Today's Blogs

Justified Comparisons?

Is the newest Supreme Court nominee an Antonin Scalia clone? Bloggers are debating the “Scalito” moniker. They’re also discussing the $7.1 billion President Bush wants to protect America from avian flu and the potential social dangers of the cervical cancer vaccine.

Justified comparisons? Move over, TomKat and Bennifer, to make way for Scalito. The nickname, linking Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito to fellow conservative jurist Antonin Scalia, appears to date back to a 1992 National Law Journal article. But “if you say ‘Scalito,’ Professor Althouse will hunt you down,” warns Indiana blogger Matt Brown at Swine Bass, who also links to this  New York Times piece by law professor and prominent blogger Ann Althouse suggesting that the nickname fails to convey the men’s differing shades of judicial philosophy.

The National Review Online’s Bench Memos, a judiciary blog written by conservative lawyer Mark Levin, thinks that “efforts in the media this morning to paint him as ‘Scalia-lite’ or ‘Scalito’ are intended to fire-up the leftwing base.”

At MemeFirst, freelance writerFelix Salmon dislikes the comparison for a different reason: He doesn’t see Alito (or Clarence Thomas, that other stalwart conservative) as possessing the same “intellectual range, depth, and playfulness. … Scalia loves a good argument, and just in case he doesn’t get enough in court, he makes sure he always has a liberal clerk so that he can have one in the comfort of his own chambers. Thomas and Alito, on the other hand, are more methodical – one might almost say plodding.”

The center-left Thrown for a Loop thinks that Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouths in an “effort to cast Judge Alito as ‘Scalito’ and ‘Not Scalito’ at the same time” to cheer conservatives and calm moderates’ fears. Indeed, conservative Terry Dillard of The Right Track is heartened by the nickname Scalito. “If so, he’s a Conservative dream-come-true,” he says.

Res Publica et Cetera, the blog of conservative Publius, mentions that some righties worry that “Alito might be perceived as too much like Scalia for his own comfort and may try to compensate for that by distancing himself from Scalia jurisprudentially (i.e., go to the left). Confirm Them, a blog that advocates the confirmation of conservative judges, has at least two posts differentiating the two men.

Read more on the Scalito debate. Click here for Slate’s roundup of Alito coverage.

Bird season: President Bush announced a $7.1 billion plan to protect America from an avian flu pandemic. The plan includes funding to inoculate 20 million against the virus.

At the Huffington Post, James Love, the director of the nonprofit Consumer Project on Technology, thinks that Bush’s plan is not comprehensive enough and fails to address America’s woeful supply of antivirals like Tamiflu to help people who contract the illness, which he blames on trade policies that restrict the importation of medication. “[W]e will wait years before we have the stockpiles, putting our citizens at risk,” he predicts.

Prairie Weather thinks that objective is admirable but worries this plan might increase the profits of pharmaceutical companies: “We need to find out who in the Administration will profit from holdings in companies receiving any of the $7.1 billion, how the money is distributed, the extent to which ‘pandemic’ is replacing ‘bin Laden’ as a political tool.”

Public Diplomacy Watch, a blog by “John Q. Tourist” that focuses on public policy and tourism information, is concerned about the plan’s inclusion of a provision to ban travel in the event of a flu outbreak. There is a “pressing need for the Bush administration to reach out - immediately - to the American tourism industry for its input on the bird flu defense/response plan,” he says. “Lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

Read more on the avian flu plan. Slate has coverage on the avian flu vaccine here and here, but this Medical Examiner thinks avian flu is more hype than substance.

Cervical logic: In other vaccine news, a Washington Post article on a vaccine that protects against HPV, the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer, is causing controversy. Many conservatives are worried that the vaccine, which could be available next year, will encourage promiscuity.

The socially conservative New Virginia Church Man, the blog of economist John Chilton, thinks that the vaccine could result in more HIV infections. “No where in the article are the dots connected between this unintended consequence of the vaccine mandate: more sex without condoms resulting in more deaths due to AIDS,” he hypothesizes.

But conservative Andrew Sullivan is angry. “Cervical cancer kills more than 3,700 women a year,” he points out. “Acquiescing in these deaths is now part of the ‘culture of life.’” At group blog Pop and Politics Talk Back, contributor Jean Chen thinks a hint of sexismis involved: “I wonder if social conservatives would feel differently about the vaccine if it saved the lives of men.”

Ace from Ace of Spades HQ, a conservative, understands where his compatriots are coming from, but sees the value of vaccination. “Sending signals that we ‘expect’ teenaged girls to have sex is bad. You know what else is kinda bad? Cervical cancer,” he says. After receiving criticism from readers, he added this lengthier post, in which he explains that he supports mandatory vaccination.

Read more about the cervical cancer debate.