Thursday, May 28, 2009

Supreme Court meets Humpty Dumpty

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is undoubtedly headed for confirmation by a Senate overweighted with Democrats. Still, there's plenty about her that is disturbing.

She's now famous for statin

"I would hope that a wise LATINA WOMAN with the richness of HER experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a WHITE MALE who hasn't lived that life."

Is her statement more acceptable than its inverse?

"I would hope that a wise WHITE MALE with the richness of HIS experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a LATINA WOMAN who hasn't lived that life."

Even more than her opinions, these words are a guide to Sotomayor's likely behavior on the High Court. She is a judge from the legal school of identity politics. This is not the same as taking justifiable pride in being the first Puerto Rican-American nominated to the Court, as both she and the President did yesterday. Her personal and family stories are admirable. Italian-Americans also swelled at the achievement of Justice Antonin Scalia, as Jewish-Americans did at the nomination of Benjamin Cardozo.

These men saw themselves as judges first and ethnic representatives second. Judge Sotomayor's belief is that a "Latina woman" is by definition a superior judge to a "white male" because she has had more "richness" in her struggle. The danger inherent in this judicial view is that the law isn't what the Constitution says but whatever the judge in the "richness" of her experience comes to believe it should be.

Or, borrowing from Through the Looking Glass in a scene with Alice and Humpty Dumpty --

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

White House Job Listing

Seen pinned to a cork bulletin board outside the oval office:

Job Listings
Wanted: Supreme Court Justice
Applicant will be expected to deliver justice through fairness and equality for all regardless of race, creed or color.

(Whites, Asians, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Russians, Persians, Italians, Celts, Brits, Cannucks, Native Americans, and males of all races, creeds, and colors, need not apply.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obamas Loss Will Be Race Baiters Gain

Yes there are people who simply wont vote for a person because he is black and there are those who will vote for a person simply because he is. It is sad that there will be an element of Racism in the 08 elections. What is even sadder is that there are those who will use the Obama loss to further drive a rift in race relations by insinuating that Obamas loss was based wholly in racist thought and not in the fact that there is a clear and distinct choice in ideology this election cycle (not that there were not in previous elections just that it is more apparent in this one) wherein the people will choose to embrace the Conservative notion and reject the Liberal one.

This charge of Racism will be furthered by the Media and I can only assume that Jesse "I wanna cut Obama's nuts off" Jackson will spearhead the charge. In addition it will be likely that the European media will be happy to follow suit in a further attempt to demonize conservative American values.

So I ask; who is more racist; the person whose vote is based on race, or those who will use the Obama loss as a lever to instigate ill will between peoples?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama Likes Corporate Seizure of Private Property

Well, maybe that's a little misleading, but he does support the type of Justices for the Supreme Court of the United States who did just that in the Kelo v. City of New London case.

So to all you "civil libertarian" minded lefty's I ask: How does this sit with you?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good News -- A Dead Terrorist

A terrorist was killed. Hooray. His death was followed by the usual muslim reflex -- Blame the Jews. Then speculation turned to back-channel dealings between the US and Syria. If this is true, it's unfortunate. The US would do far better to take a page from The Godfather and make offers to middle-east thugs that they cannot refuse. Offers like that would have them all in a line and quacking like good ducks in a matter of hours.

Hezbollah Commander, Wanted by U.S., Killed in Syria

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) --

Imad Mughniyeh, a commander of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia wanted by the U.S., was killed by a car bomb in Damascus, the Shiite Muslim group said. ``The martyr Mughniyeh was killed late yesterday evening'' in the Syrian capital, Ghalib Abu Zainab, a member of the Political Council of Hezbollah, said in a telephone interview from Beirut today.

Mughniyeh was indicted in the U.S. for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA Corp. airliner, during which an American Navy diver was killed. Israel has accused him of involvement in the 1990s bombings of the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish center in Argentina that killed more than 120 people. The U.S. also wanted Mughniyeh for the April 18, 1983, bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut, al-Arabiya television said. Seventeen U.S. officials, including Robert Ames, the Central Intelligence Agency's top Middle East analyst, and other CIA staffers were among the 63 people who died in that attack.

In a statement, Hezbollah said Mughniyeh was killed ``by the Israeli Zionists.''

His funeral will be held tomorrow, it said. Mughniyeh was 45, according to al-Arabiya.

``There are so many countries and intelligence organizations that had an account to settle with this guy that it could be a great many people,'' Yossi Alpher, a former official with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and one-time adviser to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said in an interview today. ``Anybody who has an interest in stopping global terrorism should be satisfied that he's removed from the scene.''

Israeli Denial Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said in a pager message, ``Israel rejects the attempts being made by terrorist groups that try to tie Israel to the incident.'' Mughniyeh, who also went by the name of El-Haj Radwan, was on the FBI most-wanted terrorists list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.

``It's a big blow and very significant blow no matter who did it,'' Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, said in a telephone interview from Beirut. ``This was done in Damascus,'' he said, adding that, if the Hezbollah commander was killed by Syria, ``then it's enormously significant and, if not, then who was able to penetrate Damascus so coolly and comfortably?''

