Saturday, February 09, 2002

Britney Spears. There is a wonderful parody -- let's all link to it -- at the Weekly Standard regarding blogging. Is it true that mentioning Britney Spears will increase the number of hits?

Update. Apparently not.
Put Up. ...or shut up? No, I wouldn't go that far. But I would really like to hear why our beloved Instapundit thought Robert Bork was properly rejected from the Supreme Court. What standard does he apply? From this very brief quote: "I thought that Robert Bork deserved to be rejected. It's not because he's an original-intent scholar, but because, despite his claims, he's really not an original-intent scholar." Prof. Reynolds seems to think that only originalists need apply.

Conversely, I remember when I was in law school, I got in an argument with one of my professors (Anita Hill, btw, how's that for irony) over Bork. This was during the Scalia nomination and she opined that Bork would be next and I said he would be terrible. I based my opinions on left-over hatred of him regarding the Saturday Night Massacre. Prof. Hill, who'd had Bork as an instructor at Yale, didn't really argue philosophy so much as she argued that he was a decent man, an exceptionally bright and considerate lawyer who would hear all sides and render "equal justice under law." I was eventually persuaded to her side and was crushed when his nomination was so politicized and he was rejected. It's still a very sore spot with me. Moreover, I believe the 'tipping point' in his rejection goes back to the Shapiro Conjecture. If Roe v. Wade wasn't an issue, Bork would have been confirmed.

Anyway, all this is a lot of spilled electrons -- I just want to know what objective criteria Prof. Reynolds would apply to a judge -- and if there's a different criteria for the Supremes and the minors. Think carefully, prof. your future nomination could be in the balance. [G]

Quasi-Update. Just had an e-mail response, so there should be more next week.
Light the Torch. This is so cool -- yesterday, reading Rich Hailey's blog, he had an item about the lighting of the torch. So I thought about it and finally, about a half hour after NBC started broadcasting, I decided what I would if I were in charge would be to have the 1980 Olympic Hockey team do the lighting.

I'm embarassed to admit that I called it a night long before the actual lighting.

Friday, February 08, 2002

Olympics. As I said, I love the Olympics -- I always have. The Winter Olympics less so, admittedly, than the Summer Games, in part, because they seem so European. And don't give me any of that crap about brotherhood, part of the reason I always liked the Olympics was it gave me a chance to watch someone whip the Soviets. It's a heritage that runs back through Melbourne 1956 and the blood-red pool in Water Polo, where the Hungarians, recent hosts of Soviet tanks, were ahead of the Russians 4-0 before the contest was suspended. It's almost a shame they're gone. Anyway, I'll probably be posting a little less frequently during this period (or more so, perhaps, if there's controversy).

More. Part of it goes back to when I was a boy, living at Camp LeJeune, I remember seeing two of the Olympic Boxers, dressed in their USA sweats from the 1972 team. For me, that was one of the things that really brought it all home. These were just regular guys, a few years older than me.
Benefits for the Unborn. There is a letter to the WaPo today by Tommy Thompson, Sec. of HHS, explaining the decision to provide benefits to the unborn is historically consistent -- that for over a half-century the government has provided benefits to the unborn. He concludes: "This is not a debate about abortion, and those who seek to advocate for children should stop making it so."

Thursday, February 07, 2002

No Victims Here. Prof. Reynolds today praises the Clinton administration for scaling back on pornography prosecutions, calling pornography a 'victimless crime.'

This is simply not true. If your idea is pornography is Playboy magazine, that's one thing, but it's just not that simple. You can not begin to imagine the number of people who have been victimized by pornography.

I modifed my response, because of the passion I felt when initally writing. I have met too many people who have been devastated by pornography. It's not victimless -- that's a myth.
Who Belongs? There's a good essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education by the pseudonymous Thomas Hart Benton, a self-described "ex-urban, ethnic, working-class Roman Catholic," who is now teaching at "a medium-sized, Midwestern, liberal-arts college ... affiliated with a moderately conservative Protestant denomination." He writes that when asked in informal conversations where his family goes to church the response to "We're Roman Catholics," was treated as if he said "...we belonged to the Cult of Kali and attended the Temple of Doom."

This is not unusual. And the reverse can be true for moderately conservative Protestants thrown into the Catholic world. (For example, at a Catholic wedding when reciting the Lord's Prayer/Our Father/Pater Noster, all the Catholics come to an abrupt halt at "...deliver us from evil" while the Protestants trail off saying "For thine is the kingdom..." [feeling, I'm sure, like the Pope is going to come throw them into purgatory.])

