August 16, 2007

Huckabee's Moment?

Mike Huckabee's second place finish in the Iowa straw poll has given him a boost in both the polls and the media. But can Huckabee build on this momentum to move himself into the GOP's top tier? National Review's Jim Geraghty thinks there is a chance he could:

Suppose you’re an undecided Republican voter, with mixed feelings about the big-name Republican presidential candidates. You respect John McCain, but he doesn’t look like a viable option — which is just as well since he bugged you with his crusade for speech-limiting campaign finance reform, and lost you with the immigration deal with Ted Kennedy.

Mitt Romney’s wowed you in the debates, but you can’t forget that while you agree with all his positions, he had strikingly different ones not too long ago. And you would prefer a nominee who has won more than just one political race in his life.

You love Rudy Giuliani’s crime-fighting record and 9/11 leadership, but the thought of a non-pro-life Republican nominee gives you pause, and the messy home life troubles you a bit.

You were very excited about Fred Thompson, and nearly fainted with anticipation when you saw his smackdown of Michael Moore. But lately you feel like you’re playing a character in Waiting for Godot, and you’re wondering if he got lost somewhere on the way to the announcement.

Those still shopping for a candidate could do a lot worse than former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who with the second-place finish in Ames is not merely now a “top tier” candidate, as Newt Gingrich recently declared, but arguably belongs in the middle of that first tier.

Huckabee has several things going for him. He's a successful former governor (Arkansas). He's striking the right tone in his responses to quetions on foreign policy. He has solid conservative issues that will give him appeal beyond the Republican base. He's also got a great sense of humor that has served him well in the debates.

His biggest negative has been that up until now he's been in the second tier among GOP candidates. But with the increased media attention after his strong showing in Iowa more voters may begin paying attention to him. That could dramatically change the face of a race that was already starting to narrow down to two or three candidates.

Posted by Tom at 05:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 01, 2007

Money Talks

During this presidential election cycle, political reporters everywhere have been devoting a lot of time analyzing the quarterly fundraising figures of each party's presidential candidates. The theory is that the candidate who has the most money is likely to hold an edge in the upcoming elections. While it's been widely reported that Democratic presidential candidates our doing a better job of fundraising than their Republican counterparts, there is another aspect of fundraising that is being overlooked.

If you had to venture a guess, which national party has raised more money: Democrats or Republicans? If you guessed the Republican National Committee, you would be correct. (Hat tip: Rich Galen)

National parties are required to report their fundraising figures on a monthly basis while presidential candidates report quarterly. According to the Federal Election Commission, Republicans raised just about $6.6 million in the month of June while Democrats raised just under $4.2 million in the same period. So Republicans had a good month in June.

But when you look at the total raised so far in this election cycle, the results are even more dramatic: Republicans have raised almost $45 million so far while Democrats have only raised about $28 million. Republicans have more cash on hand: close to $16 million as opposed to just under $5 million for Democrats. So clearly, the RNC has a substantial financial advantage over the DNC.

How do you explain this discrepancy? The Democrats' edge in presidential fundraising seems to be driven by two factors. First, after being out of the White House for almost eight years, Democrats are very motivated to win the Presidential election. Second, the Democratic nominee is likely to be one of three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Most of the money seems to be flowing to these three so it's a safe bet one of them will win the nomination.

On the flip side, the Republicans are motivated to recapture the Congress. Democratic inepititude in passing meaningful legislation has helped fueled the Republican cause. The presidential nomination picture is more unsettled that the Democratic picture and that's having a negative effect on fundraising. Rudy Giuliani remains the frontrunner despite plenty of reasons that Republicans have for not supporting him. Mitt Romney has the social conservative credentials but can't seem to make much headway. John McCain's campaign has imploded as he's gone from frontrunner to also-ran. Meanwhile, many Republicans wait for Fred Thompson to officially get in the race.

Democrats have an advantage in presidential fundraising that may or may not last depending on how the nomination process progresses. But they'll have to work overtime to level the playing field at the national party level. If they can't then they may win the White House but lose the Congress.

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July 25, 2007

Indoctrination In The Classroom

Stanley Kurtz has an intriguing and yet frightening article on National Review Online about how the Saudis are using federal education programs to influence curriculum used in public schools about the Middle East:

Unless we counteract the influence of Saudi money on the education of the young, we’re going to find it very difficult to win the war on terror. I only wish I was referring to Saudi-funded madrassas in Pakistan. Unfortunately, I’m talking about K-12 education in the United States. Believe it or not, the Saudis have figured out how to make an end-run around America’s K-12 curriculum safeguards, thereby gaining control over much of what children in the United States learn about the Middle East. While we’ve had only limited success paring back education for Islamist fundamentalism abroad, the Saudis have taken a surprising degree of control over America’s Middle-East studies curriculum at home.

How did they do it? Very carefully...and very cleverly. It turns out that the system of federal subsidies to university programs of Middle East Studies (under Title VI of the Higher Education Act) has been serving as a kind of Trojan horse for Saudi influence over American K-12 education. Federally subsidized Middle East Studies centers are required to pursue public outreach. That entails designing lesson plans and seminars on the Middle East for America’s K-12 teachers. These university-distributed teaching aids slip into the K-12 curriculum without being subject to the normal public vetting processes. Meanwhile, the federal government, which both subsidizes and lends its stamp of approval to these special K-12 course materials on the Middle East, has effectively abandoned oversight of the program that purveys them (Title VI).

Enter the Saudis. By lavishly funding several organizations that design Saudi-friendly English-language K-12 curricula, all that remains is to convince the “outreach coordinators” at prestigious, federally subsidized universities to purvey these materials to America’s teachers. And wouldn’t you know it, outreach coordinators or teacher-trainers at a number of university Middle East Studies centers have themselves been trained by the very same Saudi-funded foundations that design K-12 course materials. These Saudi-friendly folks happily build their outreach efforts around Saudi-financed K-12 curricula.

In one sense it's easy to see how the Saudis can be so successful in their attempts to indoctrinate American schoolchildren. But at the same time it is frightening to consider that the same tactics that are used in Middle East countries than either sponsor or encourage terrorism could be used in American schools. Hopefully, Congress will take the steps necessary to fix this situation. Given the fact that Democrats are more concerned conducting endless investigations than dealing with our country's more serious problems it's unlikely that any deal can be struck. Our kids, and ultimately our nation's security, will suffer.

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July 06, 2007

Should Churches Be Allowed to Use School Buildings?

It's a commonplace occurrence among newer churches. They don't have a building of their own so they rent space that is not in use on Sunday. Often, they will rent public school buildings since they would otherwise sit empty. But a case that is likely headed to the Supreme Court may decide whether such usage is constitutional under the First Amendment (Hat tip: Christianity Today):

The three judges on the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel who heard a Bronx congregation's challenge to the policy each issued a separate opinion. One judge of Bronx House hold of Faith v. Board of Education ruled in favor of the church; another decided in favor of the Board of Education's anti-church policy; a third found the case was not yet ready for review. As a result, the church may continue to use the school building pending further appeal.

The case likely prompted such division because of the question, more theological than legal, at its center: What is worship? The legal significance of the question hangs on a 2001 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the court held that schools allowing use of their campus after hours by secular groups could not then exclude religious groups from conducting religious instruction or discussion on school grounds.

But in the 2001 case, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, the federal high court appeared to draw a distinction between religiously oriented lessons and outright worship, leaving it to federal judges across the country to grapple with whether schools were permitted to ban on-campus worship services. Ruling that such blocks are legally permissible a judge on the Second Circuit panel nominated by President Clinton, Guido Calabresi, declared worship to be a form of speech incomparable to all others. By separating out all worship, Judge Calabresi, concluded that the Board of Education's policy against it does not discriminate against a particular viewpoint — which would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment — but instead justified the Board's content-based distinction.

A second judge, John Walker Jr., who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush, rejected that distinction and accused Judge Calabresi of relying "more on judicial legerdemain than judicial reasoning." "The fact is," Judge Walker wrote, "that none of us who are judges are competent to offer a legal definition of worship." Judge Walker said that the Board of Education could not prohibit congregations from gaining access to public schools for worship without violating their First Amendment rights.

Although vehemently opposed to Judge Calabresi's outcome, Judge Walker seems hesitant of his own conclusion, writing his approach is "admittedly imperfect in this uncertain legal terrain." The dispute could, Judge Walker wrote, "benefit from a more conclusive resolution" by the Supreme Court.

New York City's policy prohibits churches from using public school buildings for worship services. Bronx Household of Faith had filed suit in order to continue to meet in the school. The central question is whether the church's use of the school violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Establishment Clause states the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". At first blush, the language appears fairly plain. Permitting a church to meet in a school does not equate to establishment of religion since there is no specific requirement for citizens to participate in worship at that church or become a member of the church. But given the convoluted rulings that have come down from the Supreme Court recently particularly in these types of cases, it's entirely possible that the Court will uphold the city ordinance.

Although the ruling from the 2nd Circuit fails to resolve the issue, Judge Walker is correct in that more guidance is needed from the Court in order to decide the issue at hand. It will be interesting to see whether the Court decides to hear the case and use it to provide some clarity for Establishment Clause cases. Given the rulings handed down at the end of the current term, it's more likely that they will hand down a ruling in favor of the church without addressing the fundamental flaws of the relevant precedent cases.

Posted by Tom at 10:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2007

NBC, Al Gore, and the Fairness Doctrine

Fox News' John Gibson made a great point during his commentary today at the end of his show The Big Story about NBC's plans to televise 75 hours of Al Gore's Live Earth concerts starting this weekend:

What is NBC doing airing dozens of hours of Al Gore's Live Earth concerts this coming weekend? And why are the Fairness Doctrine proponents of the Democrat Party not objecting to this outright gift of unequal time to just one side of a controversial issue?

NBC is reportedly airing hours of the concerts — hours upon hours — on and through various NBC platforms. Al Gore is the chairman of the Live Earth project. NBC is a company which is owned by a corporation which must declare its political contributions.

Does anybody think the Live Earth concerts are not a political statement by Gore's supporters that will end up benefiting Al Gore? Does anybody think Al Gore isn't running for president? I know he's said he's not, and every time I get a Democrat analyst sitting next to me, he or she says he's not. But it sure looks like he's running to me.

Look at the field. Hillary's got the big "mo" and the big Bill. Barack has the big pile of cash. There is a chance they will bash each other to a pulp.

Meanwhile, Gore sits on the sidelines. Remember he's a saint to the left. Remember he won in 2000. You do remember that, don't you? If you have forgotten, just ask a Democrat.

You do recall he was the original Bush hater. Didn't like Bush, didn't like the war. He's been calling for us to come home before we even touched home base in Baghdad.

Plus this whole deal about the planet melting. Gore is the left's guy, and he plays to his base.

So what's NBC doing giving Gore so many hours of airtime on NBC owned and operated television operations? Does this constitute a political contribution of free airtime? Do the people who want the return of the Fairness Doctrine think NBC should be forced to give equal time to me and let me argue against Al Gore?

I don’t think so.

That's My Word.

It's ironic to me that the same liberals who have made so much noise about resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine are silent about the real issues that providing such an abundance of coverage on this one issue presents. Plus there's the fact that even though Al Gore says he's not a candidate for President, he's certainly acting like one.

NBC, which already earned a well-deserved black eye for being willing to pay money for high-profile interviews (think Paris Hilton) apparently doesn't see a problem with overt issue and candidate advocacy. I suppose it's not a problem for them as long as it's a liberal Democrat that they are putting all over their networks. Then again, I learned a long time ago that NBC, like the rest of the "mainstream" media is much more biased than many, especially liberals, are willing to admit.

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July 02, 2007

Scooter Libby's Commuted Sentence

President Bush stepped in just as former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was about to head to jail and commuted his sentence:

President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case Monday, stepping into a criminal case with heavy political overtones on grounds that the sentence was just too harsh.

Bush's move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, and Bush said his action still "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby."

Democrats, predictably, were quick to criticize the President's decision:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mi.) released a statement saying that "until now, it appeared that the President merely turned a blind eye to a high ranking administration official leaking classified information. The President's action today makes it clear that he condones such activity. This decision is inconsistent with the rule of law and sends a horrible signal to the American people and our intelligence operatives who place their lives at risk everyday."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added that "the President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence is disgraceful. Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."

