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Paul Smith Jr has a new home for his blog: www.gazizza.net. Click to go there now!

Friday, July 01, 2005


The Corner on National Review Online
The "this is going to be a bloodbath" CW is cast in cement. But conservatives should never let the liberal media forget that the New Campaign Model of Supreme Court nominations is a monster created by liberals and not by conservatives. Clarence Thomas had 48 votes against him. But only three Republicans objected to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who certainly had a history of liberal activism. Republicans have displayed a sense that presidents deserve their Supreme Court nominees without political litmus tests, in most circumstances, but Democrats wage war against anyone seen as ideologically unsuitable to them. (Another contrast: 47 votes against Ashcroft for Attorney General. Zero votes against Janet Reno by Republicans.)
Remember this the next time people blame Republicans for the mood in Washington. Reno and Ginsburg were for more out of the mainstream than anyone Bush has nominated, or likely will nominate.

Jonah Goldberg: What public broadcasting is and isn't
The liberal-conservative thing, however, is a sideshow. Public television was created to help poor people, educate young people, and to promote diversity on TV. Today, the average PBS viewer is in his late 50s. Somewhere around two-thirds of the poor have cable or satellite TV. Even more have DVD or VCR players. When PBS was created in 1967, it increased the number of television stations by 25 percent. Today PBS stations constitute a rounding error among the choices available to most consumers.

More relevant, with the obvious exception of "Sesame Street," the target audience for PBS isn't remotely the poor. It's the well-to-do. Yes, some poor folks enjoy symphonies and entire shows dedicated to shiitake mushrooms and fennel. I have no doubt that there's some lunch bucket Joe who races home after clearing roadkill all day just to catch "Washington Week in Review." But, come on, who're we kidding?

And that's the great irony of the restored PBS budget cuts. Because budget rules said the money had to come from somewhere, Congress raided social programs for the poor to give Big Bird back his $100 million.

Which brings up another bogus argument. When public broadcasting's integrity is attacked, the PBSers harrumph that government money is only a tiny fraction of their budgets. But, they say without taking a breath, if you take even one penny of it away, it will destroy us.

George W’s Quagmire
“Here it is, July of 1776, and George W. and his lackeys are just now getting around to declaring what this war is supposedly all about?” complained Loyalist playwright Michael LeMoore. “Washington and his neo-congressionalists rushed us into war at Lexington and Concord, before anyone had ‘declared’ a single word about independence. Face it: George lied, and people died.”

Researcher's Appraisals of Commentators Are Released - New York Times
Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, released 50 pages of what he called the "work product" of Fred Mann, a researcher who has been connected to conservative journalism centers and who was hired by the corporation's chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson. Mr. Dorgan pronounced the work "a little nutty" and a sham.

The documents do not form a complete report, but are instead a string of synopses of public radio and television programs, accompanied by charts analyzing the political leanings of the guests. The central conclusion appears to have been that most public radio and television guests were liberal, and that even those who were conservative were critical of President Bush.
So the Senator finds a study that puts facts behind the argument that PBS is liberally biased to be "a little nutty." Here's a few other things he presumably finds "a little nutty":
  1. The sun rises in the east
  2. The curveball actually does curve
  3. The earth is not flat
Ms. Rehm may have had reason to feel aggrieved. When she interviewed Mr. Tomlinson on her program last month - nearly a year after Mr. Mann finished his largely critical, but then still secret, review of her show - Mr. Tomlinson called himself "a great admirer" of hers.

"Frankly," Ms. Rehm said Thursday, "I feel used."
First off, it's possible Mr. Mann is a great admirer of hers even while finding her liberal. Second, she feels used? What about the taxpayers whose money is taken from them so she can feed us liberal propaganda?

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Quote-a-palooza Independence Day Edition
"We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient." --Samuel Adams, reflecting on the original Independence Day [As the current Supreme Court attempts to undo that accomplishment...]

"One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle." --James Otis (1761)

"There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage." --John Witherspoon (1776)

"The American war is over; but this far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government, and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens for these forms of government after they are established and brought to perfection." --Benjamin Rush (1786)

"[T]he flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them. ... The Declaration of Independence...[is the] declaratory charter of our rights, and the rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson (1821)

"On the distinctive principles of the Government ...of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in...The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States." --James Madison (1825)

From the "He would have been better off keeping his mouth shut" files...
"It's not a pay raise. It's an adjustment so that they're not losing their purchasing power." -- Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on the House's scheduled $3,100 salary increase next year.

