Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, October 31, 2005

Its 12:34pm and I've already decided

that I'm tired of the SCOTUS/Alito coverage. Because until he is confirmed, every single day in the blogosphere is going to be as ridiculous as this:

Bill Frist on Fox News:

"If the Democrats are looking for a fight, we'll be up for the fight. We won't back down... We're gonna get an up or down vote on the Senate floor and if the Democrats want a fight, they'll get one."
I guess Miers didn't deserve one? Or maybe she didn't deserve one because conservatives think she didn't deserve one. Then..its ok.

And then this, via Michelle Malkin:

1110amEDT Schumer...Will Alito use his seat like Rosa Parks did to change history for the better?...raises real questions about his commitment to civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights...blah blah blah...America needs unity now...the president seems to want to hunker down..soothing the ruffled feathers of the extreme right wing of his party...[Alito] would make the court less diverse...whines about need to fill the seat with someone in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor...Judge Alito does not appear to be another Sandra Day O'Connor...
More Schumer on timing: When there is a controversial nominee for a pivotal swing vote on the high court, the procedure should not be...rushed...this is a nominee who could shift the balance of the court...for decades to come...we need to review his 15 years of judicial will take time to assemble those documents...and review them...a lot to fit in between now and one should seek to delay for the sake of delay...but no one should seek to rush these hearings through simply to make a point, distract from issues of the day or avoid thorough review of this nominee...
Jason Smith writes: "How shamless of Chuck Schumer to have converted Rosa Parks' casket into a soapbox to stand upon and give a partisan-hack speech about Alito."
Ditto that.
Hugh Hewitt: Schumer hits bottoms.

Yes, how disgusting of Schumer.

Oooppss...(via AmericaBlog):

Wasting no time, the White House arranged for Alito to go to the Capitol after the announcement.The schedule called for Senate Majority Leader Bill First to greet him and accompany the nominee to the Capitol Rotunda to go to the coffin of the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

Did I say tired? I meant sick to my stomach. The far left and the far right have been dying to have an ideological battle--not for right or wrong--but for the battle's sake and here it is. Anyone who thinks the many on the right are happy for the sole reason that this nominee makes the left angry is kidding themselves. Its the same thing with the left's tepid 'support' of Miers. It was there because she made so many on the right angry.

The NEW most qualified nominee

is Judge Alito. Now, I'm writing this post before having read any other blogs at all with the exception of the SCOTUS Blog. In some of the notable opinions they highlight, I don't see anything that stands out as extreme and Judge Alito seems very qualified for the position. However, I will definitely be looking for more highlights from some of his decisions before I even begin to form an opinion.

More to come.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Fun

Via Justus for All, here is the fun:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Well, here goes nuttin.

My 23rd post was a doozy!! The 5th sentence:

You self-serving partisan ass!

And no, I'm not kidding!!!

The Indictments are Out

And Scooter Libby has resigned after being indicted on five counts. I said before that I would be somewhat disappointed if this investigation only turned up crimes of 'making false statements', even though I do recognize the seriousness of the crimes committed.

Over at TPM, Josh notes a paragraph in the indictment that could have very far reaching consequences considering the investigation isn't over:

On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

Josh notes that the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is a division of the CIA's Directoate of Operations, not the Direcorate of Intelligence. Why is this important? Because 'analysts' come from Intelligence and 'spies', for lack of a better term, come from Operations. Josh concludes that because both Cheney and Libby are long time national security men, this fact was certainly not lost on them. Take from that what you will.

Over at Environmental Republican, Scott notes that he doesn't remember people getting this excited when someone else lied under oath (3 guesses who). I agree, and note the hypocrisy. However, as I said in the comments, the cases are apples and oranges.

Clinton perjured himself during a sexual harrassment case. Not to downplay the important of sexual harrassment, but its importance lies somewhere beneath the ant I stepped on outside when compared to WMD's, the US intelligence community and potential outing of undercover agents. He points out the Clinton was an elected official and that Libby isn't, and that Libby resigned. However, if politicians should resign EVERY time they lied, we'd be left with no politicians.

Its up to the American people to decide the consequence of the lie. To the dismay of many on the right, the American people were NOT behind Clinton's impeachment and did not want him to resign. That is just a fact. Whether Libby is on the radar of the American public remains to be seen. But I think this investigation will go somewhere further, I just don't know where.

Coming in at 3 Hours...

Is the new King Kong remake by Peter Jackson. I dont mind long long as they are good. I loved every second of the Lord of the Rings movies...but that could just be because I'm a fan.
However, not being a huge King Kong fan, this part struck me as promising...

