Carol Platt Liebau: January 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Perspective Worth Considering

Everyone shares a sense of concern about the attacks that injured an ABC anchorman and his cameraman on Sunday. But here is a story that asks an important question: Have journalists lost some perspective now that one of their own "stars" has been injured?

It's a question worth pondering.

Reality Will Intrude Sometimes . . .

Even over at Daily Kos. Here, a brief moment of recognition that the upcoming elections may not be the cakewalk some lefties are anticipating -- especially given partisan disparities in fundraising.

The SOTU Overview

Pretty mundane, on the whole. A very spirited defense of foreign policy, more watered down on the domestic stuff.

Some commentators have argued that the speech was insufficiently conservative, citing the government programs being enumerated -- massive spending on alternative fuels, only one line about making the tax cuts permanent.

To me, this isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. In fact, it could be argued that it makes sense from a strategic point of view. People don't actually tune in to hear the President all that often, relying mostly on second or third hand characterizations and accounts. In a divided country, where people regularly hear the President being demonized, it makes sense, I believe, for him to avoid rhetoric that could be easily incorporated into a Democratic caricature. And it's sheer genius to put in applause lines that force the Democrats either to rise and applaud, or to risk looking repugnantly partisan (e.g. "we will never surrender to evil").

In choosing red state governor Tim Kaine (D-VA) to offer their response, the Democrats were certainly operating on the principle of putting their "moderate" face forward for the American people. In fact, it reminds me of a little child trying to act as though he behaves well, during the few minutes when he knows his parents' eyes on upon him.

That being said, it seems to me that Presidents do well when they speak out in full throated advocacy for conservative policies and programs, and I would have liked to heard more in that vein. And, frankly, the Democrats have more need to try to hew to the center (and hide their ideologicsl predilections) than the Republicans do.

Pan It Again, Sam

President Bush just explained the importance of the NSA wiretapping program, and its importance to our national security. A little more than half the chamber exploded in a standing ovation. The other half sat motionless without applause.

It was a very telling snapshot of the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Having to State the Obvious

On Iraq, President Bush just had to remind the Democrats: "However we feel about decisions and debates about the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies and stand behind the American military in this vital mission."

How sad is it that he has to remind them?

And how young, and sweet, the widow of Sgt. Clay looks. Words could never adequately express the debt we owe not only our soldiers, but their families, too.

A Touching Moment

In the "pre-game" run-up to the State of the Union, the Fox News camera panned the House chamber, and rested momentarily on Justice Alito. He was gazing all around, obviously in profound wonder at being there at all.

How wonderful to know that our new Justice understands and appreciates the majesty of America, its traditions and its institutions.

Look for More Left-Coast Liberalism

This piece lists the Oscar "best picture" nominees for this year: "Brokeback Mountain"; "Capote"; "Crash"; "Good Night, and Good Luck," and "Munich."

Note that all of them -- every single one -- tilt left of center, either politically or culturally. Note also that none of them have performed particularly well at the box office.

Two things are patently clear: (1) Hollywood is increasingly -- and dramatically -- out of step with mainstream America; and (2) the Hollywood left is working harder than ever to create "agenda" films.

With the left forced to concede that its grasp on the levers of power has been lost in all three branches, it's only going to get worse. With typical self-absorption, creative types are going to see "the theatah" as the only "agent of progress" remaining to the left, especially with the Supreme Court gone, as they seen it, after today's confirmation of Justice Alito (as Teddy K's statement indicates, the left has long seen the Court as the agent of progress, i.e. the best way to force liberal policies on the country).

A "Flopibuster"

That's how Deborah Orin characterizes the impotent Kerry/Kennedy filibuster -- with the added plus of having created a most entertaining internecine warfare in the Democratic camp!

John Kerry has long had a reputation in the Senate as a showboat, and this episode only reinforces the impression that his primary (sole?) concern is himself. In order to uphold his standing among the hard left, he's been willing to risk an intra-party fight, and created a situation that has placed fellow senators (some not fortunate enough to hail from a monolithically ilberal state like Massachusetts) in political trouble.

Howard Dean is the #1 political gift that keeps on giving. But Kerry's gaining on him.

Justice Alito

He's in. Happy day!

The Bar Scene in Star Wars

WaPo columnist Dana Milbank describes an event at which the leftist moonbats were out in full cry. Must have been reminiscent of the bar scene in Star Wars.

He's frustrated that the Democrats aren't being more pragmatic. Poor thing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Unbiased Face of CNN

CNN's face of "journalistic objectivity."

Christiane Amanpour has declared the Iraq war a "disaster." Given a number of examples like this, is anyone surprised?

Something Rotten

Sounds like the State Department has been soft on Iran -- that is, unwilling to take any proactive measures that might actually help defuse the emerging crisis.

Also sounds like Newt Gingrich's critique of the department, albeit in the Iraq context, was dead right.

Headed for the Supremes

The filibuster is no more; in fewer than 24 hours, Judge Alito should be Justice Alito.

We'll be looking for him at the State of the Union tomorrow night.

Reluctant to Remember?

The disagreeable Tom Shales criticizes an A&E movie being aired tonight about Flight 93.

Not because it's bad, mind you -- he says "the film is unquestionably well made." No, Shales has "misgivings" because he thinks the network is "exploiting" the events of 9/11. And he sniffs disdainfully:

But the headline on a network press release reflects hype more than respect for the heroes: "A&E Network Proudly Presents 'Flight 93,' " it says of the film, described disingenuously as "a moving tribute" to those who died fighting terrorism on that plane. The film is airing about four months after the Discovery Channel offered "The Flight That Fought Back," which premiered on Sept. 11, 2005, the fourth anniversary of the tragedy. No doubt that film was meant as a "moving tribute," too.

Well, why not? Do the movies about Pearl Harbor or Iwo Jima exploit those events, or is it our culture's way of memorializing key moments in our national life?

Criticism like the ultimately incoherent bunk that Shales hurls makes me suspect that there are people who are uncomfortable with any Americans remembering 9/11 too vividly. Might drive up support for the war on terror, you know.

I'll Take the $34 Million, Please

Drudge is reporting that -- predictably enough -- Democratic leaders are displeased, because Howard Dean has spent a lot of the cash that would otherwise go to helping them regain their seats this cyle.

Dems have only $5.5 million on hand, versus the Republicans' $34 million.

Wow. So the grassroots' idol, Dean, is running into trouble with the Beltway Dems. Should be interesting to see how that conflict works out. It's a permutation of this troubling dynamic (well, troubling for the Dems, at least!).

The Law-less NY Times

In an editorial yesterday, the NY Times attempts to present a formidable legal argument against warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. The only problem is, ahem, that they actually decline to deal with any of the relevant cases on the subject.

Powerlines discusses here; Hugh Hewitt has a theory that explains The Times' glaring omissions here.

How ironic that, in its opening paragraphs, the Times editorial characterizes the Administration explanations as a combination of "political spin, clumsy historical misinformation . . . and a couple of big, dangerous lies." Familiar with the term "projection"?

Republican = Racist

That, at least, seems to be the argument of a study detailed here in The Washington Post -- and conducted, let it be noted, by two researchers who have given money to the Democrats.

As the story notes, "That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did."

Hmm. Interesting. How, exactly, was "implicit bias" measured? By support for affirmative action? By one's unwillingness to blame urban problems on American society in general? By willingness to be taxed to pay for "better" social programs? We don't know.

As for "self-admitted" bias -- could it be that some groups are simply more willing to be honest (and politically incorrect) about certain issues? In any case, it seems hard to believe that people are standing around admitting to being racist.

How desperate must the left be to resort to this kind of pseudo-science in an attempt to hold on to black support?

Any African-American who wants to sort the whole matter out should consider one fact: Look at what 40 years of Democratic domination has done to your community. And then decide who deserves your support and allegiance.

God and Satan

Here's a harmless little story about a man who has been going around identifying himself as "God" -- it's now on his voter registration form, credit card, etc.

It reminds of the case I ran across in law school. A man sued Satan, but the judge dismissed the claim, in part resting on the difficulty that the plaintiff would have in asserting personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Balancing Liberty and Security

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Debra Burlingame points out the almost incomprehensible stupidity both of thwarting the Patriot Act and of allowing ephemeral fears about NSA spying to interfere with the protection of American lives.

Here's a taste:

The mantra of civil-liberties hard-liners is to "question authority"--even when it is coming to our rescue--then blame that same authority when, hamstrung by civil liberties laws, it fails to save us.

