Friday, July 15, 2005

The plight of the blogger (or not)

Ludwig Meidner, "Apocalyptic Landscape" (1913)*

There are obviously many opinions on The Reaction -- and on what it's become, and on where it seems to be going, but I'd like to thank those of you who have commented on my recent post, "What's up with The Reaction?" (see here). And, while I'm at it, I'd like to thank CommonSenseDesk, a good friend of The Reaction, for drawing attention to it (see here).

I think it's important for bloggers to listen to such feedback from their readers, and, as I've said before, I do take it seriously. Please feel free to add further comments either here or at that post.

*(Yes, it's meant to be taken ironically within the context of this post, whatever it's stunning depiction of our deep-rooted existential crisis. I love expressionist art, and I couldn't resist including Meidner's masterpiece here. I don't always need to be taken so seriously... no, not always...)

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Hillary contra porn: A good cause for 2008

According to the L.A. Times, Hillary Clinton has "called for a federal investigation into a downloadable modification that turns the best-selling computer game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas into an interactive porn movie". (See here.)

Well, good for her. Seriously. I'm something of a cultural libertarian, as many of you know, but there's really no excuse for this. Many video games are bad enough as they are without the addition of explicit pornography, and the Grand Theft Auto offerings are among the very worst. If you don't believe me, go check them out and get back to me. In the meantime, answer this: Do you want your child -- do you want any child, for that matter -- playing a game where you can pick up a prostitute, do her in the back of your car, shoot her, and take your money back? Yeah, that's what Hillary's talking about. "We have reached the point where video games with truly pornographic and violent content are being peddled to our children," she said. Something needs to be done about it, and, whatever one thinks of her proposals, at least she's raised the issue.

I realize that she's already running for president and that 2008 is, in political terms, just around the corner, but there's nothing wrong with pressing a good cause.

(For more of my views on "culture," see here. With liberty must come responsibility.)

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Turds in the Rovegate quagmire

Call me liberal, call me conservative, call me whatever you want.

All I know is, this is getting really, really stupid. Pursue the story, uncover the truth, and, ultimately, blame the blameworthy, but don't turn this into some political farce. A farce that too many important people are using to score political points. We should take this story seriously, yes, but it seems to make sense -- too much sense, perhaps -- to wait for the facts with detached curiosity before rushing to judgment. (Even when the target is Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove.)

Yes, my friends, the Senate has waded into the Rovegate quagmire. And it's already gotten ugly. See here.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

The hunt for the next justice

The Hill is reporting today that John McCain has suggested Senator/TV star/movie star/Watergate personality Fred Thompson as a desirable nominee for the Supreme Court:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) floated the name of Thompson, who met with Senate Republicans yesterday. “He could do like Cheney,” said McCain, referencing how Dick Cheney headed Bush’s search for a vice-presidential running mate and was himself selected. “I’m serious,” McCain said. “He’d be great.”

Yes, perhaps he would. I'll have to think more thoroughly about Thompson before I judge his qualifications for the Supreme Court, but I'm not sure he'd be such a bad choice (how's that for a double-negative quasi-endorsement?). These days, we tend to think more of judges already sitting on the federal benches, but some of the great justices of the past, including Earl Warren, were appointed to the Supreme Court from non-judicial positions. See the Times story here.

In other news:

  • Rehnquist is out of hospital and denying any imminent retirement. "I am not about to announce my retirement," he said. "I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits." More here.
  • O'Connor is being wooed out of retirement. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Committee, have suggested that O'Connor could be a candidate for chief justice were Rehnquist to retire, and now four other senators have written to O'Connor to ask her to reconsider her retirement. More here.
Ah, the saga continues... Can Bush please nominate someone? Anyone? Then we can talk more seriously about this. Sure, I've done my share of speculating here, but it's time to get down to business...

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SCOTUS update (Rehnquist)

I'm not sure quite how serious it is, but Chief Justice Rehnquist was taken to hospital with a fever on Wednesday. The Post reports here. Needless to say, speculation that his retirement is imminent is rampant. Whatever one may think of his judicial career, however much one may agree or disagree with him on any number of cases, he is certainly a courageous man struggling with a terminal illness, and The Reaction wishes him a speedy recovery from this latest setback and all the best beyond that. In simple terms, this is a case where everyone should be on his side and where partisan differences should be put aside to recognize the life and career of one of America's most prominent and influential jurists.

