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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Topic: The Law

Two Days Out: Wednesdays with the Church Lady

By midweek, Wednesday, October 5, you'd think things would have settled down about the nomination of Harriet Miers for the open seat on the Supreme Court. Conservatives would have realized what Karl Rove does to people who don't do the pope thing with President Bush - you know, agree on infallibility as a given. In two days they should have come around. But they didn't, and that ate up all the space in the news and commentary.

There was enough other news.

The Shiite dominated parliament in Iraq changed the rules for the upcoming referendum on the new constitution, cleverly assuring there was no way it would not be approved, then, after the Kurds and Sunnis cried foul, and even the UN weighed in saying that would kind of, sort of, make the whole thing a farce, they said that the old rules would do just fine. That's all explained in the Associated Press story here. Busted! Ramadan started Monday night and things should have settled down over there, but that's a Shiite thing and we got this: Ramadan bomber kills 26 at Shi'ite mosque in Iraq - and that was at a funeral thing for someone killed in an earlier bombing.

But things are going well, as the president said in his radio address just a few days earlier, that Saturday morning thing - Iraqi security forces had "more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country." Cool. But there was that Tuesday press conference, four days later where we got slightly different numbers, with "there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops… There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead." Let's see, a full battalion is about six hundred folks. Twelve thousand disappeared? He's not good at math? Whatever. And after he met with the Generals the next day - Pace and Petraeus - we got this - "I was also pleased to hear there are 3,000 Iraqi forces [taking part in an offensive in western Iraq]. Over 30 percent of the Iraqi troops are in the lead on these offensive operations." What's going on here?

The week before, two other Generals - Abizaid and Casey - had told Congress that there was actually one Iraqi battalion able to take on the insurgents on its own, as an autonomous force. Yeah, they admitted they had said there were three, but it was just one. Sorry about that.

But you have to trust the president. There's been good progress. He says so, and just pulls numbers out of his ass and smiles. He knows no one will check. The press doesn't do that sort of thing. So we have 139,000 or 149,000 troop there? You see both. So far 1,942 of our people have been killed, and ten in the first five days of October. We're spending a little under six billion a month on the effort. But who is counting?

Other news? The Tom DeLay indictments and the story around it just get stranger, as the Associated Press reports:
Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men's causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist recently charged in an ongoing federal corruption and fraud investigation, and Jim Ellis, the DeLay fundraiser indicted with his boss last week in Texas, also came into the picture.

The complicated transactions are drawing scrutiny in legal and political circles after a grand jury indicted DeLay on charges of violating Texas law with a scheme to launder illegal corporate donations to state candidates.

The government's former chief election enforcement lawyer said the Blunt and DeLay transactions are similar to the Texas case and raise questions that should be investigated regarding whether donors were deceived or the true destination of their money was concealed.
Yes, when Tom DeLay had to step down because he had been indicted, the house Republicans named Roy Blunt majority leader to take his place. Geez.

What else? There's Larry Franklin - Pentagon Analyst Pleads Guilty in Spy Case - and it seems he passed a whole lot of classified information to Israel, the Likud Party, and to pro-Israel lobbying groups here. He admitted it. Ah well, at least they caught the spy in Dick Cheney's office - Espionage Case Breaches the White House - the FBI and CIA calling it the first case of espionage in the White House in modern history, a Marine from New Jersey who had worked for years stealing anything top secret that might help overthrow the government in the Philippines. Yep, things are tough over there. You could look it up, but no one does, as there is more than enough bad news to go around.

Really, there is. See Hard-hit New Orleans will lay off 3,000 workers (no residents now, no businesses now, so no tax base and thus no money) or CIA Chief Refuses to Seek Discipline for 9/11 Officials (everyone makes mistakes and that's old history) or Lindsay Lohan in Car Crash (the paparazzi were chasing her just down the street from here and she ran her new, big black Mercedes convertible head-on into a van, but she's fine) or Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes Expecting Baby (some people shouldn't reproduce).

Good news? There's this:
The Republican-controlled Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects, delivering a rare wartime rebuke to President Bush.

Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.
This is a rider to a spending bill on the war, sponsored by John McCain, who knows a bit about abuse of prisoners, from personal experience. But it won't survive in the House. Bush has his guys there, and the White House has said Bush advisers would recommend the president veto the entire bill over the legislation. He gets to do what he wants. But he has never vetoed anything, so one never knows.

Underlying all this is the Fitzgerald investigation of who in the White House had the bright idea of revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent to get back at her husband for embarrassing the president when he exposed a bit of fibbing about Saddam trying to build nuclear weapons. Late Wednesday, October 5, see US officials brace for decisions in CIA leak case, and set that against this bit of gossip:
I just talked to a source who told me that Karl Rove has been missing from a number of recent White House presidential events - events that he has ALWAYS attended in the past. For example, Rove was absent from yesterday's presidential press conference to promote Harriet Miers. These are the kind of events Rove ALWAYS attends, I'm told, yet of late he's been MIA each and every time.

My source tells me that the scuttlebutt around town is that the White House knows something bad is coming, in terms of Karl getting indicted, and they're already trying to distance him from the president.
Well, the man has kidney stones - so this may mean nothing.

Besides, all anyone is talking about is Harriet, making the rounds in the senate doing some chitchat with the folks before the confirmation hearings. The two major newspapers of record, the New York Times and Washington Post, the morning of Wednesday, October 5, front page how she's now "the church lady."

The Times tells us that when she was a partner in a Dallas law firm, she "felt a void in her life." After long conversations with a colleague and with her sort of boyfriend, Nathan Hecht, she decided to accept Jesus as her savior and be born again. She was baptized right away - and she became a Republican just about the same time. Of course. The Post tells it differently - this conversion came when she listened to a speech by a surgeon. Afterwards that, she told Hecht, "I'm convinced that life begins at conception." Hecht, now a Texas Supreme Court justice, said to the Times that she's still pro-life, but "You can be just as pro-life as the day is long and can decide the Constitution requires Roe." That's not helpful. The Post also tells us the folks at her evangelical church like her enthusiasm for all that born again stuff, but she can't sing a lick - "Let's just say she makes a joyful noise unto the Lord."

Don't know what she'd do on the bench, and she can't sing. But she was "born again" (something didn't take the first time?) - so now what?

The president said she'll be just fine, Tuesday, in that press conference. One: "I know her character, I know her strength, I know her talent, and I know she's going to be a fine judge." Two: "It's one thing to say a person can read the law - and that's important ... But what also matters is the intangibles. To me a person's strength of character counts a lot. And as a result of my friendship with Harriet, I know her strength of character."

He mentioned "character" at least eight times. One thinks of what he said about Vladimir Putin in June 2001 - "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country?"

That worked out, didn't it? (Some folks don't think it did.)

Well, that how the man makes decisions.

But not to worry, James Dobson of Focus on the Family says Harriet Miers will make a great Supreme Court justice. He's been telling all his radio listeners, who want abortion banned and gays to go away and America to be solely Christian, that there's something else going on. Don't worry. She's with "us." But he won't say how he knows this. As he told the New York Times here, he's been to the White House and talked with Rove and the gang, and "some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about."

Colorado Senator Ken Salazar is oddly upset with that. He says if Dobson knows some secret about Miers, he should share it everyone, particularly the senate who has to advise and consent on this nomination, or perhaps reject it - especially if Dobson heard some super-dooper secrets straight from the White House. "It seems to me, all of the [information] the White House knows about Harriet Miers should be made available to the Senate and the American people. If they're making information available to Dr. Dobson - whom I respect and disagree with from time to time - I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. senator."

Ha, ha. You don't get to know! You'll find out everything once you confirm her.

But wait! There's more! Dobson, on his Wednesday, October 5th radio show, has a change of heart and says he's waiting for "a sign from God" as to whether he should endorse the woman. Apparently he just realized Karl Rove isn't God. -
He said "There is so much in the balance [with this nominee], there is no way to put it into words." Because of that, Dobson is begging the Lord: "If this is not the person you want on that Supreme Court, all you have to do is tell me so, and do it through any means you want to."

