MrSpkr's random thoughts . . .
Friday, October 28, 2005
Democrats' reactions to the Libby Indictment in the Valerie Plame Non-Scandal
From my favorite collection of left-wing nutbags, the Democratic Underground:
Farsee was concerned about Democrats' reputations:
I was getting worried that there would be nothing and we would look completely stupid.No worries there, mate -- you looked completely stupid already.
CityDem is not relieved, however. Far from it. He wanted Rove:
Rove is an evil bastard and the architect of AWOL's mean spirited policies. Libby will fight these charges for years and no one will hear about it. If Rove gets off, the last two years have been wasted.Never mind, of course, whether Rove actually did anything illegal or indictable.
Arger68 is at least honest in his self-description:
I just feel like a spoiled child that didn't get what I wanted for Christmas. I do think there'll be more before it's over, though."Spoiled child" is precisely right.
Sigh. As a lawyer, and as a citizen, this bothers me greatly. It is part of an ongoing descent into the criminalization of politics. For the past thirty-five years, criminal indictments have become political weapons. The Democrats have been more responsible for this, in my opinion -- Watergate, Iran Contra, etc., etc. -- but Republicans have engaged in it as well (Bill Clinton, etc.). In my opinion, it is a waste of time and resources.
Look at today's indictment. The original investigation delved into whether administration officials violated laws regarding the identification of an individual who has, within the preceding five years, served as an overseas, undercover CIA agent. There is no question that the underlying statute was not violated. Valerie Plame had not been overseas in an undercover capacity for more than six years (if ever). Moreover, her identity as a CIA employee was well known. In short, there was no crime!
So what are the charges brought in the indictments? Obstruction of justice and perjury, primarily. The special prosecutor alleges that Libby intentional misled or lied to the grand jury, or took steps to impede the investigation (probably through the misleading or lying).
That sounds straightforward, but it isn't. You see, perjury can be charged when you OMIT information. If the prosecutor asks you a question about a brief telephone call you made three years earlier, you had better remember every bloody detail, or you too could be indicted -- even if the initial incident that led to the investigation is determined to be within the law.
We, as a nation, will regret this criminalization of politics.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
For no particular reason
I feel compelled to state it was Abbott.
We now return to our regular programming.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Our Heads are Bloodied, But Unbowed
Well, our Hill was overrun. The battle was brief, yet enlightening.
Apparently, some Republicans (including both of my Senators) don't believe in doing anything other than keeping and maintaining power using the same old corrupt instruments that they harangued the Democrats for using in the decades leading up to the 1994 legislative revolution.
"I've been here now almost 37 years," [Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)] said. "This is the first time I have seen any attempt of any senator to treat my state in a way different from any other state."You know, that sounds very familiar.
"I don't kid people," he said. If the Senate decides ... to take money from our state, I will resign from this body."
Where have I heard it?
Oh yeah -- I heard it last time I was at the park with my kids. Another neighborhood kid wasn't getting his way, and so he threatened to "take his ball and go home."
Essentially, that is EXACTLY what Senator Stevens said.
My thought? Good riddance. If Senator Stevens is so emotionally immature that he cannot recognize the need to place the nation's interests above those of his state (and, more particularly, a small town whose total population could fit in my office conference room), then he needs to go home. Heck, he's been in the United States Senate since before I was born -- he NEEDS to get back into the real world.
Alaska's other Senator, Lisa Murkowoski (R-nepotism), said "It is very difficult to stand here as an Alaskan and not take this personally."
Well, Senator, it is very difficult to stand here as an American and not take this naked pork barrel project, this waste of taxpayer monies, very personally.
Oh, and lest you think I am picking on Alaska, let me quote Senator Kit Bond (R-MO): ""We have very different philosophies on how we serve our country."
Yes, I suppose we do, Senator Bond. Senator Coburn and a few brave colleagues recognize that, unless this pork barrel crap is cut out of the budget, we are NEVER going to be anything more than a culturally conservative replacement for the Democrats. Fiscal responsibility seems to be off the Republican's collective radar.
