October 28, 2005

Know When To Fold 'Em

Hugh Hewitt writing in repsonse to criticism of his New York Times piece on the Miers Withdrawal wrote the following:

As for Matt Anderson's question: A defeat on the Senate floor would have been painful, but also a constitutional result with many upside as clarity about who believes what is almost always a plus in a republic.
This misses the point that in the end, Miers did lose in the Senate.

Miers did not lose in blogs, op-eds or at NRO. Is there anyone who does not think for a moment that if despite all of the punditry the votes were there to approve the nomination Miers would have withdrawn? The simple fact is that the nomination's failure in the Senate was a foregone conclusion. Why go through the struggle and the pain of a losing Senate fight that would result in what would appear to be a victory over the president by Senate Democrats.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:54 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

October 27, 2005

Capital Misspent

The withdrawal today of Harriet Miers from nomination to the Supreme Court comes as something of a surprise but not really as a shock. I expected Bush and Miers to stick it out until the end. But maybe the end was clear enough that it was time to just walk away.

I have one last crackpot theory about the nomination that I would like to share. It's about why President Bush thought he could get away with this nomination.

When he took office for his second term, Bush made it known that he had plenty of political capital and he intended to spend it. The problem is I don't think he understands what that capital will buy him when it comes to the SCOTUS. And what it won't

What that capital will buy him is complete and unflinching support for the sort of nominee he promised, one in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. In his mind, he may have done that with the Miers nomination. Based on his personal knowledge of her he may see that nomination as fulfilling his promise. The truth is, we will never know. Where he ran into trouble with his conservative base is that to them his promise on nominations meant something entirely different.

It didn't mean appoint someone who is a judicial cipher to the rest of the world, even if you know personally that she is more of Scalia than Scalia. For the people who have fought long and hard to put the country in a position where a conservative president is nominating justices for the advice and consent of a GOP senate this nomination is almost more about the nomination than the nominee. Yes it matters to them to have a judicial conservative nominated to the court, but the fight to get that person there matters just as much and perhaps even a little more.

In an ironic way this parallels some of the recent commentary about Miers that it wasn't as important that she voted right but why she voted how she did. That it wasn't the outcomes but the process and the reasoning.

So where did Bush go wrong? He went wrong trying to spend his political capital on his base. He stood there with that check in his hand and said to his base "I'm here to cash in." The problem for Bush was that the base wasn't for sale. Conservatives had certain ideas an principals when it came to the court and they weren't going to sell those out for Bush's promise of "trust me." His political capital was all on his Amex card. And the base wasn't taking American Express.

Now the president has another chance. If he gives the base the kind of nominee and nomination battle they want, he will find that his political capital will get the job done. The strength of support behind such a nominee, and the willingness of those supporters to fight no matter what the Democrats throw at them.

Miers could have turned out to be the greatest originalist in the history of the court but her nomination was a political mistake. It was capital misspent.

Now he has another chance to do it right. Let's hope he does.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:20 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

October 24, 2005

Overpaid Whiny Losers

I caught a bit of the news last night that just made my blood boil. They were interviewing a few NBA players upset over the league's decision to institute a dress code. I don't really care that some of them don't like the idea of a dress code or the specifics of the code the league is putting into place. What really set me off was that a number of players are complaining about the cost and suggesting that the league give them a clothing stipend to pay for their new threads.

USA Today has a nice handy database of NBA Salaries. For 2004-05 the highest team median salary was the Dallas Mavericks at $5,900,000. The lowest was the New Jersey Nets with a median salary of $939.480. The lowest paid player on the Nets is Jabari Smith making a poultry $720,000.

The league minimum for a first year player in the NBA in the 2005-06 season is $398,762.

So the lowest paid player in the league is pulling down $400K and these punks are whining that they are going to have to go out and buy a couple of pairs of khakis?

Laura Ingraham may be fast approaching the world record for the most often paraphrased book title, here's mine.

Shut up and play.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 20, 2005

Woke Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed

Actually the computer woke up on the wrong side of the bed and has been doing so for a while.

My PowerBook has a problem. It has always had this problem. It doesn't wake from sleep very well in the morning. Every day when I leave the office I unplug the power close the lid put the computer in its bag ad head home. I get home, open the laptop and and the airport card discovers the wireless network and I'm happily online.

In the morning I unplug the power, close the lid and pack it in the bag. I get to work, open the lid - and crash. Sometimes it was just frozen in place, other times it was a full blown kernel panic. In any case it meant a forced shutdown and restart.

It was hard to resist the pull of anthropomorphism. I couldn't help but wonder what was the source of the computer's aversion to going to work in the morning. I suspected that maybe I wasn't being the best role model in that regard. There are probably many mornings that I have no desire to wake up and go to the office and actually work.

There was an obvious work-around. I could have shut the computer down gone the office and started it up. I was going to have to restart it anyway. But that wasn't good enough. This was supposed to work. I had a overwhelming need to figure out why it didn't, and all resources I could find both inside and outside of Apple were of no help.

The most obvious target was networking. At home I'm wireless, at work I'm plugged into the wall. So I started fiddling with the settings. Turning Airport off before going to the office didn't help. Turning off the auto-discovery and manually switching from one network to the other - no help.

I started playing with other settings. Normally the screen brightness automatically adjusts to ambient light. I turned this feature off. It didn't help.

I tried plugging in the network and the power before opening the computer - crash.

I knew all of theses crashes and forced shutdowns were wreaking havoc with the drive. I had already had to rebuild the drive once because it was becoming very unstable. Prudence would have dictated giving up and and just doing the orderly shut down. But all the work files were being backed up daily. I don't take dictation. And who the hell is Prudence to tell me what to do?

I was reading an email Wednesday when Apple's multi-lingual screen of death appeared. It tells you in seven different languages that you need to do a forced shutdown and restart. So I did the shutdown. There was no re-start. For an interesting twist, I did not have a copy of the OS X 10.4 install disc that had the utilities that would fix the problem. Using the 10.3 utilities on a 10.4 system was only going to make things worse. I did have a disc image of the install - on my hard drive. So here's what I did.

Boot off the 10.3 cd and install on the external FireWire drive.

Boot from the FireWire drive and burn a 10.4 install disc.

Boot from the 10.4 disc and run the utilities. Unfortunately the system and the directory structures were so screwed up they couldn't help. So on to plan B. Do an archive and install and put a new system on the disc. But the disc was too far gone.

Plan C. Reboot off the firewire and copy over my user folder and any applications and support files I couldn't easily replace. Reboot off the 10.4 disc reformat the disc and start from scratch. and not just a simple re-fromat either do the whole write zeros to the disc thing just make sure it's completely clean. I also figured that if there were any physical defects on the drive this would reveal them. But it went smoothly.

Then it was time to go home. So I shut down and went home and re-installed 10.4. Then I plugged in the FireWire drive to start the rebuilding process. I dragged the contents of the old user folder into the new one and what took over an hour to copy earlier in the day took about three seconds. It was a good minute before I could remember to breathe again. Then I opened the folder called "Work." Inside were all of the folders for each category of project, just like they were when I checked the copy before zeroing the drive. Those folders were empty. The folders on the FireWire drive were empty too.

Also missing my iTunes music folder and my iPhoto library. The Music I can recover off the iPod, the work files are backed up, the photos are gone forever.

This morning I went to work and started the process of recovering files from the tape library. Every tape that the little robot mechanism put into the tape drive read as "erased." So the back up in broken. Its either a read error or the damn thing is actually erasing out tapes. Bottom line is. The files are with the photos.

The only vague hint of the tiniest possibility of any hope that there is the most minute silver lining to all of this is that it is the slow part of the year for me. I only had about a dozen active jobs. Two months ago that number was over 100.

I now officially don't care why the system won't wake up from sleep when I get the office but seems to be fine when I go home. No more sleep for me. Just a complete shutdown.

And a bit of work to do over.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

October 16, 2005

As It Should Be

The Iraqi people have voted on their constitution.

Uday and Qusay are spinning in their graves

Allah Ackbar.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:42 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 14, 2005

Some Times Poker Players Bluff

I've been turning this idea over and over in my head since the Miers nomination. Sometimes it makes sense. Sometimes I can feel the tin foil rubbing against my scalp. But so far it's the only way I can make the Miers nomination make sense.

I think Bush is bluffing.

If you've played any poker in your life you know that if you only bet on big hands, eventually every time you bet everybody folds.

From all of the information I have been able to discover about Miers, nominating her makes no sense whatsoever. There are so many other better qualified individuals available.

Conservative critics of the nomination are angered in part because they saw this nomination as an opportunity to force a public debate on the role of the judiciary as one of three co-equal branches of government. They believed nominating a known strong judicial conservative was the key to having that debate. But from what I have read since the Miers nomination it seems the nature and future direction of the court is being vigorously debated. If Bush had nominated Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown, we would have had a raucous partisan battle that would come down to a partisan committee vote and a partisan Senate vote with the votes of the Republican half of the Gang of 14 deciding the issue.

Now, instead of a partisan battle, we are debating and discussing what a Justice should be and what the court should be.

So the bluff has kept the players at the table, playing the game Bush and his conservative critics want to play. So what is the bluff?

The judicial confirmation process has been a farce for years. From the filibusters, to Ads containing outright lies about Justice Roberts, to the New York Times trying to investigate the Roberts' family adoption records. None of which has anything do with the law or an individual's fitness to be a judge. The nomination of Miers will force the Judicial Committee and the Senate to focus on issues of law and judicial qualification.

And if the President loses this hand - and loses with Republicans voting no - what does it mean?

It means that stakes are raised in the next hand - and there are fewer wild cards for the left to play.

President Bush can point to the rejected nomination of Miers and say the system works when you play it straight up. He can nominate Luttig, Brown or Owens and challenge the left to knock them down based on their judicial qualifications and he has a free hand to raise on every play they make.

There is probably a pretty good chance given the reliability of the Republican votes in the Gang of 14, that whoever Bush nominated for this seat was going to be rejected. Particularly if he had nominated one of the strict constructionists from everybody's short list. So he has his loyal friend and advisor take one for the team. Then he can come back with the strong nominee conservatives want.

President Bush and his team are not generally as politically inept and tone deaf as they have appeared to be regarding this nomination. On its face this is a bigger political mistake then one would expect. The only way it makes any sense is if they are doing it on purpose. The only real danger is if the Senate calls his bluff and confirms Miers. Then all we have is the hope that Bush is holding the cards he hints he is.

By the way, the new non-stick tinfoil is really more comfortable than the old stuff.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:15 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment

October 11, 2005

An Outside View

If you're struggling to understand the source of all the heated debate over the Miers nomination, check out this evaluation from the other side of the planet:

Maybe my being an Australian is responsible for my puzzlement but I CANNOT understand the uproar among conservatives (e.g. here) over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme court. She is not a famous legal brain but since when has the court been about the law at all? Were Thurgood Marshall or Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointed for anything but their rusted-on Leftism? Was the Grutter v. Bollinger decision a legal marvel or a defiance of the clear meaning of the 14th Amendment? Was Roe v. Wade anything to do with the constitution at all, considering that the constitution does not even mention the word abortion? SCOTUS has long been a political body rather than a legal one and GWB is appointing the most reliably conservative lawyer he knows. Conservatives should be applauding him for treating the court as the political joke it has long been and presumably always will be. Maybe my Australian bluntness prevents me from understanding the mythologies involved.
John Ray has a firm understanding of the highly political nature of the SCOTUS. What he doesn't see, perhaps from the distance, is that many on the right despite saying they want strict constructionist on the court really just want different politics.

It stems, I think, from their own deep involvement with their political philosophy and either their inability to separate political philosophy from their judicial philosophy, or just a complete lack of a judicial philosophy all together.

Based on my estimation of President Bush's nominations I am fairly certain that he and I share a similar judicial philosophy. Judges should rule based on the law and not politics. If a ruling comes down that does not agree with my politics but is made in accordance with the law then my recourse is to seek to change the law. The question has been debated as to whether or not Miers will “vote right.” I believe it matters less how she votes and more how she thinks, and apparently we are going to have to wait for the hearings to get any real clues to that.

