New York Times has an editorial, Computer Hackers in the Senate, today on the Judiciary Committee travesty.
The editorial is a travesty, too. Reading it, you can't tell that the leaked memos revealed wrongdoing. You can't even tell that there are two sides to the leak part of the story.
New York Times has an editorial, Computer Hackers in the Senate, today on the Judiciary Committee travesty.
Do Kennedy and Durbin Believe Senate Judiciary Committee Minority Staffers Outrank the Vice President?
After more than 20 years in Washington, I shouldn't be naive, but there is an aspect to the "leaked" Judiciary memos controversy that I just don't get.
Specifically: why are government documents of this type not automatically open to the public? Why should it require a "leak" for the public to see what its paid government employees are doing and thinking?
I'd make an exception for national security issues, of course, and certain other documents, such as raw FBI files (which often contain unsubstantiated allegations that can unjustly harm people's reputations), but certainly not for the topic under discussion in this story. Either a judge is worthy of confirmation or he isn't, and knowing the thought processes that go into deciding is very much in the public interest.
Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, after all, aren't held in closed session. So why should a process that should simply be a matter of deciding what questions should be asked at an open hearing be secret?
(Maybe because shenanigans were going on instead?)
And, besides, aren't many of the same people upset that GOP majority staffers saw some "confidential" minority memos about judicial confirmations the same ones who support the lawsuit against Vice President Cheney, claiming that the Vice President should not be allowed to have meetings of his energy task force without the transcripts being made public?
Why should minority staffers on a Senate committee effectively outrank -- in terms of the deference with which their desire for private work product is honored -- the second-highest elected official in the land?
Overall, I'm for open government (far more than we have now), but if I had to decide between giving "secrecy rights" to either anonymous staffers or an official who has to run for election and then re-election to keep his job, I'd rather trust the guy who faces the voters. At least he's accountable to somebody, and takes questions from the press occasionally.
As for you, Senators Kennedy and Durbin, if your employees are doing things you are ashamed to have made public, fire them. And since public officials shouldn't be agreeing to things in private they are ashamed to have known in public, how about firing yourselves as well?
Mychal Massie, a member of the black conservative group Project 21, expresses regrets in this editorial that Senators Hatch and Frist aren't standing behind their man.
Our David Almasi takes on the judiciary committee controversy, calling the charges against staffers of Senator Pat Leahy "grave" and complaining, as many conservatives are, that Senators Hatch and Frist are letting the real ethical issues be "spun away."
Speaking of the real ethical issues, I recommend a piece by Byron York of National Review Online, who says one of the issues involved is "evidence of the direct influencing of the Senate's advice and consent rule by the promise of campaign funding and election support in the last mid-term election."
Quin Hillyer, also writing on NRO, takes a look at what Senator Hatch has just done. He concludes: "The whole battle over judicial nominations long ago turned sleazy, with plenty of allegations back and forth. Why Orrin Hatch should sweep the Democrats' sleaze under the rug is both a mystery and a shame."
Over the years I've taken to collecting old books and articles (old being 20-30 years ago), when the low-budget versions of today's environmental movement predicted global cooling.
Today, on Rush Limbaugh's website, he has posted a text file and pdf to an article from the April 28, 1975 edition of Newsweek that I didn't have in my collection.
It's entitled, "The Cooling World," by Peter Gwynne. It is a fun read.
Some excerpts (the second one is especially funny):
"The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually.... To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. Meteorologists... are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. "A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale," warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences... A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972."It is amazing to me how much the language in this piece echoes coverage of "global warming" today. Even some of the expert players quoted -- the NAS and NOAA -- are the same.
"Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."
What will environmentalists worry about next?
Project 21's Kimberley Jane Wilson takes a look at the other Jackson, Michael, in a timely essay we've just posted online.
Memorable for me are the stories she tells in the fourth paragraph.
Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, has a worthy op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. One of several excellent points:
Beware of activist judges. The Legislature is our lawmaking body, and it is the Legislature's job to pass laws. As governor, it is my job to carry out the laws. The Supreme Judicial Court decides cases where there is a dispute as to the meaning of the laws or the constitution. This is not simply a separation of the branches of government, it is also a balance of powers: One branch is not to do the work of the other. It is not the job of judges to make laws, the job of legislators to command the National Guard, or my job to resolve litigation between citizens. If the powers were not separated this way, an official could make the laws, enforce them, and stop court challenges to them. No one branch or person should have that kind of power. It is inconsistent with a constitutional democracy that guarantees to the people the ultimate power to control their government.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court announces that traditional religious values regarding marriage are a "stain." Also, they are "no[t] rational."
Here's a guy who can tell a person's party registration from the kind of vehicle they drive. Neat trick!
