ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, October 14, 2005

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Tip of the Hat to the Instapundit

Literal Thoughts has this great post about our venture in Iraq:

Iraq Will Shame Us Again.......
By voter turnout for the Constitutional referendum being even higher than it was in January's elections, and thus higher % wise than any vote we've had in recent history here.

Yes, the title for the post is a play on words-wrought from an argument I had with a very strong dissenter of our foreign policy (nice guy, can't hold his own in a debate, fellow school parent, he's a professor in sociology, enough said?) before, during, and after the January elections in Iraq. He didn't believe me when I repeatedly professed my faith that the elections in January would yield a high turnout despite the fact that much of Anbar province wouldn't vote (heck Fallujah was just barely being rebuilt from November's Ops at that point). When he asked me how high, and I said as high as 70%, he scoffed. After the counts were coming in, and it looked like high 60 percentiles, he said "not quite the 70's% you thought, was it?" I, in turn said, "higher than the turnout for our last election, and any one in recent memory, and we don't have to brave death to vote, rather puts it in perspective doesn't it?"

If there ever was an "every person can make a difference" story, Iraq is it. There are people that have been working tirelessly in and out of the political arena to make things work that have made this compromise come to fruition that will never be known.....except by the way that the next generations get to live....

Is this your view of Iraq? Christians and Muslims make music and friendships in a school band. Because before they are either of those, they are kids first.

Whether a shepherd's son, or city kids, they are the future, and they can hold their traditions and customs while allowing for freedom among them, if only their elders continue creating and keeping the balance in the coming years. They are certainly proving to the world right now that they are willing to give their lives to try to make it work. And many of us are grateful and proud to have been witness to this. Count me among them.

To which I commented:
This is a great post... My brother-in-law returned from service in Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan last night and he knows exactly why he was over there. I know that 20 years from now we'll look back on the transformation of the Middle East as something that would've been such an obvious and worthwhile objective. Unfortunately for the anti-American Leftists, their words and deeds will not be forgotten.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Could it be?

How could this be? (Wall Street Journal - subscription is well worth the $$!) Teachers getting bonuses for their efforts (or, I should say, their results)!?!

How One School Found a Way To Spell Success
October 14, 2005

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --
[...]
About 80% of Meadowcliff's students in the K-to-5 school are black, the rest Hispanic or white. It sits in a neighborhood of neat, very modest homes. About 92% of the students are definable as living at or below the poverty level, a phrase its principal Karen Carter abhors: "I don't like that term because most of our parents work at one or two jobs." [...]

The school's scores on the Stanford achievement rose by an average 17% over the course of one year. They took the Stanford test in September and again in May. Against the national norm, the school's 246 full-year students rose to the 35th percentile from the 25th. For math in the second grade and higher, 177 students rose to the 32nd percentile from the 14th. This is phenomenal. What happened in nine months?

Meadowcliff has two of the elements well established as necessary to a school's success -- a strong, gifted principal and a motivated teaching staff. Both are difficult to find in urban school systems. Last year this Little Rock public school added a third element -- individual teacher bonuses, sometimes known as "pay for performance."

Paying teachers on merit is one of the most popular ideas in education. It is also arguably the most opposed idea in public education, anathema to the unions and their supporters. Meadowcliff's bonus program arrived through a back door.

Karen Carter, the school's principal, felt that her teachers' efforts were producing progress at Meadowcliff, especially with a new reading program she'd instituted. But she needed a more precise test to measure individual student progress; she also wanted a way to reward her teachers for their effort. She went to the Public Education Foundation of Little Rock. The Foundation had no money for her, and the Little Rock system's budget was a non-starter. So the Foundation produced a private, anonymous donor, which made union approval unnecessary.

Together this small group worked out the program's details. The Stanford test results would be the basis for the bonuses. For each student in a teacher's charge whose Stanford score rose up to 4% over the year, the teacher got $100; 5% to 9% -- $200; 10% to 14% -- $300; and more than 15% -- $400. This straight-line pay-for-performance formula awarded teachers objectively in a way that squares with popular notions of fairness and skirts fears of subjective judgment. In most merit-based lines of work, say baseball, it's called getting paid for "putting numbers on the board."

Still, it required a leap of faith. "I will tell you the truth," said Karen Carter, "we thought one student would improve more than 15%." The tests and financial incentives, however, turned out to be a powerful combination. The August test gave the teachers a detailed analysis of individual student strengths and weaknesses. From this, they tailored instruction for each student. It paid off on every level.