Fair enough.

Going Right to the Roots

You know, you can't please some people no matter what you do. Half the time, they say I'm isolated and don't listen. Then when I do listen, they say I need a warrant.

That's President Bush at last night's Alfalfa Club dinner. Some pretty funny stuff. Read the WaPo's account here.

The Pain of "Getting It"

Poor Joan Venocchi. Writing in The Boston Globe, she deplores the Kerry/Kennedy calls for a filibuster on the Alito nomination -- recognizing, correctly, that the left-wing hijinks only help Republicans.

How painful it must be to "get it," and to realize that one's ideological fellows either don't, or are so self-absorbed and greedily ambitious that they care more about their own short term political advantage than the good of the party.

Final note: Venocchi writes, "Going after Alito as a bigot backfired. Forget about Mrs. Alito's tears. The moment Kennedy was exposed for belonging to a discriminatory college fraternal organization, it was over. He lost the moral high ground."

Seems to me that he "lost the moral high ground" about the time he swam away from the submerged car in Chappaquiddick Bay, leaving a young woman to drown.

Men of Honor

Here is a story well worth reading.

I know several of the figures mentioned -- most notably, one on the side of those who were reluctant to go as far as David Addington wanted in asserting presidential prerogatives. No doubt there are men of honor on both sides of the controversy.

The person in the story that I know best (who was on the Comey-Goldsmith side of hte divide) is a person of unimpeachable integrity and conservative credentials. Suffice it to say that if he has had misgivings about any of the assertions of presidential powers, then there are questions that need to be explored.

Woodruff and Vogt Injured

I never watch ABC News (any network that would try to present George Stephanopoulos as a straight newsman has no credibility left, in my opinion), but even so, it was sad news to hear that new anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, have been injured in a bomb attack in Iraq.

Prayers are with them and their families.

FNS Follies II: Hoisted on His Own Petard

Howard Dean is the political gift that keeps on giving; even without his extraordinary high strung and angry demeanor, his logorrhea means that every time he shows up, there'll be a wonderful present for Republicans left behind, in the form of an ill-judged outburst, overstatements, or outright lies.

This morning's big gift? Dean inadvertantly condemns Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid. Here's how.

During his interview, Dean had the following exchange with host Chris Wallace:

Q: If we find that there were some Democrats who wrote letters on behalf of the Indian tribes that Abramoff represented, then what do you say, sir?

A: That's a big problem. And those Democrats are in trouble, and they should be in trouble . . ..

Shortly thereafter, during the panel segment of the program, Chris Wallace noted:

The Washington Post . . . reported in November that Senator Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, wrote a letter back in March 5, 2002, opposing a casino that one of those Indian tribes opposed. In other words, he was taking the position of one of Abramoff's clients. On March 6, the next day, Abramoff's client -- the tribal client -- wrote a $5,000 check to Mr. Reid's Searchlight Legal Fund. Mr. Reid's spokesman says there is absolutely no connection between the letter and the fundraising, but it's worth noting that Mr. Reid's Abramoff-related total was $66 thousand between 2001 and 2004.

Hmm Tell me again how this differs, either in appearance or reality, from the accusation Dean launched against Senator Contrad Burns (i.e. "Senator Burns did . . . things for Jack Abramoff in exchange for a contribution").

But it's only a Republican scandal. Yes, sirree.

FNS Follies I: Dean Slanders Burns?

It's always a merry morning when Howard Dean shows up on a Sunday morning talk show. Front and center during his appearance on "Fox News Sunday" was a remarkable statement in which he pretty clearly accused a Republican senator of being a criminal. If Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)isn't convicted of taking bribes, it seems to me that Howard Dean could have some 'splaining to do, in light of these comments:

The problem the Republicans have with this [the Abramoff scandal] is that they actually did things. Senator Burns did a number of things for Jack Abramoff in exchange for a contribution. And the proximity of those contributions to the actual act of doing something for the lobbyist -- that's what's illegal and that's what's going to get them in trouble.

There's not one shred of evidence that any Democrat (a) knew that he was getting a contribution from Jack Abramoff and (b) did anything in exchange for it.

It will be interesting to see if the facts match up to Dean's assertions -- and how he'll handle it when they don't. In the meantime, he might want to cool it with the potential slander.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Calling Houston . . .

Judging from this article in The Washington Post, it looks like John Boehner has a problem.

Democrat Priorities

Speaking at Davos, former president Bill Clinton asserted that climate change is the world's biggest problem. "It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it," he announced.

Hmm. Seems to me that a nuclear weapon in the hands of some Islamic fundamentalist jihadists would pretty much end civilization's march, too -- and a whole lot more quickly and dramatically.

But it's always good to be reminded of Democrat priorities.

A False Nostalgia

David Broder writes wistfully of a day "when partisan venom didn't rule."

Please. Give me a break. His big example? After Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated, Tip O'Neill visited him in the hospital, kissed him and prayed by his bed.

A lovely thing to do, I submit, but -- after all -- the President was nearly killed. Is it really a mark of a bipartisan utopia that a leader from the opposite party would be upset? One hopes not. And the fact that Democratic leaders wouldn't do the same for President Bush doesn't mean that the past was perfect: It means that the Democrats today have been driven over the brink by partisan political hatred. (Notice you don't hear President Bush condemning the Democrats from the lectern the way that President Clinton used to excoriate the Republicans).

In any case, unusual events lead to unusual displays. After all, at one point, Tom Daschle and President Bush embraced (OK, yes, it took 9/11 . . . but still). Umprecedented or devastating events can yield amazing displays of (temporary) comity.

But it doesn't mean that there was no partisan venom in the Capitol in the 1980's. The supposedly benevolent O'Neill also remarked openly of President Reagan that ""He knows less than any president I've every known" and opined that he was "Herbert Hoover with a smile." Of course, it's not in the same league as Teddy Kennedy ranting that the Iraq war was a "fraud" cooked up in Texas, but still. Not so nice.

Old-timers like Broder always wax nostalgic about the "good old days" of bipartisan harmony -- all of which seem to date from before 1994. Before 1994, the Republicans in the House were led by the amiable Bob Michel, and they knew their place, by darn. They weren't dominant for heaven's sake, and while they controlled the presidency, the Democrats were the barons of Capitol Hill.

If David Broder thinks that the '80's were a decade without political venom, he might want to check with Ray Donovan ("Where do I go to get my reputation back?") and Bob Bork.

It Is What It Is

This editorial from The Washington Post, discusses the conservative victory in Canada and characterizes it as "A Defeat for Anti-Americanism."

Funny, some of the "anti-American" dialogue it quotes sounds suspiciously close to some of the statements emanating from Michael Moore and Al Gore.

Well, it's time that the Post recognizes the anti-American element in their rhetoric, if only implicitly.

The "Good Stein" Speaks

From The American Spectator's Ben Stein, rebutting Joel Stein's piece:

Do I support men and women who are fighting Nazis who call themselves insurgents or Islamic militants? Do I support men and women who offer up their lives to fight the very same terrorists who killed three thousand totally guiltless Americans on 9/11? Do I support the troops who have more moral decency in their toes than I do or anyone I know does in our whole bodies? I support them, pray for them, am humbled just to be on the same planet with them. With every morning I wake up, every meal I eat, every walk I take in freedom, every night I sleep in peace, I ask God to look after the men and women who guard the ramparts of this blessed island of peace and decency called America. Without them, we would be nothing.

Read it here.

Protecting Her Left Flank

Hillary supports a filibuster of the Alito nomination.

How delicious is it when you can have not only a superbly qualified nominee who's confirmed, but also get to enjoy a little internecine bloodletting in the opposition party? No one on the Dem side is looking very good -- not the buffoons who questioned Alito, not the radicals who are calling for a filibuster (and who will end up looking like impotent pander bears, if and when their gambit fails), not the minority leader who apparently can't hold his team together.

As I said: Delicious.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Inappropriate AND Revealing

According to this AP report, a teacher was suspended for showing the R-rated movie "The 40 Year Old Virgin" during a high school Spanish class.

Let's set aside the most obvious question -- what, exactly, is a Spanish teacher doing, showing a movie during class?

Instead, let's focus on the movie itself. What does it say about our society that a high school student would find nothing inappropriate about suggesting a film like "Virgin" to a teacher for class viewing?

And what on earth -- what on earth -- was an instructor thinking when he accepted the suggestion? Isn't the title, "The 40 Year Old Virgin," something of a tip-off about the movie's content?

