Friday, November 21, 2003

The Speeches Not Given. At the JFK Library, and posted on-line, we can see the two Presidential speeches that John Fitzgeral Kennedy was going to give, had he not been felled by an assassin’s bullet.

The first was an address at the Trade Mart in Dallas.

He began with JFK realism that rings across the decades and rebukes many today: "There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable." He then moved to the focal point of the address
I want to discuss with you today the status of our strength and our security because this question clearly calls for the most responsible qualities of leadership and the most enlightened products of scholarship. For this Nation's strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained. There are many kinds of strength and no one kind will suffice. Overwhelming nuclear strength cannot stop a guerrilla war. Formal pacts of alliance cannot stop internal subversion. Displays of material wealth cannot stop the disillusionment of diplomats subjected to discrimination.

Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.

I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere--it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall's speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe--it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.
His speech continues, addressing the realities face by the US in 1963 -- please read it for the specific details.

I am quoting extensive portions to show that JFK established a doctrine of freedom for all in the world that continues unabated to this day and the Bush presidency. Was this said by Kennedy on that day or Bush last week:
Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.

That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions--it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations--it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We in this country, in this generation, are--by destiny rather than choice--the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: 'except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'
Students of JFK know it is his speech, but it easily could be George W. Bush.

The second was an address to a political convention, showing the progress his administration had made on his goals:
  • We pledged to increase America's strength against its enemies, its prestige among its friends, and the opportunities it offered to its citizens. Those pledges have been fulfilled.
  • ...I pledged . . . to restore world confidence in the vitality and energy of American society. That pledge has been fulfilled. We have won the respect of allies and adversaries alike through our determined stand on behalf of freedom around the world, from West Berlin to Southeast Asia--through our resistance to Communist intervention in the Congo and Communist missiles in Cuba-- . . . America . . . has shown that it cares about the needy of its own and other lands, . . . America . . . has shown that freedom is the way to the future, . . . America . . . is known to be first in the effort for peace as well as preparedness.
  • I pledged . . . that the businessmen of this State and Nation--particularly the small businessman who is the backbone of our economy--would move ahead as our economy moved ahead. That pledge has been fulfilled. Business profits--having risen 43 percent in 2 years--now stand at a record high; and businessmen all over America are grateful for liberalized depreciation for the investment tax credit, and for our programs to increase their markets at home as well as abroad. We have proposed a massive tax reduction . . .
  • I pledged . . .that this country would no longer tolerate the lowest rate of economic growth of any major industrialized nation in the world. That pledge has been and is being fulfilled. In less than 3 years our national output will shortly have risen by a record $100 billion--industrial production is Up 22 percent, personal income is up 16 percent. And the Wall Street Journal pointed out a short time ago that the United States now leads most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits. . .
  • . . .I pledged . . . to build a national defense which was second to none--a position I said, which is not "first, but," not "first, if," not "first, when," but first--period. That pledge has been fulfilled. In the past 3 years we have increased our defense budget by over 20 percent; increased the program for acquisition of Polaris submarines from 24 to 41; increased our Minuteman missile purchase program by more than 75 percent; doubled the number of strategic bombers and missiles on alert; doubled the number of nuclear weapons available in the strategic alert forces; increased the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe by 60 percent; added 5 combat ready divisions and 5 tactical fighter wings to our Armed Forces; increased our strategic airlift capabilities by 75 percent; and increased our special counter-insurgency forces by 600 percent. We can truly say today, with pride in our voices and peace in our hearts, that the defensive forces of the United States are, without a doubt, the most powerful and resourceful forces anywhere in the world.
  • (emphasis added -- hard to believe this was before a Democratic political convention.)

    The following was to be his concluding remarks to this convention. Perhaps we should remember this as his farewell address:
    For this country is moving and it must not stop. It cannot stop. For this is a time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed., to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

    So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future--and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.

    Thursday, November 20, 2003

    Plano East. Okay, I've been hearing about this for the past week and a half, but wanted to wait until I saw confirmation. There will be a conference held in Woodbridge on January 9 and 10, 2004, to follow up on the developments with respect to the confessing movement in the Episcopal social club (I can't call it a "church"). From the announcement:
    The American Anglican Council's historic conference in Dallas, Texas (known as the'"Plano" conference) was a powerful and uplifting experience of the Church, bold in standing for Jesus Christ and alive in the Spirit for the work of mission. It strengthened, encouraged and challenged all who attended.

