Carol Platt Liebau: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Good Corporate Citizens

Here is a truly touching communication from a New Orleans television station to its employees.

Touching, and I suspect, hardly atypical.

How 'Bout Some Facts With That Opinion?

The left side of the blogosphere is almost insane with glee over the prospect of pinning the hurricane's disaster on President Bush. The animating principle appears to come from this story, from a well-known-to-be-anti-Bush journalist.

There's something truly ghoulish about the eagerness of some to politicize the tragedy as quickly as possible.

But since they're doing it, the facts should get out, along with all the jaundiced opinion from the left.

A place to start is with this post from RedState. The writer apparently has been involved in working with the damage wreaked by hurricanes in Florida, and has some expertise.

Here are some facts:

(1) As noted in this article, the levees were designed only to handle a Category 3 storm -- not a 4 (as Katrina was), much less a 5. (See the final sentence of the article, wherein the Army Corps of Engineer's chief engineer for the New Orleans district observes, “The system is designed for a Category 3 storm and we had a Category 5 storm.”)

(2) According to this Popular Science magazine piece from 2004, it was only in 2004 that the Army Corps of Engineers even began to consider constructing levees that could withstand the force of a Category 5 storm.

(3) The Bunch piece that has started the whole "Bush's fault for underfunding" line of inquiry points out:

The federal government kicked in about $430 million between 1995 and 2005; $250 in spending remained to be done (presumably, just to protect the city from a Category 3). Dividing that $430 million over ten years (some years more, after 2003, less) comes out to about $43 million/year. So even if New Orleans had been receiving $50 million/year in federal help, the plans for the remaining upgrades would have only been 66% executed.

(4) The annual budget for the City of New Orleans is more than $540 million. According to the Bunch piece, the city itself had only kicked in $50 million over 10 years for the levees -- which comes out to (that's right, math whizzes!) a whopping $5 million/year. Now, if the need for levee work was widely known to be as urgent as all of us are supposed to believe now, couldn't some of that half billion dollar budget gone into it? According to the RedState piece, $45,000,000 could have been raised through a hotel bed tax and a property tax hike of less than $50 a year.

(5) And as for the state -- well, its budget apparently had enough pork to throw at least a little cash toward the levees . . .

Please understand: No one here is blaming either the Mayor of New Orleans or the Governor of Louisiana. Natural disasters are, indeed, natural diasters -- and they can happen to anyone, anywhere. (St. Louis, where I grew up, sits right on the New Madrid fault and has parts in a flood plain and is in tornado country. Today, I live by the San Andreas Fault).

The facts above aren't to demonstrate that the state or city was evil or remiss for not having done more. It's to demonstrate that it's unfair to blame any one entity (or person!) for what is a disaster of unprecedented and almost unfathomable scope.

In my view, to the extent that money was diverted to protect Americans against attacks from our enemies, that's a very defensible and excellent choice. It's hard ever to be completely prepared against natural phenomena so forceful as to be called "acts of God"; being secured -- as best we can -- against human evildoers is something that's more within our control, and President Bush would have been infinitely more at fault for neglecting to spend money in such an effort.

The Indomitable Southern Spirit

There is a restaurant open and serving customers in the French Quarter. We salute the brave folks at the Oceana Grill.

Helpful to Know

Some of the Europeans try to explain why they haven't been sending aid to the victims of Katrina.

Kristina Decker from German Christian relief group Caritas, stated, "They have enough personnel to handle the crisis alone. Our workers might just be in the way."

So which is it, lefties? Are the Germans just making excuses, or is the National Guard completely correct when it notes that it has plenty of available personnel to help the suffering on the Gulf Coast?

More on Katrina

According to a White House economic adviser, the economic impact of Katrina is likely to be limited, thankfully. Massive outbreaks of disease likewise are considered unlikely.

But right now, the human toll and the sense of loss is staggering. The lawless looters, preying upon a victimized city, should be ashamed. And if one of them -- just one of them -- were shot by authorities, and then that was reported by the media that's been so quick to provide details of the lawlessness, perhaps some of this shameless behavior would cease.

As dispiriting as the lawbreaking is, don't forget about the many individual tales of generosity and friendship in ways great and small.

Another Way to Help

The wonderful people at Talk Radio 790 KABC are sponsoring a relief drive so that those of us in Southern California can help with hurricane relief.

Details are here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How to Help the Hurting in New Orleans

Here is a list of organizations that can be trusted to use your relief dollars wisely.

My personal favorite is The Salvation Army (I've seen the work of these wonderful people up close & personally). And as the page linked above notes, those who are worried about the animals can help through the Humane Society.

Please consider giving what you can.

(And note that the supposedly evil capitalists over at Wal-Mart have already donated $1,000,000.00. HT: Instapundit.)

Achtung! You're wrong

Apparently, some ignorant German commentators are trying to blame Hurricane Katrina on . . . what else? President Bush and global warming.

Even the lefties at The New York Times and The LA Times (albeit with a misleading headline)have checked with the scientific experts and are conceding that global warming most likely has nothing to do with it.

I wonder where all the German scientists have gone?

Nina Easton (Doesn't) Get Religion

The Boston Globe's Nina Easton -- a liberal through and through -- attempts to tell us about the impact that Mitt Romney's Mormonism may have on his standing with the religious right. In discussing the attitudes of the Christian right, of course, she's writing with the same level of insight born of personal experience that I could bring to a piece about leather clad biker babes and their life on Mars.

This kind of piece is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, from a perspective like Easton's. Not only can she kick some dirt onto Mitt Romney by suggesting he may have no real shot for the Republican presidential nomination, she can also try to make people of faith look like narrowminded theocrats. It's a two-fer!

Well, I don't know if Nina Easton would include me in her classification of religious right. But here's how I feel about Mitt Romney and his Mormonism: I have some serious misgivings about Mormon theology -- which may, in part, explain why I'm an orthodox Episcopalian rather than a Mormon . . ..

That being said, I'm not really worried about what Mitt Romney believes or what he says to whom when he prays, if he's sincere about his faith. As long as his official acts and policies -- as President -- are largely in conformity with my political views (which, inevitably, are informed by my religious views), that's what matters to me.

In any case, I'd rather have a President of almost any faith than of no faith. It's a prerequisite in my book -- because I believe it's important for any President to be bound with the moral constraints that come only from an honest belief that he is answering to a higher moral power and authority than any on this earth (including himself!). Religion is a guard against tyranny.

As Ms. Easton reports, I have heard Mitt Romney on The Hugh Hewitt Show. And I liked what I heard -- a lot.

I thought in this country we didn't impose religious tests. And I'm willing to bet that many on the Christian right are much more fair than Ms. Easton believes them to be.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Justice Scalia on Politicized Judicial Confirmations

It was a great privilege to have the opportunity to hear Justice Antonin Scalia give the annual Madison Lecture this evening at Chapman University School of Law. (Please note it was public and open to the press).

The topic of his talk was "Constitutional Interpretation, or Why Judicial Nominations Have Become Controversial" -- and, of course, it was brilliant. Justice Scalia pointed out that, during the last half of the twentieth century, the notion of a "living Constitution" (i.e. a Constitution that is interpreted in accordance with justices' notions of "evolving standards of justice") has created a climate in which society's most difficult moral questions are settled not by legislatures (i.e. the voice of the people), but by unelected judges, who manage to find novel "rights" in the Constitution despite the lack of a clear historial or textual basis for them.

However, according to the Justice, because America is, indeed, a democratic society, the peoples' voices will be heard -- one way or another. And if judges begin acting as superlegislatures -- settling moral questions that they have no special qualifications to decide -- then the judicial confirmation process will become political. In other words, if the Justices are going to start interpreting the Constitution in accordance with their own political and policy predilections, then all different political groups are going to try to ensure that the person making the superlegislative decisions are making them in a way with which the political group agrees.

Or, to put it in the most starkly simple terms: The more that judges act like politicians, the more political the nomination and confirmation processes will become -- to the detriment of the system of self-government set forth in the Constitution.

Once the process is completely political, as Justice Scalia points out, the Constitution ceases to fulfil its function of stopping the majority from doing whatever it wants to do -- rather, it becomes nothing more than a tool of the majority's will. Dangerous, indeed.

The responsibility for the regrettable politicization of judicial nominations lies directly with Democrats, in my view. They are the ones who began the practice of "Borking" back in 1987 because they were afraid of losing control of the judicial branch. Now that Dems control neither the presidency nor Congress, their fear has grown to the point where they are trying to "bork" federal circuit court judges, as well. (And note the contrast between the treatment of R.B. Ginsburg/Breyer vs. that of Bork/D. Ginsburg/Souter/Thomas).

As Justice Scalia pointed out, every Republican president since Richard Nixon has sworn to pick only justices that believe in "judicial restraint"; in contrast, every Democratic nominee since Michael Dukakis has pledged to nominate justices who will uphold Roe v. Wade (i.e., justices who are willing to take upon themselves the power to decide when life begins and how nascent life can/should be treated). To me, that really says it all.

Finally, one little joke from the Justice:

Q. What is the meaning of a "moderate" interpretation of the Constitution?
A. An interpretation halfway between what the Constitution says and what a justice would like it to say.

Questions Conservatives Should Welcome

Here, left wing law professor Cass Sunstein weighs in on what he believes the Judiciary Committee should ask Judge Roberts.

Some of his suggestions aren't half bad. I'd be interested to know what Judge Roberts thinks about originalism, and what he believes constitutes judicial "activism" (to me, it's not simply a matter of whether one votes to reverse precedent. It's whether one is trying to impose by judicial fiat revolutionary policy and political changes that are contrary to the expressed wishes of the country).

More generally, it would be wonderful for the hearings to be a learning opportunity for all of us. Republicans and conservatives shouldn't fear this prospect -- they should welcome it. It's been far too long that liberals have acted as though some of their very radical constitutional interpretation is simply the "mainstream." And with his intellect, his cool head, and his vaunted ability to answer even the toughest questions cogently, Judge Roberts would be the perfect man for the job -- if he chose to do it.

To take one example: We tend to believe that the original intent of the founding fathers matters -- and are less likely to be of the view, as Sunstein delicately puts it, that the "meaning of the Constitution evolves over time." For if that's the case, who's to decide what the meaning of the document is? Nine unelected judges? That's called oligarchy. No, there's no need to fear -- if our positions are properly explained -- that the majority of the country is against us.

One final note: Sunstein loses all credibility at the end of the piece when he aruges that:

But Justices David Souter, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- to name just four -- provided answers that offered strong indications about their most fundamental beliefs.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg??? She refused to answer so many questions that no one learned anything through her hearing (although everyone knew she was a hard-core lefty even before it). And as for David Souter -- if his answers had provided any indication about what he turned out to be, scores of Republicans would have voted against him . . . and Teddy Kennedy would have supported him.

Hurricane Update

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is live-blogging the hurricane and its aftermath here.

LA Times & Media Criticism

The transcript of Hugh Hewitt's discussion with Tim Rutten (discussed here on this blog) is posted at Radioblogger (which also features these great pictures from the "you don't speak for me, Cindy" rally in Crawford).

What's most striking about the entire interview is Rutten's myopia. He reminds me of many of the people with whom I attended college and law school -- people who have lived so steeped in liberalism that they don't even realize that their world view is inevitably infected with it. Obviously, people like Rutten would believe that someone who was raised in the Bible Belt, attended Bob Jones or Liberty University, and then went to work for a religious publication would be biased, albeit perhaps unintentionally. Why can't he (and other journalists) acknowledge that, conversely, people who are raised in liberal strongholds, attend an Ivy League (or some other thoroughly secular) school, and then work for an a- or even anti-religious publication likewise are biased?

Here's a theory about why journalists are so deeply invested in the myth of complete objectivity: It's a marker of professionalism, in their eyes. Journalists believe they are smart, they believe they are performing a high order public service -- yet they're underpaid and underappreciated. And there is no particular degree or certification required to do their jobs. So the only way they can manifest their "professionalism" is through adhering to certain conventions.

But as soon as they admit that true "objectivity" doesn't exist, in their own minds, they've lost any claim to professional status -- because then they're just guys with opinions . . . like everyone else.

Even so, there's no disputing that the LA Times is infused with a liberal bias that's all the stronger for its refusal or inability to detect it. Exhibit A is this piece from last weekend's Magazine. It's a serious Q & A with a retired Claremont professor of theology who believes that the United States government perpetrated 9/11. What's the motivation? Global domination. Please. This is wing-nut weirdness.

If some retired professor believed that the government was placing fluoride in the water to facilitate mind control for nefarious left-wing purposes, surely The Times wouldn't give them the time of day. Yet they print this. But there's no bias. No, sireee.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

How to Help

CNN reports that there are 180 patients remaining at the Tulane Hospital, including -- heartbreakingly -- the tiny occupants of a neonatal intensive care unit.

If you want to help, don't forget about World Vision (it was my charity of choice after the tsunami). There's also the Red Cross - whose spokesman has omimously noted on CNN's crawl that, if Katrina meets projections, it could present the worst national disaster that the Red Cross (US presumably) has ever encountered.

And you can help by simply saying a prayer.

Landfall is expected between 7:00 and 8:00 am Central time.

Katrina Coverage - Fox v. CNN

I'm a Fox News Channel devotee. That being said, it's worth noting that Miles O'Brien (the best reporter at CNN, for my money) is staying at the stadium in New Orleans, which should make for some riveting coverage.

Update & Correction: Miles O'Brien is in Baton Rouge, LA.

Note to Readers & Commenters

Perhaps you've noticed some of the spam that has started to appear recently in the Comments section of this blog. Well, we're doing something about it. Blogger has offered a service that will block a lot of this stuff -- but it will require you to take an extra step in the commenting process by typing in a word that will appear on the screen. I believe the extra step is worth it -- but if you disagree, let me know.

Also, I've changed the settings so that anyone -- not just those registered -- can comment. I welcome your thoughts and participation!

Say a Prayer For New Orleans

From the sound of the discussion on CNN, the news out of New Orleans may prove to be grim. An expert just noted that it's 50/50 whether, as Aaron Brown put it (to paraphrase), the entire city will destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The farther to the east the storm lands, the less catastrophic it will be, according to news reports. In any case, the situation sounds very, very serious.

Here's an overview.

Say a prayer for everyone in Katrina's path.

"Blog of the Week" Contest

Don't forget to participate over at Radioblogger.

The rules for participating in the contest are linked on the left hand side of the page!

The Difference Between Revs. Sharpton & Robertson

Imagine the outcry if the Rev. Pat Robertson had been invited to address Colorado Republicans. Why? Because just this week, he (wrongly) called for the assassination of Venezualan president (and American adversary) Hugo Chavez (and then, quite correctly, apologized).

There is no defending Robertson's remarks or behavior. That's why it would have been a mistake for Colorado Republicans to invite him to give a political address. And if that's true, it's even more wrong for the Colorado Democrats to have welcomed Al Sharpton as their speaker.

Certainly Pat Robertson's remarks about Chavez were wrong. And some have criticized his business dealings in harsh terms. Fair enough. But notice that he's not being asked to headline any Republican events.

Now let's look at Al Sharpton. As the story linked above notes delicately,

[Sharpton's]name has often been linked to controversy.

He’s most famous for taking up the cause of Tawana Brawley in 1987. The then-15-year-old girl claimed she was abducted and raped by six white law-enforcement officers. Critics say Sharpton fueled the racially tense situation by likening prosecutors to Adolf Hitler and charging that then-Gov. Mario Cuomo was linked to organized crime and the Ku Klux Klan.

Within a year of Brawley going public with her story, a grand jury declared her tale a hoax and cleared the officers involved.

In 1995, Sharpton called a Jewish shopkeeper from Harlem a “white interloper.” Several months after those comments — which Sharpton has said he regrets — the man’s shop was torched.

The piece neglects to mention that Sharpton never himself paid the judgment assessed against him in a defamation suit springing from the Brawley case (his friends ponied up the money for him), and he never apologized, either.

There are more examples of Sharpton's wrongdoing than that, as this piece points out, including what sounds like a pretty serious flirtation with anti-Semitism.

The difference between Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton? Aside from the differences in scope, scale and kind of their misdeeds, it's this: The former has no power in his party. The latter, quite clearly, does.

Pull Up a Chair, Pop Up the Corn

David von Drehle of The Washington Post predicts that John Roberts is a "bad bet for fireworks" in his Judiciary Committee hearings.

Yes, but that's what makes him so dangerous to the Democratic leftists, poseurs and presidential wannabes who sit in a disproportionate number on the Committee, including: Biden, Feingold, Leahy, Kennedy and, of course, Durbin! One doesn't need fireworks from Roberts for the hearings to be delightfully entertaining. Watching the motley crew named above go red in the face as they rudely demand certain responses from Judge Roberts is, alone, worth the price of admission.

Even Dianne Feinstein , who enjoys a reputation for being much more moderate than her voting record would suggest, is claiming a special responsibility to obtain answers from John Roberts.

All of it promises to be very, very revealing.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Too Much Static

Perhaps the wish is father to the thought. In a piece running today, the LA Times' Tim Rutten speculates hopefully that conservative talk radio's time is up.

This, despite interviewing ever-more-popular radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt (described condescendingly by Rutten as someone who, "unlike most radio hosts, . . . actually talks rather than shouts and is witty and civil"). Hugh offers an excellent reason for the fact that talk radio's audience has decreased over the past year: We're no longer in the midst of a (very polarized) presidential election campaign.

But Rutten isn't convinced. As with all liberals, it all comes back to Iraq (which itself always comes back to Vietnam for them).

And what seems to offend Rutten most deeply is the idea that talk radio's stratospheric rise in popularity was enabled by biased reporting on the part of the mainstream media:

While the political talk-show hosts and right-wing bloggers claim to have a quarrel with mainstream media's alleged bias, their real gripe is that the news media's traditional values stand between them and what they'd like to accomplish, which is the total politicization of all reporting and analysis.

Actually, not so. Perhaps Rutten should do his homework. It's not just "political talk-show hosts and right-wing bloggers" who believe that the press is biased. According to a 2003 Pew Poll, so do 53% of Americans; fully 51% describe the bias as "liberal" -- including 41% of Democrats!

In fact, almost everyone would prefer straight, non-politicized, completely objective reporting. But judging from the fact that -- just to take one example -- two of the most influential Sunday news shows are hosted by a former Cuomo aide and a former Clinton aide, coupled with countless other examples that the Media Research Center exists to document (and which Bernie Goldberg's Bias sets forth in unnerving detail), it doesn't look like that's an achievable goal. So perhaps the best we can hope for is a media world where honesty about everyone's biases replaces the increasingly discredited insistence that the (liberal) voice of the MSM is merely the voice of neutral professional journalism.

Understandably, Rutten objects to any erosion in the "media's traditional values" -- because those "values" included an implicit acceptance of a status quo in which an unchallenged, liberal MSM could tell everyone "the way it was." But he doesn't probe deeply enough to come to terms with the fact that both at the Republic's founding and 100 or so years ago in the era of the penny press (the New York World, the San Franciso Examiner spring to mind), many papers made their ideological biases explicit (see here for a history of newspapers); the largely homogenous left-wing ideological bent of the elite press is a relatively new phenomenon; and that conservative talk radio arose in reaction (replacing the "populist model" that Rutten extols) almost as soon as the repeal of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" made it a viable enterprise.

Hugh Hewitt is going to play the recording of his interview with Rutten on his show Monday. It will be interesting (and possibly revealing) to have the chance to compare the excerpts in Rutten's piece with the whole.

By Their Friends Shall Ye Know Them

Looks like more of Cindy Sheehan's ideological soulmates are headed to Crawford.

For more on Cindy Sheehan's vigil, check out this stinging satire from The American Thinker.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

For centuries, human beings have striven to raise themselves above animals -- with religion and culture (literature, art, music, philosophy, medicine, etc.).

Now, there is a group of perverse humans bent on demonstrating that they are no different than animals.

"Seeing people in a different environment, among other animals ... teaches members of the public that the human is just another primate," [London Zoo spokesman Polly] Wills said.

Well, maybe that's true for some humans -- and after all, if you can see it, you can be it. Perhaps the rest of us are trying for something just a bit more elevated. But hey, to each his own -- as the more libertarian monkeys say.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Very Worthy Cause

Check out Hugh Hewitt's call to help equip Michael Yon with night vision goggles. A worthy cause, indeed.

Just a "Goody Two Shoes"?

Examining John Roberts' cautious ambition, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick asserts that "Roberts is not a fan of broad strokes and big drama—not from the judiciary and not from himself." Hence, she concludes, he's not likely to be a Clarence Thomas -- part of a category of "men unafraid of tearing down centuries of constitutional scaffolding in order to impose their own theories of constitutional construction." (Incidentially, it would be interesting to have Ms. Lithwick explain just how revisiting some unjustifiable precedents from the last 70 years constitutes "tearing down centuries of constitutional scaffolding" -- especially when the USA has only been around a total of 229 years anyway.)

She may be right. The prudence that Judge Roberts has displayed in his climb to power may be reflective of his behavior once he's on the Court. But it's equally plausible that he may have been prudent during his climb to power so that he'd actually get to a place where the sharp (and often controversial) views set forth in his early memos could have maximum influence.

Put Down That Spoon!

According to this piece by San Francisco's ABC affiliate, a foundation funded by Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's fame)is subsidizing "Camp Casey."

Some of the others involved reads like a list of the usual suspects:

Earlier this month, helped organize anti-war vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan. Current Democratic National Party chair Howard Dean's organization, Democracy for America, is also involved. As is the more radical anti-war group Code Pink, organized by San Francisco's Medea Benjamin.

How typical.

Anti War Mythology

Those who oppose the Iraq war realize that -- offering nothing but defeat, failure and an "Iraq's-not-our-problem" mentality -- they need some mythology to try to bring the otherwise unconvinced to their side.

Hence their insistence that the woman conducting a pathetic sideshow of maternal bereavement be named "Mother Sheehan". And now, it appears, at least one strange woman in Carbondale, Illinois, has perpetrated a two year hoax that kept a local newspaper riveted by false accounts of a little girl's letters to her father in Iraq, filled with pleas like "Don't die, OK?" and denunciations of President Bush including the following: "I'm rily mad at you and you make my hart hurt. I don't think your doing a very good job. You keep sending soldiers to Iraq and it's not fair. Do you have a soldier of your own in Irak?"

All fake. The op/ed column the newspaper gave over to the little girl's supposed dispatches -- a big mistake. Wonder if they'll offer any column inches to some real little girl out there who misses her dad but supports the war?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bias? Decide for Yourself

A post here yesterday alludes to charges of bias on the part of some of the authors of the controversial new report arguing that unborn babies don't feel pain until 27 weeks.

Today, USA Today has more on the backgrounds of those accused of conflicts of interest. The Journal of the American Medical Association says it would have accepted the piece even if it had known of the alleged conflicts (which it didn't); the authors, of course, deny all.

Read the piece and decide for yourself.

To me, past affiliations with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League on the part of one author, and at the abortion provider Women's Options Center at San Francisco General Hospital on the part of the other, make me pretty suspicious.

Wonder if JAMA will publish appropriate studies submitted by those affiliated with National Right to Life?

The Incoherent Mario Cuomo

This piece in today's LA Times from Mario Cuomo gives new meaning to the phrase from Macbeth -- it truly is "full of sound and fury; signifying nothing." (Of course, this isn't the first example of Cuomo mouth-over-mind disease).

Titled "Put a little faith in Roberts," the subhead reads as follows: "Go ahead, ask him about his religious beliefs. As long as he puts the Constitution first, there should be no problem."

Mario Cuomo begins by arguing that "[C]onservative clerics and politicians" "demand that Catholic officials make political decisions reflecting their religious belief that abortion is tantamount to murder and work to overturn Roe vs. Wade and other laws that make abortion legal."

So from the outset, he misstates the facts. No conservative that I've ever known has ever presumed to demand that Catholics make political decisions in conformity with their religion. Conservatives have merely pointed out that many liberal Catholic politicians -- who make it a point to be seen prominently at Mass -- often decline to follow their own Church's teachings in their political dealings.

He then goes on to note:

Article VI of the Constitution states two things: first, that all officials — "judges as well as legislators" — must take an oath swearing that they will support the Constitution as "the supreme law of the land," their personal beliefs to the contrary notwithstanding. It also states that no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any public office.

Generally, the courts have interpreted this to mean that no one shall be required to profess or deny a religious belief in order to be deemed qualified for public office.

Finally, a little later, he adds:

No one is suggesting that being a Catholic or any kind of believer could by itself be a disqualification for a seat on the Supreme Court. . . . The question about Roberts' beliefs in effect asks whether he would impose his own personal test, religious or otherwise, on his reading of the Constitution: Would he say he might ignore his oath to support the Constitution if faced with an overriding personal belief?

