Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- November 14-20, 2004

This page includes posts from November 14-20, 2004 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

November 20, 2004
Tactical lessons not yet learned

I’ve been following the controversy over Senator Specter and his selection as the Judiciary Committee chair for the upcoming Congress.

Some folks argued that Senator Specter was guilty of bad judgment and worse in coming out so quickly after the general election to assert his potential power to block candidates he considered insufficiently inclined to follow Roe v. Wade and its legal progeny.

Others were more kind.

Considering the reaction to his comments by the NRO gang and other conservatives, and the eventual resolution this week by the Republican Judiciary committee members, perhaps the best that can be said is that the charges against Senator Specter were “not proven.” 

What I found even more intriguing than the Republican infighting on this issue, however, was the way that my fellow Democrats at the national level are preparing for the next set of judicial nominations. Judging from an email I received on November 18, they appear to be girding themselves to continue the last four years’ tactics of dogged delay, debate, diversion, and targeted denial whenever they can. 

Here’s what the folks at said:

We have every reason to expect that very soon, George W. Bush will have the opportunity to appoint at least one, and possibly three, Supreme Court justices (including the chief justice), decisions that will affect every aspect of our lives for decades to come.

The Court fight encompasses the values we stand for and fought so hard for during the Election. The Democratic Party will not stand by and let President Bush use the Supreme Court to placate the most extreme members of his party. We will fight for a nominee who will protect the rights and values we hold dear, and you will be a crucial part of that fight.

We'll write you next week to tell you more about how you can get involved early in our fight to protect the Supreme Court.

Silly ol’ me--I didn’t know the Court needed protecting, at least by others.

In any event, the use of the word “fight” four times in the space of four sentences surely is a signal that the Democrats have no plans to refrain from the maneuvers that frequently marred the nomination process during President Bush’s first term.

I really wonder if that’s a good idea.

After all, the Republicans certainly seemed to have a significant advantage appealing to centrist voters in the last election, pointing out how decent judicial candidates such as Judge Pickering were given a raw deal by Democrats and their friends.

Do the Democrats still not realize how their nomination-fighting tactics backfired on them? Or is the need to placate left-leaning fundraising allies seen as more important, or at least worth the risk of further alienating the folks in the center who are doing the voting?

I don’t think it’s enough of a response to suggest that the email infers that the Democrats will limit their opposition to those nominees selected for their appeal to the Republican’s “most extreme” members. That’s a slippery slope on which no one can find a definitive resting place. Besides, this email is directed toward folks who have made contributions to the party, and among that crowd the determination of which Republicans are “extreme” is bound to overreach.  

It may be still hard to accept for some, but the Democrat Party is now the minority party, seeking to peel off just enough votes to become the majority once again. Under these circumstances, a more conciliatory approach also strikes me as more politically astute. If a particular nomination is really awful, it shouldn’t be that hard to point that out, all the while publicly regretting the need to do so.  

Nonetheless, what the Democrats really don’t need is to be successfully labeled as the party that just can’t say yes, no matter who is being considered for approval.

November 18, 2004
An Unexpected Ally

In the immediate aftermath of the re-election of George Bush, I wrote a post outlining some of the ways that the national Democrats could better understand the folks in the center, and perhaps improve their chances at convincing a few percentage points of voters to switch over to blue when the next opportunity arose.

Here was one suggestion:

Rent and watch the Blue Collar Comedy Tour DVD. Millions of people in the red counties already own a copy, and I’m willing to bet there are far fewer copies sold in the blue counties. See what’s really funny about living here in America, and with an improved sense of humor you might be better able to reach potential voters.

I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Cathy Seipp surprised me with this segment from her most recent National Review Online column:

A disappointed Kerry voter asked me in frustration the other day whether I'd rather people with red-state values be in charge of Hollywood content. Of course not! I don't want George Bush writing sitcoms any more than I want Sean Penn writing foreign policy. But if Penn and company don't want someone like Bush elected next time, they might try skipping those fact-finding trips to Baghdad and visit Middle America instead.

Her first suggestion? Glad you asked:

Blue Collar TV (Fridays, 9:30 P.M., WB). This new sketch comedy show, a franchise of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie starring comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy, was roundly panned by critics when it premiered on the WB in August. It's also one of the season's few breakout hits, and the network quickly expanded its original scant eight-episode order to a full 22.


It's always pleasant to find oneself in such august, astute company.

Hat tip--Glenn Reynolds.

November 18, 2004
Nice guys can finish first

Leo Duroscher may have been correct, most of the time.

On the other hand, sometimes nice guys can finish first.

Two young men I've known for several years fit this category.

Trip DelCampo is the starting left offensive tackle for the University of Delaware's football team, and Mark Moore is a starting outside linebacker for the Blue Hens. They graduated from Cape Henlopen High School a year ahead of older daughter, who is a long-time buddy of theirs. Both boys were walk-ons for the Hens, after standout play for the Cape Vikings, and eventually earned full scholarships in recognition of their talent, effort, and contributions to the team's success.

DelCampo and Moore play their last regular-season opponent of their careers this Saturday, against Villanova. Kevin Tresolini of The News-Journal ran a great feature on them today, and I'm happy to point readers of this site to it.

Moore should also be congratulated for making the All-Academic first team, a distinction noted by the College Sports Information Directors of America's District 2.

November 17, 2004
Sunset photoblogging

We have some nice sunsets around here.

It might have something to do with the air pollution wafting over us from the DC/Baltimore metropolitan area, but the view is frequently gorgeous nonetheless:

This was taken shortly before 5 p.m., looking west from Barratts Chapel, in Kent County.

November 16, 2004
Oh please

About 35 years ago I came up with what I thought would be a great science fiction story. 

A man invents a special microphone that can detect ultra, ultra-low frequency sound. After special processing, a set of headphones could then play back the low tones, at a volume detectable to humans. 

Like most inventors, especially in sci-fi stories written by teenagers, this man is a bit absent-minded. After tweaking the device for a while, he continues to wear it as he goes out into his backyard to cut down a tree.

As his first swing of the axe cuts into the maple, the man is deafened by a bloodcurdling scream coming through his earphones. 

The man drops the axe, writhing on the ground in agony as he tears off the headset. He quickly understands what’s just happened--trees have feelings, and can share their pain for those capable of listening. 

The newest story from our friends at PETA reminded me of this old plot. 

Apparently our extra-sensitive fellow humans are embarked on a new campaign to convince the rest of us flesh-eaters into believing that fish have feelings, too.

From the animal rights activists’ perspective, this claim says all they need to support their guilt-based argument against eating salmon, tuna, snapper, grouper, shark, flounder, monkfish, rockfish, catfish, redfish--well, you get the idea.

Some of the quotes are just too much.

"Fish are so misunderstood because they're so far removed from our daily lives," said Karin Robertson, 24, the Empathy Project manager and daughter of an Indiana fisheries biologist. "They're such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they're so incredibly abused."

I don’t live in Indiana. I live on the Atlantic Seaboard, with our house about two miles from the coast. Fish are not far removed from my daily life. In fact, I usually eat fish at least once a week, and more often than that during the summer—along with crabs, shrimp, and scallops, too.

Fish are admittedly interesting and fascinating. They also taste great when they’re broiled, with a little butter, salt, pepper, and dill weed.

"No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. "Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."

Neither dogs nor cats are generally accepted as potential dinners by most Americans. On the other hand, for thousands of years pigs have been generally accepted as far more intelligent creatures than either Fido or Tabby. For those same thousands of years, humans have also managed to find ways to eat just about every cubic inch of a domesticated hog.

Our dinner tonight was a delightful blend of chicken and ham over rice, for example.

Friedrich acknowledges the difficulty of changing long-held customs, but thinks his project is worthwhile. "We'd rather go too far than not far enough," he said.

I’m perfectly prepared to agree that PETA has now gone too far.

It’s fine with me if the PETA-types want to rebel against the message their own teeth could give them about humanity’s omnivorous character, and limit their own diet to vegetables. They should also stick to what’s on their own plates, and leave the rest of us alone.

After all, there’s no guilt if you can’t hear a green bean scream--but then again, maybe you're just not listening.

Hat tip--Drudge Report.

Update: Ann Althouse has a very funny take on this story.

November 15, 2004
Spooking the spooks

The fun at Langley is continuing.

Other writers are also having some fun with the ongoing story of the CIA’s apparent counterinsurgency against the agency’s boss. I especially enjoyed these posts by Powerline, Roger L. Simon, Stephen F. Hayes, and Jed Babbin.

Of course, the fact that their positions are similar to those I outlined here last Saturday may have played some role in my assessment.

And thanks again to Glenn Reynolds for the Instalanche he caused with his link to that post, which drew several thousand new readers here. 

UPDATE: See also Jeff Goldstein's comments here, as well as the cogent analysis provided by Tom Maguire.

November 15, 2004
Film Festival finish

This year's offerings at the Rehoboth Independent Film Festival were perhaps the best yet, especially among the feature-length movies.

All of the mini-reviews for the 14 showings I attended, including two sets of shorts, are posted here.

November 14, 2004
Shameless self-promotion

Yesterday I posted my latest golf book review at Hole By Hole.

Robin McMillan’s Us Against Them (HarperCollins; $25.95) is a well-done oral history of the Ryder Cup. I thought the most interesting parts were the various captain’s descriptions of the decisions they adopted to make the best use of their players in this unusual, very popular team event.


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Fritz Schranck
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Nassau, DE  19969


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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2004