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SOTA (#11) update

"Karl Rove" has passed "Mariah Carey" at Technorati. Something tells me this is also a Sign of the Apocalypse. Let's call it #11a.

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What's up with The Reaction?

This evening, one of my long-time readers commented that, from his perspective, I've been shifting to the left and "taking too many easy shots at Bush and the right wing," with all my outrage vented in one direction. For his comments and my lengthy reply, see here.

I bring this to your attention because I think he raises some valuable points and because his comments got me thinking about what it means to come out here each and every day to post on a variety of topics, many quite controversial. Generally, what I've found, both here at The Reaction and at Centerfield, is that so much is a matter of perspective. Liberals sometimes think I'm too conservative, conservatives think I'm too liberal, moderates find inconsistencies and generally find me falling to one side or the other.

So where am I? Honestly, I don't know. I suppose, with respect to American politics and the conventional American political spectrum, I'm somewhere on the center-left. I generally side with the Democrats and I proudly call myself a liberal, but on various issues I find myself more to the left or to the right.

I suppose I call 'em as I see 'em, but one thing I don't want to do at The Reaction is to spew partisan rhetoric or otherwise to preach to an audience of sycophants. I'm here to challenge all of you who take the time to visit, but I'm also here to challenge myself. And that means that I'm also learning as I'm going, ever prepared to modify my views as I learn more and think through a given issue. Too many bloggers, I find, are just so sure of themselves, so confident that they have all the answers. I'm not so confident, and I hope that my humility manages to inform my writing.

Go have a look at my reader's comments and my lengthy reply. I don't think that I've been shifting to the left or that I've been taking too many shots at Bush, but I acknowledge that I'm here, in part, to challenge those in power -- and, right now, Bush and the Republicans are in power. One must be somewhat provocative, after all, but I hope that I don't sacrifice sound analysis and thoughtful commentary just for the sake of making a point.

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Humans and animals: Just how civilized are we?

Amba, one of the great friends of The Reaction and the author of one of my favourite blogs (AmbivaBlog), has just come out with her first AmbivaBlog Award -- see here.

The envelope, please... The first AmbivaBlog Award goes to...

Matthew Scully, author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. For his website, see here.

Amba, he's a truly worthy recipient of your award. George Will has called him "the most interesting conservative you never heard of," and I think he captures the spirit of your award:

I conceived of the "AmbivaBlog Awards" as a way of bringing attention and praise to thinkers who violated the conventional boundaries of left and right in the course of doing justice to reality. For instance, it's long struck me as absurd that most liberals are concerned about the pollution of the physical environment but not about the pollution of the moral environment, and most conservatives' concern is just the reverse.

Read Amba's post for a lengthy quotation from Scully's recent piece in The American Conservative. However we label him, he is somone we should all -- liberal, moderate, conservative, whatever -- be paying attention to. And I say this in part because I, like Amba, believe strongly in treating animals with love, compassion, dignity, and respect. Sometimes I even wonder if I love animals more than my fellow human beings, given the sheer ugliness that often seems to weigh down our species. We may have dominion over the earth, but we aren't absolute rulers, and with such power comes enormous responsibility.

If I may quote one of my very first posts, back near the beginning of The Reaction, "I have long thought that a society (or a regime, to use current political parlance) can be judged by how it treats its weakest members: the young, the old, the infirm, the mentally and physically challenged, the poor, the helpless. A civilized society -- and a government that acts justly -- cares about -- and for -- its weakest members." I strongly believe that animals belong in this category. They may not always be "weak," but, in the end, they are no match for our technological prowess and our determination to conquer nature by any and all means necessary. A society that treats animals without love, compassion, dignity, and respect does not deserve to be called civilized, and, in this regard, I sometimes wonder just how civilized we really are.

Scully draws our attention to the suffering of animals at our own hands, and recognition of him is surely merited. Well done, Amba. I hope the subsequent winners of your award live up to this lofty standard.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Show me the (faux) meat!

Well, friend, colleague, and all-around decent fellow VK at the DW&CS beat me to it -- which is only fair, since he was the one who sent me the link this afternoon. So here's the link to his post at said DW&CS.

The story: It seems that researchers are proposing "two new techniques of tissue engineering that may one day lead to affordable production of in vitro -- lab grown -- meat for human consumption". Yes, that's right. Faux meat. The Daily Show of meat. Well, not genetically faux meat, but certainly not meat as we know it.