So it seems that Mario Cuomo has adopted a stance that -- what?

(1) If the only question for Judge Roberts is whether he would impose any "personal test" (religious or otherwise) above the administration of the Constitution, there's no argument about that -- it's an entirely proper question. Of course, when a public official swears to "support the Constitution as 'the supreme law of the land,'" as Cuomo puts it, he implicitly pledges that there will be no "personal test." But whatever. If all Governor Cuomo's concerns can be addressed by the posing of a redundant question, by all means, let's do it!

(2) If, on the other hand, as the subhead reads (and in fairness, authors often don't title their own pieces), the issue is asking Judge Roberts about his religious beliefs, the question would be -- if the judge swears to uphold the Constitution -- what is the point? Surely the Senate isn't simply seeking to hold a seminar on the fine points of Catholic theology. Rather, the questions would be asked as part of the senators' efforts to discern Judge Roberts' fitness to sit on the Supreme Court. And if that's the case, by Governor Cuomo's own definition above, it would constitute an unconstitutional religious test -- that is, a situation where Judge Roberts' profession or denial of a particular religious belief would be used in determining his qualifications for the Supreme Court.

In short, Mario Cuomo is trying to create a dilemma where none exists. Of course, any nominee can be asked whether there is any consideration -- religious or otherwise -- that would prevent him from fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution. And of course no one can be quizzed on the substance of his/her religious beliefs, when the answer is going to play a part in the determination of whether they're qualified for a government job. So the end result of the Governor's pontifications is: You can require primary allegiance to the Constitution, you can't impose a religious test. Tres simple, non? So where's the "Hobson's choice" for Roberts that Cuomo gleefully posits?

A little research into the stance of another Catholic on the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, would have saved valuable column space for the LA Times, tedium for its readers, and embarassment for Governor Cuomo. Justice Scalia noted that "the choice for the judge who believes [a legally unobjectionable law] to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the [law at issue].”

Yes, tres simple.

Humorless Liberals

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is "vexed" (as this AP story puts it) about written comments that flowed from John Roberts' sharp eye and keen pen -- more than twenty years ago.

True, liberals do seem to have ever-shifting standards that they apply to Republican presidents' nominees. But has it really come to the point where some snarky little written commments (many of them quite funny) by a young man two decades ago is a federal issue?

No wonder feminists are stereotyped as humorless. Lighten up, Sen. Feinstein. And, by the way, this entire episode is pretty revealing about the senator's character and priorities. She waxes indignant over some tongue-in-cheek remarks from a twenty-something, but I don't recall her objecting to some of the crass, obscene and inappropriate junk that passes for humor on the left. Selective outrage, perhaps?

TiVo Alert - It's Norma Shearer Day!

Ladies and gentlemen, set your TiVos! It's Norma Shearer day on Turner Classic Movies.

On the TCM site, Norma Shearer is described as "one of MGM's first female superstars, [who] amassed six Oscar® nominations for Best Actress." (She won for "The Divorcee," which will be on this evening.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Who is James Flug?

Robert Novak reports on Teddy Kennedy's garbage man -- I mean, "gunslinger."

Just Relax, Lloyd

In one of the silliest columns I've read in a long time, some columnist for named Lloyd Garver is upset that the President's resting pulse rate is an excellent 47 beats per minute.

Lloyd is worried that because the President is fit and collected, he's not worried enough about world affairs. And that's worrying poor Lloyd. It's a little bit of the same mindset that thought President Clinton was a hard worker because he and his staff stayed in the West Wing until 1 am, eating pizza and holding bull sessions.

Guess what, Lloyd? Belief in a "higher power" can offer quite a sense of calm even in the midst of turmoil. Look into it.

Some Good News About Reenlistment

Over at Betsy's Page, there's some good news about military reenlistment. Check out the blog, and note that Betsy's been a busy lady . . . guest blogging for Michelle Malkin.

In Other News, the Pope is Catholic

Is there anyone who's surprised? Ralph Neas and People for the American Way has decided to oppose John Roberts.

The reason? Roberts was supposedly "at the epicenter" of the Reagan Revolution. And that puts him out of the mainstream? Not so much. In his re-election Reagan only carried carries 49 states in a landslide and dealt his opponent the most overwhelming defeat since Alf Landon.

Interpreting the Law, Not Making It

Today, Duke Law School professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Catherine Fisk have a piece in USA Today titled "Judges do make law -- it's their job."

The piece is a set-up for the Roberts hearings, and essentially alleges that both conservative and liberal judges "make" law through their rulings -- and that "[c]onservatives are no more willing than liberals to defer to government choices they dislike." Well, the former charge is true insofar as of course (as the authors note) "judicial lawmaking" may consist of "the interpretation of vague constitutional or statutory provisions" or a determination that "clear legal language means something different than what a layperson might think."

But the key question is on what basis a judge (or justice) reaches a decision on these matters in the tough cases. And that's the difference between conservative and liberal jurisprudence: Conservatives rely on the plain text of the Constitution, the intent and understanding of the founding fathers when they ratified it, and time-honored and (virtually) universally accepted principles. Liberals rely on their own (elite) policy preferences, the trends of the day, and other extra-judicial materials.

Take an example that Chemerinsky and Fisk offer:

Two years ago, conservatives were angry the top court did not declare unconstitutional the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action program. That same year, conservatives were outraged the court overturned the Texas law prohibiting private consensual homosexual activity.

That makes sense to me. Even many of the founding fathers thought that slavery (ie race based discrimination) was wrong -- hence the compromise to allow at least some counting of slaves as part of the population of their state, albeit inexcusably as only 3/5 of a person. Enough Americans believed slavery (race based discrimination) was wrong to fight the Civil War in large part over it. And certainly no one (absent a few fringe weirdos) would today argue that the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- eliminating many of the outrageous Jim Crow arrangements that disgraced this country for too long -- was misguided. Equality is a core American commitment, and has been from the beginning (remember the Declaration's "All men are created equal"?). That commitment has been the engine that has driven the peaceful and democratic realization of that principle from its imperfect inception. Given all those facts, seeing a system established that in fact justifies and enshrines racial discrimination implemented and administered by a state university is good cause for anger.

In contrast, Lawrence v. Texas was a case that illustrates the characteristics of liberal jurisprudence. Through no textual basis in the Constitution, historical precedent, or near-universally shared belief, the liberal majority on the Court substituted its (elitist, blue-state) judgment for that of the Texas legislature, and found that there is never a "rational basis" for legislation that is based primarily on moral considerations. It was done in order to find a Constitutional right to homosexual sodomy -- a "right" that had hitherto never been found in the Constitution, and has certainly never been a core American commitment in the mold of racial equality (in fact, the Supreme Court had ruled the opposite way on the same question about 21 years earlier in Bowers v. Hardwick). What could justify such a radical volte-face in just 17 years (obviously, the words of the Constitution hadn't changed) but a desire to make new ("pathbreaking"), politically correct law from the bench? Seems to me some outrage certainly makes sense here.

Finally, any examination of liberal jurisprudence must include Kelo v. New London. That's the case that allows the government to "take" private property and give it to private developers who will pay more taxes. Conservative jurists objected -- the Fifth Amendment plainly reads: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." And "public use" means what it means and has always meant -- public use, i.e. road, bridge, airport. Liberals, however, rewrote the Fifth Amendment -- "public use" = "public purpose" = "higher tax revenues." And so the prospect of receiving higher taxes from one private party than another was somehow deemed to be a "public use" sufficient to justify the government's confiscation of one private landowner's property to be given it to another, more favored private landowner.

Chemerinsky and Fisk admit that liberal judges "make" law -- a concession that they must make, as their own examples demonstrate that judges uphold racial discrimination but strike down laws that represent a people's long-held moral consensus. The only way they can ameliorate this sad fact is to argue that "well, conservatives do it, too!"

Not so.

Painful to Witness

That would be the efforts of the pro-choice movement to capitalize on the results of a dubious "study" that alleges that unborn children don't feel pain until the 27th week of gestation.

Of course, this makes no sense, given that 23 week olds can now survive outside the womb -- and all indications from these babies is that their "pain mechanisms" are fully working. (And see this Georgetown University document, noting that "pain can probably begin to be felt" in the 18-24 week period).

