Sunday, April 24, 2005
Thanks to Laer Pearce of Cheat-seeking Missiles for getting me started!
Saturday, April 23, 2005
"Forces outside the mainstream now seem to effortlessly push Republican leaders toward conduct that the American people really don't want in their elected leaders, inserting the government into our private lives, injecting religion into debates about public policy where it doesn't apply.
Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party's base while step-by-step and day-by-day real problems that keep Americans up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington. We each have to ask ourselves, Who's going to stop it? Who's going to stand up and say: Are we really going to allow this to continue? Are Republicans in the House going to continue spending the people's time defending Tom DeLay or they going to defend America and defend our democracy?
Will Republican senators let their silence endorse Senator Frist's appeal to religious division, or will they put principle ahead of partisanship and refuse to follow him across that line? Are we really willing to allow the Senate to fall in line with the Majority Leader when he invokes faith, faith, all of our faiths over here? Joe Lieberman's a person of faith. Harry Reid's a person of faith. And they don't believe we should rewrite the rules of the United States Senate, and we certainly shouldn't allow this issue of people who believe in the Constitution somehow challenging the faith of others in our nation.
Are we going to allow the Majority Leader to invoke faith to rewrite Senate rules to put substandard, extremist judges on the bench? Is that where we are now? It is not up to us to tell any one of our colleagues what to believe as a matter of faith. I can tell you what I do believe though.
When you have got tens of thousands of innocent souls perished in Darfur, when 11 million children are without health insurance, when our colossal debt subjects our economic future to the whims of Asian bankers, no one can tell me that faith demands all of a sudden that you put the Senate into a position where it is going to pull itself apart over the question of a few judges. No one with those priorities has a right to use faith to intimidate any one of us."
Kerry is really all over the map in this speech. He seems to be talking about the Republicans' [as yet unexecuted] plan to change Senate rules to require a simple majority for a cloture vote (i.e., a vote to stop a filibuster - although this is a misnomer because in the case of judicial nominees there is no filibuster; merely the threat of one).
I have followed this issue very closely and I don't recall any Republican Senator invoking religion as a reason to confirm judicial nominees. In fact the only discussion of religion I have heard has been from Democrats criticizing nominees such as William Pryor. Senators Feinstein, Kennedy and Schumer accused Pryor of having such deeply held beliefs (i.e., his Catholic faith) that they would cloud his judgment on abortion. To be fair, Pryor has been a vocal critic of Roe v. Wade, but the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were unable to cite one instance in his record where he allowed those beliefs to affect his carrying out the duties of his office (as Attorney General of Alabama).
I am really tired of Democrats feeling as if they have a right to characterize the positions and the actors on the Republican side. Many people in America think abortion is wrong. That doesn't make them extreme or outside the "mainstream". All this illustrates to me is that John Kerry doesn't have a clue what the "mainstream" really is.
And the endless characterization of Republican nominees as "extremist" is tiresome. Haven't there been any judges nominated by Democrats that were "extreme"? This is like news reports in which no-one is identified as "liberal" only "conservative". And calling the president's nominees "substandard" is just plain insulting - not to mention wrong. These jurists wouldn't be nominated without high marks for suitability from the American Bar Association.
I think it's flat-out hysterical that any Democrat can accuse the Republicans of trying to "insert government into our private lives". If any party can be said to stand for the idea of reducing government involvement in the lives of private citizens, it is the Republicans (although sadly in recent years it seems that the Republicans, too, have abandoned the idea of limited government).
Lastly, as Taranto points out, it's just possible (and I'm just spitballing here) that the Republicans want these nominees to be given an up-or-down floor vote so that they can get on with the real business of the Senate.
Friday, April 22, 2005
"The classic example of the U.S. leading the U.N. was the first Gulf War. In November 1990 the Security Council passed Resolution 678, which authorized member states 'to use all necessary means,' including military force, to liberate Kuwait, then under occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The resolution also 'request[ed] all States to provide appropriate support' to that end.
In January 1991 Congress obliged. The House voted 250-183, with 179 Democrats voting 'no,' to authorize U.S. military force. The Senate vote was 52-47, with 45 Democrats voting 'no.' Only 86 House Democrats and 10 Senate Democrats voted in favor.
Among the negative votes were all five current Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who were then in Congress: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Paul Sarbanes and then-Rep. Barbara Boxer. All told, 25 of the 28 current Senate Democrats who were in Congress in 1991 voted against the Gulf War. (The three who voted for it, in case you're wondering, were Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Tom Carper of Delaware and Harry Reid of Nevada.)
So the U.N. gave the thumbs-up for military force and asked for help, and most Democrats balked.
It seems fair to conclude, then, that most liberal Democrats, like Bolton, are pro-U.N. only when it suits their purposes--and that their purposes are the opposite of Bolton's. That is, for the Democratic left, the U.N. is useful and worthy of respect only insofar as it acts as an obstacle to American leadership and an opponent of American interests."
What more could I possibly add to make this more devastating than it already is?
I also strongly believe that the president is entitled to have his people representing him and his policies. I think it would be a mistake to send some fawning, liberal internationalist to the U.N. in the wake of the Oil-for-Food scandal and the failure of the Security Council to enforce its own resolutions on Iraq. The U.S. needs to take the lead in reforming the U.N. so that it can live up to the goals and aspirations in its charter.
I definitely think John Bolton sends that message. Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee don't agree however. It is, of course, their right to disagree. It is not, however, their right to deny the president his choice of representative to the U.N. based solely on ideological differences.
The advice and consent power does not give the Senate the power to veto presidential nominations. The framers of the Constitution gave the president sole power to nominate ambassadors, cabinet secretaries and judges.
The Founding Fathers debated long and hard on the role of the Senate in this process and in the end they decided that president should have pre-eminence. As John C. Eastman and Timothy Sandefur of the Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jursprudence put it:
"No one argued that the Senate's participation in the process should include second-guessing the judicial philosophy of the President's nominees or attempting to mold that philosophy itself. Indeed, such a suggestion was routinely rejected as presenting a dangerous violation of the separation of powers, by allowing the Senate to control the President's choices and, ultimately, intrude upon the judiciary itself...[The advice and consent power of the Senate] exists only to prevent the President from selecting a nominee who 'does not possess due qualifications for office.' Essentially, it exists to prevent the President from being swayed by nepotism or mere political opportunism. Assessing a candidate's 'qualifications for office' did not give the Senate grounds for imposing an ideological litmus on the President's nominees, at least where the questioned ideology did not prevent a judge from fulfilling his oath of office."
And yet ideology is what the Bolton confirmation fight is all about. The ideological differences here are simple and stark. One side believes that the U.N. is just one tool in an administration's toolbox and should be used to advance American interests. This view stems from the realization that the U.N. is a body that represents governments - each of which fights to advance their own interests.
The other side believes that the U.N. possesses some legitimate authority and stands above all nations of the world, and that the United States should subordinate its will to the U.N.
But the Democrats know they can't come right out and say that this fight is over differing ideologies, so they desperately fling dubious charges of "anger management problems" at Bolton in the hopes that it will stick. Essentially they are accusing him of being a big, fat meanie.
And while this is all very amusing, it's also totally irrelevant. What's important is how Bolton treats the people with whom he must do business (i.e., the other U.N. ambassadors) and how he articulates and executes the president's policies.
I always find it unfortunate when important people treat underlings poorly (and, by the way, it's far from clear yet that this is the case with Bolton), but if this were to become a disqualifying factor for public service or positions of great responsibility or authority, our pool of applicants would be reduced to kindergarten teachers.
President Bush needs to speak out publicly and forcefully for this nominee and not let this nomination go down to a combination of spineless Republican Senators (Chuck Hagel, Lincoln Chaffee, George Voinovich) and desperate Democrats.
"WON'T TAKE "YES" FOR AN ANSWER
Congressman Tom DeLay and House Republicans offered to open an ethics investigation into allegations made against the House Majority Leader yesterday, but the offer was rejected by Democrats, for two reasons: (1) An investigation would clear DeLay and (2) an actual investigation will remove the partisan and fundraising advantages Democrats presently enjoy by being able to beat up on DeLay. Cynical Washington politics at its finest."
Relayed without comment. (If I started, I'd never stop...)
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Cheat-seeking Missiles is operated by a public affairs consultant in Orange County, California, named Laer Pearce. That's about all I know about him other than he is a fine writer who is using, what he calls, "precision-guided logic bombs to destroy biased purveyors of *dem*-entia". After a couple of visits to his blog, I left him a comment letting him know how much I enjoyed his writing and invited him to peruse my own humble efforts.
The result is my first plug and "blogroll" listing. A "blogroll" is a list of other blogs that a blogger reads or admires. In addition, Laer also wrote a post encouraging his readers to check out my blog.
I'm very flattered by the attention and would like to urge anyone who stops by to check out Cheat-seeking Missiles.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
A viewer e-mailed with the suggestion that perhaps the U.N. should set representative government as a precondition for membership. Mr. Malloch Brown responded that if that were the case, then China, representing 1/6th of the world's population, would be excluded from membership and its people "disenfranchised".
What on earth makes Mr. Malloch Brown think the Chinese people have any kind of franchise now? He unwittingly made the e-mailer's point. Namely that the U.N. is a body of governments, many of whom do not represent their people's wishes.
It was kind of revolting listening to all the callers and e-mails proclaiming the legitimacy of the U.N. Some people just aren't that smart.
"I also plead with my colleagues to move judges with alacrity -- vote them up or down. But this delay makes a mockery of the Constitution, makes a mockery of the fact that we are here working, and makes a mockery of the lives of very sincere people who have put themselves forward to be judges and then they hang out there in limbo."
Wow! I hadn't realized that Mr. Schumer supported an end to the Democrats' obstructionist tactics.
Unfortunately, consistency of principle is not Mr. Schumer's strong suit. He spoke these words about stalled Clinton nominees.
Well, they say payback's a bitch. I can only hope that Senator Frist and the rest of the Republicans in Congress can effect a rules change so that no president of any party will have to have his choices for the federal benches blocked on strictly ideological grounds.
This afternoon BBC News carried a television report about South African Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu's criticism of the Ratzinger election. Tutu would like to see a more liberal pope. (Perhaps one that sees the Catholic Church as a "living" church?) I wonder how would Bishop Tutu like it if the Pope were to criticize the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Of course, Anglicans shouldn't be throwing stones. Their church is undergoing its largest schism ever over the ordination of gay clergy in the United States.
CNN felt compelled to tell us of "non-practicing" Catholics' disappointment with the new pope. These people would like to see the church sanction birth control, drop its opposition to homosexuality, and ordain women priests.
"Non-practicing" Catholics is an oxymoron. If you're not practicing, you're not really Catholic, now are you? These people are what I call "cafeteria Catholics". They pick and choose which teachings to follow. "Thou shalt not kill"? Sure. If more people follow this one, that decreases the odds I'll be knifed in a dark alley. So, okay. "Thou shalt not steal"? Sure. I don't want some thug mugging me, so I'll go along on that one. "Thou shalt not commit adultery"? Gee, I don't know. My new secretary is pretty hot. I'll have to think about that one - after I figure out if she's receptive to my advances or not. No to homosexuality? That's so judgmental. Better not. Abortion? It's so convenient. Pass.
All of this is somewhat akin to an ex-spouse offering her opinion on a current spouse. Sure, at one time I might have cared, but now? This would be like Botswana criticizing the election of an American president. Amusing, but hardly relevant.
