Balls and Strikes

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Sept. 13 2005 7:21 PM

Balls and Strikes

Bloggers are discussing the Senate confirmation hearings for John Roberts, weighing in on Michael Brown's replacement as the head of FEMA, and commenting on a Washington Post report that the Pentagon plans to use nukes against countries or terrorists with WMD stockpiles.

Balls and strikes: John Roberts, in his opening statement before the Senate judiciary committee, said: "Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. … They make sure everybody plays by the rules. … And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

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Bloggers tear into the simple analogy. At group legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy, Northwestern law professor Jim Lindgren points out that Roberts' reflexive modesty might backfire, since, he says, some umps call balls and strikes as they are, some call them as they see them, and yet others believe "they ain't nothin' 'til I call 'em." Armando, a diarist at liberal Daily Kos, takes the baseball analogy further and suggests Roberts' "strike zone" needs a GPS locator. "His record, the part that was not concealed by the Bush Administration, gives many of us pause regarding Judge Roberts' 'strike zone.' His stated antipathy for the right to privacy, for voting rights measures, for discrimination remedies, etc., demands followup." At Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog, libertarian Nick Gillespie hits it out of the park, declaring "the Supreme Court is more like the baseball commissioner's office, isn't it? It's not just a bunch of umpires, but that which after there is no further appeal, right? (Other than back to Congress and/or the American people.)"

American Prospect writing fellow Erza Klein was pleasantly surprised by Roberts' abortion testimony, calling today's testimony "significantly more encouraging than anything I was expecting. Further, his fairly expansive view of privacy rights within the Constitution is quite comforting. We'll see how the hearings evolve, but as of now, I'm fairly impressed." Disgruntled Bush Republican FrameBot views Roberts as a "decent compromise" for Democrats and, addressing liberal complaints that Clarence Thomas made a similar statement of support during his hearings, writes, "Roberts is not a partisan scumbag at the level of Thomas or even Scalia. … He doesn't have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade anyway, thanks to Kennedy." Over at Feministing, Jessica not only thinks Roberts' answers "suck ass" but the fact that Republicans are rejoicing over Roberts' handling of the privacy issue "should be enough to make you terrified."

Read more blog posts about John Roberts. Read how Slate's Jack Shafer weighed in on the baseball analogy.

FEMA's fireman: President Bush has nominated R. David Paulison to replace embattled FEMA Director Mike Brown, who resigned Monday.

Hobbesian Conservative Greg suggests Paulison should have headed FEMA in the first place. "But what's done is done, and it looks like that particular problem has been fixed," he writes. Conservative D.C. Thorton hopes that "this puts an end to patronage appointments. It's bad enough that FEMA has been sucked into the DHS quagmire as it is." Bill at Punditguy hopes  the Brown debacle will spur on an overhaul of the agency. For lefty centrist Jeff Jarvis, Brown's mishandling of FEMA isn't the story; it's the administration's dithering over "l'affaire Brownie" that is important to note. "What was gained [by Brown's resignation] versus just getting rid of him in one swift cut?" he asks. Liberal Joshua Micha Marshall at Talking Points Memo likes Paulison's rescue background, but questions whether where he's from had anything to do with the choice.

Read more about the new FEMA chief.

Pre-emptive nukes: Bloggers chew on a Washington Post article that says the Pentagon has revised its nuclear weapons doctrine.

At Articulatory Loop, D.C. blogger Michael posits the announcement will only flame the impression that the Bush administration is bent on world destruction and longs for "the good old days, when it was only super villains in comic books and movies who actively plotted to destroy the world." Socialist and pacifist Roo feels that, "All these jokes about how we're watching the downfall of a civilization are starting to hit too close to home to be funny. Only an arrogant moron would even consider toppling a situation that took the entire cold war to stabilize." Gamer Jenos wonders incredulously if Pentagon planners have forgotten the concept behind Mutually Assured Destruction. "[E]ven if we didn't attack another heavily armed country with them, it would piss those countries off and they might come after us. Plus, who knows what crazy alliances exist that we don't know about?"

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