Seems to me the whole sorry episode echoes my point in this column.

"Depressing" News Coverage

A new LA Times poll reports that President Bush is earning low marks on the economy. Granted, Times polls don't have the greatest history of accuracy (remember this and this, for example?).

But even if the numbers are right (for once!), is it any wonder that numbers are depressed, given coverage like that detailed here?

The Laffer Curve Lives

As Donald Luskin points out, the 2003 capital gains tax cut has completely paid for itself -- and more.

Big Problems for Big Media

As Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan points out, the loony left is pressuring the press for being insufficiently liberal. Given that most of the country already believes that the MSM lacks credibility and leans too far to the left -- and that it can't afford to lose market share among anyone -- the MSM has a problem, as Bevan cogently points out.

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

Today is the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birth.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Foreign Policy, Gore Style

How fortunate the Canadians are to have attracted Al Gore's attention: First he attacks their new leader, then spins the kind of conspiracy theory for which he has become so justly renowned.

Can you imagine if this guy had won in 2000?

Facts About the Patriot Act

Here are some facts about the Patriot Act.

When one remembers how disgracefully political the Democratic approach to renewing the Act has been, can you really blame those of us who are highly skeptical that the Dems would have behaved more responsibly in amending FISA, should the President have asked them to?

More on Results-Oriented Jurisprudence

In this post, I wrote about the Dems' weakness for results-oriented jurisprudence. In his statement, however, Senator Kyl made the same point -- far more eloquently:

Minority members of the Judiciary Committee did not question Judge Alito’s qualifications. Rather, they tried to get him to commit to certain results in cases that are sure to come before the courts. They want to see certain policy goals enacted into law. Now, we all want our policy goals to become law, but our aim should be enacting constitutional legislation, not relying on the courts to enact our policy preferences.
Read more »

Deliberately Ignorant?

Obviously mindful of the political blowback potential in following their hearts and opposing Judge Alito, W.Va. Senator Robert Byrd and S.D. Senator Tim Johnson, both Democrats, will support him, according to this piece.

But it be worth asking them whether they agree with what seems like a wilfully ignorant and misleading comment from their colleague Dianne Feinstein, who characterizes Judge Alito as an "originalist" and then adds:

If an originalist analysis was applied to the Fourteenth Amendment, women would not be provided equal protection under the Constitution, interracial marriages could be outlawed, schools could still be segregated and the principle of one man, one vote would not govern the way we elect our representatives.

She is wrong on many levels. For one, she's confusing "originalism" with "strict construction" as even a bit of cursory research would reveal. For another, originalist analysis doesn't compel particular outcomes, as she suggests. For yet another, the constitutional amendments that have passed in the intervening years since the Constitution's drafting inform justices' interpretations of what "equal protection" means in both the sexual and racial context, and no one in the American mainstream holds the views she attributes to originalists, as she well knows.

Finally, the statement just shameless demagoguery. It's similar to the quality of analysis that would argue that justices who believe in a "living Constitution" can find entitlements to free housing, healthcare and Chevrolets -- with a right to bigamy thrown in for good measure -- in the Constitution. Not credibly. Not at all.

So much for Feinstein's insistence that she's an independent voice. Sounds to me like she's lifted talking points from the hard left.

Spirited to Syria?

Credible allegations have been made that Iraqi WMD's were spirited to Syria in the run up to the Iraq war. Story in The New York Sun here.

If it turns out to be true -- if -- a lot of Democrats will owe a lot of apologies to President Bush.

Bush Press Conference

Here is the transcript.

Could the barrage of Abramoff questions -- given everything else that's happening in the world -- suggest, ahem, a little lack of seriousness on the part of the press?

Hillary Hypocrisy Watch

Well, well. Senator Hillary Clinton wants Wal-Mart to provide health benefits for its employees, but she "can't recall" (yes, we're back to that again) whether she ever advocated such benefits when she was in a position to do so most effectively -- i.e. during six years as a paid board member for the company.

Sounds to me like people are hungry for these jobs even as they are -- as this story notes, "24,500 Chicagoans applied for 325 jobs at a Wal-Mart opening" near Chicago.

Obviously, the liberals will tell us, they did so under duress. They don't really want those jobs. Right.

Hamas Victory

Not the news we would have hoped for. Of course, the Bush Administration is refusing to deal with the political arm of this terrorist group until it renounces violence and acknowledges Israel's right to exist.

I wonder how the Palestinian people will feel when they realize that they haven't taken steps toward obtaining a state of their own -- rather, they've seriously damaged the process that was put in place for it?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Plank in the Eye

Investors Business Daily makes the excellent point that Hillary Clinton is uniquely ill-positioned to lead the charge against corruption and incompetence in government. It's a little bit like asking Ted Kennedy to spearhead a campaign against drunk driving and irresponsible slander.

"Portraying" Reality

Can't slip nuthin' past those Democrats and their friends in the press. Today, Ron Brownstein notes a very valid concern: That the Democrats' over-the-top attacks on President Bush's efforts to protect America (including the NSA's warrantless surveillance of international calls)"may allow Bush to portray Republicans as stronger than Democrats in fighting terrorism, as he did in the 2002 and 2004 campaigns."

Well, yes, and reality would, in fact, play a pretty significant role in such a "portrayal."

Are they just figuring this out? Others gleefully noted some time ago that the Democrats were marginalizing themselves once again.

A Secular Saint?

OK, is this a joke? The Episcopal Church is considering making Thurgood Marshall a saint?

I stand second to no one in my admiration for Ronald Reagan -- but he belongs on Mount Rushmore, not as a saint in the Presbyterian Church (if there were such a thing). Does this mean that the Catholics might consider Justice Scalia? How 'bout Justice Thomas -- whose chances might be doubled, given that he's been both a Catholic and an Episcopalian? Why do I suspect that the left-wing Episcopalians that dominate the Church today mightn't be quite as interested?

And all these people who are pushing Justice Marshall for sainthood: Do they remember his dogged opposition to religion having any role in public life -- to the point where he refused to attend the annual Supreme Court Christmas party? Actually (and sadly), that's probably part of Marshall's appeal to them . . .

Whatever the merits of Thurgood Marshall's career, the fact is that sainthood is supposed to be for saints -- not for admirable, even revered, public figures of any political stripe.

Une Nation de Grosses Personnes? Zut Alors!

First, there was this. Well, okay, this and this, too.

So how does one explain this?

On ABA Ratings

Here, John Lott argues that Republicans made a mistake in relying on ABA ratings to counter Democratic objections to Alito.

I don't think so . . . since there's evidence that the ABA does, indeed, underrank Republican nominees, the fact that one of them earns an outstanding evaluation should weigh even more highly than a comparable rating for a liberal would. And if the ABA gets back up to its old tricks in underrating Republican nominees more frequently when there's a Republican president and a Democratic congress, then it will be worth pointing out the array of statistics that Lott has mustered.

In any case, the ABA may be a bit more cautious from here on out, given that the Bush administration was willing to eliminate it from the process completely.

Gone, presumably, are the days when the ABA can act as another liberal special interest group while masquerading as a nonpartisan guardian of the law.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Richly Deserved Evisceration

It wasn't pretty, but it was very, very satisfying. Hugh Hewitt eviscerated the disgraceful LA Times columnist Joel Stein, live on the air.

Check out the transcript and audio at Radioblogger, and then, feel free to cancel your Times subscription at 888-565-2323.

Best of all, honor our troops -- as Stein refuses to -- by becoming part of Soldiers' Angels or one of the other groups that help those of us who do honor and support our troops find a way to do so.

The Next (Liberal) Political Frontier

Democrats and their allies in the MSM have been searching frantically for an issue that will arouse what they consider to be a complacent populace against Republicans and conservatives in general, and the Bush Administration in particular.

Katrina didn't do it. The war hasn't done it. Fitzmas never happened. And the NSA wiretaps don't seem to be panning out. What to do, what to do?

Ah, ethics -- that's the ticket. And as this piece points out, Democrats have decided to make the ideological composition of the Supreme Court a campaign issue this fall.

So what could be better for the next liberal/Democratic political gambit than levelling ethics charges at a conservative Supreme Court justice? Hmmm.

ABC obliges with this hit piece on Justice Scalia; those in a position to know try to set the record straight.

Bye Bye "Book of Daniel"

Politicizing the Court

With today's party line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee passing Judge Alito's nomination to the full Senate, the Democrats proved that they don't understand the role of the judiciary any better than they understand, say, national security.

Here's a paragraph that exemplifies what's wrong with the Democratic approach to judicial confirmation:

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said that if a person favors a woman's right to choose abortion, "one cannot vote for Judge Alito. It's really that simple."

Of course, Senator Feinstein sounds like she's making a decision about whether to endorse a politicla candidate, whose political views determine how many votes he will receive. And that's where the Democrats' results-oriented view of the judiciary and judging itself becomes repulsively apparent. They support the judges who will give them the results they want, and reflexively oppose the rest.

How "simple" was it, after all, when a bunch of pro-life senators voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, despite her widely-proclaimed pro-abortion views?

They did so because Republicans understand that judging isn't supposed to be about supporting those who will vote for outcomes in accordance with a particular legislator's political agenda. It's about finding superbly qualified nominees of good character and temperament, who dwell somewhere in the wide swathe of the continuum between mainstream conservative and mainstream liberal jurisprudence, and otherwise letting the President have his choice.

At Least He's Honest

Update: If you want to cancel your LA Times subscription, call (888) 565-2323 (HT: Hugh Hewitt).

One jerk at the LA Times admits the truth -- he doesn't support the troops (and neither do some of the anti-war sorts who claim that they do):

But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken . . . Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there — and who might one day want to send them somewhere else.

He goes a little further than not supporting the troops -- he actually appears to condemn them:

when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse.

And as for the people who risk their lives to protect his right to spew the kind of garbage in the linked piece, he has this to say:

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea.

How many people on the left will condemn this unconscionable piece? Precious few, I bet. At least he's honest. At least.

Monday, January 23, 2006

O Canada!

Conservatives win! And Paul Martin joins the ranks of Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac -- and Tom Daschle.

Stephen Harper will no doubt work well with re-elected Prime Ministers Koizumi and Howard -- as well as with President Bush.

Way to go, Canada!

For Those Needing a Life . . .

My husband will no doubt be furious with me for that headline, as he became a "24" devoteee in the first hour of Day 1 (literally). Introducing others to the addiction, he proceeded to give my parents the DVD of the first season as a gift, resulting in their not leaving the house for one long, lost weekend.

At any rate, here's a hilarious site that all you insane "24" fans will love: Behold the Jacktracker.

Controlling the Weather, Too?

Who knew -- Steven Spielberg's Munich may have been underperforming because Charles Krauthammer and other political pundits didn't like it -- at least according to this laughable story in today's LA Times.

What power, what power. Suffice it to say that if left-liberal movies could be effectively "swift-boated" (as the Times story elegantly terms it), there would be a significantly diminished menu of movies for Americans to see.

No, the problem with "Munich" is its refusal to take a stand and defend it; instead, it hides behind a cowardly rationale revealed to Time by Spielberg himself:

A response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual motion machine…. There's been a quagmire of blood for blood for many decades in that region. Where does it end?

So all acts of violence are created equal? Hunting down and killing Al Qaeda members is just as heinous as flying a planeload of people into a skyscraper? Assassinating murderers with the blood of innocent Israeli Olympic athletes on their hands is as immoral as murdering the athletes themselves?

That kind of moral obtuseness that characterizes "Hollywood chic" might have been overlooked back in pre-9/11 days, but it doesn't cut it now. Yes, it shows up among media elites in all areas -- a key example, today, was Wolf Blitzer's refusal to call Harry Belafonte on some absolutely insane remarks about Jews and the Holocaust (as Hugh Hewitt has noted -- audio at Radioblogger), but that doesn't make it right, or palatable.

One of the responsibilities of human beings, who have been given free will and a moral compass, is to know right from wrong, and be willing to defend the right and condemn the wrong. Spielberg characterizes the film as "a series of structured arguments between the members of the Mossad teams that reflects different points of view and allows you to choose the one that more easily fits how you see the conflict." What that really means is that it's too cowardly or too morally corroded either to take a point of view -- or to know that in a circumstance like this, morall relativism is hideously inappropriate and downright wrong.

When some of the most educated and privileged members of a free society's media refuse either to recognize or confront evil when they are presented with it, they have fully earned the disdain of their fellows -- and a lack of viewership.

Good Job, Senate Judiciary Dems!

Wonder what Teddy, Joe and Pat think of this: In the wake of their grilling of Judge Alito, support for his confirmation has actually risen slightly among Americans.

Pull Up a Chair, Pop Up the Corn

Iraqi rebel terrorists and Al Qaeda terrorists are killing each other in Iraq.

Sit back and enjoy.

Just One Big Game

While the pure souls in the press are worrying themselves sick over Jack Abramoff scandal, it's worth noting that there are plenty of close, cozy back-scratching relationships among the punditeratti.

Prime example? Tim Russert's friendly interview with James Carville, coyly alluding to a new project of Carville's, which turns out to be an XM sports radio show with none other than . . . Luke Russert, Tim's son! Note that the relationship was never disclosed to the viewing audience.

I don't agree with Arianna Huffington on many subjects, but for the most part, she's dead on right here.

An "Unnecessary Distraction"

Here is a piece that will come in handy the next time some lefty tries to argue that the Iraq war is breaking the US bank.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"The Negro Project"

Here, LaShawn Barber traces the racist and eugenicist roots of the "pro-choice" organization Planned Parenthood.

Check out LaShawn's blog here.

Toensing on "Terrorists on Tap"

Here is an incredibly important article by Victoria Toensing, who has worked with the FISA law and can explain why the Democrats' demagoguery on the NSA wiretaps is so pernicious.

It's a must-read AND a clip-and-save.

Threading the Needle

As this piece points out, it's going to be interesting to see how Barack Obama threads the needle: Serving as the Democrats' designated Beltway hitter on corruption issues, while avoiding the endemic Democratic corruption in the city of Chicago.

What a Loser

John Kerry is a terrible loser -- and a deeply dishonest man. Here, it's reported that he characterized the NSA wiretapping program as "clearly illegal."

The truth is that -- whatever one's beliefs about the wiretapping -- there's only one thing that's NOT clear: Whether the program is illegal.

How fortunate America is that Kerry didn't win last year.

Like a Puppet

Michael Goodwin points out the Democrats' petty cynicism and political backside-covering in their plan to try to make a campaign issue of Judge Alito's decisiosn on the Supreme Court.

As far as I'm concerned, what's new? The Democrats have politicized the judiciary for a long time now. Isn't this just the latest pathetic chapter?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Skunk at the Garden Party

Dan Gerstein is a former staffer to Senator Joe Lieberman, and he tries to talk sense to the Democratic base about the Alito nomination. Good luck to him. The email he's going to get will make Deborah Howell's look like valentines.

A Little Defensive?

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell was embroiled in controversy last week when her comments that Abramoff clients and associates gave money to both Democrats and Republicans elicited such a vituperative reaction from left-wing readers that the WaPo had to shut down comments to the piece.

This week, she's back and sounding a little defensive.

Lest any other disgruntled lefties take umbrage, she clarifies: It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms.

She's also nervous about The Post's decision to shut down her site:

I didn't ask to shut down an area reserved for comments about me, as it did on Thursday night. And I know the decision is being greeted with great disdain.

Well. The Post did the right thing in shutting down the site. There are some kinds of comments that have little inherent value, and the Post isn't obligated to provide a forum for written abuse and slurs.

But what's interesting that The Washington Post had to shut down its site over tirades that -- judging from those quoted in the linked piece -- are pretty mild compared to the comments and emails I receive when I post over at the Huffington Post. It's about time that those on the center-left, like Howell, understood the kind of crazy vituperation that has, increasingly, become an acceptable modus operandi on the left. She writes:

[I]t is profoundly distressing if political discourse has sunk to a level where abusive name-calling and the crudest of sexual language are the norm, where facts have no place in an argument. This unbounded, unreasoning rage is not going to help this newspaper, this country or democracy.

It's the impotent rage of those locked out of power. But it is unacceptable -- and it's about time somebody said so. If Republicans wrote in with similar rage whenever they believed they were being treated unfairly, there wouldn't be an invective free comments site on any major newspaper in America.

Shameful Hypocrite

What kind of American left-wing author is proud to have his book praised by Osama Bin Laden, who inspired the most devastating terrorist attack in American history?

Tells you all you need to know about the radical left in this country. Apparently, he's "glad" because book sales are skyrocketing as a result. What happened to all those glorious left-wing anti-capitalist ideals?

