Sunday, July 31, 2005

Chaconingly solid debut

So Shawn Chacon seems like a random stiff that comes to fill yet ANOTHER open spot in the Yankees OK-let's-give-you-a-try rotation -- he's a National Leaguer who has had tons of bad luck (1-7, despite a 4.09 ERA for the Rockies). And he has to face the Angels, a team that inexplicably gets good-to-great pitching performances from stiffs (Erwin Santana) and finds its bats against the Yanks. What's the result?

A nice 6 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K outing with just one unearned run against him. Good on him. Maybe we won't have to add 15-20% to project an AL ERA for Chacon because he pitched at Coors Field. Then again, Al Leiter was sharp in his debut, notsomuch since then.

Naturally the Yanks' 'pen decided to try throwing the game away (Tom Gordon: get it out of your system soon, the team needs you to suck less). Thankfully the Yanks' bats and eyes work: Giambi with a 2-run bomb and then 4 walks against Frankie K-Rod Rodriguez to set up Matsui's game-winning double in the bottom of the ninth in an 8-7 win. If Gordon continues to suck, the Yanks will be wanting Rivera to take the Gossage workload (the Goose would start "closing" games in the 7th on occasion).

And the Yanks picked up Alan Embree after the RedSux designated him for assignment -- good, I hoped he'd be available for the Yanks when the Redsawx made their move b/c hard-throwing bullpen lefties are not exactly a dime per dozen.

So Chacon, Small and Leiter have provided about 4.5 good starts in their six outings (the .5 is Leiter's 5 IP, 1 R against the Twins Wednesday -- he was poor but kept getting out of trouble and left down only 1-0). But the Johnson-Moooooooose-Small-Chacon playoff rotation (if the Yanks make it that far) is a far cry from Clemens-Pettitte-Moooooooooose-Wells in '03. Have I mentioned that I miss Pettitte? I didn't miss him that much pre-All Star break in '04 because Javy Vazquez was one of the top starters in the AL and that's the man the Yanks counted on to replace Andy (and the Yanks' fears of Pettitte's latent arm troubles were well-founded, he made a career-low in starts and innings and sat the last couple of months and playoffs resting his elbow). But Vazquez lost his arm and his mind, and Pettitte is having a career year in all-but-record (the Astros can't score for him either) with Houston. UGH.

Friday, July 29, 2005

I'm shocked, shocked!

Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in the New York Times today, "French Family Values" is a wonder. He:
- doesn't attack the Bush administration (he snipes at Rick Santorum)
- does not seem to have made any egregious errors
- is actually sort of humble at points

Now this is in large part probably due to the length of the piece (quite short) and the fact he doesn't cite many statistics.

Before anyone thinks Krugman was beaned in a baseball game, he does make some faulty arguments and his conclusion is wrong. Basically he argues that the French have less income because laws have made it possible for them to choose to have more leisure and spend more time with their families.

The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it's mainly a matter of choice.
And whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution.

Two observations. First, it ISN'T mainly a matter of choice - it's government mandated. Second, on the subject of family, the French total fertility rate (TFR) is 1.85, well below the required replacement rate (2.1 or so). And that number is likely to be significantly inflated by recent immigrants who are primarily Muslim. Even though their TFR is much better than say Italy and other Western democracies, the traditional French aren't getting married and aren't having children despite all this additional leisure time. In contrast, the US TFR is around 2.0 and we are demographically much healthier. For starters, we assimilate our immigrants rather than have growing ghettos of discontent.

I am sick and farking tired of people touting the French or "European" lifestyle to American audiences. I'm supposed to take "family values" lessons from PEOPLE WHO LET THEIR RELATIVES DIE FROM LACK OF AIR CONDITIONING AND THEN ROT IN OVERLADEN FUNERAL HOMES WHILE THEY VACATION? The notion is disgusting. Fifteen thousand people died in France of the heat in 2003 -- about 12 times more than US combat casualties in Iraq. I'll work hard and take care of my family, instead of working occasionally and hoping the government will lower electricity rates so that I can afford the AC for my mom and dad in their small apartment.

Krugman caught dissembling...again

We complained about Krugman's Toyota piece earlier this week here.

Donald Luskin of Trend Macrolytics does a bit of research and catches the Times' liberal hyena in a slander against the state of Alabama. Krugman wrote that:

"Maybe we should discount remarks from the president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who claimed that the educational level in the Southern United States was so low that trainers for Japanese plants in Alabama had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech equipment."

The 'maybe' is an artful bit of deniability but it hardly hides his desire to air the statement.

Gerry Fedchun, the President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, wrote this to the Birmingham (AL) Times in response:

I never used the word "illiterate," nor would I. I have been in this industry a long time. The use of diagrams and illustrations is common. I was horrified that my remarks were reported as they were.

I have led four trade missions to the Southeastern United States. Several Canadian suppliers have set up plants there as a direct result of these trade missions. If I believed what the article implied, would I have done so? I think not.

I must profoundly apologize for the agony the interpretation of my comments has caused. I hold a high regard for the residents of the Southeastern United States. I do not think in the way the newspapers have made it seem.

Luskin also takes Krugman to task for calling for a hike in Alabama's rock-bottom taxes on the affluent to pay for worker training. The marginal state tax rate in Alabama is 5%. 17 states, including liberal bastions Maryland and Taxachusetts, have the same or lower top tax rate.

Luskin also finds Krugman's sudden love for Canada's national health system incompatible with his vociferous stand against President Bush's medical prescription plan for Medicare.

Cheap shot of the Day

It's now a refrain for the NY Post: every time a Yankee-farmhand-turned-trade-bait pitches well, the Post's Joel Sherman unloads his journalistic bowels on the Yanks as he did in today's Post:

At a time when the Yanks are desperate for starting pitching, former Yankee lefties Brandon Claussen and Brad Halsey combined yesterday to allow one run in 13 innings against the Dodgers and Cubs, respectively.

I'm on record telling the Yanks to invest in Halsey and his loss is the worst part of the Johnson trade.

Claussen has a LONG history of arm injury that resurfaced again in 2004 and is 5-8, 4.71 (in the NL) this year.

Yeah, I'd like Halsey. But if the Yanks should regret trading any young pitcher, they should curse the day they chucked out Ted Lilly in the Jeff Weaver deal -- a deal that eventually cost the Yanks Yhency Brazoban and netted them useless Kevin Brown.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Gazastan, WestBankistan

Cliff May tears correspondent Laila El-Haddad a new one:

Ms. El-Haddad complains about the very real inconveniences that she and other Palestinians experience at border crossings between Gaza and Israel, as well as those imposed on Palestiians by Israel’s security barriers along the West Bank.

Nowhere in her essay does she mention the reason for these inconveniences. She writes not one word about terrorism, about suicide bombers who have crossed into Israeli communities to commit acts of mass murder. She has nothing to say about the violence that has been directed against Israelis for more than half a century.

Apparently, she believes the suffering of a Palestinian mother standing in line is infinitely greater than the suffering of an Israeli mother standing next to a grave.

War -- That's What We're Fighting

Mark Steyn has been a huge proponent of the "fight terrorism as a war" school and detractor of the "fight terrorism as crime" thought process since at least 9-12-01. His column in this week's Spectator (UK), Britain's conservative newsweekly (kind of like the Weekly Standard without the neocons or support for Israel). Steyn routinely runs afoul of Speccie orthodoxy, and this column is no different. Some excerpts:

. . . the Times [of London] includes this background information on one of the thwarted bombers of the 21 July attacks — Yassin Hassan Omar, a Somali ‘asylum-seeker’:

‘Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.’

So here’s how things stand: . . . Four years after 9/11, British taxpayers are subsidising the jihad — in Mr Omar’s Bounds Green council flat and in many other places.

* * *
In The Spectator of 29 December 2001, I noted the likes of Zac Moussaoui, the French citizen who became an Islamist radical while living on welfare in London, and wrote:

‘If you’re looking for “root causes” for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.’

I wasn’t the first to notice the links between Euro-Canadian welfare and terrorism. Mickey Kaus, an iconoclastic California liberal, was way ahead. But, after three-and-a-half years, one would be entitled to assume that a government whose fortunes are as heavily invested in the terrorist threat as [the UK's] might have spotted it, too . . .

