Archive: October 2005

Will the Nomination Shift Focus from "Broader Problems"?

New Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito is on the scene. Back in June, even before John Roberts was nominated, the Supreme Court Nomination blog posted a useful compilation of some key Alito opinions. SCOTUSblog is on top of things, too. So far it looks like the groups likely to oppose Alito most loudly haven't updated their sites yet, but for the first hints of opposition, keep an eye on groups like People for the American Way and NARAL. (Do conservatives wake up earlier in the morning than liberals do?) On the front page of Sunday's Post was an analysis of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that found 55 percent of respondents believe the indictment of Scooter Libby on Friday is indicative of "broader problems with ethical wrongdoing in the Bush administration," while 41 percent say it's an isolated incident. Christopher of the Middle America Chronicle blog looked at the...

By Emily Messner | October 31, 2005; 8:26 AM ET | Comments (52)

Thank You, Debaters!

Just wanted to say thanks to those who took the time to send me post-armed-robbery good wishes, especially Bob in Denver, who suggested I take a spa day. The thought was a nice one, but I decided it could prove difficult without a wallet. As it happens, though, I feel fine. A colleague suggested my post-traumatic stress -- or whatever it's called -- just hasn't set in yet. I don't think so. I truly feel it was not a big deal. It's really all about perspective, right? So a guy threatened me with a knife and took my bag, which contained mostly stuff that was useful to me and no one else -- like my glasses. (Hopefully someone who's a big fan of Bollywood music will buy my iPod.) It was an expensive loss for me personally, but a miniscule loss in real terms, particularly as compared to what so...

By Emily Messner | October 31, 2005; 5:13 AM ET | Comments (3)

Criminalization or Criminal?

Is the Libby indictment the beginning of the end for the Bush administration? Or is this the beginning of a successful shift toward "criminalizing politics," as Robert Novak and others on the right have suggested? (Speaking of Novak, will he now explain what the heck happened, as Slate hopes? Probably not.) James Moore, writing in the Huffington Post (which is having a field day, by the way) says it's not the criminalization of politics that we're wittnessing -- it's the criminalization of criminals: Leaking the names of CIA agents is not politics; it is a crime. Lying to congress about evidence for a war is not politics; it is a crime. Failing to tell a grand jury that you met with a reporter and talked about the CIA agent is not forgetfullness; it is a crime. Deceiving your entire nation and frightening children and adults with images of nuclear explosions...

By Emily Messner | October 28, 2005; 6:30 PM ET | Comments (81)

Republicans Try to Change the Subject

And that's the end of Scooter Libby being Cheney's top aide. (But will he continue on as Cheney's alterego?) Redstate.org did the only thing is could think of -- change the subject! Right now, this is the top entry on that prominent right wing blog: Economy Booming by Adam C. In case the Libby incident and the Supreme Court nominations are distracting you from other things in the world, let me remind you that the economy is booming. In spite of the rush to find something -- anything -- good to say about the administration today, it still doesn't look like there's a whole lot of support out there for Libby, or for Rove. Reddstaty at Redstate.org surprised the heck out of me with this diary entry earlier in the week. "Karl Rove and Scooter Libby should both resign immediately. In fact, they should have both resigned as soon as...

By Emily Messner | October 28, 2005; 1:41 PM ET | Comments (27)

Finally, Happy Indictment Day!

Note: I was robbed at knifepoint last night -- 8:27 p.m., to be exact -- so I'm feeling extra cynical today. I will attempt to keep my cynicism in parenthesis. From the AP: V.P. aide Libby indicted! WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. was indicted Friday on obstruction of justice, false statement and perjury charges in the CIA leak case. Those are very serious charges -- but perhaps not as much so as a conspiracy charge would have been. A conspiracy could bring down members of the administration like dominos. Of course, the fact that the charges are against the man who's been called Dick Cheney's alterego is quite significant. Waiting on details and reaction from bloggers. Will Libby resign? What do you Debaters think? (FYI: Marion Barry was indicted today, too. His crime? Failing to file his tax return.) As we await more information...

By Emily Messner | October 28, 2005; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (19)

Will Bush's Base Stand By Their Man?

