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September 29, 2005

Snap Prediction That I'll Come to Regret

The president will nominate another white male judge to the Supreme Court. It'll either be McConnel from the Tenth Circuit or Luttig from the Fourth.

Here's my thinking: the CW is that Bush will either nominate a hardcore conservative - because what the heck - or that he will nominate a 'minority'. But that was the CW for the last nomination as well, and though a second opening presents different dynamics, I think the fact that Roberts was a surprise should give us all pause. In fact, I think Bush will look at the difficulty with which Democrats opposed Roberts (to the extent that they did) and the fact that those who did oppose him really look kind of foolish to everyone but the 'progressive' wing of the Democratic Party, and will decide to do it all over again. He'll nominate a supremely qualified jurist who can only be opposed on partisan grounds.

It's true that he'll never be able to find another Roberts - a man with virtually no paper trail. And it's quite likely that Senate Democrats will oppose the next nominee en masse. But I just get the feeling that a president who values professionalism (don't scoff, he does, even if his administration doesn't live up to it) will want to put the best candidate forward. That's my call, anyway.

(Or maybe it'll be Priscilla Owen - don't mess with Texas.)

Posted by David Mader at 11:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 27, 2005

Bad Idea

From the Washington Times, Bush Seeks to Federalize Emergencies:

President Bush yesterday sought to federalize hurricane-relief efforts, removing governors from the decision-making process.

"It wouldn't be necessary to get a request from the governor or take other action," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday. "This would be," he added, "more of an automatic trigger." [. . .]

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined the president's offer to federalize the state's National Guard troops in the aftermath of Katrina. So Mr. Bush wants Congress to consider empowering the Pentagon with automatic control.

The President is treading a gold-paved road here. There are structural barriers to 'efficient' national government action for the very good reason that efficient national government action is, by in large, the enemy of individual liberty. In this the ACLU is absolutely right to see an over-reach, at the expense of freedom, in response to current security concerns.

In essence the choice is binary: we can either have a federalist system, at the cost of the risk of temporary chaos in the wake of a disaster; or we can have a national system, at the cost of any check on national overreach in a situation where the emergency justification for federal action is either overstated or entirely lacking.

The choice is a fundamental, ideological one. Me, I'll err on the side of liberty. But note that this is precisely the logical outcome of the position asserted by Andrew Sullivan - that "Emergencies such as Katrina are precisely why the federal executive branch exists." Just keep that in mind the next time you see Sullivan make a federalist argument.

Posted by David Mader at 08:47 AM | (1) | Back to Main

September 24, 2005

Indisputably Qualified

The Washington Post has a fine editorial condemning the partisan opposition to the Roberts confirmation. Money quote:

In refusing to support an indisputably qualified conservative, Democrats send a message that there is a strongly partisan component of the task of judging -- something those who believe in independent, apolitical courts must reject.

The three senators who voted yes are taking a beating from liberal groups for it. Ralph G. Neas of People for the American Way issued a vicious statement about Mr. Leahy, declaring him "complicit" in any votes Judge Roberts might cast that "retreat from our constitutional rights and liberties." He is dead wrong. The decisions Judge Roberts will write are his own responsibility, not Mr. Leahy's; life tenure for federal judges, in fact, exists precisely so that judges will be insulated from politicians and so that politicians are not responsible for judging.

Yep. And if Democrats oppose a Roberts, what incentive does the president have to refrain from nominating a much more vocal and ardent conservative?

Posted by David Mader at 11:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main

We're OK

Austin was spared any really noticeable weather from Rita overnight (although I'm told it was quite windy at 4 a.m.; I was sound asleep). Today was actually sunny and hot, with scattered clouds. Houston got some weather but apparently also escaped serious damage. Thanks to everyone who asked after me; I think everyone here is glad that we were spared. And spare a thought for poor Louisiana, which seems to be particularly ill-placed this year.

Posted by David Mader at 11:17 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 23, 2005

Without Comment

I honestly don't know what to say about this, so I'm just going to present it and let you make up your own minds:

Refugees from the Lower Ninth Ward were housed at the Progressive Baptist church in Lafayette. They were watching the TV news as the canal levee was breached again, flooding their neighborhood anew.

"It's like looking at a murder," Quentrell Jefferson said. "The first time is bad. After that, you numb up."

Okay, one comment: it doesn't sound like he's talking about CSI, does it.

Posted by David Mader at 12:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 22, 2005

Don't Mess

This isn't a knock at Sullivan, but has the man ever been to Houston? He sounds surprised.

Over the summer I had parking in a downtown Houston parking garage/ramp. The 'ends' of the ramp had shorter spots than the sides, and were accordingly marked 'compact cars only.' And day after day I would squeeze my Corolla into one of those spots - in between an F-150 and an Expedition.

Only in Texas. I mean, hey, a 150 is probably the guy's city car; he drives his 350 to haul stuff.

I'd prepared a longer hurricane update, but it got bloggered, so I might as well tack a concise version on here. The concern at this point, I think, is that the gridlock on the roads out of Houston won't be cleared up by the time the storm comes through. As of the early evening the projection was that the storm would turn east, tracking the Texas/Louisiana border. The western edge is still anticipated to pass over Houston - and up the I-45. Although the inward-bound lanes of the major arteries have been reversed to allow more outbound traffic, things still aren't great. Someone tonight mentioned that a some folks have taken to putting their cars in neutral and actually pushing down the highway, since they can go as fast and it saves fuel. This seems a tad improbable to me, since - as of midnight in Austin - it's 85 degrees outside. But that's the sort of gridlock we've been looking at today. Hopefully it'll ease up tomorrow.