Twelve teachers received performance bonuses ranging from $1,800 to $8,600. The rest of the school's staff also shared in the bonus pool. That included the cafeteria ladies, who started eating with the students rather than in a nearby lounge, and the custodian, who the students saw taking books out of Carter's Corner, the "library" outside the principal's office. Total cost: $134,800. The tests cost about $10,000.
[...]
The Meadowcliff program has the support of both Little Rock's superintendent, Roy Brooks, and Arkansas' director of education, Ken James. Superintendent Brooks, who was recruited from the reform movement in Florida, has cut some 100 administrative positions from the central bureaucracy and rerouted the $3.8 million savings back to the schools.

Wow... amazing what happens which you match goals with appropriate incentives. Somehow, people strive to achieve the goal. I know, I know... merit-based pay is evil and the unions are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Oh, and the moon is made of swiss cheese, too... amazing how some ideas from the 19th century are laughed at today, but others seem to persist despite evidence to the contrary.

For my wife, my mom, and all the teachers that I know, I just wish that you could receive the benefit of merit based pay as well. God knows that your efforts are not financially rewarded by your employer. Perhaps, in the model of Meadowcliff, we should seek to make an end-run around the NEA and the district and state bureaucracies to get private donations for bonuses such as this. (I know that large corporations certainly have a vested interest in a highly educated populace given the global economy of today.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Coaching?

Paraphrasing DoD official in this video:

Here are the questions that the President will be asking... he might be asking a few more than this to. If it's on a topic that you're not familiar with, give it to this captain, okay?

Coaching? Don't think so...

This is coaching:
DoD Official: Question 1 will be "How're things going with the Iraqis?" and then you respond with "Mr. President, everything's going great... it's wonderful over here!!"
Got that?

Soldier: Yep.

DoD Official: Question 2 will be... [etc, etc]

If coaching truly was the aim, the it's unlikely that there would be a possibility that Bush would've strayed from the questions... it would have been scripted. In fact, even if the DoD official had said, "here's question 1, what's your response?" I would not consider THAT to be "coached."

But, hey. if you want to call it coaching, go for it. I expect no less from the side that suspects that the BFEE or the Mossad were behind 9/11. (BFEE = Bush Family Evil Empire)

And, for the reaction of someone who actually participated in the event, click here.
Speaking with President Bush

Yesterday, I (bottom right corner in the picture) was chosen to be among a small group of soldiers assigned to the 42ID's Task Force Liberty that would speak to President Bush, our Commander-in-Chief. The interview went well, but I would like to respond to what most of the mass-media has dubbed as, "A Staged Event."

First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.

We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it's the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.
We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn't choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us. I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, "So...What's REALLY going on over there?" Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It's like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it's not.

Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January's elections to this referendum. Don't tell me what the Iraqi people can or can't do. They will tell you with their VOTES!

Typical "Progressive" response: "Damn you Chimpy McBushitler AND your roadmap to freedom!!!"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Mission Accomplished - A Hero Returns

Well, last night was a joyous occassion... the return of my brother-in-law who has been serving in Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan. For the past six months he has been coordinating transportation for wounded soldiers and civilians out of Iraq & Afghanistan. Regardless of the branch of service or the country they serve for, my brother-in-law was tasked with getting them to facilities that could best handle their specific injuries. He received several awards (like a coin presented to him by General Abizaid for his performance evacuating the women MPs over the summer).

As I've said previously, be sure to keep all of the soldiers serving our country everywhere around the world in your prayers.

See similar posts about my brother-in-law and here:
Previous posts about my brother-in-law are (in chronological order):

  1. Digital Camera for Iraq
  2. Happy Memorial Day (which turned into a shouting match with a Lefty in Illinois (see here and here)
  3. Example of a True Patriot to the Left
  4. Update from the Front Lines; and
  5. A Photo Update from the Front Lines
  6. Update from the Front Lines - Return Date Confirmed

Here are some pictures from his return last night:
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

A Hero's Return
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Some Hugs for my littlest conspirator
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
My oldest conspirator shares a drink with his hero
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Cool Shades!
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
More hugs (and drool?)
(She's teething...)
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
The family reunited

If you don't know, the USO is run entirely on private contributions and does not receive Federal funding. It is an invaluable resource for our servicemen and women when traveling. If you have an opportunity, please donate.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Davis-Bacon Act, Part II

Well, I originally posted on Bush's suspension of Davis-Bacon for the hurricane Katrina ravaged Gulf Coast and pointed out that the purpose was to allow smaller contractors and new entreprenuers to get a piece of the action. I also pointed out that it was probably politically unwise for Bush, as the headlines write themselves. However, it looks like the argument can be turned back on the Left, as Davis-Bacon's history is less than "progressive."

