Readers judge the hearings (on matters that won't come before the Fray).

Readers judge the hearings (on matters that won't come before the Fray).

Readers judge the hearings (on matters that won't come before the Fray).

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Sept. 15 2005 4:23 PM

Confirmation Consternation

Readers judge the hearings (on matters that won't come before the Fray).

The Man in the Noir Robe: Supreme Court confirmation hearings as pulpy Los Angeles crime novel? Here, not_abel explains:

The frustration Democratic Senators express with Robert's answers, especially as channeled here by Dahlia Lithwick, reminds me a little of the frustration expressed by the homicide detective interrogating the murder suspects in Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field:

"...Brooks could easier forgive a cop killer than (a suspect)...Who simply would not buy what a homicide detective is selling: a trip to the gas chamber".

If Roberts is playing a game, it's a game whose rules the Democrats in the Senate are as responsible as anyone for establishing. It came into full flower as a result of the Bork hearings, and has been being polished ever since. By now, the rules are pretty simple.

The administration must find a candidate without enough of a paper trail to justify hanging him on the written evidence. It helps if there are "worse" nominees waiting in the wings. Then, the opposition party in the Senate gets to spend a week or two inviting the candidate to buy a ticket to the gas chamber. Refuse the invitation, and get confirmed.

Its hard to have much sympathy for people who are being outplayed at a game that they themselves bear so much responsibility for establishing.

After his flashy candor during the Condi Rice confirmation, Joe Biden had emerged as the liberal internationalists' choice for '08. But has he hurt his prospects this week? That seems to be the consensus in the Fray. EarlyBird weighs in:

Yesterday's performance was just appalling. Biden kept asking Roberts about right-to-die issues, and asked Roberts to just give his own personal, emotional view of pulling the plug on a comatose, Schiavo-like loved one to the panel. He asked Roberts to speak to him "as a father," not as a judge. Biden consistently came back with these scenarios where, "my father," or, "my mother" would want to pull the plug on him, Joseph Biden, and whether or not Roberts would stand in the way of that very difficult, complex "right" as he put it.

…If Biden was serious and really wanted to get into Roberts' head about his stands on this stuff, which he had every right to do, he would have asked Roberts to extrapolate on his opinions in regard to how "right to die" state laws intersect with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Serious stuff. Instead Biden showboated, as is typical. He can't help himself…

Roberts very politely explained to Biden that he was a complete idiot, that his job as a judge would NOT be to insert his own personal feelings into interpreting the law, that it is up to lawmakers to MAKE GOOD LAW IN THE FIRST PLACE, so that they don't require judges to uphold a bad law. Roberts did this beautifully, without raising his voice or running up to the dais, pulling Biden from his seat and pounding his head into the table.

…I hate the kind of pandering and emotionalism represented by Biden's kind of "questioning." He's an ass. Whenever I start thinking of him as a Democrat who I could possibly stomach as presidential material, you grandstand and give that arrogant shit-eating grin of yours. You're not that cute. You're no Bill Clinton.

Though William Saletan maintains that John Roberts is "no more committed to a right to privacy than Robert Bork was, SpinDoctor believes that Saletan's suspicion is "overstated": 

I disagree with Saletan that Roberts does not view the right to privacy differently than Bork, Thomas, or Scalia. He admitted that he agreed with Griswold and Eisenstat.

These cases created the foundation for Roe, Casey, and Lawrence - the three big privacy cases that followed. He might disagree with the results of these cases but it seems he would have to undo the precedent back to Griswold to firmly overturn the big 3.

I don't see him as that activist. He will accept more restrictions on abortion but I don't see him overturning Casey's basic premise (a woman has a right to abortion before viability). The right to abortion can be whittled down considerably without actually making it illegal and this is probably what will happen.

The_Bell offers an exegesis on the "Specter of Roe." As always, pun intended. 

Pledge Drive: IOZ gets to the heart of it:

Although I object to the inclusion of "under god" in the pledge for the sake of fun conversation, I object far more to the pledge itself, and the rat-cowardly substitution of near-mandatory civic idolatry for any actual civic society, which the US lacks to a degree usually reserved for plutocratic ex-Soviet republics and failed Islamic theocracies. It goes hand in hand with the old conservative bugaboo of flag-burning, which sends the local Elks into the sort of tribalistic conniptions that they claim to so despise in the urban underclass. No confident nation substitutes such a faux-secular sacrament for an actual state religion. If we wish to worship the flag, then we ought to just make it mandatory and dispense with the nonsense. The North Koreans have Juche; we could call our own Old Glorism, though it sounds like a Muppet or an unpleasant dermal eruption.