In the end, it appears that the President made the right call. Regardless of what he decided to do about Libby, he was going to be criticized. If he did nothing, conservatives would be on his back for not pardoning someone who was caught in the middle of a dubious criminal investigation. If he pardoned Libby outright, he would have heard much more whining from liberals. In the end, he showed respect for the rule of law by allowing Libby's fine and probation to stand. In President Bush's mind, Libby did commit perjury even if the underlying case (the Valerie Plame leak case) had very little merit. Libby still deserved to be punished and now that punishment seems to be just about right.

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June 27, 2007

Resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) recently remarked that it was time bring back the Fairness Doctrine, the old regulation that used to require broadcasts to provide equal airtime for opposing political viewpoints. As an editorial from the Examiner points out today, this idea is utterly ridiculous. (Hat tip: Power Line)

The Fiarness Doctrine was a product of a different broadcasting era. Talk radio, cable news, blogs, and the internet had not even been invented yet. The only sources of broadcast news besides commercial radio stations were the three major broadcast networks. National Public Radio had not been created until 1970. Any balanced presentation of political viewpoints needed to be guaranteed by government regulation.

But the proliferation of media outlets, particularly on cable and the Internet has made the Fairness Doctrine obsolete. No longer does a citizen have to rely on very limited sources of information.

The real motive behind the move to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine has absolutely nothing to do with fairness. Because liberals (i.e. Democrats) have been unable to successfully compete with the likes of conservative talk radio stars such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity they want to rely on government regulation.

And as the Examiner points out, if Democrats succeed in bringing back the Fairness Doctrine to talk radio they won't stop there. Then they'll target television and the Internet, also. Given their dislike for Fox News, how long would it be before they figure out a way to put them out of business through government regulation?

The bottom line is this: when Democrats can't compete whether it's in talk radio or the arena of ideas, they always go back to government regulation as a way to impose their will on the American people. It's unlikely that this time they will be able to succeed.

Posted by Tom at 10:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

Supreme Court Rules on Faith-Based Initiatives

The Supreme Court today ruled in the case of Hein vs. Freedom From Religion Foundation which challenged the constitutionality of President Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives. The Court dismissed the suit stating that the plantiffs in the case, Freedom From Religion Foundation, didn't have the proper standing to bring the suit.

The ruling is interesting because it doesn't necessarily address whether the President's faith-based initiatives are constitutional. Rather, the argument focused on a narrow issue in Establishment Clause litigation: under what circumstances can an individual or group bring suit against the federal government to halt funding of government program that seems to run afoul of the First Amendment.

Generally speaking, an individual taxpayer cannot bring suit against the government for any reason. However, there is a specific exception that was created by the Supreme Court in its 1968 ruling Flast vs. Cohen. That case requires that the program in question is the direct result of congressional funding.

The Court, in deciding the case, determined that because the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is funded by the Executive Branch than directly by Congress there was no cause of action under Faust.

While the result will be applauded by conservatives, the Court has again opted to punt on dealing with the more serious issue of whether the Faust exception is constitutional at all. In the end, while the Court may have settled this case they have left the door open for more of this type of litigation to come from separatist groups. One can only hope that the Court can find the way to provide clearer guidance on these and other difficult constitutional questions.

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May 16, 2007

Digesting the Debate

I actually sat down to watch last night's Republican presidential debate. (Memo to Fred Thompson: you really need to run especially after yesterday's video response to Michael Moore - you would have easily beaten the other ten guys on stage)

While there will be much debate on which candidate was triumphant the clear winner last night was Fox News. The questions were sharp, intelligent and tough. The questioners (particularly Chris Wallace) did a good job of pressing for more direct answers when the candidates would evade the questions. Just check out the video montage at National Review's Media Blog to see the difference between last night's debate and the first debate on MSNBC.

Democrats would be well served to rethink their position about not holding any debates on Fox News. If you can stand up to a few tough questions from the best political reporters in the business how are you ever going to stand up to America's real enemies?

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May 09, 2007

Fred Thompson's Excellent Adventure

I must admit up front that I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the presidential election next year. To me, it seems way to early to even think about the election even though my state will have its primary in just nine months. Even though I'm not willing to go out on a limb and declare support for any particular person, I am intrigued by the increasingly successful candidacy of former Tennessee Senator, actor and radio commentator Fred Thompson.

Mr. Thompson is a fairly busy guy between his duties on NBC's Law and Order and his daily radio show on ABC. He's also going around the country making numerous political speeches and drumming up quite a bit of support for his yet-to-be-declared candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Consider two separate polls in the last few days (hat tip to the indispensible Jim Geraghty for both). A few days ago, Mr. Thompson came in second to Rudy Guliani in a North Carolina poll drawing 25% of the vote. Over the weekend, Mr. Thompson won the Washington straw poll.

Do these polls matter at this stage in the game? My answer would be yes and no. They matter in that they show there is a groundswell of support for a Thompson candidacy and a general dissatisfaction among Republicans with the current crop of candidates. However, because Mr. Thompson has not declared and consequently hasn't raised any money it's unclear whether he can stage a viable bid for the nomination.

One other thing: the media has focused a great deal of attention on Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain by essentially declaring them the frontrunners (and, by implication, the only men who have a real shot at winning the nomination). Despite all the attention these three have received, Mr. Thompson is still faring pretty well despite the fact he's not officially a candidate.

I think Mr. Thompson could succeed in winning the nomination. First, he is a staunch conservative that has a great deal of name recognition. This is a combination of attributes that seems to be missing from the current field. Most of the candidates are either well-known or conservative but not both.

Second, Mr. Thompson is a very straight shooter who tells you exactly what he's thinking. There is no equivicating or parsing of words. He tells you like it is. Whether you agree with him or not, you know exactly where he stands. Such clarity is woefully absent in politics. This gives him an appeal all across the political spectrum that is lacking in the other candidates.

Hopefully Mr. Thompson will end the mystery soon and let us know his intentions. If nothing else, a Thompson candidacy will give us bloggers a lot to write about.

Posted by Tom at 05:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Time For The Media To Do Some Self-Examination

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post rightly points out that the media should take a good hard look at how they handled their reporting of the Duke lacrosse scandal and learn a few things from the whole sordid episode:

There's a lot going on the last couple of days--MSNBC booting Imus, McCain's big speech on the war, Fred Thompson's cancer, Larry Birkhead prancing before the cameras, and, oh yeah, the Duke sexual assault charges were dropped.

I hope that last one gets plenty of coverage, even though it's been clear for some time that the case had fallen apart. As long as we're talking about how the Rutgers women were unfairly disparaged as "ho's," consider the nightmare that the three Duke lacrosse players have lived through.

But in all the coverage you read and see about the clearing of these young men, very little of it will be devoted to the media's role in ruining their lives. I didn't hear a single television analyst mention it yesterday, even though two of the players' lawyers took shots at the press.

It was an awful performance, no question about it. News organizations took one woman's shaky allegations and turned them into a national soap opera, pillorying the reputations of the players. Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and David Evans were presumed innocent in a legal sense, but not in the court of media opinion.

We will now read 100 stories about how an obsessive prosecutor overreached in bringing the indictments in the first place, and that's fine. But keep in mind that the Duke case was all over the network newscasts, the morning shows, the cable channels and the front pages. Newsweek put two of the defendants' mug shots on the cover. "I'm so glad they didn't miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape," Nancy Grace said on Headline News.

The North Carolina AG spoke of "a tragic rush to accuse," and he just as easily could have been talking about journalists as Mike Nifong. Commentators have been chattering about whether Nifong will be disbarred, but no one gets to disbar the media.

What made this a case of aggravated media assault is that news outlets weren't content to focus on the three defendants. Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was a "rush to condemn a community and a state." Remember all the "trend" stories about "pampered" and "privileged" student athletes being "out of control"? Remember how the lacrosse players' homes were shown on TV? How the coach lost his job? How this case was depicted as being about the contrast between a white elite institution and a poor black community? All of that was built on what turned out to be lies.

Once discrepancies surfaced in the account of the accuser--who has still not been identified by the MSM, even though she's now been exposed as a liar--some news organizations did a good job of pursuing them. But just about everyone joined in the original frenzy over race and sports. And given the media's track record going back to Richard Jewell, I have zero confidence that this won't happen again.

I'd have to agree with Howard. I doubt that the media will change its ways.

However,>here's one journalist who gets it (click on the second video clip).

Posted by Tom at 06:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2007

Should Newt Run?

Marvin Olasky deals with this question in this week's cover story for WORLD Magazine. Although he doesn't come out and directly answer this question, he does indirectly answer it at the end of the article:

I met Newt Gingrich early in 1995 after I wrote a book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, that he read, liked, and recommended to others. I became an unofficial advisor to him regarding welfare reform that year, and met many of what are now his "former close advisors." I retain a great respect for him but I also wrote a history book in the late 1990s, The American Leadership Tradition, that views unfaithfulness to a wife as often a leading indicator of unfaithfulness to the nation.

This does not mean that a person who has committed adultery will necessarily be a bad president, and it certainly does not mean that someone who is faithful in marriage will be a good president—but, as Gingrich said in 1999, voters "have the right to know everything about a presidential candidate, everything, because they're going to be in an Oval Office with nuclear weapons, and you have the right to know in advance 'Who is this person?'"

It's ironic that Mr. Gingrich points to the very thing that could be the biggest hurdle in a potential presidential campaign. His own past may come back to haunt him and cost him votes, particularly among evangelicals. It's not clear whether his extramarital affair is an insurmountable obstacle to a White House bid. If the recent media attention from his appearance on "Focus on the Family" is any indication, he will likely face intense scrutinity from the mainstream media should he decide to run.

There is no doubt that Newt Gingrich is one of the smartest men in politics today. He has more ideas in a day than many leaders have in an entire career. But perhaps he would be better suited serving within an administration as an adviser rather than as President.

Posted by Tom at 04:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2007

"B.C." Creator Johnny Hart Has Died

Cartoonist Johnny Hart who was the creator of the comic strip "B.C.", died suddenly yesterday at the age of 76. His strip, which featured dinosaurs and prehistoric cavemen has appeared in newspapers all over the world since 1958. But the most important thing about Hart was that he was a committed Christian and would often incorporate Christian themes into his strips as can be seen in today's strip whch is fitting given that today is Easter Sunday.

He will truly be missed.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a fitting tribute that is worth reading in its entirety.

Posted by Tom at 10:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2007

IPod a Life Saver?

According to these photos an Ipod that Kevin Garrad had in his coat pocket during a recent mission in Tikrit slowed down a bullet fired at close range just enough to prevent it from piercing his body armor. The photos (particularly the close up of the damaged Ipod) are pretty amazing.

It's story worthy of Mythbusters. In fact, the same person who posted the photos on Flickr has submitted the story to the show. Wouldn't it be great to see this story put to the test?

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Posted by Tom at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2007

"House" and Abortion

Last night, "House" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox), showed why it is by far one of the best dramas on television in an episode that dealt with abortion in a way unlike any other show on television ever has before.

The episode opens with celebrity photographer Emma Sloan (who happens to be five months pregnant) coming to the hospital after suffering a stroke. After running a series of tests, House comes to the conclusion that it is the baby that is making the mother sick. The mother is dying and if the baby isn't delivered she will die. House is in essence, arguing for aborting the baby to save the mother. But Sloan wants to keep the baby and challenges House to find a way to save them both. The highlight of the episode is a scene involving an operation on the baby that no doubt was inspired by this famous incident that causes House to rethink his position not only on abortion but realize that he was dealing with a real human being and not just a clump of tissues.

This marks the second time this year that the show has tackled the subject of abortion. In another episode, House encounters a rape victim who became pregnant as a result. House argues that the best thing to do is terminate the pregnancy. While the girl resists at first she eventually decides to have the abortion.

The producers of "House" should be commended for tackling such a controversial subject. While the episodes may not necessarily change anyone's mind, they at least provide a good place to start a conversation on this subject.

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April 03, 2007

At Least He Can Poke Fun At Himself....

President Bush has had to deal with more criticism than any president in recent memory. In spite of all the negative press, he still has managed to keep his sense of humor:

Hat tip: Two or

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April 02, 2007

Wrongfully Accused

Eric Volz is an American reporter who was living in Nicaragua. On November 21, 2006, his girlfriend Doris Jiminez was brutally murdered in San Juan del Sur. At the time of the murder, Volz was two hours away in Managua. Despite a mountain of evidence that should have exonerated him, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison. The video below tells his story in more detail:

His parents have also appeared on NBC's Today Show to draw attention to the story.

