Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Would Democrats Have Voted for Miers?

You may remember that Harriet Miers was originally nominated to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. She was an unexpected nominee. Conservatives complained mightily that she was not qualified and was not a conservative choice. When some of her past speeches, embarrassing to a Bush judicial nominee, were made public, Miers requested the withdrawal of her nomination. Pres. Bush then nominated Judge Sam Alito.

Several Democrats said that the withdrawal of the Miers nomination in response to conservative criticism and the substitution of Alito showed that Bush was acting to please extreme right wingers. When the nomination of Alito came up for a vote by the full Senate this morning, Democrats voted 40-4 against confirming Justice Sam Alito.

The result of the Senate vote and the preceding sequence of events raises the interesting question of whether Senate Democrats would have voted for Miers. One Democrat who had recommended the nomination of Miers was Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Minority Leader. Normally, when a senator recommends someone, the senator is a certain vote for the recommended nominee. However, when asked the question, Reid surprisingly refused to commit that he would have voted for Miers.

Last week, I saw an interview of Ralph Neas, the head of People for the American Way (PFAW), the leading liberal interest group on judicial nominees. Thus, Neas is the most influential liberal on judicial nominees. The interviewer, a liberal but a fair-minded one, asked Neas whether he and PFAW would have supported Miers. Neas also refused to make a firm commitment.

Senate Democrats used the withdrawal of the Miers nomination as a reason to oppose Alito, who could only be a Kool-Aid-drinking conservative to be nominated in those circumstances. Just a few months ago, 22 of the 44 Senate Democrats voted against now Chief Justice John Roberts, probably the best qualified Supreme Court in my lifetime. The motivating factor for many Democrats in the Roberts and Alito votes is their need for the money and volunteers that will come from the most liberal interest groups. (PFAW, for example, has 750,000 members, who are more active and liberal than most voters.) Roberts was so obviously and highly qualified that half the Senate Democrats voted to confirm him. The Democrats who voted for Roberts were threatened with a withdrawal of financial support and votes.

The most activist Democrat voters are very liberal and are spoiling for a fight against anything Bush does. If a Senate Democrat wants their support, the senator will oppose Bush's judicial nominees in the strongest way. Note that all the Senate Democrats who are aiming to run for president in 2008 (Clinton, Kerry, Biden, Feingold) voted to filibuster the nomination of Alito.

Considering the political motivations for Senate Democrats and the public statement of leading individuals, it is unlikely that a majority of Senate Democrats would have voted for Miers. No matter what the Senate Democrats say about how Pres. Bush should not have withdrawn the Miers nomination, very few of them were going to vote for Miers.

Senate Confirms Alito

This morning, the Senate confirmed Judge Sam Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The vote was 58-42. Republicans voted 54-1 for, Democrats voted 40-4 against, and the one independent (who votes with the Democrats to orgainize the Senate) voted against. As Power Line writes:

The vote changes the "rules" for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under the Alito rule, Senators will vote against highly qualified nominee for no reason other than that they expect the nominee to rule contrary to their preference on major issues. Under the Alito rule, the president's party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president's party doesn't control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed.

Justice Alito will be a good justice. The Alito vote shows how important the most liberal interest groups are to the Democratic party today. It is unfortunate that Democrats have, for partisan purposes, abandoned the Senate's traditional role of confirming nominees who are well qualified to serve on the high court.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Is Reid in Trouble?

I watched the interview of Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on Fox's Sunday morning news show this past weekend. Dean tried to say that Democrats received no money from Abramoff. This would not work after Chris Wallace, the Fox interviewer, noted that there was evidence that Abramoff directed his Indian tribe clients to contribute money to Democrats. Dean retreated to say that no Democrat did anything in return. When pressed, Dean said that any Democrat who did any Democrat who did anything in return for a contribution from one of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients would be "in trouble".

After the interview, Wallace pointed out the already public information that, after receiving political contributions from one of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote a letter urging approval of the tribe's casino application. These facts do not mean that Reid agreed to write the letter in exchange for the campaign contribution, which would be a criminal act, but it does appear that Reid only wrote the letter because he had received the Indian tribe's money.

