Friday, September 16, 2005

Hitch strikes agagin
I had intended to attend this event. The article makes me glad I was unable.

How I wish I lived in Japan
Thanks to my handy-dandy google alerts, I've learned that Vodafone has plans for 24:

Vodafone K.K. announces today that on 3 October 2005 it will launch '24: Conspiracy', a new made-for-mobile drama inspired by the blockbuster Fox TV series '24', on Vodafone live!

Coinciding with the fourth season of the '24' TV series, '24: Conspiracy' consists of 24 one-minute episodes that take place at CTU Washington D.C. to form a parallel story made specifically for mobile (as video clip content), with a completely original cast. Vodafone Group operating companies have already launched '24: Conspiracy' in 7 countries, including the US and UK.
I wonder, will they also be offering the nuclear-powered cell phones that Jack Bauer carries? You know, the ones that never need charging of any sort, despite all kinds of power-draining activities?

Either way, this sounds like it could be a pretty cool use of emerging technologies.

UPDATE [9/16/2005 - 14:36]: The Man emails to remind me:
For those of you that think a 1 minute episode is not enough time....remember last season, Jack drove to CTU, changed into a suit (with a windsor knot), spoke to the Chinese ambassador, changed, and drove across LA in less than 5 minutes.
He also provides a link to last Spring, when he and I exposed Jack Bauer's superhuman speed. Enjoy!

Slate declares its "America's Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster"
What can I say? I've always pointed out that Connecticut has the most "normal" weather in the country. Rare flooding, weak hurricane/tropical storm remnants, no earthquakes, no major forest fires, no mudslides, the occasional blizzard that only very rarely results in any deaths (and usually then it's either due to stupidity on the road, or infirmity to begin with)—basically, it's the place I'd want to live if I had a choice.

Oh, wait. I did have a choice—and I made it. Yay Connecticut!

Seriously, though, when I saw this article title come up in my podcast list (I highly recommend Slate's daily podcast, by the way), I immediately thought "Hmmm... I wonder if it's Connecticut? I'm always saying it's the ideal place to avoid catastrophic weather—maybe I'm right!" Sure enough...

Oh Please
From the Roberts confirmation hearings (transcript mine):

Feinstein: If you were in that situation, with someone you deeply love, and you saw the suffering, who would you want to listen to: your doctor, or the government telling you what to do? To me it's that stark, because I've been through it.
This, from a woman who wants to nationalize (i.e. bureaucratize) the US healthcare system. (Note: I'm setting aside the fact that her entire line of questioning focused around how Roberts thinks things should be, instead of how the law and the Constitution demand they must be. For more on that, see Ann Althouse for more on that.) So, when it comes to killing a patient, she doesn't want the goverment involved—but at every step leading up to that point she does? What sense does that make?

And Dahlia Lithwick comments:
It's like a bad method-acting class—pretend your puppy's dead, judge, we'll need some tears here.
Next, we hear a uniquely absurd line of reasoning roundly defeated by a superior rationality:
Feingold: I would like to revisit the Hamdi issue. I asked you which of the four opinions in the case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld best approximates your view on the executive's power to designate enemy combatants. And you refused to answer that question because the issue might return to the court.

But I want to press you a bit on that. In Hamdi there were four different opinions. And by the way, I checked, because you mentioned Youngstown. And all four opinions cited the Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer case. Both Justice Thomas' dissent, and Justice Ginsburg and Souter in concurring cited Justice Jackson's opinion in the Youngstown case, and they came to completely different conclusions.

So your answer that you would apply that principle doesn't help me very much in understanding your view of this. We know where all eight other members of the court stand on these opinions -- in their opinions. They either wrote or joined one of them.

Yet all eight of them will hear the next case that raises similar issues. No one is suggesting that their independence or impartiality in the next case has been compromised. Mr. Hamdi, of course, has left the country, so the precise facts of his case will never return to the court.

Of course, if a member of the court expressed a view outside of the court on a specific case that was headed to the court, that might be cause for a recusal, as Justice Scalia recognized when he recused himself from the Pledge of Allegiance case a few terms ago after discussing it in a speech.

But obviously, Justice Scalia can participate in the next case involving the questions at issue in Hamdi, even though we know exactly what he thinks about that decision.

So I guess I want to know, why are you different? I'm not asking you for a commitment on a particular case. I recognize that your views might change once you're on the court and hear the arguments and discuss the issue with your colleagues. But why shouldn't the public have some idea of where you stand today on these crucial questions concerning the power of the government to jail them without charge or access to counsel in a time of war? They know a great deal about how each of the other justices approach these issues. Why is your situation different?

Roberts: Well, because each of the other eight justices came to their views in those cases through the judicial process. They confronted that issue with an open mind. They read the briefs presented by the parties and the arguments the parties presented.

They researched the precedents as a judge. They heard the argument in the case. They sat in the conference room, just the nine of them on the court, and debated the issues and came to their conclusions as part of the judicial process.

You're now asking me for my opinion outside of that process: not after hearing the arguments; not after reading the briefs, not after participating with the other judges as part of the collegial process; not after sitting in the conference room and discussing with them their views, being open to their considered views of the case; not after going through the process of writing an opinion which I have found from personal experience and from observation often leads to a change in views.

The process of the opinion-writing -- you can't -- the opinion turns out it (inaudible) you have to change the result. The discipline of writing helps lead you to the right result.

You're asking me for my views, you know, right here without going through any of that process.

Feingold: What would be the harm, Judge, if we got your views at this point and then that process caused you to come to a different conclusion, as it appropriately should? What would be the harm?

Roberts: Well, the harm would be affecting the appearance of impartiality in the administration of justice. People who would be arguing in that future case should not look at me and say, "Well, there's somebody who, under oath, testified that I should lose this case because this is his view that he testified to."

They're entitled to have someone consider their case through the whole process I just described, not testifying under oath in response to a question at a confirmation hearing.

I think that is the difference between the views expressed in the prior precedent by other justices in the judicial process, and why, as has been the view of all of those justices -- every one of those justices who participated in that case took the same view with respect to questions concerning cases that might come before them as I'm taking here.
Basically, if Roberts "upholds" a decision in his testimony, it can have a chilling effect on anyone who might one day aim to challenge that decision; if he "overturns" one, it could prompt excessive challenges to that decision. And, beyond that, there's no guarantee that, after the process of discussing and researching the applicable precedents, Roberts will stick to what he feels is the right application of the law right now. Can you imagine the ramifications on the public's faith in the court (really the only thing that gives its decisions any weight) if they thought it was headed by some wishy-washy guy who can't make up his mind about anything? Can you imagine the impression that would give people regarding the law?

What we don't need is more people convinced that the law means whatever you want it to mean—that's how we got into this mess in the first place. Of course, I can see why someone like Feinstein or Feingold would want that. Sigh.

Beldar Blog points out another serious flaw in Feingold's line of questioning:
Mr. FEINGOLD: I demand that you immediately violate the absolutely clear, unconditional prohibition in section 3A(6) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges by commenting here on the merits of actual, specific cases and motions that are still pending before you as a judge.

Judge ROBERTS: I can't. That would be unethical.

Mr. FEINGOLD: But I wrote you a letter telling you in advance that I was going to demand that you be unethical. So c'mon, now, be unethical! Chop-chop! Break the most basic rules designed to promote judicial impartiality and public confidence in the judiciary, right here for C-SPAN's cameras!

Judge ROBERTS: No, sir, I won't.

Mr. FEINGOLD: In the name of my most loudly barking moonbat constituents and contributors, I order you to trash your ethics! Regardless of my smarmy fa├žade of mock-respect, I'm going to persist in asking these questions that, if you did answer them, would demonstrate beyond any doubt that you're unfit to be any kind of judge anywhere.

Judge ROBERTS: With due respect, no.

Mr. FEINGOLD: I'm hugely surprised and disappointed that you won't comply with my demand that you commit an offense which would immediately and appropriately prompt the U.S. Judicial Conference to sanction you, and probably prompt us here in the United States Senate to convene a hearing to impeach and remove you from your present office. But I'll move on (continuing to speak incredibly swiftly, because I want to squeeze in the largest number of similarly chickensh*t argumentative questions that will possibly fit in between my smirks for the camera).(Links in original)
I'd say "heh," but the fact that it's so accurate, and that this crap is going on within supposedly the most deliberative body in the world depresses me too much.

(Special thanks to Charlie Quidnunc and his Rip & Read podcast—shows 143 and 144—for the inspiration for this post, as well as the ability to listen to significant portions of the hearings while on the train home.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More apologies
I've been SWAMPED at work (today, for example, a 12.5 hour day not including lunch). I did, however, type up a few posts while I was on the train tonight. I need to add some links (and get them off my laptop), and they will be up before I go to bed tonight.

I hope they satisfy you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

This is rich
Armando, over at Daily Kos, tries to argue that Justice Clarence Thomas misrepresented his beliefs in his Senate hearings. He quotes an article that says:

Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991 after a lengthy and bitter confirmation process, Justice Thomas is considered one of the most conservative justices on the bench, usually voting with Justice Scalia. He is staunchly opposed to abortion and believes that Roe should be overruled. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Thomas joined with Rehnquist when he wrote:
"We believe that Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled."
Also in Casey, Thomas joined Justice Scalia when he wrote:
"The issue is whether it [the right to choose] is a liberty protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure it is not."
Justice Thomas has even voted to overturn a measure protecting women seeking abortion care from harassment, joining Justice Scalia's scathing dissent in Hill v. Colorado that termed the Court's decisions regarding abortion a 'contradiction of constitutional principles.'

At his confirmation hearing, Justice Thomas assured Senators that he believed in the doctrine of stare decisis and denied any strong feelings on the abortion debate. His support of Scalia's dissent in Casey indicates otherwise. Critics have even suggested that Justice Thomas perjured himself in his Senate hearing in order to be confirmed.
OK, let's look at this.

Liberals love pointing to the term stare decisis, because it enables them to mislead people about its meaning. If you listened to people like Armando, you'd believe that stare decisis implies absolute adherence to precedent. In fact, according to the FindLaw Legal Dictionary, it is:
the doctrine under which courts adhere to precedent on questions of law in order to insure certainty, consistency, and stability in the administration of justice with departure from precedent permitted for compelling reasons (as to prevent the perpetuation of injustice). (emphasis added)
Get that? Belief that Roe should be overturned and support for stare decisis are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact, they go together quite nicely—if you believe that abortion constitutes the murder of innocent children (sounds like an injustice to me), then the doctrine effectively provides justification for overturning the decision, not opposition. So, no perjury on that point.

Next, I suppose Armando would say "well, he said he had no strong feelings on the abortion debate." Yeah, and? What's your point? Is it inconceivable to liberals that a Supreme Court Justice might actually be able to judge a case at face-value? Is it completely impossible that Thomas listened to the debate over Casey and determined based on the facts laid out before him that Justice Scalia's argument was more sound than the majority's? Thomas has not come out since Casey as a pro-life activist, so how do we know that he now has strong feelings? All it proves is that he reached a conclusion, not that it's a particularly strongly-held conclusion. And even if he does now have strong feelings, that's insufficient to show that he had them during his confirmation hearings. So, again, no perjury.

At the heart of this matter is the question of how a judge is supposed to decide on a particular case. Armando, Biden, Teddy K. et al. believe thta abortion is an unalienable right, and that no matter whether it's represented in the Constitution, a judge must decide in favor of an unrestricted "woman's right to choose" in every case.

Scalia, Thomas—and, based on the 30 minutes of hearings I listened to today, Roberts—they believe a judge must be an independent, impartial arbiter of each set of facts that come before them. They look at the controlling law, they look at the information provided to them by counsel, and they reach a conclusion—so not only should they not give any indication as to how they might rule down the road, they shouldn't be able to do so.

And I still say Biden needs a beatin'.

UPDATE [9/15/2005 - 9:43]: Dave Justus has a comment that's spot-on.

Blanco all about her own skin
Yep, that's right, Governor Blanco is more concerned about the perception of her actions than actually acting correctly. Why do a I say this? Take a look for yourself.

Joe Biden is an ass
I'm listening to him question Roberts while I work (CRAZY day at the office—no time to even breathe), and I just had to point out that he's an idiot.

He just spent 10 minutes arguing with Roberts about whether Ginsburg answered specific questions or not. Roberts kept trying to explain that nominees should not give any forecast of how they'll deal with cases that may come before the court, and Biden kept demanding to know if that's what Ginsburg did or not.

Why don't people understand that just because something has been done one way in the past doesn't make it the right way? Roberts' position is clearly that, independent of what may have gone on in the past, there are specific lines that he feels he must draw, and he's drawn them.

And then Biden accused him of filibustering. Somebody needs to whack him upside the head. Hard.

Here's SCOTUSblog's liveblog description:

12:32 - Biden presses Roberts very hard, talking over him, to give a more direct answer to whether he agrees with Rehnquist in dissent in Moore. Biden says that Roberts is filibustering. It doesn't come across that way.
Agreed. Biden comes across as petulent and frustrated. Roberts is calm and restrained, and finds himself constantly interrupted by Biden's whining—doesn't seem like a good strategy on Biden's side.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Michael Yon to MSM: "You can't handle the truth."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More of the same
Here's some more elaborate cut-through-the-crap analysis.

Plus, CNN says "oops!"

Never Forget