Davis-Bacon sets a price floor on construction labor. It says that construction work for the government can only be compensated at the union scale. But the construction labor market, like any other labor market, isn't really a single price market. In an open market, employers trade off between price and certainty. The union labor, while more expensive, comes vouched for in terms of experience and standards. As a result, both ends up being consumed in the marketplace. On the other hand, if you say that you have to pay employees the union rate, the incentive to hire non-union employees pretty well vanishes. Why, after all, would you take a gamble on someone, when you've got a known commodity with the union guys.

The racial implications of this policy weren't some sort of unintended consequence. They were actually the entire point of the law. During the migration of black people Northward in the 1930s, emerging unions actively sought to exclude them from the market. Consider the following:
The comments of various congressmen reveal the racial animus that motivated the sponsors and supporters of the bill. In 1930, Representative John J. Cochran of Missouri stated that he had "received numerous complaints in recent months about southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South."[15] Representative Clayton Allgood, supporting Davis-Bacon on the floor of the House, complained of "cheap colored labor" that "is in competition with white labor throughout the country."The Davis-Bacon Act: Let's Bring Jim Crow to an End ; Cato Institute
[...]
If they get their way on this matter, and Davis-Bacon remains in effect in Katrina recovery, I predict that within a few months we'll hear either Yglesias or Marshall beating their breasts sanctimoniously about racism in the reconstruction effort. I've little doubt that they'll use the accusation to suggest racism is symptomatic of America, and that we as a country are little removed from cross-burning rednecks. The least one can expect is that they refrain from sewing the hoods and buying the gasoline.

However, I would be surprised if the affluent liberal bloggers and pundits in the Beltway actually admit that there are unintended consequences and underlying racism of their policy positions. Or, even if they do recognize these troubling facts, will brush them aside in order to further their attacks against BFEE (Bush Family Evil Empire for those of you unfamiliar with the conspirazoid Left). After all, (in their minds) what's a job to a poor and unskilled worker worth compared to the ability to score points against your political foe?

Mickey Kaus also weighs in on the topic and illustrates the folly of the conventional wisdom (promoted by the NYTimes, of course) that suspension of Davis-Bacon "hurts the disadvantaged poor." He has some great emails from people who are familiar with the law and its unintended consequences. Kaus also shows that Davis-Bacon improves the likelihood that Halliburton would get a larger share of the contract, as I pointed out in my original post.

Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, and the "Progressive Left" - unabashed supporters of Halliburton and the oppression of the unskilled worker.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

TimesSelect - Who Cares?


I've been meaning to comment on the new feature in the NY Times called TimesSelect, which requires readers to pay a subscription ($50/year) to get "great" commentary from the likes of Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Thomas Friedman.

Now, of the columnists that are behind the TimesSelect "curtain," the only one of particular interest to me is Thomas Friedman. His commentary is almost always insightful and true to the original principles of liberalism ("liberal" has incorrectly become a label associated with the statist and "progressive" Left which wouldn't know true liberalism if it walked up to them and slapped them across the face). Unfortunately, the other columnists in the stable are disappointing in so many ways...

I just can't imagine that someone who doesn't already receive the print edition (which gets a free access to TimesSelect) would pay money to receive the type of commentary that the other columnists provide. MoDo is just dreadful, treating every Washingtonian issue as some sort of High School drama. Poor Paul Krugman is more often wrong than right on many issues, not just those in the real of economics. And in total, the NY Times columnists rarely bring any true insight into the topics they are covering. Rather, they parrot the conventional wisdom, to great applause from their adoring fans in New York and D.C.

Why would anyone pay a hefty subscription fee to get the conventional wisdom of the day - normally a day or two after you've already heard it? Some think you might pay the subscription to avoid the "moral taint" of receiving information for free... Yeah, right...