You should be ashamed of yourselves and your responses. The main way our country can reduce its dependence on resources plentiful in the Middle East is by reducing our current consumption and developing alternative fuels (fuel cells). If the Republican politicians were as patriotic as they claim, they would be willing to sacrifice their gas guzzling vehicles and address the long term problem -- eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels and thus the Middle East. Every time I see a 7000 lb Ford Excursion or Hummer driving down the interstate I think, "There goes another Republican patriot."
John W. Callahan
Pagnotta Engineering, Inc.
I've watched some commentators -- Alan Colmes at Fox is among them -- question why anyone should care about a little nudity at the Super Bowl.
Other commentators have rebutted them, so I won't say everything I could, except this:
One reason the Super Bowl grew into such an institution was its sense of, to invent a term, "American-ness." Watch the Super Bowl, laughing at the funny commercials, rooting for someone, hosting or attending Super Bowl parties -- it had all become a celebration of part of what it is to be an American. For that to work, though, the Super Bowl has to reflect things about America that we are proud of. Working hard, competitiveness, doing one's best -- these are qualities the Super Bowl should reflect. Not sleeze.
The issue, therefore, is about a lot more than just the sight of a portion of Janet Jackson's unremarkable torso. It is about what we are proud of. And we weren't proud of what we saw Sunday.
I sent an e-mail to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue reflecting some of these thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. My e-mail, and his auto-generated response, are below. I also sent an e-mail yesterday to Michael Powell at the FCC at email@example.com.
PLEASE do something so parents can feel confident about allowing their children to watch the NFL on TV.
I grew up in a family that watched the NFL every Sunday during the season, with almost no exceptions. Some of my fondest memories come from watching those games and rooting for our team, the Steelers.
Before my kids were born I bought them little Terry Bradshaw beanie babies to put in their cribs to start getting them in the spirit of things. Now our oldest is four years old, our twins are three -- and if you don't do something, I won't be letting them watch NFL football until they are at least old enough to drive.
It isn't just the stupid "wardrobe malfunction." That was a cheap publicity stunt. It was the lyrics of those songs and the sexualized gags on some dancers and the ridiculous little underwear the halftime dancers wore. And the commercials. In your house, do monkeys proposition women? I doubt it. And they won't be doing it in our house, either, even if blocking the sight means we can never watch an NFL game again.
That the NFL did not know about the nudity in advance I can well believe. But if you did not know about the rest of it, you weren't doing your job.
We'll be monitoring the situation. I hope we'll be watching, too, but that's up to you.
Dear NFL Fan,
Thank you for your comments and interest in the National Football League.
We were extremely disappointed by the MTV-produced halftime show. It was totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show.
The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans.
We will change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the halftime entertainment in the future in order to deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
A wry remark from hubby David about last night's football-themed bacchanalia:
It used to be that sex was device to sell more beer. Now beer (and beer commercials) are a device to sell more sex.
A warning to the FCC from NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi:
Next week is the Grammy Awards. It will be broadcast live on CBS, the same network that brought us last night's Super Bowl halftime show featuring Janet Jackson's bare breast. Internet gossip Matt Drudge reports the peep show was approved by top officials at the network. Whatever the case, the FCC needs to stop dodging the issue of what's inappropriate on broadcast radio and television before the Grammys because next Sunday has the potential to make this Sunday look like a church service.
The FCC recently took a position that it was OK for U2's Bono to have used the f-word on last year's live Grammy broadcast. That lead to a public and political uproar, and it was followed by live swearing on the subsequent People's Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards broadcasts. Infinity, a CBS-owned radio network, was fined on several occasions by the FCC for indecent antics by on-air talent, but is refusing to pay the fines. This has prompted syndicated shock jocks such as Howard Stern and Don and Mike -- who are both frequently censored by their own production staff for fear of incurring complaints and fines -- to call on the FCC to learn what they can and cannot do. Why is it OK for TV's daytime show "The View" to use the "T-word" for breasts when they cannot, they wonder. Comedy Central has twice played the "South Park" movie unedited in late night. Every new pop video on MTV seems to push the envelope just a little bit further.
Most kids probably know more swear words than the average adult and pornography is omnipresent on the Internet. That's an issue for parents to handle individually. But the FCC is charged with enforcing decency on the airwaves. People could have tuned into the pay-per-view "Lingerie Bowl" at halftime if they wanted titillating fare, but CBS gave it to them free. It also gave all of the rappers, metalheads and poseurs getting ready for Grammys the green light to be as offensive as they wanna be next week.
Unless the FCC warns CBS and Grammy Award producers that allowing bad behavior will come at a price, the Grammys should be pre-emptively rated "TV-MA."
On his blog today, Project 21 member Michael King points out some MTV hypocrisy:
"While MTV is busy apologizing for the Janet Jackson 'exposure' during the Super Bowl halftime show, at the same time, on another portion of their web site, they are touting the show's 'kinky finale.'"Reminds me of when ESPN cast off Rush Limbaugh for his Donovan McNabb comments while simultaneously running a poll on its website asking the same question Rush had raised.
