A News and Politics Blog, With a Smattering of Sports

Friday, September 05, 2003

11:35 AM: 
Best of the Web - Taranto - Jason Blair caught in lie. Again.

7:03 AM: 
Not a bad zinger from JoeLie (I'll give him the Bush recession line. Sure it is a lie, but that is to be expected in a presidential campaign):
"The buzz among the press corps before the debate is that John Kerry is finally going to go toe to toe with Dean, in an attempt to close the double-digit lead that the former Vermont governor has opened over Kerry in New Hampshire. But it's wallflower Joe Lieberman who pummels Dean instead. Rocky showed up to fight Apollo Creed, but somehow he ended up in the ring with Paulie.
Lieberman's attack on Dean elicits excited 'ooohs' from the reporters watching the debate on television in the hall's basement. Lieberman brings up Dean's opposition to trading with countries that do not have the same labor and environmental standards as the United States, and he calls it 'stunning': 'He said he would not have bilateral trade agreements with any country that did not have American standards. That would mean we would not have trade agreements with Mexico, with most of the rest of the world. That would cost us millions of jobs.' Then, after peppering Dean with jabs, Lieberman rears back to throw the knockout punch: If Dean were elected president and carried out his promised trade policies, 'The Bush recession would be followed by the Dean depression.'"

Thursday, September 04, 2003

9:43 PM: 
Lawrence Solum's Legal Theory Blog was mentioned today in The Corner, and the passage about why Mr. Solum thinks a 24/7 filibuster could not be defeated inspired me to write him a response. Here it is:
Mr. Solum,

I love your blog. To cut to the chase, I wanted to respond to the following passage, which was quoted on NRO's "The Corner":

Couldn't the filibuster be broken if the Republicans forced the Democrats to go 24/7? No. Because the 24/7 option actually gives an advantage to the minority. Why? In order to force a 24/7 filibuster, the majority must maintain a quorum at all times, but the minority need only have one Senator present to maintain the filibuster. So 24/7 both exhausts and distracts the majority, while allowing the minority the opportunity to rest and carry on their ordinary business. No modern filibuster has been broken by the 24/7 option. . . .

What you wrote is correct, but it is not the entire picture. The Republicans do have a way of evening things out quite a bit, especially in the coming year. The rules of cloture are by Senate rules, and Senate rules can be changed by the Senate. Proposed rule changes can also be filibustered, but the rules for obtaining cloture are different. Instead of cloture requiring half plus one of the Senators elected and seated, cloture for rule changes requires two thirds of the Senators present and voting. The threshold for passage is higher, but it requires the minority party to keep a significant portion of their caucus present. The burden would still be greater on the Republicans, but with a Presidential campaign underway (and Senators like Kerry and Lieberman and Edwards participating), and with Bush raising money at an impressive rate and many of the Democrats' top fundraisers being Senators (such as Clinton and Daschle), there may be enough pressure to cause a fracture of Democrat cohesion. It would be a battle of wills, but unlike the scenerio you described above, it is one which is actually winnable.

"William McKinley"
I probably should have made it clear that what I am suggesting is that they propose, and try to force through, a rule change prohibiting filibusters on judicial nominees. I think Mr. Solum will catch where I was going with it.

9:07 PM: 
At 9:02 EDT, President George W. Bush addressed the nation, and asked...
"Are you ready for some football?

8:47 PM: 
The Wreck Of The Cruz Bustamante [Song Parody - Vanity] - the full version is here.

8:44 PM: 
"The Wreck of the Cruz Bustamante" - Song parody wins LA Times prize:
"The news on the wire set his ambitions afire
As the recall broke past Davis' defenses
Every Democrat knew, as Cap'n Davis did too
Californians had come to their senses!"
Oh, that is good...

2:48 PM: 
Why I am still hoping for a California miracle:
"Tom McClintock’s performance reminded me of the old line that when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Whatever you might think of him and his ideas, it can’t be said that McClintock trims his sails to match his audience. This is a man who knows what he believes and isn’t going to be shaken from it. He also knows how to say it in 60 seconds if that is what you give him, or 30, or even 15. He distinguished himself as a conservative’s conservative, on everything from taxes to abortion, the death penalty, immigration and the environment. I still don’t think he’s in the mainstream of the electorate, but he has the look of a guy who is willing to wait for the rest of us to figure out what he’s known all along."

1:35 PM: 

NFL Week 1 Picks Versus The Spread

All games, unless otherwise noted, are for 5 units.

The Jets (-3.5) at the Redskins: Washington signed many Jets during the offseason, and as such should be pretty familiar with many of the Jets' schemes. The loss of Pennington is significant. I am not a big believer in the Redskins this year, but getting three points at home against an aging Vinny when they have so much knowledge of the inner workings of the Jets is too much to pass up. I'll take the Skins.

The Patriots (+0.5) at the Bills: This division is pretty balanced, and this game is really a toss-up. In close matchups, I'll go with Belichik.

The Broncos (-9.5) at the Bengals: Is Plummer the answer? Did he stink because of the Cardinals, or does he just stink? Time will tell, but I am not ready to be a believer yet. The Bengals are slowly improving, and those are a lot of points to give to a home team when facing an erratic quarterback. Give me the Bengals.

The Colts (+3.5) at the Browns: The Browns made the right decision at quarterback, but too many people are too quick to write off the Colts. The opening week generally is more favorable to road teams than other weeks, so give me the points. This will be a recurring theme in my picks- if I see a game as being a close one, I would rather get the points than give them.

The Chargers (+5.5) at the Chiefs: Many people seem to think the Chiefs are title contenders. I think they are not going to live up to such lofty expectations, but at home I think they have too much firepower for the Chargers, who will win more low scoring affairs than high scoring ones. Give the points.

The Texans (+12.5) at the Dolphins: The Texans played some good teams tough last year, beating the Giants and the Steelers. The Dolphins generally start fast, but not by blowing teams out. Give me the dozen plus.

The Rams (+4.5) at the Giants: The Giants really gained respect with their late season rally last year; I cannot recall the last time they were favored by more than 3 against a quality opponent this early in a season. My head says go with the Rams, but my heart wins out here, and I will be giving the points and taking the G-men.

The Ravens (+7.5) at the Steelers: The Ravens are trying hard to make this into a big rivalry, but the Steelers still save their biggest emotions for the Browns. Porter getting shot will not help the Steelers, but the real key to this game will be if Maddox can withstand the fury of Ray Lewis and the Raven defense. I don't think he can, and will take the Ravens and the points-- enough so to make this a 2 star play (10 units).

The Cardinals (+1.5) at the Lions: The Cardinals are unproven at quarterback, running back, and wideout. And their defense is no great shakes either. Come to think of it, their offensive line is not formidable. As a matter of fact, they look to me like the worst team in the NFL. Take Mooch's crew. Give the point and a half.

The Vikings (+8.5) at the Packers: Many of the ESPN analysts are high on the Vikings as a surprise team. I know it did raise my eyebrows to hear they were the NFL's best rushing team last year. I am still a skeptic, but getting that many points, I cannot pass them up.

The Jaguars (+3.5) at the Panthers: Coach Fox had the Panthers out of the gate fast last year, and the Jaguars are a team clearly on the decline. Let the Leftwich watch begin. Give the points.

The Bears (+8.5) at the 49ers: I have a confession. I generally do very well during the opening weeks at picking against the spread. Over the past two years, I have dominated my office pool in the first month of the season. This year, however, I am finding that I am making a lot of 'but' picks, as in "I don't believe in the Vikings (or the Chiefs) but..." This is another example. I think that the 49ers are going to struggle under coach Erickson quite a bit, but I do not see any reason to expect the Bears to take advantage. Give the points.

The Saints (+0.5) at the Seahawks: Another case in point. I do not yet believe in Hasselback; his late season surge was nice but it was a small sample size. Some think the Seahawks are contenders; I do not. But. But. But. They should have enough, at home, to beat a Saints team which has lost some good players on defense to free agency. Give the half.

The Falcons (-6.5) at the Cowboys: Tuna time, and he doesn't even have to scheme against Vick. Carter is obviously a below average quarterback at this point, but the Cowboys still have Larry Allen, Galloway and Glenn are threats, Hambrick can do some things, the defense is solid, and Parcells' teams always perform well on special teams. A three star (15 unit) pick of the Cowboys in my play of the week.