Given Reid's action and Dean's declaration that a Democrat would be in trouble for doing anything in return for campaign cash from a client of Abramoff's, Reid will no doubt be in trouble, and the mainstream media (MSM) will follow up on this story and will hound Reid and the Democrats until the Dems penalize Reid. Oh, forgive me; I must be imagining that we live in a fair world in which Democrats and Republicans are treated alike. Of course, in or real world, Reid will not be in any kind of trouble, the MSM will not ask Dean whether Reid should suffer consequences, the MSM will not ask Reid to step down from his post as leader of the Senate Democrats, and the MSM will not demand that the Senate Democrats remove Reid from his position.

The double standard persists. Bias in the MSM is real.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

End Financial Support to Palestine

Since Palestine became a semi-state after the Oslo accords of 1993, it has been on financial life support supplied by Europe and the U.S. In addition, the U.N. has provided assistance to Palestinian refugees since the late 1940s, and many nongovernmental organizations provide humanitarian services. Israel also provides financial support simply by maintaining financial ties, as Israel is the major trading partner of Palestine and many Palestinians work in Israel. Without all this foreign financial support, Palestine can not continue to provide its meager level of governmental services.

Palestine's election of a Hamas majority in its parliament effectively ends the peace process with Israel. Hamas was first and is still foremost a terrorist organization. It became a political party to carry out its terrorist agenda and is unlikely to change its goals and methods as a result of its new governing responsibilities. Instead, Hamas is more likely to use its newfound power and authority to enhance its terrorist activities, with the popular support of the Palestinians.

To continue financial support of Palestine in this environment is to fund murder and destruction. The concern that cutting off funds will lead to a collapse of the government and ensuing chaos is overblown. Hams has friends in the Muslim world, especially in Iran. Iran is flush with cash from oil sales at today's high price and is unlikely to allow Hamas to fail. Syria may also be willing to aid Hamas, and the richer Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E.) may also give financial support to the Palestinians to avoid chaos and its spillover effects on them. It is better for the U.S. and the West if the Muslim world, rather than Europe and the U.S., must use up its resources to support the radicals who intend to destroy Israel.

Funding a government of Palestine controlled Hamas is giving terrorists money to conduct terrorism, including the murder of Israeli civilians. I do not want the blood of innocent Jews on my hands. Do you?

UPDATE: For another view, read the post at The Belmont Club.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas Wins Palestine Vote

Hamas, both a terrorist organization and a political party in Palestine, has apparently won a majority of the seats in Palestine's parliament. Hamas has an avowed goal to eliminate the state of Israel and to make its territory part of a greater Palestine. The group claims credit for most of the suicide bombings in Israel.

With this election, the Palestinians make clear that hatred of Israel is their primary political driving force. I do not find the result surprising. The Palestinians, after all, danced in the streets on 9/11, and opinion polls have found consistent support for terrorism against Israel.

Israel's pullout from Gaza may have contributed to Hamas's victory. Hamas claimed that it forced Israel out. Whether Israel's pullout contributes to peace is yet to be determined.

One positive outcome of the Palestinian election may be that Europe will finally see that Israel needs to build its fence for its defense and perhaps even its survival. A potential positive is that the Palestinians will get a taste of what it is like to live in an Islamist state. Other places that have tried it (Afghanistan and Iran, for example) have not found it desirable. If the Palestinians come to share that view, they may reject Hamas and its terrorism in time.

In the meantime, the Middle East is a more dangerous place.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Democrats Turn Judicial Confirmation into Partisan Battle

Just a few months ago, the Senate confirmed Justice John Roberts 78-22. All 22 votes against confirmation came from Democrats, who split evenly (22-22) in the vote. Three Democrats on the Judiciary Committee supported Roberts. The 3 Democrats were Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Herb Kohl also of Wisconsin, and Pat Leahy of Vermont.

The full Senate begins debate today on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito. Alito was approved by the Judiciary Committee 10-8. All the Democrats on the committee opposed Alito. Only one Senate Democrat (Ben Nelson of Nebraska) has publicly announced support for Alito. Few Democrats are expected to vote to confirm Alito.