The Party of Ideas

Read Karl Rove's speech to the RNC. No wonder Democrats had hoped so desperately for a "Fitzmas" gift.

Dinner at The White House

Here's an interesting story.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Two Smart Pundits, Two Different Views

Both Real Clear Politics' John McIntyre and John Podhoretz are very smart conservative pundits.

Interestingly, they come to opposite conclusions about the impact of Hillary Clinton's "plantation" remark. McIntyre thinks it was a potentially disastrous mistake; Podhoretz believes there was method behind the seeming madness.

One point about McIntyre's analysis:

The more we see of Monday’s Hillary Clinton, the more I return to the analysis that her chances of winning in a general election are low (without a significant third party candidate) simply because she probably starts with 40% of the voting public saying ‘NO.’

This seems highly plausible to me. But note the important qualification -- "without a significant third party candidate." That's key, and that's why the Republicans have to be very, very careful about how they handle the illegal immigration issue. The last thing they need is a third party Tancredo-type popping up to throw New Mexico and other close states to someone like Hillary Clinton.

The Problem with Agenda Television

Here we read that ratings for "Commander in Chief" -- the Geena Davis show about the first female president -- are falling, amid speculation about why: Is it changes in the show's behind the scenes team? Scheduling? What's going on?

Here's the problem -- and it has nothing to do with viewers "losing" the show during its break, or the switch to Steven Bochco. It's the fact that "Commander in Chief" is too deeply invested in being "agenda television."

What makes a television character interesting? Flaws, foibles, quirks. But those creating "Commander in Chief" are so solidly behind the concept of a female president -- and obviously so afraid of being condemned for political incorrectness -- that they've created a prototype who does nothing but speak powerfully, stride masterfully, decide decisively, swat down sexism powerfully, maintain control at all times, etc. etc. etc. Portraying her any other way might -- heaven forbid! -- play into gender stereotypes about women . . . and we can't have that, can we (especially with Hillary Clinton planning a run in 2008)?

But paragons (and paper cut outs) are boring. Here's what would make "Commander in Chief" interesting: Learning about how the female President quells an impulse to cry (or maybe even embarasses herself by doing so). Seeing less of her emerging triumphant at the end of each show, after withstanding clearly outrageous and gratuitous attacks from either foreign enemies or domestic political adversaries. Watching her make a mistake and cope with it. Fewer storylines that leave her as the victim of circumstances created by some clearly dislikable "other" (be it North Korea, the Speaker of the House, or her children).

But "Commander in Chief" can't afford to take those risks. It has too much invested in bolstering the concept of female president-hood. It has an agenda. And therein lies its problem.

It's Not "All About Arnold"

This story outlines the dispiriting efforts of Arnold Schwarzenegger to hold onto his Republican (donor) base even as he kisses up to the Democrats in Sacramento.

Of course it's disappointing that the governor has veered to the left. Of course it's pathetic that someone who's supposed to be so tough is so easily swayed from his reform course by one bad outcome.

But at the heart of Arnold's problems is this: He has lost our trust. Many center-right Republicans who supported Arnold Schwarzenegger did so because we believed that despite our disagreements on social issues, he was (1) a fiscal conservative and (2) genuinely committed to the reforms he was talking about -- because there was no other reason for a rich and famous movie star (who couldn't ascend to any higher office) to bother to go to Sacramento.

His recent proposals demonstrate that he is hardly a fiscal conservative. And his willingness to change course radically, on a dime, suggests that the reforms couldn't have meant that much to him -- and couldn't have been the motivating factor in his decision to seek the governorship. More and more, it seems that perhaps the governor wanted to be governor for some kind of weird ego-gratification (which, given the slings and arrows of modern politics, is never a reliable plan).

At this point, one sad fact seems clear: Arnold Schwarzenegger's behavior demonstrates that he believes that the most important thing isn't the principles he spent the last year touting (now, he characterizes the whole election as a "mistake." Memo to those who contributed to and/or worked for it: Oopsie!).

Rather, what matters most for him is being "successful" -- in some definition of the word. If he can't be a reformer, what the heck -- he'll be a builder! Yeah, that's the ticket! As long as he's doing something "big" that will make him look like a "winner" of some sort, and help position him to argue that he should be reelected -- well, who really cares about the pesky details?

As the Governor embarks on the newest phase of his ego-gratification tour, he seems to have forgotten: It's not all about you. It's supposed to be all about California, and what's really right for the state and its people. That doesn't include an unconditional surrender to the forces that won last November.

Hillary and the Left

Read this piece by Molly Ivins. I find her writing somewhat crass and inelegant, but this column explains why Hillary Clinton might have felt the need to shore up her base among African-Americans by making the "plantation" remark earlier in the week. That's because, in her race to the middle, she's losing the educated left-wing white feminist vote, represented by women like (you guessed it!) Molly Ivins.

Ivins also provides a perfect picture of the thinking that will drive Democrats off the left-hand cliff. I'm not sure what polling she's looking at -- but Republicans should be so lucky as to be able to face a candidate running on the Ivins agenda. Well, a girl can hope . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Remembering the Gipper

January 20, 1981:

Morning in America!

The Wall Street Journal praises Reaganomics in a piece for its January 20 edition -- precisely twenty-five years to the day of President Reagan's first inauguration.

I remember it well. What an exciting day for a 13 year old! A wonderful new president welcoming home the hostages -- and turning the heat back up in The White House.

From the day Ronald Reagan took over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it was clear that better times were ahead for the country he loved so dearly. And as the linked piece notes, his legacy is with us still -- and, hopefully, always.

Here is one of my favorite parts of President Reagan's inaugural address:

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter—and they are on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals and families whose taxes support the Government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

The entire text is here. God bless President Reagan.

Politicians and Journalists . . .

It's hard to find any class of people that elicits even less sympathy than big-spending, high-living politicians. But somehow, in an op/ed today, The Los Angeles Times does the impossible.

Here's the quote:

Maybe [members of Congress] can even take a lesson from a profession that ranks a few rungs higher, according to opinion polls, in terms of honesty: Journalistic ethics preclude Los Angeles Times reporters from taking money from private industry to fly across the country to do their reporting. Surely members of Congress can live up to the same standards that we abide by.

Ah, the sanctimony. Shouldn't we all aspire to be as ethical as the journalists. . .

Or perhaps not. There's plenty to say about the very pressing need for reform on Capitol Hill. But there is at least one check on politicians that journalists completely lack: Accountability.

The point was driven home by Hugh Hewitt's interview (transcript over at Radioblogger) of CNN's Ed Henry. He simply refused to answer the questions -- whether about the quality of CNN's Alito coverage in certain instances or even about his own political leanings. He concluded the interview by hanging up on the air.

Certainly a politician would never do that -- because he realizes that he works for a constituency that won't tolerate that kind of arrogance. Journalists like to act as though they work for the "public," but their immediate employers are almost monolithically liberal "elites," who demonstrate in practice (if not in theory) their contempt for the public.

Like most journalists, Ed Henry is deeply invested in the myth of journalistic objectivity, which is why he refuses to disclose his political leanings. There's a reason that journalists are so deeply invested in the pretense of objectivity, as I noted here.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Here's the text of the Osama bin Laden message.

Contrary to all OBL's spin, things probably aren't looking too pretty from the vantage point of his cave. How do we know? Simple: When you're winning, you don't offer a truce.

And when you're winning, you certainly don't accept.

It's All a Matter of Priorities

While Republicans are focusing on this, Democrats are gleefully pointing to this (although it's largely irrelevant to the nub of the wiretapping argument for reasons laid out here and here).

Keep it up, Democrats. We appreciate your honesty about what really matters to you.

Read the Barrett Report

If, as Robert Novak reports, any member of Congress can obtain and read the unredacted Barrett Report, it's hard to believe someone won't do so -- especially with Hillary Clinton tossing around words like "corrupt" about the House of Representatives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Obama's Rescue Attempt

So Barack Obama is defending Hillary Clinton's plantation remark.

Barack's a smart guy, who -- despite his personal very-left politics -- understands the importance of maintaining his viability "within the system." No better way to stay "viable" as a potential VP than to defend the woman who might well be at the top of the ticket, especially given that Barack, as the sole black senator, is in a unique position to do so.

Being as intelligent as he is -- and determined to appeal to the middle -- he understood that the most effective way to defuse the much-deserved outcry over the needlessly inflammatory (even race-baiting remarks) was to try to eliminate any racial overtones. Hence his assertion that the simile merely referred to a "consolidation of power."

