Saturday, October 22, 2005

More on Harriet Miers:
(With Kevin Tierney)

What you are reading is yet another revisiting of the Miers subject on this humble weblog.{1} Kevin's words will be in black font.

More Miers Bombshells

The Miers Support Team: Gloomy and Demoralized (Byron York)

According to Byron York, the chief supporters of the Miers nomination are now recomending she stop meeting with Senators, because things have gone so bad. The questionairre she filled out is being almost universally rejected by the Judiciary Committee, Republican and Democrat alike as inconclusive, evasive, and even insulting. This nomination looks more and more gloom by the day. The fact they've again changed gears now emphasizing Miers is "unflappable" in her convictions (despite going from Catholic to Protestant, Democrat to Republican, and a host of other flip flops she's done in her life) proves their latest drive on her "qualifications" has fallen on deaf ears.

That is a brutal piece Kevin. I concur with your assessment above.

The Vulnerable Nominee (Robert Novak)

According to Robert Novak, despite no official opposition to Miers from Senators yet, many are heartsick over this issue.

If anyone is in a position to know, it is Robert Novak. He is certainly one with a Republican bias but he never pulls his punches which is something I have always liked about him.

Some probably understand that vote for Miers and their base gets enraged. Vote against Miers and Bush is enraged.

Then piss Bush off. It is simple math really:

--One third of the senators are up for re-election in 2006 and the Miers issue is huge with the base.

--Bush cannot be re-elected again and is guaranteed to be president two more years barring some extraordinary circumstance.

If the senators kowtow to Bush, they will put their re-election in peril since Bush is not exactly Mr. Popular at the moment. But if they kowtow to their constituency (not something I normally like to see but every rule has its exceptions), they make that much more certain their re-election and send a serious message to Bush to stop jerking the base around.

It seems Novak is hinting at what I've said all along, this nomination has placed the president's remainder of his term on potential life support. Bush cannot weather attacks from the Left without his base standing behind him. If this continues, I predict a critical point will be reached. Yet of course it need not be this way, if Bush swallowed his pride and withdrew the nomination, I'm willing to wager the majority of his current opponents would tell their minions to accept the surrender once Bush nominates an acceptable replacement.

The question is, would Bush actually do that though. I am inclined to think that this is an example of where his normal bullheadedness (which is a good political trait to have) will come back to bite him. One should certainly stand up for principles at the expense of popularity if necessary. However, there are some fights not worth fighting and for him this is one of them.

It could be very possible this nominee won't even make it out of the committee, I am readily starting to think that now. All that is needed is a straight party line Dem vote on the 10-8 group, and one Republican joining them. Both Specter and Brownback could very easily join them to deadlock the nominee. If Brownback does, others will as well and this nomination will be DOA before it even reaches the Senate floor.

Prediction: Spector will not support this nominee.

Bush should avoid this embarassment. If his nominee can't even make it to the floor, his presidency suffers an irrepairable embarassment. That's now a very strong reality.

As my late father used to say "either crap or get off the pot." That is what the senators need to do here.

I am not so sure his presidency suffers irreparable damage over this. There are two possible outs for him actually: (i) nominate a solid originalist like Brown and let his base fight for him and (ii) scrap his stupid illegal amnesty program and come out in favour of tougher border security and deportation of illegal immigrants. If he were to make the next appointment to the court (I am sure there will be three made by him) a male Hispanic, that would be the trifecta. He needs at least two out of these three to make the Miers debacle forgettable...and if nothing else it is the first two which he should focus on. In the words of that great western philosopher Meatloaf: "two outta three ain't bad!!!"

Check out these blows!

Defending The Indefensible (George Will)

That might've been one of the most blunt critques of Miers I've seen yet. According to the Washington Post, the White house is secretly asking about contigency plans, but when asked, snapped about about "wild conspiracy theories being everywhere." Had one just given a simple denial you'd be likely to believe with them, but to get a lil worked up doesn't help credibility.

Will's critique is even more stinging than those from York and Novak. Nonetheless, I for one cannot see anything to dispute in what Will has to say. Those who have been waiting for the Bush Administration to really put their foot in it have gotten what they want. This is hardly irreversible but I am left wondering if Bush is perhaps too bullheaded to do what he needs to do to fix things with the base.

I have noted in the past that Bush prefers poker strategery to chess strategery. However, each has its time and place and when it comes to the Supreme Court, you do not want to use poker strategery and try and dare people to call your bluff as Bush is doing with Miers.{2}

To use a poker metaphor, Bush sought to bluff on this nomination and his bluff was called. He does not have the cards and would be wise to fold them after "the flop" (which has already happened) rather than continue to "the turn" (the hearings themselves) and then to "the river" (the confirmation vote itself) if you will. He still has a couple of ways out of this but I am more and more skeptical that he will take them. In the end, Miers may have to withdraw (or be persuaded to) in order for the president to recover from this since he appears unlikely to withdraw the nomination himself.

However, good the two cards you were "dealt" looked Mr. President, "the flop" (i.e. the reaction from the base) has been a disaster for you and has only gotten worse in recent weeks. It does not take a "poker genius" to see what will inexorably happen if you insist on continuing to "bet" on this "hand."

Notes:

{1} Here they are yet again:

On the Selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court (circa October 4, 2005)

More on the Miers Appointment (circa October 7, 2005)

On the Harriet Miers Nomination (circa October 8, 2005)

On Why the Miers Pick is Strategically Flawed (via Southern Appeal circa October 9, 2005)

On the Miers Nomination and Activist Conservative Agendas --Dialogue with Kevin Tierney (circa October 10, 2005)

{2} This is particularly the case when you give every indication in your "recent hands" (i.e. properly handling the "no WMD's" er...bovine secretions among various pro-Al Queda "anti war" canards in late 2004-early 2005, his approach to Hurricane Katrina, the handling of the leftist prevarications about supposed "genocide" following Katrina, etc.) that you are folding on good hands and bluffing on bad ones.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Another Flawed Argument From Pseudo "Peacemakers" Bites the Dust:
(Aka "A Birthday Fisking" Dept.)

This post was written about five days ago on a lunchbreak but there was uncertainty as to whether it would be posted or not. However, since this is your weblog host's birthday, hopefully this bit of an indulgence will be granted to him by the readers at little to no cost. Other than a couple of segues (and an introduction) and the changing of first person references to third person ones, the text remains the same as the one privately circulated. But without further ado, let Us get to it...

To show just how prescient your host actually is --and how utterly predictable certain critics often are-- the following was written in response to a thread your host had not actually read. Originally circulated on a private thread (and the content of the thread later confirmed by those on the email circular), let this serve as an example of why it is a waste of time to interact with most critics. We are interested in ideas here at Rerum Novarum not mindless babbling by those who are not interested in actual dialogue and prove this continually by their words as well as their actions.

First of all, the title of the thread to be responded to here had the word "chickenhawk" in it which is a codeword which tipped me off immediately as to what the subject would be about. Ironically, it was written by someone who has displayed the most brazen of cowardice over the months in refusing to be accountable for their own words. This has been demonstrated in detail and from the critic's own words more times at this weblog than your host cares to reiterate at this time. Suffice to say, proof of this individual's cowardice was most recently manifested in their refusal to answer some very basic questions in defense of their previous statements. Your host admits to having been unable to keep things to a soundbyte format in that thread; however, the specific questions themselves were separated from the expository text in bold font. Until the critic in question actually stops being a coward and undertakes a response to those questions, there is no reason to take them seriously. Certainly in this thread, the present writer will not do so but since the critic in question raised a common (and pathetic) objection by partisans of their particular war weltanschauung, it is for that reason that We will demonstrate the fallacies in this kind of argumentation.

This whole situation began as We knew it would with the person in question making the argument that your host knew they were making: essentially the old "if you support the Iraq war, why have you not enlisted by now"??? chestnut. By doing this, they were being both inconsistent as well as hypocritical themselves. For in defending themselves against the notion that they are daisy chain-wearing pacifists, some of them have asserted that they supported a military intervention in Bosnia in the 1990's under the rubric of "preventing ethnic cleansing." Correct Us if We are wrong but We highly doubt (to put it mildly) that the critic in question and the lions share of their allies were rushing to enlist at that time.

Furthermore, there is the issue of what would happen if everyone who supported the war went to enlist. To start with, the economy would go in the toilet faster than you could say "most pseudo-'peacemakers' are red diaper doper babies." In fact, we probably would not have an economy since a large proportion of those who support the war are those of the more technically skilled jobs, computer technicians, engineers, business owners, enterpreneurs, etc. Meanwhile, most of those who bitch about these things either are unemployed or contribute nothing to the economy except being a worker.{1} But then again, marxists love indescriminately tearing down existing structures to begin anew so maybe that is the modus opperandi of the critic in question and most of their allies.