The family and friends are asking people to contact their Senators and Representatives. More information about the case can be found at the Friends of Eric Volz website.

Hat tip: Stacy Harp

Posted by Tom at 03:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Fred Thompson, Presidential Candidate?

One of the most intriguing potential presidential candidates hasn't even declared yet and is having an effect on the race: former Republican Senator Fred Thompson. John Fund of has a terrific interview with Mr. Thompson in which he discusses a possible presidential run.Personally, I hope he will run simply because it will vastly improve the field of potenital candidates.

Posted by Tom at 11:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Christians and Elections

For better or worse, the 2008 Presidential election campaign is already underway. While it's too soon to be thinking too much about specific candidates (I think there were at least 12 candidates the last time I counted), there are things Christians can be thinking about as they try to make wise decisions about who to vote for next year. Mark Daniels has an excellent series on the criteria that Christians should be using in approaching the election. (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt)

Posted by Tom at 11:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2007

The Screwtape Letters as a Movie?

Walden Media, the company behind the film adaptation of C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "Prince Caspian" (currently in production) has signed on to take on another of Lewis' classic books (hat tip: Justin Taylor):

Walden Media, the family-friendly and just-a-bit religious company behind The Chronicles of Narnia, has announced plans to make another, non-Narnia film based on the works of CS Lewis. But this time, it’s the turn of The Screwtape Letters. The book takes the form of a series of letters from an experienced demon called Screwtape to his young protégé, Wormwood. Set against a background where demons, out in the world, attempt to turn people away from faith and generally cause mischief, the letters highlight examples of human weakness and chinks in people’s faith that the young demon can take advantage of in order to corrupt and weaken those he targets. It’s a little difficult to see how it would be turned into a film with an actual plot, and there remains the problem of getting the (probably) religious target audience to go see a film about a demon, but it’s an undeniably interesting read and a humourous look at human foibles, so it could work very well, even for those who are less than committed to any religion at all. There’s no word yet on a writer or director, let alone cast, but it’s to be produced by Fantastic Four producer Ralph Winter, along with Randy Argue and CS Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham.

Anyone who has read the book (and it is among my favorites of Lewis' works) can see the difficulties that the producers will have in trying to weave this into a coherent story for film. It will be fascinating to see if they can pull it off. I hope they do.

Posted by Tom at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2006

The Ingenuity of the American Soldier

Although our soldiers have some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons at their disposal, a low-tech piece of equipment is becoming a valuable resource in Iraq (hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham):

In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.

American troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

While the company that makes Silly String probably never envisioned this particular use for the product, they've agreed to contribute to Ms. Shriver's campaign.

Even though politicians may be looking for all sorts of new ways to lose this war, our soldiers are still doing everything they can to win.

Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2006

Start Your Thanksgiving With YouTube

There have been very few really good Thanksgiving shows on television, but thanks to YouTube, we have clips from one of the funniest Thanksgiving shows ever made. (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Posted by Tom at 10:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Speaker Pelosi? Maybe Not...

Even before the Democrats' victory in the mid-term elections last week, the media was referring to current House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Speaker-to-be. And while that might be a fairly reasonable assumption, it is not necessarily a lock, as Rich Galen points out.

We can only hope.

Posted by Tom at 05:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2006

Bringing the Church into Politics

Democratic candidate Harold Ford, Jr. has employed an unusual tactic in his latest senatorial campaign ad: he filmed the commercial in a church sanctuary:

With a stained-glass window behind him, candidate Harold Ford Jr. strolls through the Memphis church where he was baptized to tell voters this is the place where he learned right from wrong.

Using a church sanctuary as the backdrop in his newest campaign commercial, the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate has picked an unusual setting. One expert on religion and politics said it was the first political ad he'd heard of actually filmed inside a sanctuary.

The pastor of the church didn't seem to have a problem with allowing his sanctuary to become the backdrop for a political ad:

"I think people would like to learn about a person's values, and if it was through a church setting, they'd like to know that," said its pastor, Melvin Charles Smith, who says Ford attends services whenever he is town. The name of the church does not appear in the commercial.

The commercial in question is available (at least as of this writing) on the Ford campaign's website.

Whether someone is a Christian should not only be evident by their words but their actions. In fact, their actions should speak louder than their words.

Candidates should know, too, that simply talking about faith is not going to be enough to persuade religious voters to support them. The question is whether the positions the candidates take on issues will be consistent with these "values voters" that made a difference in the last election. Given the current Democratic party planks on abortion, gay rights, and other "values" issues it's hard to see how they are going to be able to appeal to many religious voters no matter how far they go in trying to appeal to them.

Posted by Tom at 01:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 11, 2006

9/11 Five Years Later - A Personal Reflection

I will never forget 9/11. No matter how hard I try, I can't block out the memories of that day. They will be forever burned in my memory.

I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Bala Cynwyd (just outside of Philadelphia) on 9/11. My wife and two daughters (ages 4 and 5) went up a few days early to explore the Amish country as well as downtown Philadelphia. We had had a great time visiting an area that we had never visited before. But that Tuesday morning everything would change - in ways far greater than we could have ever imagined.

The day started normally enough. My meeting was supposed to start at 9:00 so I headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant early to eat breakfast. My wife and daughters were a little later getting ready.

Our meeting started on time and was underway for about an hour before taking our first break of the morning. Many of the folks in this meeting were from New York. While we were on the break, several guys tried to call the office but couldn't get through. One of them finally decided to call the operator and see what was wrong with the telephone lines. He would be the first one to share the news with us: the World Trade Center had been hit. Another person came in and said it was the Pentagon. It would be a few minutes before we realized that it was both.

By the time we managed to get a TV brought into the conference room we were able to see the replay of the South tower being hit. Moments later it collapsed. It took all of us only a split second to decide we needed to go home. The fourth airliner, United flight 93, would crash in Western Pennsylvania within the next few minutes.

My wife had taken the kids next door to Denny's to eat breakfast. A waitress told her that the Pentagon had been hit. Her sister's husband often worked at the Pentagon. Was he there? Frantically, she was calling her unable to get through. It would be much, much later before we found out he wasn't there and was completely safe.

My wife came back to the hotel not knowing how to find me. At the time, I didn't carry a cellphone (I have ever since). She was in the lobby trying to call her sister when I finally came upstairs. I looked at her and said "We're going home".

At the time we lived in Richmond, VA, almost directly due south along Interstate 95 from Philadelphia. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken about five hours to drive home. But Washington, DC is directly on Interstate 95. Due to the attack at the Pentagon, Washington was completely locked down. Our only choice was to head west and then south in a long circle along interstates through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virgina. It was a long drive home.

As we were leaving the hotel we turned on the local news on our radio. The mayor of Philadelphia was holding a press conference announcing the evacuation of the city. Everyone was being ordered home since at that time we didn't know where the hijackers intended to fly United 93. It was reasonable to assume that Philadelphia was a target.

One thing was clear: we were at war. We weren't sure yet who was responsible but we knew we had been attacked. The peaceful setting of Lancaster County was strangely appealing. Surely whoever this was wouldn't attack the Amish. We would be safe there, wouldn't we?

As we drove on there was this eerie feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Would there be further attacks? Who was responsible? Why had they attacked us?

Our daughters tahnkfully were oblivious to what was happening. At least until the announcement was made that Walt Disney World had closed (we had made our first visit as a family the previous year). Then it registered with them that something was wrong.

Everywhere we stopped along the way home people seemed to be trying to carry on with life as normal even though they all knew that life would never be normal again. Everything had changed.

By late afternoon we had made it to Harrisonburg, VA (about 3 1/2 hours from home). At first we thought we would just find a hotel room and spend the night but there were none to be found. Greyhound had ordered all their buses to stop wherever they were and as a result people had to find hotel rooms. Everything was closing down: restaurants, stores, shopping malls were all closed. We managed to find a gas station that was still open. When I went in to pay there was the extra edition of the local paper with the photo of the burning towers above the fold. This was not just a bad dream. This was real.

As we left Harrisonburg and headed towards home I can remember the eerie sight of a single jet plane crossing the sky. I knew it was a military plane since all civilian aircraft had been grounded much earlier in the day. This is what it felt like to be at war.

We eventually made it home safely that evening. But we knew that everything had changed. A couple days later we got another grim reminder of just how serious things were.

Where we lived, we never saw military traffic. But around 9:00 one evening just a few days after the attacks we were buzzed twice in the span of a couple of minutes by a pair of F-14 fighter jets. It was yet another reminder that we were truly at war.

There would be other reminders, as well. I went to Las Vegas for a meeting a couple of months later (a meeting that was originally supposed to take place the week after 9/11). The sight of armed soldiers patrolling the airport was a clear sign that things had changed.

While I was in Las Vegas I stayed at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. As the name suggests, the hotel is supposed to remind one of the New York skyline. Even three months after 9/11, there was a memorial of flowers, posters, and messages of support for the police, firefighters, and people of New York City. I couldn't help but be struck by the sight.

Driving by the Pentagon several months after 9/11 and getting to see firsthand the devastation caused by the terrorists would be yet another grim reminder of the war we had been dragged into by our attackers.

I can't forget no matter how hard I try. We should never forget for this is why we fight.

Posted by Tom at 07:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 01, 2006

Anti-War Left Completes Takeover of Democratic Party

Democratic leaders (including senior members of every congressional committee on military, intelligence and international affairs) have sent a letter to President Bush urging a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The Anti-War Left has completed its takeover of the Democratic Party. By making the War on Terror the central issue of the upcoming election, they are only reinforcing their image as a party that cannot be trusted to keep America safe.

Many Americans realize that this war is going to be a long war. It's better for us to fight this war patiently and deliberately rather than sit back and wait to be attacked again.

Until Democrats accept the fact that we are at war and that they need to come up with a realistic strategy for winning instead of just cutting and running, they can expect to lose more elections. Perhaps getting soundly beaten at the polls a couple of times will help them see the error of their ways. But I wouldn't count on it.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Vacationing in Lebanon?

Rich Galen has a great column today on the 25,000 or so Americans who are stuck in Beirut and waiting for the U. S. Government to come rescue them.

One question: why are they there? Sierra Faith has some answers.

Honestly, would you want to spend your vacation in a war zone? Personally, I prefer Walt Disney World.

Never mind the fact that the State Department has had warnings posted for six months about the dangers of travelling to Lebanon.

Mike Gallagher's analysis of the situation is right on the mark:

Once more, we’re confronted with the ugly image of people shirking their personal responsibility and wanting to blame everyone else for their decisions. If you make the choice to take a holiday in a place like Beirut, it sure seems like there’s a possibility that you might not enjoy it when the terrorists get antsy. At the very least, you might want to hold your tongue and not complain, gripe and moan about your country when it comes and rescues you.

These people likely learned a thing or two from the reaction to flooded New Orleans. Sure, there were some people who couldn’t leave when Katrina was on its way. But let’s face it, there were many people who became victims because they made a choice to stay in New Orleans despite being warned to get out of town. Their bad decision became the government’s fault.

Just once, I’d like to see an American on TV express some appreciation for their country during times like these. What a joy it would have been to turn on the television and see an evacuee from Lebanon say something like, “Boy, was I ever dumb for deciding to take a vacation in Lebanon. But thanks to the United States, I’m now safely sitting in the Baltimore airport and am I ever grateful. Thanks to the brave men and women who helped rescue my family and me, and God bless America. It sure feels great to be home.”

No, that wasn’t what these people said. Not even close. Their sense of outrage and entitlement is slowly but surely becoming the American way. And it’s positively disgusting.

Posted by Tom at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 20, 2006

Not So "Disproportionate" After All

So much for the criticism that Israel's response to Hezbollah has been "disproportionate" (hat tip: Mark Levin):

Israel has been willing to give up the element of surprise in its battle against Hizballah to warn civilians that they should flee areas where the Air Force is planning to attack, an army official said on Thursday.

Israel has been accused of using disproportionate force in its response to Hizballah attacks on Israel, and in some cases, of deliberately targeting civilians.

For the last eight days, residents of northern Israeli communities, including Israel's third largest city, Haifa, have stayed in bomb shelters and security rooms as more than 1,600 Hizballah rockets have crashed into the country. Twenty-nine Israelis have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

Israel has launched massive air strikes on what it calls Hizballah targets, including weapons caches, trucks that may be used to transport weapons, and other infrastructure that may be of use to Hizballah. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Wednesday that more than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the last eight days.

But Israel said it is going to great lengths to prevent civilian casualties by warning civilians of impending attacks.

"We've taken numerous actions telling civilians to leave, [even] losing the element of surprise trying to not injure civilians," said Army Capt. Doron Spielman.

"[Hizballah] is imbedded within densely populated areas. We're losing [part of our] military might [by dropping fliers]," said Spielman in a telephone interview. "We're not always able to drop fliers," he added.

The Israeli army has dropped fliers in many areas where it intends to bomb Hizballah targets, warning residents -- sometimes hours in advance -- that they should leave the area because it will soon be attacked, said Spielman.

The fact that Israel is willing to sacrifice the element of surprise is amazing. It's no secret that Hizbollah imbeds their personnel among civilians making it extremely difficult to separate the terrorists from the innocent bystanders. Perhaps critics of Israel's tactics will think twice and realize who are the real villians.

Posted by Tom at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Southern Baptists and Public Schools

Last summer, it was the Presbyterian Church in America. Now it looks like it's the Southern Baptist Convention's turn to debate whether a resolution should be passed calling for members to withdraw their children from public schools:

Southern Baptist activists are again urging the denomination to remove its children from public schools, two years after a similar action was blocked.

The resolution calling for an “exit strategy” from public schools is co-sponsored by Texas lawyer Bruce Shortt and Roger Moran, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. They plan to submit the proposal for a possible vote by the convention at its annual meeting in North Carolina in June.

The resolution says recent federal court rulings have favored public schools “indoctrinating children with dogmatic Darwinism” and have limited the rights of parents in deciding what schools can teach, including on matters of sexuality.

Shortt and Moran announced their resolution after 56 pastors and church leaders urged Southern Baptists in a letter last week "to speak positively about public education."

This is not a new issue for Baptists, having rejected a similar proposal co-authored by Bruce Shortt two years ago.

But the debate raises some interesting questions such as whether a denomination has the right to dictate to its members what choices they should make in educating their children.

Although I have chosen to educate my children at home, I find such resolutions troubling. As far as I know, there is no specific prohibition in the Bible against sending children to public school to receive their education. While that is not necessarily the best option that is available to parents, it's not up to the churches to dictate what is essentially a matter of liberty to its members.

Baptists would do well to stay away from debatable social issues such as this and focus on being salt and light in the world as Jesus commanded.

Posted by Tom at 10:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 10, 2006

Drivers Education for Blind Students?

Chicago students are required to take drivers' education even if they are blind according to the Chicago Tribune (hat tip: Best of the Web):

Mayra Ramirez scored an A in driver's education this year, but sitting through the 10-week class felt like a bad joke to the Curie Metropolitan High School sophomore.

Ramirez is blind. She knows she's never going to drive. She can think of a lot of things she'd rather be studying than rules of the road, but she didn't have a choice.

Chicago Public Schools requires all sophomores to take the class and pass a written road-rules exam--a graduation requirement that affects about 30 blind and visually impaired students in specialized programs at Curie and Payton College Preparatory High.

"In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," said Ramirez, 16. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."

State law requires that all districts offer driver's education, but does not mandate it as a graduation requirement. For the hundreds of high schools that do, there should be some exemption option for disabled students who cannot drive, a state education official said.

"It defies logic to require blind students to take this course ... and waste their academic time," said Meta Minton, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Chicago's public schools have no such exemption. That is something the Curie and Payton students are pushing to change, through an advocacy program at the Blind Service Association.

Another fine example of taxpayer dollars at work in government schools. Perhaps this should be added to list of 101 reasons to homeschool your kids.

Posted by Tom at 10:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 14, 2006

The Fascinating Pennsylvania Governor's Race

Without a doubt, one of the most fascinating elections to watch this year will be the Pennsylvania Governor's Race where Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell is seeking a second term. Today, the race took an interesting twist as Republican challenger Jim Panyward dropped out(Hat tip: Swann Blog). Now it's a two man race with Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann taking the Republican nomination.

Anyone who watched the standing ovation Swann received at the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago can see that he is still incredibly popular. He's also very handsome, intelligent, and articulate, all of which make him a very appealing candidate.

This should be a fun race to watch.

Posted by Tom at 07:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006

Abramoff: Not Just a Republican Scandal

Lately most of the media coverage in the Abramoff scandal has been focused on the acknowledgement by the White House that a photo of President Bush with the disgraced lobbyist is authentic. However, the Democrat who has been leading the charge in attacking Republicans over this issue has his own connections to Abramoff:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.

The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.

Reid's office acknowledged Thursday having "routine contacts" with Abramoff's lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters _ such as blocking some tribal casinos _ in ways Abramoff's clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long- held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Reid, D-Nev., has led the Democratic Party's attacks portraying Abramoff's lobbying and fundraising as a Republican scandal.

As this scandal unfolds, it is clear that members of both parties are going to be affected. Rather than trying to use this scandal to score political gains, both sides would be wise to examine their own records and come clean about any contacts they have had with Abramoff no matter how routine they might have been.

Here's another prediction: as this story unfolds, expect it to be a major campaign issue in the 2006 elections. It will be much easier for challengers to make the case that they are above corruption and influence when their opponents' ties to Abramoff and other lobbyists are exposed.

Make no mistake, this scandal is primarily a Republican problem especially since they are the party in power and Abramoff seems to have been closely tied to Republicans. But Democrats are fooling themselves if they think they are somehow they will be able to escape from this scandal unscathed.

Posted by Tom at 09:59 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Virginia to Vote on Gay Marriage Ban

My home state of Virginia is on track to hold a referendum this November on whether to amend the state's bill of rights to ban gay marriages:

The state Senate all but guaranteed on Wednesday that Virginia will hold a November referendum on whether to amend its 230-year-old Bill of Rights to bar same-sex marriages.

The Senate voted 28 to 11 to follow the House of Delegates in approving the amendment. Though each chamber still must pass the measure adopted by the other, their wording is identical and support among the senators and delegates is strong.

"The family is the foundation of our society, and it's been based on a union of a man and a woman since the inception of marriage," said Del. John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake). "A constitutional amendment . . . will protect that."

Although constitutional amendment referendums are common in Virginia, it will be only the second time since 1970 that the Bill of Rights has been subjected to amendment.

There will no doubt be very vocal opposition to this amendment. But unless they can get state leaders (and particularly Democratic Governor Tim Kaine) to come out against it they are unlikely to be successful in defeating the measure.

Posted by Tom at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

Washington Post Twists Reporting on Assisted Suicide

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld an Oregon assisted suicide law in its decision in the case of Gonzales vs. Oregon. The Washington Post tied to twist the decision into an endorsement by the Supreme Court of the practice and a slap at the Bush Administration. Here is how the article leads off:

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide yesterday, ruling that the Justice Department may not punish doctors who help terminally ill patients end their lives.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court ruled that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft exceeded his legal authority in 2001 when he threatened to prohibit doctors from prescribing federally controlled drugs if they authorized lethal doses of the medications under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

The ruling struck down one of the administration's signature policies regarding what President Bush calls the "culture of life" and lifts the last legal cloud over the state's law, which is unique in the nation. It also frees other states to follow in Oregon's footsteps, unless Congress acts to the contrary.

However, it's not until the tenth paragraph that the truth of what the case was really about comes out:

Although frequently described as a "right to die" case, Gonzales v. Oregon , No. 04-623, was not, strictly speaking, about the constitutional right to end one's own life. The court has already ruled, in 1997, that there is no such right and did not revisit that holding yesterday.

Instead, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted in the majority opinion that the question was whether Ashcroft acted in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act when he issued an "interpretive rule" in 2001, declaring that assisting suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" for which federally regulated drugs may lawfully be prescribed. Ashcroft's successor, Alberto R. Gonzales, has continued the policy.

The Post is engaging in reporting that is at the very least misleading. It's also another prine example of "agenda journalism" where stories are used to push an agenda regardless of whether the actual news supports the agenda which in this case is bashing President Bush. Is it any wonder that people don't trust big media anymore?

Posted by Tom at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

Ten Commandments Display Ruled Constitutional

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a display of the Ten Commandments along with other historical documents was constitutional setting up a possible showdown at the Supreme Court over the issue of religious displays and the so-called "wall of separation between church and state" (Hat tip: Captain's Quarters):

A federal appeals court has upheld a display of the Ten Commandments alongside other historical documents in the Mercer County, Ky., courthouse.

The judge who wrote the opinion blasted the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the display, in language that echoed the type of criticism often directed at the organization.

Judge Richard Suhrheinrich's ruling said the ACLU brought "tiresome" arguments about the "wall of separation" between church and state, and it said the organization does not represent a "reasonable person."

The decision was issued by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati. It upheld a lower-court decision that allowed Mercer County to continue displaying the Ten Commandments along with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other documents.

All of the items were posted at the same time in 2001.

The most striking aspect of the ruling is not only the outcome of the case but the threefold criticism of the ACLU's arguments.

First, the Court blasts the ACLU's reference to separation of church and state. The Court states that:

This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.

The phrase "separation of church and state" was actually taken from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist church to affirm the First Amendment principle that the government would not establish a religion. The phrase actually does not appear in the First Amendment.

The second flaw cited by the Court is that the Ten Commandments are strictly religious:

Second, the ACLU focuses on the religiousness of the Ten Commandments. No reasonable person would dispute their sectarian nature, but they also have a secular nature that the ACLU does not address. That they are religious merely begs the question whether this display is religious; it does not answer it. “[T]he stablishment Clause inquiry cannot be distilled into a fixed, per se rule.” Pinette, 515 U.S. at 778 (O’Connor J., concurring); see Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 597-98 (1992). Although treating the subject matter categorically would make our review eminently simpler, we are called upon to examine Mercer County’s actions in light of context. “Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause.” Van Orden, 125 S. Ct. at 2863 (plurality opinion). Moreover, “[f]ocus exclusively on the religious component of any activity would inevitably lead to its invalidation under the Establishment Clause.” Lynch, 465 U.S. at 680. The Constitution requires an analysis beyond the four-corners of the Ten Commandments. In short, “proving” that the Ten Commandments themselves are religious does not prove an Establishment Clause violation.

In other words, the context of the display is as important as the content. Because the Mercer County display included other historical documents alongside the Ten Commandments it was deemed constitutional. However, it is reasonable to expect that a Ten Commandments display, on its own, may be considered unconstitutional depending on where the display resides.

It's also important to consider what the purpose of a display might be. In Mercer County, the purpose was to recognize a number of historical documents that were part of the foundations of our country. The Ten Commandments contain the principles upon which our legal system is based. Within this context, it's appropriate to display it alongside the other documents contained in the Mercer County exhibit.

Finally, the Court dealt with perhaps the most important aspect of the ACLU's argument against such displays:

Third, the ACLU erroneously–though perhaps intentionally–equates recognition with endorsement. To endorse is necessarily to recognize, but the converse does not follow. Cf. Mercer County, 219 F. Supp. 2d at 789 (“Endorsement of religion is a normative concept; whereas acknowledgment of religion is not necessarily a value-laden concept.”). Because nothing in the display, its history, or its implementation supports the notion that Mercer County has selectively endorsed the sectarian elements of the first four Commandments, we fail to see why the reasonable person would interpret the presence of the Ten Commandments as part of the larger “Foundations” display as a governmental endorsement of religion.

We will not presume endorsement from the mere display of the Ten Commandments. If the reasonable observer perceived all government references to the Deity as endorsements, then many of our Nation’s cherished traditions would be unconstitutional, including the Declaration of Independence and the national motto. Fortunately, the reasonable person is not a hyper-sensitive plaintiff. See Washegesic ex rel. Pensinger v. Bloomingdale Pub. Sch., 33 F.3d 679, 684 (6th Cir. 1994) (Guy, J., concurring) (describing the “eggshell” plaintiff as unknown to the Establishment Clause). Instead, he appreciates the role religion has played in our governmental institutions, and
finds it historically appropriate and traditionally acceptable for a state to include religious influences, even in the form of sacred texts, in honoring American legal traditions.

The Court has exposed the fallacy of the ACLU's and other lawsuits that have been filed to stop any type of religious activity. The mere acknowledgement of religion is not the same as establishment. Acknowledgement is a recognition of the existence and even influence of religion. Establishment means that by law a religion or church is established as the only legal religious entity that may exist.

With this ruling, The Sixth Circuit has provided the Supreme Court with the perfect opportunity to clarify the law with regards to such displays as the Ten Commandments. As the battle to confirm Judge Alito heats up, it is reasonable to expect this to be one of the many cases that he will be asked about in his confirmation hearings.

Posted by Tom at 11:38 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

More on NSA Wiretapping

A quick roundup of links related to the NSA wiretapping controversy:

John Hinderaker at Power Line provides an excellent legal analysis of the controversy. Take the time to read the analysis. It's a great recap of the current state of statutory and case law on the subject.

I agree with Charles Krauthammer that it appears the President is really only guilty of making a political error in how he has handled the controversy.

Two new twists to the story appear in today's news. First, The New York Times breathlessly reports that the NSA's wiretapping program is much wider than first believed. The article's authors, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, admit that they based their article on goverment sources who were leaking classified material. The admission is buried in the eighth paragraph of the story:

The current and former government officials who discussed the program were granted anonymity because it remains classified.

Based on the Valerie Plame precedent, shouldn't there be an investigation into who leaked this classified information? Of course, if the Justice Department were to start such an inquiry, Democrats would scream "abuse of power" and claim that the Bush administration was using the Justice Department to exact revenge on its critics.

The Times also fails to disclose that Risen has a book that is critical of the Bush Administration that is due to be published next month. Perhaps Risen has another motive for publishing this story besides simply reporting "news"?

Finally, The Associated Press tries to pull Supreme Court Samuel Alito into the controversy by publishing a story with the headline "Alito Defended Ordering Domestic Wiretaps":

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security when he worked at the Reagan Justice Department, an echo of President Bush's rationale for spying on U.S. residents in the war on terror.

Then an assistant to the solicitor general, Alito wrote a 1984 memo that provided insights on his views of government powers and legal recourse _ seen now through the prism of Bush's actions _ as well as clues to the judge's understanding of how the Supreme Court operates.

The National Archives released the memo and scores of other documents related to Alito on Friday; the Associated Press had requested the material under the Freedom of Information Act. The memo comes as Bush is under fire for secretly ordering domestic spying of suspected terrorists without a warrant.

The memo in question actually has nothing to do with whether ordering domestic wiretaps is legal. The case in question has to do with Nixon administration officials who ordered wiretaps that were subsequently found to be illegal. Alito argues in the memo that the officials who ordered the wiretaps should be granted immunity since they were not illegal at the time that they were ordered. That's far from arguing in favor of domestic wiretapping as the AP article leads us to believe. (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

Posted by Tom at 08:04 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

"Warrantless" Searches and Wiretapping - Nothing New

The Bush Administration policy of "warrantless" searches including electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists has caused great uproar particularly among Democrats and the media. However, as the Washington Times reports, this type of surveillance has been going on since the Carter Administration (Hat tip: Betsy's Page):

Previous administrations, as well as the court that oversees national security cases, agreed with President Bush's position that a president legally may authorize searches without warrants in pursuit of foreign intelligence. "The Department of Justice believes -- and the case law supports -- that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the president may, as he has done, delegate this authority to the attorney general," Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick said in 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. That same authority, she added, pertains to electronic surveillance such as wiretaps. More recently, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- the secretive judicial system that handles classified intelligence cases -- wrote in a declassified opinion that the court has long held "that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."

It seems pretty clear, at least to me, that the President acted legally and appropriately to deal with the threat of terrorism. As usual, opponents of this President ignore history in order to score some political gains at the expense of our national security. That strategy will ultimately backfire. As this story unfolds, I expect that most Americans will see that the President took the appropriate steps to protect them against terrorism. Citizens are willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt especially when their own security is at stake.

Posted by Tom at 09:13 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

Democrats: Still Weak on National Security

John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics has an intriguing column today that suggests that Democrats may be setting themselves up for political disaster with their continued offensive against the President and his policy towards Iraq and terrorism (Hat tip: Power Line):

First, the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths. All of the drumbeat about Iraq, spying, and torture that the left thinks is so damaging to the White House are actually positives for the President and Republicans. Apparently, Democrats still have not fully grasped that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation. As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country’s true pulse lies on these issues.

With their publicly defeatist language, John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean reinforce these “soft on security” steroretypes, a weakness that more sober-minded Democrats have been trying to mitigate since the late 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, this mentality dominates the Democrats’ political base and more accurately represents where the heart and soul of the modern Democratic party lies than the very tiny sliver of Joe Lieberman Democrats. The Party of FDR, Truman and John Kennedy -- at least on foreign policy -- is clearly no more.

McIntyre goes on to argue that the continued claims of torture, wiretapping, and wrongful imprisonment of suspected terrorists only reinforces the public's perception that Democrats are not only wrong on foreign policy but cannot be trusted. In fact, he argues that while the public may not be completely excited about such policies, they accept it as part of fighting the war on terror:

The public resents the overkill from Abu Ghraib and the hand-wringing over whether captured terrorists down in Gitmo may have been mistreated. They want Kahlid Mohamed, one of the master minds of 9/11 and a top bin Laden lieutanent, to be water-boarded if our agents on the ground think that is what necessary to get the intel we need. They want the CIA to be aggressively rounding up potential terrorists worldwide and keeping them in “black sites” in Romania or Poland or wherever, because the public would rather have suspected terrorists locked away in secret prisons in Bulgaria than plotting to kill Americans in Florida or California or New York.

The public also has the wisdom to understand that when you are at war mistakes will be made. You can’t expect 100% perfection. So while individuals like Kahled Masri may have been mistakenly imprisoned, that is the cost of choosing to aggressively fight this enemy. Everyone understands that innocents were killed and imprisoned mistakenly in World War II. Had we prosecuted WWII with the same concern for the enemy’s “rights” the outcome very well might have been different.

To top it off, McIntyre calls the Democrats' bluff over the "spying" outrage by suggesting (rightly) that whoever was responsible for leaking this story should be prosecuted:

If Democrats want to make this spying “outrage” a page one story they are fools walking right into a trap. Now that this story is out and the security damage is already done, let’s have a full investigation into exactly who the President spied on and why. Let’s also find out who leaked this highly classified information and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. If the president is found to have broken the law and spied on political opponents or average Americans who had nothing to do with terrorism, then Bush should be impeached and convicted.

But unlike Senator Levin, who claimed on Meet The Press yesterday not to know what the President’s motives were when he authorized these eavesdropping measures, I have no doubt that the President’s use of this extraordinary authority was solely an attempt to deter terrorist attacks on Americans and our allies. Let the facts and the truth come out, but the White House’s initial response is a pretty powerful signal that they aren’t afraid of where this is heading.

As long as Democrats continue to sound the drumbeat of defeatism, it's a safe bet they will lose politically. Americans may not like all of the steps the President is taking to protect them. But they understand that something must be done and that it is better to be on the offensive against terrorism than sitting back and waiting for them to strike again.

Posted by Tom at 12:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

Putting the War on Terror In Perspective

There's been a great deal of attention paid in the media lately to the cut-and-run crowd, particularly Democrats John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. The media has played up any negative news about the war on terror that they can to try to shore up opposition for the war. So-called "milestones" such as the 2000th casualty in combat have received excessive news coverage. But when we reflect on history, we discover that the losses we have incurred in Iraq and Afghanistan pale in comparison to our losses in previous wars.

Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge which was the last great Nazi offensive of World War II. Fought in the dense forests of the Ardennes in Belgium, the Germans put 14 divisions including five Panzer divisions (approximately 250,000 troops) up against 80,000 Allied troops. The Americans had thought the Ardennes were too difficult to cross and thus did not have adequate numbers of troops in place at the start of the battle. To make matters worse, dense fog prevented Allied bombers from being able to provide air support.

Six days into the battle the Allies were surrounded by the Germans. General Heinrich von Luettwitz of the XLVIIth Armored Corps sent a message to General Anthony C. McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne and acting commander of the Allied troops at Bastogne demanding that the Allies surrender. General McAuliffe's reply was succinct: NUTS! Although the Germans had a little difficulty understanding exactly what the General meant (it is rumored that the actual reply used much stronger language), the message was clear: we will not surrender. The Allies held on until reinforcements could arrive from the Fourth Armored Division. They eventaully turned the tide and by January 7, 1945, Adolf Hitler ordered the German troops to withdraw from the Ardennes.

The battle would last until January 15, 1945 and would result in at least 80,000 American troops killed and at least as many German troops killed. But if the Americans had surrendered, it would have completely changed the course of the war.

This war is a difficult war. The enemy we fight does not wear a uniform, does not use standard military tactics, and does not even use conventional weaponry. Yet our enemy is determined to defeat us no matter what the cost to them.

The next time you hear someone say we should withdraw from Iraq because the cost has been too great, simply remind them of the sacrifices we have made in the past to maintain our freedom. Surrender was not an option when the situation was far worse for our armed forces that it is now. Surrender is not an option now, either.

Posted by Tom at 10:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005

Continuing the Intelligent Design Debate

Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, weighs in on the debate over Intelligent Design with an excellent article in Human Events entitled "Why Intelligent Design Will Win". Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 11:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 01, 2005

Alito and Abortion

The Washington Post does it's best to help the waning liberal opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court with a front-page story declaring that as a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan Administration he helped craft a legal strategy for overturning Roe vs. Wade.

The big news here is that there is no really big news. Judge Alito worked as a staff attorney in the Justice Department for a pro-life President. Part of his job would be to help argue cases before the Supreme Court representing the position of the administration which he served.

What was the extent of Alito's contribution to this so-called legal strategy? He suggested that the Justice Department file a brief in the case of Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which dealt with a Pennsylvania law placing a number of restrictions on abortion. The Justice Department was not directly involved in the case before the Court. Judge Alito was merely suggesting the filing of a brief showing the administration's support for the Pennsylvania statute. Such briefs are commonly filed by any number of interested parties in cases that are heard before the Supreme Court as a way to present their support for a particular position in the case.

The article goes on to state that Alito didn't even write the brief but merely provided some of the legal reasoning that went into the brief.

This hardly seems to be as damaging a revelation as the Post article makes it out to be. Instead, it appears Alito was just another lawyer who was doing his job: arguing the position of the President he served.

Posted by Tom at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Political Fallout for Opposing Alito

Robert Novak has an excellent column today outlining the political consequences for Democratic Senators who oppose Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court:

Democratic senators from six red states returned home over the weekend for the Thanksgiving recess to confront television ads connecting critics of Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court with left-wing special interests. A simultaneous message intended ultimately to reach 10 million Americans made this same point.

The counterattack on Alito's behalf was triggered by the new TV advertisement of the liberal coalition opposing Alito's confirmation by the Senate. The ad claimed Alito, as a federal appellate judge, "even voted to approve the strip search of a 10-year-old girl." This distorts a case where a suspected drug dealer's daughter was searched, visibly not manually, by a female police officer in the presence of the child's mother. Alito's defenders make the legitimate argument that the assault against him ends up as a defense of drug dealers.

Red state Democratic senators, especially those up for re-election next year, face a dilemma in deciding how to vote on confirmation. The liberal pressure groups orchestrating the attack on Alito are central to the political health of the Democratic Party. But identification with them could be fatal in closely contested Senate races.

It will be interesting to see whether the six red-state Democrats decide to oppose Alito and to what degree, if any, they make their opposition known beyond simply casting a vote against confirmation. My guess is that they may vote against confirmation but not call any attention to their votes in order to minimize Republican opposition next year.

Posted by Tom at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

Final Salute

Jim Sheeler and Todd Heisler at the Rocky Mountain News have published an incredible article entitled "Final Salute" that gives a close-up look at the task of the Marines' casualty assistance calls officer. This is a moving account well worth reading. Thanks to Tony in Boulder for the tip.

Posted by Tom at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 08, 2005

Election Day 2005 - Virginia Governor's Race

Much is being made of today's gubernatorial election here in Virginia as a bellwhether of the 2006 and 2008 elections. The Virginia electorate is almost evenly divided between urban and rural areas and as a result is thought by many to be a good predictor of national electoral trends. Since the state went for President Bush last year by nine points there is a feeling that this election will be a referendum on his presidency. Whether that's really the case is at best debatable.