Mughniyeh was a hard target and his killing could be part of a deal between the U.S. and Syria, Salem said. ``He was one of the figures that was always asked for by name by the U.S. If, and it's a big if, it's part of a Syrian agenda, it means that the U.S. and Syria must be making progress and there is some deal- making on Lebanon.''


Abdel Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president and once a right-hand man to late President Hafez al-Assad, said he doubted the likelihood of such a deal. ``Such a deal is unrealistic in this day and age,'' Khaddam said in an interview today from his home in Paris. The site where Mughniyeh was killed is in a security area, in close proximity to an Iranian school and the offices of the Syrian intelligence services and military intelligence unit, Khaddam said.

Mughniyeh's death comes before a rally tomorrow that is expected to draw tens of thousands of Lebanese to central Beirut to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. United Nations investigators said Lebanese and Syrian intelligence officials, including the brother and brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were implicated in the truck bombing that killed Hariri. Syria has denied any involvement.

Asserting Authority

``There seems to be a steady attempt to push Syria, and right now the United States and the West has very little leverage over Syria, and I think this is frustrating everybody in Washington as they see Syria asserting its authority in Lebanon,'' said Josh Landis, a specialist on Syria and director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

``They've run out of tools and the only thing Bush can say now is that he's going to get a fully funded investigation'' into Hariri's assassination. The fact that Mughniyeh was killed just before Hariri's anniversary ``means that there could be demonstrations by Hezbollah supporters today and tomorrow,'' Ted Karasik, senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. consulting company, said in an interview today.

``He was killed in order to ignite confrontation on streets.'' Lebanon has been without a head of state since Nov. 23, when Syrian-backed Emile Lahoud left office at the end of his term. The dispute over the post has threatened to ignite civil strife in the country. The crisis is the worst since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. Lebanese lawmakers have failed to elect a president on 14 occasions.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mark Twain Redux

Many are familiar with Mark Twain's anecdote about words and their differences. As he famously noted, the difference between Lightning and the Lightning Bug. However, as usual, reporters don't know about stuff like that.


February 8, 2008 -- What a difference a space makes.

Just ask billionaire Warren Buffett after Dow Jones news service ran a headline yesterday quoting him as saying the US dollar would be "worthless" in five to 10 years if the country's account deficit wasn't brought under control.

Anchors for business news network CNBC spent some time dissecting Buffett's "worthless" quote before the Oracle of Omaha personally called to set the record straight.

CNBC's Becky Quick took Buffett's call on-air, although viewers couldn't hear Buffett's side of the conversation. She offered this correction: "He said it would be 'worth less' - two words."

It's no secret that Buffett has been negative on the US dollar, but the Berkshire Hathaway chief executive didn't go quite as far as the headline suggested.

"If our current account deficit keeps running at present levels, the dollar I think is almost certain to be worth less five to 10 years from now compared to other major currencies," he said at a business conference in Canada.

The Dow Jones story that followed the erroneous "worthless" headline reported his comments accurately as two words.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Peak Microsoft?

Steve Ballmer and his crew at Microsoft are looking like Indians (feather) getting ready for a last stand against the invading force of Google. It looks like the Indians are showing their weakness. They want help, a buffer, protection against the forces of the Manifest Destiny of Google. The Indians have sought help from Yahoo.

Like generals fighting the last war, corporate leaders are always ready to take down the old competitors. MSFT once dismissed the Internet as inconsequential and irrelevant to its corporate purpose. But the stunning success of Netscape changed all that. After MSFT's furious assault on Netscape with the Internet Explorer, it was clear an awakening had occurred. It worked. Next month Netscape shuts down for good.

But fighting the last war means fighting to advance the New World Business Model that is fading. The New World Business Model is now Old. Consumers don't pay for content these days. Not all of it, anyway. The online version of the New York Times is free. Most online versions of newspapers are free. Who's paying? The advertisers.

Google is free to the consumer. That includes its word processing software as well as its spreadsheet software. Imagine free Word and free Excel, free Microsoft Office -- with advertising. Is there a chance MSFT will give consumers online access to Word, Excel and the rest while charging advertisers for the opportunity of displaying their goods to billions of users?

Based on MSFT's willingness to pay almost $45 billion for Yahoo -- and taking the extra step of BORROWING to cover the expense -- the answer is NO.Welcome to the last war. Microsoft's Last Stand. Peak Microsoft.

To protect its Office franchise, MSFT will buy Yahoo for $45 billion. That's a massive insurance premium. Worse for Ballmer and Gates, the payment is a premium on a term insurance policy. But the duration of the term is unknown and shrinking at an accelerating rate.

Though it's estimated that Internet advertising is likely to double by 2012, the number of Internet advertising dollars is expected to reach an annual figure of $80 billion in four years. How much of it will flow into MSFT? Enough to justify the purchase of Yahoo? Maybe yes, maybe no.But one point is clear. MSFT is not use one of its chief assets -- Office -- to fight Google. The company's tolerance for risk is gone. These days MSFT wants Washington to referee. The bell is ringing. Microsoft has peaked.