Friday, October 28, 2005

The Pernicious Effects of McCain-Feingold

I've long been of the opinion that the press should have been the biggest opponent of restrictive campaign finance laws, in part because they have the most to lose. Once politicians and groups can be restricted in their campaigns, press censorship is the necessary next step.

That is apparently what is going on in Washington state where a county judge ruled yesterday that a radio talk show host's remarks against a Seattle-area gas tax were an "in-kind" contribution to a campaign against it.
Comments made by radio talk-show hosts this past summer supporting anti-gas-tax Initiative 912 should be considered in-kind political contributions, a Thurston County Superior Court judge reaffirmed Wednesday.

Judge Chris Wickham also found that the I-912 campaign had complied with his ruling by reporting the contributions to the state and closed the case.

The ruling was called a blow to free speech by the law firm representing the I-912 campaign, which is seeking to overturn a 9.5-cent-a-gallon increase in the state gas tax. They vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"Campaigns and media figures are going to have this in the back of their heads. 'Am I too close to this, am I talking about this too much? Should I be having lunch with this guy from the campaign?' " said William Maurer, executive director of the Institute for Justice Washington Chapter, which represents I-912 in the case.

Others, however, say Wickham's ruling was narrowly focused and does not infringe on free-speech rights.

"We did not ever want to be in a situation where anyone felt that their speech was limited," said Michael Vaska, a Seattle attorney who helped bring the case. "We just wanted people to have the right to know who was paying for this campaign."

I don't think the day is too far away when a media outlet will be sued for being biased. It's a shame it will turn out this way because it didn't have to be considering that there hasn't been any public demand for "reform." (Via Michelle Malkin.)

Dennis Hastert, Blogger

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert just launched his blog, Speaker's Journal. This makes him the highest-level public official to start one.

IBM Agrees to Sell Sun's Solaris

The computer hardware and software businesses have seen some strange bedfellows of late (Apple switching to Intel processors, Corel pledging to support an open-source document formats, etc.). That continued yesterday as hardware giant IBM announced that it will begin offering its customers Sun's Solaris Unix operating system. The development is significant because IBM has long made its own version of Unix and is also a big proponent of Linux.

I can see some potential profit in this for Sun but it does absolutely nothing to clarify its business plan which has been an absolute mess of contradictory offerings and changes of plans. Could this deal be a foreshadowing of things to come for the company?

Plamegame Not Likely to Yield Rove Indictment

It's old news by now (read Josh Marshall's summary if you're not up on it). I only bring it up because the whole Valerie Plame Wilson scandal has become such a farce and continues to get more ridiculous every day. It's unfortunate that the special prosecutor was put into a situation in which the focus of the investigation seems to be to justify its own existence.

Congress is the place where alleged political misconduct should be investigated. As it is now, both the admin and the prosecutor's office are leaking like sieves about a supposed leak investigation. Instead of fighting a proxy battle through the press, the admin and its opponents should be doing it the old-fashioned way, in a Capitol Hill hearing room.

How Miers Went Down

National Journal's Hotline has a nice piece (for subscribers only, alas) on how the Harriet Miers nomination ended. Fortunately, for those who don't pay, the site made available an excerpt on its blog, which I now shamelessly will reproduce below:
The tipping point came within the past several days. GOP Senators privately communicated to WH CoS Andy Card that unless they had access to hard evidence that Miers was conversant in constitutional issues, there was no way she would be confirmed. Her performance in private meetings was weak, at best, these senators told Card. Throughout the day yesterday, says a senior Senate aide, there were "conversations throughout the day at the staff level." Late yesterday, Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called Card and told him in no uncertain terms that Miers would probably not be confirmed. An aide: "He provided frank assessment of situation in the Senate. [The] lay of land on committee." After that call, according to White House sources, Bush and Card met privately with Miers, and they decided jointly that preserving WH privilege on documents was too important a principle to risk. Miers officially informed Bush at 8:30 pm ET. As late as 8 p.m., one White House aide said the WH counsel's office was rushing to finish a revision to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. (It arrived after 11:00 pm ET). Word began to spread through conservative Washington last night. The White House office of political affairs notified allies at about 8:30 a.m ET this morning but swore them to secrecy until the White House released the President's statement.
Good reporting from what I've heard. Though the use of "tipping point" is really starting to become a cliché.