Pres. Bill Clinton, a Democrat, named 2 nominees to the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. They were confirmed on votes of 96-3 and 87-9 respectively. Only a few Republicans opposed Clinton's nominees, both of whom were and are very liberal.

Today, only a few Democrats are willing to support Alito, a nominee who is at least as well qualified as Clinton's nominees were. What changed?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said things are different from when the Senate considered Breyer and Ginsburg, who were confirmed 87-9 and 96-3 respectively. "There was not the polarization within America that is there today, and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction," she said.

Betsy's Page responds to Feinstein:

Gimme a break! As if Clinton wasn't trying to move the court in "a singular direction." Of course he was, but Feinstein just liked that direction so she didn't mind. And tell me that America wasn't polarized during the Clinton presidency. Does she have a total blank about the those years? And is her argument that, if the country is polarized politicially, the president can't nominate someone of his or her own ideology? Would she make those same arguments if Hillary were president? She better watch out. It's quite possible that a Democrat could be elected president and face a Senate that still has a majority of Republicans. Does she expect the GOP to suddenly become saints and roll over for the Democrats after their display on the Alito nomination? More disappointing things have happened with the GOP, but she shouldn't count on it.

Betsy is right. Nothing has changed.

Democrats have turned judicial appointments, especially to the Supreme Court, into partisan political struggles. This has happened mostly because the courts have become a battleground to decide political issues (for example, abortion and gay marriage) without voter input. Democrats therefore treat the selection of judges as they would the election of a legislator, and several powerful liberal interest groups wield great influence in the judicial confirmation process. The predictable result is mostly party line votes on confirmation of judges.

Ethics Scandal or Media Bias?

From ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross (hat tip to Hoystory):

At the historic swearing-in of John Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the United States last September, every member of the Supreme Court, except Antonin Scalia, was in attendance. ABC News has learned that Scalia instead was on the tennis court at one of the country's top resorts, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colo., during a trip to a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society.

... Scalia's absence ... raised questions about the propriety of what critics call judicial junkets.

"It's unfortunate of course that what kept him from the swearing-in was an activity that is itself of dubious ethical propriety," said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, who is a recognized scholar on legal ethics.

Scalia Mum

Scalia spent two nights at the luxury resort lecturing at the legal seminar where ABC News also found him on the tennis court, heading out for a fly-fishing expedition, and socializing with members of the Federalist Society, the conservative activist group that paid for the expenses of his trip.

From Brit Hume on a Fox News Channel program:

Brit Hume: And speaking of the Supreme Court, ABC's "Nightline" last night reported that Justice Antonin Scalia missed the John Roberts swearing-in at the White House because he was playing tennis and going fly-fishing at a resort in Colorado courtesy of the conservative Federalist Society. The report mentioned only in passing that Scalia taught a legal seminar while on the trip. It quoted at some length New York University law professor Steven Gillers who said the whole thing was unethical. While "Nightline" identified the Federalist Society as conservative, it characterized Gillers only as an ethics expert. In fact, Gillers is a left-wing Scalia critic who once described the prospect of Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress as a nightmare. As for Scalia, that seminar he taught in Colorado was a 10-hour course for more than 100 lawyers and law students open to members and non-members alike of the Federalist Society. He received no fee for it; expenses only.

Why did ABC omit the information that Fox then had to report? Why did ABC fail to mention that it was quoting a partisan critic? Why did ABC fail to report that Scalia received no fee for teaching a 10-hour seminar open to all?

Liberal bias in the mainstream media is pervasive. ABC' reporting on this supposed "ethics scandal" is merely one more example.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Anti-war Journalist Does Not Support Troops

Anti-war liberals have been saying that they oppose the war in Iraq but support our troops there. Today, Joel Stein, a liberal journalist at the L.A. Times, admits hat tip to The Blue State Conservatives):

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. ...

... I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition.

...

The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. ...

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. ...

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. ...

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea.