Not a good sign. There's worse. For one, most British recoil from calling this situation a war:

I regretfully have to disagree with the editor of this great publication in his prescription of the current situation which appeared in these pages a week or two back under the headline ‘Just don’t call it war’. As you’ll have gathered, the boss objects to the language of ‘war, whether cultural or military.... Last week’s bombs were placed not by martyrs nor by soldiers, but by criminals.’

Sorry, but that’s the way to lose. A narrowly focused ‘criminal’ approach means entrusting the whole business to the state bureaucracy. The obvious problem with that is that it’s mostly reactive: blow somewhere up, we’ll seal it off, and detectives will investigate it as a crime scene . . . A ‘criminal’ approach gives terrorists all the rights of criminals, and between British and European ‘human rights’ that’s quite a bundle. If it’s a war, you can take wartime measures — including withdrawal from the UN Convention on Refugees, repeal of the European Human Rights Act, and a clawback of sovereignty from the EU. But if you fight this thing as a law-enforcement matter, Islamist welfare queens will use all the above to their full extent and continue openly promoting the murder of the Prime Minister, British troops, etc. with impunity.

Sound extreme? A bit. But remember, none of those institutions or covenants (EU, UNCR, EHRA) are built for dealing with an immoral, nihilistic suicidal death-cult approach to war. So what do we try for? More Steyn:

If the jihad has its war aims, maybe we should start thinking about ours. What would victory look like? As fascism and communism were in their day, Islamism is now the ideology of choice for the world’s grievance-mongers. That means we have to destroy the ideology, or at least its potency — not Islam per se, but at the very minimum the malign strain of Wahabism, which thanks to Saudi oil money has been transformed from a fetish of isolated desert derelicts into the most influential radicalising force in contemporary Islam, from Indonesia to Leeds. Europeans who aren’t prepared to roll back Wahabism had better be prepared to live with it, or under it.

Mustering the popular will for that sort of struggle isn’t easy. But the longer you leave it the harder it becomes. Whether or not one accepts the Johnson line that Iraq is irrelevant to the war on terror, it requires a perverse genius on the part of Tony Blair to have found the political courage to fight an unpopular war on a distant shore but not the political courage to wage it closer to home where it would have commanded far more support.

On a couple of very fleeting visits to London and Belfast in recent weeks, I had the vague feeling that Britain is on the brink of a tragedy it doesn’t quite comprehend. America’s post-9/11 muscular nationalism was easily mocked by Europeans, but its absence in London is palpable: try to imagine Mayor Giuliani uttering half the stuff Ken Livingstone said in the last fortnight (‘The bombings would never have happened if the West had simply left the Arab nations alone in the wake of the first world war’). Even if he’s right, the message it communicates is weakness: bomb us, and we apologise — or at the very least go to comically absurd lengths to distinguish terrorism against London from terrorism against Israel. Tony Blair, in his recitation in the House of Commons of nations afflicted by terrorism, couldn’t even bring himself to mention the Zionist Entity. Boris Johnson [The Speccie's editor and a Tory MP -- TKM]], in his call to non-arms, began with an elaborate riff on the difference between Brits and Jews in these matters:
‘If we were Israelis, we would by now be doing a standard thing to that white semi-detached pebbledash house at 51 Colwyn Road, Beeston. Having given due warning, we would dispatch an American-built ground-assault helicopter and blow the place to bits. Then we would send in bulldozers to scrape over the remains....’

The distinction between coarse blundering Israelis and subtle sophisticated Britons depends where you’re standing. If you happen to be the late Jean Charles de Menezes, for example, you might wish fate had selected you instead to be the Palestinian suicide bomber interrupted en route to Tel Aviv that same Friday. The Euro-reviled IDF managed to disarm the Fatah terrorist of his explosives belt, packed with nails, without harming a hair on his pretty little suicide-bomber head. If the demented anti-Zionism of the British and Continental media these last four years ever had a point, it doesn’t now, when you’re in the early stages of the Israelification of Europe — and, in one of fate’s better jests, in this scenario you’re the Jews.

Ultimately, there's little hope that any European government or European polity will have the will to stand up against the jihadists. That's why the Americans must leave, as Steyn notes:

Any one of these issues would require enormous political will — stop funding the intifada, reclaim lost sovereignty from Europe, imprison and/or expel treasonous imams, end the education system’s psychologically unhealthy and ahistorical disparagement of the Britannic inheritance in your schools. But, without a big ambitious war-sized project, what’s left — aside from shooting the occasional Brazilian?

Helen Thomas is NUTS

But you knew that already. DRUDGE reports (no permalink, just the temporary flash1 link) that she said she'll kill herself if Cheney announces he's running for President.

Fill in your own joke.

Friedman not learning from Lance

Of the New York Times' liberal opiners Thomas Friedman is by far the least objectionable. He's usually thoughtful and serious and from time to time is on the side of the angels. Occasionally though he does join the ranks of Krugman/Dowd/Herbert, i.e., write dross. Today is one of his bad days.

In his column "Learning From Lance", Friedman extols Lance Armstrong's incredible drive to succeed.

What I find most impressive about Armstrong, besides his sheer willpower to triumph over cancer, is the strategic focus he brings to his work, from his prerace training regimen to the meticulous way he and his cycling team plot out every leg of the race. It is a sight to behold. I have been thinking about them lately because their abilities to meld strength and strategy - to thoughtfully plan ahead and to sacrifice today for a big gain tomorrow - seem to be such fading virtues in American life.

Certainly nothing to quibble with there. He then prattles on about how these virtues are now associated with China, Chinese engineers and athletes. [No mention of problems with endemic corruption and laughable individual or property rights but fine.] He complains rightly about how we are a nation of lawyers and short-sighted CEOs using the example of the Restored John Mack who wanted to be paid no less than the average of the CEOs of his bulge bracket competitors. [A bit cheeky but not unusual. His package instead now probably pays on him based on stock price which is even worse and actually contributes to the short-sightedness that Friedman just finished complaining about.]

So far reasonable but now Friedman tries to apply his Lance lesson to what's wrong with Bush.

Wouldn't you think that if you were president, after you'd read the umpteenth story about premier U.S. companies, like Intel and Apple, building their newest factories, and even research facilities, in China, India or Ireland, that you'd summon the top U.S. business leaders to Washington to ask them just one question: "What do we have to do so you will keep your best jobs here? Make me a list and I will not rest until I get it enacted."

Cute but what if the answer from Steve Jobs is: "I need to be able to hire a good Java programmer for $20,000." Or what if the answer is "Slap a 40% tariff on all Chinese exports." Pretty realistic and not doable. Fact is the best jobs probably do stay here but the more fungible bits are going to go overseas and that helps the US parent stay viable and competitive.

And if you were president, and you had just seen more suicide bombs in London, wouldn't you say to your aides: "We have got to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil. We have to do it for our national security. We have to do it because only if we bring down the price of crude will these countries be forced to reform. And we should want to do it because it is clear that green energy solutions are the wave of the future, and the more quickly we impose a stringent green agenda on ourselves, the more our companies will lead innovation in these technologies."

Bringing down the price of crude, reducing our dependence on Mideast oil and innovating in green technologies are all good things but Friedman needs to be more careful when linking it to national security. Especially if folks reading it will believe that less US dependence on oil from the Mideast will lessen the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Why the Islamists are attacking has very little to do with the price of oil.

He then closes with the obligatory Iraq potshot:

Because it is clear we are not winning, and we are not winning because we have never made Iraq a secure place where normal politics could emerge.

Well that's certainly the impression you'd get if you read the NY Times religiously. Ever heard of Arthur Chrenkoff? He's got an ongoing Good News from Iraq series, part 23 and counting.

CAFTA passes

CAFTA passed the House by a whisker, 217-215, after some White House concessions as well as serious lobbying by the President. The real margin was probably something closer to 7 or 8 votes but once the outcome was assured several textile state representatives were allowed to vote against it for local reasons.

As Deroy Murdock points out here, CAFTA is as important if not more important to us for the diplomatic and political benefits as it is economic. The combined covered countries share of trade overall is not significant but the benefits that accrue to them will mean a lot. Moreover, Castro, Daniel Ortega and the putrid budding regional satrap Chavez have been fighting tooth and nail AGAINST CAFTA. Defeating CAFTA would have given them a tremendous victory and made Latin America more susceptible to their siren song.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Larry Brown to the Knicks

Larry Brown is apparently very close to signing with the Knicks succeeding interim coach Herb Williams. This may be Isiah's best move. The peripatetic Brown may not be a paragon of faithfulness but he's a proven winner though not quite in the Phil Jackson /Pat Riley pantheon. Then again, those guys had folks named Jordan, Shaq and Magic. What the Dolans need is some excitement at the Garden and for the Garden not to be dark during the Spring which it has been since Van Gundy last took the Knicks to the playoffs.