Competancy issues and an uncertain record were the main factors behind the failure of the nomination. The WH failed to sufficiently vet Miers's record and now it's paid a huge price. In retrospect, we should have seen something like this coming since President Bush seems averse to certain aspects of the presidency such as nominations and vetos. That only John Ashcroft and Colin Powell have been the only major cabinet secretaries to quit during Bush's second term is a good indication that the administration is not sufficiently open to revisting its approach to things.

Related: Miers's exit sets Senate calendar haywire.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Pulls Out

Looks like the rumors that were floating around last week about Harriet Miers being dropped were correct. President Bush announced moments ago that she has withdrawn her nomination:
President Bush on Thursday accepted the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, according to a statement from the White House.

In the statement, Miers said her nomination presented a "burden for the White House."

Miers, the White House counsel, was nominated earlier this month by President Bush to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the high court.

On Wednesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed the suggestion that senators have been reluctant to come out in support of Miers because they are unimpressed with her as a nominee.

"I think you're seeing a lot of members of the Senate saying, 'We want to hear what she has to say in the hearings,' before they make a judgment," he said. "With Harriet Miers, there are many in the Senate that simply did not know her previously, although she is widely respected within the legal profession."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Will Bush Pull Miers Nomination?

The Washington Times has been talking with some people who seem to think so:
The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times.

The White House denied making such calls. [...] A second Republican, who is the leader of a conservative interest group and has ties to the White House, confirmed that calls are being made to a select group of conservative activists who are not employed by the government.

"The political people in the White House are very worried about how she will do in the hearings," the second conservative leader said. "I think they have finally awakened."
I think it's likely that a Miers pullout scenario is being floated just as a contingency. But contingencies often have the habit of becoming realities. It's doubtful President Bush would yank the nomination without Miers's consent, though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Specialist Who Spammed Me

As someone who never really supported the Iraq war but who also thinks press coverage of it is often inaccurate and simplistic, I was surprised when I received the following comment:
I was referred to your blog. I think I have a helpful resource that you can use for your readership. US Central Command has a website,, with the latest news and photos from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It features the “hard to find” stories from the Middle East, as well as an interesting “What extremists are saying” section. You’re welcome to use any materials you find on our site, please just include the standard attribution to CENTCOM.

You can also sign up for the weekly electronic newsletter and monthly Coalition Bulletin at signup.asp. If you’d like me to subscribe you, just ask.

Lastly, if you could include a link to CENTCOM, that would be appreciated.
All the best,

Spc Richardson
US Central Command Public Affairs
Who knows if this really was from CENTCOM. I'm apparently not the only one who's received it, though. If it is real, it's extraordinarily stupid. Comment spamming is the quickest way to get a blogger to hate your site.

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Dobson's Choice

Well whaddya know? The FreeRepublic posts I cited earlier regarding the process behind how Harriet Miers was tapped to be the supreme court nominee turned out to be correct information. Almost three days before evangelical leader James Dobson confirmed the reports. If you're a reporter (or blogger even) who isn't read forums, you should start.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Miers Update

Instead, for 30 years, Hecht and Miers — President Bush's Supreme Court nominee — have nurtured a kinship that has entranced and confounded their closest friends. They are traditional conservatives content in a modern, nontraditional relationship, one that leaves plenty of time for their true love, their work, to take center stage."

'I think they thought seriously about getting married,' said Dallas commercial litigation attorney Brady Sparks, who lived across the hall from Hecht in law school and has been friends with Hecht and Miers ever since. 'They both decided that it just wasn't in the cards for the agenda they both wanted, and that was to do about three lifetimes worth of work in one lifetime.'
Freeper GarySpFc:
When Miers was first nominated I contacted my best friend who is pastor in Dallas. I asked him if he knew anyone who was familiar with Miers. It just so happens his father has known HM since she was elected to the city council. He stated even back then she frequently stated, 'We need to refer back to the city charter.' She also said, 'Our courts have gone too far and left the Founders intent.' Hecht has also stated she reads her Bible like an originalist.

