conservative stamp on the courts

Bush Aide Confirmed to U.S. Bench

White House aide Brett M. Kavanaugh won Senate confirmation as an appeals judge yesterday after a three-year wait, a new victory for President Bush in a drive to place a more conservative stamp on the courts. …

“Mr. Kavanaugh is a political operative,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “I can say with confidence that Mr. Kavanaugh would be the youngest, least experienced and most partisan appointee to the court in decades.” …

Kavanaugh was an assistant to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr during the impeachment probe of President Bill Clinton and worked on behalf of the Bush campaign during the election recount in 2000.

the cult of multiculturalism?

Right Web | Analysis | Tom Tancredo—Christian Crusader, Cultural Nationalist, and Iran Freedom Fighter

[Colorado Republican Rep. Tom] Tancredo, like many on the right — from social conservatives to neoconservatives—bases his restrictionism less on economic reasons than on cultural and racial ones.

“The threat to the United States comes from two things: the act of immigration combined with the cult of multiculturalism,” argues Tancredo. “We will never be able to win in the clash of civilizations if we don’t know who we are. If Western civilization succumbs to the siren song of multiculturalism, I believe we are finished.” …

“I believe that what we are fighting here is not just a small group of people who have hijacked a religion, but it is a civilization bent on destroying ours. Radical Islam has been the foe of Christiandom for centuries. The most serious foe of Christiandom.” [mjh: it WAS a smaller group of people until we blundered royally in Iraq.]

“This combination, massive immigration and radical multiculturalism,” warned Tancredo, “is a prescription for our own demise.”

It Helps to Have a Powerful Friend

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Bush’s Personal Aide To Enroll at Business School By PARAS D. BHAYANI, Crimson Staff Writer

A 26-year-old college dropout who carries President Bush’s breath mints and makes him peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches will follow in his boss’s footsteps this fall when he enrolls at Harvard Business School (HBS).

Though it is rare for HBS—or any other professional or graduate school—to admit a student who does not have an undergraduate degree, admissions officers made an exception for Blake Gottesman, who for four years has served as special assistant and personal aide to Bush.

Gottesman, a Texas native who attended Claremont-McKenna College in California for one year, has long had ties to the Bush family. He dated the president’s daughter, Jenna Bush, nearly ten years ago when he attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School of Austin.

After completing his freshman year at Claremont in 1999, he left to join the Bush presidential campaign and later served as a junior aide to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. In February 2002, he became the president’s personal assistant.

In his current role, Gottesman performs a wide range of duties, from dog-sitting the president’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, to carrying the president’s speeches and giving him the “two-minute warning” before a speech begins. …

[HBS spokesman James] Aisner also pointed out to The Economist that Harvard would surely admit applicants like Bill Gates and Michael Dell, both of whom are college dropouts.

But the often-snarky British weekly noted: “Needless to say, holding the president’s hand-sanitizer is a far cry from heading a Fortune 500 company.”

See mjh’s blog — It’s Who You Know That Matters

“Karl and I have been close friends for 25 years. So, why wouldn’t I write to him? He’s the guy I know best in the administration.” read more …

The Bottom Line is Everything

Some years ago, I read Nickeled and Dimed, a book about trying to survive at minimum wage (which hasn’t been raised federally in a decade, even while Congress’ wages have risen quite nicely). After reading Nickeled and Dimed, I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart for many years. Only recently, I was sucked back in when we needed drugs for our dog, Lucky. Wal-Mart was half as expensive as anyone else. Too bad they can’t negotiate for Medicare.

Knowing that Wal-Mart exploits its workers and squeezes its suppliers in order to simultaneously drop prices and maximize its own profits for the shareholders, it is telling that Wal-Mart is the Republican model for good business. Here’s some cheap shit — screw the world! mjh

[thanks, stevo]

The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know By Charles Fishman, a senior writer at Fast Company

Wal-Mart is not just the world’s largest retailer. It’s the world’s largest company–bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. …

Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas. …

“People ask, ‘How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?’ Sure, it’s held inflation down, and it’s great to have bargains,” says Dobbins. “But you can’t buy anything if you’re not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.” …

No one wants to end up in what is known among Wal-Mart vendors as the “penalty box”–punished, or even excluded from the store shelves, for saying something that makes Wal-Mart unhappy. (The penalty box is normally reserved for vendors who don’t meet performance benchmarks, not for those who talk to the press.)

“You won’t hear anything negative from most people,” says Paul Kelly, founder of Silvermine Consulting Group, a company that helps businesses work more effectively with retailers. “It would be committing suicide. If Wal-Mart takes something the wrong way, it’s like Saddam Hussein. You just don’t want to piss them off.” …

Believe it or not, American business has been through this before. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the grocery-store chain, stood astride the U.S. market in the 1920s and 1930s with a dominance that has likely never been duplicated. At its peak, A&P had five times the number of stores Wal-Mart has now (although much smaller ones), and at one point, it owned 80% of the supermarket business. Some of the antipredatory-pricing laws in use today were inspired by A&P’s attempts to muscle its suppliers. …

Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize about globalization: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences. Says Steve Dobbins, president of thread maker Carolina Mills: “We want clean air, clear water, good living conditions, the best health care in the world–yet we aren’t willing to pay for anything manufactured under those restrictions.”