Brown has had three losing seasons out of 22 in the NBA and executed one of the biggest upsets in Finals history last year when he took the heavily favored Lakers in 5 games. Dollars to donuts the Knicks are back in the playoffs next year though it will take more than that before they will truly contend.

There hasn't been a decent bid for Knicks' tickets in years but I bet the Ticketmaster lines are burning up this morning.

Air America in flames?

Michelle Malkin has got the details on what could be developing scandal involving Al Franken's radio bomb Air America. Apparently they may have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in 'loans' from a group that was supposed to use the money for inner-city children. In return, the group was supposed to get favorable on-air treatment from Air America. Yuck. Doesn't really pass the sniff test, does it?

Malkin links the following from blogger Brian Maloney:

The nonprofit Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club and its affiliate Pathways for Youth found their city contracts, running into the millions of dollars, abruptly ended last month by the city Department of Investigation...

In its initial announcement, the DOI said it was probing allegations that program officials "approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies."

According to published reports, the allegations involve Charles Rosen, the founder of Gloria Wise who has stepped down as executive director, investing city contract funds in Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network.

Evan Cohen, Air America's former chairman, had served as Gloria Wise's director of development.

The Bronx News, a local community paper, reports:

The Bronx News has learned, through informed sources, that the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Co-op City to the liberal Air America Radio is at the center of the city’s probe of corruption at the local club.

The money, which was reportedly paid to Air America as a loan, was supposed to be paid back with interest, two unidentified informed sources told the News. One source added that Air America officials, led by an official of the Gloria Wise Club, agreed to help the local club by publicizing its activities.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Franken and Garofalo to talk about it.

A reason for Democrats to like CAFTA

Racist, anti-Semite, protectionist, neo-socialist right-wing statist nutter Pat Buchanan hates it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Schumer as Torquemada V

My penultimate entry in answering Schumer's attempt to play Torquemada against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The best answer Roberts could give would be the Ginsburg response: “I cannot say one word on that subject that would not violate what I said had to be my rule about no hints, no forecasts, no previews.”

Once again, The Monk answers the questions that John Roberts, in many cases, cannot. These questions are the ones Chuck Schumer wants Roberts to answer to Schumer's satisfaction. Fat chance that. And The Monk won't make Schumer any happier. But that's not my concern. So here are Schumer's questions and The Monk's answers:

10. How do you define judicial activism? Give us three examples of Supreme Court cases that you consider the product of judicial activism.

Either: (1) reaching a decision without regard to the controlling law, the plain meaning of the controlling law and/or the intent of the controlling law (provided its intent is itself constitutional); or (2) legislating from the bench (the Miranda warnings requirement, Roe v. Wade). Roper, Kelo and the Civil Rights Cases fit the first part of this bill.

-- Is the "activist" label limited to more liberal-leaning judges, or can there be conservative activist judges? Can you cite any examples of conservative judicial activism?

It can potentially work either way, but you'd be hard-pressed to find "conservative" judicial activism recently because what liberals call "conservative judicial activism" is merely scaling back the out-of-control judicial activism that liberal courts have used. Korematsu or Barnette would work.

-- In cases where federal law and state law may be in conflict, who is the activist - the judge who voted to limit the federal law or the judge who limited the state law?

Ridiculous question: the Constitution grants certain powers to the Federal government, certain powers to the states so it all depends on what's at stake.

-- Do you believe that the Supreme Court was engaging in judicial activism when it struck down provisions of the Gun-Free School Zones Act (United States v. Lopez) or the Violence Against Women Act (United States v. Morrison), both of which had been passed by Congress?

No and no (see my previous posts in this series).

-- Was the Supreme Court engaging in judicial activism in:
Brown v. Board of Education?
Miranda v. Arizona?
Dred Scott v. Sandford?
The Civil Rights Cases of 1883?
Lochner v. New York?
Furman v. Georgia?
Bush v. Gore?

Yes, but it was correctly decided.
Yes, and it stretched the Fifth Amendment "custody" issue far beyond any constitutionally intended limit.
Yes, and it was a bloody travesty.
Yes, and we're still paying for how they helped neutralize the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Lochner has become a shibboleth. I think the decision was more a regrettable misreading of reality than activism.
No, Bush v. Gore was the correct decision because the decisions by the Florida Supreme Court violated Article II of the Constitution. Remember: seven of the nine justices found an Equal Protection violation by the Florida Supreme Court.

What distinguishes one case from the other?

See above.

11. Do you describe yourself as falling into any particular school of judicial philosophy?

I'm not so good with open heights so I try to avoid situations where falling is a real possibility.

-- What is your view of "strict constructionism"?

Works for me: words should have specific meanings. It's expansive construction that rendered the word "shall" a legal nullity as courts found it meant "may" "must" "should" "could" "will" "might" and their opposites!

-- What is your view of the notion of "original intent"? "Original meaning"?

Original intent is fine so long as that intent is ascertainable and applicable. Original meaning is a weasel term.

-- How do you square the notion of respecting "original intent" with the acceptance of the institution of slavery at the time the Constitution was adopted?

This is the US equivalent of comparing some act or intent to something the Nazis did. The logic is that because slavery was not abolished by the Constitution, and many of the Framers owned slaves, their original intent is therefore invalid, illegitimate and fundamentally racist. This ignores the historical reality of the compromises necessary to obtain ratification of the Constitution. There is no need to square "original intent" with acceptance (note, the question doesn't use the word "endorsement" because it cannot -- the Framers never endorsed, approved or exalted the institution of slavery) of slavery because those parts of the Constitution that dealt with slavery in any way are severable from the rest of the document.

12. What in your view are the limits on the scope of Congress' power under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment?

Congress can only exercise power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment by "appropriate" legislation. There's your limit.

-- Does a law violate the Equal Protection Clause if it affects different groups differently, or must there be a discriminatory intent?

No. Equal protection, not equal result.

Do you agree that, under the Equal Protection Clause, disparate impact alone does not render a law unconstitutional, as the Court held in Washington v. Davis (1976)?


Do parents have a Due Process right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, as the Supreme Court held in Troxel v. Granville (2000)?

Yes. The state should not be allowed to interfere as it desires.

Next up, the final questions and a wrap-up.

More Krugman Fiction

Paul Krugman is #8 on Bernard Goldberg's new book "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America" and yesterday's column on Toyota selecting Ontario as the site for a new car plant is a very good example why.

Many discerning readers will realize quickly that Krugman is genetically unable to tell a straight story but what is disturbing is the legions of NY Times devotees for whom every word in the paper is imperishable prose. Today, a day after, his article is still the second most e-mailed from the site.

Krugman's theme is that Toyota chose Ontario as a site for a new plant because:

1. Americans in the southern states, particularly Alabama, are stupid and make poor employees,

What made Toyota so sensitive to labor quality issues? Maybe we should discount remarks from the president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who claimed that the educational level in the Southern United States was so low that trainers for Japanese plants in Alabama had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech equipment.

But there are other reports, some coming from state officials, that confirm his basic point: Japanese auto companies opening plants in the Southern U.S. have been unfavorably surprised by the work force's poor level of training.

2. that Canada with its great national health care system is cheaper for companies and boy isn't national health insurance great!

Funny, isn't it? Pundits tell us that the welfare state is doomed by globalization, that programs like national health insurance have become unsustainable. But Canada's universal health insurance system is handling international competition just fine. It's our own system, which penalizes companies that treat their workers well, that's in trouble.

What Krugman blithely ignores are recent Toyota announcements that new plants are being opened in Texas, Kentucky and West Virginia.

He is also extremely disingenuous about the Canadian health care system which is paid for by high taxes on the entire population. Great 'national' system that doesn't allow a citizen from Quebec to receive emergency care in Ontario - we posted about it here.

Donald Luskin, chief of the Krugman Truth Squad, has comments here.

The Palestinian Legacy - Suicide Bombings

Dennis Prager's trenchant piece is going to have the Left and the CAIR types going apoplectic. Prager lays the blame for the suicide bombings that have killed and maimed tens of thousands squarely at the feet of Palestinian Muslims and their fellow traveler-apologists of the Left.

