Friday, December 12, 2003

Humbug Season.
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Here's an interesting site: the Grinch List. It lists those businesses which are hostile to Christmas (usually in the name of misguided diversity) as well as those which recognize Christmas.

For nearly a decade, my wife and I were frustrated by businesses that offered "holiday" photo cards that failed to acknowledge Christmas. You could get a picture of junior over the top of a generic greeting like "happy holidays" or sometimes "Merry Christmas" -- but only if the "Merry Christmas" was next to an icon of Santa or Rudolph. If you wanted a nativity icon, you had to go with "Feliz Navidad." A couple of years ago, JC Penny began offering a praying Mary and Joseph with a Christmas greeting, so we've been back again. This year, we have the card with the message: "Rejoice a Savior is Born" They still have the "secular" options, and the Spanish option (too bad there's not more of those -- but, give it time) and a Jewish option (ditto). (They even have an Easter photo card with the message "He Is Risen.")

Diversity means celebrating . . . diversity. Not stamping out traditions. Anyway, take a look at the Grinch list.

P.S. WalMart and KMart make different lists -- everyone knows WalMart is successful, while KMart is struggling. Guess which list the stores make. Coincidence? I don't think good management is a coincidence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Scalia's Dissent. Justice Antonin Scalia perfectly frames what the Supreme Court has done in upholding this abridgement of the First Amendment:
This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child
pornography, tobacco advertising, dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, and sexually explicit cable programming would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government. For that is what the most offensive provisions of this legislation are all about. We are governed by Congress, and this legislation prohibits the criticism of Members of Congress by those entities most capable of giving such criticism loud voice: national political parties and corporations, both of the commercial and the not-for-profit sort. It forbids pre-election criticism of incumbents by corporations, even not-for-profit corporations, by use of their general funds; and forbids national-party use of "soft" money to fund "issue ads" that incumbents find so offensive.
To be sure, the legislation is evenhanded: It similarly prohibits criticism of the candidates who oppose Members of Congress in their reelection bids. But as everyone knows, this is an area in which evenhandedness is not fairness. If all electioneering were evenhandedly prohibited, incumbents would have an enormous advantage. Likewise, if incumbents and challengers are limited to the same quantity of electioneering, incumbents are favored. In other words, any restriction upon a type of campaign
speech that is equally available to challengers and incumbents tends to favor incumbents.
(citations omitted).

After extensively examining and burying the majorities fallacies, he concludes, in relevant parts:
Those in power, even giving them the benefit of the greatest good will, are inclined to believe that what is good for them is good for the country. Whether in prescient recognition of the Charlie Wilson Phenomenon, or out of fear of good old-fashioned, malicious, self-interested manipulation, "[t]he fundamental approach of the First Amendment . . . was to assume the worst, and to rule the regulation of political speech 'for fairness' sake' simply out of bounds." Having abandoned that approach to a limited extent in Buckley, we abandon it much further today.
We will unquestionably be called upon to abandon it further still in the future. The most frightening passage in the lengthy floor debates on this legislation is the following assurance given by one of the cosponsoring Senators to his colleagues:
This is a modest step, it is a first step, it is an essential step, but it does not even begin to address, in some ways, the fundamental problems that exist with the hard money aspect of the system.
The system indeed. The first instinct of power is the retention of power, and, under a Constitution that requires periodic elections, that is best achieved by the suppression of election-time speech. We have witnessed merely the second scene of Act I of what promises to be a lengthy tragedy. In scene 3 the Court, having abandoned most of the First Amendment weaponry that Buckley left intact, will be even less equipped to resist the incumbents' writing of the rules of political debate. The federal election campaign laws, which are already (as today's opinions show) so voluminous, so detailed, so complex, that no ordinary citizen dare run for office, or even contribute a significant sum, without hiring an expert advisor in the field, can be expected to grow more voluminous, more detailed, and more complex in the years to come—and always, always, with the objective of reducing the excessive amount of speech.

Restrictions on Political Speech Upheld. That's my take on the brief summary I've read regarding the Supreme Court's decision this morning. Please keep in mind that the last major ruling on campaign regulation and speech, Buckley v. Valeo, was a hydra-headed, book-length monster. Weighing in at 298 (.pdf formated) pages, this looks similar. Here are the justices dance partners:
STEVENS and O'CONNOR, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, in which O'CONNOR, SCALIA, KENNEDY, and SOUTER, JJ., joined, in which STEVENS, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined except with respect to BCRA §305, and in which THOMAS, J., joined with respect to BCRA §§304, 305, 307, 316, 319, and 403(b). BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Title V, in which STEVENS, OCONNOR, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, and concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, except for BCRA §§311 and 318, concurring in the result with respect to BCRA §318, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II, and dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I, V, and §311, in which opinion SCALIA, J., joined as to Parts I, II-A, and II-B. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., joined, in which SCALIA, J., joined except to the extent the opinion upholds new FECA §323(e) and BCRA §202, and in which THOMAS, J., joined with respect to BCRA §213. REHNQUIST, C. J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, in which SCALIA and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA §305, in which GINSBURG and BREYER, JJ., joined.
To riff off Justice Hugo Black, what part of "Congress shall make no law..." didn't you understand?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Hotch pot. I'm still not "back" -- I've got a lot of catching up to do. So, in the meantime, here are some Interesting and Important links:

  • David Horowitz publishes Frank J. Gaffney's look at the Islamofacist "Fifth columnist" Grover Norquist. This is Must Reading.

  • Well over a year ago, I noted that ABC Rowan Williams who was elevated in part "because of perceived support for female bishops and gay clergy" could "turn[]out to be a pro-life Trojan horse..." According to this story, he has offered his "full backing" to an Anglican curate seeking a declaration the High Court to claim that the police should have charged a doctor for performing the abortion in 2001. (BTW, that young curate was successful in her petition.)

  • As far as I'm concerned, football season ends after the Rose Bowl. [Death to the BCS.]

  • Best Christmas CD of 2003: Relient K's "Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand." Alas, it's only a ten song disc with less than 30 minutes of songs.

  • I'm not sure I want to know what was behind Munch's Scream.

  • Last, a win for real diversity.
  • A Giant. Carl F. H. Henry, a giant who has shaped Christendom more than many of us know, has gone home to be with his Lord and Savior.

    On television this season, we'll probably see that Capra classic, It's a Wonderful Life. You may remember Clarence's line: "One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole." Without Dr. Henry, we'd have a Marianas trench void.

    Well done, good and faithful servant, and thank you.