Coercive—even rote—expressions of patriotism are onerous in themselves, with or without our endless need to reassure God that we really dig him. As someone who attends 60 MLB games (which, by and large, feature Dominicans) and 30 NBA games per year, is my humming of the national anthem and saluting the colors truly a more profound demonstration of my patriotism than, say, forking over thousands of dollars to sustain these hopelessly American institutions

In Memoriam: The Fray lost sandalphon, a lively and loved participant, this past week. Fraywatch extends condolences to friends and family … KA1:20 p.m.

82_horizontal_rule
Advertisement

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In 500 Words or Less: Ann Hulbert spent a weekend this summer coaching low-income students in the increasingly hellacious college admissions game—the personal statement/essay portion of the application, in particular. She writes about the experience in Sandbox:

Where cosseted kids (and their parents) pull strings and open wallets to arrange essay-worthy experiences, kids like Assita tend to need prodding to share dilemmas right there on their doorsteps. Mostly from fraying families as well as ill-equipped schools, they're afraid that their woes—having a father in prison or a mother on crack, or getting slashed at school—are evidence of weakness, which was the last thing anybody on my team wanted to betray. They're startled to find writing coaches hanging on their words—and then taken aback to see, when they finish, that they have a story that isn't just grist for what I overheard someone call a "pity party" but that actually shows their grit.

Hulbert suggests that the "grit" embedded in these kids' life stories is compelling fodder for admissions committees that are under increasing pressure to enroll more economically disadvantaged students. But PhilSandifer resents Hulbert's implication and sympathizes with the teenaged girl—Assita—in the piece who is initially reluctant to milk her hardships for an admissions committee:

I find it frustrating that what poor black children apparently really need is to write essays about overcoming adversity, and that this process reveals the tough, dedicated people inside. It seems like that's the only narrative of success we offer black children - rising above the adversity of a poor background/racism by secretly being tough/brilliant/dedicated.

What I find really frustrating about Hulbert's piece, though, is that she seems to take some kind of personal triumph in the students' acquiescing and defining themselves in these generic terms - and not just a triumph in the fact that this will help them succeed. She seems genuinely happy that now Assita and Marc and the rest know how to eloquently tell their stories of adversity.

In which case Assita was exactly right - why should she want to write about overcoming adversity? It's not who she is. It's who the spoiled rich world that Hulbert is at once attacking and a part of wants her to be, because it's the only view of success they can conceive of for an underclass black kid.

Is there a strain of liberal paternalism in Hulbert's piece? You decide here.

Punch & Judy: In the words of Tony Kushner, Christopher Hitchens is throwing darts at Jell-O this week taking on the clownish George Galloway—whom he'll be debating publicly in New York Wednesday night—in his Fighting Words column. MarcEHaag pshaws:

listening to these guys fight is like finding yourself stuck in a certain kind of London pub at closing time when the lights come up and all the loudmouths are standing around in pairs, arguing, haranguing, clutching their lager in one hand while sticking the forefinger of the other hand in their opponent's chest, just for emphasis . . .

Or it's like a particularly feral session of communal self-criticisms amongst a bunch of doddering old (ex?)Trotskyists. It's a good bit and if anyone can find it, I'd be most appreciative. I'd especially recommend this reading to anyone with a ticket for the Baruch College rantathon Wednesday eve. Just to steel yourself.

MutatisMutandis adds:

Seldom has a pair of men be found, so able in abusing logic, making non-sequitur arguments, and dressing up their prejudices in the disguise of reason. Galloway's silly paranoia on Western Imperialism is matched by Hitchens' abject horror of organized religion.

Sane people should resist the temptation to "watch the fun"…

Out of sheer pity I am willing to come to Hitchens' assistance with some pertinent and inspirational lyrics by Flemish singer Jan de Wilde:

slappe stalactiet, suffe klussenklooier,
stijve zwartepiet, hobbelpaard van Troje,
boskoe, aasgarnaal,
emoe, bergkwabaal,
spruitjesluchtverspreider,
bokkenrijder.