***update***
Forgot to mention - Will the readership of the columnists behind the TimesSelect curtain decline? Clearly, it will as many of us who did not agree with their positions still checked out their columns (and viewed all those paid advertisements) to see what idiotic statements were being parroted. Now that we have to shell out $50/year, it's simple economics that less people will be reading those columns, as Donald Luskin points out:

With the launch last week of “TimesSelect,” you now have to pay a fee of $49.95 per year to read Krugman online, along with Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, and the rest of the Times op-ed pundits. So the scope of Krugman’s audience has collapsed. This is supply-side economics - so obvious that even an Ivy League economics professor like Krugman should understand it: When you put a tax on readership, you get fewer readers.

As the Ian Faith, the manager of Spinal Tap, might put it, No, no, no... the columist's "appeal is becoming more selective."

heh... Oh, and another unnecessary Spinal Tap quote that might be applicable here: "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever. "

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Blogging from an Undisclosed Location


FYI - blogging from an undisclosed location... Here's a shot from my Logitech QuickCam Deluxe for Notebooks (purchased to keep me in touch with the Conspirators back @ home while I travel). You can click for a larger size photo of an indistinguishable airport terminal. First one to guess the airport and the terminal in the comments gets a demonstration of the secret Rovian handshake and an explanation of why I chose this stupid pseudonym.

I just hope the weather clears up enough that I'll be able to make it home tonight. Oh, and thanks to T-Mobile for the wi-fi. Not a bad price-point for occassional use, but can't imagine that I'd do the monthly subscription. I had purchased the 24 hour pass the previous night in my hotel and was glad to see that it was offered in this airport...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Supreme Court Nominee - At the Risk of Piling On

How long ago was October 3rd, the day President Bush made his Miers nomination to the Supreme Court? It seems like a lifetime ago. It's been like enduring a toothache waiting for the trip to the dentist. It's been the antithesis of the runup to the Roberts' hearing.

Much as I disliked the immediate reaction of the hard right, be it the shrillness of Ann Coulter or the smarmy elitism of some others, the point is now clear that this was a bad choice.

Much has been said, mostly on the con side, about this nomination. People that I hold in high regard are pretty vocal. Even the usually affable Jonah Goldberg has expressed his dismay.

At the risk of piling on, I am adding my two cents to the argument that this nomination was a mistake and should be withdrawn.

I am having a hard time convincing myself that the president regards this nomination as a serious matter. If I had a war on my hands, perhaps I would feel the same way. But as a citizen and lawyer, I know this indeed is a serious matter. I also know that Ms. Miers does not possess what we have been looking for and expecting. There are just too many well qualified candidates out there too settle for what has been offered up by President Bush.

I would love to see someone like Laura Ingraham. Now there is a candidate! Smart, aggressive, has the training... and did I mention, gorgeous?

I guess what I'm saying in a light hearted way in referring to my pick, we could have done way better.



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Michael Barone reviews some pointers for OliverWillis

I posted yesterday about the desire of Oliver Willis to look back to 1992 for a political strategy that might be the road to the White House in 2008. It looks like some of Clinton's own strategists are looking at the current state of the Democratic Party and some of the underlying assumptions and they find that the Dems have some room to improve.

"The Politics of Polarization" is more a diagnosis than a prescription. The authors start off with a basic observation, which Democrats too often ignore: There are more conservatives than liberals. Over the past 25 years the proportions in exit polls have been about the same: about one third of voters call themselves conservatives and about one fifth call themselves liberals. This means that Democrats have to win far larger percentages of moderates than do Republicans to prevail. Moreover, the Republican and Democratic constituencies have become ideologically more polarized. There has been a sorting out of Americans voting on ideological lines. In 1976 more than one quarter of liberals voted for Gerald Ford and more than one quarter of conservatives voted for Jimmy Carter. In 2004, 84 percent of conservatives voted for George W. Bush and 85 percent of liberals voted for John Kerry.

Galston and Kamarck identify four "myths" that Democratic strategists believe—myths that ignore this basic arithmetic.

The myth of mobilization: that if you bring out the base in large enough numbers, you win. The Kerry campaign was based on this strategy, and it did an excellent job of bringing out the base. Kerry's popular vote was 16 percent higher than Al Gore's. Unfortunately for Kerry, the Republicans did a better job of bringing out their (larger) base: George W. Bush's 2004 popular vote was 23 percent higher than his popular vote in 2000. Maximizing turnout in black neighborhoods in central cities and in university towns is not enough to win. Black turnout as a percentage of eligibles in 2004 was nearly as high as white turnout: There is not much room for further gains.
[...]
The myth of language, Berkeley Prof. George Lakoff's argument that Democrats need to present their positions in more-attractive language. No, say Galston and Kamarck, substance is the problem.