Wanted: A Constructive Opposition
Then there is Delaware Senator Joe Biden, whose thoughts on the subject are particularly worth attending to because he is the Democratic Party's lead spokesman on the issue. Consider his track record to date:
• In April 2004, Mr. Biden predicted there would be "absolute chaos" in Iraq following the handover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government of Ayad Allawi. "Who's going to be the referee when [U.S. Ambassador Paul] Bremer leaves?" he demanded to know on CBS's Early Show. But Mr. Allawi helped smooth the transition to the current representative government, and he has taken his place as a leader of the opposition.

• In December 2004, Mr. Biden said prospects for a successful election in Iraq were "receding rapidly" because of Administration mismanagement; a month later, he predicted the election was "going to be ugly." But the January 30 elections were peaceful and inspiring.

• Earlier this month, Mr. Biden called the de-Baathification of the Iraqi army one of the "major mistakes" of U.S. policy, and called for Iraqis to rehire some of Saddam Hussein's old colonels. But it was precisely the April 2004 effort to re-enlist Baathist officers in the so-called Fallujah Brigade that was among the Administration's greatest mistakes so far in Iraq.

The Senator's latest ideas are to accept an Egyptian offer to train Iraqi police and to get NATO to deploy some troops to police the border with Syria. On the former, we weren't previously aware that the Cairo constabulary was a paragon of efficiency and probity, which is perhaps why the Iraqi government has discreetly turned away the offer. On the latter, has he talked to the French? They've barely allowed NATO forces to help in Afghanistan, much less be deployed in numbers in Iraq.

We stress Mr. Biden's views because he strikes us as one Democrat who understands the stakes in Iraq and seems genuinely interested in a good outcome. The thinness of even his policy alternatives suggests that Democrats really don't have any better ideas than the two-pronged Bush strategy of 1) supporting a new, inclusive democratic Iraqi government and 2) training and deploying Iraqi security forces as rapidly as possible.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
Recently the Pew Global Attitudes Project released another of its international polls finding that, ho-hum, a lot of foreigners don't like America. But columnist Anne Applebaum has an interesting take on it. Noting that a significant minority in many countries--"some 43 percent of the French, 41 percent of Germans, 42 percent of Chinese and 42 percent of Lebanese"--are pro-American, she looks at the demographics of this group:
Advertising executives understand very well the phenomenon of ordinary women who read magazines filled with photographs of clothes they could never afford: They call such women "aspirational." Looking around the world, it is clear there are classes of people who might also be called aspirational. They are upwardly mobile, or would like to be. They tend to be pro-American, too.

In Britain, for example, 57.6 percent of those whose income are low believe that the United States has a mainly positive influence in the world, while only 37.1 percent of those whose income are high believe the same. Breaking down the answers by education, a similar pattern emerges. In South Korea, 69.2 percent of those with low education think the United States is a positive influence, while only 45.8 percent of those with a high education agree. That trend repeats itself not only across Europe but in many other developed countries. Those on their way up are pro-American. Those who have arrived, and perhaps feel threatened by those eager to do the same, are much less so.

In developing countries, by contrast, the pattern is sometimes reversed. It turns out, for example, that Indians are much more likely to be pro-American if they are not only younger but also wealthier and better educated, and no wonder. . . . Some 69 percent of Indians with high incomes think the United States is a mainly positive influence in the world, and only 29 percent of those with low incomes agree. This same phenomenon may also account for the persistence of a surprising degree of popular pro-Americanism in such places as Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines. They're getting wealthier--like Americans--but aren't yet so rich as to feel directly competitive.
There may be domestic parallels here. The most anti-American Americans seem to come from the ranks of the superrich and the overeducated. And "working class" support for the relatively free-market Republicans, which so mystifies liberal Democrats, is at least in part aspirational.
So, remember when you're told how the world hates us: it's just the entrenched power structure (the "reactionaries") that hate us. Those who hope for a better future support us.

Bank of America to buy credit card issuer MBNA for $35B - Jun. 30, 2005
I wonder what this means for the City of Wilmington. Could be good, could be very bad.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Quote-a-palooza
"Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. ...[T]hat alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." --James Madison

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." --H.L. Mencken [I love Mencken.]

"The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result." --Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

"From now on no one's property is safe. Once liberals stood for the rights of the working man. [Last week's] ruling proves that that was all a sham. It is big government that liberals stand for, and anything that gives government more power and authority is fair game." --Christopher Orlet

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." --Karl Rove

"Howard Dean warned Friday that Democrats are losing Hispanic voters to the Republicans. Advertising makes it happen, Howard. They haven't been here ten years and already they want to be white Christians who never worked a day in their lives." --Argus Hamilton

Jay Leno.... President Clinton...said after his heart surgery, he tries to walk an hour a day faithfully. He says the walking thing is easy, but trying to stay faithful, that's the killer. .... One of the biggest problems in Iraq right now is agreeing on a Constitution. They should just do what Washington does -- have a Constitution, you just don't use it. .... A lot of people have been criticizing the media lately. The critics are saying the media only covers the missing person cases if the people missing are young and attractive. And it is probably true. I mean, when was the last time we saw Dick Cheney? Anyone looking for him? No. He's old and he's bald, nobody cares.

Why are our politicians so full of themselves?
This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for. Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.
...
Even so sober an actor as Bill Frist has gotten into the act. This is the beginning of his Heritage Foundation speech yesterday:
You might have been wondering these last few months: Why would a doctor take on an issue like the judicial confirmation process? About 10 years ago, I set aside my medical career to run for the Senate. But I didn't set aside my compassion. I didn't set aside my character. And I sure as heck didn't set aside my principles. I got into politics for the same reason I got into medicine. I wanted to help people. And I wanted to heal. I just felt that, in politics, I could help and heal more than one patient at a time.
I admire Bill Frist, but can you imagine George Washington referring in public, or in private for that matter, to his many virtues? In normal America if you have a high character you don't wrestle people to the ground until they acknowledge it. You certainly don't announce it. If you are compassionate, you are compassionate; if others see it, fine. If you hold to principle it will become clear. You don't proclaim these things. You can't, for the same reason that to brag about your modesty is to undercut the truth of the claim.
...
The Supreme Court this week and last issued many rulings, and though they were on different issues the decisions themselves had at least one thing in common: They seemed to reflect a lack of basic human modesty on the part of many of the justices. Many are famously very old, and they have been together as a court for a very long time. One wonders if they have lost all understanding of how privileged they are to have lifetime sinecures of power and authority. Do they have any sense anymore of common human wisdom, of the normal human arrangements by which Americans live?

Maybe a lot of them aren't bothering to think. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer in the habit of listening to arguments but only of watching William Rehnquist, and if he nods up and down she knows to vote "no," and if he shakes his head she knows to vote "yes." That might explain some of the lack of seriousness in the decisions. Local government can bulldoze Grandma's house because it's in the way of a future strip mall that will add more to the tax base? The Ten Commandments can appear on public land but not in a courthouse, but Moses, who received the Ten Commandments can appear in the frieze of the House but he'll be sandblasted off the Supreme Court? Or do I have that the other way around?
...
What is wrong with them? This is not a rhetorical question. I think it is unspoken question No. 1 as Americans look at so many of the individuals in our government. What is wrong with them?
Peggy!

I'm Giving You Just One More Chance Buddy...
The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes about Joe Biden’s new political action committee today. Biden will use his “Unite Our States” PAC to raise money and travel the country to red states in an effort to demonstrate his “electability.”

However, the gem of Bolton’s piece comes in a quote from former Democratic National Committee Chair David Wilhelm:
We're probably one terrorist act away from the Democrats' really focusing on a candidate who has unquestioned credentials on national security and terrorism. Senator Biden brings that to the table. He is the go-to person in the Democratic Party on those issues.
In other words, kill another 3,000 American citizens on our soil and Democrats are going to get really serious about this whole terrorism thing. ...

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter?
Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
This is wrong of me, but I love this.

Link via Drudge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Quote of the Day
Those who wrote the Constitution believed that morality was essential to the well-being of society and that encouragement of religion was the best way to foster morality . . .

Presidents continue to conclude the Presidential oath with the words "so help me God." Our legislatures, state and national, continue to open their sessions with prayer led by official chaplains. The sessions of this Court continue to open with the prayer "God save the United States and this Honorable Court." Invocation of the Almighty by our public figures, at all levels of government, remains commonplace. Our coinage bears the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST." And our Pledge of Allegiance contains the acknowledgment that we are a Nation "under God" . . .

With all of this reality (and much more) staring it in the face, how can the Court possibly assert that "the First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between ... religion and nonreligion," . . . and that "[m]anifesting a purpose to favor . . . adherence to religion generally" . . . is unconstitutional? Who says so? Surely not the words of the Constitution. Surely not the history and traditions that reflect our society's constant understanding of those words. Surely not even the current sense of our society, recently reflected in an Act of Congress adopted unanimously by the Senate and with only 5 nays in the House of Representatives . . . criticizing a Court of Appeals opinion that had held "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional . . .

What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle. That is what prevents judges from ruling now this way, now that -- thumbs up or thumbs down -- as their personal preferences dictate. Today's opinion forthrightly (or actually, somewhat less than forthrightly) admits that it does not rest upon consistently applied principle. -- Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting in yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that displays of the Ten Commandments in two county courthouses in Kentucky violated the First Amendment. (McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky)

The Defeatist Caucus - Some on Capitol Hill seem to yearn for a repeat of Vietnam.
Partly our success can be seen by what's not happening in Iraq today. There are no more mass graves being filled. Nor is there a cruel dictator sitting atop one of the world's largest armies and wondering how best to acquire the weapons of mass destruction that might throw back Western forces. We also don't have to worry about Saddam Hussein handing off such weapons to terrorists from his prison cell. With Saddam out of power, an elected provisional government is now working on the nation's constitution. There will be more elections in the near future, including a referendum on the constitution.

On the military side of the war, U.S. forces have lost fewer than 2,000 people in more than two years of fighting in Iraq--an outcome that would have been dismissed as utopian before the invasion. Meanwhile our forces are armoring up and developing tactics and weapons to defeat insurgents. Even as the enemy is still pulling off deadly attacks, insurgents are finding Iraqi recruits harder to come by. Many of the "insurgents" aren't Iraqi at all but are terrorists from foreign countries. This is a welcome development--jihadis who head for Baghdad aren't heading to Brooklyn. It can also only go on for so long, especially now as the Iraqi Security Forces are growing in number and in their ability to lead counterinsurgency operations. It's telling that recruits to the ISF and tips on what the insurgents are up to are on the rise--both of which are used by the U.S. military to measure Iraqi resolve.

It took eight years of determined effort for Ronald Reagan to reverse the course of history by backing freedom fighters across the globe, building up our military capabilities and finding other ways to put the screws to the Soviets. During those years he was also roundly criticized for confronting the ideologues of oppression and, in the process, risking alienating our European allies. But shortly after President Reagan left office the evil empire collapsed in a heap. We had our holiday from history in the 1970s and again, under President Clinton, in the 1990s, with disastrous results each time. Now we've got the wind at our back and a president willing to confront the ideologues of hate by backing those seeking their own freedom around the world. We don't have to lose this war. But we could, if the nation loses confidence in fighting it.

ADVICE FOR THE PRESIDENT
The critical point here, it seems to me, is that whatever you may think of that policy, if you are an American who cares about this country, you will not want the USA to be humiliated and defeated in Iraq. In the increasingly dangerous world we inhabit -- China, Iran, N. Korea -- that would be a geopolitical catastrophe. No American should wish for that. (And it is astonishing and shocking to me that there seem to be quite a lot of Americans who **do** wish for it.) The President's main appeal should therefore be to our patriotism.

The last moment at which we might have withdrawn from Iraq without major loss of face -- i.e. perceived humiliation & defeat -- was after the January elections (when I urged just such a withdrawal). That moment came and went. Withdrawal now would be a disaster for our country. The President should make this clear. The "1975 scenario" -- withdrawal under public and congressional pressure, against the administration's will -- would have dire consequences.

The subtext of the President's remarks should be: "You may think this nation-building project is the dumbest idea ever. You may think that going into Iraq at all was stupid and misguided. Fine. Possibly you are right. When we're through, you can impeach me, and all my colleagues too, if you like. You can string us up from the lampposts along Pennsylvania Avenue, if you've a mind to. But _as of now_, the USA simply has no choice but to see this through. The alternative would be a triumph for those who hate our country, and a collapse in our international prestige, with drastic consequences for us -- for you, for your security and prosperity."
Sound words from John Derbyshire.

Celebrating Graham 100 Years Later
Interesting article on the real Moonlight Graham of "Field of Dreams" fame.
When Kinsella thumbed through the Baseball Encyclopedia, he could've easily turned to the pages for Twink Twining, Goat Cochran or Steamboat Struss. Of the more than 16,000 players in major-league history, they're also among the 900-plus guys in the Elias Sports Bureau registry who got into only one game.

"I had no backup," Kinsella said. "My approach to fiction writing is that when I need facts, I invent them. So I would have invented a background for Moonlight Graham, but I'm sure nothing is as wonderful as the truth.

"It was a gold mine."

OK, so what if he really didn't play on the last day of the 1922 season, as in the movie? Or that he batted left-handed, rather than righty in the film? Or that he got sent down after his one big-league game and spent three more years in the minors?

Those blue hats he bought for his wife, Alecia? "Absolutely true," Ponikvar said. And the way he patted children to clear food stuck in their throats? "He did it to me," she said.
The movie also screwed up by showing Shoeless Joe batting righty. He was a lefty.

Truer Words may never have been spoken
Ted Williams' strike zone
"If you're not getting strikes, you should be getting walks"
- Chris Chambliss, Cincinatti Reds Hitting Coach


This is what the the new offensive strategies in baseball are really about: Recognizing that if the pitcher isn't throwing strikes, you shouldn't do him a favor by swinging at something you can't hit.

It was once famously said, "Hitting is timing. Pitching is throwing off timing." Part of pitching is getting batters to swing at something that won't be able to hit well. Why should batters help pitchers out by swinging at pitches that won't be able to hit well?

This isn't really a new idea either. Ted Williams talked about it in his book "The Science of Hitting." He knew areas of the strike zone where he could hit the ball well, and where he couldn't. (See picture at right.) He knew he couldn't hit pitches low and inside, so he didn't swing at them. That's what players should be doing. (The rules change with two strikes where you have to swing at pitches in the strike zone, even if you can't hit them. In general, wait for your pitch.)

That's one reason strikeouts are up so much in baseball now: waiting for you pitch gives pitchers time to throw strikes so batters face more deep counts. But the advantages of getting your pitch outweigh the deep counts. (Offensive levels are up over all.)

Despite the way it might seem, walks aren't the goal of Billy Beane and the Moneyball contingent, they're a by-product that shows the batter isn't swinging at bad pitches. If the pitcher would rather walk you than give you a pitch to drive, let him. Don't help him out by swinging at something that can only be hit softly. (Note: this doesn't apply to Vladimir Guerrero who the laws of physics don't seem to apply to. The man's an anomoly.)

I wish Jimmy Rollins would learn this lesson. Jimmy, WAIT FOR YOUR PITCH!!

Thou Shalt Split Hairs
In 1789 the First Amendment was drafted by the first Congress -- after it had hired a chaplain. Although President Jefferson's religion was a watery deism, he regularly attended Christian worship services, often with the Marine band participating, in the hall of the House of Representatives. The House was used because of the shortage of suitable venues in the newly founded District of Columbia. Jefferson, who coined the metaphor "wall of separation" about relations between church and state, also allowed the War Office and Treasury to be used for religious services that were open to the public. The Supreme Court chamber also was used for services.

On the Fourth of July, 1801, a minister took up a collection on the House floor to support services he conducted at a nearby hotel. Jefferson contributed $25 to the cause. The speaker's chair served as a pulpit for Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Quaker clergy. In 1813 a Massachusetts congressman reported that "two very Christian discourses" were "preached in the hall introductory to a contribution for the purpose of spreading a knowledge of the gospel in Asia." Services were conducted in the old House, now Statuary Hall, until 1857.

The generation that wrote and ratified the First Amendment obviously thought that none of these practices -- all recounted in James H. Hutson's book "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic," published by the Library of Congress and based on an exhibit there -- violated the establishment clause. So why is today's court preoccupied with the supposed problem of mere displays of the Commandments? Because beginning about 25 years ago the court evidently decided that the establishment clause's historical context, and the Framers' intentions regarding it, are irrelevant.

By now the supposedly crucial question is whether to a reasonable observer a religious display on public property constitutes government "endorsement" of religion. So governments try to dilute the displays' religious content, as Pawtucket, R.I., did. In 1984 the Supreme Court declared Pawtucket's Christmas creche constitutional because it included a reindeer, a sleigh, Santa's house and other secular bric-a-brac.

Decades ago, the court ruled that the establishment clause was violated if government supplied books to religious schools but not if it supplied maps. Pat Moynihan wondered mischievously: What about atlases, which are books of maps?
...
On Monday the justices churned out 140 pages of opinions and dissents about the Texas and Kentucky displays. Here is a one-sentence opinion that should suffice in such cases: "Because the display on public grounds does not do what the establishment clause was written to prevent -- does not impose a state-sponsored creed or significantly advantage or disadvantage one sect or sects -- the display is constitutional."

WHY IS ZELL MILLER A PARIAH AMONGST DEMOCRATS?
Zell Miller's new book, A Deficit of Decency arrived in the mail recently. If you liked his convention speech, you'll love the book.

The book, which is part political polemic, part autobiography, makes clear that after he started criticizing his own party in "A National Party No More," almost every other Democrat had no use for him. And they sure as heck didn't listen to him. After he endorsed Bush, they completely rejected him, and after his convention speech they considered him something akin to Satan.

And then their presidential candidate and his southern running mate promptly lost every red state except New Hampshire, and lost Iowa and New Mexico as well. In addition to losing four Senate seats in the South, and gaining no ground in the House.

It's interesting that Democrats are willing to study King of the Hill as part of their process of rebuilding and figuring out how to rebuild a majority, but listening to Zell Miller is apparently beyond the pale. I'm not saying they have to agree with his conservative views... but Zell was (and is) a Democrat, and was the kind of guy who grew up voting Democrat. If they ever want to be competitive in the South again, they ought to be willing to try to figure out what it takes to get a guy like Zell to pull the lever for the Democrats again.
Zell's not even really asking them to change a lot; just to show some respect for the military and those who hold traditional values. Apparently that's too much to ask of them.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Quote-a-palooza
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." --John Adams

"Of course, many of us, consciously or not, subscribe to a philosophy known as 'utilitarianism' that judges actions by their usefulness. What is usually meant by 'usefulness' is the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. ... Utilitarianism can't keep us from descending into useful barbarism because it rejects all absolutes except the maximizing of happiness. And because it rejects first principles like the sanctity of life, it can't draw bright moral lines. It's an eraser, not a pencil. ... If Christians aren't ready to take on the worldview that underlies them, then something besides 'morality arguments' will be lessened: It will be our own sense of the dignity and sanctity of life." --Charles Colson

"Did you see Arlen Specter's justification for subsidizing stem cell research on human embryos? The senator from Pennsylvania noted that 'there are some 400,000 of these frozen embryos, which were created for in-vitro fertilization, which are going to be thrown away....' So why not put them to good use? For some reason -- can't imagine why -- listening to the senator brought back the reasoning that German doctors once used to justify their experiments on concentration camp inmates. They were going to die anyway; why just throw them away? So these subjects of scientific curiosity would be dipped into freezing water to determine how long downed fighter pilots might be expected to survive in the North Atlantic. When they froze to death, the experiment was successfully concluded. Or the victims were injected with deadly germs to study the course of terrible diseases. Yes, they died awful deaths, but science would be advanced, terrible plagues cured. It was all for the greater good. The trick is not to think of the subjects of these experiments as human, but as Jews, Slavs, Gypsies -- the eugenically undesirable. And remember that they were doomed anyway, and you can see the (brutal) logic of it. That's the trick in this case, too: Think of these embryos as something other than human, not as microcosms somehow programmed to turn into fully developed human beings with all of a human being's capacity for good -- and evil. Think of them as microscopic dots, as pre-human, or under-human, literally untermenschen, and anything we do with them is ethically permissible. Even commendable." --Paul Greenberg

"Amnesty of some sort seems reasonable because there is no way the U.S. is going to expel 10 million-plus illegal immigrants and we might as well make their lives more normal. But that will not stop further illegal immigration. In fact, it will encourage it because every amnesty tells potential illegals still in Mexico and elsewhere that if they persist long enough, they will get in, and if they stay long enough, they can cut to the head of the line. In the end, increased law enforcement, guest-worker programs and other incentives that encourage some of the illegals to go back home can only go so far. Which is why America should be devoting far more attention to the other half of the problem -- not just how many come in but what happens to them once they're there. ... The first task, therefore, should be abolishing bilingual education everywhere, and requiring that U.S. citizenship tests have strict standards for English language and American civics." --Charles Krauthammer

"Prices are advertised everywhere. From newspapers to billboards to websites, we are forever being told how much things cost. Want to buy contact lenses? A cruise to Alaska? A pedicure? The price of almost any product or service is readily available, and vendors vie for business by keeping their prices competitive. But not when it comes to health care. How much does your local hospital charge to deliver a baby? Which blood pressure drugs are the most affordable? What is the going rate for a pediatric checkup? Most of us couldn't begin to answer such questions. Hospitals and physicians rarely advertise their rates because patients rarely care to learn them. For the majority of Americans under age 65, medical bills are something insurance companies take care of. Few patients have any incentive to focus on price, so few health care providers have any incentive to compete on price. Result: ever-higher health care costs, leading to ever-higher insurance costs. It may seem natural to rely on insurance to pay for ordinary health needs, but it isn't. After all, we don't use auto insurance for tune-ups or tires. Homeowners insurance doesn't cover paint jobs or new appliances. Those kinds of costs we pay out of pocket, which is why we do things like get written estimates or check Consumer Reports. When we're footing the bill, price and value matter." --Jeff Jacoby

"The question answered [last week] was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes. ... During oral arguments in February, Justice Antonin Scalia distilled the essence of New London's brazen claim: 'You can take from A and give to B if B pays more taxes?' ... That is the logic of the opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer." --George Will

"Was [Justice Clarence Thomas] the best that could be found? Now with nearly 14 years' hindsight, the answer is a resounding 'yes.' [He] was nominated to his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. At the time, President George H. W. Bush said Thomas was the best nominee to be found. Many sneered, saying Bush had to appoint a black successor to the retiring, and black, Justice Thurgood Marshall. ... [Since then], Thomas has emerged as an articulate and prolific writer of opinions, including many dissenting from majority decisions. It turns out President Bush was right: his nomination reflected not the color of Thomas' ears but what lay between them. ... The eminently qualified Clarence Thomas would be a great and fine successor to Chief Justice Rehnquist." --Former NM GOP chief John Dendahl

Boffins create zombie dogs | The Other Side | Breaking News 24/7 - NEWS.com.au (27-06-2005)
US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.
Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.
Does this creep anyone else out?

Link via Drudge.

My Current Reading
I started How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization last night but only finished the first chapter, because I kept getting distracted by the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. So far it looks interesting, and should cover a great deal of history that people don't know:
  1. the Church's contribution to astronomy (the Church founded many observatories, and to this day one of the top telescopes in the world is partially maintained by the Vatican and is known as the "Pope scope")
  2. Priests developed much of economic theory before Adam Smith
  3. Our legal system, with its notions of individual rights, is largely based on the Church's canon law
  4. Other sciences (genetics, geology was even known as the "Jesuit science" since some many Jesuit priests studied geology)
Should be an interesting read.

Court: No Ten Commandments in Courthouses
The de-Christianization of America continues.

This just occurred to me: why should the Democrats put up such a fight over Supreme Court Justices? The Republicans seemt to do a good job of appointing liberals to the Court.
Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc - Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor, who provided the swing vote.
Souter, was a Bush 41 appointee. Breyer and Ginsburg were Clinton appointees. Stevens was a Ford appointtee. So, half of the "liberal bloc" are there thanks to Republicans. O'Connor and Kennedy are not reliably conservative and are both Reagan appointees.

Why should the Democrats risk making themselves look like obstructionists and crybabies over a Supreme Court nomination, when given past history, they may get what they want anyway?

Discovery Channel :: Greatest American
Reagan won!

I voted for George Washington. I really don't think there's any choice other than him, given that he was the first President and had to figure it all out as he went along.

But this makes me happy just for who's really annoyed right now.

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