    The AAC Chapters in Virginia and Washington would like to provide a similar experience for faithful Episcopalians in our region. But while the Plano conference looked ahead to the emergency meeting of the Primates and possible realignment of the Anglican Communion, we now find ourselves facing the reality of realignment. At the "Plano-East" conference, key leaders of the AAC will inform us of the latest developments nationally and internationally, inspire us with biblical teaching and preaching, and challenge us to go forth to fulfill the Church's mission.
    Details are here. Also, just to make it clear, I don't have any "inside information" on this -- I haven't been holding back or anything -- the only reason I knew about this is because my oldest daughter will be involved in the worship.
    a much younger, much thinner Stanley CohenBush 2004. Coming back from Portland last month, I had the "pleasure" of flying on the same plane with attorney Stanley L. Cohen, who was finishing his defense of the Portland Seven. (They were the rag-tag group of Islamofacists who were attempting to go to Afghanistan to fight the United States.) For the record, it should be noted that Mr. Cohen, a defender of the oppressed, flew first class. (Is it any surprise?)

    Before boarding the plane, another passenger handed Mr. Cohen an anti-Bush, anti-Ashcroft political drawing. At this Mr. Cohen seemed to think he was being asked to get on a soapbox (I'm not sure why -- we were all just the passengers in the waiting area -- no news media were around) and loudly proclaimed that if George Bush won re-election in 2004, he was moving to Canada.

    As though it would be a great loss to this country.

    Too bad these guys never go through with their promises.
    Roe, the Sequel. From today's Wall Street Journal:
    Antonin Scalia was right after all. And we don't mean his prediction that the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision this year throwing out a Texas sodomy law would quickly become a vehicle for gay marriage -- which came true this week courtesy of a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision.

    We mean Justice Scalia's far more prophetic dissent a few years back in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Though that case involved abortion, Mr. Scalia's larger point was about the culture wars that were unleashed on the body politic the last time our judiciary presumed to "settle" a contentious social issue that properly rests with the people's elected representatives.

    "By foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses," he wrote, "by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish." That is one legacy of Roe v. Wade.

    We were reminded of this by Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall's 4-3 majority opinion this week defining marriage as an "evolving paradigm" and declaring there exists no "constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples." Can anyone doubt that the Massachusetts High Court has started another Thirty Years War?

    So let's be clear. Notwithstanding headlines trumpeting that Massachusetts has just opted for gay marriage, the people of that commonwealth did no such thing. It is four liberal judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court who, egged on by well-connected and politically powerful gay rights activists, have imposed their own moral values on the rest of its citizens.

    This is no coincidence. Despite Justice Marshall's solemn talk about an "evolving paradigm," most gay rights champions don't believe Americans have evolved that much. And they know they'd have an almost impossible time getting this new "paradigm" past most state legislatures. In other words, it's precisely the American public whom they most fear and whose voice they want to keep out of this process.

    So they've done what liberals so often do: Provoke some state court decisions in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will finally do the legislating for them. This sure beats having to persuade your fellow Americans through democratic debate. Did we mention that Justice Marshall's very first legal citation, in the second paragraph of her decision, is Lawrence?

    The tragedy here is that the first casualty of an all-or-nothing court clash over "rights" is any kind of reasoned debate or workable social consensus. American attitudes toward homosexuality are plainly changing, and many companies, including the one we work for, already extend full benefits to same-sex partners. We believe that this signals most Americans are at least open to persuasion about increasing the rights of gay Americans, including but not limited to marriage.

    But what the Massachusetts High Court gave America in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health is not an argument, much less an open debate. It is instead a unilateral declaration that the assumptions and values that have defined one of civilization's oldest and most vital institutions -- marriage -- should be tossed out the window. And if you don't agree they're going to force it on you anyway.

    Millions of Americans who have other views are not going to accept this moral diktat, and so once again our politics will be polarized by the cultural furies. When the fighting starts, let's all be clear about who fired the first shot.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    Seabury. After my erroneous posting about Samuel Seabury, below, the web-elves of CANN redeemed me through this posting. (I meant to mention the elves magic earlier, but got side-tracked by the four horsemen from Massachusetts.)
    More on the Mass. Suicide. In his comments to one of the postings from yesterday, Peter writes, in part (read his whole comment, please):
    If there is no compelling state interest in restricting marriage to an adult male and an adult female, there is none in prohibiting polygamy, marrying minors, etc. In that case, why not do away with civil marriage all together? If it means nothing more than property distribution, spousal privilege in court and tax return status. Why not replace civil marriages with private contracts between persons and get the state out of it altogether? A husband and wife can have a civil contract and be joined by Holy Matrimony. I dare say Holy Matrimony means a lot more to most couples than a license from the State. If all the "unchurched" that show up before the altar to get married is any guide.
    Sorry, I meant to cut off the quote at the "etc" (which I "bolded") -- but his entire point was so good, I couldn't cut it off.

