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Saturday, October 29, 2005
Some years ago, a good friend asked me to be the best man at his wedding. The problem was, I wasn't sure he was making the right decision, and several of our mutual friends had already expressed similar doubts to me in private. So I sat him down and told him the truth. What else could a true friend do? I asked him flat out whether he was marrying this girl mostly because he feared he was getting old, and thought that he might not find a better match.
It turns out that he had wondered the same thing about his own motivations, but hadn't been able to put his doubts into words. And once they had told everyone about the marriage, it didn't seem right to tell anyone that he wondered whether he'd made a mistake. So we drank some beer (his own home brew), talked it out, and by the end of the afternoon we both knew that his fiancee was the right girl for him. I was proud to be his best man, and they've been together for more than ten years.
When you think a friend is making a mistake, isn't it your duty to point it out? The old commercial says, "friends don't let friends drive drunk," but that's not the only tragedy that can be avoided by a friendly voice of reason. If I hadn't spoken up, my friend would have still gotten married, but he would have harbored doubts that might have come out and damaged their relationship the first time they had an argument that got emotional.
In the case of the Harriet Miers nomination, Conservatives who didn't blindly support President Bush's original decision are accused of being disloyal to, abandoning, even attacking the President. In fact, no such thing took place. Rather than playing the part of Kool-Aid drinking party apparatchiks, marching off a cliff unquestioningly like good little soldiers, many Conservatives spoke out, giving voice to their doubts about the President's pick. They asked for evidence that Ms. Miers was a good choice for Supreme Court instead of suppressing their doubts and accepting her without question. The rift occurred when it turned out that there was none to be found.
Most Democrats and not a few Republicans seem to be aghast at this blatantly "improper" use of free speech. I understand and expect the former, but the anger of the latter is somewhat ridiculous. "You elected him, now you must blindly accept everything he does," say the Democrats. Of course, they were mostly happy with Ms. Miers, who looked likely to be a moderate Conservative with gusts of Liberal activism on some issues. "How dare you lowly people question the decisions of the President?" ask the Republicans. "You'll damage the party's election prospects for 2006!"
I checked my copy of the Constitution, and -- unless my eyes are failing me -- it still begins "We, the People," not "We, the Party." Elected officials serve the people in a republic, not the other way around. We have questioned, and rightly, mistakes we felt were made on border control, illegal immigration amnesty, pork barrel spending, Medicare entitlements and steel tariffs, among others. It's our right, and more, our duty to do so. The difference is that Congress could easily correct those mistakes under public pressure. A Supreme Court Justice is appointed for life.
So we pointed out the mistake, and the nomination was withdrawn. That news alone will bring Bush's support roaring back. The fact that he did listen to the people who put him into office destroys the Liberal meme of the aloof, out-of-touch President who stubbornly follows his own path no matter what. Obviously, President Bush listens to those who have constructive criticism to offer -- he just ignores Liberal nay-saying and whining, as should we all.
Taking a Mulligan -- a golf term for "undoing" a poor shot -- on Harriet Miers gives President Bush an opportunity to launch a public relations offensive with his base solidly behind him. The economy is expanding at a strong rate of 3.8 percent, the Iraqi people have approved a democratic constitution and will be holding an election in December, and a series of public trials for Saddam Hussein's brutal crimes are soon to begin. Now, if the President nominates a strong originalist like Sam Alito, Janice Rogers Brown, Michael Luttig or Edith Hollan Jones, we can finally have that national conversation about judicial activism and tyranny the Left has been dreading for decades.
Posted at Saturday, October 29, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The Miers Debate: No Reason To Blink
When Harriet Miers was first nominated to the Supreme Court, my initial reaction was, "who?" Then I thought, "I'll reserve judgment until I do some research into her background and opinions." But there was nothing to be found -- nothing in her favor, anyway. That was before Senator Arlen Specter suggested that Harriet Miers "needs a crash course in Constitutional law." It was before Miers went out of her way to show her ignorance of the Equal Protection clause on the questionnaire, her answers to which many Senators considered "inadequate," "insufficient" and "insulting." And it was before Miers herself admitted, "I need to sort of bone up on this a little more," when asked about some points of Constitutional law.
If this is a Master Plan or a joke, it's a very bad one, and we could be paying for it for generations. Does anyone really think she would be a good Justice just because she's religious (so was Anthony Kennedy) or Republican (so was David Souter)? Sure, she might vote whichever way President Bush tells her to (for a while), but that does not make her a good Justice. That's not what it's supposed to be all about.
The most common question from Republicans is, "Don't you trust the President's judgment?" I'd like to trust my own, if I could find a single speech or written narrative from Harriet Miers that shows her own opinion and a convictive style of writing. A seat on the Supreme Court isn't just a button-pushing vote -- it requires persuasive ability, wisdom and a familiarity with Constitutional law. I don't want someone who'll just vote as she's told... I want an originalist thinker in the mold of Scalia or Thomas, as the President promised. So far, the only writing ability she's shown has been in creative butt-kissing.