If you don't like the politics and the politicization of the court, the answer is not to change the politics but to remove the politics. Return judging to the law and leave the politics to the politicians.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

One Question Answered

Hat Tip to Instapundit for providing the answer to the question I raised the other day.

Is Miers An Extraordinary Nomination?

He cites this report from The Hill

The Gang of 14’s centrist Democratic and Republican senators met and gave preliminary approval yesterday to Harriet Miers as President Bush’s nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court.
Emerging from a meeting at the offices of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, “This nomination didn’t set off any alarm bells with any of us.”
The significance of this provisional endorsement, though presented in a low-key fashion, could be huge, for it means that unless damning evidence emerges during the Judiciary Committee’s as-yet unscheduled confirmation hearings the nominee is unlikely to be filibustered, and a party-line vote would mean confirmation. A party-line vote is far from assured because conservatives have not welcomed the nomination.
For those who underestimate the importance of the role of the Gang of 14 in the President's decision to nominate Miers, consider the spokesperson for this story.

Republican Senator Olympia Snow is talking about the nomination not setting off alarm bells. Excuse me, but I thought it was the Democrat half of the gang that had it's alarms set for extraordinary circumstances that would trigger a filibuster.

If you doubt that the fecklessness of the Republican half of the Gang of 14 played a major role in a known solid conservative jurist not being nominated, you haven't been paying attention. Having 55 Republican Senators is of little value in a fierce ideological fight when you can reasonably expect seven of them to either not support you, or fight for the other side.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:50 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 10, 2005

I Can See Clearly Now

Way back in July 2004 I wrote about my dire need for a new pair of sunglasses. As is my wont, I went searching on eBay and found a great pair of vintage Ray Bans.

Very nice classical styling and a good deal of character. They looked good on me too.

Well, about a month ago I lost them. Best guess is I put them in the case on the roof of the car and drove off. I was crestfallen. At least I would have been if we had a crest. Does it count if the toothpaste is on the floor?

Well, I picked myself and the toothpaste up off the floor and set out to find another pair of shades. I started by Googling for “free sunglasses.” You know the king you see in in-flight Magazines. As I suspected there were lots of sites to choose from. As I suspected they were all cheap looking crap.

So I went back to eBay and found this nice pair of vintage Ray Bans. If you think that link looks like the same picture, it is. The seller of the new pair has already taken the photos down. But aside from a different wear pattern on the case they are an exact duplicate of the pair I lost.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

October 08, 2005

Is Miers An Extraordinary Nomination?

I have read and read and read and read what both sides of the conservative debate are on the Miers nomination. There seems to be a lot of passion on both sides but not a lot of relevant information. People are grasping at whatever tidbit of information they can get their hands on and trying to extrapolate that into some idea of what kind of justice she would be.

There is one question I have yet to see addressed. Is Miers An Extraordinary Nomination? More specifically does her nomination and her lack of “traditional credentials” meet the standard of extraordinary circumstances? Assuming the nomination makes it out of the judiciary committee, would the Democratic half of the gang of 14 sing on to an effort to filibuster?

If in the course of the confirmation hearings Miers reveals herself to be a solid conservative and a strict constructionist how will the Democrats react?

Lastly, is this what Bush had in mind all along? Does he know that despite the initial reaction from Harry Reid and others that Miers is precisely the kind of justice the Democrats do not want? Does he know that the nomination will hit the Senate floor like Katrina?

There are too many known unknowns and probably too may unknown unknowns.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:51 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 06, 2005

New Haven CT - Part of the Problem

New Haven Connecticut Mayor John DeStefano Jr. wants to make life a little easier for the estimated 12,500 illegal aliens living in the city. He wants the city to give them ID cards. The New Haven Resister covered the mayor press conference.