Hopefully, this will lead to support for the balanced budget amendment and line-item veto authority for the President. Heck, even Bill Clinton supported the line item veto.
Hat tip, PowerLineBlog.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I'm taking a stand . . .
and planting my standard on this Hill to Die On.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a pretty nice, principled guy from my former home state, has proposed the following:
This amendment will transfer funding from the wasteful pork project, the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, to the repair and reconstruction of the “Twin Spans” bridge in Louisiana. According to published reports, the Alaskan pork project costs $220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.According to RedState.org, there is a lot of movement in the back rooms of the Senate to kill this proposal. Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the idiot responsible for this crass waste of taxpayer's money, has given the proposal the back of his hand.
Senator Coburn is fighting pork barrel spending on principle. If Republican Senators refuse to back something this basic, then they are no longer deserving of our support.
Call your Senators and Congresscritters. Plant your flag here, and fight alongside Senator Coburn and others like him who see some value to fiscal responsibility.
It's a fight worth having, and I'd be proud to have you by our sides.
Hat tip, RedState.org.
Warning: Don't get drunk near crocs.
In case you hadn't figured that out for yourself.
Saddam went on trial today . . .
now Frank J. owes me a new keyboard:
Dubya took the stand next. "So, Mr. American President," said Saddam's lawyer, "what were you thinking when you nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court?"Truly golden.
"I don't think that’s relevant," Dubya answered.
"Please answer the questions," the judge said, "I'm curious about that one."
"Me too," said the prosecutor.
"Yeah, what the hell were you thinking, son?" Bush Sr. asked.
"This coming from the guy who appointed Souter?" Dubya shot back.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
This is an awesome story . . .
On April 20, 1968, SSgt. Tommy Belcher (USMC, Ret.) was a soldier in the 2d Batt., 9th Marines, near Khe Sanh, Vietnam. It was the middle of the Tet Offensive.
SSgt. Belcher and his platoon leader, a lieutenant, set out with a 35 man platoon to recover casualties from a convoy ambushed earlier that morning. Intelligence estimated that the Marines would face (at most) a dozen or so NVA regulars.
Instead, they ran smack into an enemy platoon. The Marines found themselves outnumbered, and took heavy casualties. The firefight lasted all afternoon. When it stopped, SSgt. Belcher's platoon had been reduced to seven men. The casualties included his platoon leader who had been badly wounded in the fighting. SSgt. Belcher took command of his badly hurt platoon. He had less than a squad of men available for combat.
Another platoon evacuated most of SSgt. Belcher's dead and wounded comrades; however, some casualties, including his wounded lieutenant, could not be evacuated before nightfall. That night, Belcher risked his life to help get the wounded lieutenant to an evacuation point.
The next morning, SSgt. Belcher led a group of marines to attempt to recover his four dead comrades. He was wounded later that day (saved from death when the bullet was deflected by a small New Testament he found during the recovery mission) and evacuated. At the local aid station, doctors cut his uniform and dog tags off of him while treating his injuries.
SSgt. Belcher wouldn't see his dog tags again for 37 years.
Flash forward. In 2002, Californian Stacey Hansen, traveled to Vietnam. While visiting Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Ms. Hansen felt led to do something for America's Vietnam veterans. In her own words:
I stepped into a cold, desolate museum that seemed like I was back in time. While upstairs, I entered an empty room except for some glass cases. Here I saw...a captured American Flag. It was such a strange sight to see. I was surprised, and then felt uncomfortable, disbelief and then anger began to boil inside. I thought, "Where is my axe?" The irrational thought entered my mind...how I would love to break the glass case and take the flag!Hansen returned to Vietnam last summer and bought more dog tags, including SSgt. Belcher's. Her story is worth reading in it's entirety. While returning a dog tag might seem like a trivial effort, veterans (and their families) seem to think otherwise. SSgt. Belcher's wife said that the effort "meant a lot to [Mrs. Belcher] and Tommy. Maybe because it's a part of him."