There is also the fact that not everyone has the physical tools to be a soldier. In the case of your host, there are particular afflictions which have either impeded his mobility in a military context or his eyesight which to some extent affects vision for things such as precision shooting. He is okay on the rifle range but rather hit and miss with accuracy. This is fine in civilian situations but certainly not up to the qualifications of a professional soldier. As for the rest, there are also these factors to consider -taken from an email sent to someone on a discussion list regarding knee injuries:

I hyperextended my right knee very badly in late 1997...was shoveling snow next to a vehicle and my foot slid under it partway. I am sure it did not help that I weighed about 230 at the time...the knee was subsequently hyperextended several more times in later years along with the left knee a time or two. In mid 1999, I was lifting a bunch of carpet from the floor of my grandmother's home and tore cartilege on the side of the right knee. As a result of the two traumas (I never had surgery for them), my right knee bothers me a lot at times...particularly when my water consumption falls below a gallon a day for more than a few days at a time. (I then am in the position of playing "catch-up" and have to drink even more to compensate.) I mention this because water is wonderful for the joints...when my consumption is where it should be (which is most of the time), there is only (at most) minor aches and pains but when it is not, the knees creak and crack particularly the right one...

If your son's knee problem is anything like mine, it can (but not always) be aggravated by jolting movements like running. It is also likely aggravated by cycling or any kind of repetitive motion where there is knee trauma but it would not be affected by lifting things. (Hard to explain but I can lift a lot of weight and it does not bother my knees.) He may also have a situation known as chondomalasia of the patella where he has a lump of cartilege under his kneecaps which creates pain when he move the knee. I had that problem as a teenager as did my friend the sports medicine guy when we were training partners eons ago in junior high and high school.[...] Fortunately that is something your son could grow out of as we did if that is what he actually has. But either way, the body is 75% water so providing joint lubrication via drinking water in reasonable amounts can only help. (Oh and limiting caffeine beverages in his case too.) [Excerpts from an Email Correspondence (circa September 20, 2005)]

In early 2002, a friend of your host's who is in sports medicine examined both knees and concluded that your host has a stretched ACL in his right knee. That explains why at times if the right foot gets stuck even for a moment in a pothole or some other surface indentation (if outside for example) that it can hyperextend a bit whereas with the left foot this rarely happens.

Now, lest this be misunderstood, your host is by no means lame in his knees. Indeed, in his last leg workout, he handled 300 pounds in the squat for ten reps to failure. It also bears noting that this was done immediately after a set of leg extensions to failure with 240 pounds. There was in other words, no rest inbetween the two except as long as it took to walk to the squatrack, unrack the weight, and go which was about seven seconds.{2} Your host can also walk carrying heavy things without any problems whatsoever. The problem is not one of functional knee strength but instead of having a significantly stretched ACL in the knees particularly the right one. Because of this, one wrong step into a pothole when on a patrol and the right knee would with the greatest likelihood be hyperextended (and possibly the left one if misstepping with that leg: not as certain as with the right knee). And if running with a pack on in the war zone and that happened, with the greatest of likelihood there would be incapacitation and thus your host would be a sitting duck. But that is neither here nor there, the argument itself is fallacious and shows what happens with those who involve themselves in toking cannabis regularly rather than bothering to utilize a very elementary exercise of the thinking mechanism to avoid such irrational arguments. But this goes beyond the actual example noted above in the case of your host.


For those who make such arguments as the sorts of people who have recourse to the "chickenhawk" schtick inexorably spring a logical trap unless it can be shown that they have enlisted whenever they have supported military intervention at any time.{3} And as not a few of them favoured military intervention in Bosnia in the 1990's, you can judge them by their failure to enlist at that time to see how hypocritical they really are by making military enlistment a requirement for anyone who has supported the present military involvement in Iraq.

The bottom line is, those who are in the military enlisted with an awareness of the risks involved. They were not forced to enlist via the draft so this whole argument is absurd.{4} And further still, to Our knowledge, most of those who have served in Afghanistan or Iraq are (and were) supportive of those interventions!!! Ergo, We fail to see what these kinds of arguments serve except as crutches for moonbats who are incapable (or unwilling) to exercise their gray matter a bit and make actual substantive arguments. But then, these guys are (as a rule) professional dodgers it seems: dodging the draft back in the Vietnam days (if they were alive and of age) and dodging rational argumentation ever since. Finally, there is one more argument that undermines the argument that all supporters of wars should enlist and it is this:

If everyone in support of the war went to Iraq, other than the serious overcrowding that would be involved among the other things already noted, there would also be a surrendering of the homefront to every kind of seditious specimen imaginable!!!

If Vietnam taught us anything, military superiority is not adequate by itself, there must be moral fortitude on the homefront as well. And if all that was left in America were either those agnostic on the war situation or in varying degrees opposed to it, the ultimate result would be our defeat if we were not out to completely wipe the country off the map. (And of course we would not seek to do that at all.)

