Friday, July 29, 2005

Go ahead and ask

That's Andrew McCarthy's take on asking nominees what they think of specific Supreme Court cases:
Roe is a transcendent decision. Far more than abortion, it is about defining the judicial task itself. Why should we be offended by a “litmus test” about such a thing? President Bush promised to appoint judges who would interpret the law as it was enacted and would not see their role as inventing (and, more importantly, imposing) new law — a job that belongs to the political branches who are directly accountable to voters. By that standard, Roe is a litmus test. Or at least it should be.
Maybe he's right, but it's still against the rules of ethics to answer.

A few scattered thoughts:

What better way is there to gauge a judge's judicial philosophy than by asking him to critique a decision that is highly controversial.

The theory for not answering is that it would intrude on a judge's independent judgment by trying to bind him or her to a specific ruling, but suppose Roberts told them he believed that Roe was controlling precedent and couldn't be challenged, as he did when he was in consideration for the D. C. Circuit. What could anybody do if he went ahead and voted to overturn it? They might accuse him of perjury, but he can always say that his views had "evolved," and how could they prove otherwise?

In a sense, blocking nominee to the Supreme Court with a filibuster is as dishonest and contrary to protecting and upholding the constitution as lying to the Senate would be, if it's done to prevent them from from blocking you unconstitutionally.

The problem with all of this is more of the same point I've made before, that the Supreme Court shouldn't subject itself, or nominees for judicial positions, to the indignities of a mudslinging political campaign for office. Having done so with decisions like Roe, don't they have an obligation to correct their errors by reinstating judicial restraint?

Refusing to answer such questions, as Justice Ginsburg did, is somewhat like taking the Fifth. Everybody assumes that you're guilty of something. If you don't have to answer the questions at all, why should you have to answer them truthfully?

The difficulty this presents is that while debating the jurisprudence of such decisions would be healthy, having to deal with the kind of attacks that Judge Bork and Judge Thomas suffered makes it just more trouble than it's worth to hand them a reason to attack you with falsehoods and irrelevancies. The groups who fund the Democrats on matters like abortion have no ethical limits. It's no hold barred for them, which is why they wanted the Court to remove these issues from the purview of legislatures in the first place. They don't care about democracy, just getting their own way.

The more I think about this the more I agree with McCarthy:
If you think Roe is good law, if you think it was well reasoned, if you think it reached the correct result, then you are basically saying that you think it is proper for a handful of lawyers, bereft of compelling precedent, and without competence in dynamic and relevant disciplines like medical technology (while unable institutionally to become competent by holding hearings like Congress does), to impose their policy preferences on the American people, and thus insulate those policy preferences from the democratic process.

Unfortunately, opportunity for reasoned debate on Roe has been overwhelmed by the disingenuous rights-rhetoric of the Left, abetted by the Right’s self-defeating complicity. In the current clime, saying “I think Roe was incorrectly decided,” reduces the declarant to a caricature Cro-Magnon who would have “women forced into back-alley abortions,” as Senator Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) slanderously said of Judge Robert Bork nearly two decades ago.
So why don't Republicans take this nonsense head on and have the debate? 1) They believe in obeying the ethics rules. 2) They don't believe that such litmus tests should be part of the confirmation process, and they don't want to put judges they admire through this kind of smearing and attacks on their religion and their families. Yes, we should have the debate, but should we dump the whole thing onto the shoulders on a single nominee?

More sophistry from the left

This time it's about the military. If you have a draft, it's immoral; if you don't, the volunteers are mercenaries, Hessians and "the wrong Army". Of course, those complaints come from people who have no interest in maintaining a standing military.

Having lost the election on the illegal war issue, they are now painting this as the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

Calling Woodward/Bernstein Wannabe's

I've always thought that a lot of people went into journalism following Watergate because of the image of Woodward and Bernstein as tough, crusading reporters who took the scalp of a sitting president.
Well, it helped that there was truth to be discovered, as contrasted with the current Plame-Wilson-Rove hysteria. That's why the Monica Lewinsky story would not go away. Like Watergate, Clinton's denials and attempts to cover up his behavior made it much worse than it had to be.

But there's a fresh scandal that the MSM and enterprising reporters, other than Claudia Rosett, are ignoring. It's call the U.N. Oil-for-Food-Program. It's replete with international bureaucrats caught with their hands in the till, but the crusaders of the left, like the WaPo and NYTimes don't seem to notice.