At least Stein admits that, because he oppose the war, he can not support the troops. Many opponents of the Iraq war either pretend for public consumption to support the troops or fail to grasp the inconsistency in their positions. Strong opponents of the war necessarily wish that many more troops will die in Iraq, because only if large numbers of troops die will the American public demand an end to our involvement there, Think about it.

Alito Nomination Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Alito has been approved 10-8 on a straight party-line vote. Republicans did not oppose Clinton's otherwise qualified nominees on political grounds, as the Democrats did today. As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said in his statement this morning,

I fear a very bad precedent is being set today, a precedent that a unanimous minority will oppose a nominee on political grounds, not because the nominee is in any way unqualified. Republicans did not apply that test to Justices Breyer or Ginsburg.

And I say precedent because it is simply unrealistic to think that one party will put itself at a disadvantage by eschewing political considerations while the other party almost unanimously applies such considerations.

So I say to my Democratic friends, think carefully about what is being done today. Its impact will be felt well beyond this particular nominee.

Liberal Democrats, however, worry only about today (and the money and volunteers they will gather from the most liberal interest groups) and do not concern themselves with the future consequences of their actions.

Some day, perhaps as early as 2009, a Democrat will occupy the White House and will nominate someone for the Supreme Court. Do not be surprised if the Republicans exact a measure of revenge and use the Democrats' logic to oppose the nominee on purely political grounds. Of course, the Dems will complain and will conveniently forget their own statements and actions in 2005 and 2006.

I also must note that this party line vote was predicted in November by most observers. The hearings were meaningless, as far as the committee vote is concerned. Yet, Democrats senators went through the charade of pretending to need more time to collect information about Alito, when in fact they used the delays to try to find dirt in a disgusting effort to smear a decent man for partisan political purposes. The delays granted by committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wasted time and gained nothing. After receiving the requested delays in the date for the hearings, Democrats even broke their promise to have the committee vote a week ago.

Next time, get the hearings moving in a more expeditious manner. Delays for political purposes only waste time and do not serve a useful purpose.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Antiwar Group Code Pink Uses Deceit

Code Pink is an antiwar group that supports an immediate U.S. pullout from Iraq, no matter the consequences. In a recruiting ad for anti-Iraq-war activities, they were caught using an altered image of an Iranian woman protesting in Tehran against the mullahs and sexual apartheid there. See the recruiting ad and the original photo at Publius Pundit, which originally caught the deception, and at Little Green Footballs.

Code Pink, recognizing their deceptive act, pulled the recruiting picture, but only after the deception was discovered.

Ransom Money Found on German "Hostage"

Little Green Footballs relays a Reuters dispatch:

Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.

...

The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff’s kidnappers, the magazine said.

In other words, Osthoff was a collaborator, not a hostage. I do hope the Germans prosecute her and at the least get back the money found on her.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Earlier this week, The Belmont Club posted 2 commentaries concerning Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The first, "Grappling with the ayatollahs", notes that U.N. sanctions are not likely to change Iran's policy of acquiring nuclear weapons. The limit on action by the U.S. and its European allies "is not the want of means, but the want of will". If this analysis is correct, and I fear it is, so long as Iran proceeds with development of nuclear weapons without doing anything more to provoke the West, the U.S. and its European allies will not be able to muster sufficient political will to intervene militarily.

The second post, "The Coming of the Bomb", accepts the premise from an Army War College study "that it [is] probably impossible for the US to stop an Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of a full-scale invasion". "Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon ... could mark the final end of efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and provide Islamic terrorism with a nuclear deterrent. Islamic terrorism will literally be a Great Power."

According to the study, only regime change can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In the opinion of Wretchard of The Belmont Club, "what we are left with then, is a new Cold War with an ideology as strong -- and probably much stronger than -- Marxism in its prime".

My comment: Should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, the prospects for a peaceful world are not bright. Yet, the U.S. and Europe seem unable to muster the will to do anything about it. We do not have the luxury of time. The deadline for a decisive action, though uncertain, is approaching. We must act soon, or we will live to regret our inaction.

