A commenter in this thread says that recess appointments can’t be used for the federal bench; actually, they can. This seems like a good time to remember that President Clinton used a recess appointment to appoint Roger Gregory, because Jesse Helms otherwise refused to allow an African-American judge to sit on 4CA:
On Dec. 27, in a bold move, Clinton took advantage of a congressional recess to appoint an African American to the most conservative court in the federal appellate judiciary. This was the first time in 20 years that a president has filled a judicial opening with a recess appointment, which allows him to seat a candidate while Congress is out of session.
“It is unconscionable that the 4th Circuit has never had an African American appellate judge,” Clinton said during his announcement. “It is long past time to right that wrong. Justice may be blind, but we all know that diversity in the courts, as in all aspects of society, sharpens our vision and makes us a stronger nation.”
Gregory, a 47-year-old Richmond corporate attorney, finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes political confrontation between Clinton and his senate judiciary committee nemesis Jesse Helms, R-N.C. Helms has used his position as committee chair to foil the nominations of three other African Americans nominated by Clinton to fill appellate vacancies, including the vacancy in the 4th Circuit, which is the longest standing vacancy in the federal appellate system.
Via Alterdestiny we learn of some boundlessly dysfunctional attitudes toward reproductive technologies — in this case the “Male Pill,” which evidently threatens to emasculate us all by packing our gonads full of cooties. Following quickly on the heels of a post celebrating the “death of the metrosexual”, this post — and the comedic stylings to be found in its priceless comments thread — merely reaffirms the transparent insecurities on which normative male heterosexuality is founded.
This is just a guess, but I’m assuming the male birth control pill does not come in suppository form.
As for the issue on the table, Erik puts it as succinctly as anyone: “Any man who refuses out of hand to take a form of birth control because it threatens his manhood is an asshole.”
My wife, whose insta-rants are something to behold (and, at times, fear), offered a somewhat different perspective: “Men can’t be trusted to take a pill every day — they can’t even remember to pick up their fucking socks. ‘Emotional tie to their balls,’ my ass. This is why my brother won’t get his fucking dog neutered. These men should all be kept in a cage somewhere. What is that they have in baseball — a bullpen? That’s what we need for these guys. A fucking bullpen.”
In light of Mario Loyola‘s quite remarkable claim that were the federal government were to pass a law requiring militias to disband instead of resisting a foreign occupation the people would obey, because “[n]othing trumps obedience for the rule of law in this country, not even religion,” I propose an L, G & M pop quiz. Which of the following incidents in American history best represents the rule of law trumping all other values in times of war or major social crisis?
A. Abraham Lincoln ignoring Ex Parte Merryman. B. Andrew Jackson ignoring Worcester v. Georgia. C. The rise of Klan violence, with the tacit (and often not-so-tacit) assent of state governments, to nullify the 15th Amendment’s enfranchisement of blacks after Reconstruction. D. The nonviolent resistance to segregationist laws used the civil rights movement. E. The violent resistance in the South attempting to nullify the desegregation of schools order in Brown v. Board. F. President Bush asserting the ability to violate the FISA statute.
Seriously, where the hell does NRO find these people, a morgue?
Four of Bush’s more incompetent and wingnutty choices for the federal courts look dead. In general, the Senate Dems should study how Republicans obstructed Clinton’s choices in the last years of is term and do likewise.
Since a couple of people have asked, I should probably say a little more than my flip response to Pithlord’s hope (and, at one time, prediction) that the federal “partial birth” legislation will not be overturned because it exceeds Congress’ Commerce Clause powers. The long version is here. The short version is that the Rehnquist Court’s Commerce Clause jurisprudence has made only very tentative steps (most of the federalism work has been done by its ridiculous “sovereign immunity” jurisprudence, which isn’t relevant to the case), and recent decisions make it clear that they’re not going to go far enough to strike down this legislation.
The Court’s decisions in Lopez and Morrison held that while Congress could, under the Commerce Clause, regulate economic activity, or activities that in the aggregate would “substantially affect” interstate commerce. Regulating possession of firearms around schools or creating a civil remedy in sexual assault cases were held to be neither commercial activities in themselves (which is obviously true) or part of a broader regulatory scheme to regulate substantial effects on interstate commerce (which is true of the first, more problematic with the second.) To strike down the abortion legislation, however, would not be an application but a significant expansion of this doctrine. Paying someone for an abortion (and because upwards of 90% of American counties don’t have an abortion provider, it’s not uncommon for this to be done by women from out of state) is, in itself, an economic activity. While the previous two decisions can be cabined in ways that don’t affect any major element of the modern regulatory state, claiming that regulating actual economic transactions is beyond Congress’ powers would have much broader effects if applied in a principled way–the Court’s decisions upholding the Civil Rights Act, for example, would become highly suspect.
In light of Raich, any chance that this kind of expansion of the court’s doctrines would happen has pretty much vanished. If the federal government can proscribe the use of marijuana grown legally purely for personal purposes, regulating a woman purchasing a medical service isn’t even a close case. Admittedly, judges do not always apply doctrines in a principled manner. But the Court’s more liberal members, as Raich, demonstrates, have been principled in upholding even substantively bad legislation. And one of the conservatives who would have to switch back compared the court’s previous decision striking down state “partial-birth” legislation to Dred Scott.
So, empirically, it’s clear that this legislation will not be ruled outside the bounds of Congressional powers. And, normatively, this is a good thing. Under modern economic conditions, getting the Court back into the business of making judgments about what commercial transactions have enough impact on interstate commerce is both unlikely to produce a coherent jurisprudence and likely to have very bad consequences. Madisonian separation of powers has been fairly effective at constraining the powers of Congress (indeed, Congress not being able to do enough has been a much more serious problem in American history than Congress overstepping its bounds.) The “partial birth” legislation should most certainly be ruled unconstitutional, but that’s because it’s an arbitrary restriction on a fundamental right, not because it’s beyond the powers of Congress.
Lindsay won’t be happy, but apparently Feingold isn’t running for President. I’m a little ambivalent, because I like Feingold a lot. But in light of the election it makes sense. Evidently, he wasn’t going to win the primary, so his running was more about putting issues forward and affecting the dynamic of the race. Now that the Dems have taken over the Senate, he’ll have a lot more visibility than he would otherwise, and running a campaign would reduce his effectiveness there.
I will say, though, that if Gore doesn’t run there’s no widely discussed ’08 candidate that I’m not highly dubious about. I guess Edwards would be the best remaining one. Hopefully the Democratic sweep will make that Gore/Sebelius ticket more likely…
Japan withdrew from the London Naval Treaty in 1936. The chief Japanese negotiator, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, feared that concessions on the part of his negotiating team would lead directly to assassination upon return to Japan. Japanese nationalists believed that the Washington Naval Treaty system was holding Japan back and preventing it from becoming a first rate power. Freed from the constraints of international treaties, Japan could build a world-beating fleet that would push the Western powers out of Asia and help usher in a new era of Japanese dominance. The partisans of this position didn’t call their organization “Project for a New Japanese Century”, but they might as well have.
Yamato was the first of a new generation of battleships. The IJN believed that the United States would never build battleships too large to move through the Panama Canal, and calculated that the maximum displacement of such ships would amount to about 60000 tons. Ships of that size could not, it was thought, carry guns larger than 16”. The IJN problem was then to design and build battleships that could destroy the largest ships the Americans were likely to build. These ships were to have a speed of at least 30 knots, carry 18” or larger guns, and have extensive range with good fuel economy. Yamato met one of the three conditions. Commissioned in December 1941, Yamato carried 9 18.1” guns in three triple turrets, displaced 66000 tons, and could make 27 knots. Her armor weighed more than an entire World War I dreadnought, and could absorb enormous damage. A 31 knot version was rejected as too large, and the IJN unwisely decided to sacrifice speed for armor. Yamato was also initially designed with diesel engines for economical cruising, but problems with the diesels led to the use of a standard power plant that burned so much oil it would have made Dick Cheney blush. Yamato was an immensely powerful ship, but the Japanese sacrificed operational mobility for surface tactical effectiveness. Four more ships of the class were ordered, but only Musashi was completed as intended. Shinano, the third sister, was completed as an aircraft carrier support vessel. And just to show you that I’m not a hard-hearted man, and that it’s not all displacement and gun caliber: She was beautiful; she was graceful; she was referred to by her crew as “more beautiful than any woman”.
Upon completion Yamato became the flagship of the Combined Fleet, a designation she held until replaced by Musashi in 1943. Admiral Yamamoto sat on Yamato’s bridge as the USN destroyed four of his carriers at Midway in June 1942. Because of her speed and enormous fuel requirements, the IJN did not use Yamato in the Guadalcanal campaign. This must be regarded as a serious error, as Yamato’s presence might well have changed the character of several of the engagements of Savo Island. This was not a time at which the IJN should have emphasized fuel economy. Yamato withdrew from the Central Pacific with the rest of the fleet as American carrier groups launched ever more devastating attacks on Japanese bases.
Yamato was present at both the battles of Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. At the latter she, Musashi, Nagato,Kongo, and Haruna served as the core of Admiral Kurita’s strike force. Although American battleships were successfully decoyed away, the Japanese attack on US transports and escort carrierswas foiled by the extraordinary courage of a few American destroyer captains. Musashi sank under the weight of nearly 30 bombs and 20 torpedoes, demonstrating that unsinkable super-battleships could, indeed, be sunk. After the battle Yamato withdrew to Japan, where she rode out several air attacks.
By April 1945 the Imperial Japanese Navy was largely spent. In A Glorious Way to Die, Russell Spurr recounts the circumstances that led to Yamato’s final mission. In response to the invasion of Okinawa, the Army guaranteed that it would devastate the American fleet with kamikaze attacks on unprecedented scale. Upon being informed of this, the Emperor asked “And what of the Navy?” This set in motion a plan under which most of the remainder of the IJN, including Yamato, a light cruiser, and eight destroyers would sail for Okinawa, fight their way through the defending warships and transports, and beach themselves on the island. The crews would then abandon ship and reinforce the Okinawa garrison. Although the IJN was noted for its bravery and loyalty, this plan did not meet universal acclaim. Several admirals and captains thought this a waste not only of their remaining ships but also of the lives of their crewmen. They pointed out that Yamato, super-battleship that she was, could not hope to destroy the entire USN. Moreover, the approach to Okinawa would require ten hours of sailing in daylight without air cover. The US carriers would certainly find and destroy the task force before it reached its target. Such concerns were brushed aside. Most of Spurr’s information comes from direct interviews with Japanese and American survivors of the sortie, although he also relies on some archival material. Spurr wisely lets the narratives speak for themselves, refraining from imposing an interpretation when accounts conflict, although he uses his own expertise to suggest the most likely course of events.
The task force set sail on April 5, and was detected almost immediately by US submarines and reconnaissance aircraft. Admiral Raymond Spruance initially ordered his battleship squadron to prepare to meet Yamato. This squadron included New Mexico, Idaho, Tennessee, Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia. The American carrier commander, however, had other ideas, and wanted to destroy the Japanese with air strikes. The decision was eventually made to launch the air strikes and rely on the battleships as a back up. This was certainly the correct call. Although the six elderly battleships would almost certainly have been too much for Yamato to contend with, it’s quite possible that she would have take one or two, along with several thousand American sailors, with her.
The airstrikes began five hours into Yamato’s daylight trek. They immediately inflicted heavy damage, and soon sank several of Yamato’s escorts. Yamato continued at speed, but suffered heavy damage from bombs and torpedoes. She began to list, and her steering failed. The final wave of American torpedo aircraft delivered the coup de grace, and Yamato rolled over and sank with nearly 3000 of her crew. To their eternal dishonor, the American pilots then strafed the Japanese survivors, destroying lifeboats and liferafts and interfering in the rescue operations of the remaining escorts. These attacks on shipwrecked sailors also violated all applicable laws of war. Spurr confirmed the attacks on sailors with both Japanese and American witnesses.
Yamato’s destruction capped an absurd story with a tragic ending. The effort that went into her construction would better have been spent on aircraft carriers and other ships. Her final journey was a sickening waste; while some of the Japanese admirals realized that the 3000 men who died on Yamato might better have been employed building a new Japan, others did not. When Japan surrendered, the IJN attempted to destroy all photographic and technical data on Yamato and her sister, leaving Western analysts guessing as to her exact characteristics well into the Cold War. Yamato has been the centerpiece of several featurefilms, but is perhaps best known in the United States as the platform onto which the wave motion gun was fitted in Star Blazers. The American redub renamed the ship Argo, but in the Japanese version Yamato sailed once again on what was assumed to be a suicidal mission to save Earth from radioactive destruction. Apparently, the theme song to Space Battleship Yamato (Japanese version) remains popular in the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.
Trivia: What was the first American battleship to be hit by a kamikaze?
In addition to being Corduroy Appreciation Day, November 11 marks the anniversary of the armistice that brought World War I — one of the most irredeemable conflicts in human history — to a pathetic conclusion. The agreement, which called for the cessation of hostilities at precisely 11:00 a.m., was hastily signed between 5:12 and 5:20 a.m. in a rail car in the Compiegne forest, near to the spot where France had capitulated in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Over the previous month, the Central Powers and their allies had collapsed one by one. Bulgaria agreed to an armistice at the end of September; the Ottoman Empire fell a month later; in early November, Austria and Hungary signed separate armistice agreements as the empire of the Hapsburgs disintegrated after a mere half century of life. With their allies removed, and with the November Revolution roiling at home, Germany agreed to the armistice on terms dictated completely by their enemies. For their part, the Central Powers offered up nearly seven million dead to this fruitless conflict; nearly nine million of their foes — both combatants and civilians — suffered identical fates. The wounded numbered in the tens of millions. The influenza pandemic stifled the lives of millions more over the next two years, to say nothing of the deacdes of economic despair, ethnic rivalry, open warfare and genocide that ensued.
The last man to die for this epic mistake is conventionally believed to be George Lawrence Price, a 25-year-old Canadian soldier who was shot through the chest by a German sniper at 10:58 a.m., two minutes before the armistice officially took effect. Price was stationed with Company A of the 28th Northwest Battalion, which was ordered to secure the French town of Havre as well as the nearby Canal du Centre. After their company helped to secure both, Price led Arthur Goodmurphy and two other soldiers on an ill-advised patrol of the far side of the canal, where they were sprayed with machine gun fire from a nearby house. While searching for the German soldiers who had fired on him and his men, Price was struck by a single bullet at 10:57 and died, cinematically, in Goodmurphy’s arms less than a minute later. Fifty years after Price’s death, a plaque was erected in his honor in Havre, where his body was originally laid to rest in the Old Communal Cemetery. His body was eventually removed to the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium. There, along with 406 other identified casualties of the war, Price shares a resting ground with the first soldier killed on the Western Front — the sixteen-year-old English Private John Parr, who died near Mons on 21 August 1914.
Shorter Ann Althouse: Democrats must start answering the following question: “When will you stop being traitors?”
As Glenn points out, what’s particularly funny about this is that Althouse, Reynolds, Peretz et al. seem to be of the conviction that the taunting rhetoric of despots and terrorists should 1)be taken at face value, and 2)should govern the conduct of American foreign policy. This would seem to be the same kind of nuttiness that produces Althouse’s conviction that once you’ve started a war you can never end it no matter how ill-conceived it was or how badly it’s damaging national interests or how many people are being pointlessly killed because otherwise it would provide “information” to America’s enemies that would somehow destroy its capacities. For example, the fact that the United States ended the Vietnam War without achieving its objectives is what led to the Soviet Union’s triumph in the Cold War. (This is Rob’s department, but arguments just don’t get more theoretically implausible and empirically indefensible than “we need to keep counterproductive wars going to demonstrate ‘resolve.’” Enough already.) Anyway, I have no idea what Iranian leaders actually think about the elections or why I should care, but I do know that the disastrous war in Iraq has ended up advancing the interests of the Iranian state while it’s undermined those of the United States.
Just a reminder: Rep. Henry Waxman, the aggressive incoming liberal chair of the House Government Reform committee–who is chiding his Republican predecessors for not investigating (in AP’s words) “the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, the controversy over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name, and the pre-Iraq war use of intelligence”–voted for the war. … All future beat-sweeteners about Waxman should be required to (unlike AP) mention this fact before reporting Waxman’s righteous indignation. [Maybe he was duped by all that manipulated pre-war intelligence--ed. Please. He's a smart, well-connected guy. I think he's hard to dupe.]
I know it’s hard, Mickey, but would you mind explaining that to me one more time? The fact that Waxman voted for the war means that he ought not to be asking questions about it? That’s rather an odd theory of democracy, now isn’t it? I mean, if I had supported the war, I sure as hell would want to know why it had gone wrong, why Abu Ghraib had happened, and why the Bush administration had played around with bad intelligence. Indeed, if I were a Democrat who had voted for the war I would really want to know those things. So what gives, Mickey?
If I may hazard, Mickey is either putting forth a theory of democracy that allows a remarkable degree of executive authority (we give up our right to question the executive on the day that we vote for him) and that’s just a little bit reminiscent of an odd combination of Thomas Hobbes and Carl Schmitt, or he’s engaging in sniping so transparent a fourth grader could see through it. In short, if Waxman voted for the war the he must have supported the way in which it was conducted, which means that his decision to question the war is nothing but dirty dirty liberal Democratic liberal political sniping, and IN A TIME OF WAR no less.
Mickey cut his teeth in the 1990s on fairly complex policy questions, but now he can’t manage to sort out the difference between political sniping and good governance. He’s still pimping the argument that immigration reform should have been critical to the election, going so far as to argue that the failure of the Republicans to adopt his strategy for victory means that, in fact, George Bush wanted the Democrats to win. The possibility that the disastrous execution of the war on the part of the administration might have mattered even to those initially supportive doesn’t, apparently, even cross his mind.
Lung cancer — one of the few subjects Sid Davis never addressed in his nearly 200 youth “warning films” — felled him at the age of 90. His films were never shown during my adolescent years, but his imprint on the genre is everywhere evident. Next time you think twice before running with scissors, performing dangerous bicycle stunts, smoking a marijuana cigarette, or recruiting adults to purchase alcohol for you, thank Sid Davis.
Henry. My wife’s greatest wish is that Henry dies in his sleep sometime soon. Since we added another hungry mouth to the household, the boy has taken to spraying the front door, attacking the dogs randomly, and yowling at all hours of the night while sitting in his litterbox. A healthy twelve years old, he’s always been high-strung, so most of his current offenses are differences of degree rather than of kind. Although he’s one of the friendliest cats I’ve ever known, he goes berzerk during times of stress; my old vet in Minneapolis, for instance, was unwillling to see him unless it was an emergency, thanks to several visits during which at least three doctors and assistants were required — with the aid of special feline restraint devices — to hold him down.
All that being said, Henry’s greatest pleasure in life is beer, which he will drink directly from the bottle.