Any attempt at translation would do injustice to the spirit of the song. And besides, I am not willing to be THAT helpful :-)

A little help from our Flemish Fraysters, please?

For a Brit's take on the debate, check out JGCross here.

Caucus Room: JurisFraysters have been slow to file on the Roberts confirmation hearings, but ClaudeScales rightfully calls bullshit on Chuck Schumer, his guy … KA9:00 a.m.

82_horizontal_rule


Friday, September 9, 2005

While many would argue that the mantel was relinquished at Abu Ghraib—if it ever existed at all—American Exceptionalism is dead. It isn't as if the broad promises of the nation haven't before been violated. Watergate shattered Americans' faith in its constitutional institutions. Restoration is an achievable challenge, but Fraysters this week—left, right, and center—consistently express bewilderment at what has increasingly become a lost era.

A little girl asks me if I have a dog and I instinctively hold back, knowing this is a bad subject for us. But I say I do indeed, have a dog, a Border Collie named Tasker. She listens carefully, watching my lips, and then says, 'I have one too, a German Shepherd named Max,... he didn't come with us, he's waiting at our house' And I think of Max sitting, perhaps on the roof of their house, waiting. I scoop out the mashed potatoes with ease after an hour or two of practice, an equal amount for every tray, placed just so, it is after all someone's dinner. They are quiet as they pass by, nodding a thank you, looking down the line to see what's waiting in the steaming pans. Come back for seconds, I say, or thirds, it's okay, we'll be here a while. An elderly man in a wheelchair sits quietly off to one side behind our line, eating his meal. My son strikes up a conversation with him and I watch. I can't hear them but I marvel at the ease with which they fall into a nodding acquaintance. An aged black man with cloudy eyes and a muscular fratboy. Rows and rows of cots, flowered bedding, and plain, army blankets and blue comforters, a knotted afghan, new pillows and old. Plastic ID bracelets, clean, dry, mismatched clothes. Bottled water everywhere. Watchful adults scanning the doorways for a familiar face, children playing children's games. People sleeping everwhere. A tiny corner of the whole, people trying to get by, looking for loved ones, anxious for news, tetanus shots all around, a joke shared with strangers, a busload of new arrivals, maybe news from home, a handshake and hug, a sheaf of paperwork, eyes scanning notes on a wall, lines for food, lines for phones and jobs and school, lines for the doctor, lines for the restroom, someone's mother has died and a priest is called, a lady sits nearby waiting. And children playing children's games.

MichaelRyerson, here, dispatching from the Astrodome

…The doctrine of the current administration is highly in favor of autonomy. There has been great effort and rhetoric to that end. The party line on the slowness and incompetence of the response in New Orleans has been that leadership was the responsibility of state and local government, and the federal government was to play a support role. The slow response was in effect an attempt for the administration to demonstrate the principles involved. It has been said the governor of Louisiana failed to request federal intervention correctly. Why literal public screams for help by local officials does not constitute a request is a matter for another discussion. The fact is that the administration expects and in fact demands autonomy in all domestic situations. This in and of itself is not unreasonable, unless the tools for such are simply not available. I submit that was and is the case in Louisiana. First, no state could possibly have been expected to maintain the levy system around New Orleans. The manpower and budget requirements are simply too great. Second, it is unreasonable to expect city officials to be effective in responding to a disaster that for all practical purposes destroyed the city. Third it is unreasonable to expect the vast population of that city which has virtually no autonomy to be motivated or able to act with autonomy, that is to evacuate peacefully before the storm. I say this because I cannot believe that thousands of people living in a single city were collectively suicidal. There had to be other factors, and those factors had been in the mix for generations. In short, the administration demanded autonomous action from people who have no concept of the autonomy, much less the resources to exercise it…

fatman, here, on the failures of autonomy

…There is little doubt that the federal government needs to be involved, indeed must inject itself immediately in crises of this nature, but I hold little hope that the wrangling in Congress will produce laudable substance, and the belated attempts by this administration at introspection are nothing short of humorous.

Perhaps elevating non-governmental organizations - subject to public scrutiny but not to political whims - might be an alternative. How many of us can think of ourselves as first-responders when the need arises? I have always considered the ability of the federal government to act with foresight to be suspect and even more so as the world keeps changing faster, the needs become greater, and the chasm between our left and right political brains grows wider.

Now faced with a stark image of what this country can do, I waiver in considering my next act. Should I write a letter to my congressman, or buy an axe? Fortunately, I live only a block or so from a grocery store - I can already cross the shopping cart off my list.

Ducadmo, here, armed and ready

I've read all the beautiful tributes and essays here and elsewhere over the past week, regarding the iconic city of New Orleans.

Quite naturally, these writings predominantly speak to the unique character and culture of the French Quarter or the Garden District. Much has been written that is full of heartfelt allegiance to these specific neighborhoods - neighborhoods that narrowly withstood the hurricane and, sheerly by virtue of 5 feet of elevation, will most likely remain standing anyway.

Yet no one is preserving memories of the lower lying areas of Navarre, Pontchartrain Park, or the Lower Ninth Ward (which was built directly over a cypress swamp), the areas where poverty reigned supreme. There are no essays espousing the virtues of what essentially was a ghetto within a swamp.

Ecologically, scientifically, financially, politically, all the reports are out there for anyone to read. And all signs point to the sad fact that New Orleans should not be rebuilt. What once was, has now been rightfully reclaimed by nature itself. No amount of rebuilding will bring back this city, no matter how hallowed or legendary its ground.

topazz, here, abandoning hope

If the selection process for supreme court nominees were stripped of the trappings of racial and sexual appeasement and political bartering we would probably have nine older Jewish guys up there. I ask: is that such a bad thing? Are the people who care about African American representation on the court pleased to have Clarence Thomas over a more qualified and more liberal jurist? If the court were that unrepresentative in its ethnic makeup wouldn't it say more about our commitment to fairness of opportunity than this race and gender brokering we engage in? The elites who exert the political pressure that ensures most of the best legal minds won't be considered underestimate the citizenry. We don't want to be comforted by a group portrait that soothes our sense of gender and racial pride in place of the knowledge that the constitution is being defended by those most capable.

eladsinned, here, on the fallacy of the diverse Court

I'm astounded how many of my students--college students--think that evolution is a nasty lie, perpetrated for some reason by scientists eager to send their souls to Hell. I've had students quit coming to my biology classes--some get up and walk out--when I began discussing evolution. I had one student in my Anatomy and Physiology class last semester who would actually put her hands over her ears any time I pointed out that some things in the human body work the way they do due to evolutionary history….

The problem is that some clergymen are afraid that those who believe in evolution will begin looking at other parts of the Bible with a grain of salt. If the part where God created all the animals in a week isn't true, then maybe we should re-examine the parts that say we should give a tenth of our money to support an organization that is basically parasitic to society? Perhaps those sections that say that women should be subservient and that gays are abominations should be reevaluated? Perhaps we shouldn't use a two-thousand year old book of parables as a science manual, or a basis for government, or even as a definitive history. Perhaps Joshua didn't stop the sun in the sky and perhaps Noah didn't collect two of every animal. Maybe the earth isn't flat.

Archaeopteryx, here, swimming against the tide in the academy. *Please visitjohn_manjiro's tremendous post, here, on the secularization of OberlinCollege vis-à-vis Darwin. 

…Let's call a regional conference and establish some parameters for dividing up Iraq into three separate sovereign states. Everything that the constitutional assembly in Baghdad has just failed to resolve should be on the table: boundaries, representation, political structure, oil revenues, militarization and limits thereon, the degree of secularization in the courts, the status of divided cities like Kirkuk, Mosul, Baghdad itself.

Even Mullahs can be reasonable when they get to exercise their own bit of "control" over the situation. I think a lot of people might be surprised at the degree of willingness on the part of both local forces and regional powers to work together to bring some order to Iraq, once a geo-political structure that guarantees each cultural group its own national entity is worked out.

The only people who will be left as absolute losers with this solution are all the neocon "idealists" who've staked their intellectual egos on the notion that our invasion would bring enlightened democracy to the Middle East. Oh, yeah, and all the people who are now dead as a result of this war, of course.

MarkEHaag, here, on the Federated States of Iraq.

Advertisement

82_horizontal_rule

Thursday, September 8, 2005

How much to invest, if anything, in the reconstruction of New Orleans is being framed by some as a debate of reason versus romance. Jack Shafer makes the case against rebuilding New Orleans:

before we refloat the sunken city, before we think of spending billions of dollars rebuilding levees that may not hold back the next storm, before we contemplate reconstructing the thousands of homes now disintegrating in the toxic tang of the flood, let's investigate what sort of place Katrina destroyed.

Urban planners, geologists, community leaders, and New Orleans luminaries will continue to weigh in on whether the Crescent City should be restored to its former glory. But Longleaf gets to the heart of the matter —namely that America doesn't operate on that kind of calculus anymore. According to Longleaf, New Orleans will be rebuilt irrespective of any geological, historical, or cultural factors, but because

the renaissance of New Orleans will be not just a boondoggle, but the Mother of All Boondoggles.

Despite visionary notions already being floated -- New Orleans as an estuarine green space, a lovely green park at the mouth of the Mississippi, a restored and imaginatively engineered coastal wetlands, bulwark against the fury of Gulf storms -- nothing of the kind will happen.

What will happen has already been rehearsed in lower Manhattan. If you followed closely the intricate waltz of the players in the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, the brutal back-room knife fights, the posturing and politics and deal-making and, in the end, the inevitable triumph of the dollar and its result -- the preposterous mediocrity well on its way toward construction -- well, now imagine the hustlers down south as the Really Big Dig gets under way.

And who will win? I'm just guessing -- the oil guys, the petrochemical guys, the lumber guys, the developers and their protectors within the political Big Top. For these folks it really is The Big Easy. Y'all book early and come on down.

Since when do we factor issues like land use planning, subsidence, and poverty into large-scale equations like this? If the recent past is predictive of the future, it's unlikely to happen in New Orleans. Still, so long as we're hypothesizing, take a look at Anya Fanya's smart prescriptions:

What happened in New Orleans is simply a symptom of a widespread disease in this country: poor land-use planning based on making a quick buck at the expense of the overall public good. Whether the issue is something as subtle as creating zoning laws that make it impossible to physically walk anywhere and then wondering why there is a national obesity epidemic, or as blatantly obvious as dredging land from the sea and then being surprised when the sea decides to take some of it back, city planners and developers avoid logic at all costs only to be shocked - SHOCKED! - when it all falls apart.

Houses are built near sinkholes, mobile homes are a dominant form of housing in major hurricane and tornado regions, and the lack of a village planning model negatively impacts both the environment and public health every single day. Until zoning commissions and developers start thinking through the ramifications of their decisions, there will be many more catastrophes that could have been prevented by the application of a little brainpower.

Shellybell68 thinks we should scale back with "a more manageable" New Orleans:

Re-development should be encouraged in the topographically highest points, rubble from the destruction should be "greened" and then pulverized for landfill to help raise lots. Neighborhoods should be re-platted to encourage mixed use, mixed SES, pedestrian and streetcar friendly "old-fashioned" neighborhoods anchored by green spaces and shiny new public schools. Builders should be encouraged to incorporate salvaged architecural elements and traditional "Creole" design--like raised cottages with dormer windows and functional window shutters--that will help the city retain its unique visual charm, and withstand potential future hurricanes better than more modern styles (like slab foundation ranch homes) which are hopelessly ill suited to the climate.

Restoration of the coastal wetlands is an imperative project, the continued neglect of which will have ongoing catastrophic repurcussions for the entire nation. The successful restoration of this frail and gorgeous eco-system could make the city of New Orleans and the entire Gulf region safer in the future, and fuel the renaissance of tourism. Eco-tourism in Louisiana? Who'dve thunk it?

CDouglas makes the neo-liberal case for starting over:

Why would anyone not want a newer home, with better infrastructure, in an area with better schools, away from assumptions and expectations that encourage failure? This is an opportunity for a great social experiment—allow people to choose where they want to go, free of cultural and economic restraints, and see how they make out.

It's also an opportunity to restore the Mississippi delta by letting the river loose. The environmental benefits would be enormous.

Why would the Left find this an offensive idea?

Still, prominent New Orleans Fray correspondent, James, can't buy into Shafer's defeatism:

Your tactic here reminds me of the ESPN reporter who never left the French Quarter and reported that everybody in the city of New Orleans gets drunk and staggers through the street all day. He was roundly ridiculed for that – and you're right in his territory.

You write:

This city counts 188,000 occupied dwellings, with about half occupied by renters and half by owners. The housing stock is much older than the national average, with 43 percent built in 1949 or earlier (compared with 22 percent for the United States) and only 11 percent of them built since 1980 (compared with 35 for the United States).

Is this an argument for abandoning New Orleans? Because its houses aren't vintage 1985 McMansions? Again, you're reminding me of that same pathetic ESPN reporter who complained that a lot of the buildings in New Orleans "look like they're fifty years old."

What's left of your piece other than conclusions posited as evidence? You point out that New Orleans is uniquely vulnerable to hurricane damage. That is undisputed. But are not also any other cities on the Gulf Coast? Biloxi is not situated in a bowl, but it has been destroyed nonetheless. Do you advocate abandoning Biloxi? Would you advocate against rebuilding any city within striking distance of the hurricane breeding grounds? It is also undisputed that much of coastal California is uniquely vulnerable to earthquake damage. Would you advocate against rebuilding San Francisco when the next Big One hits? I don't think you would.

Finally, The_Bell writes on the administration and accountability hereKA12:40 p.m.

82_horizontal_rule

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

More Fray Dispatching: New Orleans reader James finds some solace in the emotional response of local officials, such as Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, who broke down on Meet the Press while recounting how one of his officers lost his mother Friday to the rising waters. James goes so far as to commend the ill-prepared Ray Nagin:

In the last week, I have seen a half dozen of my Local Public Officials break down into tears under the unbearable strain of managing the response to what has shaped up to be the worst natural disaster in American history…

It is a burden they should not have had to bear, a burden which I did not want to see them bear. I wanted them swept aside by the cool and commanding National Public Officials, with their phalanxes of assistants and their limitless resources to conquer any problem. They never appeared…

Still, they commanded the awesome powers and resources of the federal government, and as devoid of talent or initiative as they apparently were, as human beings they could have been expected to react accordingly. Why didn't they? "We weren't asked through the proper channels," they plead. Nonsensical excuses. The excuses of incompetents, excuses which would merit immediate firing in any semi-well run company.

The body count has begun but is nowhere near complete. It will not be completed for a long time. Still, we already are virtually certain that thousands of people in New Orleans are dead. My people. Our people. Americans, many of whom had brothers or husbands or sons fighting in our military, in a national guard that has been sent on a fool's errand and which should have been kept home precisely for times like this. Americans who didn't have to die, but who did.

There are individuals who rose to meet the unspeakable horror and hardships brought on by Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of a great American city, individuals like Ray Nagin and Eddie Compass and Aaron Broussard. They have shown what they are made of – sterner stuff than men who hold far greater fame and prestige than they do. And, there were those did nothing but hold press conferences and photo-ops, and peddle excuses that are beneath contempt.

Many truths will emerge from the receding waters, but few more profound than the mediocrity of today's public official at every level, from executive-in-chief to city-planning deputy.

Try this exercise: Think about the best and the brightest you've encountered since freshman year of college. How many of those have opted for a career—or even a stint—in public service? How many participate at even the most rudimentary levels of government—as poll workers, CERT volunteers, or as neighborhood council members? Precious few. Why, then, should it come as a surprise that incompetents administer incompetence?

Cat Lovers … : … abound in Dispatches Fray burying the lede in response to Blake Bailey, who left his feline behind while escaping New Orleans. If anyone needs further evidence that Bill Frist is a non-starter in 2008, then here it is. If Frist—who mined animal shelters in Boston for kitties to operate on while at Harvard Medical School—tries to mount a serious candidacy, there's a silent, bipartisan army of kitten-return-address-sticker users ready to tar him. Feline Nation will make the Swift Boaters look like the 4-H Club.

Fray Obit: An excellent eulogy on William Rehnquist from jag1222, a former student of the chief justice, in Jurisprudence Fray. Jag writes that although "[h]e was as conservative as I was liberal," Rehnquist was "one of the most principled jurists to ever sit on the bench":

He taught me how to set aside my passions in order to come to a reasoned conclusion. He stressed the importance of ethics as an attorney. He spoke of patriotism, love of country, and good government. He believed, just as the Lord Chancellor sung in "Iolanthe," that the "Law is the true embodiment of everything that's excellent." He was a public servant until the very end. He was my teacher. He was a mentor. And I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from him.

Joe_JP chalks up the timing of the vacancy as another bit of serendipitous good fortune for Bush.

Soothsayer of the Week: Yep, Degsme called it six weeks agoKA9:05 a.m.