Friday, July 29, 2005

Recess Appointments: Historical Artifact & Modern Need

Today, the NYT insinuated that recess appointments were inappropriate because the supposed rationale for allowing them no longer existed.

"The Constitution's provision allowing for recess appointments harkens back to an era when lawmakers took days to get to the national capital and when recesses routinely stretched for months -- conditions that, of course, no longer apply."

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-UN-Ambassador.html

This is a problematic, and journalistically inappropriate, comment to make.

1. They are offering this as the _only_ rationale for why recess appointments were allowed. This is simply not the case. This is the justification used to explain why the Founders allowed for recess appointments, but frankly, we really don't know.
2. Regardless of "why," this was enacted, the Constitution allows for recess appointments. Frankly, it doesn't matter that the justification, if any, has changed. If you don't like it...amend it. Period.
3. While pre-tech Congresses might have had to travel, making recess appointments necessary, pre-tech Congresses certainly didn't have a record of holding up appointments (the Midnight Judges [aka Marbury] excepted) during the "regular" term of the President (i.e. before he became an official lame duck, i.e. after the election results for the next President were already known).

Sum: It doesn't matter why the Constitution says what it does, the President has the power to make such an appointment, and the need for this power (and the Founders Wisdom) is even greater now that Minority parties have to respect for the Executive Branch's constitutional power; nor respect for their own role in voting (yea or nea) on each appointed official.

U.S. Constition:

Article I, Section 3
Clause 2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html

Harold Bloom, Walt Whitman & Mormonism: 150 Years of Leaves of Grass

I'm not the most literary or poetic figure, but today's op-ed by Prof. Harold Bloom is noteworthy for two reasons:

1. Comments on Mormonism.
2. Leaves of Grass is really an interesting & rare work. It was required reading for the students in American Heritage (Multicultural & Honors sections) where I was the TA at BYU. Any other classes y'all took that required/encouraged its reading?

re: #1

Bloom's comments include:

"Walt Whitman was the crucial celebrant of what I think we yet will call the American Religion, the momentary fusion of all denominations in an amalgam of Enthusiasm and Gnosticism that marked the beginning of the end of European Protestantism in America, and which began in the Cane Ridge Revival of 1800. The Southern Baptists, Pentecostalists, Mormons, Adventists, and other native strains are ongoing emanations of what began there."

Hm...so Mormonism is a "native strain" emmanating from a religious revival? The intellectual etmoloygies and stream of thought come from this event seem to be pretty powerful stuff.

"Our theologians and prophets of the American Religion include Emerson, Joseph Smith, and Horace Bushnell, among others."

[Note to Kaimi: Yes, this usage is covered by fair use and my subscription agreement with the WSJ.]

Thursday, July 28, 2005

40 goats & 20 Camels...Joke or Slight? You decide....

A National Security Intelligence Service officer told the Standard the letter probably never made it out of the office.

"We gathered that this man was a teetotaler and a staunch Christian who seemed to have been struck by Chelsea, and I thought maybe he just took the joke too far," he said.

So...

The NSA has decided that you have to drink alcohol and can't be a Christian if you are going to write a letter to the U.S. President that will actually be delivered?

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/07/27/clinton.kenya.ap/index.html

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Fisking Krugman's Racism & Rongness: Whither Jobs?

Prof. Krugman says jobs are going to Canada because employers don't have to pay for their workers health insurance; and that the U.S. should do the same.

First, he claims Southern workers are so illiterate that Toyota has to use pictures to train them to do their job. That is just plain racist, in the worst way. An indefensible comment.

Second, he says that the "good" jobs are going to Canada; and that U.S. taxpayers end up picking up the tab because the jobs "left" in the U.S. don't provide benefits.

Ironic that he should have placed his article a day before Intel's announcement of a major new plant. Where? Surely in Canada, per Krugman's advice. Rong...

Arizona. Yes, Intel will build a plant to employ 1,000 workers with good pay and benefits. They aren't alone either. Infineon and Dell have also announced and/or built large U.S. plants. (Details at http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/corporatenews/2005-07-25-factory-usat_x.htm ).

Sum: So much for Krugman's theories on jobs; and that you don't have to be liberal to understand that the welfare state is the only solution to globalization. Pleazzzz!

Krugman's Krass Trash:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/25/opinion/25krugman.html?incamp=article_popular_2

Instapundit, The Atlantic, and NRO: Mitt Romney "lives"; and so does Liberal Religious Bigotry

So, what do you think of President Romney? No, I'm not talking about the 1980s counselor in the First Presidency. Personally, after a great president nicknamed "Dutch," I'm ready for another one with by the name of Mitt. Very American that...baseball mitts, etc.

Ok, so the most recent news is the story in The Atlantic Magazine. You can read about it at the link below (no registration required).

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200509/pappu

Also, NRO has had some great discussion on the article. See:

http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_07_24_corner-archive.asp#070780

Or Glenn Reynolds take (the 7:58 AM post from this morning).

www.instapundit.com

Oh, and don't forget:

http://www.dartblog.com/data/003251.html

Who really takes Sen. Kennedy to task...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Calling all LDS Missionaries who speak "Obscure Mayan" Dialects: Casting Call for Mel Gibson's Next Movie

Ok, not exactly a casting call; but...if you speak whatever "obscure Mayan" Dialect that Gibson is going to use in Apocalypto, you might have just the right combo to score work with Sr. Mel himself. He probably already has some translators I presume; but...chances are, they aren't native English speakers. Just a guess, but this could me a window for some aspiring BYU type.

http://www.variety.com/VR1117926430.html

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Justice Roberts: One small step for Conservatives, One huge, deterministic, Step towards Remaking the Supreme Court

So, is this nomination a big deal? You bet.

Here is a very likely scenario:

1. Rehnquist spends the next term tutoring and mentoring Roberts.
2. Rehnquist retires next summer; having assured his legacy.
3. Bush nominates Roberts to succeed Rehnquist.
4. Bush nominates Judge Edith Jones to replace Roberts.
5. Rove et al. get Bush to follow the above strategy (possibly after a game of Tennis with Rehnquist), to excite the base and ensure heavy turnout in '06 to protect GOP congressional majorities.
6. This strategy also succeeds in '08, as conservatives believe that Stevens (now what, 89?) or Ruth Bader (reportedly in quasi-poor health) retire. Smelling the potential to have a six judge majority of solid conservatives, the base turns out like never before, '08 is a complete political bloodbath, and the GOP nominee, wins and goes on to appoint 1-2 more conservative justices.

Sum: Rove is a genius & Roberts confirmation will literally remake Supreme Court history and ensure GOP dominance into the next decade.

What does Judge Roberts have to Do with Miguel Estrada? ALOT!!!

I have one very important implication that most folks haven't commented on as of yet:

If Judge Roberts becomes Justice Roberts, then Democrats would be unable to filibuster Miguel Estrada if he was patient and humble enough to accept a re-nomination from President Bush to the D.C. Circuit to replace Judge Roberts. Patient, because he was already filibustered and prevented from serving. Humble, because if he would have been promptly confirmed, it very well might have been him being nominated instead of Judge Roberts.

Why do I make this somewhat daring prediction? Simple.

1. Given Judge Roberts fairly non-controversial decisions while on the D.C. Circuit, the only dirt that liberals and Democrats can throw at him come from his time while working in the Department of Justice as a Special Assistant and as the Principal Deputy Assistant Solicitor General (i.e. the PDAS in any other Department, i.e. the highest politically appointed position without needing Senate confirmation). Libs/Dems have already started down this track. Seehttp://media.pfaw.org/roberts.pdf (attributing positions he took while an advocate for the National Government to himself) & statements by Sens. Schumer & Leahy that he would have to answer questions re: his work while at the DOJ and turn over memos from his DOJ work.

2. The Administrations refusal to turn over the memos and work product of Miguel Estrada while working for the DOJ (in substantially the same positions), was the primary reason given by Senate Democrats for not allowing a vote on his nomination.

3. Democrats will/will not demand Robert's work product while at the DOJ.

Result:

A. If Democrats demand Robert's DOJ memos, and they are not turned over, and he is confirmed, Dems will be unable to use this rationale to block Estrada again (or anyone else for that matter).

B. If Democrats don't demand the DOJ memos, then they essentially have to concede the Roberts nomination.

Either way...a win for those who wish to depoliticize the nomination process.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Making "needed" or "wanted" Ends Meet?: Looking at the WSJ story on family income

Today's WSJ has a story on how some families are finding it hard to stay financially "afloat". They profile a two income, 2 parent family (Annual income of 63.2k, U.S. Median is 62.4k), which just changed from 1.5 income, 2 parents (Annual income of 60k), in order to cope with rising expenses. Without judging these folks; let's look at some of the choices they have made and see if they seem reasonable for others to follow and/or avoid.

Family Facts:

1. Husband works for Comcast, earns $19.10 an hour. Is unionized, and hasn't had a pay raise in three years due to contract dispute between Union and Comcast.
2. Wife works as a secretary for an eye doctor at $10/hour. Was working 24 hours a week, just moved to 38 hours a week. Only benefit is free in-house vision care "insurance".
3. Two teenage boys.

Ok, so now onto the trade offs. + or - given, with commentary after.

A. Mother has turned to coupon clipping. +
B. Mother balances savings from coupons & driving shorter distances vs. longer drive & gas milage of driving to nearest Walmart. +
C. Family sold its camping trailer and currently uses a tent. +, although what were they doing with a camping trailer to begin with?
D. Father remains unionized. If he weren't unionized, he would have received wage increase averaging between 6-12% over the last three years. -, albeit he might not have a choice as to whether to leave the union or not. Some states effectively force one to stay in a union; other states allow you to opt out. If I remember correctly, PA (where these folks live) is a Union state and has no right to work laws.
E. Family raided their 401(k) plan for $5k to pay bills. Generally, this a big -. Individuall cases vary, but this will really hurt their retirement.
F. Mother urges family members to take shorter showers to save on water bill. +, although the water bill really isn't that much, I guess every penny counts. I like the conservation/environmentalism though.
G. Family has started a garden in their backyard to cut on grocery expenses. +++. Hm...this doesn't sound like familiar advice, does it?
H. Family tries to drive vehicles less; and sold 1 of their two vehicles. +.
I. Family carries 6k in credit card debt. -.

Sum: The story talks about how inflation hurts those htat have a more or less "fixed" income. With Gasone prices up 55%, bread 10%, meat 18%, milk 14% and electricity 11%...static wages are problematic.

Is there a solution for this family? What say ye? What would/wouldn't you do in this situation?

Monday, July 18, 2005

When is lying justified?: Moving beyond the Nazi example

So, I'm having this fascinating chat with Sr. Gillam at Issues in Mormon Doctrine. [Sorry, I'm not savy enough to figure out backtracks, etc]. See http://mormondoctrine.blogspot.com/2005/07/should-we-support-our-troops.html

Anyway, Sr. Gillam is upset re: the Iraqi liberation/invasion. Ok, I buy that. He isn't alone, nor universally agreed with. On to the good stuff.

The main point of debate seems to be:

"Bush lied, people died"

To which I reply:

"Bush (might have) lied, but people live in freedom now"

Hold on. This post is to explore the nature of justifying dishonesty; not the current state of safety in Iraq. This post IS NOT about debating current safety. It is about justification. Ok? Thanks.

So, y'all probably familiar with the Nazi justification for lying; i.e. if there were Nazi's at your door, would you lie to them about harboring Jews in your basement? If you lie, they live. If you tell the truth, they die.

Let's move beyond that. Let's talk about genocide & liberty; in the context of the Plan of Salvation.

If the Rwandan Genocide could have been prevented by Pres. Clinton lying to the country and inventing an excuse that it threatened our national security in order to for action to have been taken to prevent the Genocide; would it have been justified?

Feel free to insert your own example. Mine is Iraq. Frankly, the capacity of Iraqi's to exercise their God given freedom, have a real probationary mortal estate, rather than one cheapened by the threat of death for opposing Saddam or his corrupt cronies, is worth having lied about WMDs. While I don't think Bush lied, I don't really care. If he did, if it would lead to the liberation of millions to have a better probationary mortal experience...sounds good to me.

So, what say ye? Do you support preventing Genocide and increasing liberty via dishonesty? Or not? Why? Please be civil; no insults.

Iraq Barometer: Military enlistment

So, how is the U.S. Military doing in Iraq?