Would she vote pro-life? Hecht is simply being careful in his statements so as not to predjudice the Senate agains Miers. My buddy stated Valley View Christian is THE LEADING EVANGELICAL CHURCH in the Dallas area, and VERY PRO-LIFE....THINK FUNDAMENTALIST. Hecht has also stated Miers is pro-life. She is also very active in her church, and teaches and works on the missions committee, which also works with pro-life groups.
American Spectator:
It appears that conservatives' long simmering distrust of moderate chief of staff Andrew Card has been confirmed with the nomination of Harriet Miers.

Sources inside the White House say Card in several meetings literally shouted down opposition to Miers during the vetting process. "Harriet was his pick all the way up 'til the President jumped on board wholeheartedly," says a White House staffer. "This was not a Rove pick or Laura Bush pick. It was Card's pick." [...]

The natural question will be to wonder, "Where was Rove?" But sources inside the White House say Rove was not distracted by other issues, or overloaded with work. Rather, he was simply one of several voices speaking to the President. In this case, perhaps, he wasn't the last to be heard.
David Frum:

More talking over the weekend to more conservative lawyers in Washington. It is hard to convey how unanimously they not only reject, but disdain, the choice of Miers.

Another told me of a briefing session to prepare Miers to enter into her duties as White House Counsel. A panel of lawyers who had served in past Republican White Houses was gathered together. After a couple of hours of questions and answers, all agreed: "We're going to need a really strong deputy."

It's been reported the reason Miers was named White House Counsel in the first place was that she had proven incompetent as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. Her boss, Chief of Staff Andy Card, badly wanted to get her out of his office - but couldn't fire her because she was protected by the president and the first lady. So he promoted her instead.
Freeper Pukin Dog:

Information was shared with me on Saturday, which described in no uncertain terms that Harriet Miers stands as the only nominee on Bush’s list which has any chance of confirmation by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The reasons for this are numerous, and would be embarrassing to the Conservative movement should one or many of the ‘stars’ who we hoped Bush would select be shot down in Committee, which again, if true, would be a certainty.

More than one of the persons we might have wanted made it clear to the President that they would not accept his nomination if selected. You can draw your own conclusions as to why, but the only hint I will provide is that data mining works too damn well these days. What we saw back when Clarence Thomas was nominated would seem like a walk in the park, compared to what would be done to some of our most popular jurists.

Our Democrat opponents have been quite busy, especially after John Roberts embarrassed them, searching for any information that would allow an open personal attack on a nominee. Sadly, many of the folks we wanted badly would have had their lives destroyed had they attempted confirmation to the bench, and wisely declined. There is no one among us who has not done (or had a family member do) things that we either regret, or would rather keep to ourselves. Because none of us are perfect, it is possible that had one of our choices been selected, we might have lived to regret that day for a very long time.

It's starting to look like this nomination is not only upsetting Bush's conservative base but also starting to cause the famously leak-free White House to spring a few. Who knows how much of the above is true, but I don't doubt some of is.

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CDU and SPD Ink Deal, Merkel to Become PM

I wonder how long this will last:
BERLIN, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Conservative leader Angela Merkel will become Germany's first woman chancellor under a deal with Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) to break a post-election deadlock, sources said on Monday.

Three weeks after voters gave Merkel's conservatives an unexpectedly narrow win over Schroeder's SPD in a federal election, senior sources from both parties said an agreement had been struck that should pave the way for a power-sharing cabinet.

According to a senior SPD source, the SPD is poised to get the foreign, finance, justice and labour ministries in a new coalition government led by the 51-year old Merkel, a pastor's daughter who grew up in the former communist east.

That would leave Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Christian Social Union (CSU) allies with the economy, interior and defence portfolios.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Scalia Says He Didn't Expect to Be Chief Judge

AP report:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday that he had not expected President Bush to nominate him to replace the late William Rehnquist as chief justice.

"I'm not even sure I wanted it, to tell you the truth," Scalia told reporters at a media briefing before a gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

Bush, who had in the past mentioned Scalia as one role model for an ideal chief justice, passed on Scalia and nominated John Roberts after Rehnquist's death.

