In this issue:
The Harriet Miers nomination is in deep trouble, and the only people who deny it work for the Bush White House. Crucially, the informal visits that Miers has had with senators have not erased doubts about her, only deepened them. Accordingly, it would be a great surprise if she ever goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 7.
Senators are all but sending up flares to the White House to pull Miers by floating the prospect of calling Focus on the Family founder James Dobson before the committee to talk about what he knows about Miers' views on abortion. The chances of that ending well for the Bush White House, or the country for that matter, are slim and none.
Below the water line remain treacherous rocks of constitutional law that Miers does not seem to be the least bit conversant in. The nominee managed to get into a disagreement with prickly committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) on whether she supported the decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark 1965 right to privacy case. Specter claims she said that she did; Miers denies it. It is certainly possible to craft a reasonable opposition to how Griswold was decided, but Miers' apparent confusion on it speaks to her lack of depth on these very big issues. A disaster awaits.
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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is clearly pressing for something to happen to Syria now that a U.N. report has implicated top Syrian officials the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Exactly what that "response from the international system" will be remains up for grabs.
President Bush wants to put the matter before the U.N. Security Council, which sounds like the path to sanctions on Syria. The French, for one, want to put that off for as long as possible, clearly hoping for President Bashar Assad to find some graceful way out of power without U.N. action.
But Assad has called out street protests to condemn the U.N. report and is generally striking a defiant tone at home as he seems to pursue some sort of diplomatic understanding with the U.S. on Lebanon and no doubt on better policing of the Syrian-Iraq border. That my not be enough, however, for Bush policy makers who want nothing less than regime change in Syria.
That was a relief rally you saw on Wall Street immediately after President Bush announced Ben Bernanke as his pick to replace Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan in January. The Street wanted no surprises, and Bernanke, a former Fed governor who now serves as the head of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, is about as expected a pick as possible.
There was some sentiment to come up with a Fed chief with a less academic background and more of a day-to-day appreciation of the particular fears at work in the high-powered financial sector, but there was also nothing like consensus on who such a person might be. Chalk that up as another Wall Street neurosis.
Bernanke does have the experience of seeing how the Fed chairman operates up close, which should be a great help to him. Still, he will have to get into the habit of parsing his words extremely carefully as he moves into a job where the wrong head tilt or inflection can make or lose millions.
Quote of the Week
"You're the English guy. I've seen you on TV and they said you were from England. He's Mr. England" -Joyce Delahoussaye introducing British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to her son, Randy, during Straw's visit to Alabama.
A lawsuit charges that Apple knew its iPod Nano was susceptible to scratching but chose to ship the product anyway. And consumers couldn't figure that out after one look at the Nano?
God-given Right to TV
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to spend $3 billion to pay for converter boxes for older TV sets so they will still work after broadcasters switch to digital signals. It's in the Bill of Rights, you know.
Count on Body Counts
The Pentagon may not have officially ordered it, but units in Iraq had to turn to some kind of enemy body count metric to try to give meaning to repeated sweeps of the same town and villages.
The Root of the Problem
The what's missing in the debate over U.S. vs. U.N. control of the Net. Julian Sanchez
Puddle Jumpers in the Great Lakes State
The EPA's twenty-year war to make everything a wetland. Shikha Dalmia
A Traditional Gay Wedding
At a same-sex ceremony, the new is made old again. Jonathan Rauch
And much more!
Reason in Vegas!
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An Evening with Milton and Rose Friedman
Please join the The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in celebrating 50 Years of an Idea. This 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner on December 5, 2005 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles, California will honor Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, who first proposed the school voucher idea in 1955.
The Friedmans will participate in a Q&A session, answering questions submitted by the audience. The Friedman's will be joined by several honored guests, who will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the dinner and how to attend, visit here.
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