“Let’s be real about why this is happening first of all,” said the mayor, who is also a gubernatorial candidate, during a bilingual press conference in City Hall. “The failure of the federal government to recognize and embrace thousands and thousands of hard-working residents, is subjecting those people and their families to abuse and exploitation,” he said.
This may be one of the worst plans imaginable, except it's not really a plan.
“All of these people are hard-working, decent members of our society on which we depend everyday,” DeStefano said. “We can do better by them and we have to make up some of it as we go along.”(emphasis mine)
Another part of the plan that DeStafano is making up as he goes along is urging local banks to allow illegal immigrants to open accounts with the required social security numbers.

In a nutshell, DeStefano wants to provide better access to city services in order to curry favor with the legal hispanic population in his expected run for governor. The truly sad twist to the story is that it works.

Latino politicians reached later Monday applauded the new bilingual forms, but said far more needs to be done, including hiring more bilingual city workers.
“I commend the mayor on finally realizing this is a legitimate issue and needs to be addressed, but this is only a first step,” said Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez, D-5, who represents a neighborhood in the Hill.
I've found myself asking this question of politicians from California to the White House - “What part of illegal don't you understand?”

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:49 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 05, 2005

I'm On the Fence - But It's Not Really Mine

I have read a great deal about the Miers nomination trying to figure out if it is something I can support. This post on My Sandmen puts in fairly clear terms some of what I have been wondering about. I am leaning toward giving Bush the benefit of the doubt, but I am still on the fence.

The reason all of this matters so much is that according to the Supreme Court, it is not really my fence.

Evidence of just how important this and every judicial appointment can be can be found in this post from Michelle Malkin. It recounts one of the most egregious abuses of eminent domain I have read about. And I have read a good deal about eminent domain.

If Miers is the strict constructionist that the president promises, then perhaps the damage of Kelo can be undone. If not then the preservation of property rights will be a battle every individual will have to fight. take the first step now and help to send a message to Washington that the citizens of this country demand protection of property rights and sign the Open Source Amendment Petition.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:43 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 03, 2005

Intentional Walk

O.K. here's my take on today's nomination of Harriet Miers. I don't know enough about the woman to have an opinion on how she would be as a justice on the Supreme Court. Given early support of the nomination from Minority Leader Harry Reed, there probably isn't much doubt that she will be approved.

The problem I have isn't what we don't know, it's the fact that we don't know. President Bush had the opportunity to send a clear and decisive message about his vision for the judiciary and the Supreme Court. Instead he pitched out. It may be the right tactical move in the end, but it is not inspiring.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:36 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

October 01, 2005

More Evidence The Left Just Doesn't Get It

This is the headline from a New York Times article

To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars
Corrfect me if I'm wrong, but isn't that sort of the point.

The Times seems to deplore this development

Just a few decades ago, a life sentence was often a misnomer, a way to suggest harsh punishment but deliver only 10 to 20 years.
But now, driven by tougher laws and political pressure on governors and parole boards, thousands of lifers are going into prisons each year, and in many states only a few are ever coming out, even in cases where judges and prosecutors did not intend to put them away forever.
Indeed, in just the last 30 years, the United States has created something never before seen in its history and unheard of around the globe: a booming population of prisoners whose only way out of prison is likely to be inside a coffin.
Ironically, they seem to understand that the left, ie the Times, may bear some of the responsibilty.
The phenomenon is in some ways an artifact of the death penalty. Opponents of capital punishment have promoted life sentences as an alternative to execution. And as the nation's enthusiasm for the death penalty wanes amid restrictive Supreme Court rulings and a spate of death row exonerations, more states are turning to life sentences.
Defendants facing a potential death sentence often plead to life; those who go to trial and are convicted are sentenced to life about half the time by juries that are sometimes swayed by the lingering possibility of innocence.
As a result the United States is now housing a large and permanent population of prisoners who will die of old age behind bars. At the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, for instance, more than 3,000 of the 5,100 prisoners are serving life without parole, and most of the rest are serving sentences so long that they cannot be completed in a typical lifetime.
I imagine it must come as a shock that the result of a life sentence means a convicted criminal staying in prison for the rest of their life, but as the old saying goes, don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:36 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment

The Power of Creative Editing

Found via Brand Autopsy, one of my favorite marketing blogs, a shining example of how clever editing can change the meaning of everything.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

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