"No conservative should be in a celebratory mood now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination," editorializes the National Review Online. The editorial goes on: "Still, today is the best day Republicans have had in some time." Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard suggests that this is the "first step on the road to political recovery for President Bush" in his piece titled, "Rebuilding." The American Prospect's TAPPED blog, on the other hand, is astonished that the right can forgive and forget so easily. And over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds remains to be convinced. He writes that the Miers nomination was "a discredit to the White House, which nominated her. Now it's a do-over, and they'd be well-advised not to blow it." Miers was an attempt -- albeit a clumsy one -- to give the Senate a (roughly) consensus nominee, another John Roberts. No one knows at this point whether...

By Emily Messner | October 28, 2005; 12:03 AM ET | Comments (19)

Right and Left Weigh in On Miers Withdrawal

Here's the letter Miers wrote to the president. It is, indeed, reliant on the executive privilege argument. Libertarian Debater Julian Sanchez writes in Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog that the exit strategy of executive privilege combined with the "(frankly rather serious)" recusal question has been advocated by conservative bloggers. (Perhaps I should amend my last post to say, "Krauthammer and likeminded bloggers win!") On the right, Blogs for Bush offers a rundown of blogger reactions to the announcement of Miers's withdrawal and the GOPbloggers give a miniature eulogy of the Miers nomination. On the left, Armando at Daily Kos looks back on what various media reports/commentators said a Miers withdrawal would mean for the president. The consensus, Armando says, was that it would indicate weakness. TalkLeft applauds Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's reaction to the withdrawal -- "The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers...

By Emily Messner | October 27, 2005; 12:54 PM ET | Comments (12)

A Pundit Scoreboard on the Miers Withdrawal

Charles Krauthammer wins! The Bush administration appears to have chosen the Krauthammer Exit Strategy as the preferred method for extraction from the Harriet Miers nomination quicksand into which they found themselves sinking. Krauthammer's suggestion: Claim "irreconcilable differences over documents." For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information -- "policy documents" and "legal analysis" -- from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.That creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege. Hence...

By Emily Messner | October 27, 2005; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (27)

The Good Kind of Flip Flop: Davis Bacon Returns

Davis Bacon is back. Huzzah! (Refresher: This is the act that promised a prevailing wage to construction workers on federal projects -- which would be much of the rebuilding -- but was suspended by Bush almost immediately after he recognized the extent of the hurricane's damage.) Guest blogger Joshua Micah Marshall can point you in the direction of more on that....

By Emily Messner | October 26, 2005; 10:03 PM ET | Comments (6)

Thoughts on the Plame Leak Case

Under the big, bold headline, "Rove, Libby Cleared!" the New Wars blog points to a Newsmax story that says indictments charging the two aides with releasing classified information are not likely, supposedly based on a New York Times story. New Wars blogger Mike Burleson ends his post with, "If the NYT is reporting good news about the White House, it must be true!" We'll know soon whether the headline is true or not -- Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is expected to outline possible charges to the grand jury as early as today. But I wouldn't put my money on both aides walking away, and certainly not based on the Newsmax story, which is completely misleading. Its headline screams, "NY Times: Karl Rove, Lewis Libby Likely Cleared on Leakgate Charges," but if one takes the time to read the Times story itself, it is clear that not only are indictments...

By Emily Messner | October 26, 2005; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

DeLay's Transaction: But Was It Illegal?

The right hemisphere of the blogosphere has been busy for a while now defending Republican leaders against all the charges coming their way. This doesn't mean there's widespread corruption, they cry, it just means that the heretofore impotent Democrats have somehow found a way to get even with them through the legal system. Using the law to take down political opponents is not a uniquely American phenomenon. Singapore, for example, has a particularly creative method: Bankrupting the opposition. Singapore has a loophole in its defamation law that leaves political speech without protection, making it particularly easy for members of the ruling party to sue their opponents. That the threat of a lawsuit creates a climate of fear around political speech is part of the problem. But more sinister is the large payouts awarded to the plaintiff; when the defendant can't pay quickly enough, the plaintiff petitions for that person to...

By Emily Messner | October 25, 2005; 9:26 AM ET | Comments (4)

The Hurricane Name Game: What Lucky Language Is Up Next?