Scalia said the time he would have had to devote to administering the court as chief justice would have taken away from his thinking and writing. However, he said, "The honor would have been wonderful."

Asked if he knew why he wasn't nominated, Scalia said the reason "is locked in the heart of the president."


Sunday Morning Stuff

NY Daily News gossips George Rush and Joanna Molloy are in trouble for overreacting to FNC reporter James Rosen's clumsy attempt to introduce Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to his colleague, Lauren Green. Upon finding out about the Rosen-Rice exchange, the gossip duo ran with an overheated item all but asserting that Rice and Green were lesbians. Instead of getting a response from Green or someone with whom she works, Molloy talked to a guest booker. D'oh!

Kashmir death toll estimated at 18,000. Will it bring peace to the region as both Hindus and Muslims were hit?

Britain's Roman Catholic Church says not all parts of Bible should be considered reliable. This isn't exactly news since many in the church (liberal and orthodox) have long said stated this. It raises the question, though, if somene claiming to be inspired by God may declare some portions of the Bible to be inaccurate or allegorical (in this case portions of Genesis, Matthew, and Revelations), what's to stop others from disbelieving other portions? Literalist religions avoid this problem, thus making them, however paradoxically, more rational from an organizational point of view.

MSNBC's "Situation with Tucker Carlson" gets its first real buzz when failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork condemns current SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers as a "disaster."

Via his New York vantage-point, WSJ columnist James Taranto reports something I've picked up among DC conservatives: there is a tremendous sense of anger and betrayal at the Miers pick. I'll go out on a limb and say that the only way the President Bush can get his base back is to do something about immigration, especially since Democrats are starting to see its value as an issue. Related: A reminder just how far ahead Senate Dems came out ahead during the recent filibuster fight.

From the life-imitating-fiction department: Seattle cops criticized for patronizing prostitutes before arresting them, one of the longer-running gags on the Comedy Central improv hit "Reno 911."

Anonymous French blogger behind Le Journal de Max asks readers to buy his book so he can reveal his identity. The blog has become sort of a "Dilbert" of the much-smaller French blog community, mocking the absurdities of office life with a dry, spare wit.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hot Christian Porn--Or Not

Apparently, tomorrow is National Porn Sunday. However, it's not quite what the name sounds, even if the site marketing it is called and bills itself as "the no. 1 Christian porn site." In truth, the site is a project of two Christian ministers, Craig Gross and Mike Foster who think porn is pernicious.

The event is built around a screening of an indie documentary film called "Missionary Positions." Interestingly enough, though, the director, Bill Day, isn't especially against pornography as he said in an interview with ABC News.

"The style of the films I make is that I'm not so much interested in what's on the placard, I'm more interested in the guy holding the placard," Day said. "What gets him out of bed in the morning when the going gets rough? It's more of a human story. I think that's why the churches like it, because it shows the struggle."

The pornography industry has for years been probably the best innovator in using new technology and marketing theories, it looks as though its religious critics may finally be catching up. is pretty slickly designed and even offers a podcast. Porn Sunday is smashing from a marketing perspective although I'm certain many American congregations won't be taking part, especially since the movie has an "R" rating. Initially, Gross and Foster weren't allowed to show their film in congregations.

I wonder how long it will be before pornography is turned into another tobacco? Or will that even be possible?

In a possibly inversely related story, Laura W. blogging at Ace of Spades observes that environmentalists are upset that the Mexican government is using a sexy model in an ad campaign designed to save sea turtles.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

I Wonder What Bush Really Said?

Reading this BBC press release linked to by Drudge, I'm wondering what really happened in an exchange President Bush reportedly had with Palestinian politicians in which he's alleged to have said that God told him to attack al Qaeda, invade Iraq, and establish a Palestinian state. One hopes it's not accurate. If he did indeed say it, it puts him in a difficult position, admit to something that most people would find strange, or admit that he was merely telling religious Muslims what they want to hear. Neither is particularly a strong position, therefore, one expects the White House to challenge the accuracy of the report.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Turning the Tables on RIAA

Digital Music News reports:
This is the case peer-to-peer file sharers have been waiting for. Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of "outrage", and deceptive business practices.
Details of the complaint at link above.