217-215. Bush got CAFTA through by the skin on his teeth. It is strange just how schizophrenic this administration is about free trade. It’s also amazing how Bush manages to fuck up even the positive things he has done. Our soldiers in Afghanistan have fought to a draw (charitably), and our “Free Trade” policies… we’re opening Central America, but we’re most likely going to do nothing to ensure that the governments in those countries channel their new trade gotten gains for the greater good.

Likewise, we’ve proposed all of this aid for Africa, mere monetary methodone. The US Army apparently does not have a “regime change” mission against Mugabe. Last I checked, Bush has a strong dollar policy (much like the Clear Skies initiative, I guess) that has seen the dollar tumble–and that’s the only thing he’s done for American manufacturing.

Of course, CAFTA won’t matter much. The anti-globalization (read: anti-American) left managed to kill the FTAA, with the larger trading partners in it. On the right, isolationist business interests left over from the Coolidge era manage to line up with their spoiled trustafarian children who will do anything to “help” brown people who are so dumb they can only manage to be exploited by whites to make sure that nothing ever changes in the poorer continents of the world.

It’s the successes (India, China) , not the failures (Argentina, Africa) of globalization that scare more people, especially Americans, and mutated 60s language (oh no, we must preserve another superstitious virgin-sacrificing “peaceful” indigenous culture! who my college-age son made pottery with) pushes it through the patrician-angst ridden minds of liberals who should know better.

The successes of isolationism in the middle third of the 20th century were the result of a war economy; they were a fluke, unless we want to remobilize the world to fight some illusory conflict (“terrorists?!”).

Meanwhile, leaving Free Trade agreements as the sole realm of Cato institute hacks makes sure they never include environmental and labor protections–the main flaw they contain, and something that actually doesn’t produce free trade, but gives some players an illusory comparative advantage.

If sugar grows best in Guatemala, sugar should grow there. If wheat grows best in the US, it should grow there, but sugar shouldn’t grow in Guatemala because you can pay someone 1 cent a day–that doesn’t make the sugar grow better, just the communist party.

Shit. If we’re going to be stuck with Republicans, how about one that isn’t dumb as shit?

NASA: Scratch three?

I never sat on a panel for NASA or even took a rocket science class. I’m more educated than most people, but it only takes common sense to think that the antique space shuttles should have been retired years ago. When the Columbia splattered across the North American sky, I thought NASA would realize that too. Of course, I wondered in 1986 about the same thing. The problem then was the Space Shuttle was probably in the top 10 things we flaunted to fight the Cold War with soft power.

But now, it looks like Discovery is losing tiles in the same way Columbia did, and, could overheat and explode in the same way. And this time, there were headlines before hand saying that NASA was going to break the rules (or “bend” them, the AP said) to launch anyway.

What a disaster. NASA just got back into the win column with the comet thing and now they’re pulling this. I can accept that we’re not going to have flying cars in my lifetime, but it sure will be disappointing if people don’t go to Mars, and I just can’t see that happening for a long, long time–especially with this kind of idiocy running NASA.

Whither the exploring spirit? To the mall?

Brownback (R-KS) Worried About Roberts

See below. I wondered if this guy wouldn’t get critics from the Right because of his thin record. While Ann Coulter’s comments might be a gambit to make it look like they were concerned in order to disarm us, this is a little more convincing.

But Brownback, one of the Senate’s leading social conservatives, has concerns about Roberts’ views on key issues, such as abortion. With only two years on a federal appeals court, Roberts’ judicial philosophy is largely unknown. While he did co-write a brief as a government lawyer urging that Roe v. Wade be overturned, Roberts told the Senate during his 2003 confirmation hearing that he considers the Roe decision “the settled law of the land.”

“There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent,” Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Those are not words that warm the hearts of some conservatives.

“In the past, we’ve seen that if someone is not well articulated on a position, the tendency is to move left on the bench,” Brownback said, citing Justice David Souter as an example.

This is probably just a move to shore up Brownbacks wingnut bona fides. I’ve read a lot of places that this guy is conservative enough to those who know him personally. He’s got Dobson’s support. None of these things make me that enthused.

That would solidify my vote into a ‘no’ if I was a senator. I still can’t support a filibuster, because the odds are the next nominee is worse. Elections do have consequences. And I agree with whoever said that spending money on this fight is wasted–spend it on 2006 elections, so that perhaps–just perhaps–Democrats control the senate the next time a justice is appointed.

Dobbsism may save Unocal, but it can't save America.

Chinese CNOOC’s bid to takeover American oil company Unocal, so 80s-esque I can almost hear the synth-strings, has created a new protectionist alliance. But not matter how many Schiavo-esque midgnight resolutions they pass, it won’t fix the problem.

China has been propping up the American economy by fixing its currency to cheapen its goods and buying our debt to prop up our dollar. China has also been working hard and learning hard. Not so in America.

Unless the Bush administration returns to Clinton-era balanced budgets, and goes on a crash program to save the dollar, there may be no saving America from takeover after takeover by China.

In the 80s, Japanese takeovers also had the healthy effect of increasing interest in education, even if some of the alarmist studies that created the stir misstated the exact problems.

Let’s hope the education problem and the deficit can be fixed. Otherwise, you’d better quickly learn how to say ‘oil’ in Chinese.

More on Roberts

I’ve been posting like a madman about this Supreme Court nomination. Perhaps as a lawyer, it’s just something I’m geeky for. Anyway, Democrats should change the narrative here to something like this:

We won the nomination battle months ago when we stopped Frist from ramming all of Bush’s nominations through. We forced Bush to nominate a stealth candidate, someone without a strong anti-Roe record.

Spending political capital fighting this nomination is nonsense. It won’t work. Let the man through. All of the arguments contra are lame. He’s white and male. So? He’s only been a judge for a while. So? There’s no such requirement.

Save the real fight for when we get a nasty rightwinger.

Analysis of the Roberts confirmation

Roberts cops out a few times in his former testimony (because he was being appointed to the D.C. Circuit) by saying all he had to do was follow the Supremes. That doesn’t mean he would do the same if he was on the Supreme Court.

Mr. ROBERTS. Well, Senator, I don’t know if that’s a flaw for a judicial nominee or not, not to have a comprehensive philosophy about constitutional interpretation, to be able to say, ‘‘I’m an originalist, I’m a textualist, I’m a literalist or this or that.’’ I just don’t feel comfortable with any of those particular labels. One reason is that as the Constitution uses the term ‘‘inferior court judge,’’ I’ll be bound to follow the Supreme Court precedent regardless of what type of constructionist I, personally, might be.
* * *
Senator DURBIN. That is a reasonable answer. It is also a safe answer, and I am not going to question your motive in that answer. I accept it at face value as being an honest answer, but it raises the question that comes up time and again. If this job is so automatic, if the role of a judge is strictly to apply the precedent, then, frankly, I think we would have as many Democrats being proposed by the Bush White House as we do Republicans, but we do not. They understand that it is not automatic, it is not mechanical.

(p. 57-8). So, if this is true of all of Roberts’s answers, then nothing in that transcript means anything. Before this even begins, Leahy admonishes him

It is very easy for somebody up for either a district or a circuit court judgeship to say, ‘‘Well, I have to follow the dictates of the next higher court.’’ But usually when they get to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, you do not have many cases that get all of the way up to you guys that they are on all fours, on something that the Supreme Court has ruled on. There is hardly any use for it.

(pp. 45-6)