HT to PowerLine: "Of course, he's against abortion," 90-year-old Rose Alito said of her son, a Catholic.
I'm sure by now most of our readers have seen previews for the movie North Country, which takes place in northern Minnesota and involves a big sexual harassment lawsuit brought by some women against a big mine on the Iron Range (Jenson v. Eveleth).
Watertown native John Hinderaker won't be seeing it.
Chuck Schumer just argued that it is possible that Judge Alito, as Justice Alito, would roll back the achievements of Rosa Parks. That can only be understood as Schumer's belief that Judge Alito could find segregationist policies acceptable under the constitution. While it is undeniable that the nomination of Robert Byrd would have raised such a question, it is preposterous and indeed base to even hint at such a thing about a distinguished judge and public servant.
Schumer's argument for delay is as predictable as it is unpersuasive. Chairman Specter needs to knock down this nonsense today.
The editor of “the new republic” suggested the other day that “the new liberal political culture emerging on the Internet” looks a lot like the McGovernite revolution that descended on the Democratic Party in 1972. In a lecture at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Peter Beinart said the mostly young Internet activists are clearly taking over the party. If so, this would be the first ray of sunshine for conservatives and Republicans in almost a year. The McGovern movement severely damaged the party, pushing it toward four presidential defeats in five tries, until Bill Clinton won by dragging the party back to the center in 1992. If the Internet people had prevailed in 2004, Howard Dean would have won the nomination and then been buried in an enormous landslide, just like George McGovern.
You heard that one first here at SDP!
No sooner am I back from St. Louis than the President rolls the dice a second time.
Judging (if you will forgive the term) from early reactions, I suspect that the nomination process will be very lively. I am not sure that the nominee will get no Democratic votes on the committee, as P. Schaff suggests. I expect one or two. It will be a matter of whether the consensus that formed during the Roberts hearings-that qualifications, not ideology, were releveant-has survived the Miers nomination. I think that it probably has, since it is glaringly obvious that Miers's chief weakness was her lack of preparation. If Alito has no skeletons in his judicial closet, he probably will win confirmation by a small but comfortable margin.
I swear, last Alito post for a few hours at least. Shannen Coffin reports that as a federal judge Sam Alito has not always been a friend to the pro-life community. But he has always been a friend to the law, but, again, this is not enough for the Democrats. For them, if the law doesn't get you what you want, then simply invent a tortured interpretation to make the law say what you want it to say. Here's Coffin:
Kathryn already hit a little on this in Bench Memos: Several media outlets have already begun breathless reporting suggesting that Sam Alito is reflexively "anti-choice." When asked "what we know about Sam Alito" by Imus this morning, Andrea Mitchell immediately reported that "we know that he was a dissenting judge on the issue of spousal notification" in the case that became Planned Parenthood v. Casey. What she didn't report was that he also concurred in an opinion striking down New Jersey's partial birth abortion statute because he felt he had an obligation to follow the Supreme Court's decision in Carhart v. Stenberg, and that he held that a Clinton administration policy prohibiting states from adding additional conditions to Medicaid funding of abortions properly invalidated a Pennsylvania state law that required women seeking state-funded abortions in the cases of rape to report the crimes.
If media outlets are going to report on the Casey opinion, they need to review all of Alito's opinions that relate to the abortion issue. What they show, in toto, is a careful jurist committed to the rule of law, not a "pro-life" judge or a "pro-choice" judge
Samuel Alito is Bush's pick for the Supreme Court. I predict he is savaged by Democrats for being insensitive to women because he doesn't believe in Court imposed abortion on demand. He will also have to answer criticisms that he's just too darned Italian Catholic, just like Scalia. After all, when you think of the Supreme Court as nothing but a super-legislature, those kinds of things are important.
Update: Here is Ed Whelan on Alito. Whelan convincingly argues that Alito is even more qualified for the Court than was Chief Justice Roberts. But we all know qualifications don't matter to the Democrats. What matter to them is that a Justice decide based on left-wing policy preferences. Alito is more qualified than Ruth Bader Ginsberg was and he is no more conservative than she is liberal. She was confirmed 96-3. I'll be surprised if Alito gets any Democratic votes in committee and he'll get no more than five on the floor. Indeed, the Democrats seem likely to filibuster his confirmation vote. Alito will expose how dishonest the Democratic Party is when it talks about the courts. They just want another vehicle to impose their left-wing social agenda, since they rarely get that agenda endorsed by the public. Here's Whelan:
In selecting Third Circuit judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. for the Supreme Court, President Bush has made a truly outstanding nomination that deserves widespread acclaim. By any objective criteria, it is doubtful that there is anyone now or in recent decades (yes, not even Chief Justice Roberts) whose experience and qualifications better prepare him for the Supreme Court.