In summary, the argument that those who support a war are hypocrites if they do not enlist militarily has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese. And those who make this argument are irrational for making it for reasons noted above.{5} But there are many ways to support a war effort -one of which is to keep the homefront adequately secure from those who would undermine the war effort from within in true termite-like fashion. And whether such people do these things because of an illogical solipsistic situation, because they are marxists posing under the mask of being "peacemakers", or whatever else: such people are what the Framers meant when they referred to enemies "both foreign and domestic." And leaving such people unopposed on the homefront would be both suicidal for the nation as well as monumentally stupid. That is another reason why there needs to be on the homefront in a war people willing (as well as able) to combat such people and their propaganda.

Notes:

{1} This is a role which is not to be disparaged of course. Nonetheless, in truth it is easier to fill this position than that of the enterpreneur who creates jobs for others, etc.

{2} This is significantly less than what your host used to be able to do but he is optimistic that in 2006 the clock can be turned back to what was achieved in late 1995.

{3} Obviously this would not apply to those who made these arguments who were in the military already or who have served: those people avoid the charges of blatant inconsistency and hypocrisy in making such arguments and only have to deal with the fact that the argument itself is a weak one.

{4} If they were forced to enlist, then the "why do you not enlist" argument would have some legs to it.

{5} They are also hypocrites if they have not enlisted themselves for military operations which they have claimed to support for various reasons (i.e "ethnic cleansing", etc.).

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Briefly Revisiting Able Danger:

I do not have time to comment on this issue unfortunately but Able Danger is back in the news. I want to take this opportunity to remind readers of what I wrote on this issue last month -starting with this tidbit:

I surmize that...the existence of Able Danger and its coverup will prove to be a huge black mark on the previous administration. And in light of Hillary's longtime designs on the presidency, Able Danger would not be a benefit to her cause to put it mildly...

As I have noted in private correspondence to a few individuals, what he has done (in writing a book about Able Danger and 9/11) and what he is saying (in promoting his book on the various media curcuits), Rep. Curt Weldon has taken quite a gamble here. Bryan is right about him essentially going "all in" with what he is doing (to use a Texas hold'em expression) in that if he is called and does not produce the cards, he will be finished politically. However, if he can deliver on what he says he can, then his prestige will increase. In fact, if the latter proves to be true, look for Rep. Weldon to become a Republican darkhorse candidate for the presidency in 2008 (whether he wants it or not). My money is on Weldon's gamble paying off because generally speaking people do not make public stances like this unless they can deliver. [Excerpts from Rerum Novarum (circa September 16, 2005)]

There is also this more detailed exposition on the subject posted on September 21, 2005:

On Able Danger and A Potential Defense Department Coverup

Readers will get a very good overview of the significance of this situation at the thread above. From there I recommend that the readers check out Michelle Malkin's BLOG where she updates us on where things are since I wrote the post above:

'ABLE DANGER: WELDON GOES BALLISTIC'

And while I will post more on this subject in the coming weeks and months, it seemed appropriate at the present time to revisit it briefly and provide you with not only my views on the matter but also an update since this has the potential to be the biggest issue of 2006 and could very well influence the 2006 elections.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Miscellaneous Musings on Time

this is an audio post - click to play

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On the Myopic Vision of the Whig Historian)

The whig historian stands on the summit of the twentieth century, and organized his scheme of history from the point of view of his own day; and he is a subtle man to overturn from his mountain-top where he can fortify himself with plausible argument. He can say that events take on their due proportions when observed through the lapse of time. He can say that events must be judged by their ultimate issues, which, since we can trace them no farther, we must at least follow down to the present. He can say that it is only in relation to the twentieth century that one happening or another in the past has relevance or significance for us. He can use all the arguments that are so handy to men when discussion is dragged into the market place and philosophy is dethroned by common sense; so that it is no simple matter to demonstrate how the whig historian, from his mountaintop, sees the course of history only inverted and aslant.

The fallacy lies in the fact that if the historian working on the sixteenth century keeps the twentieth century in his mind, he makes direct reference across all the intervening period between Luther or the Popes and the world of our own day. And this immediate juxtaposition of past and present, though it makes everything easy and makes some inferences perilously obvious, is bound to lead to an over-simplification of the relations between events and a complete misapprehension of the relations between past and present. [Herbert Butterfield -From The Whig Interpretation of History (c. 1931)]

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Miscellaneous Mutterings on Polling

this is an audio post - click to play

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