It was hard to leave that room. Downstairs, in the palace, I saw for the first time, Military Identification Tags ..."Dog Tags." I stood there for a long time just looking at them disconcertingly. Then, with my hands, I motioned to the Vietnamese girls behind the counter. They didn't speak an ounce of English, but understood that I was asking to look at the tags in the case. I wondered if they were real? I wondered why our government hadn't come over and bought everything up as there were old pins, medals (a purple heart), spectacles, brass bracelets, a canteen, Zippo lighters, a pair of military boots, a bowl, spoons, and a large communications radio. I thought they must be real, for the country was not saturated with tourism at all. English speaking people were hard to come by, and I didn't feel there were enough tourists for the tags, specifically, to be mass produced in an effort to generate revenue. The tags looked old, tattered, soiled, bent and rusted. There were not many of them. I bought them all.
It was difficult not to buy the other remnants...especially that purple heart. I had a budget, however, and needed to stick close to it. As I walked outside, my steps slowed. I took one of the tags out and looked at it closely as the traffic whizzed by. Suddenly, it dawned on me...maybe THIS was what I could do for the Veterans. Something so small and yet it was "something." That day, I decided to search for as many tags as I could find in the weeks to come. Even if they were not genuine, the optimist in me said, there had to be at least one tag that was real. And, if I could find that ONE family and return the tag, somehow everything up to this point would be worth it. Besides, I rationalized, the worst thing I would be doing would be contributing to their very poor economy.
Hansen and her boyfriend, Bryan Marks, run a website listing the names from the tags she brought back from Vietnam. To date, Hansen has returned hundreds of dog tags to veterans friends or family members. Hansen does not accept any compensation or reimbursement for her actions. As Hansen's website declares "These tags are not for sale!"
Thank you, Ms. Hansen. Your deeds are the very definition of patriotism.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Irony, thy name is Madonna
I have no comments on this, just quotes:
My kids don't watch TV. We have televisions but they're not hooked up to anything but movies.
TV is trash. I was raised without it. We don't have magazines or newspapers in the house either.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Chewbacca joins America . . .
still hates the Empire.
Great. Another large furball in Texas. Like we don't have enough of those already.
After learning the husband's name, I wasn't too surprised to learn . . .
that this was their 16th child.
Northwest Arkansas parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have welcomed their 16th child into the world.Don't they have televisions or radios in Arkansas? I mean, my wife and I have four kids, but then we discovered satellite television. That took care of THAT particular problem.
The story descends further into the depths of "unspeakably weird" with this gem:
"Our oldest two daughters were there during the delivery. Janna has interest in being a midwife or a nurse and so does Jill," Jim Bob said in a telephone interview.I'm sorry -- that's just weird. Too weird. There are things you simply shouldn't share with your children. Delivering a sibling is one of them.
My eldest daughter wants to go into medicine. She's wanted to for nearly eight years. There is no way I would allow her to witness her own mother delivering another sibling. She is free, however, to wait in the lounge with all the other relatives.
Similarly, I wouldn't go to my daughter's future medical practice and ask for an annual rectal examination. I might, however, stop by and read a magazine in the waiting room to kill time before taking her to lunch.
But involve her in physical examination of intimate areas of my or my wife's bodies? Nope. Some things just aren't done.
It gets weirder.
Jim Bob, 40, said Johanna's birth was especially exciting because it was the first time in eight years the family has had a girl. Four years after the couple married, Michelle, 39, had her first child at age 21.Which means that she got married when she was 17 and he was eighteen. Wow. Insert your own "barefoot hillbilly" reference here.
I do applaud the longevity of their marriage, though I'm not entirely sure whether it is a product of love, commitment, and obedience to God's command or simply a realization on Jim Bob's part that 16 kids would mean a HUGE child support payment.