The idea of culturing meat is to create an edible product that tastes like cuts of beef, poultry, pork, lamb or fish and has the nutrients and texture of meat.

Scientists know that a single muscle cell from a cow or chicken can be isolated and divided into thousands of new muscle cells. Experiments with fish tissue have created small amounts of in vitro meat in NASA experiments researching potential food products for long-term space travel, where storage is a problem...

[University of Maryland doctoral student Jason] Matheny's team developed ideas for two techniques that have potential for large scale meat production. One is to grow the cells in large flat sheets on thin membranes. The sheets of meat would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked on top of one another to increase thickness.

The other method would be to grow the muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The mature cells could then be harvested and turned into a processed meat, like nuggets or hamburgers.

Good eats? I don't know, we'll have to wait for Alton Brown's verdict. In the meantime, though, it's a fascinating story.

But I wonder about the ethics of eating faux meat. VK's a vegetarian. Would he eat it? I don't eat red meat or pork (and I'm trying to cut back on poultry). Would I? Maybe. Although membranes "stacked on top of one another" and harvested cells "turned into a processed meat" hardly seem appetizing.

Still, I'm definitely looking forward to my first spicy (faux) tuna maki.

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Sign of the Apocalypse #11: Mariah, cultural pariah

Right now, at this moment, as I write, "Mariah Carey" is the #1 search at Technorati, ahead of "Karl Rove," "London," and "Tom Cruise" (all of which are in the top-10). Apparently, there are at least 34,217 posts about Mariah out there.

Ah, the blogosphere. Cultural democracy in action...

Oh, you like Mariah? Is that what you're telling me? Or you'd just like to know more about her? Well, let me help. Here's her official website for your amusement. You'll particularly enjoy the "Mariahisms," I'm sure. But now sing with me (you know you want to):

There's a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid
Of what you are
There's an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Ah, such freakin' drama! Enough to make you sob (not laugh) all the way to the Apocalypse. Mariah's glass-shattering vibratos will lead the way...

Be good, readers, be good. (Bing bong, as Mariah would say.)

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Sign of the Apocalypse #10: Bobby impregnatin' Whitney

Yes, I know, many of my SOTA are TV-related. But perhaps that's just an indication that the Apocalypse will be on TV. Keep watching. We seem to be getting closer and closer all the time.

For now it's Being Bobby Brown, a Bravo "reality" show that offers us, a herd of sheep blinking stupidly in front of the idiot box, an intimate glimpse into the deeply dysfunctional lives of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. A glimpse? Uh, no. From what I can tell, the show drenches its viewers in unadulterated vulgarity.

You know, I used to like Whitney Houston, quite a bit, back in the mid-to-late-'80s. We even lived in the same town in New Jersey (Mendham, if you must know). But this is just plain disgusting (and not a little sad, if you have any feelings at all). Dana Stevens, the excellent Slate TV critic who wrote an exceptional piece on the celebrity-industrial complex (see here, SOTA #7), actually likes the show, or at least will keep watching (for now), but I wonder if it really has any more appeal than a train wreck (okay, a train wreck with an ass fetish and some serious impregnatin' goin' on, but still...).

Note: For SOTA #1-9, see the right sidebar, where you'll find all the links. Enjoy. I think we all need a break from the mega-gravitas of Rovegate, SCOTUS, Iraq, and terrorism, even if that means laughing (or sobbing) all the way to the Apocalypse.

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What to label Gonzales?

As I've said myself, Gonzales is only relatively moderate -- that is, moderate relative to the other leading candidates to replace O'Connor, though clearly moderate on such key issues as abortion and affirmative action. But what of his record back in Texas as Bush's lawyer and in Washington as White House counsel? Slate takes up the issue here, with Emily Bazelon asking if he is in fact "the best Supreme Court pick liberals can hope for" and reviewing his dubious advice on death sentences to then-Gov. Bush and his more recent determination that "the Geneva Conventions should not apply to the current war on terrorism".

As both an opponent of the death penalty and a critic of American interrogation techniques at Gitmo and elsewhere, I abhor these aspects of Gonzales's (not-so-distant) past, and I opposed his nomination as attorney general for precisely these black marks on his record. But the question here is not what liberals can hope for but what they (we) can reasonably expect in a Bush nomination to the Supreme Court. Is he what we would hope for? No, of course not. (I'd rather see Bill Clinton as chief justice... seriously.) Is he the least bad of the leading candidates? Yes, quite likely -- although I recently acknowledged that Luttig might not be so bad either. One only hopes that a Justice Gonzales would be more independent than the hyper-loyal pro-Bush hack that we've come to know throughout his long career in Dubya's shadow.

