October 31, 2005
Will Alito Cure the Republican Split?
There was quite a bit of infighting in the Republican party over the Miers nomination. Will the choice of Samuel Alito assuage that?
President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights.
This bit of editorializing by the AP in a news story isn't quite accurate. Bush isn't (or shouldn't be) "mollifying" his conservative allies; he is (or ought to be) keeping his campaign promise of a judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Democrats may not like the idea the Bush is keeping this promise...
So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.
...but that's to be expected. And Alito is known for being polite, but don't expect that to mollify the folks who didn't like Bolton for his temperament.
But it looks like conservatives, far from splitting from the party as many a Democrat was hoping, are sticking to principles.
Abortion emerged as a potential fault line. Democrats pointed to Alito's rulings that restricted a woman's right to abortion. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's views on the hot-button issue "will be among one of the first items Judge Alito and I will discuss."
In a political twist, Republicans who helped sink Miers' nomination rallied to Alito's side.
A leading Democrat who backed Miers led the attack against Alito.
...but that's to be expected.
The fight to nominate Alito, a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1990, is one step in Bush's political recovery plan as he tries to regain his footing after a cascade of troubles _ including the indictment of the vice president's chief of staff _ rocked his presidency.
Some folks (including a commenter at Stones Cry Out) had suggested that this "rocking" would make getting this kind of nominee through, including the possible use of the "nuclear option", politically impossible. I have a feeling, though, that Bush's presidency hasn't been "rocked" nearly as badly as the AP or Democrats think.
No, the Republican party is as tight as ever, even if the President occasionally needs a reminder of who played a huge part in getting him to the dance.
Alito, Bird Flu, and Katrina Recovery
A few quick hits this morning...
Word came moments ago: Judge Samuel Alito will be President Bush's nominee to replace Justice O'Connor.
I know little about Judge Alito, but the way the Democrat talking heads and CNN reporters are treating the nominee, I think I'll like him. He apparently bears the nickname "Scalito" - Little Scalia - and a CNN reporter characterized him as "emminently qualified." Hugh Hewitt linked to a quick guide of Alito's most important decisions.
All the Republican Senators who offered tepid or no support for Miers had better be ready for this coming fight - already characterized by some as a blood bath. Thankfully the Democrats allowed Chief Justice Roberts to light the path to SCOTUS confirmation. Republicans should demand that Judge Alito be given the exact same treatment.
Last night, the History channel aired a special on the bird flu - The Next Plague. Without Christ, I would be absolutely terrified. The History Channel needs to air this special many times in the near future.
Finally I turn to the Katrina recovery. Just because Katrina is out of the headlines, doesn't mean the recovery is on autopilot and Americans, especially American Christians, should not forsake the thousands of people here desperate for assistance.
I attended a small church in the area this weekend. Too many brothers and sisters remain homeless or in shelters. Too many brothers and sisters pleading with their pastor for help with shelter, clothing, house gutting, and roof repair. Donations are only trickling in and don't come close to meeting the need. Made me wonder how many Christians blew their money on selfish pleasures this weekend while fellow saints suffer. Disgraceful actually... Remember - it's not your money. God gives and takes away and He's entrusted us to be stewards over his resources. Right now the body should be expending their energy ministering to the lost - the guttermost to the uttermost. But how can they fulfill their Mission if the body can't even take care of their own? Find a church in need - there are many - and free up resources in your posession for God's work.
October 28, 2005
All the rumors have Patrick Fitzgerald announcing something about the Plame investigation today, so I thought I'd get this prediction in now.
None of the charges will relate to outing an undercover CIA operative.
I say this because Valerie Plame had been driving to and from the CIA's Langley, VA headquarters for over 5 years before this "outing", and thus wasn't undercover by any means at the time of the Robert Novak column. No undercover operative would do that. Besides, if that really was an issue, Novak would have been one of the targets for participating in the "outing" even more publicly. News article, opinion columns and blog posts keep referring to her as "undercover" when she was nothing of the sort, but it does make for better news copy or pundit fodder.
What charges we do get will relate to the investigation itself; things like perjury or obstruction of justice. Those actions, while they are serious and should be prosecuted to the fullest, and while certainly many a pundit will point to them as "proof" that the "outing" was a crime, will not speak at all to the "outing" itself.
UPDATE: Right so far.
October 27, 2005
Wilson, the French, and Forgeries
Bryan Preston at Junkyard Blog has a post up on the admission that some documents were forged by France to dupe the Americans and British into thinking it was evidence for going to war, in hope that when the forgery was revealed it would halt it in its tracks. He asks a pointed question with regards to the Plame affair.
In his anonymous whisper campaign to Nick Kristoff and in his own op-ed of July 2003, Wilson pulled a switcheroo between these documents and the infamous 16 words in the President's SOTU address of January 2003, claiming that his trip to Niger had debunked those 16 words. But the 16 words were not based on those documents, but rather on a British finding that they stand by to this day regarding Iraqi interest in purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger.
Is it possible that Wilson pulled the switcheroo for the same reason that Martino created the documents in the first place--that he had paymasters who wanted him to? This next section is highly speculative, but intriguing. If the French could pay an Italian to make the documents to undermine the case for war before hostilities ensued, and we have the forger's confession that they did, why couldn't the French pay an American to use them to smear the Bush administration once hostilities had been underway for a few months?
Don't expect that this information will be brought out by Fitzgerald's investigation.
It may be asking too much of Fitzgerald to include anything relating to the origin of those fake Nigerian documents in his investigation--the story linked above is a little over a year old. Had you heard of it? Has the press made a big deal of it, and have the Democrats treated that story in anything resembling good faith?
The answer, of course, is "No".
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. While I was on the fence about this, I have to say that I'm quite relieved that she's done this. Given speeches and remarks she'd made in the past (but post-conversion to Christianity, by the way), she didn't sound very much like Scalia and Thomas, as the President promised. Let's hope the next nominee fulfills that promise.
October 25, 2005
Answering My Critics
Allow me to make a post answering a few of the criticisms some readers have leveled towards my opposition to Harriet Miers.
First, one can call himself a conservative, but the title must have meaning. The basic conservative principles are laid out by Russell Kirk. You can find them here. Disagree if you like, but for over fifty years, Kirk has been regarded as the father of modern conservatism in America. If one wants to dispute these principles, he shall quickly find himself at odds with practically every conservative of note in this country. At that point, he might begin to ask himself if in fact he is a conservative. And he should seek to find some ideological allies, and with a quickness.
Second, yes, there are a few conservative leaders supporting the Miers nomination. Chief among them are Hugh Hewitt and Newt Gingrich. Hewitt’s argument boils down to loyalty to the President and a fear that the withdrawal of Miers will be politically damaging to the GOP. I don’t believe that to be the case in any event, but it should be noted that a GOP unified around anything resembling most of the Bush spending proposals would be a giant waste of resources. As for Gingrich, the man is entitled to his opinion and certainly he is a valuable conservative, but I don’t believe he’s right in this case. A lot of other folks take that position as well.
Of course one can be a conservative and hold differing opinions on certain matters. One reader cited Pat Buchanan, George F. Will, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Buckley. One would be hard to find many issues wherein Buckley, Will and Limbaugh disagree and as for Buchanan, it has been almost a decade since the conservative moment took him seriously. No informed person outside the mainstream media considers him to be a credible spokesman for the conservative movement.
I never claimed that respect for tradition is the only definition of conservatism. I did in fact asset that it is an attribute of conservatism, one of its most defining characteristics. One reader suggested that by my definition abortion and the New Deal are conservative, but this reasoning is absurd. Conservatism has been defined, for over two centuries, by the value of prescription, as Kirk notes in the passage linked above. When I cite Buckley or Will, it is not so that I might receive a conservative merit badge. It is because the ideological fathers of the movement that supported Goldwater, Reagan and Bush find fault with this nominee. After evaluating her myself, I join them in their disapproval.
If that makes no sense to our readers, there is no more I can say. I did not apologize for these ideas have proven to be valuable for generations, from Burke to Wordsworth to Kirk to Limbaugh. I will not recant them, for I find them to be worthy ideals. As an orthodox (small o) Christian, I find them easily compatible with Scripture. If anyone chooses to support the Miers nomination on grounds of party loyalty, so be it. I find that misguided but well-intentioned. I cannot support this, though I welcome any reader to defend her nomination on grounds that do not evoke the threat of lost Senate seats or a fractured party during the 2006 and 2008 elections. A Supreme Court vacancy must be regarded beyond the upcoming elections, and no President should be afforded loyalty for a campaign promise that has been muddled, if not outright broken.
A New Constitution
The Iraqi Constitution referendum results are in, and it passed by a wide margin; 78 to 21 percent. Two provinces were expected to vote "No" in big numbers, and one was too close to call before the referendum.
Two provinces had already been confirmed to have voted heavily "No" -- 96 percent in the insurgent stronghold of Anbar and 81 percent in Saddam Hussein's home region of Salahaddin.
But the final results announced on Tuesday showed that a third, "swing," province of Nineveh, had voted by only 55 percent against the constitution, short of a two-thirds majority.
Way to go, Jonah!
Rosa Parks, 1913-2005
In 1955, Rosa Parks decided that she preferred to sit right where she was sitting. That one simple act became the spark that exposed the shame that was personal and institutional racism in our country, and started us on the path to setting that straight.
Rosa Parks died last night at the age of 92. Her contribution to the American conscience should not be forgotten. She was rewarded by being able to see the results of the stand she took by sitting.
We have come a very long way since that day in 1955. Racism is not dead, to be sure, but it has become marginalized. We will never be completely free of hate or fear, and as such we will never be completely free of racism; it's part of the sinful nature of mankind. Only God can remove that from individuals. What helps, though, is being able to call it what it is when it rears its head.
What doesn't help is when the term "racism" is used to label things that have nothing to do with it. This cheapens the term and removes from it any relevant meaning and force. It also reverses the proper marginalization of those who are true racists. "If they call that 'racist', then what I think isn't all that bad."
We can honor Rosa Parks by combating and marginalizing true racism. She took a stand, and so can we.
My Story of Persusion, Ralph Reed and a Most Favored China
Information can be power, and the use and practice of persuasion at a public relations agency includes many layers of decisions and choices unseen and usually unappreciated by those outside of the industry.
This is certainly true when the agency is involved primarily in the Christian community, and is seeking to make decisions that are in concert with Christian ethics.
I say all this because my name was in the newspaper Sunday. A long investigative story on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, includes references to my role in using the skills and persuasion of the agency I was with at the time—The DeMoss Group—to help gain Christian and conservative support of Most Favored Nation status for China in 1998.
It’s a long story, and I think an interesting story, about Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, and now a political consultant and candidate for Lt. Governor of Georgia. The AJC is writing a lot about Reed these days; this article is about his stealthy ways and use of connections in the Christian community.
In 1998, Reed was our client for a campaign, in which I pulled together a group of missionary organizations who were working in China and would also agree with a statement that it was better for mission work in China if it was open to world trade instead of closed and isolated.
I named this group the Alliance of Christian Ministries in China (ACMC), and used the group’s identity for some hard-ball publicity, advertising, and lobbying.
I don’t have time to tell you the whole story now, but the AJC article looks at a lot of the details. And it reports on the full-page ad that Reed ran with the ACMC name without telling us—-arousing the ire of the Dalai Lama and effectively ending our professional relationship.
It was a long time ago. It’s now hard to imagine China as an isolated giant. And there are still layers of decisions about the use of persuasion and stealthy—-some would say deceptive—-means to accomplish a laudable mission.
Question of the Day
Question: Well into his second term, mired in scandal and obvious unending lies and deepening crisis, did any senior Democrat turn on Bill Clinton? One year into his second term, and days after a huge and historically significant election in Iraq and a month after yet another unfair savaging at the hands of the MSM over Katrina, George Bush surveys his allegedly supportive pundits and the GOP Senate majority that he made, and he finds what?
Is the GOP incapable of governing as a majority?"
Principle over party, Mr. Hewitt. We are conservatives first, Republicans second. George W. Bush alone did not make that Senate majority. One should not throw a party, insult the guests and then be surprised when they are offended, annoyed and, indeed, angered. Mr. Bush has done just that.
October 24, 2005
My Miers Issues
Several readers seem confused about my opposition to the nomination of Harriet Miers, so let clarify. This post is based upon a comment I left in a previous post.
It's been suggested by readers that Harriet Miers has lots of support. From where? The editors of National Review and the Weekly Standard oppose her. Rush Limbaugh is not on board. Neither is Laura Ingraham. Robert Bork doesn't like the idea. The only serious voices that I know of are Ken Starr, Thomas Sowell and Hugh Hewitt. Miers' leading support comes from evangelicals. I'm not sure what Chuck Colson is thinking but don't tell me that James Dobson's opinion matters a whit. It doesn't. Does the man have a credible opinion on constitutional matters that don't involve abortion, gay rights or euthanasia? I mean no disrespect, but why should I care what Dobson or Jay Sekulow think more than I should care about what Rush Limbaugh or Will have to say? Oh, that's right. Dobson and Sekulow are evangelicals. Reckon I should just get in line.
As a grassroots leader, Dobson is second to none. I don't doubt his sincere concern for what have become known as "life issues." Because of their sheer numbers, evangelical often act like they own the market on these issues. The truth is that many people, of all religious backgrounds, take the conservatism position. Thus it is not incumbent upon evangelicals to only support one of their own in order to see their causes advanced. Conservative Catholics and Jews - even a few agnostics - share the same outlook on these matters. Likewise I know that, on the whole, folks like Limbaugh, Will, Krauthammer, Kristol, Frum, et al ad nauseum share the same outlook as evangelicals. It is not as though National Review opposes Miers because she is, supposedly, pro-life.
On the merits, I can't think of a good reason to support Meirs. She has questionable views of affirmative action. She has no paper trail to suggest she has a clear view of Constitutional matters. She rejected the Federalist Society as "partisan." She worships the ABA, a moderate organization at best. She started a lecture series at SMU that has been a revolving door off far-left feminist thought. I could go on but that should suffice.
I am not asking that she be an appelate court justice. I am not asking that she be a politician or a law professor. I am asking that a nominee publicly demonstrate, before their confirmation hearings, that they are, as the President promised his supporters, original constructionists in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. Thus far, I have no reason to believe that Harriet Miers meets that criteria.
I will quiet my opposition if she defends herself well in her confirmation hearings. Thus far, she's not doing well with the Senate's early questioning and, frankly, I think she should withdraw before the hearings start.
New Narnia Trailer Online
A second teaser trailer for "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" is now available at this site. In some ways, this one is better than the first and gives you a bigger glimpse into the visual effects that were involved in making this film. If this is any indication of the quality of the production then it promises to be one of the best films to have been made in a long time.
October 23, 2005
Will v. Hewitt
In today's column, George F. Will continues, on conservative grounds, to oppose the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court of the United States. I join will in his opposition. I mean no ill will towards her; I just don't believe she's a decent candidate, and I think the President nominated her as an act of blind loyalty and lite affirmative action.
Hugh Hewitt takes particular exception to the following passage from Will's piece:
"Miers's advocates tried the incense defense: Miers is pious. But that is irrelevant to her aptitude for constitutional reasoning. The crude people who crudely invoked it probably were sending a crude signal to conservatives who, the invokers evidently believe, are so crudely obsessed with abortion that they have an anti-constitutional willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade with an unreasoned act of judicial willfulness as raw as the 1973 decision itself."
"But so do his missiles about "crude" people. Who are they? James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Jay Sekulow, Lino Graglia, Ken Starr? Four out of five are evangelicals. Does Will equate evangelical faith with crudeness?...And what, exactly, does "crudely obsessed with abortion" mean? Rod Dreher of NationalReview.com's The Corner thought this Will column quite devastating to Miers' nomination supporters. Does Rod agree that seriousness about abortion is "crude?" Does K-Lo? Does William F. Buckley?"
I do not believe for a second that Will finds evangelical Christianity to be crude. Yet he knows - it could not be more plain - that some evangelical leaders are championing a nominee that is blatantly unequalified, and yet they champion her because she shares the same theological conviction and the same, dare I say it, obsession with abortion. In a particular sense, that is certainly a crude position.
Let me make myself clear: abortion is a national shame. It is a horrendous, terrible procedure. Roe v. Wade was a terrible judicial ruling, and scholars on the right and left concur on that point. However, the Supreme Court has other business besides overturning Roe. Those of us conservatives who oppose Meirs do not oppose her because she is an evangelical or because she is rumored to have pro-life positions. We oppose her because we know nothing about how she might proceed on Constitutional matters. And for evangelicals to suggest that Meirs' faith is a qualification is to thereby make faith a question of all nominees to the federal bench. In our Republic, this ought not be so.
October 22, 2005
New Blog from Nancy Pearcey
Nancy Pearcey, author of the award-winning book Total Truth (and one of my favorite writers) has started her own blog with her husband Richard called The Pearcey Report. This will be a blog that you will want to check often.
Hat tip: Writing Right.
October 21, 2005
Devil's Advocate on Coburn Amendment
The idea of cutting the fat in the federal budget to pay for hurricane relief is admirable. But bloggers and the senator are going after the wrong cuts. They are going after federal highways spending.
This is not general fund money -- this is federal highways money. It comes from gasoline taxes. We went through this in the Clinton administration. The public does not want its gasoline taxes to be spent on non-transportation purposes.
Yes, cut the pork. But this money was collected to make the highways safer. The showboaters should be forced to never, ever drive on a federal highway again or to use the DC Metro or any other public transportation supported by gasoline taxes.
Now, I'm as much for cutting the pork as the next conservative, but Don's observation has merit. Bad behavior by senators notwithstanding, are we now declaring that any and all money the feds collect should be considered one big slush fund?
It's possible that, with the speed of change these days, we're expecting that problems should be fixed immediately, and that the behemoth that is the Federal Government should be able to turn on a dime. But ships of state can't just do that, and in this case perhaps they shouldn't. This is a much larger issue that one bill's pork and it needs to be dealt with in that manner. If we want all the rules broken because we want results now, we're deliberately invoking the Law of Unintended Consequences.
The long-term answer to this is to cut the amount of money going to the federal government as a whole. Then you'd have less pork overall; not just in transportation bills. A smaller federal government in general may not bring the Kos folks on board as much as they were for the Coburn amendment, but it's the right way and the responsible way to do it. Fiscal responsibility isn't a knee-jerk reaction to a specific situation that invites abuse in the future. Instead, it's a policy and a philosophy that needs to be implemented in all areas of government.
If nothing else, I think the Coburn amendments were extremely useful for getting the issue on the table. Again, hissy fits by senators from Alaska notwithstanding, a vote to kill the Coburn amendments shouldn't necessarily be read as a vote against fiscal responsibility. But now that the issue is at the fore, it needs to be pushed, and pushed hard, without tearing down the checks and balances within government.
Evangelicalism Broadens Its View and Its Impact
There’s a marvelous article by John Cochran this week in Congressional Quarterly (CQ Weekly; subscription needed) that captures the maturing and broadening of the evangelical public agenda. It is a refreshing consideration of the issues of evangelicals concern, in addition to pro-life and pro-family (anti-homosexual rights) matters.
The article takes a closer look at the emerging evangelical environmentalists, who are making a significant contribution in this area, but one that is different than the agenda of the secular crowd that has dominated this issue.
At a time when the evangelicals’ bargain with fiscal and movement conservatives in the Republican Party has been shaken by opposition to the Miers nomination, they are increasing their interest and activities in issues such as creation care, global poverty, and international human and religious rights, while maintaining their orthodoxy of faith and pro-business spontaneity.
CQ asks if the covenant will crack:
“The bargain that brought evangelical activists into the Republican Party was this: They would support the low-tax, small-government agenda of fiscal conservatives, who had long been the bedrock of the GOP, and fiscal conservatives would support evangelicals on the cultural and social issues that matter most to them. There’s lots of interplay between the two camps, but at its most basic, what they had in common was that the Democratic Party was not addressing their agendas, says University of Texas at Austin political historian Lewis L. Gould, author of “Grand Old Party: A History of Republicans.” That arrangement made the GOP the majority party. But nothing is forever in politics.
And that’s the big reason why the gradual shift in the debate under way among evangelicals is potentially significant, even disconcerting for politicians: Evangelicals are thinking beyond their traditional set of issues, and it’s not clear where it will lead them.”
But unless the national Democrats shift dramatically away from the left margins on a number of issues, it’s not likely a significant number of evangelicals will switch party support. It is more likely that the alliance that has produced majorities will lose its potency and the Republican Party will lose its edge.
The criticism by some conservatives of evangelical support of Miers as one-issue, soft heartedness is doing nothing to prevent this break. And the move by the evangelical middle to embrace the issues in this article may further cook the goose that laid the golden egg.
October 20, 2005
What if the Miers Nomination is Withdrawn?
President Bush has certainly taken a lot of heat, especially from conservatives, over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. What would happen if the President decided to withdraw the nomination? Carol Platt Liebau, in a column today on Human Events Online, says that withdrawing the nomination would be a terrible move:
First, recall that at the conclusion of the Roberts hearings, Republicans gleefully pointed out that 22 Democrats, led by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), had voted against a clearly qualified and truly outstanding nominee at the behest of far-left special interest groups. Forcing the President to withdraw the Miers nomination likewise would open Republicans to charges that the President is toeing a line laid down by a highly energized and vocal interest within his own party. That, in turn, would position the Democrats to argue, wrongly but credibly, that judicial selections are being dictated by an elite cadre of "scary extremists." Hardly the impression that Republicans want lingering in a voter’s mind on Election Day.
Moreover, for the past five years, Republicans have, quite rightly, faulted Senate liberals for imposing an ideological litmus test on judicial nominees. Noting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed with a vote of 96-3 and that Antonin Scalia ascended the court on a 98-0 vote, Republicans have repeatedly invoked the days when nominees were evaluated on their qualifications and competence – not on their ideology. By opposing Ms. Miers on the basis of their worst (but yet unproven) fears about her political preferences or philosophy, conservative critics lend credibility to the argument that both judging itself and the evaluation of judicial nominations are irreducibly political exercises.
Finally, a premature withdrawal of the Miers nomination would create other political problems. Outside-the-beltway Republicans, along with evangelical leaders like Dr. James Dobson and Richard Land, look favorably on the Miers nomination. Anti-Miers rationales – ranging from "we're afraid she's not an originalist" to "she's not the best qualified candidate" to "the President should have picked someone else" – simply don't resonate with a significant portion of the Republican base. They see nothing amiss with Ms. Miers' credentials, and are inclined to trust the President's judgment on the nominee given his record on appellate judges, tax cuts, the war on terror and social security reform. Seeking to sabotage the Miers nomination before a hearing creates the misimpression within the party (and without) that some prominent Republicans disdain the achievements of a woman who is, at the very least, an accomplished legal practitioner and trailblazer.
I don't know whether the President expected the criticism he has received especially from fellow conservatives over this nomination. He's not been one to back down from a fight before. My guess is he'll run the risk of having the Senate deny Ms. Miers a seat on the Court before he would withdraw the nomination. Given the political fallout that could occur if he did withdraw the nomination it's probably better to go ahead and fight this one out even if it means losing the battle.
The Coburn Amendment
I'm on board. Anyone else?
Kindergarten and Constitutional Law
It's the "separation of church and state"* run amok. Some folks think that a kindergartener's artwork can constitute a breach of the Establishment clause.
Officials at a New York state school may have violated the constitutional free-speech rights of a kindergarten student who included an image of Jesus in his homework assignment, according to an appeals court decision.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan remanded the case back to a federal district court Monday for further consideration.
Antonio Peck, who attended Catherine McNamara Elementary School in Baldwinsville, N.Y., as a kindergarten student during the 1999-2000 school year, included an image of Jesus and other religious elements in a poster created in fulfillment of a homework assignment on the environment.
The student reportedly was expressing his belief that God was the only way to save the environment.
School officials rejected one version of the poster and then obscured a portion of the second version when it was placed on display at an assembly, citing concerns over its "religious" nature.
Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based public-interest law firm, filed suit over the second poster.
"To allow a kindergarten poster to be displayed for a few hours on a cafeteria wall, along with 80 other student posters, is far from an establishment of religion," said Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel. "To censor the poster solely because some might perceive a portion of it to be religious is an egregious violation of the Constitution."
This is religious censorship, plain and simple. The circuit court agreed.
In its opinion, the 2nd Circuit panel said the district court "overlooked evidence that, if construed, in the light most favorable to Peck, suggested that Antonio's poster was censored not because it was unresponsive to the assignment ... , but because it offered a religious perspective on the topic of how to save the environment."
The misreading of the First Amendment and the misreading and canonization of one line from a letter from Thomas Jefferson have thus criminalized a 5-year-old's expression of religion, which, ironically, goes entirely against the Free Exercise clause.
There are bunch of teachers and administrators that need to re-take civics class.
* Not a constitutional principle
Back to Basics
Peggy Noonan has a message for the President. Something we should all remember. Maybe someone should fax a copy of this over to Pat Robertson. Goodness knows he's not reading the Wall Street Journal.
HT: The Corner.
October 19, 2005
Maybe Starbucks Is Marketing to Evangelicals....
October 18, 2005
Those Polls Don't Matter
You see, whether or not the numbers from Gallup, AP/Ipsos, Pew, and the rest are good for Dubya or poor in their portrayal of the President, they are not an apples-to-apples comparison with last year’s polls. In the first place, there is a generally smaller respondent pool of respondents, who are queried less often, and who are usually not even asked whether or not they voted in the last election, or intend to vote in the next one, which strikes me as a big mistake. Also, the questions are, to be blunt, often phrased in a manner which a courtroom lawyer might well object to as ‘leading’.
But it’s even more significant to understand how the significance of polls has changed since last summer and fall. Last year, how well people thought of George W. Bush was very important, because Bush needed re-election. At this point in his Administration, however, Bush could really not care less whether his policies are a smash hit or not, so long as he is effective. While it could be argued that since Congress tends to pay attention to polls that they would press the President to raise his numbers, it is a well-known fact that Congress generally gets approval ratings separate from the President, and in any case, while I would say that the White House is aware of public opinion, the W team is hardly about to approach the President and tell him that he has to change course, because CNN and CBS don’t agree with him.
Poll analysis is a growing field, and at the moment much more an art than a science. But in general, Bush knows that staying on course has worked for him, and in any case twiddling to wind flutters in a poll doesn’t sit well with his way of thinking. For better or worse, that means that the policies and nominees we get from the President’s office and staff are very unlikely to change. In addition to the President’s known stubborn streak, it is also a plain fact that Bush owes no markers to anyone in Congress; quite the opposite in fact. The GOP knows very well that whatever the present poll numbers, their chance for support in re-election depends on Presidential confidence in them, and more than a tepid photo op. That is, while George W. Bush has no more need of political ambition, he holds considerable political influence, and the Leadership of the GOP knows this. And since W. knows they know this, he knows he holds all the aces.
Perhaps this is why the Miers nomination and so many other recent moves by the President have been so frustrating to his conservative base. Here is a President who is free from the worries of facing re-election and can make some very bold moves for conservative causes. But he does not seem to be willing to spend the political capital he has accumulated. Perhaps he will move more boldly in the coming months and start leading as a true conservative President. Certainly that's what many Republicans are hoping for.
Condi Comes Home
I'll be seeing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretery Jack Straw on Friday. Even better, they're staying around to see the mighty Crimson Tide take on Tennessee.
"No More Christian Nice Guy"
Bryan Preston has a review of the book by that name. An excerpt:
Modern Christian men, argues Coughlin, have grown up with an image of Jesus as always patient, longsuffering, deferrent and even obsequious and effette. This softheaded, soft-focus Jesus is a false image that removes the very masculine character of Christ's leadership, thereby giving Christian men a false understanding of their role in life and church. Christian men cannot be effective leaders if they're afraid that Christ discourages them from being men. Coughlin argues that the Christian Nice Guy who is a product of this false, emasculated Jesus is unwilling to stand for truth, to battle wrong and to make waves. Ultimately, the Christian Nice Guy lives in fear that he'll upset someone, and so he takes no action even when he sees clearly that something must be done, and perhaps even knows what that something is.
Christ never lived that way. He picked fights with the Pharisees to expose their hypocrisy, used sarcasm to mock their false holiness and their stinginess, and even went on a rampage in the middle of the temple in order to correct gross misconduct. Christ never feared that his actions might upset someone, and in fact at times went out of his way to say upsetting things in order to advance truth.
October 17, 2005
NR and Elitism
How shall we define elitism?
It was a topic of discussion today at National Review, thanks in part to (surprise, surprise) another stupid remark on the part of Howard Dean. The mention of merlot led to a mention of the movie Sideways, as Kathryn Jean Lopez declares that anyone who likes the movie must be an elitist. Rod Dreher, as usual, is a voice of reason in this moronic debate.
I've spent the last two week defending "elite" conservatism against the likes of Hugh Hewitt and James Dobson, but this is out of hand. National Review is the most important opinion magazine of the last fifty years, but a magazine that regularly features reviews of operas and symphonies should never, under any circumstance, call out someone else as an elitist. This sort of nonsense is what hurts Beltway conservatives.
I've not yet seen Sideways, but I'm sitting about ten feet away from a copy. I might watch it tomorrow. Who knows? The point is that liking an independent movie or disliking bad Starbucks coffee does not make you an elitist. Having taste is never a bad thing, whether it refers to coffee, music, movies or food. The word "elitist" carries with it a certain implication: you think you're better than the guy drinking Maxwell House. But that's not true. I don't think I'm better than the next guy just because I can enjoy a foreign film or jazz. It's just a choice on my part, a choice I make because I think that some movies are better than others. And if a movie recieves critical praise, I reaize two things: First, that sometimes critics are self-serving. Second, critical praise occurs, more often than not, for good reasons. It is almost objectively agreed upon that North By Northwest is a great movie, even better than the latest blockbuster. Even if that blockbuster is family friendly.
Why can't NR make this distinction?
Dobson Playin' Politics
Fox, Meet Henhouse
Amazing? Nah, just business as usual.
The United States has expressed "amazement" at a United Nations invitation to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to address a hunger conference in Rome on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
"I find it amazing they've invited Mr Mugabe to speak at the 60th anniversary, who in a way has done so much to hurt the hungry, and who has absolutely turned his back on the poor," said Tony Hall, US ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome.
"I find it amazing. What can he possibly say to us at the conference, when he has done so much to hurt his own people? Food has been used as a weapon against his own people," Hall said late on Friday.
This insanity brought to you by the same world body that allowed Libya to chair their Human Rights Commission and pre-war Iraq to preside over their Conference on Disarmament. Folks, the UN isn't a house with a few broken boards and needing a new paint job; it's a termite-infested tenement who's residents can't (or won't) tell the difference between a drug dealer and a telephone repairman, and will cheerfully let them both in. The best thing to do is bulldoze the whole contraption and start again, hopefully with a new landlord that has a better respect for the property.
It's broken. There is no "fixing" it.
October 14, 2005
The Troubling Aspect of the Miers Nomination
Although I want to be able to trust President Bush's judgement in nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, I am experiencing increasing difficulty in supporting his decision. Statements that have been made about her being an evangelical Christian have done nothing to ease my reservations. In fact, in some respects, the invoking of her faith as the main reason for supporting her nomination has caused me even greater anxiety about her capabilities as a Supreme Court justice than before.
Stephen Crampton of the American Family Association apparently shares some of the same reservations and clearly articulates the problem with the nomination and the methods being used to defend Miers' selection (hat tip: Best of the Web):
Merely being an evangelical Christian does not automatically qualify one for any position. Specific knowledge and skills are required for almost any job, and sitting on the highest court in the land is not just any job. Dr. Dobson’s endorsement, while admittedly weighty, was predicated upon the private assurances of Ms. Miers’ friends and colleagues, and her church affiliation. While these may be important factors, they do not provide assurance that she possesses the necessary skills and knowledge for the job, and they do not settle for most of us the question of her judicial philosophy.
The fact that Ms. Miers is an evangelical Christian is irrelevant to the issue at hand: whether she is qualified to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. In fact, the first question that should have been asked is whether she is the best candidate available. Just because someone professes the same faith as I do doesn't make him or her the right person for the job especially one as important as this one.
October 13, 2005
The Outdoor Bible
A few weeks ago I received a sample in the mail of a new Bible called the Outdoor Bible. When I first heard about this I was admittedly skeptical given the recent efforts to repackage the Bible and market it to different audiences (this and this are some of the more extreme examples of this practice). However, when I actually got my hands on the Outdoor Bible I was pleasantly surprised.
The Outdoor Bible was the brainchild of two friends who loved the outdoors but couldn't figure out how to carry a Bible with them that wouldn't get wet or ruined by weather. Eventually they came up with this product which is very durable and folds compactly and is easy to carry in a backpack.
This is one of the few instances where I can say a "repackaging" of the Bible makes sense as this is a very handy way for hikers and other outdoor lovers to carry the Bible with them wherever they go.
This is absolute garbage. If some evangelical leader won't call out Robertson for this, then we have a serious problem on our hands. Is there no leader with enough integrity to publicly and kindly say that this man is a buffoon? Or does the rest of the evangelical leadership think this is correct?
I feel like I'm playing a double-agent Devil's Advocate regarding the Miers nomination. Color me a definite fence-sitter. Here's my current question:
Matt said he's having trouble trusting the President because of other campaign promises he's broken. I'm with him on that count. However, now we're being asked to trust him with a judicial nomination, so let's compare apples to apples. Dubya's not asking for a general "trust me", he's asking for a specific one with this nomination.
So the question is; considering the group of judges he's already nominated to the federal bench, are you happy with that batch, and if so, do you have any reason to think he's doing something different with the Miers nomination?
Comment on, dudes.
October 12, 2005
Still Was the Right Thing
I heard a good observation from one of Bill Bennett's guys on his morning talk show (either Jeff or Seth, I forget which one). He first noted the recent report about an al-Qaeda internal memorandum that got intercepted.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials call a letter from al Qaeda's No. 2 man to its leader in Iraq "chilling" because of how "calm, clear and well argued" it is in urging preparation for a U.S. departure from Iraq.
This was from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had lived in Iraq at least a year before the war. Bennett's guy noted this point, since those who didn't want Iraq to be liberated contended that there were no terrorists in Iraq. Further, at the time Colin Powell was making the case for war with Iraq, analysts thought that the two organizations--al-Qaeda and Zarqawi's group--were rivals, and thus claims that Hussein was courting bin Laden were false.
But let's remember first that this is the Global War on Terror, not just on al-Qaeda., and terrorists were in Iraq long before we got there (and don't forget Abu Nidal). Secondly, this very high-level collaboration in "calm, clear" language doesn't sound like one rival to another.
The liberation of Iraq was the right thing to do, the snookering of the entire world on the WMD situation notwithstanding.
October 11, 2005
Why Strain to Defend a B+?
Hugh Hewitt said so himself: Harriet Miers is a B+. Bush supporters have the right to expect an A+ nomination and take the fight to the obstructionist Dems in the Senate. Hugh is dedicating and amazing amount of energy to defend a B+.
Greetings from Louisiana!
I've been assigned to Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes. Located immediately south and southeast of New Orleans, these two Parishes are said to be the hardest hit in Louisiana. After a few days on the ground, I can report that the damage here is greater than anything I imagined.
Every home and structure in St. Bernard Parish was flooded and many were completely destroyed. There are said to be about 25,000 homes in this Parish and I can't imagine any of them being habitable for a long time to come. Access to the Parish is still restricted to essential personnel. In the several miles of rubble I traveled today, I didn't see anyone who looked like a resident.
The first couple pictures are from my first day in New Orleans. I’m staying a block from the Convention Center and the first four pictures are from within a block or two of my hotel. The other pictures were taken today in St. Bernard Parish.
We're working 12+ hour days and I'm pretty spent at close of business each day, but my wife is sending our laptop so I might be able to squeeze out a post or two in the evenings.
The Evangelical Crackup
John Podhoretz cites Hugh Hewitt's comments on the evangelical base. Hewitt seems to think at a GOP rejection of Meirs will lead to evangelicals abandoning the GOP.
I'll admit that's possible but if it happens, it's not that evangelicals who will be standing on principle.
I don't know how to make this any plainer. Conservatives who oppose Meirs are not in opposition to her faith. Period. If any of my SCO colleauges disagree, or if any readers can provide credible evidence to the contrary, I'm happy to see it. But the simple truth is that on the surface, Harriet Meirs is not a credible candidate. I don't care where she goes to church. I don't care if she taught Sunday School. I don't care if James Dobson likes her. I want to know what she thinks about the Constitution because there's more to being a Supreme Court justice than a woman's view of Roe v. Wade. If evangelical leaders can't understand this, then evangelicals aren't ready for primetime.
Conservatives and Evangelicals
Lo and behold, it looks like I'm not the only one who's tired of the "evangelical leadership."
Is Bush Playing the Long Game?
There's a good diary (promoted to "article") on Redstate.org suggesting why Harriet Miers may be the best nominee, given the current climate. The writer, "bamapachyderm", suggests that Bush may be playing the long game with the Miers pick. Via a plethora of linkage, he lays out the idea that this pick may have been made with an eye to the possible retirement of Justice Stevens. In short, if Stevens saw a die-hard conservative pick for the O'Conner seat, he would be less likely to decide to retire under a Bush presidency. However, if Stevens felt that Bush would choose a moderate, he may be more willing to step down sooner over health issues.
In the comments, "Winter Soldier" gives some further analysis, noting that (among a dozen other observations) of the judges that Bush has picked for the federal bench, there's "not a single Souter to date!" He even notes how the Miers pick fits Sun Tzu's methods for dealing with an adversary.
Are Bush and his advisors playing the long game; looking ahead farther that we are? It's quite possible, and these posts make a strong case for it.
October 10, 2005
What's a Worldview and Why Should I Care?
It's not uncommon these days to hear Christians talk about the need to develop a biblical worldview but often we don't know how to do it. Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth, tackles the issue in an article entitled "Why Worldview Matters" in the latest issue of Homeschool Enrichment Magazine. Although the article is targeted towards those who have chosen to homeschool their children, there is great instruction there for all parents. Regardless of educational choices, parents need to be equipping their children to think critically and through the prism of biblical truth.
Jumping Off the Train
Reading this and everything else at the Corner this morning (keep a'scrollin'), it makes me wonder if Chuck Colson and Al Mohler want to jump off this bandwagon before it runs off a cliff.
If evangelical leaders aren't very, very careful, they're going to lose an enormous amount of credibility.
Fund On Meirs, Land
John Fund opposes Harriet Meirs, and nails Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention in the process:
"But it was Richard Land , president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who went so far as to paint Ms. Miers as virtually a tool of the man who has been her client for the past decade. "In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty," he told a conference call of conservative leaders last Thursday. "If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." That is an argument in her favor. It sounds more like a blood oath than a dignified nomination process aimed at finding the most qualified individual possible."
(Hat Tip: Ramesh Ponnuru)
Someone is playing the evangelical leadership like a finely-tuned fiddle. The fact that no one else is offering enthusiastic support for Meirs should do more than raise eyebrows. This is downright embarrassing. Evangelical poltical action may have just jumped the shark.
Back on Top
For the first time in a long time, Penn State, Notre Dame and the mighty Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama are all ranked in the AP Top Ten.
Life is good.
Last Word on Meirs
This is my last comment on the Meirs nomination. I'll say more about the controversy and discussion within the conservative ranks later. For now, read this piece, especially this quote from Judge Robert Bork:
"It's a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you're on the court already...t's kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who've been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years."
What more do you want? Call him part of the Beltway elite, but if anyone is going to be fair in this thing, it's Robert Bork. If you value Jay Sekulow or James Dobson's opinion on Court matters more than Robert Bork, nothing will persuade you. Either way, the simple truth of the matter is that Judge Bork has been fighting in the trenches for this thing for a long, long time. His voice matters, and even if he's not an evangelical (the golden word these days, apparently), he speaks from a place of high importance.
The more I read the President's comments on this matter, the more I'm disappointed. It's not a stretch to say that this is a betrayal of the conservatives who put push into office. Let me repeat that: It has been conservatism that put W. in office. Evangelicals cast the votes, but had the conservative movement not laid the groundwork for this sort of the thing over the last five decades, evangelicals would not have the political firepower they have today. It's the truth, and it's a position I'll defend with vigor.
October 07, 2005
An Eloquent Speech on The Bush Doctrine
I agree with Matt.
The President's speech yesterday was one of the bold and important speeches of his presidency, and an eloquent presentation of the Bush Doctrine. I watched it on Fox and I'm reading it again now. It is terrific.
October 06, 2005
Hillyer On Meirs
Folks, this isn't about elitism. I don't care where Meirs went to school. I don't care that she's not attending tonight's National Review dinner in NYC. She could be pro wrestling afficianado for all I care, and I would support her nomination if there were one shred of evidence to suggest that she has a proper understanding of the judiciary.
So far, there isn't, and these evangelical defenses of her aren't holding an ounce of water.
Al Gore on the Media
Al Gore on the Media; that was then...
In fact, our first self-expression as a nation - "We the People" - made it clear where the ultimate source of authority lay. It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important that the marketplace of ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government.
The three most important characteristics of this marketplace of ideas were:
1) It was open to every individual, with no barriers to entry, save the necessity of literacy. This access, it is crucial to add, applied not only to the receipt of information but also to the ability to contribute information directly into the flow of ideas that was available to all; 2) The fate of ideas contributed by individuals depended, for the most part, on an emergent Meritocracy of Ideas. Those judged by the market to be good rose to the top, regardless of the wealth or class of the individual responsible for them; 3) The accepted rules of discourse presumed that the participants were all governed by an unspoken duty to search for general agreement. That is what a "Conversation of Democracy" is all about.
...this is now...
It did not come as a surprise that the concentration of control over this powerful one-way medium carries with it the potential for damaging the operations of our democracy. As early as the 1920s, when the predecessor of television, radio, first debuted in the United States, there was immediate apprehension about its potential impact on democracy. One early American student of the medium wrote that if control of radio were concentrated in the hands of a few, "no nation can be free."
As a result of these fears, safeguards were enacted in the U.S. -- including the Public Interest Standard, the Equal Time Provision, and the Fairness Doctrine - though a half century later, in 1987, they were effectively repealed. And then immediately afterwards, Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.
Al used to be against any government intrusion into the "marketplace of ideas", but now he bemoans the lack of government intrusion, suggesting that it is the government's job to ensure some ideas get play when the marketplace rejects them. What intervening experience brought about this remarkable flip-flop?
Actually, it was just the passing of about 5 minutes.
These two quotes are from the same speech Al gave to a media conference in New York. He's all for the marketplace of ideas, until the marketplaces chooses conservative voices. It only shows that he doesn't care one bit about the marketplace; he wants government backing of his opinion. In language that supposedly is simply against large media conglomerates, his only solution is forcing those conglomerates to air money-losing shows. Liberals have bemoaned the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, and while they outwardly promote the marketplace of ideas, they see how the marketplace has rejected them, and long for the good ol' days when the government held the people accountable instead of when "the people held the government accountable". Al Gore preaches the latter, but wishes for the former.
W on the War
This is a masterful speech. Read it in its entirety.
Getting In Line
I'll offer a larger rebuttal to Jim's piece later today, but I'll again cite David Frum. This morning's piece says a whole lot, including some thought on Ms. Meirs' view of stem cell issues.
While we're at it, could someone tell me one area where traditional conservatism and evangelicals are at a disagreement on legal matters? I'm having a hard time thinking of one.
The Split of the Evangelicals and the Conservative Elite Over Miers
The reinforced cord of ideological conservatives and Catholic and evangelical Christians that helped elect George W. Bush is fraying over the Harriet Miers nomination, to the delight of Democrats.
Although there are many people with feet in both camps, the shots taken at Harriet Miers by the conservative elite rejects any loyalty to their coalition partners, the evangelicals, and shows the natural strains that have been hidden by political common cause.
At its root, visceral opposition by the ideologues of the right isn’t about Miers’ credentials or paper trail, as they would have you believe. It is about the prescription drug bill, irresponsible post-Katrina spending, and others actions that have shown that George Bush is a big government Republican who shows no signs of backing up language that paints him as a fiscal conservative.
The conservatives have been getting madder about that as Bush strays from good fiscal principles, as the war on terror grinds on, and as their support for the President seems less necessary.
They wanted President Bush to nominate a true blue, in-your-face, conservative with a track record that would drive Ted Kennedy crazy; they wanted Bush to prove to the Democrats that they are not in charge.
Instead they got a longtime friend of Bush, a President who they believe has strayed too far off the conservative ranch to be trusted anymore. And they got someone very much like Bush—someone who became a follower of Jesus Christ in midlife.
The President’s plan to nominate someone he knows to be a social conservative, but who won’t have to defend past judicial decisions, was a sound plan. But he didn’t count on the conservative elite calling in its debts and kicking a President who they have come to dislike.
We can’t fall for the nonsense that the nominee should have been the best legal mind in the country, or the very best qualified jurist. In a perfect world, that’s how Supreme Court justices would be chosen. But we’re talking about politics. We’re talking about Washington, D.C.
The Democrats are loving it. The right is taking shots at their favorite target. What an unexpected pleasure.
The evangelicals, on the other hand, have one of their own as a nominee. We don’t know how she is going to come down on eminent domain or the commerce clause. But we have a better sense than anyone that’s come along in a long time that she is going to have a genuine, faith-based interest in protecting life--from conception to natural death. Miers’ Christian faith also will guide her protection of religious freedoms.
The elite has abandoned the evangelicals, whom they consider to be their weak-minded cousins. After all, Bush is one of those evangelical types, and he’s left the fiscally responsible farm. What good are they?
It’s time for the evangelical community to rally support for Harriet Miers. James Dobson was the first to endorse her nomination, but he’s not alone.
Charles Colson issued this statement on Monday:
“I enthusiastically support the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a surprising, but inspiring choice. She is a woman of great integrity, remarkable accomplishment, with a fine legal mind. Ms. Miers will be a great addition to the Roberts court.”
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, who argues regularly before the high court and has a pro-life protest case at the high court this term, went even further in his support: .
“Once again, President Bush showed exceptional judgment in naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice O’Connor. At a time when the high court is facing some of the most critical issues of the day, including a number of cases dealing directly with abortion and life issues, the person who replaces Justice O’Connor is critical.
“Harriet Miers is an excellent choice with an extraordinary record of service in the legal community and is certain to approach her work on the high court with a firm commitment to follow the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been privileged to work with her in her capacity as White House counsel. She is bright, thoughtful, and a consummate professional and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination.”
Don’t miss the subtlety in Bush’s nomination of Miers. She has plenty of experience and know-how. But he knows her heart, as well. This nomination was for the pro-life evangelicals. He can’t say that, or they’d both be crucified on Capitol Hill. Bush choose a closet pro-lifer. The conservative elite hates it, and the left is going to hate her, the more they dig into her Christian conversion and quiet pro-life activities.
It’s time for the evangelicals to throw their weight behind Miers, or go back to their happy churches and shut up about having a social agenda.
October 05, 2005
Debate is Good
The nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court has really caused a back and forth in the Republican Party (and here at SCO). The Redstate.org site has good views from both sides of this. Check out these entries:
- Harriet Miers -- Political Play of the Year? [ambivalent]
- Let Us Condense [con]
- 48 Hours Later, Still the Wrong Nominee [con]
- Harriet Miers: Good for 2006 Midterm Elections [pro]
And these are just the most recent entries. Some may see the debate going on (competing articles as well as in the comments) as bad for the Republicans, but I disagree. When Bill Clinton was President, there was not nearly the objective criticism of him by Democrats as Republicans are willing to have of someone in their party. When Clinton signed NAFTA, for example, there was a bit of a murmur, but not much. I've always thought that conservatives were more honest about their beliefs; less party-driven and more principle-driven. This debate is confirming that.
Here's an interesting letter sent to Jonah Goldberg.
The most interesting part:
"I get the impression that only reliable vote that many of those who are supporting Miers care about is on abortion. I have many issues that concern me as least as much or more than abortion. Where does Miers stand on federalism issues? What are her views of the commerce clause? How would she have voted on Kelo? Campaign finance reform? Has she even thought about any of this?"
Likewise I would ask have any of her defenders even thought about any of this? And don't tell me to trust the President, because he broke his trust on campaign finance reform, and his federalism is highly, highly suspect. What does Dr. Dobson think about the commerce clause?
My Questions about Meirs
In relation to Jim's post below, let me offer a brief response as it appears that I am the anti-Meirs 'round these parts. I am thrilled that Ms. Meirs is a Christian, and I trust that her faith has been a source of strength for her and for those around her. But her faith alone says nothing about her qualifications for the nation's highest court. I am not asking that the nominee have any particular characteristic in terms of gender, race or religion. I simply want a candidate whose legal abilities are clearly and confidently articulated in their past work. There is nothing in Ms. Meirs' past work suggesting she has a clearly defined belief about what should be the nature of the executive, legislative or judicial branches. It is a dangerous thing to have her make up her mind about such matters while on the Court.
And as for the President's relationship with her, and his serious view of the court, I offer this from George F. Will:
"In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to insure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, ``I agree.'' Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, ``I do.'"
The rest of Will's column is here, and I would defy anyone to rebut his argument without citing "trust" of the President. If this is beltway elitism, then sign me up.
Standing by Miers and her Evangelical Conscience
I am unabashedly enthusiastic that Harriet Miers has come to faith in Jesus Christ in midlife, and that her evangelical belief will be part of what she brings to her role as a Supreme Court justice, if confirmed. But I do not want to be misunderstood as a Pollyanna Christian who celebrates faith but ignores ability and ideology.
I don’t use the Christian Yellow Pages and, like Martin Luther, I’d rather be ruled by a “competent Turk” than an incompetent Christian. And after working for nearly 30 years in the very bowels of the evangelical community, I know that a person’s Christian faith does not assure competence. Trust me, I know that well.
Anymore than a person’s conservative orthodoxy assures sound moral character.
Those who worship at the feet of William Buckley and see conservatism as life’s guiding light, and particularly those who are more comfortable inside the beltway that inside a church, have decried Miers’ selection and dismissed personal relationships—that the President has with the nominee, and that the nominee has with Jesus Christ—as inferior to a judicial record or a paper trail.
I do not think the evidence of Miers’ evangelical belief is enough to provide comfort to those who want to be assured that she will not slide to liberalism as part of the court. But when I add that to my belief that the President understands the stakes, and he has known Miers as a close colleague for more than 10 years, I am far more comfortable than I am with others who were less known by the Presidents who appointed them (they say Bush 41 couldn’t pick David Souter out of a lineup). [I incorrectly wrote Reagan in an earlier version]
There’s more certainty on some key issues—such as life issues--with Miers than with Roberts, or many others who could have been chosen. How many Republican evangelicals that you have known for 10 years are pro-abortion?
October 04, 2005
All the Proof I Need...
Rod Dreher cites George F. Will's latest column, speaking against the Meirs nomination.
If George F. Will, Bill Kristol and the editors of National Review can't support her, then no serious conservative can, either.
Supreme Court nominations are not about trust.
The Reporting in Iraq
The military news out of Iraq continues to be bleak. Unfortunately, according to those on the ground there, it's only bleak because the media covers it that way. Via The Gun Guy comes word that LTC Tim Ryan has some choice words for how things are being covered.
All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.
His in-depth article recounts the successes in Fallujah and Najaf, comparing Fallujah to WWII victories.
Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.
Imagine if the papers in the 1940s all cried about the death and destruction of the French countryside rather than cheering the fact that the Bad Guys were being beat back.
Even when he tries to get the good news out, Western media rebuff him.
I have had my staff aggressively pursue media coverage for all sorts of events that tell the other side of the story only to have them turned down or ignored by the press in Baghdad. Strangely, I found it much easier to lure the Arab media to a "non-lethal" event than the western outlets. Open a renovated school or a youth center and I could always count on Al-Iraqia or even Al-Jazeera to show up, but no western media ever showed up – ever.
LTC Ryan has much, much more to say on misleading headlines, the big picture, minimizing the enemy's moral failings while overemphasizing ours, reporting on events not witnessed, and aiding & abetting the enemy with their best weapon; bad news.
I'll admit it. I trust the President.
With that out of the way, and with all due respect to Jim and his well-written post, I have two words for anyone who'll support Harriet Miers simply because she's an evangelical:
It may turn out that Ms. Miers reveals herself to be such a wonderful justice and original constructionist that James Madison and Edmund Burke both rise up to pat her on the back. But if she doesn't, evangelicals will have no one but themselves to blame.
I've suggested before that evangelicals - as a body of people - have not yet, with clarity and consistency, articulated any clear political ideology. Evangelical votes have centered on two things: gay rights and reproductive/life issues (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning). When these points are gone, where does the evangelical leadership stand? Is James Dobson going to have a Justice Sunday rally to fight the Court's outrageous ruling on eminent domain? I doubt it, though it can be easily established that abusing eminent domain is a grave evil. It seems as though the evangelical grassroots can be pacified on the grounds that Ms. Meirs is "one of us," but the problem is that when abortion and gay rights aren't on the table, how will evangelicals vote?
Yes, the President knows and trusts Ms. Meirs, but then again his own conservatism is often dubious, as witnessed by his reckless spending, his disaster-in-waiting immigration policy, his refusal to veto the campaign finance reform bill and his basic belief that government should help instead of get out of the way.
I trust the President, but I don't trust politicians. And the simple truth is that evangelicals who cannot explicitly identify themselves as conservatives have now fully established themselves as the biggest interest group in the country. I'm sure the President understands the importance of the Court, but for my money, I care more about a nominee's judicial philosophy than where she goes to Church. I'll take David Frum over Marvin Olasky any day of the week. And I'll take Ramesh Ponnuru. And Ronald A. Cass. And Randy Barnett. Then there's this: Jay Sekulow is a team player? Yuck. And Jonah nails the evangelical theory.
If Dobson thinks I'm going to support Meirs because she's an evangelical, then he is mistaken. And he's in serious danger of becoming the Jesse Jackson of the Christian Right.
We should know better.
Trusting the President on Miers, the Evangelical
The nomination of Harriet Miers has created an amusing bipartisan pout in Washington. She has no record that pegs her judicial philosophy, and nothing has surfaced that assures either conservatives or liberals.
That’s disturbing to David Frum at NRO, who expresses a common sentiment among conservatives in the last 24 hours.
“But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or--and more importantly--that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left. . . .I am not saying that Harriet Miers is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely.”
What disturbs Frum and other conservative leaders is that they are being asked to trust the President.
History prevents any bold predictions about what men and women will become when they put on the august robes of the nation’s highest court. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to think of an instance when a justice has drifted to the right.
But I’m choosing to trust President Bush on this, for three reasons:
First, because I believe he understands the importance of righting the Court; and second, because he knows nominee Miers very well. This is not a new face to Bush, vetted by the staff and subjected to a getting-to-know-you session in the Oval Office. Miers has been Bush’s personal attorney, and she’s been a close associate for more than a decade.
Finally, and most intriguing, there are reports that Miers is an evangelical.
J. Grant Swank, Jr writes at the ArriveNet blog:
"Harriet Miers is said to be a conscientious church-going single. She’s also a workaholic. She’s a determined career woman. She’s trusted by US President George W. Bush. And now she’s been nominated for the highest court in the land. But what is particularly significant is the give-away secret. She’s an "evangelical."
Focus on the Family CitizenLink includes this:
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez has known the nominee for more than two decades.
"Harriet is an outstanding individual," he told CitzenLink. "She is a born-again Christian and goes to an evangelical church in Dallas. She is a very, very compassionate and able person."
And this from the NY Times:
One thing Ms. Miers shares with her boss is a deep faith. She was introduced to Valley View Christian Church in Dallas by Justice Hecht, of the Texas Supreme Court. He was an elder at the church and often plays the organ during Sunday services.
"Harriet has placed her faith in Jesus," said the Rev. Ron Key, who was the longtime pastor there until recently. "She may have been religious before, but it's become more of a priority, more of a focus of her life. She has become a strong example of what happens in a person's life when they come to the faith."
I’ve heard this from several sources during the last day, but it isn’t something that the White House or Miers will talk up during the confirmation process. It would reassure Christian conservatives, but disturb the secularists who dominate the Democratic Party.
For these reasons, I’m willing to trust Bush on this one.
October 03, 2005
What factor in teenage life multplies the suicide rate by a little under 3 times for girls and by around 6 times for boys?
But there was another statistic that should have gotten parents' attention but which was similarly ignored, namely, that there seems to be a direct link between teen sexuality and teen depression. A study by the Heritage Foundation, in-turn based on the government-funded National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, found that about 25 percent of sexually active girls say they are depressed all, most or a lot of the time, while only 8 percent of girls who are not sexually active feel the same.
While 14 percent of girls who have had intercourse have attempted suicide, only 5 percent of sexually inactive girls have. And whereas 6 percent of sexually active boys have tried suicide, less than 1 percent of sexually inactive boys have. The report challenges the previously held notion that teens become sexually active in order to self-medicate their own depression.
And lest you think it's possible that the sexual activity was the result of the depression...
"Findings from the study show depression came after substance and sexual activity, not the other way around," says researcher Denise Dion Hallfors of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data from a national survey of more than 13,000 teenagers in grades seven to 11.
(Emphasis in original.)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who comments on this study in the linked article, believes that the first priority of parents--even before food and clothing and even love--is to protect their children. As he notes, all the watering and nurturing in the world won't revive a dead plant ripped up from its roots.
Boo on Miers
Hugh Hewitt says conservatives should trust the President's new pick for the Supreme Court. I like Hewitt's poker analogy, but frankly, I trust Mark Levin, Ramesh Ponurru and Rich Lowry more. And no, Hugh, I don't trust what appears to be another crony appointment.
Is there anything the President could do that would earn Hewitt's ire?
Harriett Miers Nomination
In 10 minutes, President Bush will nominate Harriett Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Miers, once Bush’s personal attorney and now White House counsel, has been leading the effort to find nominees for the two open high court posts.
The selection is reminiscent of Bush’s selection of Dick Cheney to be vice president, after Cheney orchestrated the selection process for that position.
What’s That in Blogyears?
October 1 marked the one-year anniversary of my foray into the blogging world. On that day in 2004 I began The Rooftop Blog with the following mission statement:
“Exploring the news and interplay of the Four Estates--family, church, government, and the media--and the moral imagination of a culture informed by the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
I’ve been able to devote much of the space to materials within these parameters, although at times I’ve written purely on the passion of the day, and in times of political drama, on the politics of the moment.
In February, I joined four others to begin this blog, Stones Cry Out. I cross-post the majority of my posts, but because Stones Cry Out has good contributions from (now eight) others, most of those who enjoy what I write read it here—and The Rooftop Blog has become somewhat of a compilation of just my works, with occasional posts that are too personal for the more august air of SCO.
I enjoy any opportunity to write, and would welcome more time to devote to the blog. As our public relations business has picked up, I have had to chisel the amount of time I spend on the blog. When I began supplementing the PR business by teaching three college courses this semester, my blogging time has decreased more.
I have found blogging immensely satisfying and interesting, and I believe it helps my work because it keeps my nose in the news. I share the frustration of so many bloggers: There is not enough time to pour into the ever-hungry blog There is always more material than time. Until we find a way to drive the economic part of “the tail,” blogging will remain for many of us a tantalyzing but frequently frustrating attempt to speak to the world.
October 01, 2005
And if you've never had the pleasure of spending a day at a rowdy college football game, might I suggest you read Warren St. John's delightful Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. The book is a fun recounting of St. John's year following the Crimson Tide.
Incidentally, that year was 1999, the last time Alabama beat Florida. Twice. For the SEC title. The Tide lost in the Orange Bowl, but that sort of thing can be forgiven when you lose to a quarterback named Tom Brady.
Roll Tide, indeed.
Update: Ivan Maisel has more.
Charlie Weiss - Great Guy
Then again, as an Alabama fan, I can't help but cringe just a little bit every time I hear about Notre Dame passing to the tight end while deep in their own territory.