Thursday, June 30, 2005

Democrats Convicted of Vote Fraud

Yesterday in East St. Louis, Illinois, a jury convicted the city Democratic party chairman, the former city director of regulatory affairs, and 3 others of buying votes last November with cash, cigarettes, and liquor. (Hat tip to Blue State Conservatives.)

Poll: Democrats Do Have Not Core Values

The Democrats commissioned a poll to get a reading on the mood of the country toward the Republican and Democratic parties. (Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.) The poll showed that 43% of likely American voters favor the Republicans and 38%, the Democrats. According to Stanley Greenberg, pollster for Pres. Clinton, voters perceive that Democrats do not have a "core set of convictions or point of view."

Since 2003, the Democrats have chosen to oppose every legislative initiative put forward by Bush and the Republicans. Democrats have said they are simply copying what the Republicans did in 1993-94, when Pres. Clinton had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

Though the Republicans then did oppose Clinton's tax increases, proposed health-care program, and several other proposed new programs, Newt Gingrich, then Minority Leader of the House Republicans, led Republicans in proposing an alternative, which became the Contract with America. Many Republicans ran in 1994 on the Contract with America. The result was a historic shift of control of Congress to the Republicans for the first time in 40 years.

The Democrats today may be copying the 1993-94 Republicans opposition to the numerous Clinton proposals to expand government, but they are not copying the 1993-94 Republicans in telling the American people what they would do if they returned to control. The Democrats' poll indicates that the American people have noticed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Reporters Must Testify or Go to Jail

The Supreme Court declined yesterday to hear the case of 2 reporters who had refused to testify in the Valerie Plame investigation about conversations with confidential sources. The reporters, who work for Time magazine and the New York Times, face a sentence of up to 18 months in jail.

The reporters were ordered to testify because they might have first-hand evidence of a federal crime. The investigation of the possible crime arose from a syndicated column naming Plame as the one who recommended Joseph Wilson, her husband, to look into Iraq's dealings with Niger to purchase yellowcake uranium. After the disclosure and in an effort to embarrass the Bush administration, Democrats and the mainstream media (MSM), including Time and the New York Times, clamored for an investigation into the identity of the leaker, who may have committed the crime of disclosing the name of an undercover CIA agent. Although there were serious reservations about whether a crime had actually been committed, the political pressure led to the naming of an independent prosecutor to investigate the case.

The investigation ironically turned up the 2 MSM reporters as fact witnesses. Now that the legal avenues have been almost exhausted, we will see whether the reporters will go to jail rather than reveal their anonymous sources and their conversations with them.

The Supreme Court long ago rejected the argument that the First Amendment protects reporters who face grand jury subpoenas and thus had no need to revisit the issue. The Times wrote a slanted article that blames conservatives and hostility toward the press for the legal atmosphere in which the courts are reluctant to grant First Amendment protection to reporters who have knowledge of facts relating to a crime.

As the article also points out, however, the federal courts treat reporters the same as ordinary citizens. As a general rule, a person who has knowledge of facts about a crime is required to testify. Why should reporters be treated differently?

The issue is not completely one-sided. Many states exempt reporters from testifying, based on the theory that the public benefits more from the publication of information about crimes than it loses from the absence of a reporter's testimony even when it may be critical to conviction. Congress has not provided an exemption for reporters in federal cases. Thus, reporters must try to convince federal judges that the First Amendment (freedom of the press) requires that the government may not compel a reporter to testify.

The Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment protects the right of reporters to publish what they will but does not exempt them from testifying when they have knowledge of facts relevant to a criminal case. This result seems consistent with the intent of the First Amendment's recognition of freedom of the press and with the general duty of all citizens to give evidence of crimes. Privileges not to testify are limited in number and are interpreted narrowly because of society's need for information in determining a defendant's guilt or innocence.

In the end, society as a whole must determine whether to shield a reporter from testifying about personal knowledge of a crime. In my opinion, the federal system has it right: A reporter may publish information without restriction but, like an ordinary citizen, can be compelled to testify when the reporter has first-hand evidence related to a criminal case.

If newspaper and magazine reporters are granted a privilege not to testify, why not give the same privilege to the anonymous sources? After all, the same purpose of making information available to the public would be served. The fact that we do not even consider a privilege for the anonymous sources is revealing.

If we do grant reporters a privilege not to testify, do we include bloggers and others who also disseminate information? If not, how are they different? If the public benefit is the publication of information by the press, how do you justify the exclusion of newer forms of publishing information? How do you distinguish the newspaper reporter from anyone else who disseminates information?

In this particular instance, consider that the same news organizations that demanded a thorough and independent investigation are now refusing to give evidence in the investigation. Does this stance seem right? I think not.

(Hat tip to How Appealing)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ten Commandments and First Amendment

The Supreme Court issued 2 decisions on whether the display of the Ten Commandments violates the First Amendment's prohibition against the establishment of religion. The 2 decision reach opposite conclusions, suggesting that facts and context matter greatly in these kinds of cases. Each case was decided by 5-4, with Justice Breyer switching sides.

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the opinion in the Texas case, Van Orden v. Perry, holding that the Ten Commandments display did not violate the establishment clause.

The 22 acres surrounding the Texas State Capitol contain 17 monuments and 21 historical markers commemorating the "people, ideals, and events that compose Texan identity." [citation omitted]. The monolith challenged here stands 6-feet high and 3½-feet wide. It is located to the north of the Capitol building, between the Capitol and the Supreme Court building. Its primary content is the text of the Ten Commandments. An eagle grasping the American flag, an eye inside of a pyramid, and two small tablets with what appears to be an ancient script are carved above the text of the Ten Commandments. Below the text are two Stars of David and the superimposed Greek letters Chi and Rho, which represent Christ. The bottom of the monument bears the inscription "PRESENTED TO THE PEOPLE AND YOUTH OF TEXAS BY THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES OF TEXAS 1961." [citation omitted] The legislative record surrounding the State's acceptance of the monument from the Eagles, a national social, civic, and patriotic organization, is limited to legislative journal entries. After the monument was accepted, the State selected a site for the monument based on the recommendation of the state organization responsible for maintaining the Capitol grounds. The Eagles paid the cost of erecting the monument, the dedication of which was presided over by two state legislators. ... Forty years after the monument's erection and six years after Van Orden began to encounter the monument frequently, he sued numerous state officials in their official capacities ..., seeking both a declaration that the monument's placement violates the Establishment Clause and an injunction requiring its removal.


Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious--they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument, therefore, has religious significance. ... And the Ten Commandments have an undeniable historical meaning ... . Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause. [citations omitted]

The placement of the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds is a far more passive use of those texts than was the case in Stone, where the text confronted elementary school students every day. Indeed, Van Orden, the petitioner here, apparently walked by the monument for a number of years before bringing this lawsuit. The monument is therefore also quite different from the prayers involved in Schempp and Lee v. Weisman. Texas has treated her Capitol grounds monuments as representing the several strands in the State’s political and legal history. The inclusion of the Ten Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government. We cannot say that Texas’ display of this monument violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
In the other case, McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, Justice Souter wrote the opinion, finding the Ten Commandments display there violates the First Amendment's establishment clause.

Executives of two counties posted a version of the Ten Commandments on the walls of their courthouses. After suits were filed charging violations of the Establishment Clause, the legislative body of each county adopted a resolution calling for a more extensive exhibit meant to show that the Commandments are Kentucky's "precedent legal code" [citations omitted]. The result in each instance was a modified display of the Commandments surrounded by texts containing religious references as their sole common element. After changing counsel, the counties revised the exhibits again by eliminating some documents, expanding the text set and addingother, and adding some new ones.

The issues are whether a determination of the counties' purpose is a sound basis for ruling on the Establishment Clause complaints, and whether evaluation of the counties’ claim of secular purpose for the ultimate displays may take their evolution into account. We hold that the counties’ manifest objective may be dispositive of the constitutional enquiry, and that the development of the presentation should be considered when determining its purpose.
The 2 written opinions seem to say that government violates the establishment clause when the Ten Commandments is displayed only with texts containing religious references but not when the Ten Commandments is displayed with a variety of monuments having historical references. However, the opinions of the Court in each case were supported by 4 justices, with a fifth justice concurring in the result but not joining the opinion of the Court. This failure of the Supreme Court to find majority support for a line of reasoning suggests that we will see many more years of litigation in this area with no more clarity than we had before.

(Hat tip to SCOTUSblog.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Do Liberal Activists Hate America?

Some liberals loathe America and hate conservatives. Before you dismiss this thought, read this:

... I saw a T-shirt in a Palm Springs shop that said, "So many right-wing Christians, so few lions." ... Nothing funnier than religious believers being ripped to shreds by wild animals in front of cheering pagans.

I'm intrigued by the liberal furor over Karl Rove's remark about the difference in reactions to 9/11. ...

Everything Rove said is absolutely true. I entertained at a 50th anniversary party for a well-known feminist leader about 10 days after 9/11. Much of the liberal elite of the Twin Cities was present. I was wearing a little flag pin that elicited considerable mockery. In a post-performance conversation with 3 prominent DFL [Democratic party] activists, they all agreed that 1) America had it coming 2) much of the rest of the world cheered the attacks and that was not a bad thing; 3) the attack was purely a "criminal" matter that required the issuing of indictments, but surely not a war, and finally and most horrifically, a direct quote, "At least we got rid of Barbara Olson."

... [T]hese people felt free to be so frank and unguarded because they absolutely assumed that I shared their worldview. ... I told them I disagreed completely and left. That was the final straw launching me from my lifelong stint as a Democrat to the Republican party.

The attitude of the Democrat activists exemplifies the far left's loathing of America and conservatives such as Barbara Olson, wife of Bush's Solicitor General Ted Olson and a passenger on the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon. The comment about Barbara Olson reveals a shockingly sick attitude. Keep this in mind as you listen to the liberals' ideas on the war on terror and their reaction to Rove's comments.

If that is not enough to convince you, consider that what some liberals will do to celebrate Independence Day: "This July 4th is Flag Burning Day!"

(Hat tip to Lorie Byrd at Polipundit and to DoubleU's comment # 29.)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Liberal Response to 9/11

If you wondered why Karl Rove said that liberals wanted the U.S. to respond to 9/11 with moderation and restraint, look at these quotes.

Trial in Jordan of Terrorists Who Planned Large WMD Attack

Gateway Pundit covers developments as the largest terrorist WMD trial in history opens in Jordan. The defendants are accused of attempting a nearly successful chemical in Amman, Jordan that would have been a huge catastrophe if it had succeeded.

The post at Gateway Pundit details the defendants' antics in the court room. The most important part of the post, however, concerns what the terrorists were working with.
So what else is astounding about this case?

The chemicals are believed to be VX nerve gas. There was 20 tons of the weapons and explosives captured coming into Jordan from Syria. Syria doesn't make VX. Saddam Hussein's Iraq did.

The defendants also had oxygen, sulfuric acid and nitroglycerin. These are highly combustible substances which the defendants had planned to use to cause explosions that would have dispersed the toxic chemicals.

The leader of the terrorist group was Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, Al Qaida's leader in Iraq. If the attack had succeeded, thousands would have died, including the Americans at the U.S. embassy.

This trial is more important than the American media are treating it. Al Qaeda'a aim was to kill thousands of Arabs and Muslims as well as the Americans at the U.S. embassy. The evidence has shown or will show that Al Qaeda obtained large quantities (20 tons) of chemical weapons and explosives for the planned attack and the probable source of the chemical weapons was Iraq.

Draw your own conclusions, but do not rule out the possibility of direct coordination between Iraq and Al Qaeda. There is not enough known about this to be sure, but you certainly must consider the possibility.

Supreme Court Vacancy Soon?

A flurry of meetings seems to confirm the recent speculation that Chief Justice Rehnquist will step down as soon as this term of the court ends, probably next week. If Rehnquist does retire, this will be the first Supreme Court vacancy in 11 years. The resulting confirmation battle in the Senate over whomever Bush nominates will make this summer very interesting.

Will Pres. Bush nominate a solid conservative or a squish? What tactics will the liberals adopt to defeat the nominee, or at least to tar Bush in the process? Will the 7 Democrats who signed the compromise deal on judicial filibusters honor their pledge not to filibuster except in extraordinary circumstances? As I said, it will be an interesting summer Washington.

(Hat tip to Confirm Them)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Supreme Court Permits Virtually Unlimited Taking of Property by Government

The Supreme Court in the case of Kelo v. City of New London announced a definition of "public use" that allows government to take private property and give it to another private owner. The only limitation on the government's power is that the taking be for a "public purpose", which may include development, a higher use, higher tax revenues, etc. The net effect of this ruling is that government may take one person's property to give it to another (politically connected) person and need only make the barest finding that this taking serves some public purpose.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits government to taking property only for just compensation and for public use. The Kelo case concerns the "public use" requirement. The City of New London approved a development plan designed to create jobs, increase tax revenues, and to revitalize the city. To carry out the development plan, New London claimed the power of eminent domain to take the property of unwilling sellers.

In deciding the case by 5-4, the Supreme Court majority takes a very expansive view of "public use" and government's power to take private property. The court rules that economic development, even of areas that are not blighted or creating a nuisance, are subject to the government's power to take private property and that courts should grant deference to legislative determinations of the public purpose to be served by economic development.

As dissents by O'Connor and Thomas point out, this holding gives government virtually unlimited power to take property. Almost any plan of economic development will at least claim a public purpose of increasing jobs or tax revenues and that determination will be given deference by the courts. The result of this ruling is that government may take one person's property to give it to another (politically connected) person and need only make the barest finding that this taking serves some public purpose.

(Hat tip to Power Line.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hypocritical Democrats Demand Retraction from Rove (but not from Durbin)

At a New York fundraiser last night, Karl Rove compared the responses of conservatives and liberals to the September 11 attacks:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
Rove's comparison incensed Democrats, who demanded an apology and a retraction, something that only one Democrat (Chicago mayor Richard Daley) demanded of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for comparing American soldiers to Nazis, Soviets in the gulags, and Pol Pot. As Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters notes, "What we have here, in this demand for a retraction after a season of personal attacks from Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and the entire leadership of the Democratic Party is pusillanimity at its most hypocritical."

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leader of the Senate Democrats, put out a statement. He said, "Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign." He further stated, "I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks." Is this hypocritical coming from a man who has never repudiated Durbin's slander on American soldiers? Is this hypocritical coming from a man who has never called on Durbin to apologize for his remarks or to resign from his number 2 position in the Senate Democratic leadership?

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, asked that Pres. Bush "show some leadership and unequivocally repudiate Rove's divisive and damaging political rhetoric". Is this hypocritical coming from a man who has aimed incendiary rhetoric at Republicans time and time again?

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said to Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and military leaders in a Senate hearing, "I would hope that you and other members of the administration would immediately repudiate such an insulting comment from a high-ranking official in the president's inner circle." Is this hypocritical coming from someone who has never repudiated Durbin's insulting comments?

Rove's claim that liberals want "to prepare indictments" is right on target. Just listen to the many liberals who want the Guantanamo detainees, including the man who would have been the 20th hijacker on 9/11, to have access to American courts and to have all the protections of American criminal law. Rove's "therapy" comment is an exaggeration, to say the least, but his comment that liberals want to "offer ... understanding for our attackers" is unfortunately all too true for many liberals., one of the leading liberal groups, started a petition within 48 hours of the 9/11 attacks. The petition called for "moderation and restraint in responding to the recent terrorist attacks against the United States" and the use of "international judicial institutions and international human rights law to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, rather than the instruments of war, violence or destruction".

Three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Haw.) said, "I truly believe if we had a Department of Peace, we could have seen [9/11] coming." A little more than a year after the 9/11 attacks, Al Sharpton, a liberal Democrat who competed for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2004, said, "I truly believe if we had a Department of Peace, we could have seen [9/11] coming."

The liberal response to 9/11 has been generally to treat the attackers as criminals rather than as fighters in a war. The liberal response to the war effort has been relentless attacks on Pres. Bush and our soldiers. When a liberal goes beyond the bounds of truth and decency, as Sen. Durbin did last week and as Howard Dean has done many times, few, if any, liberals will ask for an apology or a retraction. But when Karl Rove criticizes the liberal response to the 9/11 attacks, liberals hypocritically demand a full apology.

Maybe Karl Rove should consider Durbin's approach to apologies and should apologize that Democrats were offended. Or maybe Rove should adopt Dean's in-your-face approach of refusing to apologize. Liberal Democrats always love that approach when Dean uses it.

Frankly, Rove has little to apologize for. Unlike the remarks of Durbin, Dean, Reid (Bush is a "liar"), and other red-meat Democrats, Rove is mostly on target.

Karl, stand your ground. You can cite many statements by liberals to support your comments. The Democrats will not enjoy a public war of words over their many statements supporting softer, more understanding treatment of terrorists who want to kill Americans by the thousands.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Durbin's "Apology"

Last week on the Senate floor, Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.) compared American soldiers to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings". This comparison drew outrage from the American public.

Late last week, Durbin said he regretted any "misunderstanding" caused by his comments. Of course, his prepared remarks on the Senate floor had not been misunderstood. To the discomfort of Durbin and other Democrats, the public understood his remarks all too well. Durbin's non-apology did nothing to quiet the political storm.

Yesterday, Durbin again spoke (registration required) on the Senate floor. Durbin acknowledged that "some may believe that my remarks crossed the line." Only "some"? Notice that Durbin does not admit that his remarks did cross the line or that he himself believes his remarks crossed the line.

Durbin said he used "a poor choice of words". His words were worse than a poor choice. They were inaccurate, offensive, disrespectful.

Durbin said he never intended any disrespect for American soldiers. However, his words clearly showed disrespect for American soldiers. How does a comparison to Nazis, Soviets in the gulags, and Pol Pot not show disrespect?

Durbin also said, "I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time." Notice that he avoids any apology for what he said.

Durbin added, "I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military." Again, notice that he avoids any apology for what he said. He never admits that he was wrong!

Durbin's original remarks revealed his anti-military bias and his disrespect for American soldiers. His attitude is widely shared by the Democrats in Congress, not a one of whom criticized his remarks, and by the far left wing base of the Democratic party.

The press's treatment of Durbin's remarks contrasts sharply with its treatment of Sen. Trent Lott's (R-Miss.) remarks that were favorable to former Sen. Thurmond's 1948 run for President as a Dixiecrat. Lott's remarks drew front-page coverage and an editorial drum beat for his resignation as Senate Majority Leader. The mainstream media are not covering Durbin's remarks on the front page and are not calling for Durbin's resignation as Democratic Whip, the number 2 leadership position among Senate Democrats.

Durbin should do what Lott did--apologize, admit that he was wrong, and resign. The mainstream media should demand no less if they want to be even-handed.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Parents, Not Villages

Yesterday was Father's Day. Most fathers do a good job of parenting their children, but too many abandon the children they have conceived. A father's abandonment of his child is not good for the child. Children normally need both their parents to develop into the best adults.

A few years ago, Hillary Clinton wrote "It Takes a Village". She was wrong. A village will never care for children as well as the parents will. The parents care for their children and want them to do well. If the village takes care of the children, the caretakers are doing a job. Doing a job and parenting are not the same.

To all you fathers out there who do your best to raise your children, happy Father's Day, and thank you for what you do.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Durbin Flunks History

This week, Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Obviously, Durbin completely lacks perspective. The Nazis killed 6 million Jews for being Jewish. The Soviets imprisoned at least 20 or 30 million in the gulags and killed 2 or 3 million for having a dissident view. Pol Pot killed 2 or 3 million of his countrymen in Cambodia for crimes such as wearing glasses, a sign of the learned classes. A movie, "The Killing Fields", was made about one man's escape from Pol Pot's Cambodia. The title tells you all you need to know about Pol Pot. The Guantanamo interrogators have killed no one.

What the Guantanamo interrogators did, even the very worst that anyone believes they did, does not begin to compare with what was done by the Nazis, the Soviets in their gulags, and Pol Pot. To say otherwise, as Durbin did, shows a complete lack of any historical perspective or a total absence of knowledge of history.

Durbin refused to apologize to America's military after his remarks created an uproar. Apparently, Durbin lacks class, too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Confirm Them

Confirm Them is the best blog for keeping informed on the judicial confirmation battles in the Senate. Confirm Them also links to posts that are relevant to the more general controversy over judges and judicial appointments. One post there today mentioned my post yesterday, Constitutional Checks and Balances in Judicial Appointments. Ever since Confirm Them started, I have had many thoughts of how good a blog Confirm Them is. Now I can confirm them.

Visit Confirm Them (and Quite Right) often to stay informed.

Republican Voters Signal Dissatisfaction with Senate Judicial Compromise

We now have the results of the first test of the reaction by Republican voters to the Senate compromise on usicial nominees. In Ohio's 2nd congressional district, Republican primary voters dropped early favorite Pat Dewine, son of Senator Mike Dewine, one of the group of 14 senators who agred to the compromise deal, to fourth place with only 12% of the vote. What caused the quick and sharp drop? "It does speak to the power of the filibuster issue among social conservatives," said Amy Walter, who studies House races for the Cook Political Report. "I think it really turned a pretty sleepy race into a very hard-fought one." (Hat tip to Confirm Them.)

After seeing this election result, if I were a Republican in the group of 14, I would be making sure the Democrat signers stick to their part of the deal to assure no more filibusters of judicial nominees. If the Democrats renege by claiming "extraordinary circumstances" justify a filibuster, I would have no qualms about changing the Senate rules to prohibit filibusters of judicial nominees. That assumes, of course, that I would want to keep my Senate seat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Constitutional Checks and Balances in Judicial Appointments

Lately, a few senators, including Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have suggested that Pres. Bush should (or must) discuss or collaborate with the Senate before making judicial appointments, particularly for the Supreme Court. The compromise deal by the group of 14 also encouraged the President to consult with the Senate before nominating a judicial candidate.

As a matter of constitutional checks and balances, the Senate would be unwise to require the President to have prior consultations on judicial nominees. The Constitution vests the power of nominating judges solely in the President. The role of the Senate is to give its advice and consent on the nominees before they may be appointed to the federal bench. The separation of powers on judicial appointments is an important check and balance on the powers of the executive and the legislative branches.

By excluding Congress from a role in nominating judges, the Constitution prevents Congress from accumulating too much power. As set forth in the Constitution, the Senate has no say in choosing judicial nominees, and the President has no say in the Senate's confirmation process.

This separation of powers helps to protect the independence of the judiciary. If the President could appoint judges without a Senate review, judges would be less independent of the President. After all, if the President had no Senate review, he would be more likely to select judges with a greater emphasis on political reliability.

Similarly, if the President could only nominate individuals pre-approved by the Senate, the President's personal judgment of the relative qualifications of candidates would be reduced or nullified. Thus, the President's influence over the judiciary would suffer. The Senate would be in a position to exclude nominees preferred by the President. The Senate could, and probably would, insist on the nomination of its own choices by refusing to confirm any others. In effect, judges would be chosen through the Senate's often crude political process of trade-offs, lowest common denominators, and protection of personal prerogatives.

The branches of the federal government naturally compete for power. Allowing the Senate to "consult" on judicial nominations will lead to a Senate veto over the judicial nominations. The Senate will naturally favor its own preferred candidates and will seize on the President's rejection of one of its choices as a reason to reject the President's own nominee. Down this road of consulting and collaboration lies increased Senate power and marginalization of the President's input in judicial nominations.

Irresponsible Democrats Go Off Topic

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Patriot Act, or at least the hearings were supposed to be about the Patriot Act. Instead, the Democrats on the committee used one hearing as a platform to attack the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policy, especially on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. Of course, the Patriot Act, which was supposed to be the subject of the hearing, has nothing to do with Guantanamo detainees.

That did not stop the Democrats from calling a panel of witnesses to testify about the perceived shortcomings of Bush's policies on Guantanamo and the war on terror. At the end of the hearing, chairman Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) tongue-lashed the the witnesses and the Democrats for presenting grievances against the Bush administration that did not concern the Patriot Act.

When will the Democrats begin to act responsibly in carrying out their legislative duties? If the hearing concerns the Patriot Act, invite witnesses to testify about the Patriot Act, not other unrelated issues.

Also see Power Line and Power Line again (the last half of the second post).

Monday, June 13, 2005

Time's Story on Guantanamo Interrogation

Time magazine wrote an article on interrogation of one detainee at Guantanamo. The Time story concerns detainee Mohammad al Kahtanni, who was to be the 20th hijacker on September 11, 2001 but was prevented from entering the U.S. The Department of Defense yesterday issued a response.

As the DOD's press release reminds us, the environment immediately after September 11 as far different than Time wisshes to acknowledge. Specifically,
- There had just been anthrax attacks in the U.S. in December of 2001.
Richard Reid tried to blow up a U.S. airliner with a shoe bomb.
- Over the spring and summer, there were deadly attacks in Tunisia and Pakistan.
- In October 2002 al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri released a tape recording stating “God willing, we will continue targeting the keys of the American economy.”
- In September and October, the FBI broke up the Lackawana Six cell in New York.
- On October 6, 2002, al-Qaida attacked a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, an attack that harkened back to the killing of 17 service members on the USS Cole.
- On October 8, 2002, al-Qaida gunmen shot and killed a US Marine in Kuwait.
- On October 12, 2002, al-Qaida affiliate Jemaah Islamiya bombed a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, killing more than 200 and injuring about 300.
- On November 28, 2002, al-Qaida fired two anti aircraft missiles at a Boeing 757 aircraft flying from Mombassa, Kenya to Israel; suicide bombers also attacked the Paradise Hotel in Mombassa, Kenya killing 15 and injuring 40.
- On December 30, 2002, three U.S. citizens were killed in Yemen during an attack on Baptist Missionary Hospital.
Through interrogation, Khatani revealed:

- He had been sent to the U.S. by Khalid Sheik Mohamed, the lead architect of the 9/11 attack;
- That he had met Osama Bin Laden on several occasions;
- That he had received terrorist training at two al-Qaida camps;
- That he had been in contact with many senior al-Qaida leaders.
Khatani provided other information as well. This additional information:
- Clarified Jose Padilla’s and Richard Reid’s relationship with al-Qaida and their activities in Afghanistan
- Provided infiltration routes and methods used by al-Qaida to cross borders undetected
- Explained how Osama Bin Laden evaded capture by U.S. forces, as well as provided important information on his health
- Provided detailed information about 30 of Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguards who are also held at Guantanamo

The Guantanamo interrogations, which have not amounted to torture, have thwarted some of the terrorists' plans and have saved American lives. Of the Guantanamo detainees who have been released, approximately a dozen have returned to fighting and killing Americans.

We should not forget that the Guantanamo detainees include some of the worst terrorists in the world. Nonetheless, we have treated the detainees humanely, certainly far more humanely than Al Qaeda has treated its prisoners.

The critics of Guantanamo and interrogation of its detainees forget or ignore the very real threat that Al Qaeda poses to Americans. How many lives are the critics willing to sacrifice to make a political point?

(Hat tip to Power Line)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Kerry Refuses Records Release to Others

After John Kerry signed his form SF-180 to release his military records to the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, newspapers favorable to Kerry, Kerry's press representative refuses to release the military records to others. (Hat tip to PoliPundit.) As Thomas Lipscomb writes:

Both the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times claim that Kerry will release any papers in their possession to anyone else who applies. But that isn’t what The New York Sun’s Josh Gerstein found when he called Kerry’s able press representative, David Wade. Gerstein reports: “Asked whether the senator would permit release of the records to The New York Sun, Mr. Wade said, ‘The issue is over.’"
Neither the Globe nor the L.A. Times will make available their copies of Kerry's records or of his form SF-180. After Kerry refused to release his records during the presidential campaign, promised on Meet The Press in January to sign the form 180, delayed signing the form 180 for 4 months, and released the records only to the most supportive news outlets, all the questions about Kerry's military service still survive because Kerry and and the 2 newspapers refuse to allow the public to see the form 180 and the records. Kerry's continued dodging on his military records is beginning to make Bill Clinton look like a straight shooter.

Kerry's unbecoming conduct on the release of his military records is amazing! The best anyone can say is that Kerry appears to be a spent force in presidential politics.

Media Sees Gnat but Not Elephant

Power Line directs our attention to an article by Heather MacDonald on the media's myopic focus on allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo and other detention facilities. As the article makes clear with several examples, the media takes the allegations of prisoner abuse out of all proportion and misses the whole point of the detention facilities.

The following exchange between Saar [American interrogator who wrote on alleged abuse at Guantanamo] and detainee Mustapha, with whom Saar had been conducting long heartfelt conversations about religion, rather calls out for attention, however. Saar, showing a reverse Stockholm syndrome, had asked the Syrian Mustapha for Mustapha’s opinion of him. Mustapha replies coolly: "You are not how I thought an American man or soldier would be. You believe in God and you love your family. In a way I respect you. But . . . you are not a Muslim. In fact, you are an enemy of the true God. If I were not in this cell I would have to kill you."
(Emphasis added.)

Many in the mainstream media want the U.S. to close our terrorist detention centers. However, as the quote above shows, actually closing the detention facilities would release detainees who feel a duty to kill Americans. This would be insane!

Read Heather MacDonald's whole article.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Close Guantanamo?

Former President Jimmy Carter calls for the U.S. to close the prison facility at Guantanamo. What would we do with the detainees?
They could be sent back home, they could be put on trial, they could be given -- all of them -- a guaranteed right, first of all, that they will not be held incommunicado ... that they have a right to counsel ... .
Apparently, Carter considers the Guantanamo detainees equivalent to common street criminals caught in the U.S. instead of terrorists captured on the battlefields in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

If the U.S. follows the advice of Carter and other Democrats, what will Carter say when, as will inevitably happen, former Guantanamo detainees kill American soldiers and civilians? (This has already happened after the releases of some Guantanamo detainees.) Will Carter visit the mothers of the dead to explain how much the release of her child's killer improved the U.S.'s international image?

Do Carter and like-minded Democrats care more for the detainees at Guantanamo than they do for the lives of Americans? Do Democrats understand the war on terror and the threat to America? Do Democrats like Carter expect American voters to believe that Democrats will vigorously defend Americans from terrorism when the rest of the world is willing to risk American lives?

(Hat tip to Hoystory)

Senate Confirms 3 Appellate Judges

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed 3 judicial nominees, William Pryor, Richard Griffin, and David McKeague. Pryor will serve on the Eleventh Circuit court of Appeals, where he serves currently due to a recess appointment last year by President Bush. Griffin and McKeague will serve on the Sixth Circuit, which has several vacancies because Michigan's 2 Democrat senators, Levin and Stabenow, have blocked votes on all nominees for at least 3 years. President Bush gave a statement, in which he praised the Senate for giving these 3 long-suffering nominees an up-or-down vote.

The votes on Griffin and McKeague were unanimous. If no senator voted to oppose their nominations, what good reason did the Michigan senators have for blocking votes on all Sixth Circuit nominees? Personal pique is not a good reason.

All 3 nominations had been delayed by the Democrats before the compromise deal reached by the group of 14 senators, which was composed of 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans. It is early, but there is at least some basis now for hope that the compromise will enable the Senate to have up-or-down votes on President Bush's nominees to the appellate bench. The real tests are yet to come when the nominations of Brett Kavanaugh for the District of Columbia Circuit, William Haynes for the Fourth Circuit, and whoever Bush nominates when a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Questions About Kerry's Form SF-180

According to Thomas Lipscomb of the Chicago Sun Times (hat tip to Polipundit):
A front page story in the Boston Globe claimed that: "Senator John F. Kerry, ending at least two years of refusal, has waived privacy restrictions and authorized the release of his full military and medical records." In another Globe story Kerry had promised "The truth in its entirety will come out." But did it?

Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has already found a discrepancy confirmed by the Department of the Navy of “at least a hundred pages” missing from those already disclosed by Kerry.

...[H]ow an SF 180 is filled out is as important as signing it. But no one in the press has yet claimed to have seen a copy of Kerry’s SF-180. When asked if she had a copy of Kerry’s SF 180, the Globe’s Managing Editor Mary Jane Wilkinson said, “I haven’t seen it, and I don’t know if anyone here has.”

Kerry’s Senate offices could not provide a copy of the Kerry SF 180 and would not answer inquiries. Is it possible that Kerry filled it out wrong or sent it to the wrong place?


Now that the Boston Globe has in its possession what it claims are Kerry’s “full military and medical records,” is the Globe ready to make these records available to the public? Wilkinson replied, “It is my understanding that Kerry will release these papers to anyone else now that he has signed the Form 180. The Boston Globe is not going to make available the papers we have received.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Kerry's Military Records

John Kerry finally released his military records. The biggest surprise is that the records do not contain a surprise. With no negative news in the records, Kerry's decision not to release the records during the presidential campaign last year shows either stupidity or extremely poor judgment, neither of which is a good quality for a president.

Why did Kerry wait until now? According to the Boston Globe (hat tip to Captain's Quarters),
On May 20, Kerry signed a document called Standard Form 180, authorizing the Navy to send an ''undeleted" copy of his ''complete military service record and medical record" to the Globe. Asked why he delayed signing the form for so long, Kerry said in a written response: ''The call for me to sign a 180 form came from the same partisan operatives who were lying about my record on a daily basis on the Web and in the right-wing media. Even though the media was discrediting them, they continued to lie. I felt strongly that we shouldn't kowtow to them and their attempts to drag their lies out."

The one area that appears negative for Kerry is his academic record at Yale. His grade point average is slightly below George W. Bush's. Kerry's academic record puts the lie to all the Democrats' campaign rhetoric that Bush is not bright enough to be President. Perhaps Kerry's desire to continue that campaign tactic caused him to withhold access to his military records.

One concern with Kerry's release of his records is that he released the records to the Boston Globe. The Globe reporter, Michael Kranish, wrote favorable articles about Kerry's Vietnam service. So far, the records have not been released to the public. If the records are not made freely available to anyone, doubts will persist about whether all Kerry's records were produced and reported accurately.

In any case, concerns about Kerry's military service are not likely to trouble the American public again. Though Kerry will probably run again in 2008, he will not be favored to win the Democratic nomination, not with his performance in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in the race. Let the voters of Massachusetts make of Kerry's military records what they will.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Summary of Decision in Washington Governor's Election Contest

In last fall's election for governor of Washington, the Democratic candidate, Christine Gregoire, was certified as the winner over the Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, by 129 votes. Rossi had led the initial count and the first recount, but Gregoire won the second recount. Because of the close result and many problems in counting the votes, especially in King County, where Seattle is located and Democrats are in control, Rossi contested the election in court and asked for a new vote.

The judge issued his decision yesterday. The judge found 1,678 illegal votes were cast, including 754 felons proved by Republicans, 647 felons proved by Democrats, 96 provisional votes in King County, 79 provisional votes in Pierce County, 77 votes in Pierce County without a credited registered voter, 19 deceased voters, and 6 double voters.

The judge determined that only 5 of the illegal votes could be assigned to a candidate, including 4 cast for Rossi and one cast for an independent. That left 1,673 illegal votes that could not be assigned to one candidate.

In the key holding of the case, the judge ruled that the Republicans' "proffered expert testimony on proportional deduction in the context of this election contest case does not involve either an accepted theory or a valid technique to implement that theory". Translation: the expert's theory of how the illegal votes were cast was not evidence of how the votes were in fact cast. In other words, the Republicans had no evidence on this essential point unless they could show how the illegal votes were actually cast. That is impossible in the case of deceased voters and votes in excess of the number of credited voters. For other voters, the cost would be prohibitively high to determine how each of the illegal voters voted.

Without credible evidence of how 1,673 illegal votes were cast, the Republicans were not able to overcome the 129 vote deficit. Consequently, the judge upheld, in effect, the election result.

For more information, including a lot of background, go to Sound Politics, especially this post on the judge's "no evidence" holding.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Decision in Washington Governor's Race

The trial judge has announced his decision in the trial about last fall's election for governor of Washington. As you may recall, the Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, led by a very thin margin after the initial count and the first recount but lost on the second and final recount to the Democratic candidate, Christine Gregoire, by 129 votes. King County, a heavily Democratic county where Seattle is located, had massive problems in the conduct of the election. As a result, Rossi contested the result of the election and asked for another statewide vote.

The judge decided against Rossi. I guess the Republicans were unable to carry their burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence, a higher standard than the normal preponderance of the evidence, to show that the errors changed the result of the election. I will review a copy of the opinion if it is available online to see what the judge said, and I will comment further then.

UPDATE: Rossi has announced that he will not continue the election contest.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

No Heroes in Watergate Saga

Here is an interesting vignette about how the Washington Post's editor and reporters acted in the Watergate saga. If this the way the "heroes" of the Watergate story acted, there were no heroes.

Will Senate Democrats Filibuster 9 Judges?

Less than 2 weeks ago, the group of 14 senators (7 Democrats and 7 Republicans) reached a compromise deal on filibusters of judicial nominees. Under the deal, the 7 Democrats agreed not to support a filibuster of future nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances".

Now, the Democrats are reportedly claiming that the compromise does not bar a filibuster of the following 9 judges:

Saad, Henry — Sixth Circuit
Myers, William — Ninth Circuit
Kavanaugh, Brett — District of Columbia Circuit
Haynes, William — Fourth Circuit
Boyle, Terrence — Fourth Circuit
Griffin, Richard — Sixth Circuit
McKeague, David — Sixth Circuit
Neilson, Susan — Sixth Circuit
Griffith, Thomas — District of Columbia Circuit

The first 2 on that list, Myers and Saad, were specifically listed in the compromise deal as current nominees on whom there was no agreement. In other words, the 7 Democrats did not promise to vote to end a filibuster of Myers and Saad, and "extraordinary circumstances" need not be presefiilibusterfiibuster. Therefore, these 2 nominees will almost certainly be filibustered.

The next 2 on the list, Kavanaugh and Haynes, were filibuster targets in the 2003-04 Congress. Their nominations were in committee when the group of 14 announced the compromise deal. Given that their nominations were not on the floor and were not named as current nominees, the compromise deal appears to treat Kavanaugh and Myers as future nominees whose nominations would be filibustered only in "extraordinary circumstances". The compromise deal means little for judicial nominees if it allows a filibuster of 2 nominees when their nominations are in committee and all the Democrats are very well aware of them.

The compromise deal did not mention the remaining 5 on the list as current nominees and thus appears to treat them as future nominees whose nominations would be filibustered only in "extraordinary circumstances". If the compromise deal does not stop a filibuster of these 5 nominees, the deal is virtually worthless.

As we can tell from various reports of filibusters of nominees not named in the compromise deal, the liberal interest groups and the Democratic leadership are pressuring the 7 Democrats in the group of 14 to stretch the compromise to allow filibupresident Presidnt Bush's judicial nominees. This does not bode well for Senate comity. If the Democrats filibuster several nominees, the 7 Democrats who signed the compromise deal will be violating certainly the spirit and probably the letter of the compromise.

I must note that all predictions of what the Democrats will do or have agreed to do are speculation. Until the 7 Democrats are put to the test on the filibuster of a nominee not named in the compromise deal (that is, a future nominee whose nomination would require "extraordinary circumstances" for a filibuster), we do not know that they will break their promise. If the reports of Democrats' plans to filibuster the 9 nominees listed above turn out to be true, the compromise will be a failure. In that event, the 7 Republican signers should not be bound by their pledge not to change the Senate rule on judicial filibusters.

Any vote on changing the filibuster rule to prohibit filibusters of judicial nominees will be close.

If the filibusters continue, what will the 7 Republican signers do? Despite their desire to avoid a vote on changing the filibuster rule, the only remaining course of action will be a vote to change the rule on judicial filibusters. If the Republicans are not willing to change the rule in the face of continuing filibusters, the Democrats will recognize the weakness and lack of cohesion and will ratchet up their obstruction and delay tactics.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Palestinians Refuse to Stop Suicide Bombings

While the Palestimian Authority (PA) claims it has stopped suicide bombings targeting Israel, the PA refuses to take action to stop planned suicide bombings. Recently, Israel's security service "informed the PA of the planned suicide bombing, named the terrorists, and repeatedly asked the PA to arrest them. The response not only was negative but PA security officials also asked Israel to remove the terrorists from the wanted list". Israel's defense forces prevented the suicide bombing when they captured 2 Palestinians at check points who were attempting to enter Jerusalem for a double suicide bombing.

Until the Palestinians elect people who want to stop the terrorist violence against Israel, there will be no peace in Israel and Palestine. This has always been the primary stumbling block to peace in the region. It remains the barrier to peace.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Deep Throat and Media Bias

Deep Throat, the code name for the source of Woodward and Bernstein's critical information about Watergate, has been revealed and confirmed. Deep Throat is Mark Felt, former deputy director of the FBI.

The mainstream media (MSM) treats Felt as a hero. But, the MSM treated Linda Tripp, who came forward with the information on Monica Lewinsky, as someone who betrayed a trust. The MSM also geve hero status to Susan McDougal, who refused to testify about Bill Clinton and Whitewater, for her courageous stand against independent prosecutor Ken Starr.

Like the MSM, I do not condone Nixon's misdeeds and am glad they were revealed. Unlike the MSM, I do not condone Clinton's misdeeds and am glad some of them were revealed. Unlike the MSM, I do not admire Susan McDougal's refusal to give testimony that would have hurt Clinton. The bias of the MSM becomes clearer every day.