|::::::::||Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq—my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.||::::::::|
A good read if you’re interested in some first hand reporting.
Fox’s site still shows the story as a “likely” confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court but they’ve also got a breaking-news banner that says the vote’s in. Alito appears to have been confirmed by the Senate.
Update: Our local news radio station, WTOP, has the story. Alito was confirmed 58-42 by the Senate. I would imagine this will be a largely party-line vote. We’ll see when the results get posted.
Update again: Here’s the roll coll for the voting. I note that 1 Republican voted “no” as did all but 4 Democrats. Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line speaks about the era this vote has just introduced and says it best:
|::::::::||This was basically a straight party line vote — 90 percent of the Democrats voted no. The vote changes the “rules” for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under the Alito rule, Senators will vote against highly qualified nominee for no reason other than that they expect the nominee to rule contrary to their preference on major issues. Under the Alito rule, the president’s party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president’s party doesn’t control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed.||::::::::|
Indeed. Alito’s record of ruling by the laws passed by the legislature was never the issue. His rate of being overturned by appeals wasn’t the issue. The issue – fully, completely – was 1) whether Alito would die before voting to overturn Roe v. Wade and 2) whether he’d side with Congress against the President when any question of who had the authority in a given matter was raised. The Dems and leftish Republican Lincoln Chafee thought the answer to both those questions was “no” and, therefore, voted no. Experience and a 15-year record on the bench be damned, Alito’s politics were just the wrong flavor.
And this, thanks to the Democrats and Mr. Chafee, is now the playing field all subsequent nominees will get to play on. All their work, all their learning, all their striving to be good jurists are useless wastes of time. Only their stance on the more divisive issues of the day in question will matter. Paul’s right: from here on out, no President will be able to select the best, most talented members of the legal profession to sit on the High Court unless his party controls the Senate. If they don’t, only the most bland ones will do.
Who do you think gets hurt by that most? The President, whoever that is? Hardly. Eight years and they’re gone. Congress? What do they care? They’ve made sure most laws they pass don’t apply to them anyway. No, my fellow Americans, it’s us. We citizens who get to live with the results of their petty squabbling will pay the price of having people at the highest level of the judicial system making boneheaded decisions due to a lack of experience, insight, and just plain good jurisprudence. The Republicans had, during the Clinton years of 1994 to 2000, opportunities to play this politics game with the membership of the Supreme Court. They recognized that a difference in idealogy was insufficient reason to vote down a qualified candidate for the post. That the idealogy wasn’t the point of the nomination at all. They had the chance to do exactly what the Democrats have done here today – and they controlled the Senate so it would have stuck – and they didn’t. They placed the respect for the will of the people as embodied in their choice for President above their idealogical differences with the man and focused on the judicial qualifications of the nominee. The Democrats have not and do not. What benefit could possibly accrue to the Republicans and their supporters to not follow this example?
This new era into which we are being carried along with all the nominees to come is entirely of the Democrats’ making. I hope they enjoy the change to the world they’ve wrought.
|::::::::||Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported a record quarterly profit of $10.7 billion yesterday, capping the most profitable year in U.S. corporate history.
The results pushed up Exxon’s profit for the year to a record $36.13 billion — bigger than the economies of 125 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank.
Tell me again how a company making 10 billion dollars in 90 days is only doing so-so. Or that they’re really only making a reasonable profit. I’m still paying close to $2.50 a gallon for gas and these guys are pulling down $10 billion a quarter. What’s wrong with this picture?
Don’t get me wrong. I believe strongly in capitalism. What I don’t believe in is gouging people unfairly. Decent profits I have no issue with. Profits as significant as those being posted by the oil companies recently aren’t just the random fluctuations of market supply and demand. It’s from charging a hell of a lot more per gallon of gas than it cost to produce it and, once you get past all the biz-speak smokescreen being put into the air over it, that’s the reality of the situation. I’m not prepared to endorse a windfall profit tax – yet – but this isn’t a situation where the market will simply adjust around. If we were talking about blue jeans and the price started spiking up, people would simply not buy them. There are alternatives to it, one of which is to simply do without for a while. Our mobile society has made it impossible to simply get by without buying gas. Even out here in Northern Virginia where we’ve made large investments in recent years in our public transit systems, the neighborhoods in which we live just don’t allow people to get what they need without getting into a car. Checking out the price at the pump and saying, “forget it, I’ll just walk” isn’t an option here. It’s not an option in a lot of the country.
That’s why this situation requires more oversight than watching the price of blue jeans. I remain unconvinced that the prices aren’t being “agreed to” by the refining companies nor am I confident that the refining capacity in this country isn’t as low as it is due to some decision to make sure it stays that way. If someone wants an investigation on something, try starting there.
As any of my longer-time readers know, I’m not a fan of the MSM’s “opinion-masquerading-as-news” approach to writing stories. Editorials and opinion columns are fine for that sort of thing but when you’re purporting to report the news, you need to leave dripping bias out of it. I aim that criticism at the liberal media quite often. The Washington Times isn’t one of them, but they’re going to get my criticism today.
The story I wrote my last post referencing (the Liberal activists who plan to try to suppress the President’s speech) literally screams “bias” and it’s bias against the protesters, not the administration. It’s so bloody obvious it’s embarrassing. You get the first part of it right there in the quote I posted. Why is it necessary to point out that some of the activists are “graying leftovers” from the Vietnam era? It doesn’t end there, either. Check out this bit of prose:
|::::::::||Attending yesterday’s private lunch were about 100 anti-war activists, many of them silver-haired, bespectacled veterans of the 1960s in linty sweaters and Naturalizers, nibbling on vegan pizza and bean sprouts. On the wall was a painted collage of slogans (“Make Love Not War”) and nostalgic faces such as Joan Baez, Bella Abzug and a younger, thinner Ralph Nader.||::::::::|
Now, what in the world does their attire have to do with the message they’re putting out? “Linty sweaters?” Judgemental, much?
The author of this story couldn’t have been more blatant without spelling it out: The protesters are old, out of touch, old, icky liberals. Did I mention they’re old? She takes up valuable inches relating how 1 of the aging, ancient protesters recalls an article written in 1974. (Oh my God. People from 1974 are still alive??? The horror!) Between that and trying to portray Ramsey Clark as a doddering old man she’s just doing her best to convince her readers that these people can be dismissed owing to their age.
It’s that action – trying to convince her readers of something rather than informing them of what’s going on – that crosses the line between reporting and advocacy. It’s not acceptable when the liberals at the New York Times do it and it’s not acceptable at the Washington Times, either.
In their classic “Free speech for me but not for thee” stance, a liberal activist group seeking the ouster of President Bush will attempt to suppress the President’s speech tonight.
|::::::::||Liberal activists — among them graying leftovers from the Vietnam-era antiwar movement — plan to gather near the Capitol tonight, banging pots and pans to drown out President Bush’s State of the Union address.||::::::::|
The only safe bet to make is that their plan is likely to be highly ineffective. One has to wonder what message they’re trying to get across, except that they don’t want the President to be heard. A strange stance to take for people who claim their viewpoints are being systematically suppressed. I have no issue with people protesting – so long as they obey the laws – but I have no sympathy for a group of people who think their viewpoint deserves widespread coverage while working to drown out an opposing view. If you can’t argue the opposition’s points, that’s your problem. It’s not an excuse to suppress them.
Butler County, Ohio Sheriff Richard K. Jones has decided to get the attention of Congress and the President on the matter of illegal aliens by sending them a bill for the upkeep on keeping the illegals in jail. He’s got about 900 illegal aliens in his jail system and he’s fed up with the situation.
|::::::::||He said 900 foreign-born inmates have been booked into the crowded Butler County jail in the past year.
“Why should Butler County taxpayers have to pay for jail costs associated with people we don’t believe should ever have been in this country, let alone this state or county, to begin with?” Sheriff Jones said. “They are in my jail because they have committed crimes here.
“It’s time the federal government should at least pay for the criminals they let stay here,” he said. “If they don’t want to pay for them, then they can deport them.”
To their credit, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have been involved in the matter and have done what the laws allow them to do. These illegals are all in jail – every one of them – because they committed crimes in Butler County. ICE has put an “immigrations detainer” status on the illegal aliens who are subject to removal and will initiate that process when their criminal proceedings are done. That’s all very good, but it begs the question, “what do you mean, ‘who are subject to removal’?” That implies that there are illegals in there who aren’t so subject. The story doesn’t say, but it sounds like a helluva good subject for a investigative report, doesn’t it?
The Sheriff acknowledges the help from ICE but he puts the blame for this situation squarely on Congress and the Bush administration for failing to secure the borders. The story also mentions his holding the Mexican government at fault, so I can only assume his primary illegal alien population is Mexican or entered the country from that direction. I happen to agree with the Sheriff: the Bush administration and Congress are at fault here. I’ve spoken repeatedly about the measures they could enact to secure that border and to handle the issue of illegal aliens already here in the States. Illegals who commit crimes (and I mean other crimes, besides illegal entry) should be a no-brainer. They get photographed, fingerprinted, ID’d in any manner we so chose and then they get booted out of the country for life. Sayonara and good fortune in your endeavors but you ain’t gonna do it here again.
I hope the Sheriff’s protest by demand-for-payment works out.
One of our clients finally called last week to get an upgrade on a piece of equipment they’ve had for a while. I say “for a while” because, frankly, none of us on this particular engineering staff had been on the team that did the initial install, so we weren’t quite sure what the deployment date was. When we got the call, the engineer in charge asked them how long this switch had been running for them. Servers and other pieces of equipment usually run into scenarios where they need to be reset, in some cases as often as every couple of days. (I have horror stories about some Microsoft servers…)
The client checked the status display and told us: the switch has been running continuously for 1452 days. That’s 8 days shy of 4 years. And that’s in a fully utilized production environment, not some low-usage lab somewhere.
Now that’s good engineering.
In a statement that sounded more like the Cold War than anything else, Russian President Putin spoke glowingly about his country’s latest missile technology which, he says, is “immune” to missile defense systems.
|::::::::||“Russia … has tested missile systems that no one in the world has,” the ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted him as saying at a news conference. “These missile systems don’t represent a response to a missile defense system, but they are immune to that. They are hypersonic and capable of changing their flight path.”
Putin said the new missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He wouldn’t say whether the Russian military already had commissioned any such missiles.
Putin said that the new missiles were capable of changing both the altitude and the direction of their flight, making it impossible for an enemy to intercept them.
“A missile defense system is designed to counter missiles moving along a ballistic trajectory,” Putin was quoted as saying.
Putin and other Russian officials have boasted of the new missiles in similar comments in recent years, but they haven’t identified them or given any further details other than about their ability to change their flight path on approach to a target.
Most analysts viewed the earlier announcements about “hypersonic” missile systems as Moscow’s response to U.S. missile defense plans.
Well, isn’t that nice? Considering that no other country on earth has come anywhere close to deploying an anti-missile system of the type Putin speaks of you don’t have to wonder too long for whom these missiles are supposed to be deployed against. Gee, Vlad, are you saying you don’t like us? And is this move supposed to frighten the US into cowering before the colossal might of the Russian Federation? I’d like to point out that the Soviet Union tried just such tactics and the US did not respond as the Soviets thought they would. We responded by putting even better arms in our arsenal and coming up with new countermeasures. Turns out we came up with countermeasures for weapons that didn’t really exist. Think we can do that again?
I’m thinking: yes.
All of which, frankly, is unnecessary although I think I can understand why Putin is doing this. It’s just a reminder, though, that not all threats to the US are emanating from a cave in Pakistan.
It’s yet another election Tuesday here in Northern Virginia, this time a special election to fill the vacant seat of our State Senator. As is usual with events like this, it’s raining, cold, and dreary outside. While the weather has never once been sufficient to deter me from getting to the poles – today will be no different – it appears to be a big deal to some.
It won’t be to the Senate today, I’m guessing. After voting convincingly for cloture yesterday, the Senate will take up the motion to confirm Judge Alito as the newest member of the Supreme Court. All indications are that he’s going to get the votes. Expect to hear about it in the State of the Union address tonight. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes. I’ll have more to post when those results are known. Until then…