As a contrast to the zero trail of Harriet Miers, consider the speech Janice Rogers Brown gave before the Federalist Society in 2000. This woman is such a brilliant thinker, a Constitutional scholar, a Conservative and an originalist that I'm appalled she was passed over in favor of Harriet Miers. In fact, if I were Bush, I'd have put JRB up for Chief Justice and Roberts in for O'Connor, as originally planned. She hits the nail on the head more times in a single speech than will happen during the entire post-Katrina Gulf Coast reconstruction. Brown is the perfect example of what a SC nominee ought to be. Someone we could all rely on to be the kind of originalist scholar who can not only convince her peers through reasoned argument, but influence future generations through her decisions and dissents. I could support Harriet Miers if she had ever given such a speech, or spoken about her Conservative and originalist ideals -- assuming she has any -- so proudly and well.
"The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law," Brown stated in her speech. "The greatest fiasco -- the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people." She went on to say, "Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice -- including our freedom."
Brown identified the New Deal of 1937 as the point where America submitted to quasi-Socialism. "Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights. This change, which occurred with remarkably little fanfare, was staggeringly significant. With the advent of 'economic rights,' the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new 'rights' imposed obligations, not limits, on the state. It thus became government's job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and redistribute it." Janice Rogers Brown might have been predicting the terrible decision of Kelo v. New London. In that case, the CT Supreme Court decided that the city of New London could transfer property from one private owner to another if the change would result in higher tax revenues or job creation. The Supreme Court upheld that decision as Constitutional by a 5-4 vote, to the shock and dismay of all who believe in what the Founders intended.
I can not support a bad nominee. That's what Miers is, no matter how you pretty it up. No one knows her positions on most of the important issues, and she has no background in Constitutional law. For instance, we know she supported quotas and "Affirmative" Action when she was president of the State Bar of Texas. Has she changed her mind about that? No one knows, and anything she says now is suspect. Her only "qualifications" are that she's very religious, and very loyal to President Bush, and those aren't enough to make her a better Supreme Court Justice than JRB or any of the others mentioned.
Honestly, I don't want anyone's rubber stamp vote on the Supreme Court, not even President Bush's. It flies in the face of the independent judiciary envisioned by the Founders of our country. A rubber stamp certainly won't impress the other members of the Court enough to be able to sway their votes to her side. And what kind of decisions or dissents will she write? How will she justify them? "Well, I voted no because George told me to."
Some say that perhaps a Justice who has no background in the Constitution or Constitutional law might be good for the Court. Perhaps a "blank slate" not schooled in the mistakes of the system might be the right person to fix it, they feel. Unfortunately, someone who never studied Constitutional law won't even know what the mistakes are, let alone how to fix them, unless she waits for someone to tell her how to vote. Would you hire a network engineer who didn't understand the basics of networking, had never patched a jack in a LAN closet, or who didn't know the difference between a hub, a switch and a router? Would you let your "blank slate" loose to rewire your entire company's network, believing that someone who hadn't learned the "mistakes" of bad networking was the best person to fix the problems you've been having with your system? Good luck with that.
Conservatives have always been among the first to complain when any President has made a mistake. We're Conservatives, not party apparatchiks. When President Bush didn't close the borders after 9/11, we pointed it out. When he didn't clamp down on government spending or illegal immigration, we pointed it out. When he signed McCain-Feingold, the Medicare bill, several padded federal budgets and countless pieces of pork-stuffed legislation like the Highway Bill, we pointed those out, too. So when people say that we must support anything he does merely because he is the President, I will continue to politely refuse to drink the Kool-Aid.
I, for one, think the debate over the Harriet Miers nomination is actually healthy for the Right. This is how it's done, not the schoolyard name-calling into which the Left has caused "debate" to sink. Already, we've at least got the Republicans and members of the administration making worried noises about controlling the border and even cutting spending, just by making our presence known. That's good. They realise that Conservatives are not happy. We are the base -- no Republican can get far if we are ignored.
With any luck, Ms. Miers will withdraw her nomination for the good of the President and her party. If not, we will see which Republican Senators put principle ahead of party... or at least, which Senators aren't willing to sacrifice their party to support a mistake.
UPDATE: For the sake of the Truth Laid Bear blog autopoll: I oppose the Miers nomination.
UPDATE: Acting in the best interests of the President, the Republican party and the country, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination on 27 Oct 2005.
Posted at Sunday, October 23, 2005 by CavalierX
Thursday, October 20, 2005
The Miers Vote Kick-Starts the Election Cycle
The fight over Harriet Miers is important for a variety of reasons, not all of them immediately apparent. The main reason, of course, is that lifetime appointments to the all-powerful Supreme Court should not be made lightly -- especially when we are, after decades of Liberal judicial activism, in a position to turn the Court in a more originalist direction at last. The judicial branch of the federal government was never intended to become the instrument of change. The Constitution is the foundation upon which our entire society is built, the framework upon which all our laws are hung. Such an important piece of legal and societal infrastructure should not be altered by the whim of five out of hundreds of millions of Americans.
Yet the composition of the present-day court is not the only incentive to pay attention to the Miers confirmation vote. One reason the vote is so important is that no matter which way it goes, it will help determine who will run on the Republican ticket in the 2008 Presidential race.
Although Presidential races are won or lost by the voters in each state, the nominations for each party's candidate are really set by its base. Only the base is motivated enough, generally speaking, to campaign and vote during the primary elections that determine the party's eventual candidate. Furthermore, most campaign money also comes from the base. No Democrat can get the Democratic nomination without running the gauntlet of that party's Liberal wing, and no Republican can get nominated by that party without passing Conservative muster.
No matter how good a candidate for Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to be, the far-Left groups that control the Democratic party were mostly opposed to his nomination. Roberts was too Conservative, too religious, too normal, too smooth, and too well-liked for the Liberals to accept... and besides, he was nominated by George W. Bush. Not every Democrat who voted against the confirmation of John Roberts was considering a run for President in 2008, but no Democratic Senator considering such a run, or running for re-election in 2006, could afford to vote in Roberts' favor. Jon Corzine of New Jersey had his own reason to oppose Roberts -- he needed to please the Liberal base in preparation for his imminent run for NJ governor. In the end, only 22 Senators voted against John Roberts' confirmation, and that list has quite a bit of overlap with the list of Democratic Senators running in the next election or two:
Daniel Akaka (D-HI) - 2006 re-election
Evan Bayh (D-IN) - possible 2008 Presidential run
Joseph Biden (D-DE) - possible 2008 Presidential run
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) - 2006 re-election
Hillary Clinton (D-NY) - 2006 re-election, probable 2008 Presidential run
Jon Corzine (D-NJ) - seat up for 2006 election, may not be running
Mark Dayton (D-MN) - not running, but seat up for 2006 election
Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - 2006 re-election
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) - 2006 re-election
John Kerry (D-MA) - possible 2008 Presidential run
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Barack Obama (D-IL) - possible 2008 Presidential run
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) - not running, but seat up for 2006 election
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - 2006 re-election
With the Miers nomination, the shoe is on the Right foot. Many of the more prominent Conservatives are opposed to her sitting on the Supreme Court, and many Republicans question her nomination. As evidence that Ms. Miers is not Supreme Court material continues to accrete, more and more Conservatives are joining the "opposed" camp. The hearing on her nomination, scheduled to begin on 7 November, will tell us nothing. One can almost create a mental picture of Harriet Miers referring to a transcript of the Roberts confirmation hearing before answering every question.
After the hearing comes the vote... and that's the important thing to watch. As with Liberals and Democrats, no Republican who wants the Presidential nomination can afford to flout the Conservative base. If the trend of increasing opposition to the Miers nomination continues -- and there is no reason to suppose it won't -- the Conservative base of the Republicans will be generally opposed to her confirmation.
Watch the votes of Senators George Allen (R-VA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), John McCain (R-AZ), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Bill Frist (R-MI), Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Most of them are up for re-election in 2006, and all are reportedly considering a run for President/Vice President in 2008. If all Republican Senators running in 2006 or 2008 vote against Harriet Miers, there's a good chance her nomination could be defeated. Hopefully a serious, proven originalist who doesn't need a "crash course in Constitutional law" (according to Senator and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-PA) before sitting on the country's highest court will be nominated in her place.
That's why vocal and continued opposition to the nomination of Harriet Miers is necessary. Not only is there a chance that our representatives will vote down an inadequate nominee in a fair vote, but we'll get a clearer idea of President Bush's possible successor -- the man or woman who gets to nominate the next round of Supreme Court Justices.
23 Oct 2005 UPDATE: Looks as though columnist George Will agrees with me. In today's column, Will writes:
As for Republicans, any who vote for Miers will thereafter be ineligible to argue that it is important to elect Republicans because they are conscientious conservers of the judicial branch's invaluable dignity. Finally, any Republican senator who supinely acquiesces in President Bush's reckless abuse of presidential discretion -- or who does not recognize the Miers nomination as such -- can never be considered presidential material.
Ahh, but I said it here first. ;)
Posted at Thursday, October 20, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Iraqis React to Constitution Vote
Posted at Sunday, October 16, 2005 by CavalierX
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Rejecting the Miers Nomination: Principle over Party
After decades of working to curb the Liberal activist tendencies of the Supreme Court, it's only natural that many Conservatives would be disappointed in President Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for a crucial vacancy. When Bush passed over such outstanding candidates as Michael Luttig, Sam Alito, Janice Rogers Brown, Michael McConnell, Emelio Garza, Edith Holland Jones and so many others to appoint his personal lawyer, many Conservatives erupted, myself among them.
The main objections to Ms. Miers are that she lacks experience with Constitutional law and has shown no indication, in her entire life, of her views on many of the important issues that we face. Her only distinguishing qualifications seem to be that she is very religious, and that she is personally devoted to President Bush. It is fast becoming obvious that she was only nominated to be the "religious vote" on the Supreme Court. I, for one, do not think that Supreme Court cases ought to be decided on the basis of religion, but on law.
Some on both sides of the aisle have tried to paint objections to Ms. Miers as "sexist." Many of the objectors have listed women like Janice Rogers Brown and Edith Holland Jones among their own preferred candidates. Objections have also been labeled "elitist" because Miers went to SMU instead of a fancy East Coast law school, but I haven't seen a single person criticise Harriet Miers on the basis of where she graduated. Quite a few objectors didn't even know what school she attended when they first voiced their opinion. The fact that Miers' defenders have to mischaracterise the arguments against her nomination shows how weak that nomination really is. When your opponents have to resort to a strawman argument, you know that you're probably right. And, more important: they know it, too.
One of the worst arguments against objecting to the Miers nomination is that objectors are "handing power to the Democrats" by undermining support for the President. Some have even gone so far as to accuse objectors of endangering support for the War on Terror, mostly based on hopeful stories in that vein from the "mainstream" media. Support for any politician is never an "all or nothing" deal, however. It is entirely possible to support the President on some issues while pointing out his mistakes on others. Have Conservatives not decried the administration's terrible spending habits and lack of border control before? Did that "play into the hands of Democrats" or undermine support for the war? Frankly, the mistake was made when President Bush spurned his own Conservative base by making this nomination. If he wants to regain the support of that base, all he has to do is withdraw it and name a candidate we can rally behind.
Other bad arguments include the "just shut up and trust the President" argument, and the "let's wait and see how she performs once she has a lifetime appointment to the most powerful court in the land" argument. The "blind trust" argument, despite Liberal accusations, has never worked with Conservatives, most of whom did not even support the invasion of Iraq until they researched and debated all the reasons as well as the ramifications of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The "wait and see" argument hardly deserves rebuttal, as it would obviously be too late to do anything about it if we wait that long to discover Miers' judicial abilities, if any. Most Conservatives are Republicans, and many Republicans are Conservatives, but the Harriet Miers nomination is forcing them to choose between party and principle.
The furor on the Right over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has brought hope to the hearts of die-hard Democrats, but it isn't really the anticipated apocalypse. It's more along the lines of a family squabble over who gets to host Thanksgiving this year. Oddly enough, it has even brought some Liberals and Democrats out to join Conservatives in calling for the nomination of only the best candidates to the Supreme Court. (Some, of course, really object to Miers just because she was nominated by President Bush, but some are sincere.)
This debate could lead to a more Conservative Republican party, if politicians are smart enough to pay attention to the anger of their base over this and other missteps (like overspending and loose border controls). If they don't, a Democratic gain in 2006 is likely. Republican politicians will have no one to blame but themselves if putting principle ahead of party means not supporting them.
And then, if that should happen, we start the fight to return to the system defined by the Constitution -- a system in which the Legislature legislates, the Executive branch guides and the Judiciary adjudicates -- all over again.
Posted at Wednesday, October 12, 2005 by CavalierX
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Why Didn't Bush Nominate My Sister?
Count me among the Conservatives who are less than thrilled with the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. It's just not enough to hope she turns out alright. Conservatives have fought to correct the Leftward slide of the Supreme Court for more than thirty years. Now, when the opportunity arises to replace the unreliable Sandra Day O'Connor with a solid Conservative, a brilliant expert in the judicial field, an excellent Constitutional scholar and -- most important -- a serious originalist Justice... we get someone we have to hope will be a good pick? True, she might turn out to out-Scalia Scalia... but I object to the necessity of using the word "might" in that convoluted sentence.
I don't know Harriet Miers. I have no reason to object to her... but by the same token, I have no reason to support her, either –- except for the President’s endorsement. As in the case of any nomination, support (or objection) should be based on two things: the nominee's resume, and the nominee's record. In Meier's case, one seems thin, and the other non-existent.
What are her qualifications for the job? She's been a lawyer for many years, the first woman hired by her old law firm. She headed the Texas Lottery Commission, and was the President's personal attorney before becoming the White House counsel. She became very religious in her thirties, which reassures most Conservatives about her personal beliefs, at least. That's all fine, but it's not much to go on when choosing a Supreme Court Justice. Plenty of people have qualifications for the position that match or exceed those of Ms. Miers.
Take my sister, for example -- why wasn't she nominated to the Supreme Court? She's been a lawyer for many years (though she is much younger than Harriet Miers), with a law firm widely regarded as the most prestigious in several states. She was, I believe, the firm's youngest female partner. My sister has argued cases before almost every court and nearly every judge in her state, it seems, and knows the law like the back of her hand. She can quote statutes, cases and decisions over the dinner table, and argue both sides of any recent major case, from memory, over coffee and cake. Why was Harriet Miers nominated instead of my sister, or any of thousands of excellent lawyers in this country?
As remarkable as both my sister and Harriet Miers are, the United States Supreme Court is no place for the merely remarkable. Those who sit on the highest court in the land ought to be truly exceptional, giants in their field, the best of the best that America can produce. Their job is to protect our Constitutional rights from violation by lesser courts. It's a place for only the brightest intellects, the most incisive legal minds and the wisest men and women the President -– any President -- can find.
I'm not worried about Harriet Miers becoming unmoored from her values and drifting Left, nor am I upset with the President for nominating someone whose values he feels comfortable with. Some have pointed out her affirmative answer to the question of whether gays should “enjoy the same civil rights as heterosexuals” as evidence of her support for gay "marriage." Well, of course they should -- all Americans are guaranteed the same civil rights by the Constitution. Changing the definition of marriage to include gay "marriage," three-way "marriages" or "marriage" between adults and children has nothing to do with civil rights, however.
I'm mostly concerned that Harriet Miers will simply become eclipsed by the other members of the Supreme Court. Decisions written by members of the Court -- especially dissents -- are often considered masterpieces of judicial scholarship and persuasive argument. What papers has she written that will tell us how utterly brilliant she is? What arguments has she brought that convinced those in dead opposition to her position to change their minds?
This is no time for a cipher or an empty chair. This is the Supreme Court, not the "Pretty Good Court." A nominee to that bench should be the best there is, if he or she expects support from Conservatives -- as opposed to those who are merely being faithful to their political party, or too trusting of any politician. Blind trust has never worked well for Conservatives in the past. Seven of the nine current Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republican Presidents, but only two of them have proven faithful to the Constitution as written – Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Remember, the jury is still out on Chief Justice John Roberts, to borrow a phrase.
I'm glad that Harriet Miers "understands real people," as Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) put it in his article for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. But what I want in a Supreme Court Justice is someone who understands the law and its relationship to the Constitution. I want a Justice who understands the relationship between the three branches of government as set out in the Constitution, and one who believes the Constitution is a rock -- not a blank slate upon which to write his or her own opinion. We deserve a Justice who is a brilliant legal scholar with the ability to argue his or her points using such logic, reason and factual command so as to change the opinions of even his or her staunchest opponents. A persuader, not just a "pit bull in size six shoes." If Harriet Miers cannot live up to those expectations, she should withdraw her nomination.
Of course, my sister is probably available for the post, if anyone asks.
UPDATE: There is, of course, an online petition and links to articles about Harriet Miers at StopMiersNow!
Posted at Wednesday, October 05, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, October 02, 2005
An Interview With The G-Man
On Tuesday, 27 September 2005, I had the honor to be interviewed by none other than G. Gordon Liddy, the G-Man himself, on his nationally-syndicated radio show. If you aren't familiar with his books When I Was A Kid, This Was A Free Country and Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, you ought to check them out. The interview was in response to my 23 September post, "Goodbye to Anthropogenic Global Warming", which was seen in a reprint at Men's News Daily.
The show's executive producer -- Franklin Raff -- contacted me by email, and I called him back. I was more than half-inclined to think it was a practical joke, at first. There are people who owe me at least one, and one of them even lives in Washington DC. But it was no joke. Mr. Raff was even kind enough to send me an .MP3 of the interview, and I used that to type up an unofficial transcript of the segment. I was surprised to find that it lasted about thirteen minutes (including station identification).
I was, unfortunately, so nervous that I stated my conclusions too forcefully, and completely forgot to mention my own blog. I didn't even really notice when Mr. Liddy mispronounced my name. Still, many people have done worse on their first-ever interview on live radio, I think.
Posted at Sunday, October 02, 2005 by CavalierX
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Ronnie Earle and the Great White Whale
Like Captain Ahab's relentless pursuit of Moby Dick, Travis County (TX) District Attorney Ronnie Earle has spent years hunting the Great Right Defendant. After hounding most Conservative Democrats out of Texas politics with his attempts to use the court where the ballot box failed, he began pursuing the Republicans who took their places. Earle's closest encounter with success so far took place in 1993. He got an indictment against Kay Bailey Hutchinson (while she was campaigning for Senator), and finally brought her to the courtroom. When he was unable to present a convincing case, Earle attempted to withdraw the charge. The judge refused to allow it, instructing the jury to return a "not guilty" verdict so the charge could not be brought against her again. Now Earle's off on a new scent; he even bragged at a Democrat fundraiser that he was out to get House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He finally got a grand jury to return an indictment against DeLay, while a film crew follows him through every step of the case.
I'm having some trouble understanding just what it is DeLay's accused of, besides "being Tom DeLay." The indictment itself is even more vague than a Liberal explaining how he differs from a Socialist. Delay was apparently indicted for violating Section 15.02 of the Texas Penal Code. That section states: "A person commits criminal conspiracy if, with intent that a felony be committed: (1) he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and (2) he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement." The statute also cautions: "An agreement constituting a conspiracy may be inferred from acts of the parties." So if Earle can just make it sound as though DeLay conspired to commit a felony, he might be able to get the case into a courtroom. All he needs is for a felony to have been committed.
Apparently, several corporations gave money to TRMPAC, a political action committee, in September 2002. Doing so is not illegal. Unfortunately, Texas law forbids money from corporations from being directly used to fund advocacy for a candidate, though it can be used to cover a campaign's administrative costs. So TRMPAC sent the money to the Republican National Committee to use for administrative purposes -- paying staff salaries, phone bills, equipment and car rentals, etc. That is also not illegal. The RNC had money from other sources, money that could be used for campaigning, that they would have used for administrative purposes. So they gave that money to several Texas campaigns. That, too, is not illegal... and wouldn't be even if, as alleged, TRMPAC told them which campaigns to help.
That's something both the RNC and DNC do -- orchestrate national donations for local campaigns. The corporate money was used to free up money that could legitimately be used for candidate advocacy. In fact, a 2004 article by National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty pointed out that on 31 October 2002, "the Texas Democratic Party sent the Democratic National Committee (DNC) $75,000, and on the same day, the DNC sent the Texas Democratic Party $75,000." Perhaps, to keep elections in the hands of locals, exchanging money between state and national campaigns should be made illegal... but at the present time, it isn't.
The alleged illegality is that some of the corporate money was ultimately spent on things not specified by the law as "advocacy," but that might be seen as such. The Washington Post reported: "At issue in this case is whether spending corporate money on pollsters, consultants and phone banks falls under the definition of administrative costs and not 'express advocacy' for a candidate." Tom DeLay's entire involvement, as far as the indictment claims, is that he might have known that this probably-not-illegal activity was going on. I'm sure that between giving speeches and performing his duties in Congress, DeLay was spending his nights poring over TRMPAC's ledgers to personally track every penny.
Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn't someone figure out whether a given activity is even a crime before handing down indictments for possibly knowing about it? What does Ronnie Earle plan for his opening statement? "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant might have broken the law, or he might not have broken the law. We aren't sure if he did anything illegal, or if anything illegal was done, but he's probably guilty anyhow. If, that is, the law was broken... which we're not quite sure it was. We sure think he's guilty of something, though. Or maybe not." That'll wow 'em. I hope for Earle's sake that Texas juries aren't armed.
In fact, this whole thing stinks like the fake Valerie Plame name-revealing scam. Remember how the Left "convicted" Karl Rove of revealing the name of a super-secret undercover spy? It turned out that she openly held a desk job at the CIA's Langley headquarters, about which all her friends and neighbors knew... and Rove never revealed a thing. Now, as then, the Left has their man tried, convicted and hanged, and they're selling souvenirs at his gravesite, but no one can say what the crime was that he supposedly committed. Without any evidence of an actual crime having taken place, and DeLay's knowledge of it, I'd be surprised if this case would normally make it to a courtroom to be shot down. Figuratively speaking.
The sad part is that it doesn't need to get to a courtroom for Earle to have done his intended damage. Tom DeLay followed the House Republican rules and stepped down as Majority Leader upon being indicted, though he could have forced a rule change that would keep him in place barring anything short of a conviction. A real conviction, that is... not the media conviction that has already taken place. For the rest of his life, even if tried and found innocent, Tom Delay's name will always be followed in the mainstream media by, "the former Republican House Majority Leader indicted for campaign finance corruption."
If only DeLay were a Democrat, his name and position would never be in jeopardy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose glee at DeLay's indictment led her to call Republicans "a culture of corruption," was actually promoted from Whip (second-in-command) to Leader after she was fined by the Federal Election Commission for violating fund-raising rules... something the media never mentions.
Was a crime even committed in this case? At this stage of the game, the only thing that looks criminal is Ronnie Earle's abuse of his office for political attacks. If I were writing the campaign finance laws, I would clearly spell out which activities constitute "candidate advocacy" and which are "administrative costs." But the law, as it stands, does not do so. And unlike Liberals, I am not prone to mistake my personal beliefs for written law.
Tom DeLay will probably survive this obviously partisan attack, though he is unlikely to regain his place as House Majority Leader at this point. Ronnie Earle may find himself in trouble at last, if the indictment is overturned. Remember that in the end, the Great White Whale killed the obsessed Captain Ahab.
The silver lining may be that the Republicans, having lost one of their leaders, might realise they're not secure in their majority, and stop bickering among themselves while Democrats work to divide them. They may even realise they need to keep their Conservative base happy by cutting wasteful expenditures and pork... but no, now I'm dreaming.
Posted at Thursday, September 29, 2005 by CavalierX
Friday, September 23, 2005
Goodbye to Anthropogenic Global Warming
As predictable as the path of an apple falling from a tree, you can always count on Liberals to bring up the canard of human-caused global warming in any discussion that touches upon nature. You can reasonably expect that they will blame any natural disaster on our refusal to surrender to the self-destructive fallacy of the Kyoto agreement. Well, current natural disasters, anyway -- they don't seem to blame the 1900 Galveston hurricane on global warming the way they lay blame for Hurricane Katrina, nor do they accuse mankind of causing the 1868 Nazca earthquake as they do the earthquake that caused the 2004 South Asia tsunami.
Before the rain even stopped falling in New Orleans, Liberals like Robert Kennedy Jr. were already on the attack. "As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, it’s worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2," he wrote. People like Kennedy have spent years using natural disasters to demand that the Western world dismantle its industrial base, while allowing countries like China and Indonesia free reign. It's a sort of industrio-socialism, using propaganda to enforce a homogenised economic and industrial outcome in entirely different countries.
Kyoto, beloved of Liberals, demands that signatories reduce their emissions of certain greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels. The only way for America to comply would be to force companies to reduce production and spend money on expensive environmental controls. This would result in companies relocating their operations to non-Kyoto countries to avoid going bankrupt. And Liberals complain about "sending jobs overseas" now! No wonder Congress soundly rejected it in 1997. Such a move would cause the biggest jump in unemployment in the Western world since the Great Depression. Another result would be the worst pollution imaginable, from countries that have no little or no environmental regulation at all.
Polluting the other side of the planet doesn't seem as important to some Liberals as not polluting the backyards of the rich and famous, however. Indonesia is responsible for releasing one-seventh of the total CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted every year, but Liberals never seem to mind that. They would be more strident about peat-burning in Indonesia if the reduction of greenhouse gases was their real aim. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry and the Kennedy clan, great proponents of wind and solar power that they pretend to be, threw up legal roadblocks to prevent a company from building a wind farm within sight of their Martha's Vinyard and Nantucket retreats. "People want to look out and see the same sight the Pilgrims saw," said Robert Kennedy Jr. -- yes, the same man who attacked President Bush for not reducing CO2 emissions. By "people," he must have meant, "the important people."
At the root of all this hysteria and hypocrisy is the absolute Liberal certainty that global warming is caused by humanity, particularly industrialised capitalist Western nations. You know... the bad guys at the heart of any Liberal fantasy. It was only a few decades ago that the media was full of calamitous warnings about the coming global freeze. Liberals are sure they're correct this time, though. This time, they tell us, the world really is going to end. Scout's honor.
Proponents of anthropogenic global warming deliberately ignore the fact that the global mean temperature, along with the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, have risen and fallen in an easily discernible pattern for at least 400,000 years -- all without interference from lowly humans -- and that it's just reaching a high point between cold snaps. If we all try really hard, we just might be able to add enough CO2 to trip the cycle into the next 50,000 year downslope a few years early.
The keystone of anthropogenic global warming is that the global mean temperature has risen sharply in the last 150 years, since scientists began to measure it. Of course, in order to make their case, Liberals have to ignore the fact that we're still emerging from the Little Ice Age -- a cold spell that gripped the Northern Hemisphere for centuries, until about 150 years ago. Of course the temperature is rising. But is it really due to human influence?
For years, Conservatives have tried in vain to explain to eco-freaks and enviro-nazis that the Earth is largely self-regulating, when they're the ones who often claim it's a living organism. There's a reason we talk about cycles and seasons. When the level of CO2 rises -- which plants certainly don't see as "pollution" -- it triggers natural modulating influences. Higher temperatures melt ice, which causes heavier cloud cover due to moisture, which reflects more of the sun's light back into space, which lowers the temperature. And so on.
When CO2 levels fall too low, natural processes cause it to be released from the soil -- as seems to be happening now. Researchers from the UK's Cranfield University found that some 13 million tons of carbon are being released from the soil every year, as Reuters recently reported. "Since the carbon appears to be released from soil regardless of how the soil is used, the researchers conclude that the main cause must be climate change itself. Though they could not say where all the missing carbon had gone, much of it may be entering the atmosphere as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, which many scientists say is causing global warming." Scientists from Germany's Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry wrote, "These losses thus completely offset the past technological achievements in reducing CO2 emissions, putting the UK's success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a different light." In other words, many Kyoto signatory nations have crippled their industry, spent vast amounts of money and caused rampant unemployment for absolutely nothing.
Science -- not junk science based on hysteria and ideology, but real science based on data and reason -- suggests that global warming is driven more by the sun than anything humans have done. A recent study by Swiss and German scientists indicates that the sun is burning hotter than it has at anytime in the past thousand years. "The Sun is in a changed state," stated Dr. Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. "It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently -- in the last 100 to 150 years." Does that time frame sound vaguely familiar? It's about the same time the Little Ice Age began to end -- the same time that Liberals claim humans began to cause global warming. Isn't it clear that the sun is the real cause? Shouldn't we at least examine this before ruining our economy for nothing?
Every experiment must have a control, or a source of data uncorrupted by the experiment itself. There are no humans on Mars, and there's no way we could influence its climate. Yet Mars is also experiencing global warming, which strengthens the hypothesis that Earth's global warming is heliogenic, or sun-based, to the point of positive proof. It's simply not possible that the sun could cause environmental warming on Mars, but that similar warming on Earth is caused by SUVs and capitalism.
In the absence of any evidence to support it, the anthropogenic global warming argument is as dead as the dinosaurs whose ancient remains I put in my gas tank this afternoon. I'm going to celebrate with a cookout.
Hat tip to Mike's America for the Cranfield University story.
Posted at Friday, September 23, 2005 by CavalierX
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Katrina's Fallout: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The most severe fallout from Hurricane Katrina's effects on New Orleans is in the federal government's reaction. I don't mean the administration's reaction to the hurricane itself, nor the disaster that befell a huge swath of the Gulf Coast, but their response to the media's overblown and falsified attack.
Remember the dire headlines of only weeks ago? The media proclaimed that ten thousand people may have died in New Orleans alone, warning that it would take months just to begin pumping out the deadly toxic water or allow residents back in. It would be years before people could live in New Orleans again, if ever, according to media consensus. Moreover, the media struggled mightily to pin the blame for everything that went wrong on President Bush. (They never did manage to explain how it was his fault that the mayor allowed buses to flood instead of using them for evacuations, or that the governor used the National Guard to turn the Red Cross away from New Orleans instead of patrol its streets.)
After three weeks, however, power is back on in parts of NOLA, the water was nowhere near as toxic as the media led us to believe, the gas pipelines are restored to service, businesses are already reopening and the entire death toll may not reach a thousand. Despite the lack of potable water and dependable levees, residents are moving back in -- disregarding FEMA's advice. (I wonder who they will blame if a late-season hurricane should flood their city again?) The situation was never as bad as the media painted it to be.
It's the same method the media has used to portray Iraq as a horrific quagmire, despite outstanding successes there. Coalition forces have helped Iraqis hold elections, assisted in rebuilding schools and hospitals, and witnessed a free people create a free country. The mainstream media sells stories based on the worst-case scenario, projecting and predicting doom and gloom in order to make a fast buck, regardless of the facts. The reason we can see the truth in New Orleans is that some reporters are actually hitting the streets, instead of holing up in a downtown hotel and reporting what they're told.
Until now, the Bush administration has more or less ignored the mainstream media's hyperbole and responded to the facts, especially in Iraq. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, however, they appear to be addressing the media hype more than the reality of the situation. President Bush's speech of 15 September summed up the good, the bad and the ugly of the administration's reaction.
The good part of what President Bush proposed is the application of Conservative principles to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. Bureaucratic environmental regulations will be eased. Corrupt union rules will be put aside. Home ownership and small business will be encouraged, not stifled. Money will be set aside specifically for job education and training. Federal expenditures will, as much as possible, be balanced by spending cuts instead of higher taxes. The next few years should see the entire area enjoying an economic boom like it's never seen before.
The bad, on the other hand, is short-term job creation fueled by dumping federal tax money into the area. Spending cuts, each of which will be bitterly opposed by Democrats and even some Republicans, can offset not all of it. Moreover, many people will become dependent on aid money, and become unwilling to take advantage of less-secure job opportunities. Unscrupulous politicians will undoubtedly promote federal jobs as a "right," making it more difficult to reduce the amount of federal -- that is, taxpayer -- money going to sustain those jobs. Just wait until the Democrats spend their 2008 campaigns bleating about how the eeevil Republicans are taking away federal jobs from poor people. Print this page and read it again in a few years.
The ugly part of the response is as ugly as it gets. In his speech, President Bush said, "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces." A more powerful central government with the ability to declare federal authority over a state at will is something that should never be allowed. Giving the federal government the power to declare martial law over a state by decree, without asking the consent of the state's governor, would be a betrayal of much of the freedom for which our forefathers fought.
Why should we bother to have state governments, if they can simply be bypassed whenever the federal government perceives a need to do so? Have state officials no responsibility to their citizens at all -- are they not the proper entities to conduct the local response to an emergency? Who should know better where rescue efforts would be effective and supplies might best be allocated -- some faceless bureaucrat in Washington DC? If state and local leaders prove themselves incapable of handling a crisis, the correct answer is to elect better local and state leaders, not to consign even more of our sovereignty to Washington. How can we surrender the rights of sovereign states to an all-powerful federal government merely on the latter's say-so?
In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of this country declared that "these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States." The structure of the federal government was created to deal with other countries -- friends or foes -- and to regulate trade and disputes between those independent states. The Constitution itself is mostly a list of limits on federal power, including the strict admonishment that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
Now we've come to a point where we're actually considering whether to cede state control to a vastly more powerful central government than our founders could have envisioned. I have too much respect for them and for the country they created to accept that.
I fully expected Liberals to push for a stronger central government after Hurricane Katrina -- that and calling for higher taxes are the two things we can always expect from the Left on any provocation. However, I never expected President Bush to accede to that demand.
Posted at Sunday, September 18, 2005 by CavalierX