Why don't BBC and CNN concentrate on what the 1 billion real Catholics think?
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Today my Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the hated New York Yankees, whipping the pinstripers 8-4 in Camden Yards today and moving into first place in the AL East. It's the first time the O's have swept the Yanks since 2000.
And, according to Fox Sports, Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner is none too happy about having a $206 million payroll and a last place team. That's right. $206 million! That's $85 million dollars more than the team with the second-highest payroll (the Boston Red Sox) and a whopping $132 million more than the team that just smoked them three times in a row! (Source CBS Sportsline.com)
Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, George!
I would still like very much to hear your thoughts, but please be a man (or woman) about it and put your name by your thoughts. I'm happy to engage anyone in discussion about my postings but I have to know who you are to do so.
I hope this doesn't discourage too many of you from commenting.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Let me start with a disclaimer: I am a Baltimore Orioles fan, so I hate the Yankees. I think the only excuse a person has for being a Yankees fan is to have been born and lived his whole life in (or near) New York. If that's not the case, you're a bandwagon-er. Period.
How could Yankees fans boo one of their best, if not the best, player over the last several years? Rivera's stats, especially in the post-season, have been sterling. The Yankees haven't had to go out and buy the best closer in the game (like they have with the rest of their pitching staff) because they've already got him!
The worst part of this whole incident is that the loss the Yanks suffered to their arch-rivals wasn't entirely Rivera's fault. High-priced superstar Alex Rodriguez bobbled a hard hit grounder to third - twice. What should have been an easy double play ball allowed a run to score, tying the game.
So you can see why it is a moral imperative to hate the Yankees. Not only do they buy the best players in baseball, like Randy Johnson this past off-season (even though they haven't won the World Series since 2000), but their fans are cretins.
Monday, April 04, 2005
'Most of the material it was based on was "either worthless or misleading." Important for the President, the report states that his Administration didn't pressure intelligence analysts to support its conclusions about Iraq.' [emphasis added]
Now what do you think the odds are that the President will be getting an apology from Ted "I'm a Bloated Gas Bag" Kennedy or John "Did I Mention I'm a War Hero?" Kerry?
Yeah, I'm holding my breath, too.
"The principal said teachers were just giving constructive advice and the color of ink used to convey that message should not matter. But some parents could not let it go.So the school put red on the blacklist. Blue and other colors are in. 'It's not an argument we want to have at this point because what we need is the parents' understanding,' Karwoski said....
"The color has become so symbolic of negativity that some principals and teachers will not touch it. 'You could hold up a paper that says 'Great work!' and it won't even matter, if it's written in red,' said Joseph Foriska, principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary in Pittsburgh. He has instructed his teachers to grade with colors featuring more 'pleasant-feeling tones' so that their instructional messages do not come across as derogatory or demeaning.
"At Public School 188 in Manhattan, 25-year-old teacher Justin Kazmark grades with purple, which has emerged as a new color of choice for many educators, pen manufacturers confirm. 'My generation was brought up on right or wrong with no in between, and red was always in your face,' Kazmark said. 'It's abrasive to me. Purple is just a little bit more gentle. Part of my job is to be attuned to what kids respond to, and red is not one of those colors.'"
- Associated Press, 4/5/05
For those of you not aware of Roper v. Simmons, it's the case wherein the Supreme Court struck down the death sentence for minors. In 1993, Christopher Simmons of Missouri, just 17, thought it would be fun to kill someone. He told his friends they would get away with it because they were juveniles. Simmons broke into the home of Shirley Crook, kidnapped her, bound her hands and feet, put tape over her face and threw her off a bridge into the Meramec River where she drowned. Simmons was sentenced to death for his monstruous crime.
The Supreme Court cited the "evolving standards of decency" to declare the execution of minors unconstitutional. Now, I don't recall reading that the justices should rely on "evolving standards of decency" for determining the constitutionality of statutes anywhere in the Constitution. Maybe I missed it. Must be somewhere in the same "penumbras" where the right to privacy lives.
Worse was the justices' reliance on "international opinion" to justify their decision. Nowhere in American jurisprudence does it state that the United States must adhere to the judicial norms of other countries. Justice Kennedy, a profoundly disappointing Reagan appointee, cited the laws of such law-and-order luminaries as Jamaica - and, as Dave Barry says, "I'm not making this up" - Zimbabwe to justify the Court's decision in his opinion for the majority.
All that's necessary to rebut such razor-sharp legal reasoning is to cite the precedent handed down by your parents time and time again:
"If Jamaica and Zimbabwe jumped off a bridge, would you?"
Can you believe people have to fork over money to have their children brainwashed by the likes of this anti-American anti-Semite?
Feel free to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her what a wingnut she is. I did.
Dear Dr. Christensen,
I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how sorry I feel for you. You're obviously deluded about this great country in which we are fortunate enough to live. It's sad that you look around and, without even taking into account your own freedom and prosperity, see so much malice and evil.
I find it amazing that parents must pay money to have their children indoctrinated into anti-Americanism by the likes of you. Rest assured I'll be doing my part to warn parents and potential students about you and your ideology (however demented it may be).
Alain C. DeWitt
Friday, April 01, 2005
While trying to win approval for his new treatment, Sacks consults with Dr. Peter Ingham (Max von Sydow) who had previously attempted to treat persistent catatonic encephalitis patients. During their meeting, the following exchange takes place:
Ingham: Most died during the acute stage of the illness, during a sleep so deep they couldn't be roused. A sleep that in most cases lasted several months. Those who survived, who awoke, seemed fine, as though nothing had happened. Years went by - five, ten, fifteen - before anyone suspected they were not well...they were not. I began to see them in the early 1930's - old people brought in by their children, young people brought in by their parents - all of them complaining they weren't themselves anymore. They'd grown distant, aloof, anti-social, they daydreamed at the dinner table. I referred them to psychiatrists. Before long they were being referred back to me. They could no longer dress themselves or feed themselves. They could no longer speak in most cases. Families went mad. People who were normal, were now elsewhere.
Sacks: What must it be like to be them? What are they thinking?
Ingham: They're not. The virus didn't spare the higher faculties
Sacks: We know what for a fact?
Ingham: Because the alternative would be unthinkable.
In considering Terri Schiavo's case, I was reminded of this scene because in this case there was some doubt as to whether or not Terri Schiavo was in fact in a persistent vegetative state. What if she weren't? What if she weren't and the Florida legal system just starved her to death?
That, too, would be "unthinkable", wouldn't it?
I was just reading a story from the New York Times about the effect the Terri Schiavo case may have on American law. Here's the last two paragraphs:
'Some medical ethicists say they are horrified. R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, foresees a chilling effect [emphasis added] on hospitals and doctors, who may become uncomfortable carrying out a patient's wishes against the backdrop of a family feud. Professor Charo said there was no way for lawmakers to predict all the permutations that play into decisions on death and dying.
"If you go back to Cruzan, the presumption was in favor of extending biological life," she said. "Over the last 30 years, the presumption has slowly shifted toward allowing people to die. What we are seeing is the counterinsurgency."'
(Note the use of the word 'counterinsurgency' used to equate those who opposed the decision to starve Terri Schiavo to death with terrorists in Iraq. Subtle, no?)
There it is: the chilling effect. It seems to me that the term chilling effect is most often used by those on the Left when they don't like something that is happening yet don't have solid legal or moral grounds for opposing it.
Think about it. Didn't we hear about the chilling effect that would descend across America when whiny celebs complained about being criticized for opposing the war in Iraq? They didn't like it but couldn't really find solid ground for muzzling their critics so they bleated about the supposed "chilling effect".
As columnist John Leo pointed out, if your house is on fire, isn't a chilling effect a good thing?