And if that doesn't interest them, how about the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club/Air America connection? It involves celebrities, poor kids, government funding and fishy loans. Where are the Mike Isakoffs, Woodward himself, or David Gregory? Here's a curious statement from Air America which begs more questions than it answers:
The funding for Camp Air America was raised and collected entirely by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, and Air America promoted the camp on air and urged support for it. A link on our web site sent those interested in contributing to the camp to the Gloria Wise web site. Regrettably, the camp did not survive the closure of the Gloria Wise organization.
So was the "on air" promotion of this club an advertising sale or just sharing funds of a charitable organization with a commercial one. I'm sure most liberals think of Air America as a public service, but I doubt that the IRS would.

The Mainstream

I don't claim to be part of the mainstream of American opinion. I'm LDS, after all. But I don't understand where liberals get off criticizing anybody, like Bush or John Roberts, of being "out of the mainstream." Most of the people who say such things know nothing about the people of this country except for those in New York, Washington, San Francisco and L.A. For Barbara Boxer or Ted Kennedy to pontificate about someone being out of the mainstream, has no equal in the annals of hypocrisy.

The new argument is that a judicial nominee who is "out of the mainstream" justifies a filibuster. If that is true, then a filibuster by Democrats to preclude giving him a floor vote, deserves a ruling from the chair. The mere fact that there are sufficient votes to confirm him shows that this is a silly argument. But it's one that typifies discussion on the left, where it seems that slogans and talking points pass take the place of facts.


I'm trying to figure out the relevancy of memos written during the Reagan administration. Ted Kennedy says the memos that haven't been released are "vital" to evaluate Roberts. How does he know whether they are or not if he hasn't seen them?

Here's an idea. Just ask for all material that will make it harder to get him confirmed. Since all the Dems are really interested in finding some dirt to throw at him, why not just admit it and ask for it. No matter what they claim, the real reason they're sputtering is that they're opposed to him because Bush nominated him. That's all any of their contributors really need. The problem with it is that it makes them look like what they are, hypocrites. Fox had a clip this evening of Ted Kennedy when his hair was black and his voice was higher opining that the Senate had no business asking nominees about specific cases or issues that are likely to come before the nominee if he/she is confirmed.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some clues for the MSM

Glenn notes some good media criticism from Nicholas Kristoff, of all people. It really is spot on. If they want to enhance their image, they should take all the people who are busy right now trying to pin a federal crime on Karl Rove and send them to report from Darfur, Congo, Syria, Iran or North Korea. Show us what courageous, tough reporters really look like. Oh, and no living in the only decent hotel in the country and parroting what your government minder feeds you.

Yank all those jerks at the White House, and make them go do some real reporting instead of practicing amateur cross examination on Scott McClellan. Real reporters don't write the story first and then go try to badger public officials into to giving it substance. You want to badger someone? Go badger some Muslim Imam who's preaching jihad to teenagers! How about giving us some real news about what's going on in the mosques of the U.S.?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Suicide Bombers

From time to time someone suggests that the term "suicide bomber" is inaccurate and suggests something else. There is an ongoing debate as to whether the term "terrorist" is unfair and biased, because "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," as assinine a statement as I've ever heard. Terrorism is the attempt of a group without the numbers or weaponry to conduct normal warfare to achieve political goals by committing violent atrocities against civilians and non-combatants. How is this a biased term? Or does Reuters or the BBC mean to suggest that terrorism is a valid way to fight a war?

Some might say that General Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas was terrorism, but it wasn't. He did not kill civilians or even fight battles unless there was an army opposing him. I suppose that the firebombing of northern German cities in WWII or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, could be called a form of terrorism, especially the former which seems to have been driven by the British demand for vengeance for the earlier bombing of London by the Nazis, earlier. In any event, these examples were part of a declared war and served a purpose of bringing the war home to the populations of the countries which began the war, and may have saved lives by breaking the will of the enemy to continue to fight.

Terrorism is conducted, not for any effective military reason, but merely to incite fear among the citizens of a country you don't have the military strength to fight in the open. It's tied to publicity as well. It has its own logic, and sometimes it works, as in the case of the Madrid bombings. Anybody who thinks about it, should realize that, like hostage taking, you can't really make peace with terrorists. Giving in to their demands rewards their tactics and invites more of the same.