Nice try, but sorry. Hillary is many things, but "at a loss for words" isn't one of them. If she had meant "consolidation of power," she would have said (you guessed it!) "consolidation of power." And even if -- even if -- Barack Obama's excuse for Hillary's behavior was actually the truth, it would mean that she has the most terrible political judgment of all time: After all, who uses racialist language to make a simple point?

The fact is that it was MLK Day and Hillary was trying to ensure that she won't lose one of her primary power bases, i.e. among African-Americans. It was a shameless bit of pandering, and that's about all.

Comments Function Operating?

Readers Jim and Kirk emailed me to let me know that the comments function on the blog wasn't operating. Thanks for keeping me posted -- here's hoping that Blogger has the problem worked out soon!

Just to keep you in the loop, Jim from Minneapolis sent the following comment about the "Grey Lady" post below (sorry - intra-blog links aren't working either!):

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, workers routinely were told to work for weeks or even months without pay, on the grounds that the money just wasn’t coming in, but their efforts were needed. Here, this would be grounds for a huge strike or worse. Out there, this was just accepted as we accept a recession or weather calamity or somesuch.

It did inspire a common musing among workers: “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” I keep coming back to that zinger when I think of the Times: They pretend to inform me, and I pretend to be informed by them. They pretend to care what I think, and I pretend to care what they think. MoDo pretends to think she’s witty (how scary is it if she’s not pretending?!) and some of us pretend that her opinion means . . . something.

In college and some years ago, this was true. Today on my end, pretensions have been ceased for some time. For years now, I haven’t been informed by them and I don’t care what they think. I used to care, but thanks to their heroic efforts, those days are long gone.

I'm sure Jim isn't alone in that opinion!

"Marriage and Caste"

Kay Hymowitz has an invaluable article in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal. At the nub of the piece is this conclusion:

[T]he Marriage Gap [women at lower income and educational levels are more likely to bear children out of wedlock than more educated women with more resources] —and the [social and economic] inequality to which it is tied—is self-perpetuating. A low-income single mother, unprepared to carry out The Mission [of rearing children educated and nurtured to take a place in the middle class or above], is more likely to raise children who will become low-income single parents, who will pass that legacy on to their children, and so on down the line.

The piece has a fascinating explication of why's and wherefore's -- it's a must-read. The big question, though, is how to reverse this trend of childbearing before marriage.

And the answer is through socialization. It's amazing that in an era when birth control is omnipresent, out of wedlock births are higher than ever. But the answer is attributable to the fact that it's no longer socially disgraceful to bear children without benefit of marriage. And that's because we live in an age where there's really only one big sin: "Judging."

And it's too bad. Our reluctance to exercise judgment about those who "choose" a lifestyle of unwed motherhood doesn't just hurt the unwed mothers -- it also hurts their children, who didn't choose to grow up without fathers. If our culture collectively can decide that smoking is wrong, and obesity is an undesirable condition, can't we decide that premarital sex (or premarital sex without birth control) is also wrong, and unwed motherhood an undesirable condition?

As Kay Hymowitz points out, educated and middle-class (or higher) women largely wed before bearing children. It's the women least equipped to raise children on their own who are most likely to be doing so. And that's why I dislike "celebrities" like Katie Holmes and Madonna and Angelina Jolie "choosing" to become pregnant before marriage. It glamorizes a lifestyle that is deeply and truly pernicious to the well-being of other children -- whose mothers don't have large disposable incomes and retinues of servants -- who become caught in a sad cycle.

No one is suggesting a return to the days when single mothers were ostracised and personally demeaned. But a cultural consensus that celebrating out of wedlock births is wrong would be a fine first step. And social attitudes can be changed -- it was just about 15 years ago that Dan Quayle was ridiculed for asserting the centrality of fathers to a child's optimal development . . . which is today's conventional wisdom.

The Lame Grey Lady

Start out with John Stossel, who has some harsh truths about government schools but then don't miss Thomas Lifson's piece blowing holes in The New York Times' pretensions to high-mindedness.

The Times, in fact, isn't allowing mail to its "star columnists" now behind a pay-to-read wall unless the writer is, in fact, a subscriber. Hm. I thought that newspapers were supposed to be a considered a "public good" -- that's why reporters supposedly deserve a special privilege to protect their sources, etc. etc. Well, apparently, the "public good" of its op/ed pages doesn't extend to the reader who might buy a copy on the street and then decide to write in.

The fact is that The Times is finding a way to make money in a world increasingly dominated by the internet. Fair enough. But then it shouldn't take a stance of such preening moral superiority over other business, who are trying to do the same thing. And if the chase for the almighty dollar interfered with another business' "core mission," the Times would be the first to complain.

"Great newspapers" (and their writers) have an obligation to listen, even to those who don't agree with (or, heaven forbid, subscribe to) them. But then, I think many would agree that The Times hasn't been a "great paper" for some time now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sounds Good in the Fever Swamp . . .

This. And this. And this, too.

Do the Democrats understand how crazy their rhetoric sounds, and how much it hurts their political cause? obviously not.

Marcus Lost in 100-Acre Wood

Employing cutesy allusions to Winnie the Pooh, The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus purports to be puzzled . . . unclear about Judge Alito's (and Chief Justice Robert's) "underlying worldview, judicial philosophy and constitutional vision."

What exactly is it that she wants to know that she's not hearing? Like Dianne Feinstein (and Tom Coburn), for her is it all about "feelings -- nothing more than feelings"?

Judge Alito's worldview is pretty clear -- didn't Marcus listen to his opening statement? And the man has 15 years of opinions -- 15 years!. With a little study, it's not too difficult to understand his "judicial philosophy" and "constitutional vision." But Marcus apparently wants to turn confirmation hearings into a gathering reminiscent of graduate-student all night bull-sessions. No thanks.

She concludes with this howler: What has been so disappointing about the nominees' testimony is their unwillingness to engage in this discussion in an honest, meaningful way.

Yes -- the behavior of Senate Judiciary Democrats, starting with Teddy Kennedy's in 1987 -- has been nothing if not conducive to "honest, meaningful" testimony, hasn't it? Let's see, the last nominee to try that was . . . Robert Bork.

If Ruth Marcus believes that any Republican would be well-served by trying to meet her standard, she must believe in heffalumps, too.

Passing the Laugh Test

Fox News just reported that Hillary Clinton, in a speech yesterday, had attacked the Bush Administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill for "corruption, cronyism and incompetence."

Careful in that glass house, senator. Don't forget that your husband ran one of the most corrupt admninistrations in American history. And that includes the travel office debacle, where career government employees were fired and smeared so that your husband's cousin (and others) could have cushy government jobs. Sounds a lot like cronyism to me. As for incompetence, one needs only a few words. "Osama Bin Laden, silver platter, aspirin factor" -- all come to mind.

What's more pernicious even is her characterization of the House of Representatives as a "plantation" -- nothing like a little race-baiting on MLK day.

It's interesting: When HRC gets in front of a friendly crowd, she can't control herself. The carefully constructed facade of moderation falls away. No one can mistake her for a leader who's trying to be a "united, not a divider" though.

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Blog of Daniel" : A Joke?

This piece in the Washington Times refers to a blog that has been established by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.. That diocese has apparently decided that "The Book of Daniel" presents an opportunity for evangelism. Here is the blog.

My views on the ridiculous "Book of Daniel" have already been well-aired. I think it's a disgrace. But setting that aside, help me understand. Seeing a crisis ridden Episcopal priest with a tragi-comically dysfunctional family, hanging around with a hippy Jesus, is supposed to bring people into the Episcopal Church -- how, exactly?

The blog itself exemplifies everything that's wrong with the Episcopal Church today. It's nothing more than a series of political cheap shots: Take, for example, this recent entry -- "AFA: What you should watch, how you should think" -- attacking the piece in the Washington Times to which I've linked above. Read it yourself and see if you think that the incendiary blog headline is accurate (and appropriate).

Here's the sad truth: For too many dioceses, the Episcopal Church today is marked by two main characteristics: (1) An intolerant contempt for those of a traditionalist mind; and (2) A compulsion to fight political battles, with no regard whatseover for matters of the spirit -- which should be, I believe, churches' primary concern.

In any case, it's pretty clear that Episcopalians like me aren't welcome in the Diocese of Washington, as we're unwelcome so many places in the Church today. So much for all that liberal respect for tolerance and free-thinking. The message most Episcopal churches seem to send today is this: No conservatives need apply.