Has anyone noticed that an unusually large proportion of top news stories lately have been about the weather? All the hurricanes, massive flooding in Europe over the summer, and now Italy gets 100-and-some-odd centimeters of rain dumped in a couple hours on a town that usually gets that much rain in a year. It used to be that if the weather made the headlines, that meant it was a really slow news day. Now, it means the weather event is so huge it has trumped all the other huge news -- the leaking of a CIA operative's identity by top White House officials, the Supreme Court nomination, the war .... I know, all the evidence suggests that while global warming might be causing an increase in the intensity of hurricanes, it is not increasing their frequency. I know, we're in a "period of increased activity" in the Atlantic.* But Tropical...

By Emily Messner | October 24, 2005; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (14)

DeLay and Redistricting (and More About the Mug Shot)

I never realized what gems these U.S. News and World Report Web extras are! This one, on how support has been for DeLay since the indictment, notes that the White House was "shell shocked," that even if DeLay is cleared allies fear his reputation could be severely tarnished, and that this is just one in a long line of embarrassments for the GOP. The Political Review blog makes no attempt to cover its contempt for DeLay as it does a rundown of his ethical lapses over the years. The Democrats are just loving this. These incidents were causing a "rising fear among GOP insiders that the Republicans could lose control of the House in November 2006," U.S. News reported. "Some party strategists now say up to 70 or 80 seats could be up for grabs, most of them now Republican, in contrast to the usual 30 or 40." This leads...

By Emily Messner | October 24, 2005; 6:14 AM ET | Comments (7)

Rove, Libby, and Tom DeLay's Mug Shot

Please forgive my tardiness with this post -- I'm doing that whole working-while-sick thing and all the coughing and sniffling and medicine-taking is really cutting into my blogging time. But for now, onward! The big news in the Plame leak case today is that Karl Rove told the grand jury that Scooter Libby, Cheney's top aide, may have been the one who initially informed him that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Of course, the key question in the investigation remains, "Was a crime actually committed?" The law is very narrow about the ways in which unmasking an undercover agent can constitute a crime, and it's still unlear whether the actions of Libby, Rove or anyone else rose to that high threshold. Nonetheless, Rove's testimony "confirmed that Rove and Libby were involved in a conversation about [Plame] before her identity became public. The disclosure seemed to further undermine the...

By Emily Messner | October 20, 2005; 5:24 PM ET | Comments (29)

The Facts: Ethics and DeLay, Rove, Abramoff, etc.

There are so many ethics scandals swirling in the capital right now, one might be tempted to think it must be a really slow news month and everyone's just scraping around for something to talk about. Not so! There happens to be plenty of news, and these particular scandals are concerning enough to stick around even up against so much other big news. Before we tap into the debate over what the various scandals mean, here are some basic facts to keep in mind. First up is the matter of the leaking of Valerie Plame's name. The grand jury investigating the leak is set to expire on Oct. 28, so indictments -- assuming there will be any -- should be handed down in the coming days. Plenty of documents related to the case can be viewed at FindLaw, including Title 50, section 421 of the U.S. Code, setting out the...

By Emily Messner | October 19, 2005; 5:30 PM ET | Comments (17)

Iraq's Election and the U.S. Elections

It's a given that the Iraq war will shape the next two elections, and will influence the choices of politicians for years, possibly decades to come. Right now, though, one of the key questions being pondered by Washington watchers is this: who's going to benefit politically from the war in the 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 presidential contest? That is, which party ideology will prevail -- conservative or liberal? And, and among conservatives, will limited-government conservatives or big-government conservatives gain influence? As I've said, I don't like to engage in prediction. But in wrapping up the week's Debate on Iraq's constitution, I'll take a look at how the political progress in Iraq stands to help the GOP in the coming elections, even as the ongoing violence and extended troop deployment works in the Democrats' favor. The Iraq constitution vote itself now seems likely to help the GOP. Iraqi Shiites,...

By Emily Messner | October 19, 2005; 9:17 AM ET | Comments (3)

A Defense of "MSM" Iraq Constitution Coverage

According to Bullwinkle at the Random Numbers blog, the Associated Press is pushing an "agenda" with photos from Iraq that are universally negative. He posts two such photos to prove his point. One shows a grieving mother, another a group of Iraqi prisoners. But if you go to the article where Bullwinkle finds these two photos, you'll have to scroll down to see them -- the photo at the top of the story on Saturday's voting is of stacks of boxes containing ballots to be counted. Oh, the horror and bias of it all! Bill (From the Swamp) points to another photo from the Associated Press in a post titled, "Look Here, Democracy." Near as I can make out, the point of his post is that the photo, of an Iraqi reading a newspaper with a pro-constitution advertisement on it, demonstrates that democracy is flourishing in Iraq. Yet in spite...