As for the Palestinian and other "martyrs," I would adopt the term "Palestinian Land Mines" or "PLMs." The reason is that it expresses the way these foolish young people are used by those who recruit them and illustrates how they have been depersonalized by the architects of terrorism. It also indicates that the causes that motivate these people can't or won't promise them anything to look forward to. They don't do this for freedom or democracy. They blow themselves up in order to kill people they don't know, merely because they are Jews or Non-Muslims, in the belief that doing so will earn them a privileged place in the afterlife. Every religion has had martyrs, but real martyrs earn that status by standing up for their beliefs even in the face of death, not by murdering others, but by accepting death rather than deny their faith. The doctrine of Takia in Islam excuses any believer for lying in order to escape persecution. A true martyr seals his testimony with his blood. A person who kills himself in an attack on unsuspecting non-combatants isn't testifying to anything except the emptiness of his life and faith.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Good Question

In a commentary in The WSJ (requires subscription), Ahmed H. Al-Rahim, an Iraqi-American asks "Why Not a 'Million Muslim March'?"

I don't think most Muslims understand how non-Muslims feel. They say that they oppose terrorists' violence, but that doesn't do away with the image of celebrating Palestinians following the 9/11 attacks, nor do they condede Israel's right to exist, which is pretty much an acknowledgment that they support suicide bombings in Israel.

Congressman Tancredo has suggested that if the terrorists were to use a nuclear weapon against us, we should "take out" their holy sites, which could only make matters worse. He has a lot of support, if the callers and emailers to Hugh Hewitt are any indication. It isn't enough to complain that Muslims are being unfairly attacked, when all most Americans know about Islam is that the suicide bombers around the world are all Muslim radicals.

A lot of people feel that the Catholic Church hasn't done enough to distance itself from the pedophile scandals, too. But at least there are prosecutions and lawsuits to resort to. The difference is that Islam has no world headquarters and no priesthood or center which speaks for all Muslims. You can't sure Saudi Arabia merely because the killers are from that country originally. But with the bombings in London, a lot of westerners are running short on patience.

The shooting of a young man in London after he ran from police wearing a bulky coat in warm weather has met with some criticism but not as much as I would have expected a few years ago. This kid may not have been part of the terrorist group, or he might have been sent out just to alarm people and cause this kind of incident. In any case, when the police tell you to stop and you fit the profile of a bomber, you should stop, because they aren't going to want to risk a lot of other lives by not stopping you. Besides, as we see day after day, human life, even Muslim life, doesn't seem to mean much to the people who perpetrate these attacks.

The Brits know that this is war and will fight it like one. America still seems in doubt about that in our own country. The ball is in the court of true peace-loving Muslims to demonstrate whose side they are on in all this. I think most Americans want to believe that they aren't like these terrorists, but they're going to have to present more proof.

Update: Hugh Hewitt had Mr. Hussam Ayloush on again today. He's been getting some grief for giving this guy air time to promote CAIR. I don't see it that way. I find this "You're violating my rights!" stuff from Muslims in this country pretty repellent. They don't seem to understand the nature of the problem they have in convincing others that they're loyal Americans, when they seem to get their ideas of what that means from people like Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky. Most Americans think of loyal Americans as proponents of democracy and freedom. That's why we've always sided with Israel against the dictatorships and fascists in the area who keep demanding its destruction. But when you put that question to people from CAIR, they get uncomfortable and try to change the subject. What do they think is responsible for the backwardness of Arab nations vis a vis the West and Israel? If you cling to the idea of a theocratic system where clerics, whose only authority after all comes from being "scholars" and "holy men," not by any sort of right recognized by God, you're unlikely to have the invention, initiative, creativity and debate that makes a dynamic society and economic and cultural growth.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The smoking gun?

As the rest of the left is casting around for something to attack John Roberts for, Robin Givhan launches the first assault by criticizing the way Mrs. Roberts dressed her kids to go to the White House. Lileks duly screeds her. I only know about this column and the one she wrote about Condoleeza Rice, so maybe she isn't really the shallow twit she appears to be. I know women think about this stuff, but putting cattiness in writing seems beneath the dignity of a paper like the WaPo. She should be writing for The Onion. At least that way people could appreciate her style if not her ideas.