    Peter is absolutely correct in this point -- under the Massachusetts majority opinion, there is now no justification in barring polygamous or incestuous marriages. Eugene Volokh, a tentative supporter of same-sex marriage (although, I gather an opponent of having it judicially mandated) makes this point very clearly:
    The court reasons that "the right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one's choice," but while it qualifies this as "subject to appropriate government restrictions in the interests of public health, safety, and welfare," it's far from clear that a court would find that "health, safety, and welfare" would be hurt by adult polygamous marriages (assuming all existing partners in the marriage consent to the addition of another). Likewise for adult brother-sister marriages; as I mentioned several months ago, I think the genetic harm argument doesn't really work here -- after all, we don't generally ban marriages between people who have serious genetic diseases, even if the odds of a defect in their children are much higher than for brother-sister marriages.

    Similarly, the court rejects the government's "foster the best environment for raising children" argument by saying that "It cannot be rational under our laws, and indeed it is not permitted, to penalize children by depriving them of State benefits because the State disapproves of their parents' sexual orientation." Seems to apply equally to children of polygamous marriages or of incestuous marriages. In fact, why isn't the desire to have multiple committed lifelong partners, or to have a relationship with one's sibling itself a "sexual orientation"?
    As they say, please read the whole thing here.

    In another post, Prof. Volokh also makes the point that's maddening to those of us who take what would seem to be the middle-road of having supported anti-discrimination legislation, now having it been turned back against us:
    So the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision allowing homosexual marriage partly relied on the passage of that very antidiscrimination statute. Unless the court's argument was just makeweight (possible, but the court must have at least thought that the point would be persuasive to some readers, or else it wouldn't have included it), passage of the employment discrimination bill did take another step down the slope towards homosexual marriage, in the sense that it did make homosexual marriage more plausible.
    Again, please read his whole essay.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Amend It. Today, looking at the Mass. Court decision, Senator John Cornyn said he is
    concerned that Goodridge, coupled with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, raises serious questions regarding the future of both the family and the traditional definition of marriage throughout America as embodied in [the Defense of Marriage Act ]. The question now is whether the popular and bipartisan legislation will remain the law of the land as the people intend, or be overturned by the courts.

    In light of these and other articulated concerns about the legal protection of the state of marriage, we believe it is important to consider what steps, up to and including a constitutional amendment, are now needed to protect and safeguard marriage.
    I have long resisted constitutional amendments, but I think it's time. It is apparent that a thin majority of judges on a small number of courts have an extreme agenda they are trying to cram through. It's time to amend the constitution and put these renegade judges in their place.

    Three partners. This statement, by the majority in the Massachusetts case struck a raw nerve with me, because it's very similar to something our minister said in his wedding sermon:
    In a real sense, there are three partners to every civil marriage: two willing spouses and an approving State.
    In our wedding sermon, our pastor, Renny Scott, advised us that
    There are three involved in every marriage, the Bride, the Groom, and their God.
    My god is God, not the state, Mr. Chief Justice.
    More on MA. With respect to the Massachusetts case, Jack asks:
    I'm not a legal eagle, but what kind of polity is it where a court however Supreme can tell an elected legislature what to do? And, what if, rather than do what the MA Court has ordered, the legislature were to clearly define marriage as heterosexual, and to specifically deny the issuance of licenses to same sex couples? Not that that is likely to occur in MA, but it would be a lot of fun to watch.
    On the first question, it's surprising what courts can do -- run prison systems, run school districts, and even, courtesy of Missouri v. Jenkins, 495 U.S. 33 (1990), raise taxes. But, it should be pointed out, this first question is in response to my first post (now struck out and amended, below) where I stated the court was requiring the legislature to take action. I was wrong. The court is staying it's own decree to give the legislature time to act.

    On the second question -- it's do-able, but you don't want to anger the gods, err, judges.

    In Virginia, as in many other states, same-sex marriage is prohibited by law. Not in Massachusetts, apparently.

    The majority opinion (i.e. four judges) indicate the court was asked to re-construe "marriage" as something different, but (it seems to me) decided not to do so in order that it could address the "right to marry" question:
    The plaintiffs argue that because nothing in that licensing law specifically prohibits marriages between persons of the same sex, we may interpret the statute to permit "qualified same sex couples" to obtain marriage licenses, thereby avoiding the question whether the law is constitutional. . . .This claim lacks merit.

    We interpret statutes to carry out the Legislature's intent, determined by the words of a statute interpreted according to "the ordinary and approved usage of the language." . . . The everyday meaning of "marriage" is "[t]he legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife," Black's Law Dictionary 986 (7th ed. 1999), and the plaintiffs do not argue that the term "marriage" has ever had a different meaning under Massachusetts law. . . . This definition of marriage, as both the department and the Superior Court judge point out, derives from the common law. . . Far from being ambiguous, the undefined word "marriage," as used in G. L. c. 207, confirms the General Court's intent to hew to the term's common-law and quotidian meaning concerning the genders of the marriage partners.
    (citations omitted).