One measure often floated is the dropping enlistment rate and failure to meet enlistment goals. However, this is a functionally flawed method for determining progress in Iraq. Why? Because those that are _enlisting_, as opposed to re-enlisting, have never been in Iraq and their only sources of information are: (1) the media and (2) soldiers who have been there.

Source #1 provides mainly negative news, i.e. # of dead, # of suicide bombers, havok wrecked, how bad things are, etc. The only counterpoint is the blogosphere, where many folks, incld. a large number from source #2, try to highlight all the positive progress being made in Iraq.

Source #2 provide more positive news, as shown by blogging, but just as importantly, by the rate of _re-inlistment_. If military soldiers are _re-enlisting_, after having served 1 or more tours of duty in Iraq, then that should be the _best_ indicator of how the war is doing. Why? Because if you want to know how a war is doing, you should ask those that are actually fighting it. For more details, see the story below.

Oh, and for those doubters and those whom would say "they are _bribed_ to re-enlist," I call your very weak hand. First, bonuses would be available to soldiers regardless of whether there was a war on or not. Military bonus policy for re-enlistments has stayed the same for the last decade, with the only exception being that the amounts have increased and that more soldiers are eligible. The 100k bonuses you will read about is for a special forces warrior; not PFC Joe Blow, who can only get about 10k. And 10k isn't much more than the 5k that was available previous to the start of the War on Terrorism/Iraqi liberation. Second, and even more telling: only 60% of those enlisting have qualified for any type of bonus to begin with. Sum: Go GI Joe, Go Freedom.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-17-soldiers-re-enlist_x.htm

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Statistics, Damn Lies & Truth: Polling, Presidential Support and Voters

Let's not talk about statistics as lies or truth, but I wanted to highlight a few interesting quotes I've been told of late in the MSM:

1. Bush currently has 45% popular support (WSJ/NBC poll).
2. Chirac (Pres. of France) has 20% popular support (NPR Morning Edition)
3. Bush won 51% of the popular vote, making him more popular than Clinton who never received majority approval (Clinton won with 49% and 43% of the popular vote, respectively), and thus has more popular than any president since Bush 41' and does have a mandate. (Misc.)
4. Bush won with the lowest percentage of the popular vote of any Republican president; hence he lacks a mandate (Slate).

What do any of these figures tell us? I'm not entirely sure, but my insights:

A. Bush cemented his re-election with a majority vote win, while his first win lacked majority approval. Bush still got more of the vote than Clinton in either of his elections.
B. That Bush is more popular than Chirac, given that the MSM tells us how much the French hate the US, is telling. Apparently, Chriac hating the enemy of the French People (Bush) doesn't translate into support. Sounds like Kerry all over again.
C. MSM/liberal pundits are desperate to invent any figure they can to explain away that Bush won 2004 with a majority vote; which in our system gives him the presidency and the right to claim majority support. That he had a lower percentage than other Republican Presidential winners is...frankly, pointless and says nothing about his mandate.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Treason & the Times: MSM editors fail again...NY Senator Lautenberg

While the MSM try to create new dirt on Karl Rove, feel free to be skeptical. How can they connect the dots of complex political plots when they can't even get people's identities straight?

I'm sure the August Senator below, and the state he represents, are thrilled at the NYTs failure. It must have been one of those "F" slips. lol...

Senator Frank Lautenberg of New York said the intentional disclosure of a covert agency's identity amounted to an "act of treason,"

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/politics/11cnd-rove.html?ei=5094&en=5040c3f3cc9a86d2&hp=&ex=1121140800&adxnnl=1&partner=homepage&adxnnlx=1121118412-NEaNBE7Eg4OBGwD2v0NiNQ

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NYT Bias Update: Since when is Hillary Clinton a "Star"?

So, you wondered if the NYT was biased? Well, consider this headline and the first line of the article; and decide for yourself. Note, the first line is _the_ most important in a news article; with the 1st paragraph overall being _the_ focus of the story.

New York Olympics Bid Unleashes the Star Power

By JIM RUTENBERG and LYNN ZINSER 2:49 PM ET

The last day before the voting brought a new buzz, with New York welcoming Senator Hillary Clinton to the delegation.