After flying to Jackson's home base in Wellington, New Zealand where Kong was shot to watch a sneak peak of the film, studio executives were reportedly elated with the results and agreed to release the three-hour Kong as scheduled Dec. 14--despite the possibility that the length might eat into the monkey movie's box office, allowing for fewer screenings each day.

When business men aren't worried...I think thats gonna be a good movie!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Padilla's Case

A tangent story to the War on Terror is the case of Jose Padilla. I think this illustrates the Bush Administration's stance on the War on Terror as a whole--namely, we can do whatever we want (torture, hold American's without charges, etc.) as long as its framed by 'fighting the War on Terror' or the Presidents ability to do such.
I think American's should be outraged by the treatment of Padilla. There is no doubt he is dangerous. However, how can an American citizen, be jailed for over 3 years, without being charged and without given due process. It is an outrage and a complete violation of his rights. And YES, he does have rights. Rights guaranteed in the Constitution for him no matter what. If no charges have been brought, is their evidence against him? If so, charge him.

I don't agree with the administration's stance on 'enemy combatants'...this is no surprise. However, Padilla is an American citizen and his rights should NEVER be in question.

Depends on what 'reluctant' means

"President Bush "reluctantly" accepts Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers's request to withdraw her nomination."

I guess just like he 'reluctantly' accepts the resignations of people that work under him. I guess Harriet didn't deserve a fair 'up or down' vote. I thought some of the, to be quite frank, bullying of Miers was a bit unseemly. How many blogs said a form of the following: "Harriet Miers should withdraw her name for the good of the President/Republican/Conservatism".

Next thought, how do you claim the next person is 'the most qualified'??

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ridiculousness at its best

I usually don't go in for the cries from the right about the left being racist or sexist or whatever. But this post is complete tasteless and unexcuseable. I mean, what the hell was he thinking? This doesn't mean the left is racist, it means a blogger is a complete idiot and possibly racist. Disgusting.

**Update: I've been informed that Steve Gilliard is black. I don't think that excuses his post at all, because I don't think he would have ever posted that had it been a Democratic black politician. However, I concede he probably isn't a racist--experiencing temporary insanity? Still very possible.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My favorite stupid comment this week

Kay Bailey Hutchinson...what the hell were you thinking. I realize, you are a Senator and have a busy schedule. But, you have plenty of people working for you. You employ people whose only job is to make sure you don't sound like a complete idiot. Now yes, there are legitimate criticisms to be made about the Plame investigation, if you are so inclined. However saying this:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.

After knowingly having said this (as part of her statement defending her 'guilty' votes for impeachment of President Clinton for, surprisingly enough, perjury and obstruction of justice):

I was reminded as well, however, that the laws of our Country are applicable to us all, including the President, and they must be obeyed. The concept of equal justice under law and the importance of absolute truth in legal proceedings is the foundation of our justice system in the courts.

I do not hold to the view of our Constitution that there must be an actual, indictable crime in order for an act of a public officer to be impeachable. It is clear to this Senator that there are, indeed, circumstances, short of a felony criminal offense that would justify the removal of a public officer from office, including the President of the United States. Manifest injury to the Office of the President, to our Nation, and to the American people, and gross abuses of trust and of public office clearly can reach the level of intensity that would justify the impeachment and removal of a leader.

C'mon now! Either be consistent or shut the hell up. I wish there was an IQ requirement for Congress sometimes.

Most of my readers know I think that someone should go to jail for outing Valerie Plame, if it is shown that indeed she was classified as NOC (non-official cover) by the CIA and that information was classified. A perjury or obstruction of justice charge I think is serious, but I think quite possibly would be a waste of time and money to come out with. All that investigation and the only charge would be for someone lying during the investigation? A serious charge, no doubt, but not one, I think, worthy of the effort.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Back to Business

Ok, just a quick post to inform everyone (hello? Bueller...Bueller??) that blogging will resume tomorrow. I didn't have much blogging left in me for a while there after the loss of a fellow blogger and dear friend. But I have to get back to business and will resume tomorrow.

You want to know how I'm feeling about Miers? Plame-gate? Torture? Tom & Katie's baby? Stay Tuned!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

George Ely has left the building

Today I try and do justice to the intellect and mind of George Ely...better known to some as Zorpack or Z.

Great thinker of ideas, creator of music and beauty, challenger of conformity, bastard extraordinaire, veteran, father of two beautiful daughters and one son, husband and best friend. I don't want to get sappy in trying to write what I think of Mr. Ely (as I affectionately called him), because he would hate that and I hope in my heart he already knew those things; I think he did. From the moment I met him, he challenged me and those around him to see things from a different perspective; to challenge what you were taught; to think differently and to be the person you are. It didn't matter to Mr. Ely if it was the government pressuring you, your parents, your best friend or, quite often, him. He loved to discuss, he loved to sit around, beer in hand and hash it out. He loved to enlighten your mind with a fact here and there (and he had plenty of them) that turned your world, and everything you believed, upside down. He was a 'challenger' in every sense of the word. A grumpy bastard whose long gray hair and and great laugh will be missed more than can be imagined by those he loved and who loved him.

Please do yourself a favor and go read his blog. He would love that more than anything. With that, his last post:

Since I also can't spend a lot of time surfing the web, if you happen to find something that catches your eye or interest, please feel free to add a comment, with the web address, after this message and I'll follow it up as my health allows. Thanks a million, one and all, and stay on guard against tyranny and injustice wherever it raises its ugly head, because, we are the People. One final thing as a parting gift for the voracious among you.I'd like to recommend a book that I'm reading for the third time through. Everytime I read it I'm stunned and amazed by its shear beauty of language (almost poetry I'd say) and the depth of its insights into the ways of humans. It's fairly short, very fast and as satisfying as dinner at Per Se."The Razor's Edge"by W. Somerset Maugham. I declare it an absolute "must read." Enjoy, and goodbye for now.

It really is only for 'now' Mr. Ely.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Religious Test

Paul Mirengoff from Powerline argues that its not 'hypocrisy' for conservatives to use Harriet Miers faith to convince other conservatives of her 'conservative' ideals. He insists that in an information-poor environment, people will use whatever information they can to try and divine what the nominees stance on certain issues would be. He says its analagous to the intense interest in John Roberts membership in the Federalist Society.

Dionne and Captain Ed raise a serious point, but in the end I don't see the hypocrisy. When a president nominates a Supreme Court with a scant record of publicly stated beliefs, it's natural to try to read the tea leaves. Thus, with Chief Justice Roberts, we all (on both sides) were curious as to whether he was a member of the Federalist Society. To the extent that he was (or had been), some conservatives would have been more comfortable with him and many liberals less so.

To make a long story short, Paul is wrong.

First, while information on Roberts' legal or judicial philosophy might have been lacking, we had plenty of legal briefings to peruse and uparallelled information on his background. In Miers case, we have none of this. His membership in the Federalist Society was more of a 'intriguiging tidbit' if you will...a 'was he or wasn't he' moment whereupon ideologues on both sides could use to either bolster support for the nomination or rejection.

The difference with Miers is that there is virtually no information at all. No legal briefings, no articles written (save one I belive), no 'on the job' experience...well, that we are privy to anyway. So instead, some conservatives and the Bush Administration are touting her religion as a way to appease other social conservatives into believing that she will be 'conservative'. If this works for you as a conservative, thats fine. However, you should be asking yourself this: Is that enough to convince me and quite frankly, is that the way I want to be convinced?

The second point Paul makes is also wrong.

But what about the Article VI, Clause of the Constitution which states in part that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"? As I understand this provision, it protects Miers and other nominees from having to disclose their beliefs about religion. It also prohibits Senators from basing their votes on a nominee's beliefs. It would offend the Constitution if, for example, Senator Schumer voted against William Pryor out of fear that his deeply held Catholic views would cause him to violate his oath to uphold the Constitution. The same would be true if a Senator voted against a nominee because she is an atheist. But I'm hard-pressed to see a problem with private citizens using such bits of information to try to form a sense of a nominee.

If there's a hypocite here, surely it's Dionne. He advocated (ed. link removed) that the Senate interrogate Roberts regarding the implications of his Catholicism on his judging. Now he thnks it's "good news" that some conservatives think the White House shouldn't even mention Miers' religion.

The difference that Dionne seems to be pointing out is this. While acceptable to question and clarify how a nominee feels their personal religion would influence their judicial decisions is certainly not out of bounds and, in this day and age, almost a necessity; it is NOT acceptable to tout their religion as a 'qualification' (be it conservative or not) for a judicial appointment and NOT acceptable to vote one way or the other based on no other information than their religion.