The Raiders (-1.5) against the Titans: I think the Titans are the better team, but they do tend to start off mediocre and improve over the course of the season. Were this week 6, I would go with the music city madmen, but for now I'll take the Raiders and the points.

The Bucs (+0.5) at the Eagles: The Eagles are banged up already, and are not nearly as deep as in past years. The Bucs finally got over their mental block against the Eagles, and look to be as strong, if not stronger, than they were last year. Take the champs.

Let's Rock.

1:06 PM: 
Tonight kicks off the NFL season. Since I made my season predictions a while back, there have been some injuries which have caused me to do some re-evaluation. I no longer see Atlanta as winning the NFC South- Tampa should take that division. And the injury to Pennington will probably relegate the Jets to last place in the AFC East.

My week one picks are coming shortly.

12:53 PM: 
Frum checks in on the 'neoconservative' label, yet again. The thread also has an intruiging article by James Bowman, who makes some good points but overstates the case of the choice between neoconservatism and paleoconservatism; he states those are the only choices, but there remains a third option- traditional conservatism, which predates both other strains by generations.

12:15 PM: 
Boy have I been slacking when it comes to Presidential Survivor. The extended contest for group 5 is now in the books, and voted off with 40% of the vote is one of George W. Bush's anscestors- Franklin Pierce.

Pierce is in the running for worst ever President, with the first of those contests also to be posted shortly (those will happen every five weeks as another group of five is voted off).

Group six will be Warren Harding, Martin Van Buren, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gerald Ford.

12:07 PM: 
Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States:
"The wonderfully misunderstood Clausewitzian trinity, expressed crudely as state-people-military, is being replaced by a powerful new trinity: the relationship between the state, the people, and information. In the latter phases of the industrial age, the free flow of quality information already had become essential to the success of industries and military establishments. If the internationalizing media toppled the Soviet empire, it was because that empire's battle against information-sharing had hollowed out its economy and lost the confidence of its people. When a sudden flood of information strikes a society or culture suffering an information deficit, the result is swift destabilization. This is now a global phenomenon."
A fascinating look at competitiveness in the globalized world by Ralph Peters. A bit long, but highly worthwhile. There is an interesting, prescient comment in it as well, which is made in the context of his argument but has applicability to the problems we are experiencing in Iraq:
"If you are looking for an easy war, fight an information-controlling state. If you are looking for a difficult investment, invest in an information-controlling state. If you are hunting a difficult conflict, enter the civil strife that arises after the collapse of an information-controlling state."

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

12:54 PM: 
John Derbyshire on The Corner on National Review Online mentions a great conservative/capitalist tale from Scrooge McDuck. Of course, this has been previously discussed on Free Republic.

12:52 PM: 
I apologize for the dearth of posts of late. Things have been hectic in 'real life'. Hopefully, within short order I will be back to posting like a madman. I have extended the Presidential Survivor poll for another week accordingly, since I had no new content for people to check back.

ABCNEWS's The Note is often an invaluable resource, but today's segment contained a little dissertation that I feel deserves comment.

"Stop us before we become obsessed with process again.

The two main goals of political journalism should be to hold powerful interests accountable to the public interest and to explain to voters how to connect how they vote with what their government should do.

But send a pack of political reporters to cover a debate, a campaign kick-off, or, well, pretty much anything else, and the goals of political journalism would SEEM to be more like the obligation to illuminate how John Sasso and Bob Shrum are getting along, or whether Arnold Schwarzenegger's debate strategy will cost him in the polls.

Too often, sending a political reporter to do Robert Pear's job (and cover a story) yields nothing that will clothe a single child, provide health care to one pregnant woman, create one job, or even speak indirectly to those aspirations."
Emphasis mine. Since when is it the job of reporters to clothe a single child, or to provide health care to pregnant women, or create jobs (other than at the newspaper through generating sales), or even speak indirectly to those aspirations? The job of reporters is to report the news, period. This is the liberal mindset, and explains a great deal of the bias that exists in the media. The media, by and large, simply no longer believes that their job is to report what has happened and what is happening. The media believes that its job is to change the world.