Don't believe me? Check out this note on the site: Coming soon, the story of the attack on the Episcopal Church, and the secular right wing foundations that fund it. This is on the official blog for the diocese of Washington, D.C., mind you.

Let's put it this way: The primary attack on the Episcopal Church isn't coming from "secular right wing foundation[s]." It's coming from radicals who intend to take over the Church for their own political ends, whatever the spiritual (and temporal) price. And whatever the price, ultimately, to the Church itself.

Shadegg for Majority Leader

As someone who came up in Missouri Republican politics, it's painful not to be pressing for Roy Blunt's elevation to House Majority Leader.

But as Robert Novak points out, both Blunt and John Boehner of Ohio carry baggage that is destructive -- not only for their own ambitions -- but for the collective goals of House Republicans and Republicans generally.

Hugh Hewitt interviewed John Shadegg today on his radio show (full transcript at Radioblogger), and I liked what I heard.

Shadegg's the guy.

Curtains for Al Qaeda?

Weekly Column

My weekly column deplores the fact that some parents are, apparently, taking their children to horror films, like the grisly sadistic sexual torture flick "Hostel." Exposing children to those images is child abuse, plan and simple.

More on the Barrett Report

Here is a piece on the Barrett Report, dealing with the investigation of President Clinton's HUD secretary, Henry Cisneros, and allegations that substantial wrongdoing was covered up and further investigation prevented by the Clinton Justice Department (headed, as we know, by a hopelessly incompetent puppet, Janet Reno).

Before Republicans become too enthused by the whiff of scandal in the air, it's worth noting that the piece states that a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered portions of the report to be redacted. It's not clear why, or what this means -- but it may suggest that there are, objectively, some problems with the report or the investigation.

The fact is that the judge for whom I clerked, Judge David B. Sentelle, has for years (since I was clerking there, in fact) been the head judge of this independent counsel panel -- and he is a man of integrity and a straight shooter (appointed by Ronald Reagan). He would not be ordering parts of the report redacted unless there was, potentially, a problem with them. He's certainly not a man to aid, abet or even tolerate some Clinton White House coverup.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

On Project Prevent

Here's the story. Apparently, a group is paying drug addicts so that they will either voluntarily undergo sterilization or take long-term birth control measures.

I'm not sure about the former -- seems to me that sterilization is an awfully permanent measure, especially when you're dealing with a population whose capacity for reasoning could be impaired, and their decisions therefore not entirely volitional.

But the long term birth control idea is, I think, quite different. Think of the poor little babies born to drug addicted mothers, who may suffer the consequences through impaired capacities and nonexistent mothering.

For those who protest it's a violation of the drug addicts' rights, I say: How? They are voluntarily submitting to a temporary condition that ensures that the misery they've chosen to inflict upon themselves isn't transmitted to a small, innocent creature.

Lots to Talk About Tonight on KABC

I'm scheduled to be on KABC this evening from 6:00 until 9:00 pm. We'll be covering lots of topics -- from Kate O'Beirne and "Women Who Make the World Worse" to Project Prevent to attitudes toward the overweight to the repulsiveness of Hostel.

And in honor of Martin Luther King Day (and John McWhorter's magnificent appearance this morning on "Meet the Press"), we'll be talking about the pernicious effects of rap music.

Tune in to AM 790 KABC to hear it all!

Putting the Dems in Their Place

One of the greatest misfortunes one could possibly incur is to attract the humorous eye and sharp pen of Mark Steyn through one's buffoonish behavior. The Senate Judiciary Democrats were so unfortunate as to merit his attention through their behavior last week.

And over at the Real Clear Politics blog, Tom Bevan points out that very few of last week's self-righteous interrogators could pass muster for a Supreme Court seat themselves -- not just intellectually speaking.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Open Thread -- First Time

My brilliant reader Kirk suggested that we give an open thread a try. Here you are, commenters -- go to it if you want to!

"Manhating and Manchasing"

That's how Mona Charen characterizes the central paradox of the feminist movement in this piece discussing Kate O'Beirne's new book "Women Who Make the World Worse".

Tune in -- I'll be talking to Kate in the 6:00 hour tomorrow night on Talk Radio 790 KABC.

Corruption in D.C.

The incomparable Jack Kelly points out that -- irony of ironies! -- the renegade Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle may have done Republicans a great favor by helping them remove Tom DeLay from his leadership post with a minimum of internecine warfare.

What's more, Kelly tells the truth about Washington: The crime isn't what's illegal, it's what's legal.

For my part, I don't totally fault DeLay and other Republicans for having worked to turn K Street (home of lobbyists) from a Democratic to a Republican bastion. Dems can cry all they want about the allegedly unenlightened voters in Kansas who are supposedly acting contrary to their own best interests, but it's always seemed irrational to me that companies would want to support (through their lobbyists or otherwise) a party that wants nothing more than to impose ever-increasing amounts of taxes and regulations upon them. Nonetheless, the K Street community was dominated by Democrats at least through 1995.

As for the K Street project overall, Republican success at infiltrating and "flipping" the lobbyist community -- insofar as it removed a key Democratic power bastion -- no doubt has been a key element in Republicans hanging on to Congress for the past 12 years. And the Democrats still have the Washington press corps on their side . . .

But again, the fact is that the best answer is to devolve power from Washington back to the states. The problem is that it's a strategy that few Washington politicians who intend to make a career inside the beltway are likely to embrace. Which is why, as Kelly points out, we still need term limits, perhaps now more than ever.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reform, Not Retrenchment

I'm in full support of the effort being spearheaded by NZ Bear for transparency, openness and accountability in the House of Representatives majority leader elections -- and generally.

A Helpful Shorthand

Hugh Hewitt has developed an wonderfully helpful shorthand for understanding the judicial approach of the Supreme Court justices, based on the role that "theist" and "majoritarian" principles play in their jurisprudence -- and its relationship to the scent of panic emanating from the left. Check it out.

The Death of Borking?

Daniel Henninger believes that when the Concerned Alumni of Princeton papers came up with nary a mention of Sam Alito, it marked the end of the era of Borking -- or at least of effective Borking.

I'm not so sure. Democrats will continue to "Bork" until they have some other, more effective way to defeat Republican nominees, and as Mr. Henninger himself points out, their lack of aptitude at both con law and interrogation seems to suggest that day is nowhere near.

Until then, every fair-minded person will simply have to hope that other nominees are like Sam Alito -- in that there are so indisputably personally and professionally qualified (and the trumped up charges against them so patently false) that the attempted Borking is revealed for the pathetic maneuver that it is.

Saddam's Ties to Terror

[F]rom 1999 through 2002, "elite Iraqi military units" trained roughly 8,000 terrorists at three different camps--in Samarra and Ramadi in the Sunni Triangle, as well as at Salman Pak, where American forces in 2003 found the fuselage of an aircraft that might have been used for training. Many of the trainees were drawn from North African terror groups with close ties to al Qaeda, including Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army.

So reports Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, as set forth in this piece from The Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tomorrow's (Happy) Headlines Tonight!

The Washington Post tips the Democrats off: It's over. Put a fork in 'em -- they're done.

Now that's a piece for Judge Alito to tuck under his pillow tonight. Sweet dreams -- oh, and lights out for the Dems, too.

Perhaps Senator John Cornyn put it best. The ugly attacks on a good and qualified nominee "got as much traction as bald tires on an icy road."

Fat Lady's Warming Up

Judge Alito did a magnificent job. His colleagues on the bench, left and right, praised him (although precious few of the Senate Judiciary Democrats who had spent the past four days sliming him stuck around to hear it), and things look good.

The winds of change are set to blow . . .

Joe Biden, Time Traveler

Hugh Hewitt's at it again -- much to Joe Biden's detriment. At7:13 a.m. this morning on "Good Morning America" , "Slow Joe" criticized Judge Alito's allegedly incomplete and insufficient answer to a question he didn't end up asking the judge until 10:25 a.m. -- three hours later.

All the sordid details (and time-stamps) at Radioblogger.

Harsh, But True

Over at, a non-political website that generally provides satirical summaries of current news stories, a reader provides a thumbnail sketch of a story about Teddy Kennedy and Sam Alito as follows:

The senator who let a girl drown in his car is asking Alito a lot of questions about matters involving the Concerned Alumni of Princeton that are 20 to 33 years in the past.

Yes, it's crudely put, but it's accurate.