It is exactly the latter that the Bush Administration is doing.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Common Sense Prevailed

Via Balloon Juice we get this bit of very welcome news:

A controversial proposed bill to prohibit gays, lesbians and single people from using medical procedures to become pregnant has been dropped by its legislative sponsor.
State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, issued a one-sentence statement this afternoon saying: “The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission.”
Under her proposal, couples who need assistance to become pregnant -- such as through intrauterine insemination; the use of donor eggs, embryos and sperm; in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer or other medical means -- would have to be married to each other. In addition, married couples who needed donor sperm and eggs to become pregnant would be required to go through the same rigorous assessment process of their fitness to be parents as do people who adopt a child.

One crazy thing down...6,987,456 to go.


Yesterday the Senate did something that I wasn't some cojones!

It is worth printing McCain's statement in its entirety because I think its monumentally important and also very eloquent.

Mr. President, war is an awful business. I know that. I don’t think I’m naïve about how severe are the wages of war, and how terrible are the things that must be done to wage it successfully. It is a grim, dark business, and no matter how noble the cause for which it is fought, no matter how valiant the service, many veterans spend much of their subsequent lives trying to forget not only what was done to them and their comrades, but some of what had to be done by their hand to prevail.

I don’t mourn the loss of any terrorist’s life nor do I care if in the course of serving their ignoble cause they suffer great harm. They have pledged their lives to the intentional destruction of innocent lives, and they have earned their terrible punishment in this life and the next.

What I do regret, what I do mourn, and what I do care very much about is what we lose, what we -- the American serviceman and woman and the great nation they defend at the risk of their lives – what we lose when by official policy or by official negligence – we allow, confuse or encourage our soldiers to forget that best sense of ourselves, our greatest strength – that we are different and better than our enemies; that we fight for an idea – not a tribe, not a land, not a king, not a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion – but for an idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights.

I have been asked before where did the brave men I was privileged to serve with in Vietnam draw the strength to resist to the best of their ability the cruelties inflicted on them by our enemies. Well, we drew strength from our faith in each other, from our faith in God, and from our faith in our country. Our enemies didn’t adhere to the Geneva Convention. Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But everyone of us knew, every single one of us knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or countenancing such mistreatment of them. That faith was indispensable not only to our survival, but to our attempts to return home with honor. Many of the men I served with would have preferred death to such dishonor.

The enemies we fight today hold such liberal notions in contempt, as they hold the international conventions that enshrine them such as the Geneva Conventions and the treaty on torture in contempt. I know that. But we’re better than them, and we are the stronger for our faith. And we will prevail. I submit to my colleagues that it is indispensable to our success in this war that our servicemen and women know that in the discharge of their dangerous responsibilities to their country they are never expected to forget that they are Americans, the valiant defenders of a sacred idea of how nations should govern their own affairs and their relations with others – even our enemies.

Those who return to us and those who give their lives for us are entitled to that honor. And those of us who have given them this onerous duty are obliged by our history, and by the sacrifices – the many terrible sacrifices -- that have been made in our defense – we are obliged to make clear to them that they need not risk their or their country’s honor to prevail; that they are always, always – through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss – they are always, always Americans, and different, better, and stronger than those who would destroy us.

God bless them as he has blessed us with their service.

See also Colin Powell's support letter for the ammendment. How many high ranking military officials will it take before torture apologists realize how important this legislation is.

Hat tip...Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just a note...

I'd just like to point out that today is officially incoherant rant day. Apparently, my only point in any posts today is to point out other people's total ridiculousness.

Just a disclaimer.

Its for the children

Is this for real?

Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will makemarriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana,including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who dobecome pregnant "by means other than sexual intercourse."
According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, everywoman in Indiana seeking to become a mother throu gh assistedreproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation,and egg donation, must first file for a "petition for parentage" intheir local county probate court.
Only women who are married will be considered for the "gestationalcertificate" that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates thepregnancy. Further, the "gestational certificate" will only be givento married couples that successfully complete the same screeningprocess currently required by law of adoptive parents.
As it the draft of the new law reads now, an intended parent "whoknowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproductionprocedure" without court approval, "commits unauthorizedreproduction, a Class B misdemeanor." The criminal charges will bethe same for physicians who commit "unauthorized practice ofartificial reproduction."

Please tell me this is a joke and that we aren't living in some Orwellian/Handmaidens Tale nightmarish future!!

I'm no legal mind, but here is the draft law...see if any of you can make sense of it.

Sen. Miller believes the requirement of marriage for parenting isfor the benefit of the children that result from infertilitytreatments.
"We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law shouldallow single people to be parents. Studies have shown that a childraised by both parents - a mother and a father - do better. So, wedo want to have laws that protect the children," she explained.
When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be arequirement for motherhood, and if that is part of the bill'sintention, Sen. Miller responded, "Yes. Yes, I do."