In the last few weeks, innocent men, women and children have been blown up, paralyzed, brain damaged and otherwise had their lives ruined by Muslim suicide bombers in Britain, Egypt and Iraq.

Who can we thank for this man-made plague? Palestinians and the Left.

We need to thank Palestinians for their major contribution to humanity -- religiously sanctioned mass murder of innocents through suicide. Prior to the Palestinians, this did not exist.
Palestinian Muslims -- no Palestinian Christians have committed a suicide bombing -- have created a religious and moral basis for mass murder and did so within a worldwide religion with a billion adherents. When the Palestinians sent brainwashed young men to blow themselves up in Israeli buses, cafes and discos, they offered justifications that provided the basis for many others to do the same.
Judea Pearl, the father of murdered Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl, has devoted his life since his son's murder by Muslims in Pakistan to building bridges to the Muslim world. He told me on my radio show that he is sad to report that "99.99 percent" of the Muslim world does not believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. It is no wonder, then, that so few Muslims religiously or morally condemned Palestinian terror against Israeli Jews. At best, some Palestinians condemn Palestinian terror as counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Period. It may be impractical, but not immoral or un-Islamic.

What therefore happened was that the religious justification for murdering innocent people took hold in the Muslim world. It apparently never occurred to Muslim leaders that once you justify evil, that evil will eventually be unleashed against you, too.

If blowing up Jewish children is OK, so is blowing up Egyptian, Moroccan, Iraqi, British, Spanish and Russian children.

And that is where the Left comes in. They have provided the secular and universal justification for Palestinian Islamic terror against Jews.

According to the world's Left, it's OK for Palestinians to put bombs in an Israeli student cafeteria because:

1. Israel occupies Palestinian land (even though a leftist Israeli government offered 97 percent of it to Yasser Arafat)

2. Therefore, Palestinians are engaging in legitimate resistance

3. Since Palestinians don't have sophisticated weaponry, they use their weapon, the suicide bomber

4. Israelis kill Palestinian civilians, so there is a moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians (even though the Palestinians target Jewish innocents and the Israelis do not target Palestinian innocents)

...[T]he Left around the world blames Israel for the Palestinian suicide bombers, and blames America for those in Iraq. Without the Left around the world, the Palestinian God-based mass murder through suicide would have been an isolated phenomenon, universally condemned as the evil it is.
The next time you read of men, women and children blown apart by a young Muslim praising Allah, you can thank Palestinians and the Left.

Harsh words. But I don't remember many suicide bombings in the 1970s. Suicide bombings don't need to be the Palestinian legacy but the current situation doesn't give one much hope.

Steyn roundup

Here's a trio from Mark Steyn: one on the London bombing and how multiculturalism is suddenly losing ground to assimilation as a social policy; one on the Roberts nomination and one on the shooting of the Brazilian emigre in the London tube last Thursday. Unlike many conservatives, Steyn is not justifying the shooting as a tragic mistake.

We'll lead off with the commentary on the unfortunate shooting. The primary problems? Inconsistent actions by the police AND a lack of information regarding the new shoot-to-kill policy:

we turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed "suicide bomber" who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they'd put five bullets in his head. We're told we shouldn't second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn't spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?

* * *
We at this newspaper are currently defending British soldiers facing prosecution for situations broadly analogous to those in which the Met found themselves. But there's still a difference. Anyone who rubs up against the military in Iraq knows what to expect: attempt to crash a roadblock and don't be surprised if they open fire. But few of us had an inkling of the Met's new "shoot to kill" policy until they shot and killed Mr de Menezes. And although I've had a ton of e-mails pointing out various sinister aspects of his behaviour - he was wearing a heavy coat! he refused to stop! - it seems to me there are an awful lot of people on the Tube who might easily find themselves in Mr de Menezes's position.

Steyn also tweaks the Australians for the multiculturalistic idiocies they blathered until the 7/7 London attacks smartened them up (the Aussies have great affinity for the Pohmmies -- POHMs = Prisoners of Her Majesty, the Brits) and notes the damage such multicultural rubbish has caused since 2000:

WITH hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier. Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world's largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?"

Fortunately, Bryant's been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she recalled. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could."

* * *
For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries. Hitherto, they've taken a relaxed view of the more, ah, robust forms of cultural diversity - Sydney gang rapes, German honour killings - but Her Britannic Majesty's suicide bombers have apparently stiffened even the most jelly-spined lefties.

* * *
That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on. Instead, it just involves feeling warm and fluffy, making bliss out of ignorance.

Finally, Steyn rips the Democrats who would try to eviscerate John Roberts because he claims such opposition is primarily motivated by the same HATE BUSH thought process that stems from the 2000 election:

It was the Democrats who introduced us to the Four Chads -- Swinging Chad, Dangling Chad, Hanging Chad and Dimpled Chad -- at a time when, to most Republicans, the Four Chads were that vocal group who'd headlined the party's A-list $3.95-a-plate celebrity fund-raiser. It was the Dems who demanded the election be decided by chad diviners interpreting the subtle, indeed undetectable indentation of the dimple as a decisive vote for Al Gore. America has chads in its politics because Democrat lawyers put them there.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make chads. When their frantic swinging, dangling and dimpling availed them nought, Democrats were consumed by bitterness. Understandably enough. That's one reason why some of us like the old-fashioned method of having the big questions of the day decided by the votes of free-born citizens. When you leave them to be adjudicated by nine men and women on the basis of their opinions and you wind up on the losing side, it's bound to feel less satisfactory. But who turned the election into a lawsuit in the first place? It was the Democrats who went before the courts arguing for the inclusion of dimples, and the exclusion of military ballots, and the post-election amendment of the election law.

* * *
Give it up, guys. Here's the John Roberts case that matters: As the Los Angeles Times put it, Roberts "said police did not violate the constitutional rights of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested, handcuffed and detained for eating a French fry inside a train station." We know what the flailing Times is clutching at here: Look, folks, this right-wing nut favors handcuffing schoolgirls for eating French fries.

No, he doesn't. As he wrote in his opinion, "The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution" -- i.e., it may be bad legislation poorly implemented, but it's not his job to make the law. If you don't like public-transit policy on French fries, elect new councilors who'll change it. That's how free societies function.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Not getting it department

This is a gem. I'm losing respect for Evan Bayh by the day:

"You wouldn't run for the United States Senate or for governor or for anything else without answering people's questions about what you believe. And I think the Supreme Court is no different." — Sen. Evan Bayh (D-In.), CNN "Inside Politics," July 25, 2005.

Courtesy: Bench memos (click title)

They Still Stink -- Yankees Update

The Yanks just finished off a 6-5 post-All Star roadie. That's not bad considering the opponents were the RedSawx, the Rangers (who used to not suck just 2 weeks ago) and the Angels. But it's not good considering that: Mooooooossina allowed just 2 runs in his last 17+ IP on the trip, Johnson pitched decently well twice, Matsui, Giambi and Cano all hit well, and Sheff/Arod whupped up on the Sawx and Rangers. There's plenty wrong in Yankeeville:

1) Jeter hits sub-.240 on the road;
2) Kevin Brown;
3) Inability to hit stiffs like Chan Ho Park and Jon Lackey;
4) Inability to pitch Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Vlady Guerrero.

But the worst thing the Yanks are dealing with is Torre's mismanagement of the bullpen. He fouled up FOUR games on this trip, but the team only got burned twice because Rivera is making his mark as a Cy Young Award candidate.

I've been critical of Torre's bullpen management in the past (see here for previous criticism of Torre's management of the pitchers) and this trip gave me more reason to be upset. Let's go through the four failures:

First, July 17 at Bahstin: Yanks lead 5-1 bottom nine, Gordon has pitched only 1/3 of an inning and Joe is going to keep him in to close out the Sawx. WRONG MOVE. The Yanks had taken two of three, Mo had wiped out the Sawx the day before so he would not be fatigued, and this game counts double in the standings because the Yanks KNOW if they win, they gain on the Sawx. Sure enough, Gordon serves up a bomb to fatboy1 (Ramirez), gets in trouble and Mo needs a minor miracle to pull off the save.

It's not a save situation? BFD -- Joe routinely brings in Rivera with a four-run lead in the playoffs. No reason not to do the same in a game of this magnitude.

