Saturday, January 26, 2002

To do list. I still need to get a set of links pasted here and do a separate "all about me" page -- I always enjoy those.
I'm a Lumberjack. And that's okay... I've got seven trees in the backyard to take care of. I should use my father-in-law's chain saw, but I need the exercise. So that's what I'll be doing today -- high's in the 60's and sunny. Six of the trees are pine, soft wood, so it won't be too bad. See you later.
Final Four. I like the Steelers and the Rams tomorrow. Yes, they're safe picks, but they're right. It would be kind of fun to see a Philaburgh superbowl. I'll be rooting for the Steelers all the way (Real Men Wear Black), but I think the Rams look unstoppable.

Friday, January 25, 2002

Hotchpot. An item on yesterday's Best of the Web (Village Idiot Economics) had this statement "Enron cooked the books to hide the fact that it didn't reap the profits it was claiming." Which got me wondering, does that mean that Enron paid taxes on fictious profits? If so, does that mean the feds should give money back to the stockholders and creditors? (Of course, the feds, that's all of us, will pay for it -- so the point is moot.)
No joking matter. I was going to say something about maybe the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which is looking for a correct, supportive bishop, could pickup Cardinal Law, but after reading this, there's no joke here. Law should step down and find a monestary. He's become the Ken Lay of the Church of Rome.

Update The new bishop is John B. Chane, a disciple of former Bishop John S. Spong (noteworthy for denying the resurrection). However, critics of the new theology are wrong when they claim these bishops and ministers jettison the notion of sin. Rev. Chane is on record as calling utility rates in California "immoral." (see the Post article, linked above.) What I find interesting is how white the Episcopal hierarchy continues to be in this majority black city. It has been over a dozen years since Bishop John T. Walker (not to be confused with Sulayman al-Lindh) passed away and the white stranglehold continues. Where are Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson when we really need them?
Big Time. Cool! I got a note on Instapundit. Thank you Doc Reynolds -- I'll consider your comments and think more on Kass. I'm planning on doing some Kass reading this weekend.
Supreme Partisanship. [substantially modified -- i.e. expanded, pasted cites, etc.] Former Judge (and Clinton attorney) Abner Mikva writes today in the Washington Post that Congress should not fill any Supreme Court vacancies until after the next presidential election. (Really!) The jist of his argument is that we have an activist court and Bush really lost the election. Of course, Abner was a very partisan congressman who was appointed to the bench by Jimmy Carter when it was apparent he was going to lose his seat. Nevertheless, (and without revisiting Bush v. Gore) he misrepresents the current court's decisions. He might be able to do this in an op-ed, but if he tried it in court, he would find his head on a charger. In particular, he has three examples:

  • It has imposed limits on what areas Congress can regulate.
  • It has cut back substantially on any affirmative action programs that government agencies can conduct, even when legislatively authorized.
  • And doubt continues to fester on whether the Constitution guarantees a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

I don't think Judge Mikva, in the first item, is referring to the Court's decision, to strike down 18 U.S.C. § 3501, an act of Congress which modified the Warren Court's decision in the famous Miranda v. Arizona case. (Can't you just see Abner gnashing his teeth about 'that activist Rehnquist' on that one!) No, the good Judge is referring to cases like US v. Lopez and US v. Morrison, in which the Court told Congress, in effect, "nice try" creating no gun zones around schools and civil remedies for criminal acts and claiming these things are interstate commerce.

Abner! It's not the Court that created the limits on what the Congress can regulate -- it is the Constitution! Now I know that you may disagree with the notion that "Congress shall make no law..." or "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" (the 'and we really mean it' clause), but that does not give you the power to ignore them.

This is the kind of thing we heard in the 1950's and 1960's. Pretty soon, Abner and his crowd will be posting "Impeach William Rehnquist" billboards.

Similarly, the court has held that affirmative action plans must follow the Constitution's protections (remember "equal protection?"). It's really that simple.

And leave aside the lack of any textual grounding for the right to an abortion, where's your proof, Abner, of the Court's willingness to overturn Roe? The last cases involving abortion that I recall, were the ones that said a state could not protect a viable fetus if the mother was determined to abort it (June 2000) and the one that said the Freedom of Speech does not apply in a zone around an abortion facility (1997).

Finally, he relies on the rankest, skankiest hearsay ("There was gossip..." he breathlessly begins) as one of his bases for denying the President the right to appoint a justice. What else can you tell us, Abner, off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush, of course.

An aside: I wonder if the Justices had gone a different direction in Nguyen v. INS (Congress may distinguish between children born of a citizen mother as opposed to being sired by a citizen father), Judge Mikva would consider that activist.

Update: Yes, I'm ignoring University of Alabama v. Garrett

Also, don't misconstrue me and think that I might disagree with the Judge on some of these issues -- we might be in agreement on many of these, I just have a problem with cutting down the law to get at the devil. The constitution limits the powers of Congress, whether it's passing 'liberal' or 'conservative' legislation. If you want to pigeon-hole me, think of Frankfurter (just remember Felix was a genius and I'm a, well you know the title of this blog).

And one more thing... Mikva is just revisiting an idea first floated by Bruce Ackerman. For a nice, short, rejection of the idea that Bush v. Gore was partisan and illegitimate, see this essay by James L. Huffman.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Devil's advocate. Looks like Ed Meece and Jerry Falwell were right about the ACLU.
Guilt Free Stem Cells? The primary objection I have to stem cell research is the destruction of a human life. Frankly, I just can't understand the proponents willingness to overlook this basic problem. Now, however, there appears to be some good news on the horizon, in that New Scientist and others are reporting the ability to extract stem cells from adult bone marrow. If so, you will see a major (the major) objection disappear. Stay tuned.

Update. This is kind of strange -- most of the stories I've seen, like on Eureka alert, are duplicates of the New Scientist story. It seems that the Boston Globe and the BBC are the only ones, so far, with original reporting. There are a few press releases on Yahoo, including a strongly supportive one from the Christian Medical Association. I thought maybe I missed something in this morning's Washington Post, so I did an internet search and came up with nothing. Maybe this is under a limited embargo. I think this is big news.

Iain Murray of The Edge of England's Sword (cool title) passes along a earlier story from Michael Fumento along the same lines. Maybe I'm wrong, but I still think this is a major tipping point. If we can get stem cells from bone marrow, and don't need fetal tissue, then I think you'll see a large block move from opponents to proponents. Will current stem-cell proponents be willing to go along with a ban on the use of fetal tissue if we can get cells from consenting adults?
Some Articles from the Great White North. Look here for a good analysis of the Lord of the Rings, and here for a introduction to Tolkien companion Charles Williams. Finally, here is one critics list of top ten albums for 2001, in the contemporary Christian genre. [But the list omits both U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind and Daniel Amos' Mr. Buechner's Dream.]
Lawless Bureaucrats. An op-ed by Kimberly Strassel in today's WSJ on-line notes the case of the federal agents, employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who falsified evidence to serve a hard-left agenda. One hears about this thing from time-to-time, most recently (and egregiously), the forensic scientist in Oklahoma who falsified evidence in criminal cases. However, this involves seven individuals acting in concert.

Strassel writes "What's needed is a thorough housecleaning." Amen, sister. While you don't find me often agreeing with WSJ editorialists, this is so evident to those of us who toil for your Uncle Sam. Dubya has been president for over a year now and there are agencies, small and large, still operating with appointees from the prior administration. I know of others in other places who just shake their heads at what some of the Clintonistas are still doing -- promulgating policies, letting contracts, imposing penalties, etc. in total disregard for the law or even fairness. The thing you have to remember is that the actions of these lawless few reflect poorly on all of us who do serve. We work hard and faithfully. I carry out the laws I disagree with, or think are mistaken, regardless. And many [most -- probably over 90%] others do so as well. I work with people who think Jesse Jackson is too conservative and others who think Jesse Helms is too liberal (okay, maybe an exageration, but you get the idea), and we all carry out laws faithfully despite our own ideology. Yet, these few lawless employees allow us all to be painted with the same brush.

Ultimately, however, it is the responsiblity of the person at the top to take action. You've been in office for a year now, Mr. Bush, fill those vacancies.
Tolkien. With the release of the Fellowship of the Rings movie, there has been a resurgence of interest in J.R.R. Tolkien's work. There are many articles on line that should not be missed. Here are two. First, Finding God in the Lord of the Rings. Second, Terry Mattingly on Heeding Tolkien's words.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Reynolds v. Kass Bioethics. Glenn Reynolds, of incomparable Instapundit fame, has a good column up with advice to the President's Council on Bioethics. I have some strong objections to Reynolds views on human experimentation, which I'll get to at another time. For now, my objection is to Reynolds framing the issue as being Leon Kass' objection to science that works. Except for the frankenfood loons, I don't know of anyone who objects to science that works, and I think Reynolds is distorting the issue.
Raiders. As you may know, I'm a die-hard Raider fan. So what about the game Saturday -- conspiracy? the interests of Satan?
USA Today notes:

In back-to-back playoff games against AFC East representatives, Raiders opponents had one penalty — the Patriots got it for interfering with a fair catch. Otherwise, there were 271 plays from scrimmage and Raiders opponents never were guilty of a rules violation. That's pretty damning evidence but it is strictly circumstantial. The Raiders only had nine penalties for 96 yards themselves. One thing has become eminently clear about NFL playoff football. Word has come down from on high not to nit-pick when it comes to throwing flags. The football public knows and accepts that. What may make the outcome of the Brady call so galling is this:
If the league doesn't want to nit-pick, why did it have to go deep into the rule book, all the way down to Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2
[wps: actually, it is Note 2] to reverse a call that — according to a poll of fans — 70% of the public thought was patently obvious ... that it was a fumble. . . . Arcane interpretations will continue to haunt the league. But where the league DOES continue to try to "get it right" they will continue to do a disservice to fans who THINK they know football only to be told that subsection 357 of NFL rule 204 says they don't know jack.

Nevertheless, despite the bad call, the Raiders should have won the game. Argus Hamilton's joke ["The Oakland Raiders blew a ten-point lead in the last five minutes Saturday then lost to New England in overtime. They completely choked toward the end of the football game. Who says George W. Bush doesn't provide presidential leadership?"] because it is grounded in truth. Even at the end, all the Raiders had to do was make a yard on a 3d-and-1 play. They came up about 6 inches short. Had they made that play, they run out the clock and the fumble is not an issue.

So I'm rooting for Pittsburgh this weekend.

This Morning's Papers MoDowd makes two good points in her first decent column of the millennium. First, Bush & Co. need to finish the war, including the elimination of bin laden. Secondly, the strutting before the cameras of the appropriately named Vanity Fair bespeaks unseemly pride. Cut it out guys.

Also, George Will has a good column about the problems with voting in St. Louis. This is an extremely important issue -- it needs to be addressed more than campaign reform, for example. If the actual process of voting lacks integrity, why bother? Of course the other impediment to voting is the judicial department which has a tendency to tell "We, the People" that something we voted for goes counter to its will. [And I'm not referring to Bush v. Gore, although, if you disagreed with the Supreme's decision in that one and find yourself nodding agreement with be solely because of that, I don't object.] As G. K. Chesterton wrote in Heretics: "What is the good of telling a community that it has every liberty except the liberty to make laws? The liberty to make laws is what constitutes a free people."

Good morning. This is still me in test mode.
I don't anticipate having anything interesting here for another week or so.
"Let the reader, where we are equally confident, stride on with me;
where we are equally puzzled, pause to investigate with me;
where he finds himself in error, come to my side;
where he finds me erring, call me to his side.
So that we may keep to the path, in love, as we fare on
toward Him, 'whose face is ever to be sought.'"

-- Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity 1.5