For the children people....for the children.

More on Miers...

This kind of thing just makes me angry. We know virtually nothing on Harriet Miers and her qualifications to be on the SCOTUS. President Bush's argument has amounted to a strong case of 'will you please just trust me that she's qualified?'.

Thankfully, we have the Washington Post and other hardhitting news agencies digging deep into her legal briefings and qualifications to bring us stories like this one, to let us know her keen legal mind...

One evening in the 1980s, several years after Harriet Miers dedicated her life to Jesus Christ, she attended a lecture at her Dallas evangelical church with Nathan Hecht, a colleague at her law firm and her on-again, off-again boyfriend. The speaker was Paul Brand, a surgeon and the author of "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made," a best-selling exploration of God and the human body.
When the lecture was over, Miers said words Hecht had never heard from her before. "I'm convinced that life begins at conception," Hecht recalled her saying. According to Hecht, now a Texas Supreme Court justice, Miers has believed ever since that abortion is "taking a life."

"I know she is pro-life," said Hecht, one of the most conservative judges in Texas. "She thinks that after conception, it's not a balancing act -- or if it is, it's a balancing of two equal lives."

But wait, if that isn't enough to convince you about her qualifications, the article goes on...

"People in Dallas know she's a conservative," said her friend Ed Kinkeade, a federal district judge. "She's not Elmer Gantry, but she lives what she believes. . . . I'm like, y'all, has George Bush appointed anyone to an appellate court that is a betrayal to conservatives?"

Pheww...that was close. I mean, I hope conservatives are feeling a bit better today after reading this article. If people in Dallas know...well then.

But if Miers is leaving her church, the church is not leaving her. Kaycia Key said she expects to see the next Supreme Court justice in the pews, singing enthusiastically, if not skillfully. "Let's just say she makes a joyful noise unto the Lord," Key said. "She doesn't hesitate to sing out."

If you need a perfect example why people think the religious right (and President Bush) has a hidden agenda to end the separation of church and state, this article is exhibit number one. He has nominated someone to one of the most important seats in the land; someone who is charged with upholding the f*$king Constitution of the United States of America; someone who's credentials we know virtually nothing about.

Instead of assuaging our fears and providing details about her keen legal mind, her judicial philosphy, how she feels on certain so-called 'hot button' issues, we get a (planted) story in the Washington Post about her religious beliefs and how they came to be.

I'm trying to say this with as much self-control as possible---WHO GIVES A FLYING F&#K???!!! Oh, thats right, I know who...and maybe they aren't all that happy now. Rather than talking about her legal qualifications, the President is focusing on ONCE AGAIN placating a bunch of people who don't want your liberal, Jesus -hating views forced upon them, rather would like YOU to live YOUR LIFE in the way THEY think is right. Thats freedom baby! Sad.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The fake-out?

Reactions are everywhere today around the blogosphere regarding the nomination of Harriet Miers and Sandra Day O'Connors replacement to the SCOTUS.

Most of the right-wing blogs have been having predominantly negative reactions. As usual, the best roundup of links is over at Instapundit. The consensus among the right wingers is...'WHY?'. Why someone who's credentials don't match up to the standards of John Roberts, or at least higher standards than most other lawyers around the country, with the exception of being White House Counsel. Why not someone with better conservative credentials?

Some think its the 'ole Bush fakeout. That position worries me as maybe she is a hidden 'wingnut'. Right now, no one knows. Crony-ism is the cry and everyone is just in a wait and see pattern. Some are down-right angry and some are calling this a win for the Democrats.

Myself, having supported the Roberts nomination, I'm going to wait and see and withhold opinion. My first thought this morning however was can you nominate someone who has NEVER been a judge to the highest judicial seat in the land? I know its been done before, but it boggles my mind. I don't care how qualified a lawyer that person is (and from the readings today, Miers is qualified, but certainly not exceptional)--no judicial experience strikes me as a little preposterous.

The cynical side of me thinks one of two things. First, as I stated earlier, maybe she is extremely socially conservative and Bush really is doing exactly what I thought he would--pleasing the social right (they just don't know it yet); or secondly by picking someone who for lac of a better term could be coined as 'benign' perhaps Bush and the rest of the administration know something we don't. Is there some really negative news coming out in the not too distant future that will weaken the President in a tough confirmation battle?

Wait and see. For breaking news (if any) on Miers positions, go to the SCOTUSblog as always.

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