Monday, October 31, 2005
Okay, maybe I was right about the whole Harriet Miers-was-supposed-to-fail conspiracy. President Bush nominated Samuel Alito, an appelate judge from the Third Federal Circuit, to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on early indications he is absolutely the opposite of Harriet Miers. Alito has 15 years of experience on the bench, an overwhelming body of work(more than newly minted Chief Justice, John Roberts) Yes, he is a conservative and that cannot be denied, however, my early observation is that he is a thinker and appears to work the merits of a case. He went to Princeton and Yale, which gives him the elitist intellect creditials. Of course the liberals are furious with this choice because he has some anti-abortion leanings as well as other issues that are near and dear to the bleeding heart. Yet I think based on the initial evidence, he does not strike me as an idealogue nor does he seem like one who would decide a case along a conservative line just for the sake of it. I think he is more Roberts than Scalia to contrary of what others are saying. The only question I want answered is whether or not he will openly look at the case, apply the Constitution as the Founding Fathers intended, and do his best not to be a US Senator. Some other thoughts on the nomination:
- Senate Democrats are operating on the mentality that Bush was beholden to them to pick someone who was at least a moderate if not someone like David Souter. When Clinton filled his appointments he chose Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer who had been for the most part on the left side of the spectrum. Both were voted in overwhelmingly by the Senate without so much as a peep from the Republicans. Based on the current Senate numbers and the result of the last three elections, the American people have voted for a conservative agenda. It will be interesting if the Democrats opt to pull out the filibuster for Alito. I have viewed the filibustering of judicial nominees a grave threat to the Consituational process of Senate confirmations. What the Democrats essentially do with the filibuster is usurp the duly elected power of the Republicans by requiring them to have 60 votes to approve a nominee when the Constitution clearly calls for a simple majority to confirm such posts. When the Founding Fathers installed the filibuster, I do nto think it was there intent to have a minority use it as a weapon to halt the exercise of duly elected authority. Republicans have been far too meek towards the Democrats and given the current White House woes they may be minority 18 months from now so it would be in their best interest to use the power while they have it.
- The speed at which this new nominee came out and the fact he is so very qualified lends more credence to the theory that the Miers nomination was a clear act of misdirection. There appears to have been some clear political gain to Miers withdrawing and then the nomination of Alito. For starters it appears that Bush is simply appeasing the conservative base when it actuality was has happened is he provoked them with Miers then gave them Alito which fire them up all the more. The quick switcheroo has also caught Democrats off guard and they are scrambling to get on point. Also, I think the fact the Miers process went so long it makes confirming Alito easier since the timetable is shorter. Democrats probably do not want this to go into recess where Bush may appoint him anyway so it pushes the matter along. One final caveat is the whole timing of the Miers withdrawal and subsequent nomination of Alito has conveniently isolated the CIA leak indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. If anyone thinks this was all accident, they are not paying attention.
- Since abortion will be the central topic of this nomination, I would once again like to point out the erroneous position of the media that overturning Roe v. Wade would result in a ban on abortion. Roe v. Wade simply states that the government cannot restrict certain repoductive services for women. Roe v. Wade cannot be overturned per se since it is already a decided case and cannot be litigated again. A new law resticting abortions would have to come before the court with broad encroachments on Roe for the SCOTUS to overturn it. Besides even if you can assume Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito(if confirmed) vote to restrict abortion I am not sure Anthony Kennedy would concur and if that is the court makeup, he becomes the swing vote. Striking down Roe v Wade makes abortion a state decided issue. Abortion would still be available, even in states which voted for Bush in 2004 because some of those states(i.e. NC) are Democrat controlled on the state level. If conservatives want to end abortion they should bring a case to have a fetus received the protections of the 14th amendment, then you might have something.
- It should be noted that if Alito gets confirmed, it will be a huge victory for a White House under serious seige over the CIA leak and the failure of the Iraq War. Given the political capital or rather policital debt Bush has, I think it is even odds at this point. Specter, Collins, Snowe, Chafee, and McCain are five names who pretty much control the way this one will go.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Harriet Miers withdrew herself as a nominee for the Supreme Court citing an unwillingness to have sensitive documents from her tour as White House counsel revealed. Thus ends one of the strangest nomination episodes in recent memory, one that had Alexander Hamilton turning in his grave. I have given consideration to this having been planned. One of the prominent debates over judcial nominees is considering idealogy versus judicial scholarship. It is perceived that liberals are concerned with putting judges in place who are educational elites, great thinkers, and in turn tend to be more activist. The conservative base, especially the religious right is more interested in idealogy ruling the judiciary and would rather see laws changed(i.e. overturning Roe v Wade) to fulfill certain moral obligations(ending abortion). If we learned anything from the Miers nomination we understand that this does not seem to be the case. While James Dobson and Pat Roberton were on board because of Miers' apparent anti-abortion stance, conservative stalwarts like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and George Will were put out and asked for the withdrawl almost immediately. It is possible that the Miers nomination was a test case to see how the right would react if pure idealogy was the only consideration. The Democrats seemed ambivalent about Miers and were willing to let the conservative wing of the Republican party kill the nomination. At this point one thing is certain, Bush and his advisers have a decent idea where every faction stands on judicial nominees.
According to the Drudge Report late Thursday night, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is prepared to indict Vice President Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying to the grand jury. Karl Rove, the political mastermind at the White House appears safe for now, but it still under scrutiny. The indictment reveals a major problem in the whole way this investigation has been covered by the media and perceived by the general public. According to one guest on the Imus in the Morning program recently, the investigation would not produce an indictment for the actual leak, but rather for whatever cover-up may have occurred. It is similar case as Watergate where Richard Nixon and his staff were not charged for the break-in at the Watergate Hotel but for attempting to cover it up. So all of the screaming and histironics about the ethics of revealing the identity of a covert agent is a bit unnecessary. It would seem that it is extremely difficult to prove that anyone actually leaked the name and that in doing so they blew Valerie Plame's cover. Any defense attorney worth a grain of salt will tell a jury or judge that Plame was no longer covert at that time and there for the leak was a case of "no harm, no foul" Of course politically speaking , an indictment of any major Administration official places the Bush White House in a position so weak, I am unsure how they will be able to govern effectively for the rest of the Presidency.
Sheryl Swoopes Comes Out
WNBA three time MVP Sheryl Swoopes revealed in a ESPN Magazine interview that she is a lesbian. It would seem that this is no surprise to most people. ESPN once again bent their journalistic integrity by pushing a "tolerance for gays in sports" agenda, which they anxiously hope will soon produce a major male sports figure coming out. In terms of sin, Swoopes being a lesbian is the same as Wilt Chamberlain being a serial adulterer. Sin is sin, and since we are not in the business of applying moral restrictions to pretty much everyone, this does not matter. What is disturbing is that ESPN considers Swoopes to be a major sports star. She's not! The WNBA garners less attention than the Indiana High School Basketball Tournament. Lebron James saw larger crowds in high school than Swoopes has ever seen in the WNBA. ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, who is affectionately know as "The Sports Guy" wrote an interesting treastise(only available with a subscription) on the WNBA. His basic assertion was that the WNBA was not a major sport and its existence is owed almost entirely to NBA Commissioner David Stern's desire to keep the league alive. What's more attendance is on the decline and the basketball is just bad. Simmons maintains this is not a sexist assessment, it is an assessment of quality and the WNBA has very little. The bottom line here that ESPN decided this was newsworthy because (1) ESPN broadcasts the WNBA and (2) ESPN seems to be all about sports figures coming out of the closet. What was really telling was that no one really cared that much.
White Sox Win the World Series
If we learned anything about the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series we learned that there is an extreme Red Sox/Yankee bias in baseball media and the general public. The ratings were the lowest ever and the lack of interest was palatable. Baseball mythology has always placed the Red Sox World Series Futility at the top of the list. The Curse of the Bambino was invented and that, combined with the psychosis of Red Sox nation, created a national sensation every time the Red Sox got close to the World Series and an absolute frenzy when they won it all last season. I was one who found this World Series to be as compelling a matchup as we have seen since the Braves and Twins met in 1991 in a battle of two teams which went "from worst to first" On one side the Chicago White Sox whose futility exceeded Boston's by one year and who actually could lay claim to a kind of legitmate "curse" The Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The story goes that in 1919, 8 White Sox players participated in a plan to throw the Series to Cinncinati and resulted in their lifetime ban from baseball. From that alone, one could construe the White Sox are under some sort of punishment and that the quest for a World Series title is a quest for atonement and the cessation of shame. Also consider that the White Sox are not even the best loved baseball team in their own town and are largely considered a stepchild in the Chicago sports family. The Natonal League champion Hoston Astros had never been to the Series in 44 years of existence and had their heartbreak stoies of futility past(1986). There are guys like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell who had been loyal Astros for 18 years and wanted so badly to bring the title home to Houston. All of this should have been all the ingredients for a sensational sports story which should have capitivated the nation, even in a sweep, but instead it was panned because it was not the Yankees or the Red Sox. I was relieved to see two new teams in the Series, and I can only hope the Yankees continue to spend millions of dollars on past-their-prime players and the Red Sox revert back to being the Red Sox so we can enjoy new Series winners and even richer stories of winning the title for the first time or the first time in a long time.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
What it Truth
This is not a leftist problem either. Rush Limbaugh, who is the self proclaimed practioner of all things conservative also assumes the position of "America's Truth Detector" Limbaugh, like Franken, spends three hours a day peddling the "truth" and calling people liars. It so happens that the people he calls liars are all on the opposite side of the political gulf. Limbaugh, like Franken, ignores the rash of falsehoods in his own party. The truth Limbaugh seeks to detect has everything to do with supporting his own agenda.
This spinning of truth is rampant. David Brock, a former right winger turned left winger runs a website called Media Matters which he goes through great pains to debunk the lies of the right in the news. It would seem that Brock has a mission to root out false media stories which benefit the right so the "truth" may be told, yet he seems to ignore similar behavior when it benefits left wing causes. And why should he because websites like http://www.newsbusters.org offer the same service as Brock only going the other direction.
The bottom line is "truth" is relative. Truth as told in the media has less to do with actual fact and more to do with agenda and motivation. Truth should be based in fact and should stand firm regardless of circumstance or cause. The proclaimation by Christ that He was the truth was earth shattering in the religious culture of His day. In 1st Century Israel truth had also become relative with a Pharisee ruling body who took the infallible Law of God and embellished it with multiple addition which altered the meaning so dramtically, religion ruled the day. Enter Christ who John called the logos which in Greek means "the expression of thought and concept" Christ was the expression and manifestation of the very thoughts of the Godhead, which, if nothing else makes His claim to Deity assured since who alone can be an expression of God's thoughts but God alone. In Christ's claim to be the "truth" we understand that truth is pure, without blemish, everlasting, and without any room for negotiation. And since we understand Christ to embody "truth" we must also realize that truth cannot be made a slave to any man or woman for the purpose of manipulation. Anyone who claims to be the guardian of truth must first bow before the embodiment of all truth, Christ. Truth that is peddled for personal gain or the progress of an agenda sounds awfully familar to the alledged "truth" advertised by Satan himself which ultimately led us all astray.