Three cheers for Michael Powell. An FCC press release today:
FCC CHAIRMAN POWELL CALLS SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW A "CLASSLESS, CRASS, DEPLORABLE STUNT." OPENS INVESTIGATIONGood for him. I am appalled to think that perhaps we can't let our children watch the NFL anymore. I hope the outcry from the public on this travesty is thunderous.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell today issued the following statement:
"I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better.
"I have instructed the Commission to open an immediate investigation into last night's broadcast. Our investigation will be thorough and swift."
Greg Pierce of the The Washington Times reports that fundraisers for New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer (who wants to be a governor) are soliciting checks from lawyers whose clients are negotiating deals with Spitzer's office.
Environmentalists are making plans to sue energy companies over perceived global warming.
* "Global warming," in colloquial usage, refers a theory predicting certain things about the future. The future has not occurred. Imagine the court testimony: "Your Honor, in the future, we expect to be injured... but we want the money now."
* Energy companies sell nothing without customers, so if it genuinely cares about the environment more than deep-pockets plaintiffs, Friends of the Earth should sue these customers, who often actually (gasp!) are the ones who burn the oil. (Of course, it would have to sue itself, and Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club, and Al Gore, but the environmentalist war on capitalism is serious business, and some collateral damage is inevitable.)
* Friends if the Earth thanks a European outfit called the "Minor Foundation for Major Challenges" for paying for their work on this. That's a new wrinkle on the global warming debate, which previously had been funded by major foundations chasing a minor challenge.
* As a defensive legal strategy, energy companies should stop selling to anyone planning to sue them. After a week or two, prospective plaintiffs will recall that energy has its uses, and want to use some more. (It should take less than a week in regions affected by the current uncommonly cold "global warming" weather, or, during summer, when it is over 78 Fahrenheit in France.)
* Friends of the Earth's director boasts their "global warming report should send shivers through the boardrooms." Anyone using the term "shivers" in connection with "warming" is not to be feared.
* Evidence of shivering in a boardroom may be used in court as evidence against global warming.
* Friends of the Earth says it singles out ExxonMobil because it "has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law." In other words, it has disagreed with Friends of the Earth on scientific and legislative issues. Mediating such disagreements is not the purpose of courts.
Note to self: Plan the mother of all lawsuits -- one against environmentalists.
First up in the docket: The next-of-kin of millions of Third Worlders, very many of them children, who have died needlessly from malaria because environmentalists won't admit they are wrong about DDT.
Second up: The half million kids who go blind in the Third World due to a Vitamin A deficiency that could have been addressed with agricultural biotechnology -- technology opposed by wealthy First World environmentalists.
Third up: The next-of-kin of the 2,000 extra people killed in the U.S. every year since 1975 (National Academies of Science 2002 estimate) because environmentalist-supported fuel economy standards reduced the safety of passenger vehicles.
Fourth up: Any American who lost someone or something in forest fire because the environmentalist belief that land should be left untouched by humanity stopped forest thinning projects and other sane fire control measures. (Governor Schwarzenegger, call your office.)
I could go on. Anyone know a good lawyer? Humanitarians should apply.
[Subscribe to Our E-Mail List]
It's not just leftists who send less-than-friendly e-mails. Here's one from a fellow, I presume a conservative, who thinks our latest edition of What Conservatives Think is distressingly liberal (punctuation as we received it):
You say that your publication is not liberal yeah right your magazine sucks and everything and everyone in your organization as well I hope you have a miserable life I better not see anymore of your communist liberal garbage on my computer anymoreI'm sorry you're not happy, Mr. Tilley, but we call 'em as we see 'em. If you're on our e-mail list and don't want to be, just click "unsubscribe."
National Center Executive Director David Almasi has this warning for President Bush regarding the President's proposal to expand the budget of the National Endowment of the Arts.
I figure you probably want to bolster your reputation as a "compassionate conservative," but you can't forget your base. If there's one message that came out of the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend loud and clear, it was that conservatives are very concerned about the current spending spree on the part of the White House and congressional leaders. Additionally, giving money to an agency that has long been the ire of conservatives is no way to mend fences.
In times of war, successful administrations have curtailed domestic spending. That's not happening now, and it can't be swept under the rug. In truth, it could be the thing that will turn enough voters off -- especially conservative ones -- come the November elections to send you back to Texas.
The very idea that gay people are trying to tear down marriage is nonsense; heterosexual people are doing quite fine on their own in that regard and hardly need the assistance of others. Gay people have not caused the divorce rate to soar. Gay people haven't caused the rise in single-parent families.Tell that to the Episcopal Bishop who left his wife and little children so he could shack up with a man, and the interest groups that tell us that what he did is peachy-keen.