Second, July 19 at Texas: The Monk watched this live and knew that Joe wouldn't bring in Rivera in this game because he'd pitched three straight nights. The Yanks had a 1-0 lead in the 8th and Joe would use Gordon as the closer (he didn't pitch on the 18th). So Joe wanted to cobble together a bridge to Gordon. He let Wayne Franklin take the hill and Franklin allowed the first two runners to reach. Then he pulled a DP out of his ear as Mark Texeira dribbled a twin-killing off a 3-0 pitch. Two out, runner on third. Franklin against Hank Blalock.

So Franklin had allowed two solid hits, barely scraped up a DP and still faced the prospect of an all-star caliber player with a runner on third. I said to my buddy: walk Blalock, get Gordon to face Soriano. Why, when Franklin-Blalock was a lefty-lefty matchup?

Managers love THE BOOK -- send out a lefty pitcher to face a lefty hitter, go with that matchup first. Problem: Franklin is a fastball/changeup pitcher, not a good breaking ball, so Blalock could get a good look. Problem 2: Gordon throws curves and splitters, Soriano swings at ANYTHING that's junky, low and outside. Gordon is a better pitcher than Franklin. To me, the answer is simple: pitch to Sori. But THE BOOK says don't put the go-ahead run on base. Instead, Torre let Frankin pitch and Blalock took him out (on a not-so-bad pitch, mind you) for the 2-1 Rangers win.

Third, July 21 at Anaheim in Los Angeles: The Yanks bomb four HRs off fat Bartolo Colon, hold a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the 7th but the suddenly fragile Randy Johnson left with a minor injury (Torre's babying him too much, and Johnson probably thinks that too). Instead of replacing him with hard-throwing veteran Felix Rodriguez, who had silenced the Rangers two days before, Torre puts in Scott Proctor. Proctor throws hard but straight -- no foolin' anyone. He walks Jeff DaVannon. Buddy Groom gives up two hits. Torre summons Gordon to face Guerrero. Vlady hits a pitchers' pitch for a Grand Slam. Simply stated, he should never have had that chance.

Fourth, July 24 at Anaheim in Los Angeles: Bottom 8, Rivera hasn't pitched in four days and there's an off-day on the 25th. The Yanks lead 3-1 and need the win to avoid an ugly sweep at Knott's Berry Farm. Instead of having Mo pitch two innings and put the kibosh on any possible comeback, Torre starts the inning with Gordon, who gets in trouble. Mo gets him out of it and cements the victory.

I'm still unhappy with Joe's bullpen management. Worse could happen, though, if the Yanks make a stupid trade at the deadline (read: Randy Winn).

CAFTA and China

CAFTA has plenty of domestic enemies but the biggest hurdle in its passage could actually be China, according to a US Representative whose comments were not for attribution.

Specifically in order to cobble together enough votes (the Bush administration is having trouble) for passage in the House, the final bill may have to include some anti-China measures. The de-pegging last week and the two percent revaluation is not seen to be sufficient to placate representatives from US manufacturing states.

CAFTA, which ought to be passed, looks like its entering into rough waters and I don't make the chances to be much better than 50-50 at this stage given the array of forces lined up against it.

The Funeral Crasher

The lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania appears uninvited at the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq, passes out her business card and dishes some anti-war propaganda.

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.
In a phone interview, Goodrich said the funeral service was packed with people "who wanted to tell his family how Joe had impacted their lives."

Then, suddenly, "one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll."

She sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of communion, said, "Who are you?" Then she handed the family member one of her business cards, which Goodrich said she still has.
What really upset the family, Goodrich said, is that Knoll said, 'I want you to know our government is against this war,' " Goodrich said.

Columnist Jack Kelly compares this stunt to Michael Moore's unauthorized usage of footage from a military funeral in Fahrenheit 9/11 for which the mother of the slain soldier called Moore, appropriately, "a maggot that eats off the dead".


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Schumer as Torquemada IV

More in the continuing series as The Monk answers the questions that John Roberts, in many cases, cannot. These questions are the ones Chuck Schumer wants Roberts to answer to Schumer's satisfaction.

As I noted before, in many cases ethical rules will prevent Roberts from answering and I'll try to indicate where he cannot (I disagree with Matthew Franck's statement on National Review's Bench Memos that there are no problems with any of the questions), although no ethical rules require Schumer to portray that honestly. Schumer's questions are in regular type (with coloration), my responses/comments are in bold. This lot includes some pretty dicey and specific issues

6. Is there a constitutionally protected right to privacy, and if so, under what circumstances does it apply?

Go on, search the text and find it. Keep searching. Keep digging. Found it yet? From the Supreme Court's perspective (through its cases), there is one but by and large, other than Fourth Amendment "reasonable expectation of privacy" as applied to not having your personal effects searched and seized at whim by the Government, you'll be hard-pressed to define what it is and from whence it came.

-- The word "privacy" is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. In your view, does that mean it is wrong for the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution as conferring such a right?

This is a tough question for any candidate, but there are two answers: First, you can say the Ninth Amendment prevents the government from denying a right to privacy but that can create a blank check; second, you can give the "living document" or "emanating from the penumbras" argument. Neither is particularly compelling. A third option is the "unwritten law" that everyone knows -- bugger off from my private life. Jonah Goldberg has argued persuasively about expanding the acceptance of unwritten laws as norms for societal behavior without expanding them to constitutional rights.

-- Do you believe that either the United States Congress or the states can regulate the sexual behavior of individuals within the privacy of their home?

Yipes! Can't you SOBs stay out of my house, you sick f--ks? The answer needs to be only in the case of a compelling state interest (criminal activity like rape -- how'd you like someone to have the defense of "but it was in my private house"? -- and other compelling interests like incest, bestiality, other heinous actions.


-- Do you agree with the reasoning in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which held that the right to privacy in the Constitution protects the right of married couples to purchase and use contraception?

No. Griswold is a logical and jurisprudential disaster. The law it overturned, however, was ridiculous on its face.

-- Do you believe that Roe v. Wade (1973) was correctly decided? What is your view of the quality of the legal reasoning in that case? Do you believe that it reached the right result?

No twice. If you wimpy legislators ever had the stones to tackle a difficult issue, the Court wouldn't have had to legislate from the bench like this.

-- Once the right to privacy has been found - as in Griswold and Roe - under what circumstances should the Supreme Court revisit that right?

Unanswerable for Roberts because it could cause ethical problems. But if some nutter starts claiming privacy rights allow him to engage in polygamy, there's a limit to be erected there.

7. What is the proper role of the federal government in enacting laws to protect the environment?

Broad question. That's a policy issue for the Congress and the Executive to figure out; the judiciary's role is to keep them from overstepping any Constitutional boundaries. Yeah, that's a BS answer but the question is too broad. After all, the judiciary shouldn't be making decisions about the government's role, just its powers.

-- Does the Constitution provide any instruction on how Congress should balance the interests of industry against environmental interests?

No. That question is just strange.

-- Under the Constitution, how far can Congress go in imposing restrictions on people and businesses to protect the air and water?

Now Schumer is just looking for something to hang Roberts with. My answer is the Takings Clause sets limits as does the Due Process Clause (Fifth Amendment version) but the question is just too broad to answer without writing a dissertation.

-- Under the Constitution, how far can the states go in enacting laws to protect the environment, and does it matter whether there is federal legislation on the same subject?

This is a political issue, not constitutional.

Let me put this in the context of specific cases:

-- Do you believe that the Supreme Court correctly decided that the EPA has the authority to pursue industrial polluters in a state where the local authority has declined to do so, as in Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation v. EPA (2004)?

I don't know the case well, but usually if the two have concurrent jurisdiction, then either can decide to exercise that jurisdiction independent of the other.

-- Can the Clean Air Act preempt local emissions regulations, as the Court held in Engine Manufacturers Association v. South Coast Air Quality Management (2004)?

Stupid question: this is a legislative issue of whether Congress wants to pre-empt. If the question is whether Congress can do so under its Commerce Clause powers, it would cause a vast upheaval of Commerce Clause precedent to claim the Congress lacked such authority.

8. What is the proper role of the federal government in enacting laws to protect the rights of the disabled?

Political question. The man is a judge, Senator. You figure that out and he'll tell you if you're stepping on Constitutional protections of the populace.

-- Does the Constitution provide any instruction on how Congress should balance the costs to business against the government's interest in creating equal access to facilities for disabled persons?

Not directly.

-- Should federal laws mandating access to buildings for disabled people apply to both public and private buildings?

I'd say no it's not a commerce clause question (for private buildings), but this is a question that will come up time and again in the courts so Roberts should dodge it.

-- For example, do you believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires state buildings to be accessible to the disabled, as the Supreme Court held in Tennessee v. Lane, or do you think that sovereign immunity exempts the states?

Personally, sovereign immunity should exempt the states, but that's an issue that will come up again and again so Roberts needs to dodge it.

9. What is the proper Constitutional role of Government in enacting laws to regulate education?

Shouldn't the states be allowed to do something? Traditionally this is their baliwick.

-- How far can the Government go under the Constitution to ensure equal treatment for all students?

Not so far as to violate the Constitution. Anything more specific could force Roberts to recuse himself when this issue pops up in the future.

-- How far can the Court go to protect speech and/or prohibit violations of the establishment clause in the schools? For example, do you believe that Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000) was decided correctly?

He should go into a soliloquy about the importance of free speech and decline anything more specific.

-- Does the Constitution guarantee parents the right to choose their children's education, as established in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)?

That's a broad reading, but the fact is that I don't see why a judge's policy views on this issue mean anything other than "one man's opinion".

Honestly, many of Schumer's questions are policy issues more properly addressed to nominees for political offices.

"Civilizations Die from Suicide, Not by Murder"

This quote from Cliff May at NRO's The Corner caught my eye. It's actually from the English historian and philosopher Arnold Toynbee.

Mark Steyn and Diana West relate Toynbee's insight to how the insidious belief in multiculturalism could be the West's cyanide pill.

The best comment, though, is from Italian oracle Oriana Fallaci, via Darleen's Place:

"Europe is no longer Europe, it is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty"
"You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other civilizations have collapsed--from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality." (She uses "welfare" here in the sense of well-being, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) "The moment you give up your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period." [emphasis added]

London cops shoot innocent man

The London police admitted that the man they shot five times at the Stockwell station was unrelated to the recent bombings and was in fact an electrician from Brazil.

It appears to be a terrible, tragic mistake. [I am qualifying this since the investigation is incomplete and there is not yet an answer to why Menezes acted so suspiciously.]

At the same time the UK and the West cannot let this mistake change the approach to preventing terror. Captain's Quarters puts it in perspective:

Menezes, a Catholic, had legally emigrated to Britain three years earlier and worked as an electrician. He spoke English well and would have understood the commands to stop, and his family says he had no reason to flee from the police -- and yet he did.

Many people will take this time to second-guess the London police and British special services. They will note the tragic consequences of a shoot-first policy that killed an apparently innocent man just trying to get to work, although one would expect that an innocent man would have stopped when commanded to do so instead of running for the nearest subway car. The police themselves will now second-guess themselves when it comes to making split-second decisions that could mean death in either direction.

Debate on tactics has its place and its benefits, but when such debate comes, it has to take place in the proper context -- and that context is the war which Islamofascist terrorists have declared on the West.

The New York Times - Unbelievably Defeatist

This headline from the New York Times surprised even me.

"Defying U.S. efforts, Guerrillas in Iraq Refocus and Strengthen"

With a lead like this one would expect an investigative article with some real revelations. However, upon inspection I found that co-authors Dexter Filkins and David S. Cloud have done little more than rehash recent news, add a decent bit of editorializing peppered with a handful of factoids with weak attribution and pass it off as NEWS.

The opening line to the article:

"They just keep getting stronger."


"In Baghdad, it is commonly understood that the recent success of the insurgency lies in part in the weakness of the Iraqi government."

"One other recent development in the insurgency - and a possible explanation of its ability to bring in recruits from around the Arab world - is the reach and sophistication of its public relations. "

Compare to the only real piece of 'news' in the piece:

"We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents," said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. "But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge."

Messrs. Filkins and Cloud contend that the recent attacks against Arab diplomats are designed to intimidate foreign governments and that this is 'shrewd' practice. One could easily see it also as desperation. The same could be said for the suicide attack in Musayyib where a suicide bomber blew up a fuel truck. (The authors blame lax security measures for this by the way.) Zarqawi himself complained a few months back that the insurgency NEEDED to start a civil war and despite the bloodshed there seems to be little indication that is happening.

In summary, probably not a bad op-ed viewpoint but when you pass this off as NEWS and attach an egregiously biased headline the New York Times serves no one except the terrorists. Zarqawi is probably roaring with laughter that the none less the the New York Times is fanning his 'legend'. Sadly there are folks, many that I know, who read the Times from cover to cover every day and fervently believe that it is the secular Bible.

Charles at LGF caught this travesty and a commenter, z9zz9, suggested more appropriate headlines for this story:

Bloody but Ineffective Insurgency Forced to Switch Tactics.

Terrorist Blooodshed Not Stopping Political Progress; Insurgents Switch Focus.

With Resources Limited, Insurgents Forced to Be More Discriminating in Target Choices.

NYT Readershoip Dwindling; Seeks New Subscribers Among American-Hating Nitwits.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Schumer as Torquemada III

More in the continuing series as The Monk answers the questions that John Roberts, in many cases, cannot. These questions are the ones Chuck Schumer wants Roberts to answer to Schumer's satisfaction.

As I noted before, in many cases ethical rules will prevent Roberts from answering and I'll try to indicate where he cannot (I disagree with Matthew Franck's statement on National Review's Bench Memos that there are no problems with any of the questions, that's ludicrous on its face), although no ethical rules require Schumer to portray Roberts' silence honestly. Schumer's questions are in regular type (with coloration), my responses/comments are in bold. This lot is primarily theoretical and not as specific nor policy-intensive as Schumer as Torquemada IV.

4. Under what circumstances is it appropriate for the Supreme Court to overturn a well-settled precedent, upon which Americans have come to rely?

When it's wrong (Plessy, Dred Scott, Kelo)

-- Does your answer depend at all on the length of time that the precedent has been on the books?

No. Wrong is wrong. At last check, Plessy was about 57 years old when it was flipped by Brown v. Board of Educ. of Topeka, Kan.

-- Does your answer depend at all on how widely criticized or accepted the precedent is?

Again no. Plessy was widely accepted. Texas v. Johnson was roundly criticized. The former is an abomination. The latter is a soaring affirmation of what the First Amendment is truly about.

-- What if you agree with the result but believe the legal reasoning was seriously flawed? Does that make a difference?

Modify the basis of the decision. It's not that hard.

-- Does it matter if the precedent was 5-4 in deciding whether to overturn it? Does it matter if was a unanimous decision?

Why should it? Wrong is wrong. Kelo would be a crap decision if it were 9-0. Indeed, Wisconsin v. Mitchell IS a crap decision and was 9-0. Similarly, Texas v. Johnson is dead-on correct, but was 5-4. Oh yeah, Plessy was 8-1 [Dred Scott v. Sandford was 6-3].

Specifically [uh-oh, here it comes -- TKM]:

-- Do you agree with the 1976 decision in which the Supreme Court held that Congress could not extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to state and city employees (National League of Cities v. Usery), or do you agree with the later 1985 decision, which held that Congress could (Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit, overruling Nat'l League of Cities). Was the Court right to overturn its precedent nine years later? Why or why not?

I don't know enough about those cases to opine. I'll just stick with the wrong is wrong analysis. If a case comes to the Court in 2007 arguing against Kelo and the Court reverses the Kelo decision, that's a GOOD outcome.

-- Do you agree with the 1989 decision in which the Supreme Court held that it was constitutional to execute minors (Stanford v. Kentucky), or do you agree with the later 2005 decision, which held that it was unconstitutional (Roper v. Simmons). Was the Court right to overturn its precedent 16 years later? Why or why not?

Roberts will dodge this and he should because this may come up again. After all, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in the 1970s in a way that affected all death penalty statutes then on the books and effectively reinstated the constitutionality of the death penalty about 6-8 years later. The Monk's answer is simple: Roper is a jurisprudential abomination -- it effectively says that a murderer who kills at the age of 17 years, 364 days is functionally different from one who kills on his 18th birthday solely due to the age, without accounting for any facts and circumstances regarding the murderer and the murder. Plus, Roper relied on a false definition of "consensus" and a completely incorrect reading of international law.

-- Do you agree with the 1986 decision in which the Supreme Court held that states could criminalize private sex acts between consenting adults (Bowers v. Hardwick), or do you agree with the later 2003 decision, which held that the states could not (Lawrence v. Texas)? Was the Court right to overturn its precedent 17 years later? Why or why not?