As for Austin, with grace we'll be spared any really bad weather, although a lot of places are closing on Friday for the weekend. I think the biggest concern at this point is for evacuees, many of whom have already arrived in Austin. Keep in mind that Austin already has a large number of Katrina refugees as well. The spirit in the city is terrific, and everyone wants to do everything possible to help, but there can be no doubt that the stresses on city resources are heightened at the moment. On the other hand, the weather is expected to substantially depress attendance at the various festivals that would otherwise have drawn tourists this weekend - most particularly the 'Austin City Limits' music festival.

More as it happens; thanks to everyone who's checked in.

UPDATE: Much, much more from the New York Times.

Posted by David Mader at 11:53 PM | (1) | Back to Main

September 21, 2005

A Tad Disingenuous, Perhaps?

We interrupt this hurricane coverage to call out Vermont's Senator Patrick Leahy. Leahy is getting all sorts of accolades in the wake of his announcement that he'll vote to confirm Judge Roberts. But check out this quote from the liberal Democratic senator:

Leahy said he still has some concerns about Roberts. "But in my judgment, in my experience, but especially in my conscience I find it is better to vote yes than no," he said. "Judge Roberts is a man of integrity. I can only take him at his word that he does not have an ideological agenda."
Let's run a little hypothetical: imagine Roberts had announced in his hearings that he believed that Roe was correctly decided and must be upheld in order to protect a woman's right to choose. Do you believe - can anyone honestly argue - that Leahy would thereafter vote not to confirm Roberts simply because Roberts had indicated a commitment to Roe? Of course not; on the contrary, it is entirely fair to assume that voicing a commitment to Roe would be a surefire way of ensuring Leahy's support.

But Leahy suggests that his decision to support Roberts' confirmation is motivated in large party by his belief that Roberts lacks an 'ideological agenda.' In other words, Leahy suggests that the presence or absence of an ideological agenda is the make or break factor.

But, as our hypothetical suggests, that's bunk. What Leahy means is that he doesn't believe that Roberts has an ideological agenda with which Leahy doesn't agree.

Now, there may be reasons to make the confirmation process explicitly political; indeed, the existence of a decision like Roe v. Wade is one. But the assumption, it seems to me, is that Leahy is acting in a bipartisan or nonideological manner in supporting the Roberts nomination. But I think it's pretty clear that that's not true. If I'm right about my hypothetical, Leahy's actions do nothing to contradict - and everything to support - the theory that as far as he is concerned, liberal ideologues are perfectly welcome on the court while conservative ideologues are not.

Posted by David Mader at 09:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Stocking Up

I went by the HEB tonight (that's the local grocery chain) to get some odds and ends, and I've never seen it so busy. To give you an idea: there were no carts out front. None. Not a one. But I can't tell you that it was a zoo inside. Oh, sure, it was busy - but it was calm and quiet. I heard some too-cool college girls remarking that people were acting as if the world was going to end, but I was amused to note that they had picked up a couple of cases of bottled water themselves.

It was interesting to see what people bought as 'emergency stores.' I noticed the same thing as this reporter, I think:

Behind water, salty snacks and canned tuna are popular sellers, as are batteries and tarps, said Leslie Lockett, manager for public affairs for H-E-B in Central Texas.
Canned tuna I can understand, although it's not great in large quantities. But salty snacks? I must admit that I got some crackers myself, but not particularly salty. I guess my concern is that when water is in limited supply, salty foods probably aren't the best bet. Of course given the absurd amounts of salt in most prepared and tinned foods, that's probably going to be a problem one way or another. I also saw people buying cereal, and I wondered: when the fridge goes out, where are you going to keep the milk? But to each his own. Maybe people like eating dry cheerios.

My brother made two good suggestions: canned chili, and (on the non-food side) a camping stove. I'd been thinking about the latter, and may try to go by REI (Canadians, think MEC) to pick one up tomorrow.

I do wan't to say that this is all motivated by the 'better safe than sorry' school of thought. I'm really not expecting terrible weather - but on the other hand I've never been through a 'tropical storm' so I figure I might as well prepare for the worst. But we in Austin should be fine; it's the poor folks in Galveston and thereabouts who should be in our prayers for the next couple of days.

Posted by David Mader at 08:39 PM | (2) | Back to Main

I Love Texas

From the Houston Chronicle:

The voluntary evacuation of Chambers County, which fronts the bays east of Harris County, was upgraded to "mandatory" today....

"This is a big, dangerous storm and we're on the bad side of it. It's projected to go into Matagorda, but it could waver a little and be on top of us," said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia....

Sylvia is handling emergency operations because the county's director had the "good sense" to retire two weeks ago, he said.

Somehow I think that, whatever happens, Texas is going to be just fine.

Posted by David Mader at 05:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Grey Skies Are Going to Clear Up?

Weather.com is predicting... well, it's not predicting a hurricane, not in Austin at least:

We'll see how long this forecast lasts.

Posted by David Mader at 02:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Gearing Up

By the time it hits Austin - if it hits Austin - Rita is expected to be a 'strong tropical storm.' Austinites are getting ready for power outages:

People should specifically assure that they have the following on hand: food for one week, water for three days, prescription medicines for three weeks, medical equipment and supplies for family members with special medical conditions, flashlights and extra batteries, battery powered portable radio, telephone that is not dependent on outside power (most cordless phones require power for the base station unit).

Cell phones may not work due to network congestion during major emergencies.

I have an entirely selfish suggestion to make: in order to encourage communication in Austin in the event of a power-outage, those people running wireless networks which stay up (for whatever reason) should consider opening those networks to general access. Hopefully the university network will be up and running, although access to the school might be difficult in the event of flooding; on the other hand, the university's location on a hill makes it a tempting place to ride out the storm.

In any case, with luck the lights will stay on enough that I'll be able to use the blog as a means of communication even if the cell lines go down.

Posted by David Mader at 02:38 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Here We Go Again

Hurricane Rita is on the way, and it seems even odds that it'll come this way. Attorneys from one of the firms I worked at this summer were on campus today interviewing, and they told me the firm's closed the Houston office effective noon central today. Galveston Island is to be evacuated by 8 p.m. tonight, with surrounding areas to be evacuated by very early tomorrow morning (like four). People are expecting an awful lot of traffic through the Houston corridor, since all roads from the coast lead more or less through the city on their way to destinations further inland. Hotels in Austin and San Antonio are said to be booked solid; folks are talking about Fort Worth or even 'visiting' family up in Oklahoma.

And rumour is that Austin isn't going to be spared this one either. I'm hitting up the grocery store later today for some emergency supplies - I have enough water already to last myself a week in a pinch, but I'm going to stock up.

Any suggestions on resources or preparedness are most appreciated by this new Texas transplant; as I tell people, the weather in Canada can make you cold and uncomfortable, and if you get disoriented you can die - but the Canadian weather itself is extremely unlikely to actually kill you. On the other hand, it's 88 degrees and sunny in Austin, so I guess there are trade-offs.

I figure this is as good a reason as any to blog regularly, so watch this space. And spare a thought for the poor folks from New Orleans who were uprooted and fled to Houston less than a month ago, and are now going through this all over again.

Check out the Houston Chronicle's Hurricane Rita blog for ongoing coverage as well.

Posted by David Mader at 11:46 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 19, 2005

Saying No to Big Government

With the federal budget entirely out of control and a growing movement to federally fund the reconstruction of areas devastated by hurricane Katrina, NASA has announced a one-hundred-billion dollar project to return men to the moon by 2020.

Now I love the idea of space travel. I believe in the frontier spirit, and I believe that the space program has had, and might continue to have, a tremendous effect on innovation in the United States.

But for goodness' sake, no.

Man will return to the moon one day, with or without government subsidization and control. The difference is that with government funding, that return will be quicker - and will have much dearer consequences on the American economy. The impact of taxation (either present or future) necessary to fund the project will depress other economic activity that, but for the government's intervention, would otherwise occur.

Without NASA, we'll return to the moon. Not as soon, admittedly. But sooner or later. And when we do, it'll be on the wings of new technology, the product of innovation necessary to allow inter-planetary travel at a cost affordable to private rather than public initiative. State-funded space travel will achieve nothing but the creation of state-funded space travel. That's not justification enough to drive us further into fiscal straits.

It's time to say no.

Posted by David Mader at 04:30 PM | (2) | Back to Main

September 18, 2005

A Hundred Thou

Earlier today, Maderblog welcomed its 100,000th visitor.

Well, not really. On the one hand, each 'visitor' is in fact simply an instance of a unique visit, not a unique visitor, so Maderblog has not necessarily been visited - in fact most assuredly has not been visited - by one hundred thousand unique individuals.

On the other hand, the current count dates back only about a year - perhaps even less - since this site has changed software and servers, and has crashed, numerous times since it was founded in the late Spring of 2002. So, on second thought, maybe it has seen that many visitors.

But almost certainly not.

In any case, here's the screenshot of the historic (but really not very historic) visit. If you're a Rogers user in Toronto, well, thanks. (For nothing!)

Posted by David Mader at 07:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 16, 2005


This article from the Times is cool for two reasons: first, it describes a pretty nifty feature from Google; and second, it is the sort of article that would have been entirely indecipherable to most Times readers even two years ago, but which is now presented without more explanation.

Posted by David Mader at 02:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Uh - What?

Andrew Sullivan makes a number of excellent points about the spend-a-thon that the President's second term is becoming:

I knew what was coming: an attempt at spiritual uplift, greased by billions and billions that we don't have, organized by a federal government that, under Bush, cannot seem to organize anything competently. I'm not saying we don't need to spend money on the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I'm saying I don't want to hear it from this guy. As a friend of mine commented last night over a drink, I don't hate this president and never have. I'm just sick of him. Sick of the naked politicization of everything (Karl Rove over-seeing reconstruction?); sick of the utter refusal to acknowledge that there is a limit to what the federal government can borrow from this and the next generation; sick of the hijacking of the conservative tradition for a vast increase in the power and size of government, with only a feigned attempt at making it more effective....
What I'm getting sick of is hearing this sort of thing from the same man who said: "Emergencies such as Katrina are precisely why the federal executive branch exists."

It's quite possible, I suppose, that Sullivan meant to suggest that only the federal executive had the cross-jurisdictional authority necessary to effectively respond to a cross-jurisdictional emergency. Still, it light of his condemnation, one has to wonder: just what did Sullivan expect Bush to do? For the past three weeks he has been heaping scorn on the President for his alleged failures in the wake of Katrina, and yet the moment the President begins to act on the criticism, Sullivan switches tack and begins to heap scorn for his lack of fiscal restraint. Sullivan might not necessarily be trying to have it both ways, but one could be forgiven for thinking so. If spending was not the appropriate response to Katrina - the response that Sullivan condemned Bush for failing to undertake - just what was?

UPDATE: And then there's this: "We should cut spending. The test of today's GOP will be over which path they take in the future. God knows, this president won't make the hard calls. It's up to the Congress." Wait - you mean the branch of government that passes the budget should be responsible for the makeup of the budget? Andrew Sullivan discovers the separation of powers - congratulations.

Posted by David Mader at 02:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 15, 2005

Roberts on the Commerce Clause

Instapundit highlights a troubling remark.

Note, in light of my previous post, that this doesn't mean I think he shouldn't be confirmed.

Posted by David Mader at 08:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Advice and Consent, And All That Stuff

Erik Jaffe at the Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting post on what various senators' questions tell us about their conception of government.

It seems that many of the criticisms [of Judge Roberts] are policy based — x or y rulings would lead to bad RESULTS — and make no reference whatsoever regarding whether such results are in fact the correct interpretation of the law (or the Constitution).
I think this ties into a criticism I've made of the contemporary political left (although, as Jaffe points out, it's not limited to the left): increasingly, diagreement with a leftist position is taken as prima facie evidence of an unsuitability to hold public office. That'll be clear in the actions of any senator who votes against Roberts' nomination on the grounds of a policy disagreement or even a belief that Roberts would decide cases in such a way as to negatively impact policies which the senator supports.

On the other hand, though, senators do have to ask a nominee something in order to determine his fitness to sit on the court. As Jaffe himself notes, "I think Roberts comes out of this looking like the consumate jurist who knows precisely where his duties and loyalties must lie — to the law and the Constitution." I think it's precisely because the senators have asked him policy-related questions that Roberts has been able to demonstrate both his knowledge of the law in these areas as well as his discretion. I joked recently that my questions for Roberts would be as follows: Are you John Roberts? Is this your resume? Ok, I'm done. But the truth is, I think it's fair to determine whether the nominee really is a competend jurist, and while policy-driven questions might not be the best vehicle to determine this, they certainly serve.

And finally, as Judge Jones noted the other week, as long as the Court is deciding matters of policy that really ought to be left up to the legislature, the only way to guarantee popular input into the creation of such policy is to politicize the nomination process. Of course, that would require a more definite statement from the nominee; still, it's something to consider when criticizing the senators for missing the point.

Posted by David Mader at 05:02 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Peggy on Katrina

Peggy Noonan has the most balanced take on Katrina that I've yet seen.

Posted by David Mader at 05:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 14, 2005

Let the Fun Begin

"As Jeff Goldstein put it in a different context: 'Andrew Sullivan is completing his transformation into a Kos Diarist.'" - Glenn Reynolds, September 14, 2005.

"As for "cheap shots," calling a classical liberal a "Kos diarist" strikes me as a little, well, excitable." - Andrew Sullivan, September 14, 2005.

"Emergencies such as Katrina are precisely why the federal executive branch exists." - Andrew Sullivan, September 11, 2005.

Classical liberal?

Posted by David Mader at 11:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main

"I Love My Footy"

The Australians, God bless them, are insane.

Posted by David Mader at 01:08 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 13, 2005

Owen to the High Court?

Rumor around the law school is that Priscilla Owen was in Washington last week.

Of course, speculation regarding the last Supreme Court nominee was just about as off as it could have been. Still, read this particular tea leaf as you will.

Posted by David Mader at 11:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 11, 2005

Goodbye, Bet Din

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has decided not to allow private arbitration of disputes according to a version of Sharia law - or according to any religious code:

In a telephone interview with the national news agency, McGuinty announced his government would move quickly to outlaw existing religious tribunals used for years by Christians and Jews under Ontario's Arbitration Act.

"I've come to the conclusion that the debate has gone on long enough,'' he said.

"There will be no Sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians."

I've blogged a number of times on this subject - see here - but I always took a negative approach: I saw, and continue to see, no reason why a form of Sharia arbitration should be banned, provided that it does not contradict 'secular' law. Now I'm going to suggest a positive reason why Sharia tribunals ought to be allowed: banning such tribunals only reinforces the sense that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Sharia tribunals subject to common-law oversight would have demonstrated the ease of compatibility even as it suggested that certain aspects of Sharia would have to be modified to make it compatible with western law. In other words, it would have gently nudged Muslims in the west towards an interpretation of Sharia that would be more reflective of western norms.

It's all moot, now, of course. As is the Bet Din, the Jewish tribunal. And being a Jew in Ontario has just become harder than it has previously been. And for that we have to thank - among many others - the far, far too many Jews who opposed Sharia tribunals without taking the time to consider the consequences of opposition.

It's a shame.

Posted by David Mader at 06:25 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Remember This Line

"Emergencies such as Katrina are precisely why the federal executive branch exists."

- Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times, September 11, 2005

Posted by David Mader at 02:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

On a Lighter Note

I'm not the biggest Chris Rock fan, but he gets kudos for this:

The performers largely stuck to scripts Friday, including West, who sang "Jesus Walks" with a gospel choir. West's microphone wasn't working during the first few lines of his song, though, in what appeared to be a technical glitch.

Only an impish Chris Rock couldn't resist scaring producers, looking into the camera and saying, "George Bush hates midgets."

Heh. Oh, and Kanye? I think that means you've become the butt of jokes.

Posted by David Mader at 02:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Freedom at War

"On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars -- but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war -- but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks -- but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack....

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies....

After all that has just passed -- all the lives taken, and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them -- it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."

- President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001

Posted by David Mader at 01:49 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Posted by David Mader at 12:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 08, 2005

A Plan So Cunning...

My brother Dan forwards this story with an exhortation to make a crack about the 'cunning plan.' For background, here's the plan:

British intelligence officers planned a 'black propaganda' campaign against Islamic extremists, infiltrating their groups through the internet, documents leaked to The Observer reveal....

he letter reveals that the FCO planned to spread anti-Western propaganda as a way of gaining the trust of Islamic extremists and then arguing that violence was not the way forward.

Okay, here goes: not only is this plan so cunning that one could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel; in fact, it is just about as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.


Being a humorless sod, though, I couldn't help get caught up in this:
Qaradawi has consistently supported suicide bombers in Palestine and armed resistance to coalition forces in Iraq.
Suicide bombers in Gaza and parts of the West Bank? Didn't think there were too many of those. Because there aren't; rather, most of the suicide bombings in that part of the world are in western Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and various cities in the north and south. Apparently these are all locations in 'Palestine.' Becuase, you see, the Observer is denying the existence of the State of Israel.

But then, they publish out of Norman-occupied London, and what do you expect from Frenchmen?

Posted by David Mader at 07:02 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Enfeebling the People, Empowering the State

From the New York Times, via Instapundit:

Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.
Got that? The police are disarming citizens so that they will be unable to resist when the police come to forcibly evict them from their property.

I can hardly think of an action more fundamtenally contrary to the notions of liberty upon which this republic was founded. But it seems to me that some sort of forcible evacuation is a necessary component of the hypothetical alternative by which critics are judging local, state and federal government actions. Am I wrong?

Posted by David Mader at 06:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Same Principle?

Andrew Sullivan writes:

It seems that the military and rescue services have stopped impeding the press and especially photojournalists from doing their job. Glad to hear it. Something is very wrong when we can send soldiers to keep the truth from journalists but not to prevent looting when it was happening. NBC's Brian Williams deserves some kudos for his complaints yesterday on his blog. However gruesome, we have to see what nature and incompetence - local and federal - wrought. Next up: release all the Abu Ghraib photos. Same principle. Same administration. Same incompetence. Same press.
Emphasis is mine. If Abu Ghraib and the response to Katrina both invoke the 'same principle' as two manifestations by the 'same administration' of the 'same incompetence,' then one of two things must be true:

1) Just as the Bush administration's failure with regard to Katrina involved an inadequate response to an event that was out of the administration's control, so was the Bush administration's failure with regard to Abu Ghraib; in other words, the failure in Abu Ghraib was in the failure to properly address and redress the situation; or

2) Just as the Bush administration's failure with regard to Abu Ghraib was its creation of an unacceptable situation, so was the administration's failure with regard to Katrina; in other words, the failure in Katrian was in creating the horrific damage.

Is Sullivan prepared to make the concession that is explicit in the first statement - that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was out of the administration's control, and that therefore its only error was in its response? I doubt it.

But the second statement is problematic. One could argue that just as the administration's policies led to the abuse at Abu Ghraib, so did the administration's policies lead to the failure to properly respond to Katrina. But if the 'same principle' and the 'same incompetence' was at work in both, what was the Abu Ghraib equivalent of the hurricane that caused the situation that wasn't adequately responded to?

Any comparison to Katrina must account for the fact that it was fundamentally a situation caused by factors out of the government's control. Even an argument that the administration 'created' the situation of despair by failing to adequately prepare for the post-Katrina period requires a recognition of the fact that the hurricane is responsible for a post-hurricane situation which must be addressed.

All of which is to say that a straight comparison between alleged incompetence with regard to Katrina on the one hand and Abu Ghraib on the other probably doesn't fly, at least not cleanly.

Posted by David Mader at 06:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Here's a List...

... for those intent on speculating as to the next Supreme Court nominee, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. Notice the number of times the words 'Texas' or 'Texan' appear.

As it happens, I had the good fortune to hear Judge Edith Jones speak today at the law school on the topic of judicial prudence or restraint. She seemed to suggest that in order to avoid over-reaching into the judicial function, courts should refrain from deciding issues when they might be disposed of through non-decision mechanisms (such as standing, ripeness, mootness, and so on - essentially the elements of the avoidance doctrine). I asked her whether she thought the Court ought to have avoided the constitutional issue in Kelo (the eminent-domain case), and she conceded that the case seemed to be presented in such a fashion that the constitutional issue was unavoidable; she then remarked that she would have decided the case differently. It seems, then, that her emphasis on avoidance is in a sense a corrolary rather than fundamental judicial philosophy; at times, she seems to concede, the courts must make judgments that implicate the counter-majoritarian dilemma, but in order to minimize such circumstances the courts should avoid making substantive constitutional decisions wherever possible.

Something to think about, anyway. I'll certainly be interested to see whether her name comes up this fall. Oh, and incidentally - she's a UT grad. Hook 'em!

Posted by David Mader at 12:04 AM | (0) | Back to Main

September 07, 2005

Vox Populi

Argh. Just closed the wrong window and lost a post. Here's the brief version. Schwarzenegger will veto a same-sex marriage bill:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that he will veto a bill that would allow gay marriages in California.

Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved a ballot initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 prevents California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

A couple of problems:

First, is it clear that Prop 22, which prohibits the recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states, conflicts with a statute that would recognize same sex marriages performed within California?

And second, does a proposition - as a more direct expression of the popular will than a legislative act - preempt legislative action that has not yet been taken, or does it simply correct legislative action that has already been taken? Moreover, mightn't an intervening general election - another expression of the popular will less direct than a plebiscite but more direct than a legislative act - serve to supersede the restriction laid down in the pre-election plebiscite?

This is a politico-philosophic rather than a legal question, I think - I'd love to hear your comments.

UPDATE (22:00 CST): Eugene Volokh supplies some answers:

California Family Code sec. 308.5, enacted by the voters as Prop. 22 in 2000, provides that 'Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.' This is an initiative statute, not a constitutional amendment; it therefore may be challenged as violating the state constitution (a matter that's now before the state courts), and may be overturned through something less than a constitutional amendment. But that something must be a vote of the people, not just a vote of the legislature; California Constitution article II, section 10(c) says that 'The Legislature . . . may amend or repeal an initiative statute by another statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors unless the initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their approval.' So while the legislature could put a new proposal on the ballot, it can't just overturn the old ballot measure on its own say-so (even if the Governor signs it).
So there you go.

Posted by David Mader at 09:10 PM | (1) | Back to Main

This Cannot Be For Real

Is it April? Money quote:

"Let's just say there are plans in place to deal with this," the Kommandant warned darkly. "What they are, I am not at liberty to disclose, but we will not stand for the F***ing signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but F***ing is simply F***ing to us. What is this big F***ing joke? It is puerile."

Posted by David Mader at 06:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Criminal Negligence?

That's Andrew Sullivan's new catch-phrase, in reference to the president's actions in response to Katrina. It's also a precise legal term. Was the president criminally negligent in his response? Let's take a look.

Texas is a 'model penal code' jurisdiction, which is to say that its penal code is modeled after an academic treatise that attempted to modernize and standardize criminal law as a substitute to the existing common law. The Texas Penal Code (Sec.6.03(d)) says this:

A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint.
Although Sullivan himself has yet to explain precisely what actions he believes the president ought to have taken, the argument seems to be that following the declaration of a state of emergency on August 27, Bush had the ability to direct federal agencies to assist and augment local preparatory efforts, and that he failed to do so.

But criminal negligence isn't a simple failure to exercise available powers. Look back up to the definition: criminal negligence occurs only when a failure to take a certain action is the result of a disregard for a certain risk, which disregard is so out of the ordinary as to constitute a 'gross deviation from the standard of care' that any other reasonable person would have exercised in the same situation.

Did Bush's alleged failure to direct federal agencies after August 27 constitute such a 'gross deviation'? That's a jury question, ultimately. But there are at least two strong reasons to suspect that it didn't. First, as Sullivan himself seems to acknowledge, local and state officials also failed in their responsibilities to a certain degree. Remember, it's not enough that some other person in the same position would have done better; criminal negligence requires that an 'ordinary' person in the same position would have done better. Given the alleged failure of officials in all levels of government, it seems hard to maintain that Bush was uniquely deviant in his response.

Second, notice that the standard is a mixture of objective - what a reasonable person would do - and subjective - what that reasonable person would do in the actor's situation. The objective standard is the fundamental component of our jury system of criminal justice: we let a group of the accused's peers decide whether what he did or failed to do subjects him to criminal liability. But the subjective standard limits the scope of that analysis by forcing the jury to consider all of the factors which the accused had to address in making or failing to make his decision.

Any given jury can find one way or another on a true jury question; that's the point. But polls like this and this suggest that the American people as a whole, when taking into account the president's actions in the context of all of his responsibilities, do not believe him to be liable for the consequences of any action or failure to act. In other words, the pool of people from whom a jury of the president's peers would be chosen seem to be split on the very question that Sullivan takes as settled - the very question that only a jury can decide.

There are some other legal issues that could be discussed - the question, for instance, of whether a prosecutor could find any particular damage that could be conclusively established to have been 'but-for' caused by the president's alleged negligence. But I think it's enough to point out that Sullivan's use of the term 'criminal negligence' only further illustrates the point I've been harping on for a week now. Somewhere around half the country seems to think that the president acted in "gross deviation from the standard of care" that he ought to have exercised, while somewhere around half the country doesn't seem to think that such a deviation, if it existed, was gross. As Sullivan surely knows, half a jury isn't enough to convict.

Posted by David Mader at 06:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Two Americas, Alright

More poll numbers suggest that America is more or less evenly split between critics and, for lack of a better term, non-critics of the Katrina response.

I've blogged at relative length, by this point, on what I believe to be the fundamental distinction between these two camps. It's interesting to note, though, that the mainstream media seems to be not only firmly entrenched in the critical camp, but to be largely unaware that another camp, probably equally as big, exists.

Posted by David Mader at 01:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 06, 2005

I'm So Proud

I don't usually do the search-term game, but I can't resist pointing out that Maderblog is the number one result for the search term "mohammad and self-rising pizza."

I don't even know what that means.

Posted by David Mader at 11:15 PM | (1) | Back to Main

And What She Said Too

Claudia Rosett makes a similar point:

The shock is that the catastrophe of Katrina happened in America. Our hubris is the notion that such things cannot happen here. They can, and in one way or another they always will. In this mortal world, there are flaws in any system we might devise, because there are trade-offs no one can avoid having to make. There is plenty we can and will debate about what those tradeoffs should be. By all means, let us have the recriminations, the analyses, the discussions. Let us hope we can find ways to build and rebuild that will reduce the risks without stripping us of the ability to recover from catastrophes we may not yet even foresee. But amid all that, if there is any place on earth that can cope with a nightmare on this scale, it is this country.

Posted by David Mader at 11:11 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What He Said

James Taranto has an excellent post on Katrina that makes the point I've been trying, rather lamely, to make. I'm just going to re-print the whole thing, and copyright be damned:

A Political Tempest?

It was inevitable, we suppose. Less than a week after hurricane Katrina, the first poll came out to measure its political impact. The results, which ABC News released Sunday, will be highly disappointing to the Angry Left: 55% of those polled do not blame President Bush for the storm's devastation, and although 67% think the federal government wasn't "adequately prepared," 75% say the same thing about state and local government. John Podhoretz's interpretation is right on the money (capitalization his):
Once again we see the gigantic divide in this country--not between Right and Left, but between people who live and breathe politics and those for whom politics are only an incidental part. You need to look at the world through political glasses to assume that THE key aspect of a natural disaster is the response or lack thereof of the authorities--whether they be local, state or federal. The president doesn't MAKE hurricanes, therefore he will not be blamed FOR hurricanes. Nor do the governor and the mayor.
That's about it. Taranto can't keep from making one very interesting political observation, however:
Katrina may change Louisiana politics for another reason: demographics. The storm forced a mass exodus from New Orleans and vicinity, and many residents surely will resettle out of state. The political effect will depend on whence the emigrants turn out to have come....

Obviously if more New Orleans residents than suburbanites move out of state, Louisiana will become more Republican. Less obviously, the state will become more Republican even if flight from the suburbs equals that from New Orleans, since the evenly divided New Orleans region will account for a smaller part of the population than the heavily GOP-leaning rest of the state.

Something to think about, if you're so inclined.

I'm not really so inclined, but, you know, I thought I'd pass that along.