Eminent Domain Run Amok

The city of Los Angeles used its power of eminent domain to take property from a furniture manufacturer, ostensibly for an animal shelter. Now, we learn from Ace of Trump, the city proposes to sell the property to another furniture manufacturer. Just by coincidence, I am sure, the potential acquirer has made contributions to the mayor, the city councilman who represents the area and who is leading the effort to convey the property, and the city attorney, who must give legal clearance to the switch.

The power of eminent domain is subject to abuse. One example of abuse is L.A.'s proposal to sell property to someone who will use condemned property for the same purpose as before the condemnation. It is also another example of why the U.S. Supreme Court needs to revisit its Kelo decision in order to limit eminent domain to a true public use.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sen. Clinton Criticizes Bush Policy on Iran

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) criticized Pres. Bush for minimizing the Iran nuclear threat and for using a multilateral approach with Iran. She said last night, "I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations."

Apparently, however, Sen. Clinton conveniently forgot her husband's position. About a year ago in Davos, Switzerland, "Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged the Bush administration Thursday to stick to diplomacy to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program ... ."

Democrats have criticized Bush often for his allegedly unilateral approach in dealing with Iraq. On the other hand, Democrats have criticized Bush for his multilateral approach in dealing with North Korea. The transparent motive of the Democrats, including Sen. Clinton, is to criticize whatever Pres. Bush does, without regard to consistency or circumstances.

After criticizing the Bush administration for outsourcing the negotiations to the European 3, Britain, France, and Germany, Sen. Clinton did an about-face and said the U.S. must gain Russia's and China's backing. Let me see if I understand her position. The U.S. was wrong to work with its allies in dealing with Iran but now should work with Russia and China, whose interests are often contrary to ours.

Further, while "we lost critical time" in dealing with Iran, the U.S. should now take the time to got to the U.N. and to pursue sanctions, with the support of Russia and China. As our experience in working through the U.N. in dealing with Iraq showed (17 resolutions that accomplished nothing and still no willingness to enforce them when Iraq violated the resolutions), the process consumes much time.

In her speech, Sen. Clinton also said that Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Her proposal is to gain the support of Russia and China for referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council. That falls far short of what will actually work to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear bombs.

Sen. Clinton has not yet squarely faced the real-world problems in dealing with Iran. She only criticizes those who do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Democrats Break Promise on Alito Vote

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have broken their promise to have the committee on the Alito nomination today.

Under the terms of the November arrangement presented to reporters by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy, Republicans agreed to conduct the confirmation hearings after the [Christmas]holidays and Democrats agreed to allow a committee vote on the nomination today.

The only conditions for violating the agreement mentioned at the time by Mr. Leahy was "if something extraordinary comes up that neither Senator Specter nor I anticipate or expect."

Of course, the Democrats knew when they made the deal that the vote was scheduled for the day after Martin Luther king Day.

What reason did Sen. Leahy give for breaking the promise?

Yesterday, Mr. Leahy was not claiming that anything extraordinary had come up. The only explanation he has offered is that Democrats didn't want to cut short their Martin Luther King Day holiday.

But, according to his office, the November agreement was not binding anyway because it wasn't in writing.

What ever happened to the quaint notion that a man's word is his bond? (By the way, contracts do not need to be in writing in order to be binding. Even if this agreement had been put in writing, are you naive enough to believe that the Democrats would have kept their word?) What guarantee do we have that the Democrats will not engage in further delay?

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Leahy promised that Democrats on the committee will make no further attempts to delay the nomination.

But when he appeared at the press conference with Mr. Specter on Nov. 3, Mr. Leahy gave the same assurances.

In other words, all bets are off. Among Democrats, partisanship triumphs over honor and integrity. The next time that anyone claims that the Republicans are more partisan, remind them of this breach of promise by the Democrats. The next time any Senate Democrat makes a promise, get it in writing.

DNA Evidence Confirms Guilt of Executed Murderer

Roger Coleman's 19-year-old sister-in-law was raped and murdered in Virginia 25 years ago. Coleman was convicted of the crimes and was executed in 1992. Coleman claimed innocence even as he was strapped into the electric chair. In his final words, he said, "An innocent man is going to be murdered tonight."

