Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Gotta Be Those Darn Catholics!

So suggests Professor Geoffrey Stone on the University of Chicago Law School's Faculty Blog, blaming our "faith based justices" for the Gonzales v. Carhart partial birth abortion decision correctly upholding the ban. After making his own factual assertions (including, amusingly, that partial birth abortion procedures are taught at many law schools) meant to show that the bi-partisan legislation enjoying overwhelming public support was completely irrational, he said:
"What, then, explains this decision? Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic. The four justices who are either Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore.
"By making this judgment, these justices have failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality." (emphasis added)
That's right. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the five justices very correctly believe that Congress as a whole is better equipped to make factual findings than 9 lawyers, or that the "settled precedent" is hardly as iron clad as he claims, or that the entire line of abortion cases were wrongly decided from the start. It was the people of the United States, through their representatives in Congress across the political spectrum, who overwhelmingly came to the moral and factual conclusions - not just five justices who happen to be Catholic.

How typical. If a judge doesn't follow the reasoning of a most learn'd professor, it can't be that the professor is wrong, or even that there could be two legitimate but different interpretations of the existing law. No! There must be some nefarious motive! Perhaps the Court's opinions are now being routed through the Vatican for approval. Maybe the Freemasons have something to do with it. Wasn't it Justice Scalia holding the camera in the studio where they faked the moon landing?

When called out on this absurdity by many comments on his post, other bloggers, and even Professor Rick Garnett on the same blog, Professor Stone responded by resorting to what may be the most tired and dishonest meme in academia - "I was just trying to make people think."
"I also acknowledge that the fact that all five Catholic Justices voted together in this case to make up the 5-to-4 majority might have nothing to do with their religion. These five Justices often vote together on matters having nothing to do with religion. Perhaps Carhart was just coincidence. Perhaps it was a reflection of their common approach to constitutional law that has nothing to do with their religious convictions. The point of my post was to pose the question and to invite people to think about it." (emphasis added)
How good of him to so "acknowledge." But with respect to the Professor, that was not the point of the post. The point, made clear in the title "Our Faith-Based Justices" and made even clearer in the direct statement that "these justices have failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality," was to answer a question, and make an (untrue) accusation - that the majority intentionally ignored settled law to make a decision based on their personal policy preference. How ironic that a defender of Roe v. Wade would be upset by such a thing...

Accusations like this seek not to inform the debate over how to use and interpret our Constitution, but to stifle that debate by making it illegitimate. "Limited government or a well documented history of judicial restraint isn't their motive, their real goal is to institute a papal theocracy! No reasonable person could have come to the majority's conclusion, this is what happens when we let those ignorant religious nuts vote!"

This attitude is intellectually bankrupt and profoundly un-democratic. Sadly, neither intellectual rigor nor respect for democracy are de rigeur in academia these days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Encouraging the Enemy Kills American Troops

Raise your hand if you think al-Qaida's deadly bombing in Baghdad yesterday had nothing to do with Harry Reid's "the war is lost" pep talk for the enemy? The Arab and Iranian press certainly had a good time with his comments. The soldiers seem to think increased violence and defeatism at home could be related.

Even if a US leader honestly was of the opinion that a war was lost, why would you say it? Somalia didn't have anything to do with 9/11, but our defeat there certainly emboldened our enemy, encouraging them to attack us. If the Democrats aren't going to join the fight for their civilization, is it at least too much to ask that they not actively fight for the enemy?

This is the danger of being so politically invested in defeat. If Iraq succeeds, the Democrats will face resounding defeats at the polls - and they know it. They need not have put themselves in this position, but they have through the language they've used. But they've gone so far over the line in their re-treaded Vietnam "America-causes-all-evil" rhetoric, that anything other than total failure there will eliminate their credibility for decades.

I'd rather the Republicans lose every election for the next 20 years than have us surrender in Iraq. The security of America comes first. It's unfortunate that the Democratic leadership can't say the same for their own strategies for power.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reid clarifies

In an earlier post I had referred to Harry Reid's inconsistency (a kind word) in voting for the Partial Birth Abortion ban and then criticizing the court's upholding that ban. Turns out he actually supports the decision, his criticism was apparently aimed only at Alito. In his usual clear-headed and well reasoned and well informed way, this is how he clarified what he said:

"Recalling his many votes against partial birth abortion, he indicated he supported the court's decision. "I just don't like what Alito has done on other cases," he said. What other cases? "I can't recall," Reid replied, but he promised aides would let me know."

A smart move to have his aides get back to the journalist, because when Reid recalls, he makes a complete hash of things. His aides eventually produced 5 cases out of the more than 50 that Alito's actually participated in. There is no record of Reid criticizing any of Alito's opinions or dissents till this vote on the Partial Birth Abortion case.

The man just talks rot nonstop. Surely the country deserves a better Senate Majority leader.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And the 2006-2007 award for Cognitive Dissonance goes to ...

Harry "I routinely vote for legislation that I feel is unconstitutional and downright evil" Reid. His statement on the decision handed down yesterday:

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was among those who denounced yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Act. Commenting on the decision, Reid said "A lot of us wish that Alito weren't there and O'Connor were there," indicating his desire that there has been a fifth vote to invalidate the statute, as Justice O'Connor had provided the fifth vote to invalidate Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban in Stenberg v. Carhart."

Reid's vote on this bit of legislation that he clearly seems to think violates the constitution? He voted for it ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Seattle Times Shills for the Enemy

Today the Seattle Times published one of the most ridiculous excuses for surrender in Iraq that I've ever seen. Using this single photgraph ((c) 2007, Seattle Times), seemingly without context, they opined:

The image in Tuesday's newspapers was of a sea of Iraqi flags, as tens of thousands of Iraqis paraded in Najaf against the occupation of their country by the United States. If anyone were looking for an Iraqi answer to the "surge," it is in that photo.

There are those in America who still believe that a measured increase in manpower could bring about order and safety in Iraq. To them, we say: Look at the photos from Najaf. There is what they think of your idea. Ponder that crowd. See how many flags are in it. Think of the last time you saw American flags flying everywhere — what event had just happened. That was 9/11. Recall how people felt then. That is Najaf now. "Death to America," the crowd said. Thousands said it.

There is no arguing with a force like that.
The piece went on to argue that leaving with our tails between our legs was perfectly honorable, and not a surrender at all because we weren't giving our troops up as prisonoers.

Daring to, in fact, "argue[] with a force like that," I wrote the following letter to the editor. I've included links in this version.
Editor, The Times:

Your absurd editorial, “The Flags of Najaf,” represents perfectly the complete disconnect between the reality of Iraq and the head-in-the-sand leftist media vision of it.

You paint a picture of a popular uprising, a spontaneous demonstration from everyday people who just want America to leave so they can get back to their lives and businesses. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, you claim there were “tens of thousands” of demonstrators, when in reality, the numbers were closer to 5 – 7,000. Even the protesters themselves only were able to claim 10,000 – at most half of your claim. Either this is a sloppy oversight or flat dishonesty.

Second, you fail to mention that the demonstration was orchestrated by murderer Muqtada al Sadr from his hiding place in Iran, likely with logistical support and funding from Iran itself. This demonstration is actually a profound sign of this villain’s weakness, not strength. When the best he can do is get a few thousand people to waive flags as opposed to besting joint American/Iraqi forces in the field, things are definitely looking up. This was a failed attempt at enemy propaganda, and it takes a willful blindness to see it as anything other than that.

Finally, you laughably argue that leaving on a timeline demanded by those who have sworn to destroy our nation is not a surrender, as if Iraq is locked away in its own little hermetically sealed bubble. No serious person believes that leaving Iraq won’t have deadly consequences for the brave Iraqis still risking their lives to form their democracy, or for the safety of the United States itself. Iran’s fingerprints are all over the Najaf “protest” – does anyone seriously believe they aren’t a threat to us?

I urge the Times to stop going out of their way to shill for the enemies of America. Your readers deserve facts, not false jihadist propaganda.
I'm looking forward to their correction, of course.

Update: Shockingly, the Seattle Times didn't print my letter, or even include it in the "online only" letters. Oh, well. I suppose I understand, though - they had to make room for the guy informing us all about "Halliburton and the other fattening merchants of war" and "The unborn generations of Americans whose future has already been mortgaged by the Bush administration".

Journalism at its finest.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iran to Monitor Iran's Nuclear Program

That's right. The UN - that "gravely concerned" international body charged with keeping world peace and dedicated to nuclear disarmament - has elected Iran as one of the vice-chairs of the UN Disarmament Commission.

In celebration, Iran once again threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

The most ardent foe of the United Nations couldn't make this kind of thing up. How is it that anyone thinks we should entrust our sovereignty or security to this organization? Does ANYONE seriously think the UN is in any way effective in keeping peace, preserving freedom, or saving lives?

Iran probes, the West retreats. They commit an act of war/piracy in another nation's territorial seas. As a result, they lost nothing and gained a humiliated Great Britain, some of the combatants they'd sent into Iraq to kill coalition soldiers back, and a cessation of any Royal Navy interdiction operations in the entire Persian Gulf. They openly pursue nuclear weapons, and are met with tepid concern from an international organization they (or oil customers who count on them) control - an organization known for doing nothing, at that. They attack Israel via Hezbollah, and even the United States accuses Israel of overreacting. They attack the United States in Iraq, and for fear of "starting" a war that they've waged against us for 28 years, our press and our government say nothing. In fact, with the full knowledge that Iran is the sole reason the insurgency is still able to exist (funding, training, etc.), our Congress is now attempting to surrender to Iran and their Iraqi fighters - fighting hard to accede to the demands of our enemy.

Perhaps they should save us all a lot of time and start drafting Constitutional Amendments that will conform with Sharia law.
And now, because both of them are heavily invested in an American failure in Iraq, Nancy Pelosi wants to once again violate the Constitution and the Logan Act, and visit Ahmahdinejad in Iran, further signalling that he can act at will with no reaction from the west save surrender.

When are liberals going to understand that the enemies we face, despite their shared hatred of George Bush, are not fellow liberals who just want to sit around, smoke weed, and like, get aLONG, man? That they aren't acting in good faith? That they are using our international institutions and press against us? That they already "understand us" just fine, and don't want to live in peace with us?

The genteel Europeans have already given up. British teachers have stopped teaching about the Holocaust because muslim students are offended. Scandinavian women wear headscarves and dye their hair black in many public areas to prevent the sometimes violent rape and harassment of the Islamic "youths" (who we are assured aren't radicalized, because some of them listen to rap - as if angry teens should follow some kind of consistent philosophy). Meanwhile, their governments cover up these crimes for fear of not being multi-cultural or tolerant enough. The intifada in France goes on, and typically, France is losing.

Are we to join them?

Iran has already determined that the west is doomed. The only question for them is whether the global caliphate with be Sunni or Shi'ite. And no western nation is doing anything to disabuse them of their assumptions.

80 years from now, when our great grandchildren are studying the history of this war, they will read about these events with the same incredulity as modern students have for the world's appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the 1930's. The only question is going to be how much damage we'll take before we decide to fight for our civilization. Or if it will survive at all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

SCOTUS Makes Up New Administrtive Law Standards out of Thin Hot Air

Joining such renowned scientists as Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore, five justices of the Supreme Court have stepped into the realm of politics and policy, left aside any concept of Constitutional limits on judicial power or the rule of law, and declared themselves experts on the global climate. This absurd decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which can only be explained by the 5 justices' policy preferences in this area (as opposed to their ability to dispassionately evaluate a factual record and the legal standards), contorts the state of the law radically to achieve a policy end. Shameful.

The Chief Justice's dissent is powerful, and hopefully, is an indicator of the future direction of the court when the 5 legislators-in-robes step aside from their usurpation:
If petitioners' particularized injury is loss of coastal land, it is also that injury that must be "actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical," Defenders of Wildlife, supra, at 560, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 119 L. Ed. 2d 351 (internal quotation marks omitted), "real and immediate," Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102, 103 S. Ct. 1660, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted), and "certainly impending," Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 158, 110 S. Ct. 1717, 109 L. Ed. 2d 135 (1990) (internal quotation marks omitted).

As to "actual" injury, the Court observes that "global sea levels rose somewhere between 10 and 20 centimeters over the 20th century as a result of global warming" and that "these rising seas have already begun to swallow Massachusetts' coastal land." Ante, at 19. But none of petitioners' declarations supports that connection. One declaration states that "a rise in sea level due to climate change is occurring on the coast of Massachusetts, in the metropolitan Boston area," but there is no elaboration. Petitioners' Standing Appendix in No. 03-1361, etc. (CADC), p. 196 (Stdg. App.). And the declarant goes on to identify a "significant" non-global-warming cause of Boston's rising sea level: land subsidence. Id., at 197; see also id., at 216. Thus, aside from a single conclusory statement, there is nothing in petitioners' 43 standing declarations and accompanying exhibits to support an inference of actual loss of Massachusetts coastal land from 20th century global sea level increases. It is pure conjecture.

The Court's attempts to identify "imminent" or "certainly impending" loss of Massachusetts coastal land fares no better. See ante, at 19-20. One of petitioners' declarants predicts global warming will cause sea level to rise by 20 to 70 centimeters by the year 2100. Stdg. App. 216. Another uses a computer modeling program to map the Commonwealth's coastal land and its current elevation, and calculates that the high-end estimate of sea level rise would result in the loss of significant state-owned coastal land. Id., at 179. But the computer modeling program has a conceded average error of about 30 centimeters and a maximum observed error of 70 centimeters. Id., at 177-178. As an initial matter, if it is possible that the model underrepresents the elevation of coastal land to an extent equal to or in excess of the projected sea level rise, it is difficult to put much stock in the predicted loss of land. But even placing that problem to the side, accepting a century-long time horizon and a series of compounded estimates renders requirements of imminence and immediacy utterly toothless. See Defenders of Wildlife, supra, at 565, n. 2, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 119 L. Ed. 2d 351 (while the concept of "'imminence'" in standing doctrine is "somewhat elastic," it can be "stretched beyond the breaking point"). "Allegations of possible future injury do not satisfy the requirements of Art. III. A threatened injury must be certainly impending to constitute injury in fact." Whitmore, supra, at 158, 110 S. Ct. 1717, 109 L. Ed. 2d 135. (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added).
At least the court only remanded to give the EPA another chance to explain their decision - Justice Stevens stopped short at crafting world-saving emissions standards for the EPA to implement. But as Justice Scalia notes:
Even on the Court's own terms, however, the same conclusion follows. As mentioned above, the Court gives EPA the option of determining that the science is too uncertain to allow it to form a "judgment" as to whether greenhouse gases endanger public welfare. Attached to this option (on what basis is unclear) is an essay requirement: "If," the Court says, "the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so." Ante, at 31. But EPA has said precisely that -- and at great length, based on information contained in a 2001 report by the National Research Council (NRC) entitled Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions[.] *** I simply cannot conceive of what else the Court would like EPA to say.
I've written on this before, when the DC Circuit made the correct legal decision. As I said then, "In addition to the activists and cities, no fewer than 12 States are plaintiffs here. That's 24 Senators and 151 Representatives - nearly a quarter of the US Congress! Surely they are not without political power. If those states wish to ensure the EPA is fixing global warming, the remedy is in the chambers of the Capitol, not in the courts."

The question is not whether or not global warming is a "crisis," or whether not the EPA should regulate car emissions. The question is whether five unelected judges should be able to dictate massive, unimaginably complex, economy-threatening policy over the objections of both the Executive branch and the Legislative branch, by taking a vague statute and assigning it meanings it couldn't possible have had when it was written.

There is no more inappropriate place for judicial law-making than in the realm global environmental policy. That five lawyers think they can or should go there, when actual experts struggle to predict what the climate will give us 10 days from now, is contrary to what the Constitution ever intended.

CORRECTION: Justice SteVens' name was misspelled above, and has been corrected.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Pelosi Seven's Unconstitutional Globetrotting

"Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from [multiple personalities in government] must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious... In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality."
-- Federalist No. 70 (emphasis added)
"We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy. I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States."
-- Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA)
The danger inherent in Rep. Pelosi and her gang of seven's shameful trip to Syria was clearly foreseen by the framers of the Constitution. What Lantos doesn't understand is that how he views his job - and apparently how Pelosi sees hers - is directly at odds with the Constitution. In fact, how he "views his job" is irrelevant - his job description (at least as it relates to foreign policy) is pretty clearly laid out in the Constitution he swore to support and defend. In case he needs it spelled out, it doesn't include negotiations with foreign leaders in contravention of official US foreign policy.

The United States doesn't have separate Democrat or Republican foreign policies, it has A foreign policy. One. Period. And the execution of that foreign policy is the sole province of the President - the one the American people elected knowing full well he would be entrusted with that responsibility for the next four years, not the wanna-be one accountable to no one except a few hundred thousand hippies in the second smallest congressional district in the country.

It's bad enough when members of our government with more bombast than brains or influence do these kinds of things, like when Rep. McDermott went to Baghdad on the eve of war to show his support for terrorist-funding fascists over the President of the United States. This is the category in which I place the six shamefully seditious fools who followed Pelosi on her illegal errand, including the three Republicans. But when it's the Speaker of the House of Representatives, she's holding herself out as an alternative President - someone who will assure terror-sponsoring foreign leaders that they need not worry about the man in the White House who points out their evil or may impose sanctions. She's going as someone who announces - with credibility - that she has the power to thwart US interests and our Constitutional scheme, to the delight of our enemies. (And doing it while wearing a headscarf in submission to Islam, no less.) Whether that is her intent or not is irrelevant. She's aiding the enemies of freedom to the direct detriment of the people and the Constitution of the United States. What Jihadist can see one of the most powerful people in America treating a fascist terror leader as a statesman while wearing their religion's required attire and not believe victory over the blasphemy of liberal democracy is at hand?

This isn't a partisan issue, either. This is a precedent that, once set, can never go away. Imagine the howls that would have gone out from those now praising Pelosi had Newt Gingrich gone to negotiate with Slobodan Milosevic in between Clinton's ordered Tomahawk barrages. They would have been universal, loud, and correct. But not any more. There's no sanction for this beyond condemnation and outrage, short of a sedition charge (a card that sadly will never be played). If Pelosi gets away with this, we will forever have an "opposition foreign policy," with the party out of power seeking to undermine our own president in the halls of foreign governments.

Talk about the Constitution under assault.

Can any foreign power take a country seriously when independent factional heads each pursue their own foreign policies, each seeking to undermine the other? Lose tribal confederations do that, not Great Nations. Our Constitution gives us the method - we debate, then we decide, then one person acts with one voice beyond our shores. For two centuries, we've followed that model. Now the Speaker of the House (the only one of the seven with any real power, which is why her actions are the most worthy of scorn) has chosen to disregard that for her own short term ends. It's illegal and anti-American, and dangerous in the extreme at a time in history our lives and way of life depend on those who value freedom opposing theocratic fascism with one voice.

I can only hope the voters of this great nation choose to keep it so, and rebuke this behavior next year at the polls.

Why US Attorney Lam was Actually Fired...

...Why She Deserved It, and Why AG Gonzales Should Be Let Go Anyway

In National Review last week, Byron York put together a detailed history of the poor conduct of US Attorney Carol Lam. Bottom line - when even Senator Feinstein complains about poor enforcement of immigration laws, maybe it's time to take out a want ad for a new attorney.

Lam, of course, is the poster child for those who desperately wish this "scandal" actually was one. The accusations are that she was fired to prevent her from widening the investigation that took down Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, which may have implicated more California Republicans. As Senator Chuck Shumer (no stranger to dodging US Attorney investigations himself) put it, "It came out in the newspapers that she was continuing to pursue that investigation, and it might lead to others — legislative and others — and in the middle of this investigation, she was fired."

If that were the case, one might expect a single shred of evidence of it in the 3,000+ documents released by the Bush Administration. And of course, one might imagine that her firing would have taken place a little earlier. After all, Rep. Cunningham had been under investigation since at least June of 2005 and plead guilty later that year. If she was fired to halt an investigation, why let that investigation go on for over a year before doing anything about it? In a broader sense, if the White House is shielding corrupt Republicans and hunting innocent Democrats, why is Duke Cunningham in jail and William Jefferson, Sandy Berger, Alcee Hastings, John Murtha, and Harry Reid running around free of those irksome investigators? And now with the new revelations about Diane Feinstein's conflicts of interest with regard to defense contracts, who really had the most to gain by stymieing Lam's investigation in southern California?

So then what was the reason? As York Reports:
[T]he Associated Press [...] reported that the vast majority of people caught smuggling immigrants across the border near San Diego are never prosecuted for the offense.The story was then picked up by CNNs Lou Dobbs. And that, finally, got the Justice Departments attention.

The revelations came amid increasing concern about the problem of illegal immigration. Suddenly lots of people wanted to know why Carol Lam wasnt doing more. Even California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein inquired. And as they did with [Representative] Issa [R-CA], Justice Department officials told Feinstein that everything was O.K.Please rest assured that the immigration laws in the Southern District of California are being vigorously enforced, Moschella wrote to Feinstein — at a time when Department officials themselves were not at all assured that the immigration laws in the Southern District of California were being vigorously enforced.
[Justice Department] officials began a statistical study of Lams operation. The numbers showed that immigration prosecutions in the San Diego district had gone down since 2004, even as they continued to rise in other border U.S. attorney districts.When you compare San Diegos performance using 111 Assistant U.S. Attorneys…and New Mexico, with 59 Assistant U.S. Attorneys but still generating more cases than San Diego, it seems that San Diego should be doing much more, said an internal email from the office of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
So why does it fall to National Review (among others) to lay this all out for Lam, and for others? Lam isn't the only one who had good reason to be fired - our own US Attorney McKay ignored King County voting problems and then publicly threw down with his boss over a database policy. Similar stories surround the others. So why is it so easy for a private journalist to make this case, and so impossible for the Attorney General to? Again, York puts it best:
The picture that emerges from the evidence in the Lam case is of a Justice Department at profound policy odds with the U.S. attorney, preparing to take action against her, but at the same time ignoring or brushing off outsiders who criticized Lam on the very grounds that troubled Department officials. Added to that was a bureaucratic morass that made it impossible for the Department to do anything quickly. Together, those factors created a situation in which Department officials pursued a reasonable goal — finding a new U.S. attorney for Southern California — while denying to outsiders that they were doing it, taking far too long to get it done, and mismanaging its execution. In other words, it was an operation in which Justice Department officials did virtually everything wrong — except what they’re accused by Democrats of doing. (emphasis added)
It is not enough that public officials do the right thing, follow the law, and pursue correct policy. They must also be prepared, when possible, to clearly communicate reasons behind potentially controversial actions and policies - especially when faced with a virulently hostile press and an investigation-trigger-happy opposition-led Congress. This may be the Bush Administration's single greatest failing, and Gonzales makes Bush look like a great communicator. For that, and for his failure to prevent this non-scandal from becoming one, the Attorney General needs to go.