Posted by David Mader at 11:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Of the many things that made me uncomfortable in my observation of the Katrian coverage last week, the emotionalism of the television reporters in New Orleans was perhaps the worst. I watched a Fox News correspondent come close to tears and lose his temper while attacking Bill O'Reilly. In fact the exchange was illuminating: the correspondent had spent the night with a group of people on an overpass near the Superdome, and he was talking angrily about how the group was easily accessible to outside aid by highway transport, declaring again and again that 'if they wanted to they could come right down here and take everyone away, but they don't care about these people,' and so on. O'Reilly simply asked, "who's 'they'?" But the question was too much for the reporter, who responded along the lines that 'anybody' could help if they wanted to, and then proceeded to recount various of the horrors he'd either witnessed or heard about.

There's an interesting point in there about the fundamental character failure behind not only the hurricane relief but the criticism thereof - the notion that everything is 'somebody else's problem,' that some 'they' had a responsibility to take care of things.

But in any case, what I took away from the exchange was a sense that this reporter, and probably a great many others, had probably gone quite a long time without sleep in very difficult conditions amongst people who had just lost everything - and that they were, therefore, rather more emotionally involved in their subject than an ostensibly 'objective' journalist should probably be. I'm not criticizing; that's the most human of responses. But it's important to understand the pressures under which the reporters were working in analyzing the stories that came out of New Orleans last week.

Now let's make clear that many horrors occurred in the city last week. Many people died in terrible circumstances; there was undoubtedly significant violent and property crime. The problem, however, is that many of the examples of the horror that have become part of the common wisdom turn out to be unconfirmed:

In a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.

But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal.

New Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child, or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention centre.

New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass said last night: "We don't have any substantiated rapes. We will investigate if the individuals come forward."

And while many claim they happened, no witnesses, survivors or survivors' relatives have come forward.

Nor has the source for the story of the murdered babies, or indeed their bodies, been found. And while the floor of the convention centre toilets were indeed covered in excrement, the Guardian found no corpses.

The fact that the NOPD haven't found any witnesses doesn't mean these crimes didn't occur, of course. But it's important to keep in mind that the stories that came out of the Superdome and the convention center and the rest of the sad city last week were a product of their circumstance, and so should be read with a discerning eye. There will be tragedy enough without accepting unquestioned the tales of horror that may well turn out to be false.

Posted by David Mader at 12:54 PM | (4) | Back to Main

On the Other Hand...

If this story is representative of the conventional wisdom, I'm in the distinct minority in anticipating little fundamental political shift as a result of Katrina.

One thing that I have noticed since I drafted my previous post is a divergence between the intensity of criticism and the passivity of response. I still think America is more or less evenly divided - say 60/40 - on the question of whether the response to the hurricane was reasonable given the circumstance - or, perhaps more accurately, whether the failures that did occur were understandable given the circumstances. But it's quite clear that the critics are motivated by a rage that is not reflected in a contrary emotion on the part of those less willing to point fingers. The best example, I think, is Andrew Sullivan, who at once argues that there were failures at essentially every level of government, and at the same time strongly suggests that if only Bush hadn't occupied the White House last week, things would have been otherwise.

To reiterate my point below: it's quite possible that everybody failed - but if that's the case, it would seem to suggest that the failure was much more institutional than personal.

Posted by David Mader at 12:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 04, 2005


A number of people have asked me, over the past week, about my take on the political fallout from hurricane Katrina. If you think it's still to early to engage in political analysis, you'll want to skip this post. I certainly understand such a sentiment.

I've been mulling over the question for a few days now, and my approach has evolved somewhat. At first I thought that the political consequences would be tied to two different stages of government response: pre- and post-hurricane. I thought, at first, that while most people would see fault in slow reaction to the humanitarian crisis post-hurricane, most would be unwilling to lay blame for failures to act pre-hurricane.

That's pretty clearly not the case, though. In fact, most criticism of all levels of government seems to be centered on the failures to heed various (now prescient) warnings of precisely the scenario that, in the end, unfolded. Those who are criticizing are criticizing across the board, finding fault both before and after the hurricane struck.

The more I read this criticism, though, the more I became profoundly disturbed by it. Take, as an example, this passage from Andrew Sullivan's recent article in the Sunday Times:

The seeming inability of the federal or city authorities to act swiftly or effectively to rescue survivors or maintain order posed fundamental questions about the competence of the Bush administration and local authorities.
Sullivan isn't alone in taking this line. Slate's Jack Shafer highlights reporter reaction to the tragedy:
In the last couple of days, many of the broadcasters reporting from the bowl-shaped toxic waste dump that was once the city of New Orleans have stopped playing the role of wind-swept wet men facing down a big storm to become public advocates for the poor, the displaced, the starving, the dying, and the dead.

Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper abandoned the old persona to throttle Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in a live interview.

"Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?" Cooper opened...

Several readers directed me to CNN reporter Miles O'Brien's hard-boiled interview with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in which he repeatedly invited the governor to agree with him that the federal government had "dropped the ball."

And so on. And most recently, of course, Kanye West suggested that the Bush administration's slow response to the hurricane was a symptom of the president's racism.

Underlying all of this criticism is a simple assumption: that 'they' should have done something - and that had 'they' done something, things would have been better than they turned out to be. Who the 'they' is varies from speaker to speaker - to many 'they' are the Bush administration, to others the government of New Orleans, or Louisiana, or FEMA, or Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

The point is that criticism of political reaction to both the threat of Katrina and its aftermath rests on the assumption that someone failed to do something that he or she ought to have done, and that the failure to do that thing resulted in the scenario we have recently witnessed.

That's probably true, to a certain degree. In time we will learn the full story of the lead up and immediate reaction to Katrina's landfall. We will doubtlessly learn that certain officials, agencies and institutions dropped the ball to a greater or lesser extent, and that contrary action might have mitigated certain of the consequences.

The question is whether such revelations will have significant political ramifications. I am prepared to go on record today to say that they won't.

Katrina won't significantly change the political landscape - despite all the mainstream media bleating to the contrary - because, at the end of the day, a great many people will see Katrina for precisely what she was: a natural disaster.

The standard line of criticism identified above - the notion that someone somewhere (but necessarily in 'the Government') ought to have done something - rests on the basic assumption that 'the Government' is somehow able to mitigate the effects of a hurricane. The anger that so many are now displaying is the result of a confrontation with the fact that, when push comes to shove, 'the Government' can't command the sea to roll back. Rather than face the logical consequences of that basic truth, however, critics have turned to a raging insistence that the real fault lies with those currently possessing the quasi-mystical powers of government that, if excercised properly, could have saved the day.

The logic behind the criticism is fundamentally twentieth-century. It is part and parcel of the 'end of history' mindset that believes that tragedy and disaster occur only overseas, and that American government is powerful enough to save us from the realities of the world. It's also very baby-boom, reflecting as it does a sense of entitlement and victimhood, a notion that one's well-being is naturally dependent upon the goodwill of a third party - most often 'the Government' - and that any adverse situation is therefore necessarily the fault of some Government official.

Too many people came to assume that the peacefulness of the post-war period was the rule, rather than the exception. Too many people came to take for granted the stability of the post-war period, attributing it not to the false-peace of mutually assured destruction and a cooperative environment but to the seemignly benificent powers of 'the Government.'

As a result, too many people have been and continue to be unwilling to confront the basic truth that the world is a cold, hard, dangerous place, and that we are emerging from an anomalous period of calm into the common state of perpetual storm.

That's not to say that blame can't be apportioned; nor is it to deny that better steps could have been taken to avoid or mitigate damage; nor is it to say that we shouldn't take further steps to prepare for a future catastrophe. It's simply to say that as we sift through the damage and the records, and as we plan for the next big one, we should remember that there's only so much we can do. That's not fatalism - it's common sense.

So what does all this have to do with the political ramifications of Katrina? Well, everything. I believe that America is currently divided - roughly evenly - between those who awoke on September 11 to the realities of human existence, and who are therefore much more common-sensical when it comes to tragedy and our individual and collective ability to deal with it, and those who continue to believe that evil occurs only overseas, and that the tragedies of September 11 and Katrina and the countless tragedies yet to come can somehow be planned away through committee meetings and Congressional appropriations. Based on the returns in the most recent presidential election I was initially hopeful that a simple majority of Americans, say 52-55%, would fall into the former camp, and would therefore be much less willing to apportion personal blame even while recognizing that better planning and response may well have been possible. I think I failed to account for the surprising and disheartening willingness of so many on the right to run to the skirts of the nanny state when push came, as it did last week, to shove. A sudden willingess to declare a blind trust in 'the Government' to make everything right is evident not only in the past week's writings by Andrew Sullivan, who seems to have finally been pushed, by Katrina, firmly into the company of the political left, but is also evident in the recent posts at the Corner, so many of whose contributers - the most prominent voices of the American right - seem similarly unquestioning in their belief that Katrina was a manageable tragedy that 'the Government' ought to have better addressed.

When you add, therefore, those whose political philosophy is grounded upon a notion of government power and ability and those who are willing to adopt such statism in times of crisis, you get something like this - 51% of the population generally critical of the response to Katrina, 48% generally supportive.

Those aren't the kind of numbers that indicate a sea-change; on the contrary, they're the kind of numbers that indicate a population divided along some pretty fundamental lines. I believe those lines are the ones I've outlined above - centered upon a willingness to confront the dangerous nature of the world and to admit that America is, and has always been, a part of that world, dividing those with the imagination to recognize that history continues around us whether we recognize it or not, and those still clinging to the false hope of returning to the carefree days of the late twentieth-century. Those lines were drawn shortly after September 11. Katrina didn't draw them anew, and while it may have shifted them slightly, it mostly simply highlighted them once more.

Whether the small shift will last has yet to be seen; I'd wager that it won't, and that investigations in the next year will reveal that with a few exceptions most people in a position to act did act - reasonably, quickly and with an eye towards doing their duty. To some that won't be enough, because it will demonstrate that even reasonable action by government officials is sometimes insufficient to shelter individuals from the harsh realities of the world. But to many Americans it will be precisely what they expected, and it will leave them no more or less supportive of 'the Government,' but slightly more aware of the fact that the world is a dangerous place, and that the best we can do is to do our best to live with it.

UPDATE: This is more or less what I'm talking about:
The levees in New Orleans inspired a false sense of security, says Dennis S. Miletti, a leading scholar on disaster prevention.

"We rely on technology and we end up thinking as human beings that we're totally safe, and we're not," said Miletti, of the University of Colorado. "The bottom line is we have a very unsafe planet."

That's the bottom line, alright. As the article notes, it may well have been possible to have been better prepared - although I wonder whether Americans would be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to put into place a national mandatory emergency response system the likes of which the article suggests saved Cuba. But to suggest - as I heard someone suggest tonight - that 'this sort of thing simply shouldn't happen in the United States' is, I think, a little absurd. Wonderful though this country is, the sun doesn't shine any more brightly on its shores - and nor are its citizens any less human than our neighbors, regardless of our relative wealth.

UPPERDATE: David Brooks sounds a similar theme:
It's already clear this will be known as the grueling decade, the Hobbesian decade. Americans have had to acknowledge dark realities that it is not in our nature to readily acknowledge: the thin veneer of civilization, the elemental violence in human nature, the lurking ferocity of the environment, the limitations on what we can plan and know, the cumbersome reactions of bureaucracies, the uncertain progress good makes over evil.
He concludes, however, that Katrina will result in a fundamental political shift. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

Posted by David Mader at 08:59 PM | (0) | Back to Main

September 03, 2005

The Chief is Dead

Long live the Chief.

Posted by David Mader at 10:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main