He finally then discussed why he is supporting Miers, saying "I can't reveal it all, because I do know things that I'm privy to that I can't describe, because of confidentiality." He then states that Miers "is a deeply committed Christian" and that people who know her have all told him that "she will not be a disappointment."

"I believe in trusting this president and this time because of the stand that he has taken and the way he has implemented it consistently for four and a half years. When you put that with all the other information that I have been able to gather - and you'll have to trust me on this one - when you know some of the things that I know, that I probably shouldn't know, that take me in this direction, you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, why I have said why I believe that Harriet Miers will be a good justice."

He then states, "if I have made a mistake here ... the blood of those babies that will die will be on my hands, to some degree. And that's why is has weighed so heavily on me."
Poor guy! All these things he knows that he probably shouldn't know! All those dead almost-babies if he didn't fully understand all the super secret stuff Rove and the fellows told him about this woman!

Yeah, it's almost comical.

What's not comical was the seminal column in the Washington Post midweek from George Will, "the" conservative to a lot of people, even if his prose style is turgid and condescending and oh so "intellectual." The man is not happy.

That means he's operating from this thesis: The president "has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution."
It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.
George Will is cold. The leading Republican voice just called his president, who he has supported, lacking in the will or, even worse, the ability to make judgments of any consequence. He said the man just doesn't think.

On the other end of the conservative spectrum, the last person you'd call intellectual at all, the reactionary Phyllis Schlaffly, with a livelier prose style, is just blunt: "Bush is building his own empire without regard for the conservative movement or the party."

The man who was senate majority leader before he said those odd things about how he agreed with Strom Thurmond about "nigras," Trent Lott, on MSNBC is also unhappy - Miers is "clearly" not the most qualified person for the job, and there are "a lot more people - men, women and minorities - that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is." On the far, far right, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback added something about how the president's promises about Miers' "heart" aren't enough to assure him that she's "sufficiently conservative" on social issues.

Brownback and Dobson, of course, want a "reliable vote." So do Phyllis Schlaffly and much of the right. They would support the confirmation of Harriet Miers if they got assurances, and maybe Dobson has, that no matter what the evidence and arguments presented before her in session, she will vote against abortion rights and gay rights and all the rest. They want nothing to do with someone who considers the merits of any given case.

So, is she the one? No one knows.

There's a lot of agony on the right here.

Over at the National Review, editor-at-large of the National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg, has this to say:
Conservatives, I thought, were supposed to believe ideas have consequences, that American institutions - chief among them the Supreme Court and the Constitution - have specific and organic roles to play in the culture which depend on intellectual honesty, opposition to cant, and a dispassionate rejection of the politicization of the law. The reliable vote argument - absent other rationales - runs counter to all of these. This becomes obvious when you imagine a Democratic President appointing a confidante with few obvious credentials for the Supreme Court. A president Kerry could hardly convince any of us that his pick should be confirmed because she's a reliable vote.
Wow. He said that? He wants someone who listens and thinks and considers the evidence and the statutes and the precedents and the constitution and THEN decides what's right? He is on the other side of the right, as is George Will.

You see the opposing forces here - shall well have "a dispassionate rejection of the politicization of the law," or shall we embrace complete politicization of the law, to save America from the fags and sluts and the ungodly?

The Democrats can sit back and watch the debate. But maybe they should join in.


Footnote on Jonah Goldberg:

What he says above is fine, but does one forgive him for this?

Posted by Alan at 21:23 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005 21:45 PDT home

Topic: World View

Our Man in Paris: Strike of the Week

Last weekend, in his regular "Our Man in Paris" column for Just Above Sunset, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, covered a very odd labor dispute in France. See Sailing Off with a Whole Ship, and the Question of Corsica - and yes, the disgruntled workers took the ship, and the authorities took it back, and Corsica is a dangerous place, even with native-son Napoleon long gone from the scene.

At the end of the column there was a link to a news item that there was to be a nationwide strike in France, Tuesday, October 4, to demand public sector pay-rises and to protest new labor laws.

There was, and Ric was on the scene with a brief note and exclusive photos that evening.

Here's the full story:
PARIS - Wednesday, October 5 - As usual, the exact results of yesterday's national protest against the government of France are unclear. As usual there is an argument about the numbers of protestors. The CGT union 'provisionally' estimated that 1,147,290 demonstrators marched in 150 towns and cities. Only 470,000 was the guess of the national police.

The demonstrations were organized by all of the unions in France. Their members were protesting against the government's economic and employment policies, and against falling or stagnant purchasing power. Yesterday's action followed a change of government leadership and was a virtual re-play of a similar day of mobilization earlier this year on March 10.

As usual the parade in Paris began at the Place de la République. A half hour after its beginning the leaders were within sight of Bastille, filling the wide boulevard, followed by hundreds of thousands rather than tens of thousands claimed by police counters.

Not quite as usual, marchers carrying banners and protest signs included many private sector employees rather than just public workers. French employees of British Air were taking part in their first protest. As an all-union affair, it appeared as if all were represented, including leftist political personalities and civil rights associations.

A BVA poll published on Tuesday indicated that 72 percent of the French thought the day's protest justified, with 25 percent opposed. The same poll found that 62 percent did not view the government's economic policies with favor, a figure actually up seven points over a similar opinion poll conducted when Jean-Pierre Raffarin was prime minister.

The same poll also revealed that confidence in the economy and with the unemployment situation is low, with 75 percent of the French being doubtful about both.

Yesterday's labor action included many transport strikes in Paris and other towns and cities. Passengers, in interviews for TV-news, applauded the effect of 'minimum service.' This is a measure whereby the SNCF and the RATP 'guarantee' enough service so that commuters can come and go.

From a Parisian viewpoint, service was about the same as on any other 'total' strike day - roughly 50 percent. As a result some Métro lines in Paris were operating a near-normal timetable, but other lines were spotty. Outside of Paris bus service disappeared completely in some areas.

In one way yesterday's labor actions may have been a semi-failure. Announced long in advance, during a time when employment and working conditions deteriorated, just matching last March's score for demonstrations and strikes might not have sent a forceful enough message.

Afterwards Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said, 'I hear the message that the French are sending us. The whole government hears the message.'

The general secretary of the powerful CFDT union group, Fran?ois Chérèque, reminded all that this was the fourth all-union demonstration this year, adding, 'which shows that nobody is listening.'

At today's cabinet meeting to discuss the political situation, minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy found it necessary to excuse himself because of a headache. UMP members who support Dominique de Villepin said they could not imagine the political significance of it.

On the left side of the chamber Socialists wondered if Monsieur Sarkozy desired to quit the government in order to campaign for president.

Meanwhile there continue to be slightly less than two million unemployed in France while more are being laid off daily. The budget is overly creative, the estimate for growth is overly rosy, and the affair of who will own how much of the SNCM ferry service between the Côte d'Azur and Corsica is still in suspension.
The photos:

Photo One: The Leaders

Photo Two: The Parade

Photos Three and Four: Flares and Smoke

Photo Five: International Participation - British Air

Photo Six: International Participation - Local 9423 of the Communications Workers of America ("The Union for the Information Age"), from way out here in California - from San Jose, actually. Read their resolution again the war in Iraq here.

Photo Seven: Those with no papers being harassed -

Photos and Text, Copyright © 2005 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Posted by Alan at 14:15 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Photos

Topanga Canyon - Its Own Place

This may be the heart and soul of Los Angeles, in an odd way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005 - from Hollywood, drive west on Sunset to the sea, then north at the very edge of the ocean on Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu and turn right on Topanga Canyon Road. Drive far up into the mountains on a twisting road with sharp drops into nasty, deep gorges if you're is not careful. Then the community of Topanga, about six thousand residents, and home to those who play by their own rules - once the blacklisted in Hollywood, then counterculture types (Neil Young, Jim Morrison), now a mixture of folks who won't ever give up the hippie thing, the rich, the famous and the eccentric. Topanga - an old Shoshonean word that can also be used in reference to the sky or heaven. A sense of the place in a new photo album here - thirty-eight shots for your amusement. Selected shots will appear in Just Above Sunset this coming Sunday, in much higher resolution.

A teaser - a flying stucco pig near the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum -

Posted by Alan at 13:24 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005 13:27 PDT home

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Topic: Breaking News

France Stops, America Helps

Last weekend, in his regular "Our Man in Paris" column for Just Above Sunset, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, covered a very odd labor dispute in France. See Sailing Off with a Whole Ship, and the Question of Corsica - and yes, the disgruntled workers took the ship, and the authorities took it back, and Corsica is a dangerous place, even with native-son Napoleon long gone from the scene.

At the end of the column there was a link to a news item that there was to be a nationwide strike in France, Tuesday, October 4, to demand public sector pay-rises and to protest new labor laws.

There was, and Ric was on the scene with a brief note and these exclusive photos -
As of 18:30, today's anti-government demonstration parade is still marching through Paris to the Place de la Nation. I caught up with it before it reached Bastille, after its launch from République.

Radio news is saying Paris is seriously scrambled - east Paris at least - and is mentioning 'hundreds of thousands.' Other strikes were held today throughout France, with a big turnout mentioned for Marseille.

Will get the 'score' from tonight's TV-news. If they have one.
Photo One: The Leaders

Photo Two: The Parade

Photos Three and Four: Flares and Smoke

Photo Five: International Participation - British Air

Photo Six: International Participation - Local 9423 of the Communications Workers of America ("The Union for the Information Age"), from way out here in California - from San Jose, actually. Read their resolution again the war in Iraq here.

Photo Seven: Those with no papers being harassed -

Posted by Alan at 16:59 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005 17:15 PDT home

Monday, 3 October 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

The Call It Stormy Monday - For Good Reason

Monday, October 3 - both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan began at sundown, and it was "Labour Day" in Australia and in Germany the "Day of German Unity" (ironically enough). Gore Vidal turned 80, Chubby Checker turned 64, Tommy Lee turned 43, and Ashlee Simpson turned 21. Quite a day.

In the political world it was just more strangeness, of an almost subatomic kind. The four properties of the quark - one level below the proton, neutron and electron as you recall - are "up-ness, down-ness, strangeness and charm." Theoretical physicists call these "flavors." And it was that kind of day, with the emphasis on strangeness.

As for "down-ness," in Texas, the House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, who had been forced to resign after being indicted for some sort of criminal conspiracy by a grand jury there, was indicted by a new grand jury on a new charge of money laundering. And it was the first day this new grand jury met. Ah well, the new charge is essentially the same - conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through various front organizations. You can read about it here and here, but what's the point? A felony indictment is a felony indictment.

Yawn. A bad week for the Republicans stretches into a second bad week.

On the bright side (up-ness), for the Republican folks, it was the famous "first Monday in October" and the Supreme Court began its new session, with John Roberts assuming his seat at Chief Justice. He was sworn in and the legal arguments proceeded. Dahlia Lithwick, one of the clearest writers on such matters, said he did just fine, in The New Kid: John Roberts' First Day at School, as he announces oral argument in IBP Inc v. Alvarez and Tum v. Barber Foods Inc where the issue is a number of consolidated appeals about whether the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees (in this case in the meat-processing industry) be compensated for the time they spend doffing and donning protective clothing and walking to their workstations. Whatever. "So, how does Roberts look in the chief justice's chair? As though he were born to it, quite frankly." Poor guy.

Of course the big news was the other vacancy on the court, and Bush nominated Harriet, but not Harriet my cat. This would be White House counsel Harriet Miers, a sixty-year-old little-known Bush aide - Bush's personal lawyer when he was in Texas not the White House, once a city councilwoman, once head of the Texas state lottery, and back in 1968 the woman in charge of making sure all those charges about Bush ducking service in the Texas Air National Guard didn't get out of hand. She started at the White House as his secretary, screening his papers, and seems to have fallen upwards. She seems to have been a pretty good lawyer, but she was never a judge, so there's no "paper trail" where you can look at her decisions and see how she'd perform in the big game. She's never been in the game at all. This qualifies as "strangeness."

Harry Reid, leader of the senate Democrats, apparently recommended her to Bush. Reid says nice things about her. Heck, there are records of her contributing to Democratic politicians, like Al Gore. Oh my!

On the right, the "social conservatives" (ban abortions, get the gays off the streets, prepare for the return of Jesus), were ticked off. They felt betrayed. She has no anti-abortion record at all! Oops. She has no pro-life record at all!

Conservatives in general were ticked off. This was supposed to be the big deal - the swing seat on the court where Bush repaid them all for their support. Roberts was bad enough - all intellectual and almost overqualified and so very careful and thoughtful. They didn't want thoughtfulness. This time they wanted action.

They got a cipher.


Bush Nominates Harriet Miers to High Court (ABC News)
Critics question Miers' experience - (MSNBC - Brian Williams)
Conservatives decry nomination, saying Miers' views are unknown (San Jose Mercury News)
Opinions Spreading Like Wild On Miers (CBS News)

That last one is interesting, as it surveys a lot.

Everyone is citing super-neoconservative center-of-everything William Kristol saying this in the flagship Weekly Standard:
I'm disappointed, depressed and demoralized.

... What does this say about the next three years of the Bush administration - leaving aside for a moment the future of the Court? Surely this is a pick from weakness. Is the administration more broadly so weak? What are the prospects for a strong Bush second term? What are the prospects for holding solid GOP majorities in Congress in 2006 if conservatives are demoralized? And what elected officials will step forward to begin to lay the groundwork for conservative leadership after Bush?
In the historically conservative National Review, founded by no less than William F. Buckley, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, the man who thought up the phrase "Axis of Evil," says this:
The Supreme Court is exactly the place where the president should draw the line. The Court will be this president's great lasting conservative domestic legacy. He has chosen to put that legacy at risk by using what may well be his last Supreme Court choice to reward a loyal counselor. But this president, any president, has larger loyalties.

And those to whom he owed those loyalties have reason today to be disappointed and alarmed.
Even the "lock up any and all Muslims in America" Michelle Malkin is unhappy:
It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony "diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste. If this is President Bush's bright idea to buck up his sagging popularity--among conservatives as well as the nation at large - one wonders whom he would have picked in rosier times. Shudder.
Yipes! There's more at the link.

Another collection here noting these conservatives:

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters with this: "Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn't even look like the best female candidate for the job."

Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy with this: "As far as I can tell, she has no particular experience or expertise in any areas of law that the Supreme Court is likely to consider in the next twenty years; she has no history of having thought deeply about the role of judges in a constitutional democracy; and she is a complete unknown among the parts of the DC legal community that will now be considering her candidacy for the Supreme Court."

At the liberal Washington Monthly, Amy Sullivan says this: "It's possible that with a six-week bar review course, any of us would be more qualified than Harriet Miers to sit on the Supreme Court. Bush chose hackery."

Does no one like this pick?

Well, Hugh Hewitt says we just have to trust the president on this, and John Dickerson here sees some support:
Already there are signs that the social conservatives may be more enthusiastic than the reaction of professional inside-the-Beltway conservatives would lead you to expect. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, has already moved to support Miers, a faster nod than he gave to Roberts. The evangelical community murmurs that Dobson based his endorsement on those who have known Miers for 25 years at the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. Her fellow parishioners bore witness to her evangelical faith. Marvin Olasky, a key influence in shaping Bush's faith-based initiatives, reported a similar review of her personal devotion on his blog. The emerging message seems to be: She's one of us and she's with us on abortion. Now if she can just avoid saying that to the Senate and speak in complete sentences, she will be on the court in no time.
Not if Pat Buchanan can help it. He's says he's a real conservative, not one of those neoconservative nut cases calling for war here and war there on the ideological theory of the week, nor is he a "rapture" Christian.

His take? Try this:
Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day - to name his personal lawyer.

In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him, Bush may have tossed away his and our last chance to roll back the social revolution imposed upon us by our judicial dictatorship since the days of Earl Warren.

This is not to disparage Harriet Miers. From all accounts, she is a gracious lady who has spent decades in the law and served ably as Bush's lawyer in Texas and, for a year, as White House counsel.

But her qualifications for the Supreme Court are non-existent. She is not a brilliant jurist, indeed, has never been a judge. She is not a scholar of the law. Researchers are hard-pressed to dig up an opinion. She has not had a brilliant career in politics, the academy, the corporate world or public forum. Were she not a friend of Bush, and female, she would never have even been considered.

What commended her to the White House, in the phrase of the hour, is that she "has no paper trail." So far as one can see, this is Harriet Miers' principal qualification for the U.S. Supreme Court.
He says this appointment says a lot about Bush. He "capitulated to the diversity-mongers, used a critical Supreme Court seat to reward a crony, and revealed that he lacks the desire to engage the Senate in fierce combat to carry out his now-suspect commitment to remake the court in the image of Scalia and Thomas. In picking her, Bush ran from a fight."

He pretty much calls Bush a coward, and says the conservative movement "has been had - and not for the first time by a president by the name of Bush."

From Kevin Drum's collection at Political Animal, two of the many he cites, and these two are from the conservative National Review:
John Podhoretz: I think this was a pick made out of droit de seigneur - an "I am the president and this is what I want" arrogance.

Peter Robinson: What people see in this is the Bush of the first debate, the Bad Bush, the peevish rich boy who expects to get his way because it's his way.
Oh man. This is not going well.

But note this:
... here's one negative analysis from a lawyer who is a conservative Christian and worked with Harriet Miers in Texas (I agreed to go off-the-record with this lawyer, a credible person whose practice could be seriously hurt by this criticism of Miers): "Harriet could have become a conservative in Washington, but unless she did, she doesn't have any particular judicial philosophy? I never heard her take a position on anything? We'll have another Sandra Day O'Connor? Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's known. She's a pretty good lawyer?. This president can be bamboozled by anyone he feels close to. If a person fawns on him enough, is loyal, works 25 hours a day and says you're the smartest man I ever met, all of a sudden you're right for the Supreme Court."
Fawning works. "Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's known." She doesn't get around much, does she? Well, I'm sure my cat Harriet feels the same way about me, but Harriet-the-Cat has a very small brain.

Well, Harriet-the-Supreme-Court-Nominee does have her moments. From the LAW.COM profile -

- She is immensely, perhaps irrationally, into birthdays: "She always remembers everybody's birthday, and has a present for them. She'll be finding a present for somebody in the middle of the night.... 'Can't it wait until next week?' 'No,' she'd say, 'It has to be done now.'"

- She has dated Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht "over the years."

- She's nit-picky micromanager who failed upwards at the White House: "She failed in Card's office for two reasons," the [former White House] official says. "First, because she can't make a decision, and second, because she can't delegate, she can't let anything go. And having failed for those two reasons, they move her to be the counsel for the president, which requires exactly those two talents."

- Not even the president can think of much interesting to say about her: In 1996, at an Anti-Defamation League Jurisprudence Award ceremony, Bush introduced Miers as a "pit bull in Size 6 shoes," a tag line that has persisted through the years, in part because colorful anecdotes or descriptions about Miers are notoriously difficult to find.

Yes, the DC gossip blog Wonkette is on the case: "We're not even that excited about the possibility of her being gay." But she is obsessive-compulsive, and dull.

Perhaps the Rove team will bring all these unhappy folks on the right back into line. Rove can be mean. You don't mess with him. But, so far, the natives are restless. And Rove has been busy with other matters.

Well, it's a strange world, only made stranger by this from Reuters, Monday, October 3 - "Irish rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono are among the bookmakers' tips to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, alongside more orthodox candidates like campaigners against nuclear arms or a peace broker for Indonesia."

Wait - file that under "charm." That covers all four flavors.

Posted by Alan at 21:36 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 21:43 PDT home

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