If Democrat Tim Kaine wins today, it will be in part because of help he has received from popular Governor Mark Warner. Warner is himself a possible 2008 Presidential candidate. And while he is on the surface an attractive candidate, his popularity is in part due to a Republican-controlled General Assembly that worked closely with him to get his legislative agenda enacted. That will likely allow him to portray himself as somone who can work with both parties in the general election. Given these factors, Kaine should have been able to build a large lead. However, the race remains a statistical dead heat.

Whoever wins today will claim that this result will somehow show how next year's congressional elections should play out. I wouldn't bet on it.

Posted by Tom at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 24, 2005

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.

Posted by Tom at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2005

Maybe Starbucks Is Marketing to Evangelicals....

With their new coffee cup. (Hat tip: Polipundit)

Posted by Tom at 11:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

Those Polls Don't Matter

While the President's declining approval ratings continue to make headlines, D. J. Drummond at Polipundit points out that those poll numbers really 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.

Posted by Tom at 11:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Tom at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Roberts Confirmed as Chief Justice

Judge John Roberts has been confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The final vote count was 78-22 with all Republicans, independent Jim Jeffords, and half the Democratic senators voting to confirm.

Now the more difficult task begins: the nomination and confirmation of another conservative justice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But the real challenge is for Democrats who must decide how much to oppose the President's nominee. They may find that there's not much they can do to stop the President's nominee from being confirmed. Especially if it's another judge with superior qualifications like Judge Roberts.

Posted by Tom at 01:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005

Have the Hurricanes Helped Guliani's Presidential Hopes?

Lorie Byrd contends in her column today over at Townhall that Hurricane Katrina (and the government's failures in response) have helped Rudy Guliani's presidential hopes:

Thanks to the blame-Bush media, it seems the public now believes that the first and ultimate responder to any kind of disaster, whether natural or man-made, should be the federal government, or more specifically, the President. Giuliani is the only potential 2008 candidate that has shown himself capable of handling a challenge of such historic proportions. Because issues of national security and war and peace in the Middle East will outlive the Bush presidency, the nation will be looking for a leader able to perform in a crisis.

Even more than his proven ability to perform under pressure, however, one thing that Giuliani may be able to do, that some other Republicans might not, is unite the country. If Bush, as amiable as he is, and with a reputation as a uniter as governor of Texas, could be painted as an extremist divider, it is reasonable to believe the same will be attempted with the next Republican candidate. Giuliani achieved giant stature in my eyes, and those of most other Americans, with his actions following 9/11. Because he is already known as a uniter and a strong leader, he will be resistant to attempts to portray him otherwise. He can also claim to have received a large number of votes from Democrats in past elections. Not many, if any, of the other potential Republican presidential candidates can say that.

One of the key questions that any presidential candidate must face is how he or she would respond in a crisis. Most candidates are untested on this question until after they are elected. Guliani is in a unique position in that the public has already seen the kind of leader he is when things are tough. Although social conservatives (myself included) would have a hard time reconciling themselves with Guliani's position on issues such as abortion it's difficult to argue against him if national security and/or crisis management is one of the key issues in 2008.

By the way, Patrick Ruffini has his latest straw poll of Republican candidates posted so you can stop by and vote for your favorite. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, Hurricane Katrina will have on the poll results.

Posted by Tom at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2005

Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005

From Fox News:

Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who helped track down Nazi war criminals following World War II, then spent the later decades of his life fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people, died Tuesday. He was 96.

Wiesenthal, who helped find one-time SS leader Adolf Eichmann and the policeman who arrested Anne Frank, died in his sleep at his home in Vienna, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

"I think he'll be remembered as the conscience of the Holocaust. In a way he became the permanent representative of the victims of the Holocaust, determined to bring the perpetrators of the greatest crime to justice," Hier told The Associated Press.

A survivor of five Nazi death camps, Wiesenthal changed his life's mission after the war, dedicating himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals and to being a voice for the 6 million Jews who died during the onslaught. He himself lost 89 relatives in the Holocaust.

Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. Through his work, he said, some 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.

Posted by Tom at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Judge Roberts and the Importance of Precedent

In the opening round of questioning at his confirmation hearing yesterday, Judge John Roberts was asked some specific questions about Roe vs. Wade by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA). Here is how the Washington Post characterized the exchange:

Specter, who supports abortion rights, and several Democrats challenged Roberts especially hard on his views of Roe , the 1973 decision establishing that women have a constitutional right to privacy that includes the right to an abortion. Because Roe has stood for 32 years, much of the discussion centered on when and why a settled ruling should be overturned.

Roberts told Specter that he respected the doctrine of stare decisis -- letting decided issues stand -- adding, "I do think it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent." But some long-standing cases deserve to be overturned, he said, such as those that legalized slavery in the 19th century and racial segregation in the 20th century.

Roberts set forth criteria that he said judges and justices should use to determine whether to "revisit" a precedent, saying they include "settled expectations," the court's legitimacy and whether a precedent is workable or has been "eroded by subsequent developments."

"It is not enough that you may think the prior decision was wrongly decided," said Roberts, who during the 1980s signed a memo saying that Roe was "wrongly decided" and should be overturned.

When Specter asked whether the decision's legal legs have been eroded, Roberts replied: "I feel the need to stay away from a discussion of particular cases."

Although Judge Roberts revealed very little in his testimony about his opinion of Roe vs. Wade (he stayed away from specifics on that case as well as many others since the issues would likely come before the Supreme Court) he has at least revealed a very important asepct of his judicial philosophy: respect for precedents.

Although many pro-life advocates (including myself) would like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned, it's not that simple. Deference to prior court decisions is a bedrock prinicple of the law. If cases can be reversed on a whim then prior court decisions have no relevance.

Conservatives should be very encouraged by yesterday's hearings. Although Judge Roberts didn't stake out a specific position on Roe he left no doubt that he intends to be a modest judge employing a conservative judicial philosophy and holds high regard for the rule of law. That's exactly the sort of Supreme Court Justice we need.

Posted by Tom at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

The Roberts Hearing: Day One

I didn't tune into John Roberts' confirmation hearing yesterday because, frankly, I didn't expect to hear much that was newsworthy. I expected to hear a lot of senators drawing attention to themselves through their opening statements. At the end of the day, however, Judge Roberts did have a chance to make an opening statement and gave us a glimpse into his judicial philosophy (hat tip: Carol Platt Liebau):

Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them.

The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules.

But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.

Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.

And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.

Although he will likely be peppered with questions today about specific cases and issues, I expect Judge Roberts to politely decline to answer many of those questions as it would not be appropriate for him to address any issue that could potentially come before the Court. That's the way it should be.

Posted by Tom at 08:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

Was Katrina God's Judgement?

It's a question I have been mulling over for the last several days. Was Hurricane Katirna God's way of judging a thoroughly decadent New Orleans? A friend of mine had posed this question to me shortly after the hurricane had made landfall. Since I had visited New Orleans last fall on a business trip and had observed some of the city's infamous culture firsthand the question seemed to be a sensible one. But the more I reflect on the issue I have to wonder whether it was or not. This post by Michael Russell at Theologica (a new World Magazine blog) leads me to believe that it wasn't based on the pattern of God's judgements revealed in the Bible. What do you think?

Posted by Tom at 12:32 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

September 09, 2005

FEMA Chief Relieved of Katrina Command

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff has relieved FEMA Director Michael Brown of command of the federal government's hurricane response team:

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being relieved of his command of the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina onsite relief efforts, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Friday.

He will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts, Chertoff said.

Earlier, Brown confirmed the switch. Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."

"Michael Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge," Chertoff told reporters in Baton Rouge, La. Chertoff sidestepped a question on whether the move was the first step toward Brown's leaving FEMA.

But a source close to Brown, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FEMA director had been considering leaving after the hurricane season ended in November and that Friday's action virtually assures his departure.

Just two days ago, our colleague Jim Jewell had stated that Brown should resign. Today's move appears to be the first step in that direction.

Posted by Tom at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005

President Bush to Investigate "What Went Wrong" In Relief Efforts

From the BBC:

US President George W Bush says he will lead an investigation into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled. "I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong," he said in reply to criticism that the authorities were too slow to respond.

His focus, he added, was on helping the victims but there would be "ample time" for an investigation.

Officials in New Orleans have urged its last residents to leave the swamped city, saying it is now uninhabitable.

In an open letter, the city's Times-Picayune newspaper has demanded the sacking of top emergency service officials.

Ex-President Bill Clinton, and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, have been among those to call for an inquiry.

'No blame game'

How the different levels of government had reacted to Katrina would be examined, Mr Bush said, but he refused to "play the blame game".

"We got to solve problems - there will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong," he said in Washington.

America, he added, had to be sure it could respond properly to another disaster, whether natural or an attack with weapons of mass destruction.

Stressing his focus on victims, Mr Bush also pledged not to allow "bureaucracy... to get in the way of getting the job done for the people".

He also announced that Vice President Dick Cheney would visit Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help assess the government's work.

Posted by Tom at 12:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Roberts Nomination

President Bush, who has taken a lot of heat for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, again proved yesterday that he is a very shrewd politician by nominating Justince John Roberts to succeed the late William Rehnquist as Chief Justice.

By elevating Roberts to the Chief Justice seat, President Bush has changed the dynamics of the debate and has cleared the way for an easier confirmation.

Two silly arguments had been floated through the media during the debate over Roberts' nomination to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. First, there was the argument that since O'Connor was a moderate that President Bush should replace her with another moderate. Last time I checked President Bush was a conservative. He has the right to nominate anyone he wants. Why wouldn't a conservative president nominate a conservative justice?

The second arguement was that O'Connor's replacement needed to be a woman. The President's job is to nominate the best person for the job regardless of race, sex or any other demographic. Although there were a number of qualified women Bush could have nominated it's clear he picked the best judge available in Roberts. Bush may still nominate a woman to replace O'Conner. As Captain Ed points out, both Janice Rogers Brown and Edith Hollan Jones are considered leading candidates to fill the Court's remaining vacancy.

Although Democrats are inclined to reflexively oppose this President at every turn they would be better served to allow Roberts to be confirmed and save what little political capital they have for the next Supreme Court nominee. The Hill is already reporting that 25 Democratic Senators could vote to confirm Roberts. (Hat tip: Confirm Them)

It's safe to assume that Schumer, Kennedy, and other prominent Senate Democrats will use the confirmation hearings to try to make as much trouble for Roberts as they can. In the end, he should be confirmed easily. Then the real battle will begin.

Posted by Tom at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 31, 2005

New Orleans: "A Logistical Nightmare"

Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as officials scramble to evacuate the remaining survivors:

NEW ORLEANS — There was simply no time to count the dead as engineers scrambled to plug two broken New Orleans levees and rescuers searched for survivors clinging to rooftops as the Gulf Coast continued to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The flooding in New Orleans grew worse by the minute Wednesday, prompting Gov. Kathleen Blanco to say that everyone still in the city, now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers, needs to leave. She said she wanted the Superdome evacuated within two days as the broken levees continued to allow water to gush into the Big Easy, but it was still unclear where the people would go.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune News Blog which has been on top of the story from the beginning reports that buses and other vehicles are being sent into the area to aid with the evacuation. Four Navy vessels are being sent to the area to carry emergency supplies and the Army Corp of Engineers is scrambling to try to plug the two breached levees.

Governor Blanco held a press conference this morning with area religious leaders to encourage people to pray for the besieged city.

Relief efforts are being mobilized by a number of charities. Glenn Reynolds has a list of charities heading up the relief efforts with links for donations.

Bloggers are asked to join the Blog Relief Day for Katrina Relief tomorrow. Truth Laid Bear has a topic page of Katrina blog stories. You can also click here to register your blog for Blog Relief Day.

We'll continue to blog developments here and will have more soon on our participation in Blog Relief Day.

Our prayers are with the hurricane victims, their families, and everyone who has been touched by the overwhelming devastation of this storm.

Posted by Tom at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

Perspectives on the War on Terror

Two columns today are well worth reading as they both provide perspectives on the War on Terror that need to be heard. First, Lorie Byrd contends that it's time to set the record straight about the war and deals directly with some of the common criticisms about the war:

What is rarely, if ever, addressed by the opponents of President Bush and the current war is whether or not the decision he made was a correct one if everything we thought about the status of Saddam’s WMD capability had been correct. Dick Cheney made the argument for the decision in at least one speech around the time of the release of the Kay report. In that speech he argued that knowing what we knew then, and looking at it in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks, it would have been irresponsible NOT to have invaded Iraq. Republicans who fail to make that case, and instead weaken their stance on the war in reaction to declining public opinion polls, risk losing the advantage they have long held over Democrats on issues of national security and defense. Even many of those voters who have not supported the Iraq war and view President Bush as a trigger happy cowboy are likely to prefer a candidate that supports the war – even if there are some reservations about the way the war was executed – to one who originally supported it only to back down when the going got tough.

Even more striking is Dennis Prager's column today in which he asks opponents of the war to answer one simple question:

All those who support the American war in Iraq should make a deal with anyone opposed to the war. Offer to answer any 20 questions the opponents wish to ask if they will answer just one: Do you believe we are fighting evil people in Iraq?

That is how supporters of the war regard the Baathists and the Islamic suicide terrorists, the people we are fighting in Iraq.

Because if you cannot answer it, or avoid answering it, or answer "no," we know enough about your moral compass to know that further dialogue is unnecessary. In fact, dialogue is impossible. Our understanding of good and evil is so different from yours, there is simply nothing to discuss. Someone who was asked a hundred years ago "Do you believe that whites who lynch blacks are evil?" and refused to answer in the affirmative was not someone one could dialogue with.

This war is not about a particular religion. It's not a war against a nation or group of nations. It is a war against evil. We cannot afford to back down or withdraw. We must fight this war until the end.

Posted by Tom at 10:43 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

Another Response to Cindy Sheehan

Stephen Mansfield, author of The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of the American Solider as well as many other fine books recently posted the following letter to Cindy Sheehan. It is well worth taking the time to read carefully the thoughtful response to Ms. Sheehan's ongoing protests.

Dear Mrs. Sheehan,

You are in a firestorm of grief and what must be a disorienting swirl of world attention. For that reason, I will be as brief in my remarks as I hope to be compassionate.

I will not insult you by presuming to know your sorrow. The loss of a son in armed conflict abroad must be among the most soul-wrenching experiences possible. You are surely right to rage against the horrors of war, right to demand answers and right to reach for those of like mind.

I fear, though, that what began as a mourning mother’s righteous cry for meaning is becoming something that threatens to dishonor Casey’s heroism. Though I mean no disrespect, it is clear you are becoming swept up in a cynical drama that is far a field from the meaning of the war and your son’s sacrifice. From your blogging on Michael Moore’s web site to the pronouncements you feel obligated to make on the cause of Palestine, you have abandoned the moral high ground of a grieving mother and are in danger of becoming just another fleeting voice on the American pop culture landscape.

The central issue here is not whether George W. Bush meets with you again or whether your self-styled “peaceful occupation” of Crawford, Texas, ever wins you the explanation for “why our sons are dead” you say you want. The central issue is that when your son volunteered for military service, he placed himself upon an altar of sacrifice. Sadly, the ultimate sacrifice was indeed required. Yet he gave himself willingly, as all our soldiers do in this generation, and his death is therefore the noble death of a hero and not the needlessly tragic death of one accidentally or foolishly taken

What we must understand is that a pledge to military service is a surrender of rights, a surrender of comforts and, potentially, a surrender of life if the nation calls. What leaves us so stunned at the death of a soldier, beyond our grief for a life snuffed out and our personal loss, is often our failure to understand the noble calling of the profession of arms and the warrior code that gives this calling meaning. When your son, and the thousands like him serving today, pledged himself to military service, he did not just “join the army.” He offered himself to his God and his nation in an act of devotion that has been repeated for centuries. He entered the fellowship of those who offer their lives willingly in service to others. His death, though a horror, was a horror with meaning, willingly engaged.

I cannot know your sorrow. I can urge you, though, not to allow your son’s offering on what Lincoln called “the altar of freedom” to be tainted by the passing parade of trendy causes. I can also urge you to live now in the knowledge that your son’s passing ennobles our nation, just as I trust it will now ennoble you.

With deepest sympathies for your loss,

Stephen Mansfield

Posted by Tom at 05:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

The Dumbest Poll Question Ever

We often deal with polls and the science behind them here at Stones Cry Out. But John Podhoretz has found what has to be the dumbest poll question ever (hat tip: Polipundit):

In the category of dumbest poll question ever, you'll be delighted to know we have a winner. It's ABC News, which has taken the coveted prize because it actually paid polling firm cash dollars to ask 1,002 Americans whether they were "dissatisfied with the price of gas."

Guess what? Ninety-four percent said they were! Americans are actually upset that a gallon of gas now costs nearly three times what it cost three years ago. Be still, my heart! What a shocker!

But many of them are not merely "upset." The pollsters say that 44 percent of Americans are actually angry about paying an average of $2.50 per gallon.

Silly me. I figured they'd be happy about it, but I guess ABC has set me straight. This is idiot empiricism at its finest. Maybe this weekend, ABC will ask Americans if they eat food, or if the ground gets wet when it rains.

I'm not sure which is more surprising: that ABC actually paid a polling firm to ask this question or that 6% of the respondents didn't understand the question.

Posted by Tom at 11:44 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

New Voters and the 2008 Election

JR at RightFaith makes a great point in a post about Hillary Clinton's potential presidential candidacy and voters who will be going to the polls for the fist time in 2008:

In 2008, 45 million potential voters will head to the ballot box having no memory of the Clinton Presidency. Those born roughly from 1979-1990 never voted in an election where Mr. Clinton was on the ballot but will be eligible when Mrs. Clinton's name appears. 18-29 year-old, 2008 voters were more focused on Seinfeld, the Simpsons, and watching the new Disney movie, Aladdin (feel old yet?) than on the 1992 political scene.

While Mr. Clinton's promiscuous legacy births some vague memories ('wasn't he impeached?'), Mrs. Clinton's brings to mind...well, nothing. At most, she was the victim of her husband's infidelity, 'poor woman'. The political figure that she has become has no attachment to her or her husband's past in the mind of these new voters.

He is absolutely correct that for many of these voters their image of Ms. Clinton will be defined by what they hear from her campaign instead of what history has to say about her. Republicans will need to do a better job of making their case to these voters if they expect to retain the White House in 2008.

Posted by Tom at 01:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Response to Cindy Sheehan

Normally Scott Ott is delivering hilarious parody at Scrappleface. But today he has a response to Cindy Sheehan's ongoing war protest that is right on the mark.

Posted by Tom at 09:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 03, 2005

The Brewing Scandal Over Air America That the Media is Ignoring

One scandal that has been brewing throughout the blogosphere has been the story that the CEO of Air America, the liberal talk radio network, "borrowed" money from a New York charity that he served in order to help alleviate the network's financial problems.

As Ed Morissey points out in his column for the Daily Standard, this is a story that is ripe for media coverage. However, because of the political affiliation of the personalities involved, the mainstream media has remained largely silent.

Granted, the mainstream media's willingness to provide cover for political allies (i.e. liberals) is nothing new. But you can be certain that if this story involved conservatives the media would be jumping all over it.

Michelle Malkin takes a look at the story from another angle. Also check out Scott Ott's latest entry at Scrappleface.

Posted by Tom at 03:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 30, 2005

Hugh Hewitt Exposes the Mainstream Media

Syndicated talk show host Hugh Hewitt reports that he has received numerous requests for interviews in the last few days from members of the mainstream media to discuss the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court:

I received a call from Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post today, requesting I call her back to discuss the nomination of John Roberts. I assumed that this is because (1)I worked with John Roberts in the White House Counsel's office for a year and (2)the big document dump may have turned up memos with my name on them which are of interest to the Post.

Hewitt goes on to say that he would have been willing to do the interview on one condition:

The subject didn't matter to me. I had my assistant call back and say fine. She could interview me. Only one condition: The interview had to be conducted on air, live, during my broadcast. Would she please call the show line at 3:06 Pacific?

I had a similar request from a New York Times reporter for a similar interview a couple of days back. I made the same offer. He didn't respond.

Amy Goldstein did respond. She declined. My assistant relayed that Ms. Goldstein didn't want her story "out there" before it ran.

Fine, I thought. But then I got to thinking: Isn't journalism supposed to be in the public interest? If Goldstein wants information from me, and I am willing to give it to her, isn't she putting her own interests in a "scoop" or an "angle" ahead of the public's by refusing to conduct an interview she thought would be useful in the first place? And isn't she going forward with a story she knows may well be unnecessarily incomplete because she doesn't like the fact that her questions and my answers would have been on the record?

I of course want my listeners to get a chance if not to see the sausage that is MSM "news" being made, at least hear it being ground fine. I had hoped to compare whatever I was able to provide Ms. Goldstein with whatever it is that she publishes on the subject. Interesting all around, no?

But she declined to conduct the interview she requested. How interesting to note that the Post is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency.

My guess is the reason that these reports were not willing to conduct the interviews on the air is that they are trying to find any dirt they can on Judge Roberts to help sink his nomination. By going on the air with Hugh they would be forfeiting their greatest weapon: the ability to shape the story in whatever way suits their agenda. Hugh is absolutely right to call the media on this. It's too bad that these reporters weren't willing to take him up on his offer.

It's no wonder that the public doesn't trust the mainstream media.

Posted by Tom at 02:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Justice Breyer's Property an Eniment Domain Target

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo vs. City of New London, Justice David Souter's house in New Hampshire became a target of a developer who wanted to seize it under eminent domain. Now a group of Libertarians want to seize Justice Stephen Breyer's land. (Hat tip: Free Republic):

Libertarians upset about a Supreme Court ruling on land taking have proposed seizing a justice's vacation home and turning it into a park, echoing efforts aimed at another justice who lives in the state.

Organizers are trying to collect enough signatures to go before the town next spring to ask to use Justice Stephen G. Breyer's 167-acre Plainfield property for a "Constitution Park" with stone monuments to commemorate the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions.

"In the spirit of the ruling, we're recreating the same use of eminent domain," said John Babiarz, the Libertarian Party's state chairman.

The plot mirrors the party's ongoing effort to get the town of Weare, about 45 miles to the southeast, to seize Justice David Souter's home. Souter's property is also the focus of a proposal by a California man who suggested the town turn the farmhouse into a "Lost Liberty Hotel."

The efforts are meant in protest of the high court's June ruling that let a Connecticut city take land by eminent domain and turn it over to a private developer. Breyer and Souter supported the decision.

If either one or both of these efforts succeed then the Justices will get what they deserve for supporting such a ridiculous decision.

Although Kelo is without a doubt one of the worst rulings ever handed down by the Court, it has also revealed in a way that matters to every single citizen the danger of activist judges. Conservatives have long complained about activistism on the bench but the issues that were involved have never had as wide-ranging an effect that Kelo has had.

Posted by Tom at 09:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

The Key Issue in the Debate Over Roberts' Nomination

So far in the news coverage of the President's nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court, there has been much discussion about the issue of abortion, Judge Roberts' Catholic faith, and the White House assertion of executive privilege as Democrats have sought memos that Judge Roberts wrote when he was White House Counsel. But as Michael Rosen points out in his column today at Tech Central Station, the key issues in this debate are the legal questions decided in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (which I previously reported on here).

In summary, a unanimous three judge panel (including Judge Roberts) issued the following ruling:

1. Persons judged to be enemy combatants can be tried under military tribunals.

2. The President did not violate the separation of powers provision of the Constitution nor did he violate Article II of the Constitution when he ordered the establishment of military tribunals to deal with captured terrorists.

3. The Geneva Convention does not apply to enemy combatants such as those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay as they do not qualify as "prisoners of war".

4. Even if a combatant is convicted under a military tribunal, they are still entitled to file an appeal in a civilian court.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld sets an important precedent not because it affirms the President's policies towards terrorists but because it clearly establishes the rules for the disposition of the cases against prisoners at Guantanamo as well as others being held as enemy combatants.

As Rosen concludes in his column:

By signing onto the ruling, Judge Roberts demonstrated that he can capably confront one of the most critical issues before the Court this decade: balancing the protection of fundamental liberties against the defense of our homeland.

Which only goes to show why Judge Roberts should be confirmed quickly to the Supreme Court.

Posted by Tom at 12:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

Political Implications of the SCOTUS Confirmation Vote

This Associated Press article speculates on the possible impact that 2008 Presidential aspirations may have on certain Senators' votes when Judge Roberts nomination comes up for vote both in the Judiciary Committee as well as the full Senate (hat tip: Rich Galen). While the article is somewhat interesting it misses what I believe is the bigger story: the 2006 Congressional Elections.

Democrats will be under tremendous pressure from constiuent special interest groups to vote against Judge Roberts. However, Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are all in situations where they may need to vote to confirm Roberts in order to appease a growing conservative electorate in their states and ensure their re-election.

Meanwhile, Republicans Lincoln Chaffee (RI) and Olympia Snowe (ME) have both angered conservatives with their centrist voting patterns. Chaffee in particular may face a primary challenge from a more conservative Republican and may feel he needs to vote for Roberts in order to appease conservatives. Ohio's Mike DeWine, who was one of the Gang of 14 who forged the deal that temporary halted judicial filibusters may also face a conservative challenger next spring and may vote to confirm Roberts to appease conservatives.

I have my doubts that Presidential aspirations will matter much in this confirmation vote. The only question remaining is how much Democrats will fight Judge Roberts' confirmation which appears to be more inevitable with each passing day.

Posted by Tom at 12:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

Analysis of the Roberts SCOTUS Nomination

After watching the SCOTUS rumor mill all day, I'm pleasantly surprised that President Bush decided to nominate Judge John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

The President wisely took advantage of his bully pulpit to present his nominee directly to the American people in a televised speech that, for once, all the networks carried. Although the rumor mill had been suggesting Edith Clement or even Edith Jones was going to be nominated, the President went against the conventional wisdom in nominating Judge Roberts rather than another woman to replace Justice O'Connor. The President also calmed fears of conservatives who were afraid that he would nominate Alberto Gonzales to the Court. In fact, the media again showed themselves to be totally out of step with reality in their reporting of the rumors surrounding this nomination.

The President also seized the opportunity to frame the debate over the nomination with his brief statement tonight. Here are the key points in the speech:

"He's an honors graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School."

Opponents of the nomination will have to be prepared to ask smart questions. Judge Roberts clearly is a smart guy.

"In his career he has served as a law clerk to Justice William Rehnquist, as an associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan and as the principal deputy solicitor general in the Department of Justice.

In public service and in private practice, he has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court and earned a reputation as one of the best legal minds of his generation."

Obviously he already knows his way around the Court and his professional credentials are beyond question. The Left is not going to be able to argue that he doesn't have the appropriate curriculum vitae for the Court.

"After he was nominated for the Court of Appeals in 2001, a bipartisan group of more than 150 lawyers sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. They wrote, 'Although as individuals we reflect a wide spectrum of political party affiliation and ideology, we are united in our belief that John Roberts will be an outstanding Federal Court of Appeals judge and should be confirmed by the United States Senate.'

The signers of this letter included a former counsel to a Republican president, a former counsel to two Democratic presidents and former high-ranking Justice Department officials of both parties."

He enjoys support from all across the political spectrum and from a number of legal heavyweights. He's not a nominee that will easily be characterized as "out of the mainstream".

"He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution in laws, not legislate from the bench."

The President has said repeatedly that he intended to appoint a strict constructionist to the Court and has accomplished that goal with this nomination.

"I believe that Democrats and Republicans alike will see the strong qualifications of this fine judge, as they did when they confirmed him by unanimous consent to the judicial seat he now holds."

This was my favorite line from the entire speech. The message to the Democrats was simply this: Confirm him. Now.

Democrats will have no choice but to confirm him. If they object too loudly, they will show themselves to be the obstructionists that they truly are. The beauty of this nomination is it gives absolutely no ammunition to the Left to use in the confirmation process.

I expect Roberts to be confirmed fairly easily after a lot of shouting from the Left.

Posted by Tom at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2005

More on the Plame Non-Scandal

This is some of the best analysis I've seen so far on the Valerie Plame non-scandal scandal.

So is this.

Don't miss this one, either. It turns out the CIA "outed" Valerie Plame long before Robert Novak did.

Posted by Tom at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

Enemy Combatants and Military Tribunals

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit handed the Bush Administration a huge victory in the war on terror today by ruling that enemy combatants currently being held at Guantanamo Bay can be tried by military tribunal. The Court also ruled that enemy combatants such as the Al Qaeda members currently imprisoned at Guantanamo are not covered by the 1949 Geneva Convention which governs the treatment of prisoners of war.

Democrats have complained about Guantanamo Bay, our treatment of prisoners there, and the methods the Bush Administration has chosen to deal with them. Once again the President is proved right.

Posted by Tom at 11:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Rove and the Leak

In a previous entry, Rick referenced this story which alleged that Karl Rove was the source of the Valerie Plame leak. While it is true that Rove spoke with Time reporter Matt Cooper, it does not appear he named Plame in their conversation according to Newsweek:

In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was authenticated by a source intimately familiar with Time's editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who has asked not to be identified because of the magazine's corporate decision not to disclose its contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger ... "

As Powerline points out, the fact that Rove did not specifically name Plame in his conversation with Cooper won't stop the media and the Left from trying to portray Rove as the source of the leak. The Washington Post didn't hesitate to put the story on the front page today.

Once all the smoke clears, the Valerie Plame affair will likely be seen as another failed attempt by the Left (with an assist from the media) to pin a scandal on the Bush administration that did not exist.

Posted by Tom at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

George Allen for President?

George Will profiles Virginia Senator George Allen today in his column and provides some insight into why the Senator may be the best candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Although the conventional wisdom has been that Senators don't stand much of a chance to win a presidential election (no Senator has been elevated directly to the Presidency since John F. Kennedy in 1960), Senator Allen also served a successful term as Virginia's governor. As recent history has shown, candidates who have previously served as governors have been more likely to be elected president.

Senator Allen has not said whether he is definitely running for President since he faces re-election to the Senate in 2006. Although he is not well known outside of Virginia I suspect he could do very well in a presidential election.

Posted by Tom at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

An Intriguing SCOTUS Scenario

Rich Galen speculates in his Mullings column today on the possibility of three Supreme Court vacancies this summer.

Assuming Chief Justice Rehnquist retires and President Bush nominates one of the remaining Associate Justices to be Chief Justice (either Thomas or Scalia) then there would be three vacancies to be filled.

This presents an intriguing opportunity for the President. Assuming for a moment that Rehnquist does retire and President Bush wanted to elevate an associate judge, which one would he choose? I would consider Justice Thomas as my top pick. First, at age 56, he's the youngest of the justices. Second, it allows the President to make a "legacy" nomination by naming the first African-American Chief Justice.

Then, if the President wants to continue to make "legacy" appointments he could nominate Janice Rogers Brown (she would become the first African-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court). He could also put a Hispanic justice on the court by nominating Miguel Estrada, Emilio Garza or even Alberto Gonzales (although he seems to be too moderate for many conservative groups to support).

Ethnic considerations aside, the one thing all of these candidates have in common is that they are highly respected jurists. All of them are highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and are worthy of careful consideration.

By having three vacancies to fill at once there will be pressure on the Senate leadership to move quickly on confirmation hearings to have a full Court by October. If the Senate decides to drag its feet, the President can always use his recess appointment power to fill the vacancies until the end of 2006. By that point, the Congressional elections may provide Republicans with a larger margin in the Senate making it easier to confirm judicial nominees.

It could be a very interesting summer.

Posted by Tom at 01:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 02, 2005

Prognosticating the SCOTUS Confirmation Battle

With the somewhat surprising retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor from the Supreme Court, many in the press and the blogosphere are engaging in the "let's guess the next Supreme Court Nominee" parlor game. Rather than dwell on who I think the nominee will be (although I did post a guess in a comment on this post), I'm going to go out on a limb and make a couple of predictions about what we can expect to see in the next few months:

1. Democrats will filibuster the nominee
Given the behavior of Democrats during the judicial confirmation process thus far it is a safe bet that they will find reason to filibuster the SCOTUS nominee. There's much more at stake in this nomination than any other to date. Also, Democrats will be under tremendous pressure from special interest groups such as Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, the ACLU, and other groups to filibuster any judicial nominee that the President submits. In fact, I believe Democrats made a huge tactical error by filibustering judicial nominees. Supreme Court justices have far greater influence that other members of the federal judiciary. By filibustering so many of the President's nominees to date, they've left themselves with no other option but to filibuster the SCOTUS nominee. As a result, Democrats will likely pay a high price at the polls next year.

2. The President will nominate a very conservative judge.
Since President Bush can count on very vocal opposition from Democrats, he's free to nominate a very conservative judge. Although conventional wisdom has been that the President should nominate another woman to replace O'Connor or another moderate who mirrors her judicial philosophy, President Bush can be free to nominate whomever he chooses since he knows that the opposition will be fierce regardless of the nominee.

3. The President's nominee will be confirmed.
Although the process will be bloody, Democrats don't have enough votes to sustain a filibuster and probably won't be able to muster enough opposition to any SCOTUS nominee to prevent confirmation. The only question will be how long the Republican leadership will allow the process to drag out. If they're smart, Senate Republicans will move swiftly to get the nominee confirmed/

Posted by Tom at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2005

Justice Souter's Property to Be Seized?

This story is pretty ironic given the fact that Justice Souter voted with the majority in Kelo vs. City of New London. (Hat Tip: Polipundit)

Posted by Tom at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Stone to Cry Out

She's witty, intelligent, and has a keen insight into issues of the day. She is Abigail Brayden, the newest Stone (or as Doug refers to her, Stonette). Abigail has been blogging at her self-titled blog since August 2004 and we have been fans of her blog for quite a while.

As you can see from her bio, she is a woman of many talents. We believe that she will help advance the mission of this blog and are thrilled to have her as part of the Stones Cry Out team.

Posted by Tom at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

More Analysis on the Supreme Court's Hair-Splitting

There is some great analysis on yesterday's hair-splitting decisions from the Supreme Court on the 10 Commandments. Paul Mirengoff of Powerline examines some of the legal reasoning in these cases. Hugh Hewitt says that long-time court watchers were not surprised by the decisions. George Will looks at the historical context of the Establishment Clause to reveal the absurdity of the Court's decisions. Finally, Dr. Albert Mohler says in his commentary today that the decisions reveal the Court's increasing hostility towards religion, specifically Christianity.

Posted by Tom at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Linda Foley Won't Back Down

Media Slander has been following the story of Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild, who recently accused the military of deliberately targeting journalists. Rather than apologizing for her remarks, she instead attacks her critics in a recently published statement. Media Slander has responded by fisking her statement. They are also calling for people to write to the individual Guild chapters to express outrage over Ms. Foley's remarks.

While it's no secret that many journalists oppose the war on terror that does not give them the right to make slanderous accusations against the U. S. Military. As my colleague Jim points out in a previous post, anti-war remarks from the Left have historically done more harm than good. Ms. Foley should apologize immediately. Based on her most recent statement, it doesn't appear that will happen anytime soon.

Update: The Augusta Free Press has a column today entitled Potty Mouth Politics that directly addresses over-the-top rhetoric such as what we have seen from Ms. Foley. (Hat tip: The Blue State Conservatives)

Posted by Tom at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

Will a Book Sink Hillary Clinton?

A new book entitled The Truth About Hillary Clinton is being breathlessly promoted in conservative circles as the book that will do to the Senator's presidential hopes what Unfit For Command did to John Kerry's presidential bid.

Peggy Noonan has a column today on Opinion Journal that pretty much confirms what I already suspected about the book: it doesn't live up to the hype.

Noonan, who wrote the book The Case Against Hillary Clinton, could be considered somewhat of an authority on the Senator. In addition, she is an astute political observer who understands that it will take far more than a so-called expose to undermine the Senator's presidential hopes.

Unlike John Kerry, Hillary Clinton is a known quantity after serving as First Lady for eight years and the junior Senator from New York for six years. The electorate already has strong opinions either for or against her. Democrats, anxious to regain the White House, will be willing to rally around her. Although she has recently tried to paint herself as more of a centrist, she has very liberal views that will play well to the Democratic base.

If Republicans are serious about thwarting Senator Clinton's presidential ambitions, they need to first pick a serious candidate to oppose her. In order to retain the White House, the GOP will have to mount a sustained campaign against whoever is the Democratic nominee.

Unfit For Command did help defeat John Kerry. However, John Kerry helped defeat John Kerry more than anyone else did. Conservatives should not expect one book to be enough to defeat Senator Clinton. She is a far more formidable opponent than John Kerry was. If they expect to win, they better be prepared for a difficult fight.

Posted by Tom at 04:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack