that with: "I wouldn't appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who didn't believe that there was in this Bill of Rights ... a constitutional right to privacy" (which of course includes the right to abortion). We now know that this formulation led Mr. Clinton to appoint two Justices of adamantine faith in Roe v Wade. An "outreaching" Hillary Clinton would have to take a different approach.
As a Senate candidate she was anything but "outreaching":
My position is clear: as a member of the United States Senate, I will not vote for a nominee to the Supreme Court who would oppose Roe. I believe a woman's right to choose as stated in Roe vs. Wade is a fundamental, constitutional right, and therefore, it will be fundamental to how I view nominees ... The most important vote to protect the right to choose that will be cast by the United States Senate will be the vote to confirm justices to the Supreme Court. I will vote to support Roe when it counts, in choosing nominees to the Supreme Court.Rumors now abound that Sen. Clinton is considering voting to confirm John Roberts, who almost certainly would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. But Sen. Clinton is the high priestess of political trial balloons, and these rumors probably represent nothing more than her advisors inflating and releasing a predictable bunch. Her own statements regarding Mr. Roberts are mostly noncommital, but full of liberal codespeak for hostility to the nomination:
I look forward to the Committee's findings so that I can make an informed decision about whether Judge Roberts is truly a guardian of the rule of law who puts fairness and justice before ideology.No deference to the President expressed there! Will Sen. Clinton's supporters allow her to vote to approve Mr. Roberts even if she is so inclined? That's highly unclear - and a vote for Mr. Roberts in the Senate would still be far from a repudiation of a Roe litmus test by a President Hillary Clinton. But a Senate "yes" vote would be consistent with her "outreach" effort, where a Senate vote by Sen. Clinton against Mr. Roberts would be strong evidence that her "outreach" effort won't even get off the ground politically.
What to do? What to do? I haven't seen anything on the Clinton/Roberts question coming from the Senator's media supporters, such as Messrs. Brownstein, Weisberg and Saletan. It's not hard to imagine reasons why. They're probably waiting to see if those trial balloons get shot down.
UPDATE: Michael Pollard at Scrutineer does a great job of getting into the numbers documenting Sen. Clinton's very liberal voting record, as recognized by just about every outfit that monitors Senate voting, regardless of the outfit's own political cast. Her overall Senate voting record is another important obstacle that must be ignored or misstated by her supporters even as they quietly rely on it to hold the Senator's uber-liberal political base together while she's out on her "moderate" peregrinations. Of course, most of the mainstream media and other Democratic apologists had no trouble construing the records of Kerry-Edwards as "centrist" despite voting numbers very much to the contrary. A substantial portion of the same group had no trouble at all passionately arguing that Republican attempts to disabuse the public of the "centrist" impression Kerry-Edwards was desperately trying to present were just lies, lies and more Republican lies! (Hey, boy, don't look at that Senate voting chart too long, it will hurt your young eyes!)
Of course, there is lots of evidence that the influence of the mainstream media has continued to shrink since the last election. So the "liberal-vanishing-trick" will likely be somewhat harder to pull off in 2008 than in 2004, when the trick didn't work, and vastly harder than it was to pull it off in 1992, when it did work. Heck, in 1992 the mainstream media helped the Clintons put Gennifer Flowers back in the hat, and she was telling the truth and had the tapes to prove it. Try that kind of thing today and the blogosphere would erupt like Krypton in the last days of Jor-El. But Hillary and her supporters seem determined to give it a try.
One Man's Attempt At A Frank Assessment Of Democrat Lassitude:
On the home front, Bush is again blessed with weak adversaries. The top Democrats - Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean - have not proven particularly effective in rallying the "loyal opposition."
There's not much room for a "centrist" in the current national Democratic Party described by Mr. Pinkerton. So how much room is there for an "outreaching" Hillary Clinton, at least if the "outreach" goes beyond harping on the magic words that ultimately mostly just embarrass the Democrats who fall for this phony non-solution? There appears to be exactly one Democratic Senator who is at least arguably an actual centist - and the trick of making Joe Lieberman the vice presidental candidate has already been tried and didn't work. But even Sen. Lieberman had to cave in and humiliate himself by abandoning many of his core positions, including those pertaining to education, to satisfy those party activists.