April 27, 2007
Political Junky In Withdrawal
Last night I was at the opera (Donizetti's Don Pasquale) in Hartford, CT. One of my wife's oldest and closest friends is doing the wigs and costumes, and one of my oldest and closest friends lives in Hartford, so we'd been planning and looking forward to this trip for months. It meant, however, that I missed the Democrats' debate last night. For some reason, it really bothers me that I have nothing to add to the conversation about how it went. This, even though the primary season will feature God-knows-how-many debates, including a Republican debate just next week.
I think I may have a problem. The first step is admitting it, right?
April 20, 2007
My Brainwash column today chronicles Barack Obama's comparison of being insulted by Don Imus to being murdered and Harry Reid's lament that a law he voted for has been ruled constitutional. Plus, I preview tomorrow's White House Correspondents' Dinner.
April 17, 2007
Bang Bang, That Awful Sound
My AmSpec column today is about the Virginia Tech massacre.
April 13, 2007
Sometimes I Feel Guilty About Not Going To Synagogue Enough...
...And sometimes, like when I read the latest news from the congregation where I had my Bar Mitzvah, I don't.
April 10, 2007
At the Grindhouse
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Death Proof was better than Planet Terror. I like puss-oozing zombies as much as the next guy, but not as much as hot chicks, cool cars, and stuntwoman Zoe Bell showing off her talent without having to hide her face (as she did when she doubled Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies). I didn't find the dialogue boring; on the contrary, I thought the peculiar pacing worked very well, and was one of the things that made DP more interesting than PT.
The critics' blurbs on the Rotten Tomatoes page make interesting reading: "If you can stomach Rodriguez's effort, fear not -- you'll be rewarded with Tarantino's." "Grindhouse is insider fun when Rodriguez is in charge and regrettable trash when Tarantino takes over." "Robert Rodriguez bakes a load of stale if bloody pastry called Planet Terror, while Quentin Tarantino fries up a tasty mess of fun with Death Proof." "Planet Terror is a great bad movie; Death Proof is just plain bad." "Death Proof is, in many ways, an amazing approximation of the old exploitation films, but with an unmistakable QT vibe. Rodriguez, on the other hand, directs his half as the fever dream of someone who has only been told about exploitation movies."
Elliciting passionate disagreements over which movie is better strikes me as a mark of a successful double feature. (They're being split up and released separately in many countries, which is just weird. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the project?)
April 06, 2007
Fundraising, Peacemaking, and Media Empire-Buying
I've got a three-dot column at Brainwash today -- it looks like this is going to be a fortnightly feature -- covering the presidential money race, Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria, and Sam Zell's Tribune Company deal.
April 04, 2007
Hostages & Bombs
My AmSpec column today is about Iran's latest poke in the West's eye.
April 01, 2007
Timetables and the Constitution
Jim Antle, guest-blogging at Jeremy Lott's place:
I didn’t think the Iraq invasion was in our national interest yet I also oppose unconstitutional encroachments on the commander in chief’s power. I think the timetable requirement in the supplemental falls into that unconstitutional category. So who should I believe? My man Walter Jones is pro-timetable; my man Ron Paul voted against the bill. I am inclined to agree with Paul. Am I right?The short answer is yes. For the longer answer, we can turn to Chief Justice Salmon Porter Chase in Ex parte Milligan:
Congress has the power not only to raise and support and govern armies but to declare war. It has, therefore, the power to provide by law for carrying on war. This power necessarily extends to all legislation essential to the prosecution of war with vigor and success, except such as interferes with the command of the forces and the conduct of campaigns.In Milligan, the court ruled that the Lincoln administration overstepped its authority by trying antiwar demonstrators in a military tribunal rather than in the regular courts. (This was in heavily-Copperhead Indiana, and they feared they couldn't get an Indiana jury to convict). Chase and the three judges who joined him concurred in the judgement that the tribunal was improper and that Milligan should be tried in civilian court, but they felt that the majority's implication that Congress not only hadn't approved the tribunal but actually couldn't approve it was wrong. Given that Chase was arguing for maximal Congressional power, his view provides a useful heuristic on the limits of that power. Surely, the bill that the Democrats have passed "interferes with the command of the forces and the conduct of campaigns," and is thus unconstitutional.
I would also add that Jim needn't limit his opposition to the bill to constitutional grounds; hamstringing the troop surge is bad policy, too, and you don't have to be a fan of the invasion to think so. See Mickey Kaus on Anthony Zinni ("Against the War, For the Surge").