Bloggers on the Alberto Gonzales no-confidence vote.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 12 2007 6:02 PM

Not Unconfident

The latest chatter in cyberspace.

Bloggers gripe about the abortive Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the 4th Circuit Court's ruling on "enemy combatants," and Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address.

Not unconfident: An attempt to censure Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with a symbolic no-confidence vote failed in the Senate yesterday when Democrats were able to secure only 53 of the 60 votes necessary to move the measure past debate. Mostly fed up with the whole AG issue, bloggers criticized everyone involved.

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Jason Zengerle recorded his exasperation in TNR's The Plank, writing, "The most salient thing about the Al Gonzales 'no confidence' measure … was its utter meaninglessness.

Meaningless not just because President Bush had already said that a 'no confidence' measure wasn't 'going to determine … who serves in my government,' but meaningless in that the measure's supporters and opponents now act as if what happened last night didn't really happen."

Some Republicans opposed the measure in the Senate—calling it a meaningless political move—while maintaining that they didn't exactly support Gonzales, either. Arlen Specter actually voted for the measure but encouraged other Republicans to vote against it, prompting Wonkette to scold, "Arlen Specter takes stands like an alcoholic father forbidding his kids from having a drink." Wryly noting Joe Lieberman's nay vote, Kagro X at far-left Daily Kos suggests an impeachment vote might actually win the support of Repulicans: "Senators voting as the jury in an impeachment trial … would find most of [their] excuses stripped away (not that they wouldn't invent others). There very definitely is such a thing as impeaching an Attorney General, removal from office upon conviction is automatic, and the evidence against him will have been combed over, piece by piece, in a very public trial on the floor of the United States Senate, and beamed across the country on C-SPAN2."

From the other side, conservative Jiblog endorsed the Republican stand: "Gonzales is awfully tough to defend, but in fairness, many Republicans weren't sold on him to begin with. The GOP has allowed the Democrats to kick the hell out of them for years, though, and a nominal stand had to be made on Gonzales. Here's to hoping that the yellow bellied Republicans start fighting back on ground more favorable damn soon."

Read more on the continuing Alberto Gonzales fracas.

Not all in a name: The 4th Circuit ruled Monday that the government can't indefinitely detain a U.S. resident by declaring him or her an "enemy combatant," specifically concluding that the United States must either charge or release Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a Qatari suspected of aiding al-Qaida. Conservative bloggers are furious, liberals delighted.

Moaning in frustration, Rightwing Nuthouse's Rick Moran perceives the ruling as a rebuke not just to the administration but to the validity of the war on terror. He writes: "Are we at war or not? … [I]f we are at war, we better get deadly serious about making sure that terrorists—whether they be legal residents or not—can't use the Constitution as a shield to help them escape justice." Soberly, Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters lays out his concerns: "The case presented the courts with dire consequences on both sides. If executive power remained completely unchecked, any non-citizen could have been held without trial indefinitely simply by designating him an enemy combatant. However, if the ability to hold foreign sleeper agents gets removed, it would force the government to hold open trials in criminal courts to keep these agents from returning to their efforts to commit acts of terrorism and sabotage against us all."

Liberals have been quick to applaud the ruling. Jonathan Stein at Mother Jones' MoJoBlog crows that "the judiciary (even the military judiciary) is in revolt, protecting our civil liberties from the Bush Administration's out-of-control war on terror tactics." He glosses the decision: "On a macro scale, the ruling says you can't round people up in the United States, call them terrorism suspects, and then hold them in shady places while making shady claims about trying them in shady courts. It's a victory for anyone who didn't want to see a Children of Men scenario play out within our borders."

But Dodd Harris at Outside the Beltway thinks reactions are overblown. Reacting to the liberal euphoria, he writes: "I am here to argue that, even though I agree with in the result, that triumphalism is inapposite. The case was not, as al-Marri's lawyer (from whom the hyperbole is at least understandable) would have it, 'landmark victory for the rule of law and a defeat for unchecked executive power.' … [T]his was a statutory interpretation decision, not a Constitutional one."

Read more reactions to the al-Marri ruling.

Bad Apple: Steve Jobs' keynote address yesterday at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference disappointed fanboys hoping for iPhone news and hardware announcements. Revelations were mostly limited to further previews of the next version of Apple's operating system, Leopard.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt called the presentation "long on flash, short on news" in Business 2.0's Apple 2.0 blog, noting that "the experience was not unlike the proverbial meal at a Chinese restaurant. The items came in a menu. The food was presented well and tasted great. But half an hour later you were hungry again. Actually, it didn't take half an hour. A lot of people were hungry before they left the hall."

Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz was especially acid about Apple's decision not to offer developers a tool kit to develop software for the upcoming iPhone as expected. He seethes,  "According to Apple, 'no software developer kit is required for the iPhone.' However, the truth is that the lack of an SDK means that there won't be a killer application for the iPhone. It also means the iPhone's potential as an amazing computing and communication platform will never be realized. And because of this I don't think the iPhone will be as revolutionary as it could be. That's a real heart breaker."

Meanwhile, blogger Fake Steve Jobs apologized to his fans for a weak performance: "Let's be honest. It wasn't that good. I know it and you know it. I'm not going to spin it or lie to you. I've done better. Way better."

Read more reactions to the WWDC keynote.

Blake Wilson is a Slate contributor and former Slate editor.