Posts about Politics

Sadie Hawkins day on cable

Well, it was an interesting day on cable Sunday. On Reliable Sources, we saw the right going after the right over Harriet Miers and we saw the left going after the paper of the left on Judy Miller. Echo chamber? What echo chamber? Echo chamber? What echo chamber?

I apparently pissed off a few of my liberal goombas when I said that the Democrats have some answering to do for their cynical acceptance of Miers and here’s what I said in response to them on their blogs:

We all know that Miers is not qualified and for Democrats to say we’ll take her anyway is essentially a cynical and even irresponsible act. If he nominated Madonna, would you say, well, OK, it could be worse? Or should we demand better of Bush. I hope we still stand for quality. And I don’t care whom that irritates.

The real issue here is that Bush put up a crony and a fool and tried to make fools of all of us and we ignore that stand at our own peril.

Meanwhile, Hinderaker was going after the right for going after the right’s leader and his candidate. We should have just sat back and watched them eat their young.


Well, if anyone wanted the alleged housing bubble to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, they just found the guys with the pin: The President’s tax-advisory council is set to recommend limiting the tax deduction on mortgages — just as increased prices forced huge increases in the mortgages people have to pay to afford a home. Just as numbnutty, they are proposed to tax employer-paid health-insurance benefits — just as the cost of those benefits is skyrocketing. The commission was supposed to find a way to replace the revenue from the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax, which is screwing more and more Americans every year. They didn’t stop screwing up. They just found another orifice.

Once again, this shows the utter lack of strategic vision from Bush. If he had balls and had any political capital left, he would have found a new tax strategy: flat-tax, value-added tax, simplified tax, something. Instead, he just found another way to piss off people.

This is the best you could do?

I’ve never been sure what motivates George Bush. Unlike so many presidents before — Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Carter, with more or less success each — Bush does not seem motivated by his legacy. If he were, he’d have done what was necessary to win democracy for Iraq and not leave a mess. If he were, he would have used the political capital to bring some strategic vision to life — on, say, energy independence. If he were, he wouldn’t have nominated Harriet Miers.

I can understand cronyism — the need to be surrounded by loyalty, whether as a matter of ideology or as the tit paid for a tat. I don’t approve of it (see: Brownie). But I get the motivation.

But to install a crony in the Supreme Court where personal loyalty is meaningless? I can’t decide whether it’s stupid or cynical.

John Podhoretz complains:

There is only one person on the planet who would have made this selection — the person whose personal lawyer Miers was, whose staff secretary she was, as well as, for less than a year, his chief White House counsel.

Without the patronage of George W. Bush, Harriet Miers is nothing more than a fairly obscure lawyer from Texas who served as president of a relatively minor law firm and served in state government on a lottery commission for five years….

The Supreme Court is a strange institution. It basically makes its own rules as it goes along, since there are only a few legal matters its nine justices are required by the Constitution to consider. It is a combination of court, think tank and policymaker. It doesn’t quite possess paramount authority in the United States, since its rulings can be overridden in some cases by acts of Congress or by the passage of a constitutional amendment. But it’s pretty close.

And these decisions are made through the complex interplay of written law, oral argument and logical analysis….

Harriet Miers might be a very fine person. She might be a good lawyer. Her boss, President Bush, certainly thinks a lot of her work as staff secretary and policy aide.

But it is highly unlikely that she will be a good Supreme Court justice, because there is no indication in her 35 years in professional life that she has intellectual interests, that she has committed herself to the study of Constitutional theory and practice or even that she can write a decent English sentence. And it beggars reason to think that a person at the age of 60 can suddenly emerge as an intellectual powerhouse.

Or was this a most cynical act: the product of an effort to find someone with no meaningful paper trail, robbing the Senate and thus us of the chance make sure we have the best?

But Democrats are guilty of cynicism at least as thick.

The Democrat minority leader, Harry Reid, who mentioned her name to the President during the consultation process, said: “I have to say without any qualification that I’m very happy that we have someone like her.” …

Liberal New York Democrat senator Charles Schumer said “it could have been worse.”

But shouldn’t the response of the Democrats and Republicans, for that matter, have been: This is the best you could do, Mr. President?

Says it all

The Times-Picayune posts an excellent summary of the tragedy-turned-scandal of inadequate response to Katrina:

His frequent public pronouncements notwithstanding, Brown clearly saw himself in a supporting role in the disaster drama. He issued a directive to FEMA employees Monday not to respond to hurricane-ravaged areas “without being requested and lawfully dispatched by state and local authorities.”

The directive revealed an allegiance to bureaucratic processes that proved maddening to some as FEMA demanded written requests for food, troops and fuel. A Florida congressman said the agency turned down an offer for flat-bottomed air boats because it didn’t want to sign a contract with the supplier.

Save for the Coast Guard’s dramatic air rescues, a detached, legalistic approach set the tone for the federal government’s response. Brown is a lawyer as is his boss, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. And the founding document of U.S. disaster planning reads like a legal brief.

The National Response Plan is chock full of legalese, case law and statutes, but it doesn’t clearly spell out something as basic as who is responsible for getting food and water to flood victims. The 426-page plan was supposed to have remedied the command-and-control problems that plagued the response to the terrorist attacks in New York City. But it’s hardly a model of clarity. Its authors thought it necessary to attach an 11-page glossary of “key terms” and a three-page explanation of acronyms. On the seminal question – Who’s in charge? – the Federal Response Plan is murky.

It says incidents are “typically” managed at the lowest levels of government. On the same page, however, it says that “Incidents of National Significance” put the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in charge. The next page seems to reverse course again. It says that “Incidents of National Significance,” emergencies declared by the president, puts the federal government in a supporting role to protect state sovereignty. That is, unless the president decides he wants to be in charge, in which case the governor is secondary. Under those circumstances, the plan says, the president will consult with the governor, “if practicable.”

: And here’s the Washington Post on the red tape that continues to hamper relief efforts for evacuees.

What loss looks like

Among the things I meant to post when I was too busy to do so was a link to this picture, which Fred Wilson put up, of the victor and losers in the New York Democratic mayoral primary. Wiener is the very image of constipation.