The execution did not end an effort by death penalty opponents to show Coleman's innocence. They finally prevailed upon the State of Virginia to conduct DNA tests, which were not available when Coleman was tried. Of course, after the execution, the DNA tests serve no legal purpose unless you have another suspect in the rape and murder. Still, Gov. Mark Warner (D) ordered the tests, becoming the first governor in the nation to permit post-execution DNA tests.

Last week, Warner announced that the DNA tests confirmed Coleman's guilt. (Hat tip to Cynical Nation.) Death penalty opponents seemed amazed that a convicted murderer would lie about his guilt. As one death penalty opponent said, "How can somebody, with such equanimity, such dignity, such quiet confidence, make those his final words even though he is guilty?"

This case reminds me of a Texas case a few years ago. As in Coleman's case, the case was tried before DNA testing was available, and physical evidence had been preserved. Later, the convicted murderer, then an inmate on death row whose appeals had been exhausted, proclaimed his innocence and requested DNA tests. When the DNA tests confirmed his guilt, the convict explained, "It was worth a try. I had nothing to lose."

When physical evidence has been preserved and the convicted individual claims innocence, it makes sense to conduct DNA tests to confirm or deny guilt, though, in some instances, the DNA tests will be inconclusive. After execution, performing DNA tests makes little sense unless the state has another serious suspect (that is, someone the state believes may have committed the crime). Fishing expeditions, especially ones encouraged by those with nothing to lose, are not worth the effort and expense.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Senate Democrats May Delay Alito Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. However, the Democrats are now threatening to delay the committee vote for a week.

Originally, the Republicans pushed for committee hearings in December, but Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking minority member Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) agreed on hearings in January. The later hearings were sought by the Democrats to give their liberal interest group allies more time to find dirt on Alito. Specter and Leahy even agreed to build in a one-week delay, which any senator on the committee would have a right to request anyway, on the understanding that the Democrats would not request a further one-week delay.

So much for the word of the Senate Democrats. It appears that the Democrats want to delay the confirmation vote, in part for the petty reason that the delay prevents Pres. Bush from including the confirmation of Alito in the State of the Union speech. Also, the delay allows the Dems to hold their caucus on Wednesday. At the caucus, the Dems can decide whether they will filibuster Alito's confirmation, although it is unlikely that enough senators (40) will vote to sustain a filibuster.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It Must Be Global Warming

From BBC News:

Temperatures in India's capital Delhi have plummeted to the lowest in 70 years amid a cold snap that has claimed more than 100 lives in northern areas.

India Daily speculates on a new Ice Age and observes:

Europe right now is in deep freeze. Japan and South Korea are experiencing the worst snowfall ever. Even New Delhi is experiencing the worst ever fog and cold weather. Do not get surprised to see New Delhi experiencing the weather of Moscow, Miami experiencing the weather of Chicago.

It can only be global warming. (Hat tip to Irish Pennants, for its post on the subject and the links to the articles referenced above. Irish Pennants is a blog worth reading often.)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kennedy Smear Attempt Fails

The first topic this morning in the Alito hearings concerned the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), an organization that Judge Alito one joined because it worked to keep ROTC on campus. Yesterday, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) demanded that the Judiciary Committee subpoena the records of CAP, which he described as an extreme anti-woman, anti-minority organization, and clashed with the chairman of the committee, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), over the matter. Specter reserved a ruling until more was known about whether the records were relevant to the Alito hearings.

Overnight, several staffers reviewed boxes of CAP records. They found NO mention of Alito, because he was not an officer, major contributor of money, or author of any magazine articles. Specter announced the results of the record review at the opening of the hearing this morning. Kennedy did not mention CAP again.

Kennedy's whole effort was an attempt to smear Alito by tying him to statements of others in the organization. Once it was shown that Alito had so little to do with the organization, a fact which Kennedy and the other Democrats already knew, Kennedy pretended it was not that important to him. The effort to smear Alito failed in this instance.

For unknown reasons, the Democrats put Kennedy out front on the ethics issues. Given Kennedy's own ethical lapses, this did not seem a wise choice. Kennedy's efforts to smear Alito may have backfired with voters, too. Perhaps voters recognize Kennedy's tactics for what they are, the politics of personal destruction. Mary Jo Kopechne was not available for comment.

Democrats Walk Out on Witnesses

Judge Samuel Alito concluded his testimony this morning.

This afternoon, Alito's fellow judges on the Third Circuit, including both Democrat and Republican appointees, testified on Alito's qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court. They testified very favorably for Alito.

All the Dmocrats on the Judiciary Committee, except Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.), walked out of the hearing room, showing their total disinterest in any testimony favorable to Alito.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Democrats Go Over The Line

Near the end of today's hearings on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito, his wife walked out of the room in tears after hearing a steady stream of personal attacks by Senate Democrats (primarily Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)) on the character of her husband. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) apologized to Alito for the way the Democrats treated him and stated the obvious: Alito is a decent man and is not a closet bigot.

Democrats have shown that they are more interested in partisan personal and unfounded attacks than in behaving decently toward a decent man and his family. I hope that the American people will take notice of how some of the Senate Democrats prefer to engage in the politics of personal destruction than in an honest investigation of Alito's fitness for the Supreme Court.

Biden Questions Alito

Each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee was allotted 30 minutes in which to question Judge Samuel Alito yesterday. In his 30 minutes, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) asked Alito all of 5 questions. Biden talked 11 minutes and 45 seconds in one stretch without giving Alito an opportunity to answer a question.

Biden obviously loves to hear himself talk.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Confirmation Process Is Partisan

After 2 days of hearings on the nomination of Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, it appears that every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee will support the nomination and every Democrat will oppose the nomination. The confirmation process no longer serves to determine whether the nominee is qualified. Instead, the process has become a mostly partisan exercise.

The recent confirmation of John Roberts illustrates the partisan nature of the process. Despite Roberts's unusually outstanding qualifications, half of the Senate Democrats, 22 of 44, voted not to confirm him.

Alito also has outstanding qualifications, including 15 years on the federal appellate bench and a unanimous "well qualified" rating from the ABA. Despite his level of qualifications, all 8 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and perhaps 40 of the 44 Democrats in the whole Senate will likely vote against Alito.

The issue in the judicial confirmation process is partly partisan opposition to anything Pres. Bush proposes but mostly a partisan effort to accomplish or prevent social and economic change through the courts. It would be far better for these social and economic issues to be decided by Congress rather than by the courts. If nothing else, that would return the judicial confirmation process to an investigation of judicial qualifications, instead of the investigation of political views.

Monday, January 09, 2006

ABA rates Alito Well Qualified

The American Bar Association has issued its rating on Judge Sam Alito, whose nomination to the Supreme Court is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The unanimous rating is "well qualified", the highest rating, which is the same ABA rating he received when he was appointed to the federal appellate court.

In the past, Senate Democrats have characterized the ABA rating as the gold standard for judicial nominees. Do not expect the ABA's "well qualified" rating or the Democrats' past opinion of ABA ratings to prevent a majority of Senate Democrats from voting against Alito's nomination. Most Senate Democrats and their core judicial interest groups will not support a conservative Supreme Court nominee no matter how well qualified.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Two-faced Schumer

When the nomination of John Roberts was before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that Roberts must answer questions on his views of political issues because Roberts has few opinions on these topics as an appellate judge. Now that the nomination of Samuel Alito is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Schumer argues that Alito must answer those questions because Alito has many opinions on these topics as an appellate judge.

Do you think that Schumer is more interested in truth and justice or in partisan political advantage?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Louisiana Governor Remodels Offices After Katrina

From WBRZ TV in Baton Rouge (hat tip to Ace of Trump):

Shortly after the two hurricanes, Gov. Kathleen Blanco decided to renovate some of her staff's offices. At the time of her decision, Blanco also was hinting at deep budget cuts to state programs and the possibility of laying off 20 percent of the state workforce.

The project cost $564,838.

The newly refurbished office space on the sixth floor of the State Capitol includes hookups and mounts for two flat screen televisions, Swedish granite countertops, walnut paneling and frosted laminated glass. The floor, which will not be accessible to the public, was redesigned to add three new offices, a conference room and file storage areas.

...

Concerned about the perception of fixing up their office space while slashing others' spending, Jimmy Clarke, Blanco's chief of staff, said Friday the governor's top aides considered not fixing the 6th floor.

But the sixth floor project was bid six days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore near Buras on Aug. 29. Clarke said he became concerned that the state could be sued successfully if the restoration project were shut down.

"We certainly would not have initiated this work post-Katrina and Rita," Clarke said. "Given all that the state faces at this time, these renovations would be a very low priority."

The excuse that the bid for the remodeling was done 6 days before Katrina is not a very good one. First, it is not clear from the information given that the state of Louisiana in fact had a binding contract with the winning bidder. If not, the state is not obligated in any way.

Second, if there is a binding contract, the state can negotiate with the winning bidder and can pay a sum of money to terminate the contract. The contractor is entitled only to the amount of profit it would have made on the project. The state's negotiator's can make it very clear that the project will be scrutinized closely and will be held to the highest standard, which would reduce the amount of potential profit. The state's negotiators can also bring public pressure to bear on the contractor, especially in the wake of Katrina with the resulting financial pressure on the state. Hardball negotiating is not an unknown tactic in any governor's office, I can assure you.

(In the City of Houston, where I live, the current mayor, a Democrat, came into office facing a financial mess created by his incompetent predecessor, also a Democrat. The new mayor cleaned up the mess through hardball negotiating with unions and city employees over the pension obligations.)

In the worst case scenario for Louisiana, take the case to court before a jury of Louisiana citizens. The state will still pay out less than the total cost of the renovations.

With these renovations in the governor's office, Gov. Blanco shows more concern for contractors and her staff than for the citizens of Louisiana. Her decision making is slow, as we saw in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, and her judgment is poor. Gov. Blanco is probably the worst governor in the nation.

Louisiana elected her and deserves her. It will be interesting to see whether she wins re-election.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Where is the Media's Outrage?

Betsy's Page reminds us about the one special prosecutor's report that has never been made public. The special prosecutor, David Barrett, was assigned to investigate whether Henry Cisneros, a member of Clinton's cabinet, had misappropriated funds to pay off his mistress. What else did Barrett find in his investigation?

When Barrett pulled on that thread, he reportedly unraveled a cloak hiding abuses of the Justice Department and the IRS. If recent teases about what's in his 400-page report are true, the previous administration was siccing agents on its political opponents.

At the time, various Clinton critics, from the Heritage Foundation to The American Spectator magazine, found themselves under suspicious IRS audits. Was there a deliberate pattern? It's possible the Barrett report can tell us.

Alas, Barrett's work could be the first special prosecutor's report never to see daylight. Clinton operatives have taken advantage of a legal provision letting them blot out anything they feel damages their privacy. And Senate Democrats, with the unwitting cooperation of Senate Republicans, slipped into an appropriations bill a provision that would deep-six the report.

This cover-up has seen little coverage in the mainstream media (MSM). Where's the MSM's outrage over the cover-up of a scandal involving a president (Bill Clinton) and a leading presidential contender fro 2008 (Hillary Clinton)?

The MSM pursued the alleged October surprise from 1980 until 1993. The October surprise allegedly was a secret meeting in October 1980 between George Bush, who was then running for Vice President on the Republican ticket, and representatives of Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. The MSM did not stop pursuing the story until Bush's political career ended with his loss to Bill Clinton in 1992. A committee of Congress, controlled by Democrats, then finally declared that no evidence ever existed to support the alleged October surprise.

The MSM pursued the circumstances surrounding George Bush's enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard beginning in 1994, when now Pres. George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas. CBS vigorously pursued the story from 1999 to 2004, resulting in the infamous 60 Minutes segment using forged documents.

The MSM has doggedly pursued non-existent scandals involving Republicans. The MSM pursued the Watergate story and the cover-up until a Republican president (Nixon) was driven from office. Where are the MSM on a scandal and a cover-up involving a Democratic president and a Democratic contender for president? Where is the outrage?