"Democrats are in trouble today, not only because their candidates have lacked compelling 'narratives' that resonate with voters but because they lack a coherent approach to foreign policy, espouse positions on key social issues that strong majorities of the electorate reject, and lack compelling economic proposals that speak to the new economic challenges of the 21st century." Whew.

The myth of prescription drugs, the idea that Democrats can win by changing the subject from national security to domestic issues and promising voters some economic goodies. Rather, national security issues have become the drivers of party preference. "Attitudes on the efficacy of force and diplomacy, and on the obligations of Americans to fight for their country, are now by far the strongest predictors of whether a person is a Republican or a Democrat." There has been a Great Sorting Out, with many people changing party identification, and the winners from this process have been the Republicans: Galston and Kamarck show that 38 percent of Republicans say they used to think of themselves as Democrats, while 22 percent–a substantially smaller number—of Democrats say they used to think of themselves as Republicans.

Be sure to read the whole thing... heh.... indeed...

;-)

As I pointed out, we're not in Kansas anymore. 9/11 was a tectonic shift in politics and the reflexively anti-American Left has pulled the Democratic Party towards a position which does not sit well with most Americans. This is the issue that trumps all others - although given the fact that a majority of Americans reject the positions on social issues that Democrats espouse and it doesn't take much to see that the Dems are in serious trouble.

They need a Sistah Souljah moment...


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Dems - Looking Backwards

OliverWillis (loveably known here as the Twinkie-meister) has some ideas on how the Dems are going to win in 2008. His big a-ha moment: Let's do what we did in 1992! He refers to a book that he recently read, called Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz. Now, kudos to Ollie for reading this book, as it is politically relavent - if it's 1996. I remember reading this during the Clinton Presidency, amazed that Kurtz & Co were just so tickled at how the press was being "spun." Here is Ollie's advice:

The solution to what ails the Democratic party is not lurching left or right on issues. Here’s a piece of information I’ve uncovered: people don’t vote on issues. Let me refine that - aside from partisans, Americans don’t vote on issues. On the right, you will roast if you don’t march with Dobson and the Chamber of Commerce. On the left, your goose is cooked if you don’t support Choice and worker’s rights. But beyond that, we as a nation don’t pick our presidents (or other leaders, for that matter) by stacking up the positions and choosing from “A” and “B” and adding it all up. We pick the entire package, and the winning campaign is the one who presents the best person.

The last two Democratic campaigns have failed (I say failure in the case of Gore because it should never have been close enough for the shenanigans in Florida to work) because both candidates listened to the beltway crowd and whizzed around from issue to issue. Bush won because he picked four points and repeated them until he was blue in the face and then said them again. He didn’t win because people necessarily agreed with all of those points, but because he communicated an image of control and sympathy within the box he had created for himself. If you care to go back to 1992, President Clinton did just that - relentless in his critique of the failing Bush economy and never forgetting to tell the American people that that was why they should choose him over George H. W. Bush.

Democrats keep looking to the politics of 1996 as their template, but forget that the GOP had nominated such a weak candidate (savaged by Clinton early in the race - another hint is to be the first to go negative) and that Clinton simply had to slice off a percent here or a percent there. That wasn’t the case in ‘00, ‘04 and it won’t be in ‘08.

When I read this, my immediate thought was: Wait, it's 2005... and it'll be 2008 for the next Presidential election. That's 16 years past the election template that you want to use. But then I thought - Wait, the Dems haven't won since then... they've got little recent experience with winning and have to look to '92 for an overwhelming victory. And even in that election, Ross Perot pulled double-digits. (As Ollie admits, '96 wasn't a real contest.)

This all adds up to more inconsistency in the Democratic message. They get pulled to the left by the Kossacks and DUers, they get pulled to the right by the moderates (with what little influence they still have), and now they're getting pulled into the past by Oliver Willis, who was too young to vote in 1992.

Does he have any idea how much the political landscape has changed since 1992? Or 1996? 2000? How about since September 11, 2001??? Where was the internet and the conservative voice in 1992? Rush Limbaugh had been syndicated nationally for only 4 years at that point... Where were the blogs, with the extremely effective blog swarms fact-checking candidates and pushing them to live up to their campaign promises? 1992 might as well be 1892. Unfortunately for Ollie, the Democratic candidate for President received 4% more of the popular vote than Clinton did in 1992. It seems that the Dems should look back even further to find those great electoral successes.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, October 10, 2005

In other news....

H/T Drudge

In other news, the First Amendment only applies to newspapers approved by the King of England.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Miers and Misunderestimating Bush

H/T InstaPundit

Skymusings has a GREAT post on Miers and the larger political context involved. Readers of this blog will recognize many of the same points.

Previous ARC posts on Miers (from oldest to most recent):

Now, on to Skymusings!
My belief is that we should be looking past Ms. Miers herself to learn why the President has nominated as he has. Going back to the John Roberts nomination and confirmation, a few things present themselves:
  1. Roberts was not shown to be a firebreathing conservative; rather, he appears to be solidly conservative while still being acceptable to all but the most fevered moonbats.
  2. Senator Leahy broke with the Dems and publicly came out for Justice Roberts well in advance of the vote, leading to a split in the Dem coalition and a solid if not overwhelming confirmation, avoiding the party-line vote. This 78-22 vote indicates bipartisan support and lends validity to Justice Roberts.
  3. The President knows that of his majority numbers in the Senate, he has no more than 44 or 45 that he can reliably count on when a fight is in the air, especially on social conservative issues. The odds of getting Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee, et al on board for a hardcore like Luttig are effectively nil. There is little point in starting a war that you know your soldiers will not fight.

Senator Leahy and the rest of the backdoor Dems undercut their party. This is never done lightly in those circles, and it is reasonable to assume that some sort of deal was worked out with the President. My take is that in order to get Roberts in with a minimum of fuss, he had to agree to provide another apparent O'Connor to Dems. A woman with a history of supporting affirmative action, giving money to Dems in the past, etc, must have appeared irresistible to the Dems, and so they jumped at the opportunity to give us Roberts in exchange for Miers. The ringing endorsements from Dems like Reid give reason to believe that even if some Reps defect, there will be more than enough votes to support the confimation.

While I support and trust the President, I am certainly not one of the cheerleaders. That being said, I believe President Bush has done it again -- he got everyone (including his own supporters) to misunderestimate him in order to achieve the larger goal, which in this case is to rein in the Supreme Court and return it to a more originalist bent.

The President has demonstrated an ability and willingness to nominate solid conservative judges over the course of his time in office. Ms. Miers has been a major part of this, from assisting in the process of selection to vetting and finally to preparing nominees for confirmation, including Justice Roberts. They have a close personal and professional friendship that dates back to the Reagan years. It is safe to say that he truly believes and trusts that she will embody the principles he seeks to invest in that seat.
[...]
The President knows fully that had he nominated Luttig or one of the other Scalia types that we have hungered for, it would have triggered war with the Dems (not necessarily bad in and of itself). The problem is that this war would likely be lost due to the defection of his own RINOs, and the guarantee of Dem solidarity. Why fight the war you can't win? It makes infinitely more sense in these circumstances to slip in a Stealth nominee that will fool the Dems into thinking she's another O'Connor. If the President is convinced she will in fact be a solid conservative originalist, then he will have achieved true diplomacy in that he made the Dems think they won while he got exactly what he wanted. From his gubernatorial contests on down through his presidential contests he has consistently been the Dummy That Outsmarted The Smarties. He is a risk-taker, and he knows his opponents better than they know themselves.

I would only add that having the judicial battle before 2006 is only likely to embolden the Dems, regardless of the outcome. If they lose and an openly conservative Janice Rogers Brown takes the bench, the amount of liberal money pouring into the Senate campaign would only increase. However, if two justices are appointed with clear supermajorities in the Senate, how can the Dems and the leftist special interest groups assert that Bush nominates only extremist judges?

I have to say that many of the specifics regarding Miers are beginning to concern me, but I am going to hold any criticism until she actually speaks at the hearings.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Steyn on Bush, Miers, and the Conservative Split

Mark Steyn has a great column in today's UK Spectator regarding the Harriet Miers nomination. Given that the readership is almost entirely British, he has to explain some of the fundamentals surrounding the issue. If you don't want to register for the Spectator, you can try some of the passwords available at BugMeNot.com

Has Bush blown it?
Mark Steyn
New Hampshire

Any port in a storm, especially after the storm has passed. I said in the Telegraph the other day that the minute Hurricane Katrina hit, the media started scampering around like Munchkins singing ‘Ding Dong, The Bush Is Dead’. They always do, and it always fails. In terms of destroying Bush and the Republicans, Katrina was a total bust. In so far as it has any political impact, it’s likely to make Louisiana less Democrat. That’s it.

So the problem remains: how to slay Bush. And if this last week is anything to go by, it looks like Democrats are going to be denied that pleasure, and it will fall instead to conservatives to reduce the Bush presidency to rubble. Conservatives are mad at Bush, and the theory goes that next November they’ll stay home and the GOP will lose Senate and House seats. Of course, conservatives have been mad about a lot of Bush policies for a long time — education, immigration — but, in fairness to him, he campaigned as a massive federaliser of the school system and as a big nancy-boy pushover for illegal Mexicans. So we can’t complain we were misled.

On the other hand, he also said that, when it comes to Supreme Court justices, he’d appoint jurists in the mould of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia — ‘conservative’ judges or, at any rate, strict constructionists, who don’t claim, as so many judges do, to be able to detect constitutional rights to abortion and sodomy in an 18th-century parchment. Britons often find it hard to understand why Americans of Left and Right make such a big deal about judges, but the fact is that much of the stuff the Left likes is hard to get elected on — gay marriage, racial quotas, partial-birth infanticide — and the courts play a critical role in advancing a ‘progressive’ agenda with minimal appeal to voters under the guise of constitutional ‘fairness’. Stephen Breyer, one of the nine Supreme Court justices, dislikes the term ‘judicial activism’ and prefers to see what he does as part of a ‘democratic conversation’ that’s good for the health of the republic. The Right, not unreasonably, thinks the democratic conversation was held earlier, during the election and then in the legislature and that, having passed a law forbidding, say, partial-birth abortion, they shouldn’t then see it overturned because Justice Breyer wants to have the last word in the ‘democratic conversation’.
[...]
For what it’s worth, my sense is that Harriet Miers will be, case by case, a more reliable vote against leftist judicial activism than her mercurial predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor. Why do I say this? Well, she’s a strong supporter of the right to bear arms. The great Second Amendment expert Dave Kopel says you have to go back to Louis Brandeis 90 years ago to find a Supreme Court justice whose pre-nomination writings extol gun rights as fulsomely as Miss Miers. According to an old boyfriend, Judge Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court, she packs heat — a Smith & Wesson .45 — which I can say with certainty the other lady justice, the far-left Ruth Bader Ginsberg, never has. She is also very opposed to abortion, and a generous contributor to pro-life groups.

In other words, what seems to be emerging is a woman Bush responds to as a fellow cultural conservative and evangelical conservative (she’s a born-again Christian) rather than as a judicial conservative — a label Judge Bork dislikes, preferring quite correctly that we distinguish judges not as conservative or liberal but as either originalists or judicial activists. I find it hard to discuss Harriet Miers seriously in those terms, but on balance she seems likely to vote the right way for whatever reasons. She’s thus another representative of Bush and Karl Rove’s belief in incrementalism — that the Republican majority can be made a permanent feature of the landscape if you build it one small brick at a time. Miss Miers is, at best, such a brick, at a time when conservatives were hoping Bush would drop a huge granite block on the court. But, given that she started out as a Democrat and has been on the receiving end of the partisan attacks on the administration for five years, she seems less likely than any detached effete legal scholar to be prone to the remorseless drift to the Left that happens to Republican Supreme Court nominees.

As many readers of this conspiracy blog will know, I tend to agree with Steyn on this one. I was amazed by the kneejerk criticism of the Miers nomination and think we will find out in due course whether she'll be qualified for the bench (during the hearings). In addition, I think we should trust W. on this, given that he's not exactly been the Third Wayer when it comes to judicial appointments.

I do have some concerns regarding Harriet, specifically
  1. her position on the quota system at the University of Michigan Law School. If she agrees with O'Connor's "Affirmative Action is temporarily Constitutional, say for 30 years or so," she not only proves herself to be an unreliable constructionist, but also a doofus. (Yes, O'Connor was a doofus in that ruling...)
  2. The Gonzalez Problem - Similar to former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, she may have to recuse herself should cases appear before the court involving the rights of terrorists, given that she may have been instrumental in establishing the policy which the litigants are challenging.

Only time will tell... I just wish the "Let's Have A Fight" crowd would chill out.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

BitchPhD - Winning your hearts & minds on abortions for 13 year olds

BitchPhD is one of the most extreme feminist bloggers that I've run across. Well, it seems that she's such a promoter of abortion that she feels that parental notification laws requiring 13 year olds to notify their parents or to seek a judicial exception are just way too restrictive on a woman's "rights." She discusses this Dear Abby column, which discusses a terrible situation in which a 13 year old is brutally beaten by her father. Unfortunately, the Priest and the girl did not consider bypassing the notification requirement by going to a judge.

The deranged professor's reaction to this snippet from Dear Abby?

For that reason, I do not believe that parental notification should be mandated by law. And because sex education is no longer taught in as many states as it had been before, I strongly urge parents to begin talking to their children early about the facts of life and their personal value systems, in order to create a safe and comfortable environment should a crisis occur.

AWESOME

Dear Abby fails to mention that all mandatory parental notification laws include exceptions.

Be sure to read the comments, because (as usual) BitchPhD's readers show that they're just as extreme as she is on the issue.
Parental notification just one more step along the way of limiting women's access to health care in the form of health care.

If a underaged girl is old enough to get pregnant, she's old enough to have control over her own reproductive choices.
Karen in Kalifornia
Anonymous | Email | Homepage | 10.07.05 - 6:24 pm | #

One would assume that she would also be old enough to vote, sign legal contracts, take an over-the-counter medication without a note from her parents, and support herself - but one would be very wrong.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

To be a compassionate and caring New York Liberal

H/T BitchPhD

Thanks to the whacky professor over at BitchPhD for pointing out this post from the Best of Craiglist.

bleeding-heart liberal seeks sperm donor for potential abortion - 23
Reply to: anon-83075242@craigslist.org
Date: Thu Jul 07 18:13:58 2005

So there are all these crazy rumors all over the place that Rehnquist is going to resign tomorrow. Sandy Day was one thing - there was hope that Bush might put in a Kennedy-style swinger, and we'd all be safe in our liberal beds - but now that there are going to be two vacancies on the SCOTUS, i just can't hold back any longer:

PLEASE IMPREGNATE ME SO THAT I CAN ABORT A FETUS WHILE I STILL CAN.

I am your standard blue-state bleeding heart liberal, and I always assumed that at some point some errant condom would break and I'd be stuck at one of those "crossroads" that would lead to writing impassioned poetry about the child that might have been, but also would have been something I could have self-consciously played off as totally no big deal, whatever-i-do-this-all-the-time. I'm 23, fertile, and not entirely unattractive.

So let's talk specs:

According to my internal calendar, I ovulated earlier this week, so the sex would have to happen during the first week of August (the 2nd through 7th). We should probably do it at least twice a day for those four days, to ensure fertilization. I've been told I'm quite a good lay, so this will certainly be good for you. Since the life that we create will never actually see the light of day, I don't really care if you don't have top-quality genetic material to pass along, but it would certainly help matters if you're attractive enough to turn me on (if not, please be conscientious and bring along some lube).

Please be disease-free. Or, at the very least, have one of those diseases that's curable - if I'm going to Planned Parenthood anyway, i suppose it's no big deal to pick up an antibiotic prescription along with hitting up the vacuum tube.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood, I used to volunteer there. So I have connections, and you don't need to worry about making a financial contribution to the termination of our potential child. I'm on the comp list.

Bonus points if you're Catholic, gay, or republican, so that the aborted life will be just that much more meaningful.

Surely this is just a disgusting joke? Or perhaps intended to point out the cruelty and depravity of abortion given what we know about prenatal development? It seems that it's the former, with no comprehension of the latter.

Or perhaps this is what the Left means when they say that they want their most coveted Constitutional right to be "safe, legal, and rare."

Here are the comments from BitchPhD's readers - and don't mess with their worldview, as it results in a prompt ban (or I suppose I could say that your comments are aborted).
HA i actually know the girl who wrote that. she got a whole bunch of replies, some of which are here: http://rsgo.blogspot.com/2005/07...e-at- fetus.html
jss. | Email | Homepage | 10.08.05 - 7:53 pm | #

Awesome! Small internet.
bitchphd | Email | Homepage | 10.08.05 - 8:39 pm | #

It's the *pregnancy* you abort, not the fetus.
Kyra | Email | Homepage | 10.08.05 - 10:49 pm | #

The poster seems to be very proud that she made the Best Of Craig's List. What an accomplishment.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler