Thursday, July 03, 2003

Haunting Words

I can hardly believe Bush actually said this, but here it is....

"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice," Bush said. "There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."

Now one day later it seems Bush
got his answer...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 10 American soldiers have been wounded in attacks on Thursday in Iraq, according to U.S. military officials.

The attacks came a day after President Bush -- saying he was confident that U.S. forces in Iraq were well-protected -- said to those in Iraq looking to harm American troops, "My answer is, bring them on."

Here is
Adam Felber's satirical take which would be even more funny if it were not so tragic:

Bush Double-Dog Dares Militants to Hurt US Soldiers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Wednesday challenged militants who have been killing and injuring U.S. forces in Iraq, saying "bring them on" because American forces were tough enough to deal with their attacks.
"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is bring them on..."

" fact," the President continued, "I don't think Iraqi militants have the guts to kill more Americans. I think they're yeller." Bush, who during Vietnam war bravely combatted an extremely inconvenient schedule, made his remarks a mere 6,211 miles from the front lines."

Jobless Rate Hits 9-Year High

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's unemployment rate shot up to 6.4 percent in June, the highest level in more than nine years, in an economic slump that has cost nearly a million jobs in the last three months."

Umm, weren't all those big tax cuts supposed to jump start the economy?

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Postwar Blues

The WSJ is reporting today that 63 American troops have died in Iraq in the two months since Bush stood on an aircraft carrier and declared victory. That is nearly as many as died during the three weeks of fighting that led up to the fall of Baghdad.

The other day San Antonio buried its second hometown boy killed during the Iraq war and aftermath. He was a 19-year-old Army private who was killed in a grenade attack. His death did not get a lot of national media attention partly because he did not die immediately. Instead the news was that some soldiers were wounded and by the time he died the next day the grenade attack was old news.

The WSJ goes on to report that the rising casualty figures are causing Bush's poll numbers to decline from a 71 percent approval in April to 61 percent in July.

Those poll numbers are likely to drop further the longer our troops remain in harm's way. And it doesn't look like Iraq is going to embrace a U.S.-style democracy any time soon.

More on the Supremes

The same NYTimes article referred to below has the following observation from former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger:

"This term suggested a split between two kinds of conservative Republicans. (Justices Kennedy and O'Connor) share the sensibilities of corporate Republicans, who often have a bit of a libertarian streak in them, (while on social issues) Scalia and Thomas represent the Moral Majority strain, which is vocal but not necessarily dominant."
"Chief Justice Rehnquist, Dellinger adds, often occupies a middle position between the two groups."

If this analysis is accurate - and I think it is - then how would you classify the four remaining justices on the court? Might we say that Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter represent the "corporate Democrats," while Justice Stevens occupies a middle position between this group and the now vacant far left position once filled by Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan.

This means that we currently have a court that is lopsided to the right. However, social conservatives who still lose out on their pet issues in this case might disagree.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Supreme moderation

The New York Times has a big rundown on the latest Supreme Court session with a great graphic showing how all the judges voted on 13 major cases. The first thing that jumps out at you is that Sandra Day O'Connor was on the winning side of all but one of the decisions, demonstrating in my opinion that she, and not William Rehnquist, is the de facto chief justice on the court.
However, it is also noteworthy that Rehnquist - who normally forms part of the far-right troika on the court along with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - broke away from the conservative side on four cases, as did Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Here is the NYTimes breakdown on all of the contested cases (41) decided during this term:

"The voting patterns this term gave Justice Scalia ample cause for disaffection. Thirty of 71 cases decided by published opinions were unanimous, leaving 41 contested cases. In these, Justice Scalia and Clarence Thomas were the court's most frequent dissenters, with 16 and 21 dissenting votes respectively. This was a change from recent terms, when Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's most liberal member, was consistently the most frequent dissenter.

"Justice Stevens dissented 15 times this term as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The fewest dissenting votes, as usual, were cast by Justice O'Connor, with eight, followed by Chief Justice Rehnquist, with nine - making the indisputably conservative chief justice appear almost a centrist in the court's current spectrum."

William Rehnquist turning into a moderate after all these years. Imagine that! I guess wisdom really does improve with age.

All-Star Voting

Just cast my vote for the Baseball All Star Game. In the past I had done like everyone else and just voted for the players on my favorite team. This year I took it a bit more serious and actually compared stats before deciding who to vote for (not that it will matter, it is still just a big popularity contest).
So here are my picks for 2003:

American League
1B Carlos Delgado - Blue Jays
2B Alfonso Soriano - Yankees
SS Nomar Garciaparra - Red Sox
3B H. Blalock - Rangers
C Jorge Posada - Yankees
OF Ichiro Suzuki - Mariners
OF Manny Ramirez - Red Sox
OF Garrett Anderson - Angels
DH Edgar Martinez - Mariners

National League
1B Todd Helton - Rockies
2B Jeff Kent - Astros
SS Edgar Renteria - Cardinals
3B Mike Lowell - Marlins
C Javy Lopez - Braves
OF Albert Pujols - Cardinals
OF Gary Sheffield - Braves
OF Barry Bonds - Giants

For the past several years I have been a Yankees fan (long story), but now that they have traded away so many of their players I have begun to lose interest and I am once again looking for a team to support. I am trying to like the Astros again.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Katharine Hepburn 1907 - 2003

I'll always remember Katharine Hepburn as the determined old lady who was a match for John Wayne in "Rooster Cogburn" - the first film I ever saw her in. But I really became a big fan after seeing her in "The Philadelphia Story" some time later.
When I lived in Connecticut in the early '90s, I worked for a weekly newspaper in Old Saybrook where Hepburn lived. I never saw her there, but I talked to townsfolk who would tell stories of running into her in the local grocery stores on ocassion. That was enough to give me a slight feeling of connection with her and made me even more of a fan later on.
The only movie of hers that I have in my video collection right now is "The African Queen," so I will need to remedy that situation. Maybe they will come out with a nice collectors set on DVD soon.