In addition, apparently this much-touted "study" doesn't introduce any new research; it's an "overview" and interpretation of other studies (its relationship to scientific experimentation is analogous to that of historiography to history).

One other matter of interest: Sandy Rios, former president of Concerned Women for America just appeared on Fox News, opposite Kim Gandy, President of NOW -- and stated that one of the study's authors was affiliated the Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy in San Francisco, a place that quite openly approves of and provides abortions. One of the other authors supposedly has connection to NARAL.

Certainly, this by itself doesn't invalidate any research they may have done; but it should be reported (and isn't, anywhere I could find) because it does, indeed, suggest that the research was less than disinterested, and may have been used as the handmaiden to an agenda.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The New Religious Persecution

In Canada, Bishop Fred Henry is being hauled in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

His "violation" of human rights? Speaking out against gay marriage in a pastoral letter to members of his diocese and in The Calgary Sun. As a result of Bishop Henry's outspoken defense of traditional values, two complaints were filed in front of the Commission -- which declined to dismiss them. So he is being called to answer. The process is projected to take about a year.

This should elicit widespread outrage -- even from those who don't agree with Bishop Henry's views. It is persecution of religious ideas . . . a bald attempt to impose an Inquistion by the Church of Political Correctness. Even if the Commission eventually exonerates Bishop Henry of human rights abuses (how ridiculous!), such proceedings are likely to have a chilling effect on the practice of orthodox religions of all sorts.

There is no place for this kind of persecution in modern civilized society. For shame, Alberta!

A Question for You, Readers!

According to this piece, the US has stopped funding an abstinence program after the ACLU sued on the grounds that it improperly implicated religion. As you'll note from reading the piece, there's no information on what was the verboten, allegedly religious element.

The program claims that it has helped 30,000 young people remain abstinent -- not a bad track record. But as far as the ACLU is concerned, better to let them become parents than to hear an impermissibly religious element in the abstinence program. And as a result, we get stories like this.

Readers, do YOU think that an abstinence program can be highly effective without a religous component? Are threats about a reduced standard of living, late night feedings and disease as effective as appeals and explications of religious faith? I'd like to know your thoughts, dear readers -- so please comment or else email me HERE.

More on 9/11 Commission

The Pentagon is having a hard time finding the supporting documents, but now Col. Shaffer's account -- that Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta before the 9/11 attacks, and the 9/11 Commission knew it -- appears to have been corroborated by an active-duty Navy captain.

Take the Poll

Here it is. It's easy, it's fun -- and it's very, very interesting.

Show-Me Skepticism About Hillary

Here's a piece about Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions that's definitely worth reading.

Apparently, Democrats in Kansas and Missouri (the Show-Me State) are concerned about Hillary Clinton running for president on the grounds that she has too much baggage and would galvanize the other side. John Hancock, head of the Missouri Republican Party, seems to welcome the idea of Hillary's candidacy.

Why are these reactions worth noting? Because Missouri is the biggest bellwether state in the country. It almost exactly mirrors the nation's demographic, economic and political composition, and went with the winning presidential candidate in every election of the 20th century.

If Democrats there are nervous about Hillary, that's good news for Republicans nationwide.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Best of What's Left

Brendan Miniter writes an amusing -- and spot on -- piece about conservatives' increasingly savvy deployment of stereotypically liberal strategies to win the battle of ideas. Some of what's being done is both clever and innovatively adapted.

As for the left, all it's still got is a monopoly on Joan Baez. I know what side I'm on -- and I'm glad about it!

On God and Science

Here is a piece from The New York Times that demonstrates how relatively rare religious belief is among scientists -- and many scientists' quasi-religious insistence that religon and science are inherently incompatible.

It's worth a read, and a couple of passages merit comment.

Although they embrace religious faith, these scientists also embrace science as it has been defined for centuries. That is, they look to the natural world for explanations of what happens in the natural world and they recognize that scientific ideas must be provisional - capable of being overturned by evidence from experimentation and observation. This belief in science sets them apart from those who endorse creationism or its doctrinal cousin, intelligent design, both of which depend on the existence of a supernatural force.

As so often happens in the pages of The New York Times, there's an effort to create a distinction between a "belief in science" and belief in "the existence of a supernatural force."

But it's worth noting that evolution itself has several factors that have not yet been satisfactorily explained even within the confines of the "natural world" -- yet those who raise these shortcomings in the theory encounter an animus more usually reserved for those who challenge a religious belief, not a scientific one.

As I wrote here (entry includes appropriate links), the theory of evolution cannot be tested nor its results replicated, the way most scientific hypotheses can. And the theory doesn't explain the fact that populations of species vary only within certain limits or that variations that do occur often lapse once the environmental threat that precipitated them has been allayed. Nor can it account for the fact that, as Charles Darwin noted in Chapter 9 of Origins of Species, the fossil record had failed to "reveal any . . . finely graduated organic chain" linking existing species to predecessors. Finally, there remains the question: Why did natural selection evolve "up" into humans, rather than simply evolving "down" into a simple organism that could survive almost any conditions, e.g. the cockroach?

He rejects the idea that scientists who reject religion are arrogant. "We know how many mistakes we've made," Dr. Weinberg said. And he is angered by assertions that people without religious faith are without a moral compass.

Certainly, people who reject religion aren't uniformly arrogant -- just as those who embrace it aren't uniformly humble. But the "moral compass" that people without faith possess . . . where exactly does it come from? From religious principles, of course. No matter how brilliant the scientist, he didn't contruct a novel "moral code" all by himself.

One could go on in this vein indefinitely. But please note that one of the believing doctors, Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, was brought to faith by reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. His experience is not unique; Mere Christinaity is a very wonderful and important book that has changed many, many lives for the better.

New Yorker Piece on Hugh Hewitt

It's been some time since Hugh Hewitt first mentioned in passing on the air that a profile of him was being prepared by Nicholas Lemann of The New Yorker.

Call it paranoia, call it pessimism. I confess to having wondered whether one of liberalism's house organs would treat Hugh fairly.

But having just finished reading the piece, I'm pleased. No, I don't think the piece does Hugh justice -- but then again, as an unabashed Hewitt partisan (and someone who has been the frequent beneficiary of his many acts of disinterested kindness), I'm a tough sell.

But on the whole, the author is straightforward about what Hugh believes, where he's been, what he does and how he does it. Lemann keeps the snarkiness to a minimum and actually seems to have grasped the revolutionary potential of Hugh's work on the internet -- particularly with "Beyond the News," a site that may well become conservatism's premier internet resource.

Lemann likewise seemed to understand the dynamics of "The Hugh Hewitt Show" very well -- evidenced by his designation of Generalissimo Duane as Hugh's "indispensable producer."

Most importantly, Hugh's religious beliefs were neither ignored, shortchanged nor treated disrespectfully. In fact, it's clear that the author came to like and respect Hugh Hewitt a great deal over the course of preparing this piece.

And that observation compels one further thought: Yes, of course Hugh's contributions as radio talk show host and "the godfather of the blogosphere" are enormous. But even more than that, he has done more than anyone in media/public life today to dispel the unfair left-wing stereotype of committed Christians as unintelligent, unsophisticated and dour. Hugh's consistent good humor and sense of fun, coupled with the courtesy he demonstrates even toward those with whom he disagrees, provide a daily, living testament to the power of religious faith in modern ife.

Little Spending (So Far) on Roberts Nomination

According to this piece, the relatively low sums of money spent by special interest groups on both sides indicates that the Roberts nomination won't be much of a fight.

Maybe so, maybe not. Certainly it indicates that the conservative groups don't see the need to spend a lot of money if the liberal groups aren't.

But the liberal groups may only be waiting for the hearings to begin. It doesn't sound like the leftist interest groups intend to go down without a fight.

Good News in Great War on Terror

Here's something you won't find in many newspapers, courtesy of Michael Barone. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, support for terrorism is declining significantly all across the Middle East (HT: Hugh Hewitt).

Remember all the sturm und drang about Rumsefeld's memo -- the one where he noted: "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

The Pew Global Attitude Projects results suggest that cautious optimism is in order.

The Blessings of Science

Wonderful news from Harvard Medical School is reported today in The Washington Post. Apparently, scientists have found a way to transform ordinary skin cells into embryonic stem cells -- and there's no need for either human eggs or the harvesting of new human embryos.

How wonderful it would be if the horrible moral implications of creating and then harvesting human embryos could be avoided, thereby enabling scientists to use the stem cells to find cures for disease.