By Emily Messner | October 18, 2005; 5:16 AM ET | Comments (44)

A Brief Interlude: Give the Gift of Spam

This is about as far off our weekly topic of the Iraqi consitution as it's possible to get, but I can't resist pointing out this little gem: SPAM is a luxury item in Korea. Yes, the kitschy canned meat is a high-end gift according to shoppers in Seoul. Go fig. (Not totally off topic, perhaps, since the compound where Saddam Hussein was finally captured apparently had a stash of "some Spam-like meat in a can covered with Arabic characters.")...

By Emily Messner | October 17, 2005; 6:31 PM ET | Comments (2)

Iraqi Vote: A Cause for Celebration?

A Washington Times editorial this morning gushes over the success of the referendum in Iraq. The giddiness is tempered, however, by this warning: "Some of the more optimistic supporters of the war posit a connection between approval of the constitution and a reduction in the level of violence and terror. Having watched the violence surge following January's elections, we suggest a note of caution on this point." Nonetheless, the Times editorial board is encouraged by a report from 1st Lt. Gregg Murphy, who noted in a teleconference with President Bush Thursday morning that "in contrast to the January election, where coalition forces did all of the security planning, it was the Iraqi soldiers who were responsible for all of the security on Saturday." The board writes: "Given how well things went, that is positive news indeed." The Washington Times may be more likely than most to find cause for optimism...

By Emily Messner | October 17, 2005; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (5)

Maureen Dowd: Champion of Women's Rights?

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is a long-time supporter of women's rights, including the rights of women in Iraq. In this August op-ed, for example, she writes: "America has caved on Iraqi women's rights. In fact, the women's rights activists supported by George and Laura Bush may have to leave Iraq. ....Yesterday, the president hailed the constitution establishing an Islamic republic as ''an amazing process,'' and said it ''honors women's rights, the rights of minorities.'' Could he really think that? Or is he following the Vietnam model -- declaring victory so we can leave?" So, I was disappointed that Dowd's Wednesday column on the Miers nomination repeatedly invoked negative stereotypes of women in the public arena. The column reads like one of those particularly juvenile Saturday Night Live skits that's funny for 20 seconds, then proceeds to drag on for six minutes. (You can find the full text by...

By Emily Messner | October 14, 2005; 3:25 PM ET | Comments (115)

One Iraqi's View of the Constitution

It's the details that matter in Baghdad Burning as often as the opinions expressed. You can almost taste the messy tooki fruit, and picture the old swing, the fence and the frustrating neighbor behind it. The author of the blog goes by Riverbend, and her work is full of gems -- some uplifting, others disturbing -- about life in today's Iraq from the perspective of a 20-something Iraqi woman living in the capital. (Here's a bit about her and her blog, and about the spoof blog that once tried to take her on.) Her discussion of the proposed constitution, like her writing over the last two years, is nuanced and compelling. It seems, for example, that Iraqis share with Americans the widespread attitude that one little vote doesn't really matter. Riverbend relates her neighbor's reaction when encouraged to read the text of the proposed constitution -- she used it to...

By Emily Messner | October 14, 2005; 9:25 AM ET | Comments (11)

This Week's Debate: Iraq's Constitution

This Saturday, Iraqis will head to the polls to vote on a proposed constitution. For a while now, the breakdown has been Shiites and Kurds in favor, Sunnis (whose minority sect ruled the country under Saddam Hussein) against. The big news right now is about a deal pushed by the American ambassador and brokered by various Iraqi political insiders, that has persuaded some Sunni leaders to encourage voting for the constitution. If the proposed constitution is approved, will it turn out to be all it's cracked up to be? (Or all it's feared to be?) In an editorial today, the San Francisco Chronicle is understandably concerned that the constitution will split the country further, not unite it. The editorial also points out that Sunni leaders are still split -- some are telling their people to vote Yes, others still urging a No vote. To understand how the constitution could...

By Emily Messner | October 13, 2005; 9:37 AM ET | Comments (7)

The Facts: The Iraq Constitution

First, the document that's key to this whole discussion: The proposed Iraqi constitution. (PDF version here.) Wikipedia defines the proposed constitution this way. Iraqis will go to the polls to vote on the constitution this Saturday, Oct. 15. For purposes of comparison, take a read of the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period, and then check out the informative analysis and commentary on the Iraq constitution by the Carnegie Endowment's Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert. (The Post hosted a Live Online discussion with Brown earlier today. More of Brown's articles on Iraq and other Middle East policy issues can be found here.) Of course, sectarian disagreements over the constitution have been a big deal, so Reuters provides this breakdown of where the different ethnic groups stand. An academic paper by Rutgers professor Eric Davis on using the lessons of the past to help...

By Emily Messner | October 12, 2005; 3:39 PM ET | Comments (3)

No Guarantees on Miers's Confirmation

Note to Debaters: I was planning to use the upcoming week's Debate to look at the many ethics scandals currently sloshing around Washington ... until I realized that the Iraq constitution vote is on Saturday. With all the other big news, it kind of snuck up on me. So with the consent of my benevolent editor, we'll take on those scandals next week (I have a feeling they'll still be around) and debate the situation in Iraq starting later this afternoon. But first, a little handicapping on the Harriet Miers nomination. Miers's confirmation is by no means guaranteed, and pre-hearing opinion seems pretty well split over what the outcome is likely to be. According to a piece for the Washington Post by conservative lawyer (and Federalist Society member) John Yoo, she will be confirmed. However, he says that with the Miers nomination, the president "swung and missed." Peggy Noonan is...

By Emily Messner | October 12, 2005; 5:08 AM ET | Comments (23)

Bush Nominees: "No Crony Left Behind"

I admit, when it comes to the Jefferson-Hamilton feud, I am a Jeffersonian through and through. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the Federalist Papers. As it happens, Federalist 76 is mighty popular right now among the blogs discussing the cronyism aspect of the Harriet Miers nomination. Alexander Hamilton, the author of Federalist 76, warned against the nomination of those "who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which [the president] particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him." The Legal Theory Blog also makes note of this key distinction in this post, in between two other meaty Miers-related posts. Olasky, a blogger at the World Views Christian news and opinion site, went off the record with a conservative Christian lawyer who worked with Miers. He quoted the lawyer as saying, "I never heard her take a...

By Emily Messner | October 11, 2005; 3:40 PM ET | Comments (14)

The Miers-Roberts Double Standard

In the last post, we looked at the double standard that supporters and opponents have applied to the religious views of John G. Roberts and Harriet Miers. But the double standard also extends to Miers's and Roberts's judicial thinking. Michael Kinsley points out that it was only a couple weeks ago that Republicans were up in arms over Democrats' demands to know more about Roberts's views. Now that Miers is up, conservatives are the ones clamoring for more information. They don't know Miers -- and this reinforces some liberals' suspicion that conservatives knew something about Roberts that liberals didn't. (Then there's the extra suspicious liberals who think maybe the GOP doesn't want a judicial revolution after all, since Roe has been so good for them politically.) Eric Folley, a former DNC Internet Operations guru-type, looks at the fact that conservatives are demanding Miers' history where they didn't for Roberts before...

By Emily Messner | October 11, 2005; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (9)

Religious Test for Harriet Miers

With no judicial opinions to examine, supporters of the Harriet Miers find themselves arguing for the nomination on religious grounds -- not always comfortably and in sharp contrast to the debate over John G. Roberts. Prominent conservative James Dobson of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family is one of a number who support Miers at the behest of the president in part because of Bush's assurances that she is a devoted evangelical. Liberal E.J. Dionne is quick to note that there is an element of hypocrisy to the conservatives' newfound appreciation for the religious beliefs of the nominee, since many Republicans argued strenously against bringing up Roberts religion during the Chief Justice's nomination battle. John Dickerson writes in Slate about how the Miers nomination has made the rift between the religious right and the secular-intellectual right all the more obvious. And there are clearly some on the right who...

By Emily Messner | October 10, 2005; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (14)

Ann Coulter Isn't Completely Wrong

Stop the presses! (Or, um, stop the data transfer?) Ann Coulter said something sensible. No, not the part about Bush nominating Barney the Scottish terrier to the Supreme Court ... and no, it's not the bit where she says it is a "good rule of thumb" to hate people from elite universities. It's just past that. It's right around the cheap shot at John Kerry. Sane comment #1: "Bush has no right to say 'Trust me.' He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years." Sane comment #2: "Being a Supreme Court justice ought to be a mind-numbingly tedious job suitable only for super-nerds trained in legal reasoning like John Roberts. Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a 'Best Employee of the Month' award. It's a real job. "...

By Emily Messner | October 7, 2005; 2:30 PM ET | Comments (19)

Harriet Miers: The Recusal Question

Charles Krauthammer raises a key question in his column today that is likely to get a lot of attention during the Miers confirmation hearings. Wouldn't she be morally obligated (and possibly legally obligated?) to recuse herself from matters that she worked on as White House counsel? Writes Krauthammer: "For years -- crucial years in the war on terrorism -- she will have to recuse herself from judging the constitutionality of these decisions because she will have been a party to having made them in the first place. The Supreme Court will be left with an absent chair on precisely the laws-of-war issues to which she is supposed to bring so much." Back in February 2004, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick wrote about the vague rules governing recusal of judges. She was writing in light of the controversy over whether Justice Scalia should have recused himself in a case involving duck-hunting buddy Dick...

By Emily Messner | October 7, 2005; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Appearances Matter -- At Least for Female Nominees

Wonkette conducted a poll to determine whom Harriet Miers looks like. The winner? Strangers With Candy's Jerri Blank. Apparently the write-in favorite was Emperor Palaptine. The Palpatine resemblance is a bit unnerving, but I'd probably have to go with Florence Henderson -- it's uncanny. And O.K., the smile does have a sort of The Joker thing going on. But I'll leave it entirely to scathing fashion critic Robin Givhan to critique the eye makeup. All that said, it figures that we'd immediately judge the woman candidate on her appearance, while discussion of Roberts's looks pretty much ended with "clean cut." (Robin Givhan's assessment, focusing more on Roberts's children, is something of an exception.) Note that Wonkette isn't the only blog writing about Miers's looks .......

By Emily Messner | October 6, 2005; 3:05 PM ET | Comments (26)

This Week's Debate: The Harriet Miers Nomination

What do we know about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers? Very little, so far -- and what is known has prompted dissatisfaction from both the Administration's opponents and a surpising numbers of its reliable supporters. Hopefully, more information will surface as we debate this crucial nomination over the next week. Here's a quick rundown of what we do know from the opinions already voiced. We know Miers is a loyal member of the president's inner circle. In a LiveOnline discussion yesterday when asked about Miers's statement that Bush is brilliant, Gene Robinson replied, "I think it's good that a president would have aides who were so admiring and loyal. I'm not sure it's good to put them on the Supreme Court." Bush's relationship with Miers is so close and longstanding that Bush says he knows her heart. Of course, this is the same man who claims to have seen Russian...

By Emily Messner | October 6, 2005; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Facts: Miers Nomination

The first, one-stop shop for info about the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process is washingtonpost.com's Campaign for the Court blog, which has been indispensible these last few months. Also useful is this fact sheet from nationmaster.com providing basics about Miers. Nationmaster has recently added another page dedicated to her nomination and confirmation process. For brief biographical info and links to what few documents there are that might offer some clues about this enigmatic nominee, the Post's Miers dossier is invaluable. About.com also offers a collection of Harriet Miers info (not all necessarily nonpatisan, however.) And the Left Coaster, though a partisan source, lists the documentation for its Miers-related facts, so you can go check them out as you please. Finally, for some general Supreme Court reference materials, see the Facts post from the Roberts nomination. (What's not a good source of facts? The Harriet Miers blog. Has a couple...

By Emily Messner | October 5, 2005; 7:30 PM ET | Comments (2)

Global Warming: What's Next?