In that spirit, consider this quote from Robert MacColl Adams (1913-1985):
Who belongs to the Church? Who is my true brother? We cannot always tell whether or not a man believes in Christ; but we can always ask -- Christianity is not a secret society. And if a man says he loves the Lord, why should I not treat him as my brother? If I should happen to welcome one who is only a professing Christian, who has not given his heart to Christ, what harm has it done? I will have offered the love of God to one who rejects it, and I will have given a few hours of my life to an enemy -- but our Father holds out His hands all day long to a rebellious people, and our Savior gave His life for me when I was His enemy.

-from "Receiving One Another"

BTW, the Chronicle essay is more about more than just what I noted, and should be read in full.
Confirm Him. On May 9, 2001, President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada to serve as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As of today, there has been no hearing on this nomination. Mr. Estrada has been waiting for 274 days now, with no hearings in sight. Part of the reason is the obstructionist tactics of a clique of very old men who are seeking to impose their will on the country. Part of it is the desire of far left groups to throw sand in the wheels of justice, hoping to delay all hearings as long as possible to prevent the confirmation of Bush's conservatives and moderates. The fewer who are confirmed means the more open seats in the long run -- seats they hope they can pack with their people. The problem is that there is just no basis to reject these nominees, so they invent things. The left-wing group, Alliance for Justice, has a hit piece on Estrada, if you want to read the worst his enemies can find to attack him.
Complicating things for these groups and their senators are honorable men and women, also on the left, who see the injustice of delays. For example, with Mr. Estrada, Ronald Klain, former Chief of Staff for Sen. Albert Gore, has written to Senator Leahy on behalf of Mr. Estrada testifying as to his honor and merit.
Personally, I don't know anything about Mr. Estrada's views on anything. I do know that this delay in merely holding a hearing is unconscionable.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall

--Bob Dylan

More on Judicial Nominations. There is also an attack on a nominee by Bob Herbert in this morning's NY Times. Andrew Sullivan has two great notes on this nominees, plus links to the differing articles. When you compare the smears with the facts, the lack of credibility of these extremist groups, like People for the American Way (they must equate the American Way with lynching), is exposed.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

It's no big deal. "I'm going to speak out in defense of Attorney General John Ashcroft. He's getting batted around by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times and by others who say he's turned out to be that wing ding fundamentalist Christian prude they all predicted he would be." says John Gibson of Fox "Well, I think Ashcroft is right. I know something about appearing before thousands of people. Do you see me sitting here competing with any bare breasts? No."

And I still think this says more about his critics, who are willing to leap on the smallest things to try to discredit him. Although he should give his next address from that room with the curtains down.
I ♥ the Olympics. That's it, I just disagree with those who dislike it.
Continuing. The Shapiro Conjecture continues to receive support. ABC News reports the abortion dogs are attacking Bush judicial nominee Charles Pickering as being "anti-choice." See also: this report by Byron York.

Once again, Gilbert Keith Chesterton: "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." [Heretics]
DC Update. As best I can tell today the talk in DC isn't the budget or terrorism, it's the Redskins new uniforms. Also, there's a good article in the WaPo about one of our suburbs, straight out of the Coen Brothers.
Scalia, Part III. Continuing our discussion, Rich Bailey writes (in part, read what he writes, he's very good) "if a judge declares his opposition to any law, and acts in a manner to circumvent that law, then he should be removed from the bench, no matter what his reasons are." It appears that Scalia is in agreement with this statement. According to this from Kathryn J. Lopez, of NRO:
...what Scalia said in regard to Catholic lawyers resigning is that if a judge is going to reject the death penalty as a matter of law, then he should resign: According to USA Today, he said in answering a student’s question, "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty." Scalia said that "any Catholic jurist (with such concerns) ... would have to resign." He said that "You couldn't function as a judge" if you were going to choose to ignore the law. I'm not sure he can be faulted for that. If you reject the law, and believe it is against Divine Law then there is a legitimacy question in your mind about the very law you are sworn to uphold. So yeah, resignation would be called for if you are a judge and have made that choice.
Tear Down That Wall. For too long, there has been a selectively maintained wall around a myth. I'm speaking of the "so-called Red Scare" in Hollywood. Yes, there have been breaks in the wall and the light of truth has been let in, here and there. But the Wall still stands, carefully maintained by the myth-makers of tinseltown. Perhaps, with the publication of this essay in the LA Times, Hollywood will be forced to confront the reality. There's also a great quote from Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., which I had not seen before: "Stalin probably killed more innocent people than Hitler did, but the defenders of Stalin, unlike the defenders of Hitler, were somehow deemed within the circle of civilized people"
Axes to grind. This is pretty cute.
New War. The National Post has a good editorial, first setting forth the problem faced by nation states in dealing with terrorists, then proposing the need for a new rubric for dealing with terrorists. Here's the concluding paragraph:

What is needed is a new legal rubric for fighting terrorism -- one that properly accounts for the hybrid military/criminal nature of terrorism and that does not encumber Western governments with a confusing welter of overlapping legal precedents. While, fortunately, Western nations will prosecute the war against terrorist groups regardless of what roadblocks international lawyers seek to erect, it would be better if an obsolete legal baseline did not offer NGOs and other nations -- each with their own diplomatic and political biases -- a platform from which to criticize, erode support for and otherwise hobble the just prosecution of a wholly new type of war.

Basically, the fundamental concern is separating the wheat from the chaff. We need something which protects those under attack while not going astray and losing the principles of the righteous.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Personal Justice. It seems that Justice Scalia's comments have provoked a full scale essay by the AP -- coming to your local papers?

Some of the observations:
Other justices have also talked openly on that subject and others.

-- ``After 20 years on (the) high court, I have to acknowledge that serious questions are being raised about whether the death penalty is being fairly administered in this country,'' Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in Minnesota last summer.

-- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought up similar concerns in a speech last April. ``I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial.''

-- Justice David H. Souter told Congress in 1996 that ``the day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body.''

-- Scalia told a group in Mississippi in 1996 that Christians should assert their faith even if intellectuals dismiss them as simpleminded.
The Shapiro Conjecture. The AP is reporting that new Democratic whip Nancy Pelosi chooses to make her first speech on the subject of abortion. Yet another instance of Roe contaminating American polictics and giving more support to the Shapiro Conjecture.
Indictment. So, John Philip Walker Lindh, a/k/a "Suleyman al-Faris," a/k/a "Abdul Hamid," has been indicted. Rocket Docket, here we come.
Blame it on Providence. That's the jist of Michael Novak's explanation as to why the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Did Providence also blind Walt Coleman?
More: Will McDonough on why it was a good call. (I mean, besides being a Boston sportswriter.)
Scalia on a Judge's Duty. I'm still thinking about this one. It appears, from this AP report, that Justice Antonin Scalia believes that if a Judge follows the teachings of his (or her) church, and it is in conflict with the law of the land, he (she) should resign. The article notes:
In Chicago on Jan. 25, Scalia said, "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty."

Scalia said Monday that "any Catholic jurist (with such concerns) ... would have to resign."

"You couldn't function as a judge," he said.

Personally, I've always been intellectually opposed to the death penalty -- in short, that shouldn't be a power we give the state, but I've never been able to go with the Brennan/Marshal/Blackmun view that it's unconstitutional. I mean the Constitution expressly mentions it. Therefore, a judge shouldn't try to vitiate an express provision of law, just because it goes against his personal beliefs, whether grounded in a church's teaching or some other source.

Like I said -- I'm still thinking.

More. The transcript of the Chicago Conference, mentioned in the article, is on-line.

Still More. Rich Hailey writes that Scalia should "renounce[] his faith as a Catholic, since he willfully acts against the tenets of that faith." Hmmm, but is this a matter of faith and morals? Or is this a teaching that it is okay to dissent from and still remain in the good graces of the church? I mean there are plenty of politicians who are Roman Catholic and pro-choice. As far as I know, Senator Kennedy, for example, has never been denied communion because of his pro-choice votes. Still More. Here's a quote from Scalia at the Chicago conference:
So I am happy to learn from [Cardinal] Dulles – and I have had the same advice from other canonical experts – that the statement contained in Evangelium Vitae – assuming it means the worst – does not represent ex cathedra teaching; that is, it need not be accepted by practicing Catholics, although they must give it thoughtful and respectful consideration. Indeed, it would be remarkable to think that it was an ex cathedra pronouncement, that a couple of paragraphs contained in an encyclical principally devoted not to capital punishment, but to abortion and euthanasia, were intended authoritatively to sweep aside two millennia of Christian teaching.

For the reference about Cardinal Dulles, see Catholicism & Capital Punishment in First Things.

Monday, February 04, 2002

Lay Agnostic. I don't really have a strong opinion regarding Lay's refusal to testify. On one hand, I think all the Enron folks should face the music -- but are the different congressional chambers the right place?
More superlatives. Since I seem to be handing out lot's of 'bests,' why not include U2's performance at half-time, which was the best I'd ever seen. There was this from Andrew Sullivan, that nailed my thoughts:
I was particularly transfixed by U2’s performance. This is a group not known for its conservative politics – but they showed that a liberal politics is completely consistent (or should be) with a hatred of terrorism, a deep patriotism, and a love of what America stands for. I choked up a little. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable at the sight of cheering, grinning pop-fans going wild beneath a huge graphic detailing the names of those killed by the terrorist murderers of September 11.

To which another reader commented:
I thought it was a beautiful gesture to scroll these names, and then the crowd started cheering, and U2 egged them on. And then I was even more disgusted when they cut the list short. (around the late Cs if I recall) But then a friend of mine made a comment - The Super Bowl was THE target last night. If a terrorist could have attacked anywhere in the world, that would have been the crown jewel. And all of the thousands present knew that. Their cheering was a taunting, a recognition that the terrorists will not stop them from enjoying a game and a show, and a tribute, though not solemn, to the people who died. They cheered because they would not let the terrorists stop them. They cheered in spite of, not in support of, terror.
Monday Afternoon QB. A couple of things -- last night Pat Summerall, I think, said that no Super Bowl had ever been decided by a field goal. But that's not true -- Jim O'Brien kicked a field goal with 5 seconds remaining to win the game for the Colts over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

Next, with less than a minute left in the game, the Pats had the ball 1-10 their 41, Tom Brady was under heavy pressure, could not get outside the "tight-end" box and threw the ball out of bounds to the right side. However, there was no receiver within 20 yards of the ball. Why wasn't this intentional grounding? If it was, not only would it be a 15 yard penalty, but I think they would've taken 10 seconds off the clock.

That's just a question -- I loved the way the game ended and wasn't really rooting for anyone in particular -- except for that "underdog" factor, and what I mentioned last night.
Letter from Leon? So now they're Unabombers -- anyone opposed to (or probably even qualms with) stem cell research. It seems that a recent episode of ER concerned a letter bomb that killed a man and maimed his daughter. The mother/widow disclosed the bomb was intended for her because she did stem cell research.
Devious and Dangerous. As I predicted last week, the Administration's proposal to provide benefits to unborn children is drawing fire from pro-choice extremists. In this morning's NY Times Bob Herbert calls it "A Sneak Attack" "...a guerrilla attack on abortion rights" and "...both devious and dangerous."
I do think that this proposal is being floated in the manner it is, in part, because of the desire to open a new flank in the abortion skirmishes. Nevertheless, I also think it is motivated by the Bush administration's "compassionate conservativism" and abortion warriors, like Herbert really miss the boat in opening up such a counter-attack. The Bush Administration should've just said, "Don't throw me into the briar patch." This really makes the opponents look like knee-jerk abortionists. Let it pass folks, the Supreme Court's not going to withdraw Roe, and this surely won't break it.

You can see why I mentioned that 1998 column by Walter Shapiro the other day. Maybe we should hammer Shapiro's analysis into some kind of law (or conjecture, or theorem), along the lines of Godwin's Law.

At least Herbert isn't as far gone as Paul Krugman: He could've said "I predict that in the years ahead these HHS regulations, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society."

More. Senators Bingaman and Corazine bemoan the Bush proposal, saying it tangles things in abortion politics.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Worth Staying Up For. Last thing I was going to do was check my e-mail -- and there was a note indicating that I've received a link from the Samizdata team. Now that's worth staying up for -- I am honored. Thanks!
Great Game. So poetic having the Patriots win this year. I realized that I was hoping for a blowout, just so I (an Oakland Raider fan) wouldn't be tormented by that fumble [non-] call. What a great game -- what great playing by both teams and truly incredible coaching.
Out. Nothing today -- two sick kids.

Update. 11:06 PM EST -- the kids seem to be doing better -- I'm doing about the 18th load of laundry today and leave for work in just about 6 and a half hours. oh well.