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The real activists on the Supreme Court

Conservatives who claim privileged allegiance to the Constitution typically accuse liberal judges of being activists, that is, of legislating from the bench. Liberals, they say, make up laws as they go, laws in accordance with their distorted interpretation of the Constitution, and, indeed, with their wholly un-American politics.

But a new study published in the Times -- okay, you're going to want to sit down for this one -- this new study, which defines activism as "[voting] to strike down a law passed by Congress," reveals that "those justices often considered more 'liberal' -- Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens -- vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled 'conservative' vote more frequently to do so". The results, reported by Seeing the Forest (another good blog that cross-links with The Reaction):

  • Thomas: 65.63%
  • Kennedy: 64.06%
  • Scalia: 56.25%
  • Rehnquist: 46.88%
  • O'Connor: 46.77%
  • Souter: 42.19%
  • Stevens: 39.34%
  • Ginsburg: 39.06%
  • Breyer: 28.13%

Of course, a different interpretation is that the conservatives (mainly Thomas, Scalia, and Rehnquist) voted to overturn liberal laws that were/are themselves unconstitutional. This would indicate a liberal bias in Congress. Yet Republicans have controlled Congress, more or less, since 1994. Regardless, it's clear that judicial activism is hardly a liberal phenomenon. However, it does seem that conservatives have been successful at creating the impression that it is, and that conservative judges are more, well, conservative, that is, restrained and respectful of Original Intent. Seeing the Forest puts it this way: "[W]hen right-wingers accuse it usually means that is what they are themselves doing."

With one, two, or even three Supreme Court nominations coming soon, we'll see if liberals (and Democrats) can overcome this intentional misdirection with the truth about judicial "conservatism".

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Blaming Wilson

That's what the Republicans are doing... and going to do more of. Preemptive Karma (a really good liberal blog with which The Reaction now cross-links) has the story here. It seems that GOP talking points, directed at GOP-friendly talking heads, try to deflect attention away from Rove by pinning the blame exclusively on Wilson (i.e., Plame's husband, exposer of the Niger uranium story, arouser of White House wrath). Plus, more on why what Rove did was bad... really bad (and perhaps even criminal).

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Prayer vs. genocide: Congress gets on its knees for Darfur

I've already posted a few times on Darfur, and I acknowledge that some of you have criticized my call for intervention while sharing my moral outrage (see here, for example). And I agree: Full-out military intervention, at least by the United States, is impossible, and we're unlikely to see a concerted European effort to stop the genocide by force. And the United Nations? Uh, no. Not gonna happen.

But is it too much to expect more than prayer? Yes, prayer. Don't adjust your sets. You read me correctly.

According to the Coalition for Darfur (explained here and here), the White House has stalled, and perhaps killed, the Darfur Accountability Act, a next-best effort, short of military intervention, to do something about Darfur and perhaps to put a halt to the genocide. For the recent post, with an explanation of the DAA, see here. Under pressure from the White House, the DAA "appears to be trapped in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Relations, presumably never to be seen again".

Ah, but don't despair! The Senate has stepped up and passed S.RES.186 on July 1, and I'm sure that'll more than make up for the DAA. What does this noble resolution say?

A resolution affirming the importance of a national weekend of prayer for the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, Sudan, and expressing the sense of the Senate that July 15 through July 17, 2005, should be designated as a national weekend of prayer and reflection for the people of Darfur.

Not to be outdone, the House passed H.RES.333 on Monday. What does this equally noble resolution say?

Resolved, That the House of Representatives --

(1) supports the goals and ideals of a National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection for Darfur, Sudan;

(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe that weekend by praying for an end to the genocide and crimes against humanity and for lasting peace in Darfur, Sudan; and

(3) urges all churches, synagogues, mosques, and religious institutions in the United States to consider the issue of Darfur in their activities and to observe the National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection with appropriate activities and services.

Um, right... Hundreds of thousands have died in Darfur -- it's GENOCIDE, in case you haven't been paying attention -- and the best Congress can come up with is "a National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection"? Far be it from me to comment on the power of prayer, but, well, I just don't think it'll be an adequate replacement for, say, an enforced no-fly zone, or assistance to the African Union, or sanctions against the Sudanese government, or support for an expanded U.N. role to protect innocent civilians. Hey, I wonder what would have happened if Ike had gotten down on his knees to pray for the Nazis to withdraw from Western Europe. I'm sure that would have worked just as well as D-Day.

The Coalition for Darfur, with which I am proud to be affiliated, is right, these resolutions "[serve] to highlight the government's utter lack of concern". I'm not saying that the U.S. needs to march into Darfur the way it marched into Iraq, but there are other, less invasive ways to end, or at least seriously curtail, the genocide. The DAA would be a good start, but the White House -- no, the buck stops in the Oval Office -- and its allies in Congress would rather push impotent resolutions that don't accomplish a thing. Prayer is fine, I'm sure, but a show of force, and a commitment to follow through, would do far more to help the poor people of Darfur. It's like having sex and praying that you don't get an STD. Wouldn't a condom be a bit more effective?

With all the focus on Rovegate, SCOTUS, Iraq, and terrorism -- all worthy issues, to be sure -- Darfur has already been relegated to obscurity. Predictable, perhaps, but truly shameful.

We should demand better of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Uniters, not dividers

As some of you know, and as I've mentioned here before, I'm also one of the bloggers at Centerfield, a leading centrist blog and the official blog of the Centrist Coalition -- in addition to some original work, I cross-post some of my posts from The Reaction at Centerfield. I encourage you to check out what all the excellent bloggers at Centerfield have to say on a wide range of issues, with several compelling new pieces posted every day. There's so much partisanship, hostility, and bitterness out here in the blogosphere, but Centerfield is truly a resource for political sobriety amid the drunken extremism of our time.

(Yes, if I do say so myself, given that I'm part of it! I'm generally on the left side of Centerfield's centrism, much more of a liberal and a Democrat than many of my fellow bloggers, but I remain committed to supporting centrism even as I write to advance the cause of liberalism as America's guiding political philosophy and to promote the fortunes of the Democratic Party. Which is why The Reaction is a "liberal-to-moderate blog" -- too moderate for some liberals, too liberal for some moderates, and too leftist, relatively speaking, for some conservatives (though I have my conservative tendencies, if you pay attention), but hopefully balanced enough to respect the best that is thought and said across the political spectrum.)

The Centrist Coalition recently released a "Statement on the Supreme Court Vacancy" (see here). Please check it out:

A consultative and cooperative nomination process, followed by full, fair and open Judiciary Committee hearings for the nominee will, we believe, result in the timely confirmation of a Supreme Court justice that all Americans can be proud of. It will require much fortitude from the president and leading senators not to fall into the trap laid for them by the extreme interest groups, who would like nothing more than to see the debate devolve into name-calling and gridlock.

It doesn't have to go that way. The Centrist Coalition offers a choice between the two extremes, a voice for the vast majority of Americans who recognize that those who seek to divide us only succeed if we let them. So far, the signs from President Bush and leading senators are encouraging: we must speak as one to support continued dialogue and collaboration, and to renounce divisive and unnecessary rhetoric. Together, we can prove that a Supreme Court nomination doesn't have to mean political war.

Keep your fingers crossed (but don't hold your breath). I've already written extensively on the "battle" over O'Connor's (and perhaps soon Rehnquist's) replacement on the Supreme Court (just scroll down and/or go to the recent archives). In a recent post, I suggested that Gonzales and Luttig would be acceptable nominees to replace O'Connor and Rehnquist. That's my "moderate" take, even though I would prefer more liberal nominees and a more liberal Supreme Court.

I agree with the Centrist Coalition that "the vast majority of Americans" prefer to be united, not divided. And, thus far, civility (or at least the rhetoric of civility) seems to have taken hold. I just wonder how long it will last.

After all, however much we may wish for the sober middle to prevail, the two sides know what the fight is really about, and they're not about to back down. I'll push for moderation, but I'm also prepared to take up that fight, especially in defence of liberalism.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

A mad, mad, mad, mad president

As Joe Gandelman reports at The Moderate Voice (see here), Hillary Clinton went on the offensive yesterday and, in a speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival (organized by the non-partisan Aspen Institute), referred to President Bush as Alfred A. Newman, the famous freckled face that graces MAD magazine. "I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Newman is in charge in Washington," she said to much laughter.

A funny remark? Well, sure. There is a bit of that "what me, worry?" quality to Bush.

But a smart one? No, says Joe, and I tend to agree with him. We all know that American politics has become a pit of name-calling inanity (see here and here for my posts at The Reaction and Centerfield, respectively), but this quip will only offer yet more distraction from where the focus should be: the Supreme Court, Iraq, the war on terror, Rovegate. Given all the president's (and America's) problems, we need more "issue-oriented dialogue," not laugh-inducing preaching to the partisan choirs.

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Behold, the media: They're alive... alive!

Well, it looks like the media are finally doing their job. For well over four years they've been lulled and embedded into submission by a control-freakish White House that puts Nixon to shame, but Rovegate -- as we're now calling it -- has aroused their heretofore dormant curiosity and prompted the resurgence of journalistic professionalism. Steve Soto of The Left Coaster has the story here, along with the transcript of Scott McClellan's grilling by the W.H. press corps.

About time, isn't it?

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Karl the leaker

So it was Rove. Surprise, surprise, surprise. One of the president's men -- perhaps the president's top man -- leaked Plame's identity to Matt Cooper of Time. See the latest Newsweek story here. AMERICAblog weighs in here, here, and here. I'm not sure I'm ready to say that Rove committed treason, but, from what we know, the leak is either criminal or downright sleazy (or both). And we need to know the truth.

Rovegate begins. Buckle up.

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A different take on Luttig

(Yes, more on the Supreme Court. Please bear with me. It's an important story, and I'll no doubt continue to write about it extensively, but, as always, I'll try to keep The Reaction interesting with a diverse array of posts in the coming days and weeks.)

Amba of the wonderful AmbivaBlog (and a great friend of The Reaction) linked to a different take on Luttig in a comment to my last post. Amba, in contrast to Julie Saltman, finds Luttig "trustworthy," "the kind of judge you want (or ought to want) on the Supreme Court." From a Chicago Tribune piece on Luttig:
As a judge, Luttig is widely considered an ardent conservative, but his record reveals his independence, as do recent analyses of his opinions by several political scientists. He has stressed, to his law clerks and in a recent speech, intellectual honesty and adherence to precedent. He tells law clerks they will be fired if they fail to show him contradicting authority on a particular issue or tell him exactly how they view the case, even if they do not share his views. His clerks praise him as a teacher -- and 40 of 42 have gone on to clerk at the Supreme Court, an unparalleled placement record.

Luttig has been highly critical of judicial activism on both sides of the ideological spectrum, in which he believes judges have decided cases based on a desired outcome instead of adhering to established law and taking that where it leads.

Well, that's promising, is it not? I've already indicated that I support Gonzales among the leading candidates to replace O'Connor, but if a second spot opens up -- and Rehnquist's retirement may be imminent -- perhaps Luttig wouldn't be such a bad choice. After all, we're not about to get a liberal or even moderate nominee. Bush will only nominate conservatives -- and even Gonzales is a conservative -- but I'd much rather have a real conservative who respects the law, who is independent, who rejects judicial activism, and who isn't out to destroy the liberal state than an unpredictable right-wing radical.

Julie may still be right that Luttig would vote to overturn Roe (and that's obviously a serious concern), but, as I do more and more research on the leading candidates, it seems to me that Luttig could (I'm not yet willing to commit) be an acceptable replacement for a conservative justice like Rehnquist -- as long as he's twinned with a relative moderate like Gonzales to replace the relatively moderate O'Connor. The right will no doubt continue to push for two hard-line conservatives to shift the balance of the Court to the right, but, at this point, I'd be willing to settle for Gonzales and Luttig.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

On Gonzales and Luttig, briefly

Julie Saltman examines Gonzales (here) and Luttig (here). Her view of Gonzales is that he is actually much less moderate than we have been led to believe and that he is far more loyal than principled. My view is that he is relatively moderate -- relative, that is, to the other leading candidates -- but that, yes, his career has generally involved sucking up to Bush (see my takes here, here, and here). Her view of Luttig is that he is "a scary dude" and that "his judicial career seems to be have been devoted to screwing over the disadvantaged and the powerless". On abortion, for example the Center for Reproductive Rights has determined that "he is likely to vote to overturn Roe". My view mirrors Julie's, more or less.

Let's hope it's Gonzales, warts and all.

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