Bowers is based on the states' police powers (although their use in that case is unwarranted: just because the state CAN legislate doesn't mean it should); Lawrence is a judicial fiasco. Justice Thomas' dissent is about as good as it gets in a short space.

5. Under what circumstances should the Supreme Court invalidate a law duly passed by the Congress?

When it's unconstitutional. Next question.

-- What amount of deference should the court give to Congressional action?

As much as it deserves, no more, no less. If the Congressional enactment violates Article I, Section 9 (powers denied to Congress), it gets no deference; ditto any enactment that violates the various Amendments or trods upon the powers of the Executive.

-- Should the Court err on the side of upholding a law?

Only if the law is within the Article I, Section 8 powers of Congress.

-- Do certain types of laws deserve greater deference than others? Regulatory laws? Criminal laws?

Article I, Section 8 laws get greater deference. Laws that infringe upon Article II powers should get no deference. Criminal laws directly relating to Article I, Section 8 powers should get deference but the Court has a duty to ensure that Congress has ensured that its enactment actually DOES directly relate to such powers.

Nonetheless, this is a REALLY general theoretical question that Roberts should dance around.

-- How closely tied must a law be to an enumerated right of Congress under Article I for it to be upheld?

Pretty dang close. Don't just make s--t up (see below).

This question is an attempt to get Roberts to pre-judge future cases

Let me ask you about a few cases in which the Supreme Court has struck down federal laws:

-- Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Gun-Free School Zones Act at issue in United States v. Lopez (1995)? Why or why not?

Heck yeah, that law had nothing to do with interstate commerce. That was just a Congressional policy preference.

-- Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down provisions of the Violence Against Women Act in United States v. Morrison (2000)? Why or why not?

Again, yes. Congress encroaching upon the states' police powers under false cover of the commerce clause. Not every crime needs to be a federal case.

Essentially, Schumer is looking to see if Roberts will uphold a far-reaching Congressional legislative agenda. The answer should be that if such agenda reaches too far, Congress needs a reminder of the Constitutional limitations under which it must operate.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Schumer as Torquemada II

More questions from Schumer to Judge Roberts, courtesy NRO, and answers from The Monk in bold.

2. First Amendment and the Establishment Clause:

Under the Establishment Clause, what, if any, is the appropriate role of religion in Government? Undefined by the Establishment Clause, that's the flaw in your thinking, Senator.

-- Must the Government avoid involvement with religion as a whole, or is the prohibition just on Government involvement with any specific religion? The Establishment Clause is designed to prevent the favoring of one religion over any other.

-- Is there a difference between religious expression in Government buildings, documents, and institutions and Government spending on private, faith-based initiatives? Man, this Q is more broad than an aircraft carrier's landing deck. And the answer is everything depends on intent.

-- What do you see as the Constitutionally protected or limited role of faith-based groups in Government-funded activity? In Government institutions? Roberts cannot answer this but as a policy matter as long as there is no advancement of a particular religion, the Establishment Clause is unaffected.


-- In the two cases the Supreme Court decided on the Ten Commandments recently, a display of the Commandments inside a Courthouse was found unconstitutional, while a statue of the Commandments on the grounds of a state capitol was deemed acceptable. Do you agree with the distinction the Court drew between Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary Country v. ACLU (2005)? In your view, are these decisions consistent with each other? No and no.

-- What is your view of the Supreme Court's opinion in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000), which held that prayer in public schools is prohibited even where it is student-organized, non-denominational, and at a football game? Ridiculous. The government cannot promote a religion, if the kiddies want to, that's different. The logic of having something on public school grounds equal a public school ACT is simply poor.

3. Commerce Clause:

Beginning in 1937, when it upheld the National Labor Relations Act, the Supreme Court has granted Congress great latitude in passing laws under the Commerce Clause. The Court has upheld a wide range of federal laws, including those that regulate labor standards, personal consumption of produce, racial discrimination in public accommodations, and crime. In the last ten years, however, the Supreme Court has shifted course, doing something it had not done in sixty years: striking down acts of Congress on Commerce Clause grounds.

-- Do you agree with the trend towards striking down laws on this basis? What trend? That's a dopey question -- if Congress hadn't gone so far off the reservation, the S. Court would not have slapped it.

-- What do you believe is the extent of Congress's authority to legislate under the Commerce Clause? Another ridiculous question -- Judge Roberts can go get a law review article and read it into the record to kill Schumer's question time.

-- Can Congress regulate local trade in a product that is used nationally? Note the vague phrasing -- what's local and what's national? The Constitution deals with interSTATE, not interlocality transactions. Dallas to El Paso is not a local transaction, but Hoboken to Manhattan is.

-- Can Congress regulate labor standards for states and cities under its Commerce Clause power? Good gosh, is there nothing you people don't want to touch? Answer is yes if it's interstate and doesn't violate the Contract Clause.

-- How closely connected must the regulated action be to interstate commerce for Congress to have the authority to legislate? To me, pretty directly involved.

-- Where would you look for evidence that Congress is properly legislating under its Commerce Clause authority? Do you rely exclusively on the text of the legislation? Do you look at the legislative history? Do you consider the nature of the regulated activity? No, yes and yes.

-- What is the extent of the limitations imposed on state regulation by the Commerce Clause? This is well-defined under the "Dormant Commerce Clause" doctrine.


-- Do you agree with the Court's decision in United States v. Lopez (1995), which struck down the Gun-Free School Zone Act because education is traditionally local? Is there any circumstance under which Congress could regulate activities in and around schools using its Commerce Clause authority? Yes to the first Q. For the second, you're bound to try something and you'll probably win 3-4 votes from the Nine.

-- Do you agree that it is the Commerce Clause that allows Congress to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations, as the Court held in Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. United States (1964)? No, this should have been one for the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment but the Supreme Court didn't overturn the Civil Rights Cases and instead worked around them.

Still more, we're not even halfway through!

Schumer as Torquemada I

Charles Schumer released a list of 70+ questions (including subparts) that he intends to ask John Roberts in the confirmation hearings. Roberts cannot answer most of these because of his ethical obligations, but that's fine with Schumer because the NY Senator can just turn around and complain that Roberts is hiding his views.

I'm going to take a crack at a bunch of these questions in a number of groups because (1) it's a good intellectual exercise; (2) Judge Roberts cannot; (3) some of the questions are ridiculous; (4) I'll be able to show some of the fallacies underlying Schumer's thinking.

Start at the top (my answers in bold)

What, if any, are the limitations on the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution? This is so broad that treatises and books have been written about it. If I were Roberts, I'd take a long article I agree with and read it into the record to kill all Schumer's time.

-- When can Government regulate public speech by individuals? Also too broad to determine but the basics are: false speech, conspiracy, obscenity, immediate threats of bodily harm, state secrets and reasonable time-place-manner restrictions (i.e., no protesting me on my property -- that's trespass, not a speech issue, so go bugger off 40 feet down the road) can be "regulated".

-- When does speech cross the line between Constitutionally protected free expression and slander? This is a stupid question because slander is well-defined as (at minimum) a false statement of fact published to a third-party (other than the speaker and the target) that injures or tends to injure one's reputation.

-- In what ways does the First Amendment protect the spending and raising of money by individuals in politics? This is core political speech, which is absolutely protected (Brandenberg v. Ohio); and it can fit within the freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment.

-- Can Government regulate hate speech? What about sexually explicit materials? (1) Not as hate speech b/c one person's political expostuation is another's hate speech. (2) Yes, within certain parameters.


-- Do you agree with the landmark decision in NY Times v. Sullivan (1964), which held that public criticism of public figures is acceptable unless motivated by actual malice? Who do you believe constitutes a public figure under this standard? Heck yeah, if you can't handle it, don't run for Senator. What Roberts believes is irrelevant, public figure is fairly well-defined for publicly elected officials if criticized on their jobs or matters related thereto, and not that nebulous for those who are not public officials but are publicly known.

-- Do you believe the Supreme Court was correct to strike down the Communications Decency Act in Reno v. ACLU (1997) on the grounds that pornography on the Internet is protected by the First Amendment? Yes, next time define pornography better to comport with the Court's previous obscenity cases.

-- What is your view on the distinction the Supreme Court drew in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and McConnell v. FEC (2003) between contributions and expenditures in the course of political campaigns? Do you believe that it is legitimate to construe campaign expenditures as protected speech but not donations by individuals? Rubbish. If there's a distinction to be drawn, the Supreme Court got it exactly backward; then again, the distinction itself is farcical -- this is all core political speech.

Not a good start for Schumer.

More to come.

Two Insights into Islamist Terror

Two good, related pieces today on Islamist terror from Victor Davis Hanson and Olivier Roy.

Both refute persuasively that the relentlessly repeated shibboleth of every Muslim who condemns 'terrorist' acts but adds the ubiquitous "BUT" it would be different we just got of Iraq and stopped supporting the Jews.

1. 9/11 happened BEFORE Afghanistan and Iraq

2. Bali happened before Iraq. (Thanks to PM John Howard for pointing that out to a particularly obtuse reporter)

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

3. Spanish police have stopped a number of attacks planned after Zapatero's cowardly withdrawal and were not aggressive supporters of Israel last time I looked.

Roy, a noted French scholar of Islam, provides insight on what motivates the low level terrorists:

What was true for the first generation of Al Qaeda is also relevant for the present generation: even if these young men are from Middle Eastern or South Asian families, they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. Moreover, converts are to be found in almost every Qaeda cell: they did not turn fundamentalist because of Iraq, but because they felt excluded from Western society (this is especially true of the many converts from the Caribbean islands, both in Britain and France). "Born again" or converts, they are rebels looking for a cause. They find it in the dream of a virtual, universal ummah, the same way the ultraleftists of the 1970's (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Italian Red Brigades) cast their terrorist actions in the name of the "world proletariat" and "Revolution" without really caring about what would happen after.

It is also interesting to note that none of the Islamic terrorists captured so far had been active in any legitimate antiwar movements or even in organized political support for the people they claim to be fighting for. They don't distribute leaflets or collect money for hospitals and schools. They do not have a rational strategy to push for the interests of the Iraqi or Palestinian people.
The Western-based Islamic terrorists are not the militant vanguard of the Muslim community; they are a lost generation, unmoored from traditional societies and cultures, frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations. And their vision of a global ummah is both a mirror of and a form of revenge against the globalization that has made them what they are.

I would add that they have found their societies wanting and have heeded the siren call of the imams that blame the West as the descriptoin of being 'excluded' from Western society as a primary cause is dangerously close to 'they are products of the oppressive environment'.

Hanson's concentrates more on the jihadist leaders and makes the key point that the current Islamist terror is hardly blowback from Afghanistan, Iraq or even Israel.

Perhaps the jihadist killing was not over the West Bank or U.S. hegemony after all, but rather symptoms of a global pathology of young male Islamic radicals blaming all others for their own self-inflicted miseries, convinced that attacks on the infidel would win political concessions, restore pride, and prove to Israelis, Europeans, Americans — and about everybody else on the globe — that Middle Eastern warriors were full of confidence and pride after all.

This will burn the jihadists and their apologists:

It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done.

[I'll tell you. It would involve some craters. Same, frankly, if they hit the Eiffel Tower]

What can we learn from all this?

Jihadists hardly target particular countries for their “unfair” foreign policies, since nations on five continents suffer jihadist attacks and thus all apparently must embrace an unfair foreign policy of some sort.

Second, thinking that the jihadists will target only Israel eventually leads to emboldened attacks on the United States. Assuming America is the only target assures terrorism against Europe. Civilizations will either hang separately or triumph over barbarism together.

Third, Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.

Another Dhimmi Carter Blunder

This is one is from 1979 but its effects still reverberate today.

An idiotic policy that prevents generals, admirals and senior defense officials from visiting Taiwan that originated in the Carter Administration is hurting deterrence in the Taiwan Straits today. From the NRO:

Although China will object to allowing U.S. general and flag officers in Taiwan, the proposal would not violate the existing American policy toward China and Taiwan. The current restrictions on visits to Taiwan by general officers are based on “guidelines” issued by the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian Affairs in 1979 following the Carter administration’s decision to end formal relations with Taiwan and establish them with Communist China. But the restrictions were not part of any formal agreement with China, nor was it in response to any particular demand by Beijing. In short, this is a self-imposed proscription which has not been properly reexamined in light of either America’s obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act or the growth of a much more capable Chinese military force. Indeed, permitting U.S. generals and flag officers to visit Taiwan would reaffirm the essentials of America’s one-China policy: While the United States does not endorse any specific political outcome on unification, it is also committed to preventing the mainland from attempts to annex the island by force.

The American policy of deterring Beijing from using military force against Taiwan and reassuring Taipei in its dealings with the mainland has facilitated peace and great cross-straits economic growth for decades. But it is a policy that is increasingly put in jeopardy by the ongoing development of China’s military power. Removing an outdated restriction on defense cooperation with Taiwan is a sensible step to take now in light of this new threat. The idea that generals and admirals can travel to China, Libya, and Uzbekistan but not Taiwan is a restriction that is not only ridiculous on its face but, increasingly, dangerous to the very men and women who will be asked to risk their lives should deterrence fail.

Any mainland invasion will likely be very, very costly for the PRC (unless Taiwan capitulates quickly) and its success is hardly foreordained but given Beijing's buildup in recent years as well as an unhealthy obsession with the Taiwan question make an invasion at some point a real possibility. A strong U.S.-Taiwan (and preferably Japan) partnership will make it less likely that Beijing will embark on a catastrophic adventure. Stronger deterrence today is better than having to throw the Chicomms off the beach.

The Left goes after women and children...and gays?

Unable to find any significant issues with SCOTUS nominee John Roberts, the Left and its fellow travelers are targeting the family for a few gratuitous hits. Michelle Malkin slams Washington Post style writer Robin Givhan for a drive-by shooting on the Roberts family.

From WaPo:

It has been a long time since so much syrupy nostalgia has been in evidence at the White House. But Tuesday night, when President Bush announced his choice for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, it was hard not to marvel at the 1950s-style tableau vivant that was John Roberts and his family.

There they were -- John, Jane, Josie and Jack -- standing with the president and before the entire country. The nominee was in a sober suit with the expected white shirt and red tie. His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers. There was tow-headed Jack -- having freed himself from the controlling grip of his mother -- enjoying a moment in the spotlight dressed in a seersucker suit with short pants and saddle shoes. His sister, Josie, was half-hidden behind her mother's skirt. Her blond pageboy glistened. And she was wearing a yellow dress with a crisp white collar, lace-trimmed anklets and black patent-leather Mary Janes.
The wife wore a strawberry-pink tweed suit with taupe pumps and pearls, which alone would not have been particularly remarkable, but alongside the nostalgic costuming of the children, the overall effect was of self-consciously crafted perfection.
In a time when most children are dressed in Gap Kids and retailers of similar price-point and modernity, the parents put young master Jack in an ensemble that calls to mind John F. "John-John" Kennedy Jr...They are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money and a cut above the light-up/shoe-buying hoi polloi.

Frankly if my family were to meet the President and potentially be on prime-time TV I think I'd want my kids to be dressed appropriately and not just any old outfit from GapKids.


The brilliant crew at Daily "Screw Them" Kos really outdid themselves after Bush's announcement:

"When Roberts thanked his family, he mentioned his son, Jack...Roberts' wife's face fell. It was like a poker tell. I think we should research Jack."
"He's probably gay. Of course, this is how ridiculous rumors get started, but extreme conservatives seem to have a lot of homosexual children..."

By the way, GOPVixen shows here why Mrs. Roberts' face 'fell' and why Bush appeared to be smirking. (Young Jack Roberts was doing an Andrew Giuliani at a press conference in primetime in front of about 150 million Americans)


Charmaine Yoest reports how Wonkette and her minions are speculating that Roberts is gay due to 1970s era pictures that have him in plaid pants. Wonkette adds:

Wonkette operatives have alerted us to some details in John G. Roberts background. We're not making any conclusions here -- we wouldn't want to comment on an ongoing investigation -- we're just laying out the facts: He is a graduate of an all-boys Catholic school where, as a member of the wrestling team, he regularly grappled with other sweaty, repressed boys. That is when he wasn't the drama club playing Peppermint Patty, for God's sake. He was also an editor of the school newspaper, "The Torch."

Tongue-in-cheek? Only in part I think. Goes right with the Left's belief that gay is great unless you're also a conservative which transforms you the worse kind of traitor. Lovely folks.