In the last 15 minutes of the season finale of Lost, which was mind-spinningly good, local KOAT slapped the banner you see below during a touching seen. Kudos to KOAT for bad taste AND bad timing.


Lost is loaded with thought-provoking distractions and tangents; the finale set up dozens of possible story lines for next season. Among much that was good and intriguing (like the 3rd role for Libby), there was this image:

4 toes

This prompted Sayid to say, “I don’t know which is more disquieting: that the rest of the statue is gone or that it only has 4 toes.” Indeed. mjh

It’s Not Just YOUR Country

I strongly encourage you to read the opinion piece in today’s Albuquerque Journal by David Pfeffer, candidate for the Republican nomination to run against Jeff Bingaman. Does this guy seem like US Senate material to you?

Like many, Pfeffer dreams of a past moment in America where everything was perfect (for middle-class, middle-aged, and married white males). He yearns to turn the clock back to a time that may never have existed but surely is gone forever. Some vision for the future: look backwards.

A few things should be known by all grown-ups: change is inevitable; on average, there will be both positive and negative consequences to every change; just as you cannot stop change, you may not be able to make change only good. One problem is that what’s good to me may be bad to you and vice versa. If we all agree to accept some good with the bad, we make room for each other. When you insist your good is everything, you shut out other views.

I wish people who agree with Pfeffer would note: I’ve studied some history, I vote, I pay taxes, I obey almost all laws (and think absolutists are either liars or insufferable). I’m tired of those who only see black & white insisting that anyone who sees color is inferior/wrong; people who see nuance, subtlety and flexibility as flaws. I don’t go to church — I was raised to think for myself — but I don’t really mind if others go to church, so long as they don’t get too pushy with their self-claimed moral superiority. I believe I am a decent neighbor, colleague and citizen.

And yet, there is a group of my neighbors, colleagues and fellow citizens who feel I am “what’s wrong with America today” and feel they need to “take back America” from me.

Something for the us all to consider: if you can’t share, you may end up with nothing. mjh

ABQjournal: It’s Time to Take Our Country Back to Real Values By David Pfeffer, Republican Primary Candidate, U.S. Senate

All politics is local, as the saying goes. [mjh: Tip O’Neill is spinning in his grave.]

I watched as my colleagues [in Santa Fe ] degraded the value of America and much of what being an American means. [mjh: note that only conservatives get to define “what being an American means.” My opinion doesn’t count.] …

… relegation of “family” to whatever you suppose that to be [mjh: yeah, where do people get the right to decide for themselves they are in a loving relationship! That’s for others to decide.]

Whatever happened to America? … And how did “Christian” become a dirty word? [mjh: David, I’m glad you asked — by being self-righteous and smugly sure theirs is the only truth.]

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that enough is enough. I want my country back. [mjh: yeah, me, too.]
See also mjh’s blog — This Week’s WTF

Country Lacking Real Values

WHAT HAVE you bleeding hearts done to my beautiful country?

mjh’s blog — This Week’s WTF

This includes the mealy-mouthed, two-faced liars that go by the name of Democrats.

mjh’s blog — ‘War’ on Christians Is Alleged

Find a Better Salesman for Nuclear Power

This tree hugger is willing to consider nuclear power in the broad mix of energy sources. However, nuclear zealots need to understand that hearing Duhbya call the nuclear industry “over-regulated” is worrisome — how does he think it came to be so safe? It is also strange to hear the anti-environment president speak of the environmental benefits of nuclear power, not to mention to hear the anti-science president speak of global warming as a fact — he should tell Republican Senator James Inhofe (he called Global Warming one of the greatest hoaxes ever — even a greater hoax than he pulls as a senator)!

Finally, even dumping truckloads of money on the industry in tax breaks and public funding doesn’t seem to be getting it moving — you can’t just blame the environmentalists.

So, I’ll move towards nukes, but I won’t trust Bush and Cheney as advocates. mjh

Bush Calls For New Nuclear Plants By Peter Baker and Steven Mufson, Washington Post Staff Writers

President Bush promoted nuclear power Wednesday as part of his answer to energy and environmental problems as more companies consider taking advantage of government incentives to build the nation’s first new nuclear plant in decades.

In the shadow of twin giant cooling towers, Bush said that his plan to expand nuclear power would curb emissions contributing to global warming and would provide an “abundant and plentiful” alternative to limited energy sources. Bush called the nuclear sector an “overregulated industry” and pledged to work to make it more feasible to build reactors.

“Nuclear power helps us protect the environment. And nuclear power is safe,” he said to loud applause from workers at the Limerick Generating Station, about 40 miles from Philadelphia. He added: “For the sake of economic security and national security, the United States must aggressively move forward with construction of nuclear power plants. Other nations are.” …

Exelon President John W. Rowe, who hosted Bush on Wednesday, said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last year that “Exelon has no intention of building a nuclear plant until there is a solution to the spent-fuel problem. . . . Most companies share our view.” [mjh: I thought Germany or France were cutting back — if so, why?]

See also mjh’s blog — Going Nuclear
A Green Makes the Case
By Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace