Carol Platt Liebau: September 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

More Sauce for the Goose?

Here, yet another story that Democrats may want to take into account before trying to launch a holier-than-thou war against the Republicans.

It's being alleged that Jon Corzine voted in favor of an international treaty that benefited him financially -- without telling other senators that he was one of only 100 investors that would benefit.

So much for the party of "the people" . . . and this isn't even the first whiff of corruption surrounding the Democrats' New Jersey senator.

Of course, Corzine has his defense, just as Bill Frist does. But as we know from watching the Democratic treatment of everything from the fiction CBS AWOL/National Guard story, to Ken Starr, to Clarence Thomas, it should be clear by now: It's not the facts that matter -- it's the seriousness of the charges.

Sauce for the Goose . . .?

The Democrats' strategy of scandal-mongering might be set back a bit by this news -- that federal grants arranged by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are at the center of a scandal that led to the indictment this week of two Las Vegas pastors.

Or then again, maybe it won't. Questions about the Reid grants could go right down the MSM memory hole, along with Schumergate, the whole Air America funny money debacle, and the sordid truth about the views of Cindy Sheehan.

Down With "Machisma"

This piece by David Gelertner is a "must-read."

I've been critical of Dianne Feinstein's conduct during the Roberts hearings -- particularly her penchant to hold an emtional gun to Chief Justice Roberts' head, demanding that he answer her questions " son, a husband and a father."

Gelertner's coined a term for this kind of intrusive emotion-mongering: "Machisma."

More on my Must-See

Here's some early reaction to Inside the Bubble, the film about the losing Kerry presidential campaign. Near the piece's end, it notes that the big problem is that the campaign didn't seem to have any ideas.

It took someone this long to figure that out?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Paging Mr. De Mille!

Ronnie Earle is ready for his close-up. Can you imagine the outcry had Ken Starr agreed to star in a documentary ("The Full Monica," perhaps)?

Welcome KPAM Listeners!

It's been a pleasure to guest on the Victoria Taft Show (860 KPAM) out of Portland, Oregon a couple of times now. This evening, Victoria kindly offered to link to my blog -- and I'm reciprocating. Here it is!

Slob Culture

Read this op/ed and weep. Its author wants more "casual" dress for symphony patrons and musicians alike.

Don't get me wrong. I love my fleecies and sweatpants as much as anyone. But there is a time and a place. If comfort and individuality are all that matter, then why shouldn't we feel free to go grocery shopping in our funny old Lanz nightgowns, if we feel like it? The bottom line is that there ought to be a sense of propriety, and that people shouldn't run around looking sloppy (although I'll confess that I do so occasionally, to my shame).

Time was that people dressed nicely to ride on airplanes. Now the airport looks like the bus terminal. This writer seems to want people to be able to go the symphony dressed as if they're off to the movies. Trust me -- it won't "popularize" the symphony, it will debase it (along with the rest of our culture).

When did it become so burdensome to put on a tie -- or a skirt, for that matter?

The Importance of Demeanor

Since advice on or about the next Supreme Court nominee is flowing, fast and furious, around the blogosophere, just thought I'd put in my two cents.

As much as I'd love to believe that 23 Democrats have suddenly subscribed to the belief that ideology shouldn't be a factor in Supreme Court nominations, I don't think that's what's going on. In fact, a big reason that Chief Justice Roberts garnered as many votes as he did was because he gave Democrats -- who would have loved to vote against him -- no excuse to do so.

He is certainly brilliant, as I noted here last night. But if he had come across as being arrogant or combative (which would have been likely to reduce the healthy support among the public that he enjoyed), many Democrats (including some who voted for him) would have been all too delighted to vote "no" and thereby keep the left wing interest groups happy.

It is a sad fact that -- along with being a strict constructionist and a person of integrity -- the nominee also has to come across well on television. Any demeanor issues will be used by the Democrats, not only as an excuse for opposition, but in an effort to undermine the popularity and the credibility of the principles the nominee espouses.

Criticizing DeLay

Here's some criticism of Tom DeLay -- and, more generally, politicians on both sides of the aisle -- to which I subscribe wholeheartedly.

Aside from being just plain wrong (and vaguely un-American, in my view), the problem is that when public officials are living like grandees, it will always hit Republicans harder than Democrats, because we are supposed to be the party of smaller government.

Fine for congressmen like Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to declaim "I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen." That's because the Democrats are the party of Big Government. They believe Big Government is good, that it is superior to private-sector solutions, and people who are part of it derive their status vicariously from its importance. In some sense, voters don't expect anything better from them.

But Republicans traditionally have believed (correctly, for my money) that Big Government too often is greedy, oppressive, inefficient, spirit-killing and initiative-stifling. In recent years, Republicans -- comfortably ensconced in the majority (at least in the House) for more than a decade -- have decided to gamble, betting that by buying into the Big Government model they can silence their critics on the left, who claim they don't "care" about poor people.

Yes, well, nice try. We've learned that outspending Democrats doesn't buy any good will -- any more than having Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Alberto Gonzales as close advisors convinces those inclined to hate the President that he isn't a racist. No matter how much Republicans spend, Democrats and the left will always claim that they're uncaring racists -- because that's the best (albeit dishonorable) card in the Democrats' deck.

It seems to me that, in the end, it's a big mistake to start playing an opponent's game -- and tailoring a political approach to the goal of neutralizing criticism that's invalid ab initio. By buying into the Big Government model, Republicans have been complicit in helping our legislators forget that they're not supposed to be our "ruling class" -- they're supposed to be working for us. All of us -- including me -- who have kept silent about the ever-increasing spending have to accept our share of the blame. And then fix it.

If the Republicans can go back to being the party of small government -- so much the better! Don't apologize for it -- explain why spending other people's money through a vast and too often feckless bureaucracy really doesn't equate with "compassion."

And check out Porkbusters.

He's In!

Congratulations, Mr. Chief Justice.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Lot Less Pure than the Driven Snow . . .

The invaluable Byron York reports that crusading anti-DeLay prosecutor Ronnie Earle is significantly less pure than the driven snow.

As York notes, Earle "dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes."

Former U.S. Attorney and special counsel Joseph diGenova notes, "This is an extortionate use of the indictment power."


Wishing John Roberts Well

Judge John Roberts should be confirmed tomorrow as Chief Justice of the United States.

An interesting post over at Confirm Them wishes Judge Roberts well, but carries a whiff of disappointment that (quoting Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon) "Roberts is not as conservative as Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia."

As I see it, the fact is that neither we -- nor anyone else, for that matter -- really knows whether he is less/more/as conservative as Justices Scalia and Thomas. Certainly, his intellect is dazzling. And just because there's no lengthy and outspoken record, we shouldn't be premature in extrapolating a tendency toward "squishiness" from his caution and care in responding to the Judiciary Committee and from his avoidance of controversy in his career. For all we know, he could be a Scalia or a Thomas . . .

Of course, the element of uncertainty is unsettling, but that's what comes of a nomination system under which, for years now, Republicans have been willing to confirm well-qualified albeit ideologically abhorrent liberals (Ginsburg, Breyer) -- while Democrats have behaved in bad faith on Republican presidents' Supreme Court picks since the Bork debacle in 1988.

One thing is clear: The President would do the country a great service by choosing a nominee with a clear and well-known judicial philosophy and track record. Because Republicans have been unwilling to risk a fight in the past, they have tended to choose justices like Kennedy and Souter -- who are either unknown or unthreatening to the left. As a result, some of our picks (with the honorable exception of the fabulous Clarence Thomas) have been disappointing surprises.

That's got to end. Unlike the days of Ronald Reagan (post 1986) and President George H.W. Bush, Republicans have a majority in the Senate -- and, with the rise of the "new media," a voice to fight back against MSM distortion. Why have 'em if we're not going to use 'em?

Here's hoping that President Bush's next pick is an unabashed strict constructionst (but one with the kind of demeanor and temperament that will show up disgraceful Democratic baiting and smear tactics for what they are).

From All Walks of Life . . .

This piece notes that the President said that he is considering people "from all walks of life" as Justice O'Connor's successor. Wonder what (if anything) that means . . .

Update: Could it bave anything to do with the speculation that White House counsel Harriet Miers is under consideration? As the linked piece points out, Miers doesn't have judicial experience, although her legal background is notable.

If Capitalism Won't Work, Try Mendicancy

Air America begins begging for donations. Huh. We thought it might have problems from the very beginning.

Wishing the Best for Dreier (& DeLay!)

With the news of Tom DeLay's indictment, it was also announced that David Dreier will assume the Majority Leader's duties.

We wish him well.

Now, for a little perspective, here is a valuable piece from The American Spectator.

Money quote:

[S]imilar transactions [to the ones forming the basis for the DeLay indictment] similar transactions are conducted by both parties in many states, including Texas. In fact, on October 31, 2002, the Texas Democratic Party sent the Democratic National Committee (DNC) $75,000, and on the same day, the DNC sent the Texas Democratic Party $75,000. On July 19, 2001, the Texas Democratic Party sent the DNC $50,000 and, again on the same day, the DNC sent the Texas Democratic Party $60,000. On June 8, 2001, the Texas Democratic Party sent the DNC $50,000. That very same day, the DNC sent the Texas Democratic Party $60,000.

Looks like partisan prosecutor Ronnie Earle may have another failed prosecution on his hands. But even if so, no doubt he'll get good press -- Ken Starr could only wish the arbiters of the MSM had been so insistent on proper context in his case.

BTW: Don't fall for the whole "he's unbiased because he's prosecuted 12 Dems and only 3 Republicans." That's not the question. In Texas, there are liberal and conservative Democrats. Here's the right question: How many liberals vs. conservatives has Earle prosecuted?

The MSM Should Blush

Here's a piece from The Washington Times titled "Media, Blushing, Takes a Second Look at Katrina."

A couple of thoughts to accompany the piece:

(1) If some other entity had so readily believed and publicized apparently inaccurate reports of murder and mayhem in a predominantly black city, wouldn't the press be using the "R" word ("racist")?

(2) Some deep thinkers in the old world media universe have raised the issue of whether a "blog's typically individualistic voice and unfiltered attitude place it outside the journalist's palette." Presumably that's because there is no "institutional voice" and no editors to "filter" the information and check for bias (as happens to such stellar journalistic effect at The New York Times or on CBS News).

If all that's true, one shudders to think of what newspapers would look like without all the filtering and mediation . . . . Because even with all the big-time accoutrements of editors, etc., there exist some fairly egregious lapses in what would seem to be elementary journalistic standards. See Howard Kurtz in today's Washington Post ("The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C. . . .I wonder if the media would have resorted to such shorthand in covering a group as far to the right as ANSWER is to the left.").

Hmmm. With the ongoing behavior of the MSM, it's harder and harder to figure out just why we should presume that it is a more responsible and trustworthy souce of information than the multitude of well-written and intelligent blogs.

Some Important Questions

Tony Blankley raises some important considerations that should be taken into account before we blithely begin assigning large responsibilities for natural disaster response to the military.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dan Rather Is Norma Desmond

Reading about Dan Rather's interview with Marvin Kalb (transcript at Radioblogger) -- as he continues to defend his discredited report on President Bush's National Guard service -- conjures up nothing so much as the image of pathetic, megalomaniacal former film star Norma Desmond. She's the main character in Sunset Boulevard (originally a film with Gloria Swanson and then an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical) -- the story of a has-been unable to grasp the sad fact that her career has been destroyed by the advent of the talkies, as time has passed her by.

Here are lyrics from Norma's big number, "With One Look":

No words can tell the stories my eyes tell
Watch me when I frown, you can't write that down
You know I'm right, it's there in black and white
When I look your way, you'll hear what I say

Yes, with one look I put words to shame
Just one look sets the screen aflame
Silent music starts to play
One tear in my eye makes the whole world cry

Is that Dan Rather in a nutshell, or what? He's almost as deluded as Norma Desmond.

Read his defense of his shoddy -- and inaccurate -- reporting. Here's the best he can do:

(1) The independent panel concluded "that what we did, whatever anybody thought about it was not born of political bias." (2) "[T]hey could not and did not determine whether the documents in question were what they purported to be or not." (3) "[T]he main reason that a panel had to be appointed and what they were most critical about is how we defended the story after the story had run."

Yes, well, as Tony Blankley noted at the time, there are some significant reasons to believe that the report was carefully constructed for legal reasons to avoid any conclusions that would suggest political bias or serious culpability on the part of the network. Even as Rather resorts to the kind of double talk that he wouldn't have accepted from George H.W. Bush about Iran-Contra, he conveniently overlooks the firing of four of his colleagues that resulted from the Thornburgh report, as well as its finding that Mary Mapes' contacts with Kerry operative Joe Lockhart constituted "a clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”

But perhaps the most pathetic and Norma-Desmondish part of the entire interview manifests itself in Rather's total ignorance of and contempt for the blogs that revealed his biased reporting for what it was.

Norma didn't realize that the talkies spelled doom for her film career -- as she didn't have what it took to compete in the new environment.

What the talkies were to Normal Desmond, the blogs were to Dan Rather. Seeing his pitiful efforts at self-justification, it's "as if he never said goodbye."

Welcome Aboard, Ann!

Ann Coulter has reversed her initial position, and is now supporting John Roberts. Accordingly, I take back both this and this. Welcome aboard.

Justice Williams?

More buzz is surrounding Karen Williams. No, people, not this Karen Williams. This Karen Williams -- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (South Carolina).

She might make strategic sense -- given that one of "Gang of 14" senators who'd be needed in the event of a filibuster is Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

A Point of Light

That would be Wal-Mart, as my piece today in The American Spectator points out.

On Miguel Estrada

Over at Confirm Them, the name of Miguel Estrada continues to surface as a potential Supreme Court nominee.

I don’t know Miguel Estrada well, having attended a small dinner party with him once over ten years ago. My impression was that he is brilliant and quite conservative. However, my understanding had been that he did not wish to be considered. Certainly, his entire view could change if he’s actually offered the job — but with the fight that he’ll face, it would certainly seem reasonable for the nominee to be someone who is willing to fight for the job because he wants it badly . . . .

And setting the particulars of an Estrada nomination aside, here’s one further consideration for The White House: Temperament. Whoever the nominee is, he/she will be significantly benefited by a disarming personality that makes it difficult for the Democrats to attack without being revealed as creates of the most bloodthirsty and rabid kind. In my view, arrogance (real or perceived) could be a fatal flaw in any nominee — male or female, Latino, white, black, green or purple.

What a Difference Some Perspective Makes

With this story ("Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy"), the LA Times admits that it's a long, long way from those self-congratulatory days when Tim Rutten wrote pieces with subtitles like this: "By bringing the devastation and human loss of Hurricane Katrina into the nation's homes, television journalists are reviving their image."

Mea culpa. At the time, I thought the press' reporting of facts was solid, despite analysis that I called "hysterical" and "flawed."

Now it's clear that the reporting was "hysterical" and "flawed," too. I won't make the mistake of overestimating the accuracy of the MSM again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Better Off Without God?

Here is one of the silliest articles I've read in a long time. Apparently, an "academic" has published a study claiming that "belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems."

Of course, there's no explanation of how religious belief contributes to social problems. Instead, the study concludes:

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

Is that the best they can do? Earth to academic: Correlation isn't causation.

In a nutshell, the study is an exercise in US bashing that goes like this: The U.S. is more "dysfunctional" (whatever that means) than the more socialist Western democracies the study's author clearly admires. The U.S. is also more religious than the other democracies. Hence, the religion is contributing to the social problems that the academic identifies.

Even the premise of the study is flawed, i.e. that the U.S. is more "dysfunctional" than other countries. According to whom? Clearly, the immigrants who choose overwhelmingly to come here -- rather than the more left wing paradises of Western Europe -- don't agree. And couldn't one argue that Christian values have something to do with Americans' unparalleled generosity to the other nations who are supposedly so much more "functional" than we?

While we're at it -- how can the author be sure that the U.S.'s alleged dysfunction wouldn't be worse without our religiosity?

It's amazing any paper even gave space to this agenda-laden garbage. Looks to me like the paper -- and the academic -- had better get the planks out of their eyes.

The "State" of Abortion in the USA

Here is an interesting survey showing the pro-choice vs. pro-choice numbers in all the states. Judging from most of them, the left's hysteria over the death of "choice" in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned is, to put it mildly, significantly overstated. (HT: BenchMemos).

Dead: Al Qaeda's #2 in Iraq

Forced to report some good news from Iraq, CBS reveals that Al Qaeda's #2 in Iraq -- the man charged with financing foreign terrorists in the country -- was killed last night.

Only decorum prevents me from commenting "good riddance."

Right Wing Movies?

Amusingly, a New York Times reporter seems disappointed that the movies "Just Like Heaven" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" are apparently in synch with conservative thought in some significant ways.

In this reporter's world, of course, the mere fact that movies are respectful of religion (and life) are grounds enough for declaring them to be conservative. Perhaps that's why she's already worried about whether conservatives are taking over the box office. Trust me, we've got a long way to go before that's an issue.

Reading the Tea Leaves

It's being reported over at Confirm Them that Karl Rove is pushing Alberto Gonzales for the open Supreme Court seat. This would be consistent with this story, titled "Bush Drops 'Diversity' Hint About Next Nominee."

Apparently, Mr. Rove is expressing confidence that the Attorney General is a conservative. We can only hope. It would be heartbreaking to see President Bush squander the support of his most loyal constituency — and give up on the possibility of restoring a Supreme Court devoted to interpreting, rather than making, law.

Going "Inside the Bubble"

Yes, I'm going to see this film about John Kerry's campaign. It's being billed as embarassing, at best -- but then again, maybe it just seems that way because Kerry didn't win.

If (Heaven forbid!) there were now a "President Kerry", maybe "Inside the Bubble" would come across as the 2004 hagiographic equivalent of "The War Room". In any case, I sat through the latter, and therefore intend to savor every moment of watching a losing Democratic presidential campaign.

Weekly Column

Here's my weekly column. It excoriates Senators Feinstein and Landrieu -- as well as Governor Blanco -- for silly behavior that's an embarassment to all right-thinking women. When the feminists complain that no woman has ever been elected President, refer them to these three, who have played into misogynist stereotypes about female leaders.

Barone's Big Picture

Here is a piece by Michael Barone that's well worth reading. It points out that -- if one steps back and takes a look at the "big picture" -- world circumstances (and America's) are much better than most of us believe.

He's dead right. But his column begs the question: Why do so few people understand the progress that's being made, and the relatively positive state of affairs at home and abroad?

My answer: It's the press, which is motivated by two factors: (1) What's easy and dramatic to cover (bombings, rather than balloting, for example); and (2) Ideology.

For example, Barone notes that many Americans' dark view of the economy is out of synch with the facts. Could it be because of this? "American newspapers tend to give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans."

Please, Please Tell Us Now!

Over at Confirm Them (where I also blog), there's an interesting report that the President may name his next Supreme Court nominee before the final vote on John Roberts.

For my money, this would be a stroke of genius. If -- as a result of their opposition to the new nominee -- Democrats decide to oppose Roberts en masse, they risk showing the American people (who, as polls indicate, solidly back Roberts' confirmation) the nakedly partisan nature of their "advice and consent."

If, instead, the Dems decide to support Roberts in order to dramatize their opposition to the pending nominee, well, then they've essentially ratified his pratice of declining to prejudge cases, etc. etc.

Of course, the former phenomenon is more likely than the latter -- because all the left wing special interest groups like PFAW, NOW, etc. can command substantial portions of the Democratic caucus.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Porn Nation?

Here is an article worth reading -- a worrisome discussion about the prevalence of pornography in America today and its effects.

A Little Agenda Journalism

In this AP story, reporter-with-agenda Jennifer C. Kerr noted yesterday that "thousands" rallied against the Iraq war yesterday on the Ellipse. Well, actually, make that only two thousand as of the time the story was first written (HT:Hugh Hewitt and Protein Wisdom).

Given the fact that, in an earlier dispatch, titled "100,000 Expected at D.C. Anti-War Rally" the same writer covering the same subject had noted:

Organizers of Saturday's anti-war protest predict about 100,000 people will crowd the Ellipse near the White House for a rally and march

Ms. Kerr must have been very nervous about the early numbers. Fortunately, she had an excuse at the ready:

In a hitch for some coming to the protest, 13 Amtrak trains running between New York and Washington were delayed for up to three hours Saturday morning for repair of overhead electrical lines. Protest organizers said that held up thousands coming to the rally.

But as it turns out, the excuse wasn't needed -- Ms. Kerr "reported" that the protestors probably made their numbers.

As she doubtless "knew" they would -- which is why she used the headline touting "thousands" when only 2000 had actually gathered. How helpful to have a reporter who knows what the story is before it even happens. When you've got an agenda, the piece just writes itself!

Update: James Robbins adds a little perspective to the 100,000 number.

Porkbusters, Unite!

Here's an important editorial from the Wall Street Journal. Politicians worried about overspending in the wake of Katrina? Fine -- cut the pork. As the piece points out, the invaluable NZ Bear (of Truth Laid Bear) has created a site called Porkbusters. It identifies some of the most egregious fat that could easily be trimmed.

I was dismayed to see this morning on Fox News Sunday a clip of Nancy Pelosi offering to forgo some of the pork in the highway bill -- followed by a clip of Dennis Hastert declining to make the same offer! It's a sad and outrageous day when Nancy Pelosi sounds like a fiscal conservative, compared to the Republican Speaker of the House.

President Bush could regain the initiative right now -- by calling on every member of Congress to forgo the unnecessary earmarks that have disgraced the highway bill. But whether he does that or not, Republicans need to understand that they are putting themselves in grave political peril by joining Democrats at the government trough.

Credit Goes to Bush . . .

This piece points out that vociferous critics of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina were keeping "silent profiles" in the wake of what looks like a very capable job in preparing and responding to Hurricane Rita.

The fact is that state and local governments are the primary acters in natural disasters -- and the contrast between the mayors of Galveston, Houston etc. and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is instructive, as is the contrast between the calm and sure-footed Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the hysterical and indecisive La. Gov. Kathleen Blanco. So from my perspective, President Bush deserves no more credit for this response than blame for the earlier one.

But all those who panned the federal government's response to Katrina should, in fairness, be singing President Bush's praises today. (Not likely.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

No "Free Pass" for Republican Senators

In a profoundly silly story, The New York Times is trying to pretend that there is trouble brewing among Republicans in the Senate with regard to the next Supreme Court nomination. This story, headlined "Republicans Say Next Court Nominee Won't Get Free Pass" is apparently the best it can do.

From the moderate side, it quotes Lincoln Chafee (RINO-RI) and Olympia Snowe (R sometimes-ME).

Mr. Chafee said he would apply a more skeptical standard to the next nominee because of the balance of the court and might even oppose a jurist similar to Judge Roberts. "I will be looking very carefully" at the next nominee's views on privacy rights, "separation of church and state," and the scope of federal power, he said.

Lincoln Chafee is up for reelection next year. Obviously, he's posturing for the general election, but it's worth his while to remember who his friends are -- and to keep in mind that he may have a conservative primary opponent. He should count himself lucky that he's got White House support given his votes against Priscilla Owen and William Pryor.

Olympia Snowe supported Priscilla Owens and Janice Rogers Brown, but has now told The Times that she might not support either for the Supreme Court, adding this nonsensical gem:

""This is certainly a different level of evaluation," Ms. Snowe said, "especially because of the balance of power on the court."

Snowe isn't being targeted in her re-election race, so she has no political excuse for her posturing. And note the contrast -- set forth in the linked piece -- between the liberal intransigents that the paper quotes, and the conservatives. Tom Coburn notes that he wouldn't vote for anyone who would tip his/her hand on Roe v. Wade, a proper position. Trent Lott ends up noting that he could vote for almost anyone President Bush is likely to send up. Not quite the same as the silliness Chafee/Snowe are peddling.

Seems to me that the recalcitrance is coming from only one side of the party -- and it's not the right wing.

A Different "Ginsburg Precedent"

Noted legal expert Ronald Cass discusses the other "Ginsburg precedent." No, not the fact that then-Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused (correctly) to reveal how she would vote on the Supreme Court -- but the fact that President Bill Clinton cared not at all about maintaining the "ideological balance" on the Court that we've started to hear so much about.

But of course, you knew about it already -- the same point was made here back on August 5.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Law Too "Ruff" for Jimmy

Toby of Wellington, New Zealand, meet Ritzy Meckler of St. Louis.

Not that I wouldn't trust Winston to cast a more intelligent vote than, say, your typical Air America listener . . .

But it does force one to wonder what Jimmy Carter finds so "obnoxious" (and of all people, Jimmy Carter should know "obnoxious")about Georgia's proposal to require photo ID in order to vote.

"Social Justice Conservatism"

I like it!

A Dirty, Rotten "Schume"

As noted here yesterday, two staffers from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- led by the preening Senator Charles Schumer -- have either resigned or been fired.

Today, this editorial about the matter ran in The Washington Post. Despite the Post's charitable characterization of the staffers as "a pair of twentysomething operatives," at least one of them is former research director of David Brock's outfit Media Matters and a veteran of the John Edwards campaign -- and was the Research Director of the DSCC.

If I were one of the staffers at issue, I'd be getting a little nervous. As someone who has done opposition research myself (on Harriett Woods in 1986 and on Dianne Feinstein in 2000), whenever one reads a story like this, the first thought is, "There but for the grace of God . . ."

But one's second thought is What were they thinking?! Every opposition researcher knows (or should know) that doing anything even remotely illegal is not only wrong, it's stupid. Even setting aside morals and principles (always a bad decision in politics), the fact is that wrongdoing not only damages one's own good name, it also hurts the candidate and the cause that's supposed to be the point of the whole exercise.

If any good is to come of this, perhaps it will remind other young people just starting out in politics that their parents were right -- it never pays to engage in wrongdoing, and people who want you to do so aren't really your friends. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for two young women whose reputations have now been sullied -- perhaps as a result of nothing more than immaturity and bad choices.

In any campaign or organization, the tone for whether "anything goes" is set at the top. I was fortunate -- it was clear to everyone on both campaigns for whom I did opposition research (that would be for Kit Bond and Tom Campbell) that "dirty tricks" would not be tolerated (and, indeed, Senator Bond later fired an aide immediately after discovering some appalling activity on the aide's part).

At the DSCC, Chuck Schumer was "the top." Who knows whether he encouraged an "anything goes" atmosphere? But one thing is clear: When this wrongdoing came to his attention back in July, it was hidden, not disclosed. Tells you a lot, doesn't it?

Marketing Films Through Churches

The LA Times reports that studios are beginning to recognize the "underserved" market of churchgoers that hitherto has seen nothing at the cineplex that reflects their values.

It's a good start.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Lady's Right . . . ?

No doubt a staunch feminist like Hillary Clinton would be outraged by the old saying, "It's a lady's right to change her mind."

But that's exactly what it appears she's done. According to this Drudge flash back in July, Hillary intended to vote for Roberts -- no doubt to boost her moderate credentials in preparation for a presidential run. But today, she announced that she would vote against Judge Roberts.

Why the change -- which puts Hillary to the left of Russ Feingold? Could be two things. First, she lacks the flexibility to tack right on Roberts because, unlike Feingold, she hasn't opposed the war in Iraq. Second, she may hear the hoofbeats of loony left favorite Al Gore growing ever louder.

Bad "Move"

Even as Hurricane Rita bears down on the people of the Gulf Coast, the heavy-handed fringies at are working hard to politicize the Katrina disaster. Below is an excerpt from MoveOn's recent email emission:

And once again, those at the heart of the tragedy can best demand accountability and focus the debate on issues that matter most. So we're launching a non-partisan emergency fund to support the post-hurricane equivalent of the "Jersey Girls"—groups of evacuees who are organizing to make their voices heard in Washington. Please help us raise $100,000 today . . ..

Yes, it's obviously all about helping the victims. Funny, haven't heard too much about any MoveOn folks down on the ground in the Gulf Coast helping out the people, like the armies of compassion mustered by The Salvation Army.

More Home Truths About Katrina

With pieces like this one, the world view of the Bush haters becomes ever more difficult to justify.

Chalk One Up for Friskie

Here's a heartwarming story of the divine power of man's best friend.

A Shortsighted Precedent

With support from three Judiciary Committee Democrats, John Roberts' nomination is out of committee and headed for the Senate floor.

Not a single Democrat has opposed Roberts on the grounds that he lacks the qualifications, the ethics or the temperament to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Instead, as the story linked above indicates, they have based their opposition on Judge Roberts' appropriate reluctance to prejudge cases, his refusal to answer questions about his personal political predilections, and his (presumed) failure to share the left wing judicial philosophy of lightweights like Joe Biden.

Do the Democrats understand what kind of precedent they're setting here? Perhaps they should be paying more attention to the analysis of the brilliant Michael Barone, whose views are discussed today in a column by Jim Pinkerton:

Looking ahead to 2006, Barone sees good news for Republicans. He notes that Bush carried 31 states last year, compared to Kerry's 19. That means that if the trend toward polarization continues - "red" states getting redder, "blue" states getting bluer - the GOP has little reason to fear losing the Senate.

So presumably, the future looks "rosy" red for Roberts and others like him . . . but not quite so inviting should the Republicans decide to play the Democrats' game, in the (unhappy) event that a Democratic president gets to do the nominating.

Schumer Link to MD Dirty Tricks

It looks like Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers -- working for DSCC chairman and preening Judiciary Committee member Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) -- are the ones responsible for obtaining the credit report for potential Maryland senatorial contender Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R). They've "resigned," of course. As Deborah Orin reports, "Schumer is a leading critic of identity theft and breaches of sensitive personal data like credit reports."

Schumer is also a fan of "forthcomingness" -- judging from his reasons he's given for refusing to vote for Judge Roberts.

More here .

Dems' True Colors

Dianne Feinstein has announced that she will oppose John Roberts, even though other liberals like Patrick Leahy intend to vote in support.

This has nothing to do with "answering the questions" -- as Feinstein would have us believe. This has to do with her re-election bid next year, and her fear of losing funding and face with the loony left out of her home base of San Francisco.

In the meantime, Patrick Leahy's support for John Roberts, while welcome, is a ploy to allow him to dramatize his opposition to the next nominee, if it's anyone to the right of Alberto Gonzales.

And speaking of Alberto Gonzales, the story linked above noted that his name came up at a White House meeting with senators as a "contender" for the open Supreme Court seat. Interesting to think that president-in-exile Arlen Specter recently opposed elevating AG Gonzales to the Court because of the tough nomination hearings he confronted for Attorney General. But it's pretty easy to imagine the Democrats, being relieved at such a "moderate" choice, giving Gonzales an easier time for a lifetime SC seat than for AG.

Which returns all of us to the ineluctible conclusion that, for the Dems, it's about nothing but politics -- and rather incoherent ones at that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A malfunctioning Jet Blue airplane has landed safely at LA International Airport -- a real blessing.

One is tempted to wonder what the passengers did in the course of the three hour ordeal between learning of the defective landing gear and their safe landing. It would be wonderful to think that, perhaps, with their mortality firmly in mind, some passengers got on their cell phones and patched up a quarrel, asked for forgiveness or gave it, or assured someone else of their love, in a way that will have profound and beautiful consequences for the rest of their lives.

And maybe it's not such a bad thing to ask yourself from time to time: If I were stuck in a malfunctioning airplane -- not at all sure that I'd land safely -- what unfinished business would I take care of? And then go do it.

Prayers for Texas

Hurricane Rita is bearing down on Texas. Galveston is empty and parts of Houston are being evacuated.

Say a prayer for those affected, and all who are working to help them.

Able Danger Gagged

Those who could provide some answers about the Able Danger matters are being gagged by civilians at the Pentagon.

Funny that the Democrats who are so adamant about obtaining confidential documents on judicial nominees are so quiet about this.

Nice Try, Arlen

Note to Judiciary Committee Chairman & Senator Arlen Specter: If you want to act like the President, you have to get elected (and squeakers in your home state of Pennsylvania -- that you pull out with the President's help -- don't count).

Not one to bother with details, Specter took it upon himself to approach Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and ask her to stay for the entire Court term. Breathtaking arrogance, no?

Not surprisingly, Specter reported that President Bush's reaction to his proposal was "noncomittal." No doubt that's because President Bush has better manners -- and a greater sense of decorum -- than Arlen Specter. Anyone else would have laughed out loud and given Specter the verbal spanking he deserved.

Objectively, A Good Thing

George Neumayr points out that when journalists like Dan Rather bemoan the loss of "objectivity" in reporting, they're really expressing nostalgia for the days when their point of view masqueraded as objectivity.

It's the same way when journalists and politicians deplore the lack of "civility" in "public discourse." What they're really deploring is the fact that they now have to compete in the marketplace of ideas (after all, no one's ever accused the left of being overly fond of capitalism, ideological or otherwise). When there was "nobody home but us liberals" in the press and in Congress, there was plenty of civility -- well-mannered Republicans like former Republican House leader Rep. Bob Michel (R-IL) understood that his party's place was in the minority.

Things have become fractious only since uppity Republicans who didn't know their place came along -- like Newt Gingrich -- and since riff raff from Fox News to the blogosphere emerged to question the received wisdom (and sometimes the reporting) of the established MSM.

Shame on them for corroding the beautiful, prelapsarian world of "objectivity" and "civility."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Don't Fall for Left Wing Spin

Here's an important reminder that every Republican and every conservative must be careful not to fall for the junk coming from the left wing spin machine -- thereby becoming complicit in the smearing of fine judges like Janice Rogers Brown.

Apparently, Harry Reid intends to oppose Judge Roberts. That should be all the reminder that anyone needs . . . any Bush nominee will face opposition. So if there's to be a fight, let's make it count.

After all the repugnant charges of racism that have emanated from left wingers like Jesse Jackson, it would be interesting to see the public reaction to Charles Schumer's attempts to manhandle a fabulous nominee like JR Brown. Would it then be time for Democrats to worry that perhaps the African-American vote is more politically open-minded than they have previously believed?

A Free and Democratic Iraq

Here, the democratically elected president of Iraq thanks America for liberating his country -- and asks us not to leave before the job is done.

For the shortsighted among us:

The rapidity of the democratization and reform of Iraq is staggering. There was no German state for four years after the Second World War. By contrast, Iraq has moved from a centralized, one-man dictatorship to a decentralized, federal republic in half that time.

I wonder how the Democrats feel about this piece. Do they really care about oppressed people struggling for freedom everywhere, or only for those who can vote for them?

No Anxiety Here

Here is what Emily Bazelon of Slate considers the latest Supreme Court "scuttlebut." Judging from the quality of what she's got, I wouldn't take any of this to the bank.

The piece is discredited right at the beginning. According to Bazelon, "Republican women are anxious." Why the anxiety? Well, "[w]hether or not the gender of the next nominee should matter, it does to Republican women lawyers. When Sandra Day O'Connor and Laura Bush expressed enthusiasm for a female justice, these women took hope." Huh. I know I'm a lawyer, I'm certainly a Republican, and -- hold on -- yep, definitely a woman.

Funny, the gender of the next nominee doesn't matter to me in the least . . . I'd gladly take either of the judges that Bazelon characterizes as top-tier intellects -- Judges Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell (in that masterful sleight of hand only feminists seem able to achieve, Bazelon denigrates the intellects of female Judges Brown, Jones and Clement).

In fact, if I'm anxious about anything, it's that someone at The White House will read silly articles like this one and take them seriously. Who, after all, really believes that Emily Bazelon has any insights into the inner workings of the minds of female Republican lawyers?

And if I'm hopeful about anything, it's that the people in charge are too busy trying to outwit the Democrats yet again to be reading this nonsense.

Hell Freezes Over

The LA Times has endorsed John Roberts. I bet that Democrats torn between common sense and the left wing special interest groups wish they had the same flexibility.

What's amusing in the linked piece is to read the Times calling Judge Roberts a model of restraint in the mold of Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Kennedy. As many will recall, the Chief Justice was known as the conservative "lone dissenter" at the beginning of his career, and as an expert noted, "He was able, over time, to gather colleagues together cordially, manage tension, build a majority and turn them over to his point of view." Chief Justice Rehnquist may have been understated, but he was hardly a moderate. And if that's how Roberts turns out, fine by me (but not so likely to be fine by the Times).

To compare John Roberts to Anthony Kennedy, however, is a joke -- and insulting to Judge Roberts. Kennedy, with his opinions finding in the Constitution both a "right" to homosexual sodomy and a wholesale prohibition on executing those under 18 -- and a noted infatuation with foreign law -- is precisely the kind of overreaching justice John Roberts has pledged not to be.

Ah, well, an endorsement's an endorsement -- even if it's premised on a misunderstanding of the facts.

Needed: One Tough Judge

The New York Times reports that The White House is revising its criteria for Justice O'Connor's replacement: The nominee needs to be tough. Quite rightly, the Administration apparently suspects that the Democrats' frustration at being unable to lay a finger on Judge Roberts may spill over and be vented on the next nominee.

Fair enough -- in my view, any Supreme Court nominee should have the mental toughness that will serve him/her well not only in confirmation hearings, but in resisting the blandishments of the (liberal) Beltway establishment if he/she is ultimately confirmed.

The story likewise notes that some Democrats want to muster numerous votes against John Roberts to "send a message" to The White House, while others believe most Dems should vote for him in order to promote the illusion that they are reasonable.

But the real truth comes at the story's end, when it's noted that liberal legal groups and unions have come out against Judge Roberts' nomination. The fact is that these groups will oppose any Bush nominee. So the nominee might as well be someone who's worth what will surely be a bitter and unpleasant fight.

Defined by a Paycheck?

To me, the feminist insistence that women need to work at a paying job in order to be truly liberated (even if they can afford not to work) has seemed as limiting -- if not more so -- than the strictures they initially rebelled against.

Apparently, I'm not alone. In a piece destined to give feminists heartburn, the New York Times reports that many young women -- in elite colleges like Yale, with plans to go on to law or business school -- intend to fulfill themselves by staying home with their children or perhaps working part time after children are in school.

Marlyn McGrath Lewis, dean of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, encapsulates the feminist view perfectly when she notes, "It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?"

In that remark, there's an implicit threat -- that women won't be given opportunities unless they use them to become full time workers at paying jobs. How silly. Ironically (for liberals, of course, often congratulate themselves on their lack of concern about money), Ms. Lewis seems to believe that the only "return" worth getting from providing a woman with a Harvard education is that of a paid, full-time worker.

This lack of understanding is breathtaking. Is there no social value in volunteer work -- much of which is absolutely vital to community health, and which needs educated, intelligent and creative people to participate in it? Even more, what's with the elitist assumption that somehow becoming a superb wife and mother is an inadequate "return" on an education? My mother always noted that, "When you educate a man, you educate an individual. When you educate a woman, you educate an entire family." Would feminists ilke Ms. Lewis disagree?

And how strange is it that we need to remind the feminists that it's worthwhile to educate women -- even if they don't necessarily intend to spend their lives chasing after the almighty dollar?

How heartening to know that so many young women today refuse to be defined by a paycheck -- and that they have a grasp on what's really important. Good for them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Vote for Roberts

It comes from center/left columnist David Broder, who swoons: "[Roberts] is so obviously -- ridiculously -- well-equipped to lead government's third branch that it is hard to imagine how any Democrats can justify a vote against his confirmation."

Well, it's hard to know whether this should make conservatives nervous or not.

But Broder's reasons seem excellent to me -- Roberts' intellect, temperament, the "depth of his appreciation of what it means to be a judge." The only thing Broder "forgets" to do is commend President Bush for such an excellent choice.

He ends his piece, in essence, hoping that the President sends up another nominee of John Roberts' caliber. Luttig, McConnell, Jones . . . any of them would do the trick.

Ipod Wonder

Spent the evening loading my "new" (got it for my birthday last February) ipod with songs (thanks to a very special someone who set it up for me over the weekend). On the off chance I'm not the last person on earth to own an ipod, I thought I'd mention it's neat -- and if you don't have one, you're missing something great! Warning: If you sing along out loud, you risk looking like a big dork.

Able Danger Hearings

These should be worth tuning in for.

Too "Good" To Be True

Remember the sobbing guest, Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard, on "Meet the Press" the weekend after Hurricane Katrina? Tim Russert accepted his pitiful, Bush-bashing story with nary a follow up question.

Now it appears that his story was untrue in many important particulars -- including the fact that experts believe the mother who supposedly died on Friday was, in fact, alive on Sunday when Broussard was on television crying about her.

The linked MSNBC piece delicately refers to the entire mess as a "misunderstanding."

Update: For more details, check out Wuzzadem.

Tough Times for Hillary

No one said it was going to be easy . . .

First, Michael Bloomberg comes out in opposition to the nomination of John Roberts. Initially infuriating, Bloomberg's decision is actually a gift to Hillary Clinton's political adversaries. Of course, she'd like to find a way to seem "moderate" -- but Bloomberg has fenced her in. If she opposes Roberts, she continues to cement her image as a hard core liberal (especially if other Democratic senators, like Nelson(s) of Nebraska and Florida and Landrieu of Louisiana support him). But if she supports Roberts, she runs an even greater risk of alienating her liberal base -- who can certainly be forgiven for noting that her position would be to the right of a Republican if she supported Roberts.

As if that weren't enough, it appears that left-wing agitprop tool Cindy Sheehan is coming after Hillary. To a crowd roaring its approval, Sheehan threatened, "You say it [you're opposed to the war in Iraq] or you're losing your job."

Another tough call for Hillary. In order to be credible as a female commander-in-chief, she can't appear to be a dovish "peace candidate," as many of her adversaries are waiting to tag her. But she runs a risk when a figure like Cindy Sheehan, beloved by the leftists Hillary's counting on, turns against her.

Don't get me wrong -- I would have little sympathy for her under any circumstances. But I have even less empathy in light of the fact that all the Democrats were happy enough to let Cindy Sheehan dominate August news by attacking President Bush in the most unfair (deranged, even) terms possible. When you create a monster (or allow one to be created), you can't be surprised when it turns on you.

And that's what's happened with Cindy Sheehan. It will be interesting to see whether (or how soon) Sheehan will become "discredited" and then separated from the press and media attention that apparently she so desperately craves.

Afghans Vote

In a heartening triumph for liberty and democracy, Afghans defied threats and exercised their right to vote.

Wonder how stupid the doomsayers (here and here) feel now?

Making the "Right" Judicial Choice

Here is my weekly column -- today, it outlines the political and prudential reasons (as opposed to the principled ones) that President Bush should nominate a strict constructionist to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Chuck Schumer's Defeat"

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) will hate this piece by Robert Novak from start to finish. Novak simply tells the truth -- Schumer failed in his efforts to force John Roberts to detail his positions on a host of political issues, an effort that was as inappropriate as it was futile.

Guess all Schumer's role-playing with the Harvard Law professor didn't quite pan out ("One Democrat, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, was so concerned with his performance that he held a mock hearing in his office on Sunday, with a Harvard law professor playing Judge Roberts.")

Cuts Like a Knife . . .

The truth, that is. England banned guns in 1997; in 2002, this piece noted that the crime rate skyrocketed thereafter.

Now, today's London Telegraph bemoans the "deadly rise in the culture of knives."

Gee, who would have thought? Once guns were banned, everyone was supposed to live in peace and harmony. How was anyone to know that violent killers would find a way to, well, kill violently? What next? Ban knives? The entire country can try to make do with the plastic versions that we get on airplanes these days.

That would put a little crimp in Nigella's style, wouldn't it?

Corruption & Inefficiency, Hand in Hand

First, it was the picture of the school buses, a symbol of all that city officials could have done to evacuate their sickest and poorest residents -- if it had followed their own evacuation plan (see left). Then it was the news that Louisiana State Homeland Security refused to let the Red Cross take food and water to the Superdome before the hurricane because doing so would "encourage" people to go there.

Then it was the news that the mayor had turned down help from Amtrak, so that a 900-seat train rolled away empty, the day before the storm. (According to CNN:"The mayor's disaster plan called for mobilizing buses and evacuating the poor, but he did not get it done. He said he could not find drivers, but Amtrak says it offered help and was turned down, so a train with 900 seats rolled away empty a day and a half before the storm.")

And today, in The LA Times, we learn that:

Senior officials in Louisiana's emergency planning agency already were awaiting trial over allegations stemming from a federal investigation into waste, mismanagement and missing funds when Hurricane Katrina struck.

And federal auditors are still trying to track as much as $60 million in unaccounted for funds that were funneled to the state from the Federal Emergency Management Agency dating back to 1998.

Are you surprised?

Update: Bush-haters must be disappointed by stories like this one. Amazingly, some are more interested in misleading and out-of-context "news" that can be used to distort and blame the feds for a number of mistakes that could have been averted by a modicum of efficiency on the parts of the state and federal governments.

Bye bye Bush Haters?

In contrast to Bush ally Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, it looks like the governing coalition of Bush antagonists Gerhard Schroeder and Joschka Fischer is no more.

Maybe they should have talked to Tom Daschle before they took Bush on -- but I guess back then, Daschle didn't realize he'd be the first Senate party leader to be ousted in more than 50 years.

Update: Chaos reigns. Maybe it's time for the "little engineer in the Black Forest" that a German journalist invoked so snidely in the wake of our 2000 election to get to work.

CA Republican Convention

For the past day and a half, I've been a fly on the wall at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim. Above all, being there has given me some up-close-and-personal insights about two figures of potential national importance: Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As many know, George Allen has been referenced by Washington insiders as a favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Based on the speech he delivered, however, there's reason for some concern. He seemed genial enough, but the speech was themeless, wandering, even (to be cruel) somewhat boring. Senator Allen lacked the kind of electricity or charisma that's often associated with winning candidates.

Granted, it's still early. And a lot of Allen's achievements as Governor of Virginia are impressive. But if he's planning on going anywhere in the primaries -- much less a general presidential election -- he's going to need to get a good stump speech and sharpen his delivery skills. Otherwise, nice as he seems, he's dead in the water.

Also had the chance to spend a few minutes with Governor Schwarzenegger not surrounded by the throngs of people that are usually much in evidence in any Schwarzenegger appearance. Unlike Senator Allen, he's got charisma in spades -- plus a disarming, self-deprecating sense of humor. It's absolutely clear that he's determined to win all the initiatives he's endorsed for the special election, that he's playing for keeps, and that he's got a firm grasp on the problems that confront "Collyforneea." I liked him -- a lot. (But he needs to do something about his hair).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Schadenfreude Alert!

Am I supposed to feel sorry for the Democrats after reading this? Apparently, the poor little things can't come up with a strategy on how to use their Roberts vote to maximize their power and influence over the process for the upcoming Bush nominee.

Vote solidly against Roberts? OK. Then it's clear that their opposition is meaningless -- the country will know that any Bush nominee will be reliably and mindlessly obstructed by the Dems.

Vote largely in favor of Roberts? Fine. Then all the next nominee has to do is mimic Roberts' approach and responses to questions and it will be hard for the Dems to explain why Roberts, why not the second nominee.

There is, I think, one approach that would actually work well for the Democrats -- but they're not going to read about it here.

Paging Gordon Ramsey

According to this piece, school lunches in some parts of Great Britain have improved immeasurably -- with fresher and healthier meals replacing processed junk like the heinous-sounding "turkey twizzler."

New state legislation aims to ban the sale of junk foods and beverages on California campuses. Well and good, if that's what "the people" want.

The problem is what's left for the children to eat. If the "healthy alternatives" that will replace the delicious, non-nutritious junk food are disgusting, then -- in an ironic boomerang effect -- the legislation may not result in healthier Californians in the long term. Instead, it produce an entire generation of people who studiously avoid "healthy foods" because of a bad experience with poorly prepared or even downright repulsive institutional fare. (The food at my grade/high school was generally nutritious and good, but I remember the vile, slimy chicken chow mein; to this day, the very term "chow mein" make me nauseous.)

Apparently, a celebrity chef helped turn things around in Britain. How about it here? There are plenty of celebrity chefs, ranging from Gordon Ramsay to Wolfgang Puck, wandering around L.A.

Wouldn't it be great if they would create some school menus to demonstrate that nutritious eating can be delicious, too?

Dress Up!

Thanks to the New York Sun's Alicia Colon for this lovely piece denigrating the sloppiness manifested by the so-called "fashionistas" attending the exhibitions at New York Fashion Week.

If fashion is art -- and the best fashion certainly is -- than it's supposed to elevate, not to degrade. How about a little more glamor and sophistication, a little less crassness and vulgarity? It has always been a source of amazement to me that women would admire and fawn on designers who would tell them to dress like prostitutes.

Hat in the Ring?

It's breaking my heart that Mary Ann Glendon is apparently somewhere between 66 and 68 years old. Otherwise, she'd be one of my top picks for the open Supreme Court seat.

She's far too dignified ever to "campaign," but if she weren't, this piece, appearing in The Wall Street Journal today, demonstrates why she'd defintely be a contender.

The piece discusses the use of "foreign law" as a basis for Constitutional adjudication by the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, Professor Glendon objects to its use in recent cases, but goes one step farther, to explain that resort to foreign law can be appropriate and useful in certain cases:

The problem is not reference to foreign law: It is how foreign law is used by judges who usurp powers reserved under the Constitution to the people and their elected representatives, and whose desire to "learn" is limited to finding arguments in support of conclusions that have little constitutional warrant. The learning process of the foreign law enthusiasts, moreover, is selective. They have shown no disposition to explore why most democracies take a different view from theirs on exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, regulation of abortion or separation of church and state.

But she expertly explains the distinction between "the legitimate use of foreign material as mere empirical evidence that legislation has a rational basis, and its use to buttress the court's own decision to override legislation."

As she points out clearly, the former is fine; the latter is completely illegitimate, and unworthy of a democratic republic.

Great piece. Great lady.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Presidential Address

Had the opportunity to listen to the President from the car radio. It was interesting to hear people who had obviously seen the speech -- as well as hearing it -- characterize it as "well delivered." Just from listening, the President sounded sincere, but somewhat stumbly . . . obviously, however,it was even more compelling when viewed on television.

The pitch of the speech was perfect. The resolute, determined, take-charge President was on full view -- and it was clear that he has plans, big plans, for the recovery of the Gulf Coast. Along with all the plans for massive spending (hard for an efficient-government conservative like me to swallow, albeit doubtless necessary in this case), he at least made a nod toward some form of accountability for the funds.

Most importantly, he talked about enterprise zones along the Gulf Coast. It would, indeed, be a blessing if out of this tragedy came the opportunity to demonstrate the creative and regenerative potential of capitalism, unfettered by excessive government regulations.

And yes, the speech did have a slightly odoriferous whiff of big government about it. But this is clearly one of those situations where government has a role to play -- and the failure to rebuild the lives and businesses devastated in Katrina would be not only unconscionable, but also more expensive in the long run.

Not So "Heart Smart"

How desperate are the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee? They've resorted to talking about John Roberts' heart -- and not in the context of a health issue.

What a profoundly silly discussion. How incredibly narrow minded and arrogant for Democrats to decide that, because he might not share their views, he must be lacking in compassion and caring -- as if a willingness to bend the law to one's own political ends were a sign of deep and generous feeling (let's just leave the entire topic of abortion decently unmentioned).

Obviously, trying to portray John Roberts as an unacceptably out of touch "child of privilege" isn't going to fly from a committee that includes underprivileged, self-made senators of the likes of Ted Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein or from a party who nominated John ("Mr. Teresa Heinz") Kerry for President. Or from senators who so badly mistreated Justice Clarence Thomas of Pin Point, Georgia.

In fact, come to think of it, the Democrats' treatment of Republican judicial nominees generally does very little to convince anyone that they have so much "heart" that they should be worried about John Roberts'.

Taking It Nice and Easy

When things go too smoothly, as it seems the Roberts hearings have, it's easy to get nervous. And that, I believe, is part of the reason that some conservatives have become alarmed at discrete parts of John Roberts' testimony. If Teddy Kennedy isn't howling at the moon, Chuck Schumer isn't racing around in search of a television camera like a chicken with its head off, and Pat Leahy isn't foaming at mouth, something must be wrong. Right?

Well, in my view, wrong. As the linked piece indicates, the fact that Roberts refused to disclaim Griswold v. Connecticut signifies little -- Justice Thomas behaved the same way, according to Leonard Leo. And overall, through the days of testimony, it seems that Judge Roberts committed himself to very little that would prevent him from giving rein to his most conservative/originalist instincts.

Aha! some will say. He hasn't "committed himself" -- and that's a problem. Well, no, it isn't, if one looks at the goal and the endgame. Judge Roberts' objective wasn't to send the Federalist Society, Right to Life or any other conservative group into paroxysms of ecstacy. It was to ensure that he could hold his Republican support and peel off a few of the more reasonable Dems. And that means providing no misleading talking points for Ralph Neas and all -- like giving an answer that would allow Dems to claim that he (and the next Bush nominee) want to "take birth control away from Americans."

He's done a good job, for my money.

Sorry, Dems

In a post from last night, I noted that there was nothing for Democrats to be happy about in the recent polls on Hurricane Katrina, despite the MSM's efforts to spin the info as a disaster for President Bush.

Deborah Orin takes the analysis one step further:

Independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, who accurately predicted the 2004 vote, has Bush's job rating at 48 percent positive among adults and notes it would be 2 or 3 points higher in a poll of only likely voters, or 51 percent — his 2004 tally.

Perhaps the Dem pipe dreams are a little premature.

Hugh Hewitt, "Media Pioneer"

Accuracy in Media has a nice write-up of the New Yorker piece on Hugh Hewitt that I reviewed here.

For a change of pace, visit Radioblogger and take a poll to express your views about Hugh's treatment of callers to his show.

Religion: The Real First Responder

The next time some atheist tries to claim that religion is the source of many of the world's problems (like war), just remember this.

Update: Here, an atheist makes a similar point (and argues that, on the whole, believers are "better people"!). Thanks, anonymous commenter!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Way Off Target!

Last December, this site had several postings about Target's shameful decision to ban the Salvation Army from stationing its kettles in front of Target stores -- all in pursuit of a "distraction free environment."

To its everlasting disgrace, Target is refusing to reconsider its position, even in light of the Salvation Army's heroic efforts as one of the primary responders to the Katrina disaster. According to the piece linked above, Target has given $1.5 million to the Red Cross; of course, it would cost the chain nothing to allow the Salvation Army to return its kettles to its more than 1300 locations.

Note the contrast between Target and one of its top competitors, Wal-Mart. According to CNN, "Wal-Mart has given $17 million in cash [to the Katrina relief effort], the largest corporate cash contribution to date, in addition to $3 million in products."

And according to the piece linked at the top of this post, the Walton family has given the Salvation Army $4 million. Wal-Mart officials have reportedly said, "Whatever you need, call us first."

When you're deciding which "big box" store to patronize, I hope you'll consider the quality of the retail organization you're supporting -- and make your decision accordingly.

Better Dig Deep

This Washington Post poll story is a prime example of journalistic misdirection.

So gleeful are its authors at the low Bush poll numbers that they don't even report the most significant news upfront: 57 percent of Americans say that state and local officials should be blamed for the problems resulting from Hurricane Katrina.

Half the public says the bigger problem is that people failed to take the storm warnings seriously, while nearly as many said the bigger problem was the failure of government to provide transportation to those in the path of the storm.

And here's the key sentence:

"But Americans were even more suspicious of Democrats' motives."

Apparently, 60% of those polled said that, in criticizing the President, Democrats "were just trying to use the disaster for political advantage." And "a third of all Democrats were suspicious of their leaders' motives, as well as eight in 10 Republicans and six in 10 independents."

Yes, President Bush's approval ratings need to go up -- and they will. But there's precious little for Democrats to be encouraged about here.

Senators: It's All About Us

As part of the Roberts hearings, as this piece points out, senators on both sides of the aisle are, on occasion, embracing "lines of questioning that reflect their longtime legislative causes."

Keith Olbermann played footage of Jane Roberts yawning during the hearings. Well, if, as the piece linked above indicates, Senator Grassley was examining the judge on the jurisprudence surrounding the False Claims Act, who can blame her?

An Unseemly Obsession with the Personal

The Senate's focus on "John Roberts the man" as manifested in this AP piece is as ridiculous as it is frustrating.

This obsession with the personal is the mark of a society that sees judges not in their proper role as impartial arbiters and Constitutional interpreters, but as superlegislators, who are and should be bringing personal policy preferences to the act of adjudicating. John Roberts has said, "Judges wear black robes because it doesn't matter who they are as individuals. That's not going to shape their decision. It's their understanding of the law that will shape their decision."

And that's as it should be. If a judge sticks to his traditional obligation to interpret the Constitution, rather than making law, his personal views, preferences, experiences and insights should matter not at all. Indeed, Judge Roberts' own experiences with end-of-life issues are (or should be) completely irrelevant as to whether there's a right to "assisted suicide" in the Constitution, for example.

Certainly, justices must be men and women of good character -- there's no room on the bench for those of flawed integrity. But that's not the issue that the senators seem worried about when Dianne Feinstein bleats, "I'm trying to see your feelings as a man," or when Mike DeWine intones, "President Bush nominated John Roberts, the man."

No, he didn't, Senator DeWine -- he nominated John Roberts the judge. And the emphasis in the Senate hearings belongs on judicial -- not personal -- philosophy.

Conservatives Seem Happy

This is the first Supreme Court nomination hearing in the age of the blogosphere. I am delighted that conservatives seem happy with Judge Robert's asnswers -- and vastly reassured.

But I would repeat the concern I noted last night: Let's not parse the brilliance of his answers to the point where we provide a road map for Democratic followups!

Busy morning . . . more later this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Roberts Hearings

Here (via ConfirmThem) is a transcript of today's hearings.

Suffice it to say that Judge Roberts did a fine job in doing what a nominee in his position would want to be doing -- committing to little, answering what he can, leaving himself the maximum amount of room for freedom of thought, conscience and action in his (hopefully) new job.

There is a lot of commentary about the cleverness of Judge Roberts' answers to various controversial questions. Let's hope the congratulations being heaped on the judge's head -- and the rationales for them -- won't serve as a playbook for Democratic senators awaiting their next round at questioning.

MSM Update

James Pinkerton does an excellent job cataloguing the numerous instances of MSM bias against President Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Revenge of the MSM, indeed.

In other, somewhat related, news, Michael Kinsley has been completely ousted from The LA Times. He has, however, found a berth at The Washington Post.

It will be interesting to see if, in the wake of Kinsley's departure, the Times continues to run "Outside the Tent," an occasional column that permits criticism of the paper itself.

My bet: Don't expect any radical changes in any direction.

MSM's Take on Roberts Hearings, Day 1

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post seem disappointed by the relative lack of "fireworks" in the first day of the Roberts hearings.

But the Post is on solid ground with its sense that, for the Democrats, the hearings have become less an opportunity to derail the Roberts nomination than a tool for living to fight another day.

The Post notes, "But the positive reaction to Bush's nominee to replace the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the internal head counts in the Senate have forced Democrats to adopt a different stance in approaching the hearings, one aimed as much at future elections as the question of whether Roberts will become the next chief justice. "

Half right. In my view, the Democrats aren't going to be trying to make inroads with the American people for future elections. Roberts is such a skilled respondent, and his views are so reasonable, that the Dems are doomed to failure if, as the Post puts it, with an eye on an election more than three years away they:

"came with the intention of talking about their values and their view of the courts as protectors of women's rights and civil rights, and of the importance of preserving an expansive view of the federal government's powers in the face of a series of Supreme Court decisions limiting that power."

After all, what normal American voter is going to remember a disquisition from a pompous old senatorial windbag at election time in '08?

In my view, the Dems' end game is different: They are trying to influence the choice of the Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and, if they dislike the ultimate choice, laying the structure to find grounds for defeating him/her. Almost everything they do, in fact -- from the answers they seek to elicit from Judge Roberts to the tone, quality and kind of questions they pose -- is focused on this objective.

Not Even a Fair Fight

Here, a transcript of a battle of wits between John Roberts and an unarmed opponent -- Senator Ted Kennedy.

Note how neatly Judge Roberts corrects Teddy's windy misinterpretation of Roberts' former writings (as a member of the Reagan Administration) about the application of the federal civil rights laws.

Monday, September 12, 2005

First Day of Roberts Hearings

Here is the text of John Roberts' measured opening statement.

Contrast it with this statement from California's other embarassing senator, Dianne Feinstein. Here's the most ridiculous part:

I recently traveled to Europe where I saw monuments enshrining the tragedies that have occurred in the name of religion. In Budapest along the River Danube there are 60 pairs of shoes covered in copper: women’s, men’s, small children’s.

During World War II, Hungarian fascist and Nazi soldiers forced thousands of Jews including men, women, and small children to remove their shoes, as a final humiliation, before shooting them and letting their bodies fall and drift down the river. These shoes represent a powerful symbol of man’s inhumanity.

And we cannot forget that in American history, Puritans, Baptists, Catholics, Jews and other religious individuals came to this continent looking for a society where they could be free from the persecution they faced in Europe and England.

In response, the Founding Fathers created a balance in the Constitution that provided for freedom of worship as well as for separation of church and state. In their efforts to protect against religious persecution, the Framers established a secular government that would remain separate from religion.

However, these basic principles could be severely weakened or unraveled depending on the Court’s allowing government funding of religious education, prayer in school, and the display of religious symbols on public property and land.

Say what? How does what happened on another continent, more than half a century ago have any bearing on John Roberts' fitness to be Chief Justice -- which is, after all, the point of the hearings?

Doesn't Senator Feinstein understand that many of the Nazi and fascist atrocities sprang from an ideology that abhors traditional religion and allows it no role in the state? The Nazis were not religious extremists, after all. In fact, the horrors she decries derive not from extremism of the values now generally espoused by American conservatives; they spring from taking the left's total "separation of church and state" to an ugly and gruesom extreme.

And the "Puritans, Baptists, Catholics, Jews and other religious individuals" to whom Feinstein referred came to this country -- not just to "escape persecution" -- but to establish a society where their freedom to worship would not be abridged by an overbearing government. Too bad that inconvenient fact doesn't fit Senator Feinstein's narrative.

Is He Joking?

That's the only theory one can have about this piece by Ron Brownstein in today's LA Times.

He suggests that Bush reach out and nominate a Democrat to the O'Connor seat. Funny, I don't remember any "wise men" making a similar suggestion when partisan rancor was likewise high in the country during 1993-94 -- and President Clinton named unabashed liberals like former ACLU counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Kennedy staffer Stephen Breyer. Hmmm.

Is there anyone who really believes that if Bush did nominate a Democrat, the contingent would simply stop its wild Bush-bashing, the sun would shine and birds would sing? Well, maybe some do believe it -- the same people who think that Senators Kennedy, Leahy and Schumer are approaching the Roberts hearings with open minds.

A Basic Roberts Primer

In preparation for the hearings that are scheduled to start at noon (Eastern), here is a handy, dandy overview of the members of the Judiciary Committee who will be conducting the hearings on John Roberts. It will be interesting to see who simply preens for the camera, which liberals succumb to hysteria, and which Republicans are effective in defending President Bush's supremely qualified nominee.

For a summary of the "issues" that will be raised in the hearings, look here in The Washington Post. But be aware that the piece is somewhat biased -- take this sentence: "[Roberts] wrote of the 'perceived problem of gender discrimination' and criticized state efforts to address it."

Well, the only "state effort" to address gender discrimination that I've heard of Roberts criticizing is the socialist scheme of comparable worth. And that's less an exercise in righting gender wrongs than it is an attempt to impose collectivist economics on all of us.

We can only hope that the MSM does a more evenhanded job of covering the hearings.

Earth to "Journalists" . . .

A grown up, Jack Kelly, explains it all. A key quote from an Army National Guardsman who has experience in being deployed for hurricane relief:

The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.

Don't expect any apologies from the journalists, whose flawed and hysterical reporting is deserving of analysis every bit as critical as that being devoted to the government efforts to respond to the hurricane.