    The majority decided "Without the right to marry -- or more properly, the right to choose to marry -- one is excluded from the full range of human experience and denied full protection of the laws for one's 'avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship.'" The chief justice, for the majority, later writes "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family -- these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights..."

    The CJ decides to employ, surprisingly enough, the "rational basis test," which is the lower standard in these type of cases (in other words, if the government shows that there is some rational basis for the challenged action, the action will stand). The CJ then says that he doesn't understand any of the rationales put forth, so this must be wrong: "The marriage ban works a deep and scarring hardship on a very real segment of the community for no rational reason. The absence of any reasonable relationship between, on the one hand, an absolute disqualification of same-sex couples who wish to enter into civil marriage and, on the other, protection of public health, safety, or general welfare, suggests that the marriage restriction is rooted in persistent prejudices against persons who are (or who are believed to be) homosexual."

    As I said below, look for an amendment to the state constitution.
    Decision. Mass. Supremes find bar on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and require legislature to act. First AP story.

    Opinion Here. Close case: 4-3. The Court is requiring the state legislature to re-enact legislation in a shorter time (180 days as opposed to, by my count, 259 days) than it took to decide this case. remanding the case to the lower court and requiring it to act. It is also staying its decree for 180 days to give the legislature time to act.

    I suspect we will see a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts defining marriage as between a man and woman only.
    D-Day in Massachusetts. I just checked the Massachusetts Supreme Court website -- today will be the decision day for the Goodrich case: the case where a number of persons are seeking to have same-sex marriages declared a right.

    The decision will be available after 10 in Massachusetts.

    Monday, November 17, 2003

    My Fantasy. Last week Mark Byron touched off, oh, shall we describe it as a wee bit o' controversy? when he described his "fantasy" involving the death of 21 Senators. This prompted Peter Sean Bradley to whimsically note his fantasy:
    my "dark thoughts" involve a rifle with a sniper scope, a time machine and Germany in 1517.
    Can I tell you my fantasy? (Don't worry, it's completely "G" -rated: I'm so clueless that last week when I overheard some folks taking about Paris Hilton, I thought they meant a hotel -- only after watching football on Fox yesterday did I learn this refers to an acerebral human being.)

    I'd love to have a time machine to go back to this moment:
    [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
    "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to preach good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
    Every time I hear that passage read, it sends chills up my spine.

    If I couldn't go back that far in time, send me back to when I was 18, so I could show myself what happens if I don't lay off the onion rings.
    Guilty. No surprise, John Muhammad has been found guilty. Now starts the penalty phase. I expect a death sentence.

    The Lee Boyd Malvo case should be interesting. When I saw the make-up of the jury, I thought it strongly favored the defense and thought he could go free. But then I remembered that this one is being prosecuted by Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., a local legend.

    I think you'll see Malvo convicted -- but he won't get the death penalty. The defense, by building up the "insanity defense" will be laying a large foundation of mitigating circumstances that will be successful before this jury.
    Will the Gentleman who stopped and spoke with me immediately after church on Sunday please send me an e-mail or leave me a comment? I didn't get your name and I feel terrible about that.
    Big boo-boo. I really goofed last Friday picking up the words of Samuel Seabury's grandson, Samuel Seabury, and attributing them to Samuel Seabury. Thank you to all those commenting for clarifying this. This is one of many reasons I love the comment feature and encourage you to use it. I try not to make mistakes but do.

    What really bugs me is there was a clear clue in that first sermon that should've tipped me off. As James Manley noted "Rome did not adopt the Immaculate Conception of Mary until 1854, long after the first Samuel Seabury died." I knew that -- I should've picked up on that and looked at the date of the sermon. For some reason, when I did look at the date of the sermon I transposed the "1874" at the top to what I expected: "1784." I then compounded my error by using it to assume (and confirm my own bias) that Seabury was commenting on a recent devolopment in the Church of Rome relating to Mary, instead of the ex cathedra pronouncement of Mary's Immaculate Conception.

    Sunday, November 16, 2003

    Blanco. The WaPo can be such a parody of itself: "...Kathleen Blanco...won a tightly contested election for Louisiana's governor...breaking a 130-year lock by white males on the job....She defeated Republican Bobby Jindal, a brown-skinned 32-year-old son of immigrants from India."

    Who knows what the factors were in this race. My own anecdotal thoughts (based on talking to one person from La) is that the "Republican" tag is still more of a factor in that state than either "brown-skinned" or "female." Possibly of equal weight is "cajun" as opposed to "immigrant."