Judge Alito’s entire career since graduating from Yale Law School in the mid-1970s has been devoted to public service in the law. His range of experience dealing with difficult questions of federal law is unmatched. After a prestigious clerkship on the Third Circuit, he worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey for four years. Then, as assistant to the Solicitor General, he briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court for four years. He next served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel—the office that was previously headed by Rehnquist and Scalia and that advises the White House Counsel’s office and the entire executive branch on the proper meaning of the Constitution and other federal law. In 1987, Alito became United States Attorney in New Jersey. In that capacity, he was responsible for all federal prosecutions in New Jersey for three years (including the successful prosecution of a Libyan-sponsored terrorist who planned to attack various New York targets). And for the past 15 years, Alito has served with great distinction on the Third Circuit.
Just as the Left attacked Roberts, it will attack Alito. But President Bush has again selected an outstanding nominee whose intellect, character, experience, and, not least, proper understanding of the role of the courts will earn the deep respect of the American people and of all fair-minded observers.
Update: Check out SD War College's tales that are "scarier than a Ron Volesky Gubernatorial Candidacy!"
President Bush has nominated Samuel Alito to be on the Supreme Court:
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview Bush's remarks, said Alito was virtually certain to get the nod from the moment Miers backed out. The 55-year-old jurist was Bush's favorite choice of the judges in the last set of deliberations but he settled instead on someone outside what he calls the "judicial monastery," the officials said.
A former prosecutor, Alito has experience off the bench that factored into Bush's thinking, the officials said.
While Alito is expected to win praise from Bush's allies on the right, Democrats have served notice that his nomination would spark a partisan brawl. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sunday that Alito's nomination would "create a lot of problems."
Unlike Miers, who has never been a judge, Alito, a 55-year-old jurist from New Jersey, has been a strong conservative voice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since former President George H.W. Bush seated him there in 1990.
Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.
Gov. Dick Kneip wanted an income tax, and he was still elected governor. Now Ron Volesky is supporting it, and he also wants to be governor. In fact, it will be a centerpiece of his 2006 campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
“As long as Republicans are in charge of government, we will never have tax reform in South Dakota,” Volesky said. “I am going to hit hard, hard, hard and say we need tax reform. And I have no problem defining it. We need a state income tax and a corporate tax.”
Income tax often is considered a dreadful alternative for taxpayers, but Volesky, a Huron lawyer and former state legislator, says it is time they faced the facts.
To make sure people know what they are dealing with, Volesky says he would want to see the income tax placed in the constitution.
“I would dedicate it primarily to fund K-12 education,” he said.
His ultimate objective is to rid state taxpayers of other burdens.
“With an income tax, we can repeal property taxes by 50 percent, repeal the hideous tax on food and get rid of this dragon of insanity, the gambling addiction,” Volesky said.
Republican Gov. Mike Rounds is expected to seek re-election next year, and Volesky says his candidacy will offer voters a clear choice.
Volesky formally announces his candidacy Friday at a meeting of the Minnehaha County Democratic Forum at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Sioux Falls.
Jim Meader of Sioux Falls, a political analyst, says Volesky’s plan is a bold proposal and makes some sense since he is challenging a popular governor.
“I don’t think this plan will resonate with a majority of South Dakota voters, especially the income tax idea. The corporate tax probably has more initial support but will immediately run headlong into the criticism that it will cost the state jobs,” Meader said.
It's clear that many Democrats in South Dakota want an income tax (a tax levied on the financial income of a person or corporation), which doesn't help them politically. The lack of an income tax is a huge selling point for South Dakota when recruiting businesses, so I doubt Volesky's plan will go anywhere.
Democrat Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota, elected to a full U.S. House term from a decidedly red state one year ago, says she learned a valuable lesson from former Senate Leader Tom Daschle: Make friends on both sides of the aisle.
Daschle, the South Dakotan who was the Democrats' top man in the Senate for a decade, lost his bid for a fourth term in that same election. But not before he had become one of the most powerful men in Congress.
If Herseth has similar ambitions, she won't say. But the 34-year-old has spent her first year in the House getting to know powerful people - many of them Republicans - who in turn could help her become a major Washington player.
"If you are a freshman and you are in the minority party, you are smart to do that because it's hard to get a lot of leverage," said Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., who agreed to help Herseth secure money for a new bridge over the Missouri River at Yankton. "I know she has reached out to Republicans, and in many cases Republicans have helped her."
From SD War College:
Ceceila Fire Thunder, the Oglala Sioux Tribe President now under suspension had an interesting quote with regards to her suspension this week in the Lakota Journal:
"Sometimes I feel like George Bush. I feel like I'm the Republican President, and my council are Republican/Democrats. So as the president of this tribe - I will continue to be attacked and continue to be scrutinized."
Sympathy for the president. Courtesy of a member of the South Dakota Democratic Party's Executive Board.
I've been attending the annual meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council. Good panels, good jazz, but, unusually, not so good food at the gala. They did however give us a free ride to the top of the Gateway Arch on its official 40th anniversary. Its a magnificent monument to . . . what, I can't exactly say. Engineering, to be certain. I think the arch may be the most physically (as opposed to artistically) impressive artificial object I have ever seen. Its uselessness adds to the effect.
On a more political note, I would point out that the collapse of the Miers nomination was predicted by yours truly in this blog.
I humbly suggest that Professor Schaff's criticism put the nomination over the edge.
I have been following Professor Schaff's lead, and have been looking into Michael McConnell as the best candidate for Bush to nominate. McConnell has been said to be out of the running. Kausfiles has some good commentary on why. But the reasons only make McConnell look better.
The above excerpt mentions Hildebrand is now focused on fighting Congressional Republicans’ budget cutting plan. On September 23, 2005m Schuldt began his index titled "Federal Budget". He has eight posts on that subject with 4 of them posted in the last week. Again we have Chad Schuldt pushing on his web site the Democrat’s propaganda on an issue that Hildebrand Consulting is working on. Again we have the Democrats whining about Thune’s paid bloggers, but they ignore Hildebrand’s paid bloggers."
The economy surged in the third quarter, growing at a rate of 3.8%. If memory serves, average long-term historic growth is about 3.2%, so 3.8% is a tremendous number, especially considering two hurricanes:
Economic activity expanded at an energetic 3.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter, providing vivid evidence of the economy's stamina even as it coped with the destructive forces of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The latest snapshot of the country's economic performance, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, even marked an improvement from the solid 3.3 percent pace of growth registered in the second quarter.
Growth in the third quarter was broad-based, reflecting brisk spending by consumers, businesses and government.
"Holy Katrina! The economy weathered two major hurricanes and in spite of that showed accelerated growth," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. "I think what this shows is that fundamentally the economy was and is in really good shape."
I must admit I was one of the original "compassionate conservatives." All the way back in 1999 (what a party!) I was on the George W. Bush bandwagon. I was in grad school at the time and I remember a buddy of mine and I salivating at the prospect of a Republican presidential candidate who had a philosophy the moved beyond simple-minded anti-government slogans and crude individualism. Back in those days George Bush used to say "prosperity without purpose is simple materialism." I believed that then, and still believe it to this day. I still believe conservatives should have a more noble governing philosophy than "leave me alone." For one thing, it is hard to make an argument for public morality on issues such as protecting human life and defending marriage when you think government's job is to physically protect us from each other and that's it.
But here is Charles Kessler arguing that "compassionate conservatism" in practice means unlimited government. I am not sure he's correct, but I do thing it's something to chew on. Kessler argues:
Compassionate conservatism is the President’s self-proclaimed philosophy. This term proves the old admonition that the adjective is the enemy of the noun. Conservatism defends “liberty and justice for all,” meaning that there are limits to what government can do to, and for, us. But a compassionate government cannot be a limited one. Its swelling sympathy will overwhelm the levees of individualism and consent (“I feel your pain,” whether you want me to or not); and its pity implies that for some unfortunate people, justice is not enough. This inherent indiscipline is why compassion used to be regarded as needing reason’s regulation, and why in any event it was thought better suited to private, not public, life. Compassionate conservatism, therefore, means big government conservatism. And big government conservatism is no conservatism at all.
The SCOTUSblog is noting a strange occurrence:
When the deadline came and went for Harriet Miers to submit her revised answers to Senators' questions yesterday, many took it as a reliable sign that her nomination was to be withdrawn. They were right about the outcome, but apparently not about cause and effect -- at the very same time that Ms. Miers was asking the President to withdraw her nomination, she was submitting her revised questionnaire to the Judiciary Committee. The cover letters to Senators Specter and Leahy are dated yesterday; and I'm hearing that the answers were delivered to the Judiciary Committee "very late last night."
A case of completing the historical record? Hedging her bets? Some other explanation?
27 Oct. 2005 Roll Call:
A new power is rising in the Democratic consulting world, and with a high-profile issue campaign under its belt and a few Senate candidates signed up, it looks like Hildebrand Tewes Consulting will be a major player in the midterm elections and beyond.
Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes emerged from losing Democratic campaigns last year — Tewes was political director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Hildebrand managed the unsuccessful re-election bid of then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) — to found their own firm.
Almost immediately they scored a major coup — a coalition of big labor and liberal groups asked them to spearhead the opposition campaign to President Bush’s Social Security plan.
Tewes assembled a team comprising many former Democratic Senate campaign aides and assumed executive director duties at Americans United to Protect Social Security in Washington. Hildebrand set up shop in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he long has been stationed, and focused on the firm’s Senate and other clients, including Daschle’s still-active leadership political action committee.
Now that Bush has all but scrapped his plan to create private Social Security accounts — and many Democrats are crediting Americans United for its role — the coalition is looking to create a more enduring issue-based organization.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than being a part of the effort that defeated Bush’s No. 1 domestic priority,” said Hildebrand, who was quick to point out Tewes’ and the Democratic Congressional leadership’s leading roles. “We showed Bush’s true colors — the destructive things Bush wants to do to this country.”
The coalition, led by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, US Action, MoveOn.org, and others, has retained Hildebrand Tewes to organize and run another 501(c)(4), this time to fight Congressional Republicans’ budget cutting plan.
Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities has grown out of Americans United and features much of the same cast of characters.
Side note: In response to Jon's post, I'm a Ulysses S. Grant.
Powerline has recently noted a couple stories that may seem unconnected, but they speak to a particular truth that needs illuminating. The first story was inspired by a column by left-wing editorialist Eugene Robinson about Condoleezza Rice's recent trip to her hometown. Robinson essentially says that Rice isn't really black, because real blacks aren't Republican (faithful SDP readers will remember that Tom Daschle tacitly endorsed the idea that Hispanic Republicans aren't real Hispanics). Today Powerline notes that a left-wing blogger posted a racist picture depicting Michael Steele, a black Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in Maryland. I guess this is how some on the left view African-Americans. You are good when you are on the liberal plantation. But try and leave and we'll depict you as an Uncle Tom.
By the way, as much as I like Condoleezza Rice, I hope she never becomes president, because "Condoleezza" is really hard to spell. Although not as hard as the last name of that guy who is governor of California. It's tough on those of us who can barely spell kat.
What historic general are you? I am George Washington, which makes me feel warm inside. What worries me is one of my brothers is William Wallace while a history colleague is Edward I. Let's hope they never get in the same room together.
Not being as smart as Jason, it took me a while to figure out I could just turn on my television. Watching Fox News, it looks like the White House will spin the Miers withdrawal as a defense of executive privilege. The Senate wanted certain documents pertaining to Miers's role as White House Counsel, and the White House didn't want to give them up. I happen to think the White House is right on those merits, but I also think that the nomination was pulled back for political reasons, not for the stated reason. That said, no White House can publicly say, "We were going to lose, so we gave up." Let's hope the White House does not repeat its mistakes. Now let the drum beat begin. Michael McConnell, Michael McConnell, Michael McConnell!
SDP hears rumor at Harriet Miers has withdrawn. Should this prove correct, you heard it here first.
Update: A quick check of the usual suspects shows that you might not have heard it here first. NRO has her letter to the President.
And curse Jason for getting on his computer first!
And does SDP get quick results. Last night I asked for Miers to withdraw, and presto!
Take heart Houston Astros and George W. Bush. Tomorrow is another day.
I just heard on FoxNews that Miers has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court.
I guess they won't be doing this today.
Check back later as more information become available.
UPDATE I: Statement from the President (HT to RedState):
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.
I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character, and her conservative judicial philosophy. Throughout her career, she has gained the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has earned a reputation for fairness and total integrity. She has been a leader and a pioneer in the American legal profession. She has worked in important positions in state and local government and in the bar. And for the last five years, she has served with distinction and honor in critical positions in the Executive Branch.
I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House - disclosures that would undermine a President's ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers - and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her.
I am grateful for Harriet Miers' friendship and devotion to our country. And I am honored that she will continue to serve our Nation as White House Counsel.
My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner.
CNN has a story about the 3rd Armored Cavalry Division in Iraq. This is my buddy's unit in Iraq, except he's in Tiger Squadron rather than Thunder. In any event, I hope he is doing all right.
NORTHERN BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq (CNN) -- It's dubbed the "meat grinder." And the toll taken on U.S. forces on these roads patrolled by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in the northern Babil province explains why.
When you walk into squadron headquarters, the first thing you see is the Wall of Fallen Heroes. The wall's 14 pictures and biographies of men killed from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment stand out like a massive scar. It's impossible to do justice to each story on the wall with a photo and a brief bio.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. told reporters he had not read the 1993 speech, but that the self-determination versus constitutional amendment clash was “a conflict which she is going to have to explain.”
President Bush said the day after he nominated Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that, “I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today…. I don't want to put somebody on the bench who is this way today, and changes.”
But the 1989 questionnaire and the 1993 speech provide evidence that her views did change in a significant way in the space of only four years.
Both verbally and in their tone, some GOP senators conveyed their continued uneasiness with the Miers nomination. Thune said, “So much is riding on her performance in front of the committee. The stakes are so large, this is a generational decision.”
Alluding to the fact that Miers, if confirmed, would replace O’Connor, who has voted in support of gay rights, the right to get an abortion, and racial preferences in college admissions, Thune said, “This is the fifth vote on all those major issues.”
The South Dakota Republican seemed to ratchet up the expectation of how well Miers’ will need to do in the public hearing in order to win Senate confirmation.
“There are going to be expectations set around here as to how she should perform, and I think she is going to have to meet or exceed those expectations,” Thune said. “I hope when she comes to the committee, she brings her ‘A’ game.”
Just say "No," Senator.
Victor Davis Hanson gives a history lesson on war and casualties in today's New York Times. Here is sample:
Television and the global news media have changed the perception of combat fatalities as well. CNN would have shown a very different Iwo Jima - bodies rotting on the beach, and probably no coverage of the flag-raising from Mount Suribachi. It is conventional wisdom now to praise the amazing accomplishment of June 6, 1944. But a few ex tempore editorial comments from Geraldo Rivera or Ted Koppel, reporting live from the bloody hedgerows where the Allied advance stalled not far from the D-Day beaches - a situation rife with intelligence failures, poor equipment and complete surprise at German tactics - might have forced a public outcry to withdraw the forces from the Normandy "debacle" before it became a "quagmire."
Someone - perhaps Gens. Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower or George Marshall himself - would have been fired as responsible for sending hundred of poorly protected armored vehicles down the narrow wooded lanes of the Bocage to be torched by well-concealed Germans. Subsequent press conferences over underarmored Sherman tanks would have made the present furor over Humvees in Iraq seem minor.
As they say, read the whole thing.
Ryne is noting a Yale history graduate student running for Congress in Western Nebraska. Excerpt:
Speaking of Nebraska's 3rd District, Scott Kleeb, the
sacrificial lambDemocratic candidate for Osborne's seat, has a new finance chair.
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey has joined the 3rd District congressional campaign of Democrat Scott Kleeb. Kerrey will serve as chairman of the Kleeb for Congress campaign finance committee.
“I am deeply impressed with Scott’s commitment to thinking deeply about the issues facing central and western Nebraska,” Kerrey said in a statement. “He envisions a Nebraska with jobs and people flowing in instead of out. If that vision is to be realized, we need leaders with the energy and intelligence to promote fresh ideas. And Scott is such a leader.”
Here's more on Kleeb, a Yale grad who is currently working on a ranch near Dunning.
Handsome, 6'3 and clad in jeans, cowboy boots and a purple dress shirt, Scott Kleeb GRD '01 '03 strode onto Yale's campus last week to talk about his congressional campaign.
In his six years as a graduate student, Kleeb, 30, inspired admiration from students and professors alike. He won a prize for his overall performance as a teaching assistant for classes such as history professor John Gaddis' Cold War lecture. He won a spot on the Rumpus' list of the 50 most beautiful people at Yale. And he won praise from history professor John Mack Faragher for his dissertation on cattle ranching, which he plans to submit this spring.
But whether Kleeb, a Democrat, will win a congressional seat in Nebraska's heavily Republican third district next year is uncertain.
It's an interesting read. Check it out for the scoop on the 3rd's only Democratic candidate so far. But there's no doubt about it. Mr. Kleeb is going to be a tough sell in the District.
Here's a fun email someone forwarded to me today:
For those of you who are not aware, North Dakota and southwestern Montana got hit
with their first blizzard of the season a couple of weeks ago.
The following text is from county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota state after the storm.
Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic event --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 24" inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.
George Bush did not come....
FEMA staged nothing....
No one howled for the government...
No one even uttered an expletive on TV...
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards....
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House....
No news anchors moved in.
We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps and put on an extra layer of clothes.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early...we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
Everybody is fine.
I have waited until I saw the whites of her eyes, but I can keep the powder dry no longer (forgive the mixed metaphor). The Bush administration must withdraw from consideration the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Today's New York Times reports on Miers's sinking fortunes in the US Senate. Note the Thune reference:
Emerging from a weekly luncheon of Republican senators in which they discussed the nomination, several lawmakers suggested that as Ms. Miers continued her visits on Capitol Hill, she was not winning over Republican lawmakers.
"I am uneasy about where we are," said Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Judiciary Committee who had so far expressed only support for the president's choice. "Some conservative people are concerned. That is pretty obvious."
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, called Republican sentiment toward Ms. Miers's nomination "a question mark."
"There is an awful lot of Republican senators who are saying we are going to wait and see," he said.
The fact that she has only tepid support in the Senate only speaks to the politics of the situation, although "mere" politics cannot be safely ignored. But today's Washington Post reports on two speeches Miers gave in 1993 (Hat tip to Joe Knippenberg at No Left Turns). You can read transcripts of those speeches here and here. After reading these speeches I come away convinced that Harriet Miers is no conservative and, just as bad, she is a mediocre mind. I realize these are speeches, not papers, but if I were grading these as papers I would give them a low B. Her syntax is tortured at times. Her organization is sloppy. Her arguments are pedestrian and not well articulated. It's better than average work, but not excellent. What I am saying is that a good undergraduate student at Northern State University is more articulate than Harriet Miers, who wants a seat on the Supreme Court. This is unacceptable.
I have often argued in this space that the U.S. Senate should not look at politics as it proceeds to confirm federal judges. If a nominee has no ethical issues and is competent for the job, the Senate should defer to the President's choice. Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that Harriet Miers is not competent for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Her name should be withdrawn and the name of a sound conservative with solid credentials, such as Michael McConnell, should be put in her stead. As White House counsel Harriet Miers was in charge of the selection process for judicial nominations. Her own nomination to the Court shows her incompetence. Pity.
Update: Like me, these 1993 speeches have caused Paul Mirengoff at Powerline and Ed Whelan at NRO to call for Meirs's withdrawal (ok, Whelan just says the speeches "call seriously into question her fitness for the Supreme Court."). After noting Whelan's description of her writing as "opaque" I am starting to think that my B- grade might reflect grade inflation.
Former South Dakota GOP Chairman Joel Rosenthal weighs in on the Democrats' candidate for governor in 2006. Excerpt:
No Surprise! With his pre announcement announcement this past week Ron Volesky announced yet again he would announce his candidacy for Governor. His announcement will come on November 4th to capitalize on any newsworthiness of the “one year out” syndrome. Ron is a mediahound and his greatest ability is to cultivate the media and “get press.”
I'm taking some advice and spreading the word.
Ever wondered about the economic history of world agriculture? Well, here you go.
Here's the story of Rosa Parks.
I'll be in Saint Louis. I'm taking three honors students to the National Collegiate Honors Council annual meeting. In the meantime you will have to make do with Master Heppler and Professor Schaff, when he is not busy with trivial things like his "job." While I'm gone, any readers who who follow my posts (assuming that such persons exist) may want to check out these pieces. Robert Kagan, writing in the Washington Post, has an excellent piece on the New York Times. It turns out that the Times was a major cheerleader for the view that Saddam Hussein had WMD. On a deeper and more poignant note, look at George Packer's review in the New Yorker, about the writers Hemingway and Don Passos in the Spanish Civil War.
Jonathan Last offers this interesting précis:
WHAT DOES MODERN HISTORY have to teach us about the age of American empire? The final chapters of the British Empire offer lessons and parallels aplenty. Empires don't last forever, and the combination of martial victory, popular ennui, and liberal anti-patriotism is a dangerous mix for a superpower.
Dave Kranz is noting Daschle's presidential rumblings:
Calling on supporters
Sometimes, the wording of the message speaks volumes. A recent e-mail sent to supporters of former Sen. Tom Daschle by Steve Hildebrand, head of Daschle's new leadership PAC, encouraged them to attend the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner on Nov. 5 in Des Moines.
Iowa's presidential caucus is the first presidential test in the nation, and the opportunity to keynote that event is significant for anyone thinking of running in 2008.
Daschle and Hildebrand played down the significance of the speech, but both have said politicians generally say, "Never say never."
Now, the e-mail: "The Iowa JJ Dinner keynote address has typically been given by a major presidential candidate. This is a truly important event and one that I encourage you to attend in support of Tom."
Professor Schaff gives me the last word on homosexual adoption. Here goes:
1) I agree with him that a married couple is, all things being equal, preferable to any other sort of arrangements when deciding who gets to adopt a child. So when it is a matter of deciding between parties, a court might well prefer a married, heterosexual couple over either a homosexual couple or a single parent. As this is a judgment call, a sufficient argument is that the sexual balance is blessed both by tradition and nature. As far as I can see, almost all Professor's Schaff's arguments are addressed to this point, and it is one on which we do not disagree.
2) This doesn't mean however that a single parent or a homosexual couple may be simply simply prohibited from adopting a child. Nor does it mean, as a shrewd reader pointed out in an e-mail, that any heterosexual couple is always to be preferred over any homosexual couple. Judgments have to be made on a case by case basis. This is what I was speaking to in the original post.
3) So, preferring married, heterosexual couples over other kinds of householders in a case where two households want to adopt the same child is surely constitutionally permissible. Considering someone to be legally unfit to be a parent or adopt a child solely on the basis that that person is a homosexual is not constitutionally permissible. Or that is what Mr. Justice Poopy Pants would say.
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
In an interview with The Fix, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) "gave every indication that he has been thinking long and hard about a run for the White House." He even claims to have raised $700,000 through his political action committee so far this year.
Said Daschle: "It interests me. I don't have any plans to run, but I am going to keep my options open."
Interesting fact: "Daschle seemed to signal that he was essentially in the 2004 presidential race until Democrats lost control of the Senate in the 2002 election."
I have long opposed such gimmicks as term-limits and balanced budget amendments because they try to take the politics out of politics. In general, if we have a systematic problem within our government (out of touch politicians or deficit spending) why not let the voters take care of it? But I must say, after reading this piece and this piece, I might be moving in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution. The trouble is that once you draw the conclusion only a BBA can solve the big spending ways of Washington, you've pretty much admitted that our democratic system is horribly broken. Lacking any discipline itself, the public has to ask mommy to hide the candy.
Only a brief response to Prof. Blanchard on same-sex adoption. Like many advocates of same-sex adoption and marriage, he clouds the issue by brining in analogies to race and ethnicity. The question is one of nature and genetics. Our race and ethnicity surely carry some genetic baggage (a black man is more likely to get sickle cell anemia than I am), but the question is whether race/ethnicity is relevant to parenting. I would argue that it clearly is not, while our sexual nature is, and thus it is appropriate for the state to make distinctions. Being black or white has nothing to do with one's character as a parent, but being a man or woman does. Striking down miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court did not rework society's fundamental definition of family and marriage, which allowing same-sex couples to adopt or marry surely will. If one wants to see experiments in "family diversity," go to inner-city America. When I was coaching youth baseball in inner-city Chicago, at best 1 in 5 kids had a father in the household, and even at ages 9-12 it was clear that no good was coming of it. That said, I'll let Prof. Blanchard have the last word if he'd like. I will point out to the rest of the blogosphere that this is how polite people argue civilly. Also, Prof. Blanchard has poopy pants.
With an enemy behind every URL, one cannot be too careful in his choice of friends. Professor Schaff beards me for the following comment:
I do not think that there are any constitutionally permissible grounds for preventing homosexuals from adopting children. The state cannot assume that someone is guilty of something because he or she is homosexual.
Well, at least it got his blog fingers tapping. Professor Schaff's first argument goes like this:
The social science evidence at this point is nearly unanimous: children fair better when they are raised by a father and a mother who are married. Children fair best when raised by their married biological parents, but in the case of most adoptions the non-biological parental alternative is usually better than the reality presented by the biological parents. . . . The nurturing of motherhood and the protection of fatherhood are things from which every child can benefit. For example, are there reasons for the state to prefer to put young boys in a family that can provide a strong male figure rather than in a household with only two "mothers"?
I cut out some good stuff, but that is the gist of it. I reply that here Professor Schaff is addressing an entirely different question. When a court has to decide which of two contesting parties ought to be awarded custody of a child, then the court is entitled and required to make all sorts of judgment calls. Is one set of would-be parents better able to provide for the child? Mr. Justice Blanchard would, all things being equal, award custody to a couple who were married over a couple who were not, or to a couple over a single man or woman. But that doesn't mean that he would deny adoption to a single man if he were the only contender, and obviously cherished the child.
On the other hand, a court is not allowed to discriminate against a couple because they are of mixed race. That is settled law, and rightly so. The point is that one cannot consider someone unfit to be a parent because he or she or they are Black. Unfortunately this principle has not be adopted in reverse. I think it is one of the great tragedies and injustices of adoption policy in the U.S. that white couples are often prevented from adopting Black children. In some cases Black children have been taken from white parents who obviously loved and nurtured them, and given to parents whose only qualification is that they were Black.
This leads me to Jon's second argument:
Prof. Blanchard himself has reported on the continued promiscuity in the homosexual community as evidenced by the still high incidence of AIDS in that community. Does it not seem rational that the state should avoid putting children in that milieu? Shouldn't we prefer to put children in homes that are stable and where this is a strong commitment between the parents?
I am very suspicious of using sociological generalizations to judge the fitness of individuals standing in court. Some racial and ethnic groups are, statistically speaking, more prone to crime and other sorts of social dysfunction than others. I don't believe that we can judge individual persons on those grounds. Suppose that the Irish are more prone to alcoholism. Does that mean that a court can discriminate against me in an adoption case because my not yet sainted mother's maiden name was Daugherty? No. So even if male homosexuals are prone to certain dysfunctional behavior, this is not warrant for judging the fitness of an individual who stands before the state.
The case is obviously different if the individual himself or herself is guilty of some criminalized behavior, for example, if he is a pederast. Likewise if he is subject to some dangerous psychosis, like schizophrenia. But short of that, he is innocent until proven guilty.
I admit that Mr. Justice Blanchard, if he had to decide whether to award custody to a married heterosexual couple or a gay couple would opt in favor of the former. But that was not the point I spoke to. The question is whether we can deny outright an adoption petition by a person or a couple just because he or she or they are homosexual and live in an homosexual partnership. Perhaps such a household is less than ideal. Many children are raised well in less than ideal homes. At any rate, I don't think there is any constitutional grounds for denying someone the right to adopt a child merely because he or she is homosexual.
"It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand . . . I was quite tired after spending a full day working." - Rosa Parks
I haven't blog on the Plame affair, at least as far as I can remember. It has always seemed to me to be a silly business. It is clear that there was an insurrection in the CIA, and that Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, were part of an anti-Administration cabal. Someone in the Administration, maybe Karl Rove, let the Press know about this. All that looks like pretty ordinary politics to me. The only questionable thing was that they did, in effect, leak to the press the identity of a CIA officer, Ms. Plame.
Now I will be the first to admit that, if the tables were turned, and it appeared that the Gore Administration had outed a CIA agent because she was a critic of its foreign policy, conservatives would be screaming bloody murder. But that doesn't mean that they would be right to do so.
Michael Barone has a fine summary of the affair at RealClearPolitics. First, is there any likelihood that someone in the Administration broke the law by revealing Valerie Plame's role in her husband's mischief? No.
It is almost certainly true that neither of the statutes that might cover the situation -- the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 and the Espionage Act of 1917 -- was violated, at least by anyone in the administration.
Consider the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. To violate it, you must disclose the name of a covert agent who has served abroad within the last five years, while knowing that that person was a covert agent. It does not appear that Plame was a covert agent who had served abroad within five years of the disclosure of her name to reporters. She was a desk officer at CIA headquarters at Langley at that time. This law was narrowly drafted and intended only to apply to people who purposefully endangered covert agents abroad. That is clearly not the case here.
The Espionage Act is less narrowly drafted. But it does set out specific things that cannot be disclosed--"information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard," etc. The list does not include identity of CIA agents--there weren't any in 1917--which is why the drafters of the 1982 IIPA felt the need for a new law to protect a very limited class of covert operatives.
There is obviously a need to protect the identities of covert CIA operatives, as both their lives and their operations would be at risk otherwise. But such protections must be construed very narrowly, or else they can have a chilling effect on the press.
In the absence of a violation of the underlying espionage acts, any indictment here arising from the course of the investigation would be, in my view, unjust and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. It would also be, as the liberal commentator Jacob Weisberg has pointed out, a long step toward something like the British Official Secrets Act--a precedent that would staunch the flow of information from the government to the press and the people.
In other words, a broad interpretation of the espionage acts would be a weapon that any administration could use against the press. Reveal one of our special secrets in the course of criticizing us, and you'll end up the slammer. This is the kind of thing that the liberals used to care about.
I've been busy with other matters (like my job), but would not want to let this nugget from Prof. Blanchard go unanswered. Contained in a post on another matter, Prof. Blanchard argues:
I do not think that there are any constitutionally permissible grounds for preventing homosexuals from adopting children. The state cannot assume that someone is guilty of something because he or she is homosexual.
Let me suggest some grounds for the constitutionality of banning homosexuals from adoption. Is there a "rational basis" for such discrimination? The social science evidence at this point is nearly unanimous: children fare better when they are raised by a father and a mother who are married. Children fair best when raised by their married biological parents, but in the case of most adoptions the non-biological parental alternative is usually better than the reality presented by the biological parents. As Maggie Gallagher has recently written, with most adoptions, "[a]doption is thus a happy end to a tragedy or a crime." If one believes gender matters, as someone as steeped in social-biology as Prof. Blanchard surely does, then the state has reasons to prefer a family that can provide both a mother and father over one that can only provide generic "parenthood." The nurturing of motherhood and the protection of fatherhood are things from which every child can benefit. For example, are there reasons for the state to prefer to put young boys in a family that can provide a strong male figure rather than in a household with only two "mothers"? Or might a father prove useful in a particular way to a 16 year-old girl who is just beginning to date? For a dramatic depiction of a young girl without a father, see the disturbing film "Thirteen."
Further, Prof. Blanchard himself has reported on the continued promiscuity in the homosexual community as evidenced by the still high incidence of AIDS in that community. Does it not seem rational that the state should avoid putting children in that milieu? Shouldn't we prefer to put children in homes that are stable and where this is a strong commitment between the parents?
I suspect these reasons might even pass a "compelling state interest" test, but they surely pass a rational basis test of constitutional scrutiny. Allowing gay couples to adopt makes sense if our primary concern is with the rights of adults. It makes little to no sense if our primary concern is with raising the next generation of citizens. I say limiting adoption to same-sex couples (with a preference for married couples) is both good policy and Constitutionally defensible.
Recall the Rapid City Journal's article about the permanent campaign:
John Thune's victory over Tom Daschle last November shook up the power structure of the U.S. Senate and ended the 26-year career of one of the nation's most prominent politicians.
But it didn't really end the 2004 campaign — at least, not for some former members of Daschle's staff.
Led by public statements from former Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand and the pointed and sometimes profane Internet sniping from other former staffers, the Daschle team continues to wage political war against Thune.
Remember scorched earth?
Also, Jeremy "F--- John Thune" Funk has found new employment:
Congressional Quarterly Today
Oct. 21, 2005 – 9:45 p.m.
People on the Move
By Cheyenne Hopkins, CQ Staff
Jeremy Funk has been named deputy director of media relations for Media Matters for America, a research center that monitors conservative media coverage. Funk previously worked as deputy press secretary f or Americans United to Protect Social Security.