The money quote from this carnival of weirdness, though, has to be this:
"We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them," Jim Bob said.Thanks Jim Bob. You just reinforced every negative stereotype about folks from Arkansas I have ever held.
UPDATE: For those wondering, their children are: John David, 15; Jessa, 12; Jinger, 11; Joseph, 10; Josiah, 9; Joy-Anna, 8; Jeremiah, 6; Jedidiah, 6; Jason, 5, James, 4; Justin, 2; and Jackson Levi, 1.
Yes, that's right. They named a child "Jinger".
I guess there are only so many "J" names one can use.
PoliPundit.com has the right of it: Miers for an Appeals Court
A good way to sidestep and save face for all involved.
Of course, the question then becomes -- who does Bush appoint? Drudge is now reporting that some of the judges proposed by conservatives (Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, etc.) declined the nomination.
What is going on here? Are they reading the Senatorial tea leaves and coming to the same conclusions I reached -- that conservatives do not have an ideological majority in the Senate and that their confirmation would be doomed?
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Why federal judges are and should be appointed for life
This ruling (full copy here) is long overdue.
I've worked in asbestos litigation. It is largely a sham, a waste of taxpayer money, court resources, and little more than an money-making machine for unscrupulous trial lawyers.
Does asbestosis or silicosis exist? Absolutely. Mesothelioma (a disease caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos) is a slow, horrible way to die (essentially, you drown in your own bodily fluids). Manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products should be forced to pay when their products injure people.
Problem is (1) most of those companies are out of business, and the lawyers, doctors, and support personnel that gave rise to the asbestos industry still hunger for cash; and (2) the overwhelming majority of people "diagnosed" with asbestosis/silicosis cannot show any injury (other than the ones you might expect of an elderly, lifelong smoker).
A good decision by the judge. I have little doubt that, if this judge had to face re-election or reappointment, the toxic tort brigade would spare no expense to defeat her.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Sorry I've been absent . . .
busy work week, billing Monday through Wednesday, and out of the office today and tomorrow.
Big events in the world this week -- terror threats in New York City; actual terror attacks in Iraq; suicide bomber in Norman; Harriet Miers causing conservative conniptions -- lots of opinions on these things, just no time to blog.
Things should be back to normal by Monday.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Different thoughts on the whole Harriet Miers appointment
Today, President Bush appointed Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Conservatives are flipping out.
For example, Feddie at Southern Appeal initially said he was "done with Bush" for this pick. John at RightWingNews calls the pick "a disaster". Michelle Malkin is "utterly underwhelmed." Anklebitingpundits ask "is this what we fought for?"
Needless to say, many Republicans WANTED the fight with the Democrats over the role of the Court in our government. Conservatives WANTED to go out and beat up liberals in the realm of ideas. The desire, the NEED to prevail in the intellectual arena is palpable amongst conservatives -- probably due, in part, to the vicious attacks from Leftist intellectuals conservatives have endured for nearly three decades.
Bush, however, has declined to start the fight. One has to ask -- why?
Why would Bush decline to pick a fight? Why would Bush avoid picking a known conservative such as McConnell or Luttig? Why wouldn't he rely upon someone around whom the conservative base could rally? More importantly, is Bush just an idiot willing to throw away his supporters and risk losing the Senate and House in 2006 just to reward a pal?
I disagree. I suspect that Harriet Miers will be quickly confirmed. I trust that Bush, who has known Ms. Miers for nearly a decade, knows her well enough to trust that she will please the base on some hot-button legal issues. Thinking about the timing of all this -- if Harriet mire is confirmed, her name and vote will be on a slew of abortion, affirmative action, and other politically significant legal decisions next summer. That will help motivate the base -- just in time for the 2006 elections.
Far fetched? Probably -- but possible. I have learned not to misunderestimate Bush or Rove when it comes to political strategy.