The "Risk" Of Martha Alito?

Joan Venocchi, writing in The Boston Globe, drops a remarkably clueless and snide comment into a peevish piece that generally denounces the questions poorly posed and windy questions from the Democrats and the "sickening sycophancy" of the Republicans:

The risk of wife-as-prop was demonstrated yesterday. Mrs. Alito broke down in tears and left the hearing when the going got rough.

Hm. Apparently, in Ms. Venocchi's world, a wife would attend her husband's hearings to sit on the Supreme Court only as a "prop." Couldn't she be engaged, interested, even vested in the outcome? How demeaning to assume otherwise. How . . . how . . anti-feminist. And what is the problem women like Ms. Venocchi apparently have with being, as she characterizes it earlier, "a loyal wife"?

And it seems to me that if there is any "risk" that Mrs. Alito's abrupt departure poses, it's exclusive to the Democrats -- as it underscored the mean-spirited, bullying tactics that have been their only consistent strategy over the past three days.

Why So Hard to Understand?

Senator Feinstein is quizzing President Bush about the President's "plenary powers" (she considerately defined the word for him in the course of her question). She's obviously trying to elicit a comment on the wiretapping controversy.

What is so difficult to understand? The President is obligated to follow the law, unless the law is unconstitutional. A law would be unconstitutional if it infringes upon the constitutionally-bestowed powers of the President. Is any particular law unconstitutional? Can't answer -- that's a question that might come before the Court.

That's all there is to say.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Why the Hysteria?

Earlier this evening, I appeared as a guest on The Al Rantel Show on Talk Radio 790 KABC in Los Angeles.

Al asked a provocative question: Why do Democrats become so unhinged over Republican presidents' Supreme Court nominations, while Republicans treat liberal nominees like Justices Ginsburg and Breyer with courtesy and restraint?

To me, the answer seems pretty straightforward: Despite their protestations to the contrary (and their pretensions to representing "ordinary people"), Democrats know that their agenda (especially their stands on social issues) have limited popular appeal in general, and especially in an era where both the executive and legislative branches are dominated by Republicans, at least on the federal level. They are therefore dependent on the courts -- not only to advance their agenda, but even (at least in their minds) to prevent its roll-back. Hence the hysteria. Is there any Democrat, even, who would dispute this analysis?

And, of course, there are the special interest groups that must be appeased.

Spinning the Polls

A Los Angeles Times news analysis by Ron Brownstein contains the following language:

Two new national surveys found that about half of Americans backed Alito's confirmation. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey released Monday, 49% said they supported his confirmation, 30% said they opposed it and 21% were uncertain; an ABC/Washington Post survey released Monday recorded similar results. In both surveys, Alito's support was slightly lower than the level recorded for Roberts as his hearings began in September.

Oh, really? Was Ron Brownstein referring to this ABC/WPost poll? ABC's coverage of it reads a little differently:

Overall, 53 percent of Americans support Alito's confirmation while 27 percent oppose oppose it, with 20 percent undecided. Views haven't changed substantially since President Bush nominated Alito in late October. In terms of public sentiment, he's in about the same position as John Roberts was at the opening of his hearings to become chief justice.

What a difference the reporting can make. Because the ABC/WPost poll could pretty accurately be read to conclude that "Americans favor Alito's confirmation by a margin of 2:1." Pretty different than the impression left by asserting that "about half of Americans backed Alito's confirmation."

They Should Be Ashamed

Hope the Senate Judiciary Democrats are proud of themselves -- their ugly and baseless attacks apparently pushed Mrs. Alito to tears. As a rule, I'm not sympathetic to women who cry in public. But hearing one's husband's reputation trashed and his character disparaged by bullies like Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer et al. for three days is enough to make any loving wife cry -- there's nothing worse than having to stand by when someone you love is unjustifiably attacked, especially by a moral giant like Ted Kennedy of Chappaquiddick.

A Crying Shame

In today's L.A. Times, Stephen Dujack laments his removal from the Democratic anti-Alito witness list, comparing the debacle to an episode of "Friends."

Really, I think he's right. Dujack sounds like a member of the left in good standing, and the American people deserve to hear what he has to say. Return him to the witness list! Please. Please. Please.

A Brief Detour . . .

The incredibly smart political analyst Michael Barone doesn't disappoint with this column about the blogosphere's influence on politics. He concludes:

So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.

And, as usual, he's absolutely right.

It's also worth wondering how much of the Republicans' good fortune is owed to timing. The blogosphere first came into its own during the Bush presidency and in an age of Republican political dominance. Certainly, the MSM would always be in the cross hairs of the blogosphere's right side, but it's possible that -- had Clinton been in office and Democrats controlling the Congress when blogs first blossomed -- the blogosphere's impact could have been precisely the opposite, in political terms. Ah, the blessing of timing.

Old Days . . .

Back in my days on The Daily Princetonian, every afternoon there would be "budget," i.e., a meeting of the editors to finalize the content of the following day's paper.

In light of this, can you imagine the glee at yesterday's meeting? (Assuming they still follow the old procedure in the computer age, of course!).

Looking Mighty Fine in That Cap, Senator!

Q: What happens to a Princeton baseball hat when Joe Biden wears it?

A: It turns into a dunce cap.


Obviously stung by the laughter that his antics yesterday elicited, at about 2:15 eastern, Joe Biden attempted to reconcile his conflicting statements about Princeton -- and then topped it off by actually putting on a Princeton cap. Oh my.

To his credit, Judge Alito merely smiled, instead of bursting into hoots of derisive mirth. Talk about self-discipline!

And this guy is taken seriously as a potential Democratic presidential contender?!

But Enough About Me, Judge; What Do You Think About Me?

Even The New York Times is making fun of the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That's gotta hurt. (HT: Commenter ELarson).

A Few Observations

(1) Senator Durbin engaged in a colloquy with Judge Alito about whether Roe v. Wade is "settled law." The inquiry about "settled law" is a little bit like the famous "do you love me?" question, i.e., if you have to ask, you've already got a pretty good suspicion about what the answer is.

It's natural that Durbin would want Alito to sign on to the "Roe=settled" law equation (as, in fairness, Chief Justice Roberts did). But the fact that Durbin wants the admission so badly indicates that, in fact, Roe isn't "settled law," at least in the sense of being effectively immune from reexamination in the way that Brown v. Board of Education or some similar precedent is.

(2) What is Senator Coburn thinking? He has succumbed to the deplorable Dianne Feinstein-style "machisma" (a term coined by David Gelertner in a now-unavailable LA Times column) -- asking Judge Alito about his "heart." One would expect better from a Republican, both on common sense grounds (we're not about "emotion-driven" judging, which implies a results-orientation, and hence the question is irrelevant) and for practical reasons (very few nominees could answer such a question without either sounding like heartless automatons, on the one hand, or simpering emotional idiots on the other).

(3) In an entertaining display of senatorial ego, how amusing was Senator Specter's obvious pique at the Supreme Court's alleged penchant for treating the Congress like "schoolchildren"? Perhaps he understands now how normal Americans feel when courts (state or federal) overturn initiatives that have won majority support from the voters weighing in on them.

More on CAP

Judge Andrew Napolitano, a founder of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, has just clarified on the Fox News Channel that CAP's "principal thrust" was to "assure that ROTC remained on the Princeton campus and assuring that Princeton alums with traditional values had a voice."

This is completely consistent with my recollections of the organization, at least circa 1985.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

DiFi: Speak for Yourself, Please

Kate O'Beirne points out that, contrary to her declarations, Dianne Feinstein does not, in fact, speak for all women.

This isn't the first time Senator Feinstein has peddled this malarkey. It happened during the John Roberts hearings, too, when I objected to it heartily.

A Little Fun With Buffoon Biden

It's not even a fair fight. On his radio show, Hugh Hewitt is playing clips of Joe Biden. This morning, as you'll recall, Biden noted that he "didn't even like Princeton" -- that "all kidding aside, I wasn't a big Princeton fan." Well, apparently he was singing a very different tune a couple of years ago when he made a speech at Ol' Nassau.

It's priceless -- and Radioblogger has the audio. On the Princeton campus, Biden babbles on, extolling the virtues of a "magnificently attractive, intellectually and physically beautiful young girl," and then noting that he would have been "worried" if his son hadn't been "interested." Treading pretty close to that "homophobic" line, aren't we, Senator Biden?

Would this be considered one of the "sophisticated" forms of discrimination you were decrying this morning?