It will be interesting to see if there's as much excitement over this development on the left as on the right. My sense always was that there was a certain eagerness on the part of pro-choicers to try to use the stem cell debate to lower public qualms about acting against the unborn.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Dems, Please Listen to Teddy!

According to the NY Times, there is a conflict within Democratic ranks about how to treat the Roberts nomination.

The interest groups and senators like Teddy Kennedy want to go to the mattresses and fight. Other, more intelligent senators (like former Senator John Breaux) understand how that will look to regular Americans -- who see a superbly qualified and decent man in Judge Roberts.

As a partisan Republican, of course I hope they choose the Teddy/NARAL path. If they do, pull up a chair & pop up the corn, and let the games begin! Let's watch the Democrats alienate regular America.

Note: The story says that "[Senator] Feingold [D-WI] said that he considered a Supreme Court nominee too important to evaluate in only political terms ...." Hmm. Someone on the Dem side as worried about intellect and integrity (the sole criteria applied to Justices Breyer and Ginsburg) as he is about Roe? Color me shocked.

Text of Max Cleland's Remarks

As I noted yesterday, this was a disgrace. Read it for yourself -- and many thanks to reader Peter for the link to the text!

Using quotes in yesterday's post around the words "psychological" and "concern" may have given some readers the impression that Senator Cleland used these terms verbatim. To be clear, he didn't (that's why it's helpful to have a copy of the remarks, rather than relying on one's recollection from driving around in the car).

Here's how he approached the topic of soldier psychology:

"A quarter of a million American servicemen and women have returned to our country to face an uncertain future. They bring with them the horrors and pain of a war with no end."
. . .

"We should be expanding VA healthcare - especially counseling for veterans and their families dealing with the emotional aftermath of war.

The toll on the serviceman and women in a war where a distinct majority of the casualties are due to explosive devices is especially devastating."

The clear implication of his assertions about soldiers suffering "the horrors and pain" of war, the need for "counseling," and the charge that the toll of war is somehow more "devastating" when soldiers witness casualties because of "explosive devices" all indicates that former Senator Cleland is talking about psychological matters -- and that was my clear sense in hearing (rather than reading) the address.

Please read the remarks for yourself, and judge whether you think they are constructive and well-meaning -- albeit critical -- or simply an effort, intentional or not, to do nothing more than drive down support for the President and the war for political ends.

Again, I honor Senator Cleland's service in the Vietnam War -- as I respect Senator McCain's. But even valorous service like his doesn't mean he is immune from criticism when he is (in my opinion) wrong about subsequent matters. After all, Aaron Burr served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, then made some disastrous choices after. Of course, one would never equate Senators Cleland or McCain with Aaron Burr . . . the point is that brave military service doesn't mean that a political figure becomes magically shielded from either mistakes or accountability for them in perpetuity thereafter.

Sounds Like a Conservative to Me

The Washington Post today tries to sum up the contents of some of John Roberts' memos during his years in the Reagan Administration.

His writings sound pretty normal and conservative to me. But note the Post's snarky description of Roberts as "A successful son of the American establishment." As opposed to whom? Radical outsiders like Justices Ginsburg or Breyer? If there's a justice from outside the corridors of the "American establishment," it's Justice Thomas. But I don't seem to recall that fact making the Post any more in favor of his nomination and confirmation.

A Cynical Ploy?

Is it just me, or is there something that seems deeply cynical about the Democrats' strategy as outlined in this story -- to find and recruit disgruntled Iraq vets to run for office?

It seems clear that in certain segments of the Democratic Party, the most profound interest in soldiers is how to use them to gin up anti-war opinion in the United States. It's important to note that the vast majority of soldiers support the war effort, and that there will always be -- in any operation -- some percentage of its participants that will disagree with either the mission or how it's being executed.

Finding the disgruntled, and using them to promote an opinion that is frequently dismissed by the public when it comes from anyone other than a vet, does nothing to enhance the image of the military as a whole, does nothing to enhance the well-being (psychological or physical) or morale of the soldiers on the ground -- nor, really, does it speak well of those who are doing the complaining (unless they have a legitimate whistle-blowing issue). But, hey -- what do the Democrats care, so long as they can gain some seats and some power in the nation's capitol?

Certainly, everyone in America has a right to speak, but there's something just a little creepy about the Democratic efforts to tempt soldiers to become little John Kerry mini-mes. It's truly a cynical ploy. Will it work? I'm not so sure that it will. But it's interesting to see that a party that has frequently been deemed anti-military is willing to embrace soldiers -- so long as they are willing to repudiate their own mission.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Left Wing Exploiters

Here is a must-read, as The Weekly Standard's Noemie Emery eviscerates the shameless grief-based politics of the left.

Another group exploited by Democrats is the soldiers in Iraq. Today, listening to Max Cleland's response to the President's weekly radio address, I was dumbstruck (I can't find a transcript -- if you are able to do so, please email me the link at or else please leave it as a comment). . .

The response was nothing more than a jumble of bitter accusations toward the President, toward the conduct of the war in Iraq, and about the supposed mistreatment of American soldiers by the Bush Administration. If it had been designed as a deliberate attack on the wartime morale of the American people, it couldn't have been more perfect.

Most distasteful was Cleland's purported "concern" about the "psychological" well-being of the troops in Iraq, as though they are weak people who are about to crack -- perpetuating the Vietnam-era increasingly-discredited myth of the deranged combat vet. (And if they were, in fact, psychologically vulnerable, wouldn't Cleland's attack on their mission only exacerbate the problem?)

Max Cleland is to be honored for his service in Vietnam. But whatever his valor in those days, they don't immunize him from criticism -- whether of his legislative decisions when he was in office, his over-the-top condemnation of the war and the Administration, or his (and his party's) abject failure to offer a single constructive idea (as I noted here).

And certainly the Democrats should stop exploiting the grief stricken, the embittered and the military in their unceasing concern with nothing more than their own political fortunes.

Radical Chic at Harvard

In The New York Times, there appears an entertaining piece about being a conservative at Harvard in the late '70's/dawn of the '80's -- that is, during the period that John Roberts was an undergraduate and law student there. (Note the mention of Hugh Hewitt as one of the "influential conservatives" at Harvard during this time).

The description of the leftism of campus life seems pretty accurate, based on my own experience as a law student from '89-'92. There is a certain expectation in the air at Harvard (or at least there was, when I was there) that the "left" is the norm; anything else is a deviation.

Even so, I found Harvard Law School to be much more tolerant of political dissent than was Princeton, where I was an undergraduate. Maybe it's because people at law school were a little more mature, maybe it's because my law school professors (even the hard-core radicals like Duncan Kennedy, one of my favorites) didn't stigmatize conservative viewpoints.

Being labeled "a conservative" did tend to make one stand out in a crowd, but the crowd wasn't necessarily hostile. And the experience was a bracing one -- I've read about minorities feeling as though their performance or behavior was being taken as "representative" of an entire race . . . there was a similar feeling that one was constantly serving as a "model" for everyone else about how conservatives think/feel/act and so prudence and decorum was generally in order.

Certainly, in my experience, with a bit of good humor and grace one could thrive as a conservative at Harvard . . . whereas, at Princeton (where I was an undergrad), my car was vandalized (albeit in a minor way), the message board on my dorm room door was repeatedly ripped down, and harassing phone messages were routinely to be found on my answering machine -- all (I think) because I wrote a weekly column for The Daily Princetonian that propounded such "modest proposals" as: "Dan Quayle Is NOT a total idiot" and "The FBI isn't necessarily evil."

Law school friends who went to other undergraduate schools (like Yale, Georgetown and Stanford) wouldn't necessarily agree with me; I know they experienced Harvard as much more hostile to conservatives than I did. Which probably goes to show that a lot of how one interpreted the climate at Harvard had to do with one's previous experiences.

So Tart It's Sweet

It's official -- I am now a huge John Roberts fan, not just intellectually, but personally . . . at least if his views haven't changed from those that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank sets out in his column.

Here's Roberts' tart comments, circa 1984, having read remarks Reagan was to deliver upon bestowing an award on Michael Jackson that said 100 women who work at the White House "all said their name is Billie Jean." Roberts wrote:

"Cognoscenti will recognize the allusion to a character in one of Mr. Jackson's popular ballads, a young lass who claims -- falsely, according to the oft-repeated refrain of the singer -- that the singer is the father of her illegitimate child. This may be someone's idea of presidential humor, but it certainly is not mine."

Oh yes. And generally on the idea of bestowing an award on Michael Jackson, Roberts had this to say:

"The whole episode would, in my view, be demeaning to the President."

Quite so. How refreshing -- how heartening -- that the idea of propriety isn't a dead letter (at least as of 20 years ago in John Roberts' world).

The hipsters no doubt will try to denigrate what sounds like an old fashioned sense of what is becoming a president. But in an era marked by often crass appeals to the lowest common denominator (in movies and in so much else), Roberts' voice sounds like a cry for dignity and a sense of what is fitting in a world where both are, sadly, too often in short supply.

John Roberts' tart comments are more than sweet . . . they are the mark of a real and good and honorable man.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Roberts Roundup

Sounds like the young John Roberts was a cautious young man -- with quite a sense of humor -- who believed in judicial restraint and who had quite a far-ranging and sensible grasp of policy.

So far, so good. Of course, nothing will please Pat Leahy -- or his masters. But we knew that already.

Thank you, Chris Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens says it all.

Merck Mess

Here is the account of the devastating verdict rendered against Merck.

I hope the jury is satisfied. It has, indeed, "sent a message" -- that it hates drug companies. The drug companies, incidentally, who will develop the vaccines and antidotes that could help all of us survive a worldwide epidemic, a biological or chemical attack -- or even the ravages of old age.

As someone who has taken Vioxx from time to time (it's an excellent drug-of-last-resort for intractable migraine headaches), I very much regret that it won't ever return to the market. And I regret even more that verdicts like this one -- as sad as individual deaths may be -- will have a chilling effect on the development and distribution of new and potentially lifesaving drugs.

John Roberts Hates Women (again!)

Here is another offering from The Washington Post -- blaringly headlined "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights."

The paragraph attempting to explain just how is as follows:

In internal memos, Roberts urged President Ronald Reagan to refrain from embracing any form of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment pending in Congress; he concluded that some state initiatives to curb workplace discrimination against women relied on legal tools that were "highly objectionable"; and he said that a controversial legal theory then in vogue -- of directing employers to pay women the same as men for jobs of "comparable worth" -- was "staggeringly pernicious" and "anti-capitalist."

And he was right on all counts. Thanks in overwhelming part to the single-handed efforts of Phyllis Schlafly (quoted later in the piece), the Equal Rights Amendment was shown to have a host of unintended consequences that would have been highly unpopular -- not to mention undesirable (e.g. requiring that women be drafted into the military). The whole comparable worth canard is discussed here (opposing comparable worth isn't anti-woman; it's pro-market economy). Whatever the "state initiatives to curb workplace discrimination against women" were (the Post doesn't tell us, of course), given the militant feminist tone of the times, it's not a leap to conclude that Roberts was probably 100% right in deeming them "highly objectionable."

Funny, isn't it, how "women's rights" as defined in this article are only those remedies for discrimination conferred by the government? The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were vital to ensuring that everyone would receive a fair shot. But here, the Post seems to confuse "women's rights" with radical remedies for unequal outcomes. And if John Roberts opposed them, in that view, he must oppose women's rights.

Simple. But wrong.

Teddy Speaks

There are few more intellectually dishonest, brass-knuckled partisan senators than Teddy Kennedy (I'll spare you the obvious Chappaquiddick jokes -- they're just too easy).

Today, he has a piece in The Washington Post, claiming that he needs -- needs! -- documents from John Roberts' tenure at the Justice Department (some twenty years ago) to ascertain whether the judge is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, i.e., whether his views comport with Teddy's own.

His argument is dishonest on its face. Is there anyone who thinks that Teddy Kennedy would really consider voting for John Roberts? I didn't think so . . . And given that he really doesn't have an open mind, it's hard to imagine why anyone would think that any of his "demands" should even be heard, much less met.

And former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger should be ashamed of himself. In the past, he has argued -- along with all the other former solicitors general -- that documents from that office shouldn't be subject to discovery by the legislative branch. Now, at least according to Teddy, he's attempting to argue that the Roberts case is a distinction:

"Roberts was writing memos not as a civil service lawyer but as a senior political appointee in a policymaking position, and the judgeship at stake isn't any federal judgeship but the Supreme Court itself."

This is just incredibly dishonest. First, the whole rationale for refusing to release confidential memoranda is that doing so would, in the future, deprive top policymakers of the unvarnished views of their subordinates. If that rationale obtains in the case of a "civil service lawyer," how much more is it relevant and important in the case of a "senior political appointee in a policymaking position"?

Second, Dellinger apparently is attempting to distinguish between "any judgeship" and "the Supreme Court itself." For someone who -- as Solicitor General -- was supposed to be dedicated to principled argument, this is laughable. The difference is one of degree, not of kind. The Supreme Court may be more powerful than the other federal courts, but the principles at stake are the same . . . Dellinger simply seems to imply that, if the position at stake is high enough, the principle doesn't matter. Disgraceful.

The rest of Teddy Kennedy's piece is nothing more than the usual mishmash of liberal pretension and accusation -- John Roberts will turn back the clock, he's against civil rights, blah, blah, blah. It's lucky for him that his brother was president; otherwise, his "sell by" date would have expired long ago.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thanks for nothing, Senator Allen

What could have compelled Senator George Allen -- Virginia senator and putative presidential candidate -- to have weighed in on the Cindy Sheehan matter, effectively second-guessing the President?

He, Senator Allen informs us, would have met with Sheehan. Is he unaware that President Bush has, in fact, already done so?

Whatever the merits of Allen's position (or lack thereof!), his venturing into this thicket doesn't, in my book, speak very highly for his political skills. He's not going to win any friends on the left with his goody-goody advice -- and he may well alienate some among conservatives who don't understand why he feels compelled to try to advise/criticize/one-up the President. People like me, for example . . .

Selective Immigration Outrage

Extremist, bigoted anti-immigration behavior is never acceptable. But "discussions" like this one by Ruben Navarette are, frankly, getting old.

It seems to me that Americans should be allowed to have strong opinions about the problems spawned by illegal immigration without being presumptively deemed racist or intolerant. And Navarette's argument -- that there would be no illegal immigration without employers to hire the illegal aliens -- is simply wrong.

Of course, many illegal immigrants come to this country seeking nothing more than a job; others, however, come looking for health benefits and other government subsidies. Given the hopelessness of their lot in some other countries, their desperation is understandable, but that doesn't make it any less burdensome (here is a piece I wrote on this topic and its political ramifications).

Nor is Latino/Hispanic opinion monolithic.

At any rate, Navarette's outrage is a bit selective. Where is his indignation about this travesty? As long as injustice like this is perpetuated, people will be angry . . . and -- at least about a brave Texan Marine who served overseas being denied "in state tuition" offered to illegal immigrants -- rightly so.

SG Request

Over at Confirm Them, it's being reported that a request has been sent for Roberts' papers to the Solicitor General's Office.

Solicitor General Paul Clement is a brilliant and honest person (and a friend from law school). He will do the right thing -- to the extent the choice is his to make.

The Roberts Silliness Never Ends

Here's another example: An AP story purporting to tell us how John Roberts disparaged state efforts to enforce equal rights for women.

The payoff for such a headline? A throwaway sentence in a memo, about whether it's really for the public good that a woman (who was a teacher) has become a lawyer.

Maybe Judge Roberts should ask his wife -- and how much animus can he have against female lawyers, seeing that he married one?

As a female lawyer myself, I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would deem this to be news.

Oh -- and by the way -- it makes a great deal of difference what "state efforts" the judge opposed. One can't help suspect that it's more likely that he was opposing comparable worth legislation than equal wage laws . . . not that the press is really helping make that distinction clear.

And if the feminists are intent on being indignant about something, maybe they should check out the statements and insinuations of Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, respectively -- suggesting that women were better off under Saddam Hussein. Sure, if you don't mind little things like rape rooms.

Update on 9/11 Commission Debacle

Here it is. Proving once more that our mothers were right: Pride does, indeed, goeth before a fall.

Giving the ABA Game Away

This story tells you all you need to know about the ABA game -- and how the left has tried to play it.

As reported yesterday, Judge Roberts received a "well qualified" rating from the ABA. Of course.

And it's long been obvious with anyone with eyes to see or lips to hear that the left has tried to turn the ABA ratings into a partisan evaluation (Mommy, why do all the "well qualified" judges believe in a living Constitution? [ subscription required]). Now, in their desperation, the left gives the game away. In response to the Roberts "well qualified" rating:

But Democrats pointed out that the ABA never got the chance to see nearly 50,000 pages of records related to Roberts' time as associate counsel to President Reagan, or documents relating to his work in the solicitor general's office under the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

No, the silly ABA just based the rating on his recent history as one of the nation's foremost Supreme Court advocates and his work on the D.C. Circuit. Funny how it wasn't obsessed with trying to read the political tea leaves from Judge Roberts' work twenty years ago.

The outcome highlights the wisdom of the President's ABA policy. Maybe being somewhat shut out of the process has restored the ABA's honesty . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Democratic Division

Here, The Washington Post analyzes the tensions -- exacerbated by the Roberts nomination -- that are simmering between different factions of the Democratic Party.

Here is the Democrats' choice, according to The Post:

[Democrats] can risk heading into the 2006 midterm elections with a demoralized base. Or they could potentially turn off swing voters, who may view Bush's nominee in less ideological terms and could recoil at a party they perceive as driven by die-hard activists.

It's a conundrum . . . and it couldn't be happening to a nicer group of people, now could it? If I were a mainstream Democrat, I would be a little nervous.

Here's why: The Roberts hearings will give full throat to the Democratic moonbat coalition -- what with Senators Leahy, Kennedy and Durbin on the committee. And then there's "slow Joe" Biden, who'll be grinning frantically as he seeks to garner activist support for his nascent presidential bid while simultaneously trying to avoid coming off as a left-wing lunatic. Not to mention obnoxious non-pareil Chuck Schumer. Talk about a parade of horribles . . . Red State Democrats watching from home will be, figuratively, shrieking in anguish.

In this context, the "voices of reason" on the Democratic side will come down to Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein and Herb Kohl. Ouch.

More Roberts Ridiculousness

Here is a simply unbelievable piece. It's about John Roberts' hometown -- and the fact that there were riots and racially restrictive covenants on some of the homes there during the '60's. (As if that makes it unique!).

Here's the most ludicrous paragraph of all:

It is hard to know how much Roberts' upbringing in this northern Indiana community on the shores of Lake Michigan influenced his views. Some say the fact that there were riots and restrictions on home ownership is not relevant at all.

Yes, "some" would say that -- in fact, any normal person would say that. Because John Roberts lived in a town where there were riots and racial covenants, it follows that . . . what? After all, Bill Clinton's childhood in the segregated South was constantly trotted out as proof of his racial sensitivity, not of the opposite.

In fact, it should be noted that racially restrictive covenants -- obviously invalid -- exist in many existing deeds (they're ugly relics of earlier times that have simply not been excised). In fact, in one of the Senate campaigns I worked on, we even found one in the deed of our candidate's opponent.

But even in opposition-campaign mode, it was deemed too ridiculously far-fetched to try to draw an inference about someone's racial attitudes based on a bigoted but obviously inoperative racially restrictive covenant in the deed to the opponent's house.

How much more ridiculous is it to try to gauge someone's racial attitudes by the fact that, more than thirty years ago, he lived in a town that had race riots and houses with racially restrictive covenants? Has the press coverage really come to this?

How profoundly ridiculous.

Update: For more on the background of these reporters, check out Radioblogger.

Lefty Lapdogs & Roberts Ridiculousness

Apparently, Democratic senators have not expressed enough venom about the Roberts nomination, and are therefore being called to heel by the fringe elements of their party.

How reassuring to know, as The Washington Post puts it, that

The response [to the liberal demands] was quick and pointed, as two key senators unleashed their sharpest criticisms yet of Roberts and sought to assure activists that the battle is far from over.

Not surprisingly, Teddy Kennedy and Pat Leahy fell quickly into line.

But really, the left-wing frustration is understandable -- what they've got (and are obviously peddling to the journos behind the scenes) is thin gruel, indeed. (Remember the "John-Roberts-opposes-equal-rights" gambit from yesterday?).

Judge Roberts was part of a unanimous panel that decided military could be used to try suspected terrorists at Guantanamo.

Any wrongdoing here? Nope. The best the Post can muster is this:

Nobody is alleging that Roberts sided with the administration to curry favor with Bush, but some academics say Roberts should have, at the very least, considered stepping aside to make sure there was not an appearance of conflict.

OOOh. Let's make everyone happy. Judge Roberts "considered" stepping aside, and then didn't. OK?

And now archivists at the Reagan Library have misplaced a file that Justice Department lawyers inspected. This is somehow news even though, according to the story, "Archivists said the lawyers returned the file but it now cannot be located." So what's the point?

No wonder the leftist moonbats are flashing signals with their magic decoder rings in Leahy and Kennedy's direction. (Once Durbin joins in, the leftist loon triumvirate will be complete.)

They must be pulling their hair out. This isn't the way it was supposed to be . . .

Accountability, Please!

In the whole 9/11 Commission mishmash of scandals, one thing is clear: As Deborah Orin points out today, Manhattan US Attorney Mary Jo White warned then Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick about the dangers of "insulat[ing] the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house."

The 9/11 Commission had this memo, and several related documents.

Yet nothing in the report -- which devoted only 3 out of 657 pages to "the wall" -- mentions them.

Why was this important issue ignored?

Inquiring minds want to know. And all Americans deserve to know.

A Wave of Foreboding

The Washington Post reports on what sounds like the possibility of a home-grown terrorist group out here in Los Angeles.

Only one of the three named suspects has a name that sounds Middle Eastern -- Hammad Riaz Samana. The other two are Gregory Vernon Patterson and Levar Haney Washington.

Here's a key sentence in the story:

The official said investigators are looking into whether the suspects have links to a radical Islamic group known as Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh -- roughly translated as the Assembly of Authentic Islam -- which has been known to have a presence in a state prison where one of the suspects was recently incarcerated.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger parodies would say: Hear me now, believe me later. Authorities need to pay much more attention to what is happening in America's prisons. They are ripe recruiting grounds for Al Qaeda -- a fabulous way to recruit home-grown Americans into jihad against their native country.

That's why it's important to keep terrorist suspects and convicts segregated from the domestic prison population (just another good argument for keeping the Guantanamo detention facility open). And it's why America needs to start noting the content of what Islamic faith is being preached to our prison population (for more, read this in The Wall Street Journal -- "How a Muslim Chaplain Spread Extremism to an Inmate Flock: Radical New York Imam Chose Clerics for Prisons" [subscription required]).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Any Comment, Clintonistas?

And now, another report from The New York Times -- this one about how the State Department warned the Clinton Administration about the dangers inherent in Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan . . . a move that the Clintonistas chose not to deter, and a warning they seemed to ignore.

Strange, isn't it, that "Several former senior officials in the Clinton administration did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on the newly declassified documents."

Can you imagine the feeding frenzy if documents had appeared that showed that President Bush had ignored an opportunity to stop Osama bin Laden -- and here, it's fully five years before 9/11?

Anyone thinking of supporting Hillary Clinton has to wonder: Do we want this gang back in The White House?

Back to You, 9/11 Commissioners!

Here in The New York Times is an account that appears to shift the burden of proof back to the 9/11 Commissioners to explain why Able Danger's intelligence about Mohammed Atta -- that the Clinton Pentagon prevented them from passing to the FBI -- didn't appear in the final report.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part-time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged that it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public.

Actually, that's the information Commissioners initially denied having received. Note that the Defense Department has not disputed this man's account.

Again, this information is important -- at the very least for demonstrating that the 9/11 Commission's foremost conclusion may have been wrong. It may NOT have been an intelligence gathering weakness that allowed 9/11 to occur; instead, it may have been the infamous Jamie Gorelick-ordained "wall" between foreign and domestic intelligence information sharing that enabled Al Qaeda to succeed in its nefarious plot.

On Roberts & Romer

A few minutes ago, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of The American Center for Law and Justice and a man of unimpeachable conservative credentials. (Transcript here.)

Questioned by Hugh about Roberts' work on the Romer case, Jay Sekulow noted that such help is routinely given by the [fairly small] Supreme Court bar -- even to litigants with whom they disagree.

Sekulow revealed that he, in fact, had offered advice to Michael Newdow (of the infamous effort to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance case). His pointers to Newdow don't signal agreement with Newdow's position -- no more does Roberts' advice to the Romer advocates indicate his.