Note to Debaters: Tomorrow we will bite into the Miers nomination. Yummy. Have a good tidbit to share? E-mail me. At the end of a Debate, it's always nice to wrap up the topic with some solid answers. Unfortunately, in this particular Debate, there are more questons than answers. We know the basics: global warming is happening, and the majority of scientists believe humans are contributing to the problem in a significant way through emissions of greenhouse gasses. It is likely that this will change -- and has changed -- weather patterns in some way. But just how well do we understand these changing weather patterns? Gregg Suhler, who was a White House Fellow during the Carter administration and served as the 'political point-man' on the 1980 heat and drought, shed some light on that with a detailed comment in this blog regarding climate modeling....

By Emily Messner | October 5, 2005; 1:23 PM ET | Comments (3)

Can Global Warming Be Stopped by Technology Alone?

One of the themes in the comments over the last week has been the debate over technological advances vs. emissions reduction -- which one offers a better solution to global warming? In an article in the new policy journal The American Interest (subscription required), Sen. Joseph Lieberman argues that creating market incentives through legislation to limit emissions accomplishes both goals. He points to the successful cap and trade system that governs sulfur dioxide pollution (the stuff behind acid rain.) As long as fines are high enough that it's more cost effective to comply than to risk emitting more than one's credits -- and glaring loopholes are closed so companies can't wriggle through to circumvent the restrictions -- the system works. A thoughtful article (translated from German) appears in the Science Policy blog. The authors, prominent German scholars who've done a lot of writing on climate change-related issues, say that the...

By Emily Messner | October 5, 2005; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (15)

Global Warming: Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?

Every March 28, I celebrate Three Mile Island day. I was in Baltimore on that day in 1979, less than 100 miles from the nuclear power plant as it teetered on the edge of catastrophic failure, and the anniversary of that day always reminds me of just how close we came to our very own Chernobyl. In truth, nuclear power fascinates me, even given the risks involved. Could nuclear power be the way -- at least partly -- to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? And, consequently, could it help in the fight against climate change? Mark Hertsgaard, author of Nuclear Inc., argues that no, nuclear energy is not the answer. "The truth is that nuclear power is a weakling in combatting global warming," he says. And that's not because of the safety concerns, but rather the economic ones. Construction of plants is subsidized heavily by the government, as it...

By Emily Messner | October 4, 2005; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (10)

Global Warming: U.S. Policy Goes International

Ed in Spain responded to last week's post about Kyoto with this explanation of why the U.S. claim that Kyoto would be too expensive doesn't fly: The USA is the world's greatest economy. It is also by far the world's largest polluter, and the most responsible for the global warning situation we are now facing. On the other hand, it is the one country most capable of dealing with any costs that might be generated by working to meet the Kyoto protocol. The United States is not the only powerful economy to reject Kyoto. Australia was quick to follow the U.S. lead, and now British Prime Minister Tony Blair has started echoing the Bush line about economic viability. At the Clinton Global Initiative opening meeting (see page 14 of the pdf), Blair said, "I would say probably I'm changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years....

By Emily Messner | October 4, 2005; 5:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

Global Warming and the Free Market

I took some flack from a couple of you for not identifying the organizations behind globalwarming.org in my earlier post. Mark W. and Tom were particularly harsh, and I suppose deservedly so. I was trying to save some fodder for later (I'm always tempted to throw everything into one enormous post; fortunately my editor keeps that from happening too often), but those who called me out were right, a note of identification would have been helpful. So here's a whole post on the subject. Globalwarming.org is "a project of the Cooler Heads Coalition" and the site is updated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI advocates "the development and promotion of free market approaches to environmental policy." Oh, and it received $465,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003, according to Chris Mooney's exhaustively-researched book, The Republican War on Science. The site exxonsecrets.org offers a bio on CEI, or if you don't like that...

By Emily Messner | October 3, 2005; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

Global Warming an Act of God?

Why is there such disagreement on global warming? Why does one person view the scientific facts so differently from how another person sees them? Back in May, Karen Street dug deeper into that question in her blog A Musing Environment, and came up with some interesting thoughts on why we have such varied ideas about science. Views on an issue like global warming are influenced in large part by one's personal experiences and memories, Street explained. Of course, political leanings also play a big role -- a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that "two-thirds of all Democrats said they were convinced global warming was occurring, and nearly as many Republicans disagreed." But the influence of religion is as important as political affiliation, if not moreso....

By Emily Messner | October 3, 2005; 6:05 AM ET | Comments (4)

 

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