1. Bush Busts Base
Whatever George W. Bush thought he was doing by nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, you can bet he did not count fracturing his base among his goals. Yet that is what the Bush administration faces as it attempts to spin conservative critics of the nomination into oblivion. In fact, the sin of nominating a complete non-entity like Miers to the court might've been easier for conservatives to excuse if the White House had not immediately moved to paint anyone wondering about her credentials as Ivy League and elitist. A more foul epithet a movement conservative cannot imagine.
The best thing the White House and Miers have going for them is that the Senate Judiciary Committee will not start hearings on her nomination for several more weeks. That provides time to develop and re-enforce a storyline for those hearings, not to mention time for Miers to cram for the biggest constitutional law exam in history.
Maybe she's up to that task, maybe she can pull together an appealing story to tell. That at least is within her control. What is not under the control of either the nominee or White House, however, is the tell-tale slide of nomination to the Beltway-damned status of "in trouble." The Miers nomination is not there yet, but it remains at risk of winding up there.
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2. Police Riot in New Orelans
Putting aside the absurdity of arresting, much less pummeling, a man for being drunk on Bourbon St., the thing to watch for in the case of the three New Orleans police officers facing battery charges in the incident is whether what appear to be federal law enforcement officers are also charged in the case.
Federal officers, by virtue of not being tied directly to any local governmental unit, as well as often operating in undercover (or at least non-uniformed) roles, need to have a dependable administrative system in place for handling the odd rogue cop. In effect, the agencies are left to police themselves, and so they must do a good job of that internal police-work, or public trust will quickly erode.
That's why excuse making or buck-passing in this incident will not pass muster. If federal agents were involved, they need to be charged with battery as well.
3. Making History Instead of Reform
Conservative leader Angela Merkel will be Germany's first female chancellor. This concludes the news-making reform portion of the German elections. Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder is out of office, but his party is still in control thanks to a wacky deal Merkel cut to get that coveted title.
Merkel's party not only agreed to accept just six seats in the cabinet to the Social Ds' eight, but among those eight Merkel handed over are finance, labor, and health-the trifecta needed to reform Germany's bloated social welfare state. This ensures essentially nothing will get done.
In fact, what little that might get done in the name of reform is positively mad. A plan is afoot to cut the payroll taxes that fund the country's lavish unemployment benefit system by raising the value added tax from 16 to 18 percent. This, it is said, will make German workers cheaper to hire-just as the cost of everything in the country goes up due to taxes. Besides, without cuts in benefits, it is all for nothing.
4. Quick Hits
Quote of the Week
"In this country there's too much land in the hands of too few. Giving the poor people a parcel of land shouldn't cause so much conflict, it's an act of justice." -Juan Santos, 46, one of thousands of Venezuelan farmers who marched in support of a plan to strip lands from big ranches and turn them into Cuban-style co-ops.
Federal Bureau of Inhalation
The FBI notices that other branches of the federal government employ people in top secret/sensitive positions who admit to using pot at some point in their past. And yet the republic still stands. As a result, the FBI is mulling relaxing its anti-pot hiring policies a little.
Casting for Pods in All the Wrong Places
Yahoo steps into the podcasting world with a plan to help make it easier to find and manage podcasts, which sounds like another step towards putting end-users in complete control of content.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency gets a ton of ideas about next-generation, unmanned military vehicle from the $2 million robot car race it sponsors. The winner's average speed was 19 mph.
5. New at Reason Online
Fur Flies in PETA Paroxysm
Animal rights hysteria vs. the hysteria of animals. Brendan O'Neill
The Hague on Trial
The other "trial of the century" and international justice. Kerry Howley
Remains of the DNA
How clones, like the rest of us, justify their own misery. Mike Godwin
And much more!
6. News and Events
Reason in Vegas!
Come to Las Vegas November 4-6
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For more information and registration details, please visit here.
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