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April 29, 2005

Another Senate tradition we could do without

From OpinionJournal.com, April 29:
With a showdown looming over the filibuster of judicial nominees, now is the time to point out another abuse of the Senate's "advise and consent" power. It's called the "hold," whereby an individual Senator can delay indefinitely a Presidential nomination, and it is seriously interfering with the operation of the executive branch.

Call it every Senator's personal "nuclear option." If he doesn't like a nominee or, more likely, doesn't like a policy of the agency to which the nominee is headed, all he has to do is inform his party leader that he is placing a hold on the nomination. Oh--and he can do so secretly, without releasing his name or a reason.

Like the filibuster, the hold appears nowhere in the Constitution but has evolved as Senators accrete more power to themselves. Senate rules say nothing about holds, which started out as a courtesy for Members who couldn't be present at votes. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden has said holds are "a lot like the seventh-inning stretch in baseball. There is no official rule or regulation that talks about it, but it has been observed for so long that it has become a tradition."

Also like the filibuster--which was never intended to block judicial nominees from getting a floor vote--the hold is being abused by a willful minority of Senators. This being a Republican Administration, Democrats in particular are using it now to hamstring or stop its ability to govern. There's no formal list of holds, but the current batch may well be unprecedented in both in number and degree.

April 26, 2005

Hey, Senate Dems -- about that filibuster thingy

Even your buddies at the L.A. Times think the Senate rules should be changed to prohibit filibusters on judicial nominee votes. In fact, they go so far as to say that the filibuster should be eliminated altogether — a cause that many of you championed only a decade ago.

Just FYI.

April 25, 2005

The MSM seems incapable of honest reporting on global warming

Dr. Patrick Michaels has written an essay for Tech Central Station decrying boneheaded reporting by the mainstream media on the alleged warming of Antarctica. In honor of Earth Day, we were treated to alarmist reports that Antarctic glaciers are shrinking, creating the impression that the ice pack is melting throughout the continent. If true, then the evacuation of New York City can't be far behind.

Of course, it isn't true. The truth is that glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula — which constitutes 2% of the entire land mass of Antarctica — are retreating due to a decades-long warming trend there. But guess what? Averaged across the entire continent, temperatures in Antarctica are falling! Furthermore, on average, the remainder of the ice shelf surrounding the continent is expanding.

At best, it's just another case of ridiculously sloppy generalization. At worst, the MSM is a willing participant in the deception of the public for the benefit of a political agenda. In either case, their reporting is worthy of condemnation.

One last little tidbit from Michaels' essay: The same climate models used to "prove" global warming throughout the planet insist that the entire continent of Antarctica should be going through a rapid warming cycle. All they've succeeded in proving is that these models plus a couple of dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Starbuck's.

"Terror in the skies" author gets visit from feds

Remember "Terror in the Skies", the article written last year by a woman who witnessed what appeared to be a "dry run" by terrorists on a Detroit-to-LA Northwest Airlines flight?

She's been writing a series of followup articles since then; it appears that Homeland Security is conducting a vigorous investigation of what went on.

April 22, 2005

Here's a neat little trick for dealing with voice menus

A couple of days ago I inadvertently discovered a useful little trick. Many of you may already be veterans at this, but I just had to share the joy of discovery.

I called my insurance company to have an adjuster come out to check for the presence hail damage on our roof. Like many companies do nowadays, this company uses a voice-driven menu system to route calls. And like many companies, this menu system seems like it is 300 levels deep.

I had made it to about the third level when my son Daniel tried to ask me a question from the living room. As the menu system was asking its question, I called out to Daniel from the kitchen, "Daniel, I'm talking on the phone!"

The menu system instantly broke off mid-sentence. Silence for a moment, then:

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. Please hold while I transfer you to one of our customer service representatives."

Three seconds later, I was talking to someone who was able to take care of my claim.

I don't know if all voice-driven menu systems behave in this way, but you may want to try it some time. Here are the steps once again. You may want to write them on an index card and leave it by the phone, just so you'll be ready.

1. Dial the desired number.

2. Wait for the menu system to begin a voice prompt.

3. While the menu system is in mid-sentence, call out in a loud voice, "Daniel, I'm talking on the phone!"

It is possible that some name other than "Daniel" might work, but this name has a proven track record. You may use it royalty-free.

You're welcome.

April 21, 2005

More fun with statistics from the CDC


As recently as January, the Centers for Disease Control was reporting that as many as 365,000 deaths a year in the U.S. could be attributed to obesity. Now they have recalculated, and according to this AP story, the old count — which was sensationalized by the press and by other assorted nannies — was overstated by, oh, about 336,000.

Even worse, CDC now says that people who are "modestly overweight" actually have fewer weight-related health problems than do people of "normal" weight.

Will this lead the CDC to finally revise the government's unrealistic classification of "normal" weight?

April 20, 2005

Will McCain get yet another pass for his filibuster vote?

James Lileks says No Way. He's confident (or maybe just hopeful) that the McCain Mutiny* on judicial filibusters will be the tipping point that will finally prompt Republicans to stop putting up with his "maverick" ways.

The only reason he's made it this far is that every time someone tries to criticize him, he runs the P.O.W. flag up the pole and proclaims, "How dare you speak against me!" Is it any wonder that he's the darling of the media? No Democrat can leave Republicans spluttering as well as allegedly Republican John McCain can.

The GOP was really good about arguing last year that the fact of one's service in Viet Nam 40 years ago has little bearing on one's competence or character today. I wish that some influential Republican would offhandedly drop that tidbit on TV the next time McCain's judicial filibuster revolt is brought up.

* Wish I had thought this one up, but I didn't.

Watch for copycat shootings after this one

AP, April 20:
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. - A man with car trouble is in trouble after shooting five rounds into the hood of his Chrysler "to put my car out of its misery."

John McGivney, 64, shot his 1994 LeBaron with a .380-caliber semiautomatic, Broward County sheriff's deputies said.

When the property manager at his apartment complex asked what he was doing, McGivney said, "I'm putting my car out of its misery." He tucked his gun in a pocket and went back inside.

He was arrested Friday on a misdemeanor charge of discharging a firearm in public. He posted $100 bail Saturday.

McGivney said the car has been giving him trouble for years and had "outlived its usefulness." He called the shooting "dumb" and worries he will be evicted. But he doesn't regret it.

"I think every guy in the universe has wanted to do it," McGivney told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "It was worth every d--- minute in that jail."

April 19, 2005

Not quite up to Jayson Blair's standards, but still good enough to get the writer fired

An earlier post reported an L.A. Times correction to an article that had numerous significant factual errors in it. As it turns out, the four corrections were just the tip of the iceberg. Today the Times unloads a truckload of additional corrections to that article as well as to another article written by the same author about the same incident.
On March 31, The Times published a correction of four errors in a March 29 article about controversies arising from fraternity hazing at Cal State Chico. At the same time, editors began a full review of the story, which was published on the front page of the California section. Based on that inquiry, which included a visit to Chico by a Times editor, the paper has concluded that the article fell far short of Times standards.

Beyond the specific errors, the newspaper's inquiry found that the methods used in reporting the story were substandard. The quotations from anonymous sources and from two named sources, a Mike Rodriguez and a Paul Greene, could not be verified.

Additional inaccuracies found during the investigation include the following:

• In describing a hazing death this year, the article said that the victim died after drinking five gallons of water from a "rubber bladder bag." The Butte County district attorney reported that the amount of water exceeded five gallons and that it came from a plastic jug, not a bladder bag.

• The story also reported that the victim was alone at the time of his death. The D.A. reported that this was not the case.

• The article attributed to "medical examiners" the idea that the victim may have experienced a moment of euphoria shortly before his death. That belief has been expressed by the victim's father, who told the Chico Enterprise Record that he based it on his own research. Butte County's district attorney said it does not appear in any medical reports related to the current case.

• The article said that the parents of Adrian Heideman, a hazing victim who died in 2000, showed their son's day planner to hazing expert Hank Nuwer. Nuwer informed The Times' readers' representative that he was not shown Heideman's day planner by his parents; he heard it described by Heideman's father over the phone.

Separate from the March 29 article, a review of an earlier story on the same subject revealed another error. On March 5, The Times reported that eight fraternity members had been charged with involuntary manslaughter. In fact, eight were charged with hazing, and four of them were also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The writer of both articles, Eric Slater, has been dismissed from the staff.
Dunno what got into Slater's porridge, but it appears he was exploring new frontiers in sloppy reporting. The Times was certainly justified in canning the guy. Amazingly but not surprisingly, Slater is considering a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the newspaper.

(Credit: BOTW)

The liberal plan to "rehabilitate" the Constitution (What's at stake in the judicial filibuster battle, cont'd.)

Powerline contributor John Hinderaker writes in the Weekly Standard of a conference held recently at Yale Law School called "The Constitution in 2020". The purpose of the conference was for "progressives" to develop a long-range vision for how the Constitution should evolve in the next fifteen years. Go to the link to read the particulars. Here's how Hinderaker sums it up (emphasis added):
The essence of the progressive constitutional project is to recognize "positive" rights, not just "negative" rights, so that citizens are not only guaranteed freedom from specified forms of government interference, but also are guaranteed the receipt of specified economic benefits. The bottom line is that Congress would no longer have the discretion to decline to enact liberal policies. The triumph of the left would be constitutionally mandated.
How can they pull it off, given that there's no way on earth they would be able to muster the required supermajority of states to amend the Constitution as it now stands? Simple — they have no intention of submitting their proposed changes to the formal amendment process! Hinderaker again (emphasis added):
The left makes no secret of its intentions where the Constitution is concerned. It wants to change it, in ways that have nothing to do with what the document actually says. It wants the Constitution to enshrine its own policy preferences--thus freeing it from the tiresome necessity of winning elections. And how will the Constitution be changed? Through a constitutional convention, or a vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures? Of course not. The whole problem, from the liberal perspective, is that they can't get democratically elected bodies to enact their agenda. As one of the Yale conference participants said: "We don't have much choice other than to believe deeply in the courts--where else do we turn?" The new, improved Constitution will come about through judicial re-interpretation. It only awaits, perhaps, the election of the next Democratic president.
Are you convinced yet that, for the sake of the Constitution, the Dems need to lose the battle over judicial filibusters?

Texas House considering voter-ID bill

The Austin American-Statesman has a familiar story which could have written itself. The Texas House is considering a bill that would require voters to present a state-recognized ID before being allowed to vote. This is an outstandingly reasonable requirement, one intended to make it much harder to vote in someone else's name.

Opposition to the bill is based on two strategies. First, is simple contradiction.
Representatives of several organizations representing minorities, senior citizens and poor people stood on the south steps of the Capitol on Monday contending that Denny's bill would not address voter fraud.
No word on how the bill fails to address voter fraud.

Second is the "ism" strategy — that is, raising the specter of racism, ageism, classism, etc.
The bill would, however, make voting difficult for disadvantaged groups, who are disproportionately without documents necessary for legal identification, such as birth certificates, they said.

AARP is opposed to the bill because it amounts to a sort of poll tax on people who would be forced to go through several steps to produce the proper identification, Gus Cardenas, the president of the Texas chapter, said Monday.

"This conjures up a really bad memory (of poll taxes) for me," said Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, who is African American. "This is just another excuse to keep people out of the voting system."
Of course, the second strategy, although the logic behind it is without significant merit, is the most compelling, which is why it keeps being used.

The unlimited potential for corruption in "economic development" eminent domain cases

We have yet another example of the outrageous eminent domain abuse that is the subject of a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case (addressed more than once in this blog), the city of New London, Connecticut is trying to kick people out of their homes in the name of economic development (read "increased tax revenue").

Chicago is doing something similar, the details of which ought to make a reasonable person furious. The Sportif Bike Shop has been operating profitably in its current location for 35 years. Well and good, except for the fact that a developer wishes to raze the entire block that includes the bike shop so he can build a seven-story condominium. Everyone on the block has sold out except the owner of the bike shop.

Time for some good old fashioned Chicago-style cronyism. The developer is buddies with (and a significant contributor to) one of Chicago's aldermen, and wouldn't you know it, the city is going to bat for the developer. The city is diverting real estate tax revenue from Sportif and some other nearby businesses so they can hire an outside lawyer to do the legal work required to evict the bike shop owner from his property.

This is another reason why the exercise of eminent domain must be restored to its constitutional boundaries — the sky's the limit when it comes to the potential for corruption in the way it is currently used.

BEAN RAGE: Sometimes real life defies parody

This is one of the strangest stories I've seen in a while:
Bean rage husband must pay wife £500

A husband who assaulted his wife after she bought the wrong brand of baked beans was ordered to pay £500 compensation yesterday.

David White, 42, flew into a rage after noticing that his wife, Sharon, had bought HP beans when he wanted Heinz.

White denied a charge of common assault, but was found guilty at Rhondda magistrates' court in South Wales last month.

Ian Kolvin, prosecuting, told the court Mrs White had intended to buy Heinz beans but the shop only had HP, which she knew White would be annoyed about. He said White threw the beans at her at their home in Rhydyfelin, near Pontypridd, but they missed.

He continued to shout abuse that evening and kicked Mrs White in the thigh, the court was told, telling her: "I'm going to kill you". White grabbed her face and punched her shoulder, before a neighbour arrived at the door. Police were called and White was arrested.
The article goes on to say that the couple had been living separate lives under the same roof "for some 10 years".

(Credit: BOTW)

What's at stake in the judicial filibuster battle

Philip Terzian in The Weekly Standard (emphasis added):
No Senate Republican should misunderstand the Democrats' motive in blocking the nominations of, among others, Justice Janice Brown of the California Supreme Court, Judge Henry Saad of the Michigan Court of Appeals, or Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen: It is power, pure and simple. These, and other jurists, have been nominated by President Bush, favorably evaluated by the American Bar Association, have testified before and been endorsed by the Judiciary Committee, and await final judgment in the Senate. If the Democrats manage to prevent a vote for the sake of political obstruction, they will set a precedent more momentous than a change in Senate rules.

The power of any president, Democrat or Republican, to appoint judges would then depend not on a formal vote of the Senate, but on the consent of 40 partisans determined to inflict maximum political damage. So the stakes for the Bush administration could not be clearer: If Harry Reid and the Democrats can abuse Senate rules to stop their colleagues from voting on appellate nominees, Supreme Court appointments will be next on the list.

John Bolton: The monster under every liberal's bed

Scott Ott marvelously illustrates the absurd lengths to which the Dems are trying to portray UN Ambassador-designate John Bolton as Hitler's drinking buddy:
Biden Claims Bolton Staring at Him During Hearing

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-DE, today asked the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to prevent President Bush's nominee for U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, from staring at him during confirmation hearings.

"Mr. Chairman, he's looking at me again," said Sen. Biden. "Make him stop looking at me."

Indeed, a review of the video indicates that Mr. Bolton had directed a scowling gaze at several Senators during the hearings.

An aide to Sen. Biden said Mr. Bolton is trying to intimidate the Delaware Democrat into approving his nomination and has privately "threatened to have Biden unelected."

"The Senator feels bullied," said the unnamed aide. "Imagine how terrified Kofi Annan would be if we sent Bolton to the U.N."
Ott also reports that Bolton was forced to deny strongly allegations that he secretly engineered the British invasion of American pop music in the 60s, and that by so doing he "threatened American sovereignty and destroyed our native doo-wop tradition."

Ott's satires are only a little less grounded in reality than the claims the Dems are actually making.

Ted Nugent to NRA: get a backbone, demand the right of self-defense

Rocker Ted Nugent has a way with words:
With an assault weapon in each hand, rocker and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent urged National Rifle Association members to be "hardcore, radical extremists demanding the right to self defense."

[...] "To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em."

April 18, 2005

Wacky Dems accuse Bush of ignoring gas prices

UPI, April 18:
Democrats criticized President George W. Bush Monday for failing to bring down skyrocketing gasoline prices.

The Democratic National Committee issued a news release accusing Bush of ignoring the "crisis" and, instead concentrating on his plan to privatize part of Social Security.

The DNC statement said, "Over the weekend we heard more hollow rhetoric form the president as he tried to deflect form [sic] the crisis at the gas pumps by trying to push an energy plan that will do nothing to solve either the short or long term problem of high gas prices, skyrocketing energy costs or dependence on foreign oil," it said.

The American Petroleum Institute has said finite stocks, a lack of refining capacity in the United States, increased demand in countries such as China, as well as the United States, have combined to send gasoline prices to a national average well above the $2 mark.
Of course, one would expect Bush's buddies at the American Petroleum Institute to maliciously wield facts in the president's defense.

Add to the API's list the additional fact that prices would go down if the Dems would stop using environmental regulations to prevent exploration. The Dems claim to be concerned about our dependence on foreign oil. Will they now drop their opposition to increased domestic production? Not in our lifetime, apparently.

The news item ends thus:
The DNC offered no proposals for bringing down gas prices.
This may be true of the DNC itself, but it isn't true of the party's looney left wing, which is doing its dead-level best to legislate many kinds of vehicles off our streets altogether (thus reducing demand for gasoline!).

Evil gun jumps out of holster, kills cop

Not really, but that might be the impression one would get by reading this headline:

Providence Detective Killed by Own Gun

Advertising causes obesity??

Boston Globe, April 18 (excerpt):
Concerned about widespread childhood obesity, health advocates and politicians are intensifying pressure on the food industry to limit or even eliminate marketing targeted at children for sugary and fattening products.

Some companies already have responded by pulling ads during children's television programs. More broadly, the food industry will negotiate voluntary restrictions on ads with federal regulators this summer. But the industry also plans to lobby against legislation that would give the government the authority to restrict commercials during children's shows.

Food advertising to youngsters is big business, with the industry spending $10 billion last year trying to shape the tastes of children, according to congressional researchers. The marketing effort, with pop culture icons such as Ronald McDonald and Cap'n Crunch, has become one of the most contentious aspects of the nation's struggle with obesity.

Scientists have not found conclusive evidence that exposure to food advertising leads to childhood obesity, although a recent spate of studies has provided support for a link. The research has been enough to convince a wide spectrum of physicians and health advocates -- even the influential Institute of Medicine, a scientific group that advises Congress -- that food ads directed at children are partly to blame for the soaring number of overweight American children.

It is clear that children have extensive exposure to advertising. Recent studies estimated that the typical child views about 40,000 television ads annually, and more than half of child-targeted advertising is for candy, sugary cereals, or fast foods. Some health advocates contend that the reach of the ads has grown through the Internet, where many children play video games adorned with products, such as a golf game on a Nabisco site in which players aim at Oreo targets.

''Marketing to children has escalated exponentially since the 1980s, and its rise mirrors the rise of childhood obesity," said Susan Linn, a psychologist who is associate director of the Media Center at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.
Setting aside Ms. Linn's sloppy exaggeration ("exponentially"), some other comments need to be made here.

First, consuming more calories than are expended is what causes obesity.

Second, a more logical correlation for the past 20 years is the increase in TV watching and video game playing instead of outdoor physical activities.

Third, this timeframe corresponds nicely with the government's imposition of the carbohydrate-laden food pyramid on the American diet.

Fourth, if the kids are actually going out to buy the Bad Stuff they see advertised, where are they getting the money? In other words, WHERE ARE THE PARENTS? Ms. Linn suggests the answer at the end of the article:
Linn is skeptical of voluntary limits and she advocates a prohibition on marketing to children younger than 12. ''The message to kids is that these products will make them happy," Linn said. ''And what parent doesn't want to make their kids happy?"
She doesn't appear interested in advocating parental responsibility. In fact, it seems like she's seeing the parents as victims as well.

Ontario takes bold action on a human rights outrage

Canadian Press, April 14 (excerpt; emphasis added):
TORONTO (CP) - A movement in Ontario to make it a human rights violation to charge women more than men for haircuts, toiletries and dry cleaning picked up steam Thursday.

The legislature approved in principle a Canadian first: a bill that would fine merchants up to $5,000 for asking more to trim women's hair than men's or more to dry clean a blouse than a shirt.

"It's something that makes common sense, to charge the same price to women or to men for the same good or service," said Lorenzo Berardinetti, a Liberal government backbencher who proposed a private member's bill he says mirrors laws in New York, Miami and California.

Private member's bills rarely make it into law. But Berardinetti's passed second reading Thursday and will be sent to a legislative committee for public hearings.

Berardinetti, a rookie politician, is also a rookie husband. He says he did not realize the extent of the differing prices for men and women until he went shopping for cologne and clothing with his new wife, Michelle.

"I soon learned what gender tax was all about," he said.

"It's my wife, it's her fault."

Michelle Berardinetti told reporters Thursday she too quickly tired of watching her husband pay less for everything from deodorant to suits and haircuts.

"When it's brought to your attention, it's like 'Wow, that's amazing, I can't believe that,' " she said.

"It's the same as a racial issue or something. When it's brought in your face, then you start to realize it."
I was surprised, yet not surprised, to see that New York, Miami and California have similar laws. But do they consider this a "human rights" issue? On a par with racial discrimination? Is there truly no other way to explain the price differences?

Greedy Starbucks capitalists destroy the planet one Grande Latte at a time

From the WaPo, April 17:
Almost every morning for a decade, Roger Bratter has stopped at a Starbucks in Gaithersburg to sip a grande latte sans foam or a green tea and spend 20 peaceful minutes with the newspaper before heading to his auto repair shop.

Grabbing a cup at home, he said, just isn't the same.

"Our kid's got to go to school. My wife has to get to the Metro. I've got to get to work," Bratter, 54, said during a 7:30 a.m. visit last week. "If I have to make [coffee] and clean it up, it's just an extra stress factor."

Minutes earlier, at the same Starbucks on Quince Orchard Road, Steve Elgin, 41, pulled into the drive-through. A venti latte once or twice a week takes the edge off his one-hour commute between Frederick and Gaithersburg.

"It gives me something to do on [Interstate] 270," said Elgin, an executive in an insurance claims company.

The two men represent what one researcher says is evidence that the national craving for gourmet coffee may be adding mileage to the morning rush hour. And the numbers might be significant enough to complicate efforts to reduce traffic congestion, save fuel and reduce air pollution.

She calls it -- what else? -- the "Starbucks Effect."
The article goes on for 17 more paragraphs. Read on, if you feel you must.

April 15, 2005

Free speech for me, but not for thee

In a farce that was utterly predictable down to the level of trivial details, leftists at the University of Texas were apprehended in the act of preventing invited speaker David Horowitz from exercising his speech rights, and then proceeded to complain about the suppression of free speech.

Make no mistake: To the Left, "free speech" means the unhindered dissemination of the Left's viewpoint, and nothing else.

Countering the top five lies of the Dems on judicial filibusters

Wendy E. Long has useful responses to the following five common objections to the (hopefully) pending rules change on filibusters:
  1. Filibuster of judges is a sacred tradition.
  2. Mr. Bush's nominees are being treated no differently than other presidents' nominees.
  3. The Senate has a "co-equal" role with the president in judicial nominations.
  4. The current filibuster is about "free speech."
  5. The filibuster protects "the right of the minority" to veto nominees.

GOP Senate majority is an illusion -- thanks to New England Republicans

Rick Santorum was on Hugh Hewitt's show Thursday, and Hewitt was turning the thumbscrews on him regarding the judicial nomination crisis. When pressed on the question of why it was taking so long for Frist to invoke the rules clarification on judicial filibusters, Santorum admitted that the leadership isn't yet sure that it can muster a simple majority on the issue. Read the whole transcript to see the ugly reality.

Republican senators from New England, along with honorary New Englander John McCain, cannot be counted on to resist the tyranny of the minority party. In fact, the disgraceful McCain has already confirmed that he will vote with the Dems.

I suppose it's time to stop pretending that the GOP has a majority in the Senate.

April 14, 2005

The solution to "inhumane" lethal-injection executions

From Best of the Web:
Problem Solved

"U.S. Executions by Lethal Injection May Not Be Humane" — headline, HealthDay News, April 14

"Experts Say Ending Feeding Can Lead to a Gentle Death" — headline, New York Times, March 20

Janice Rogers Brown to be tripwire for 'nuclear' option?

It's showdown time!

California Supreme Court justice Janice Rogers Brown, controversial mainly because she's black and conservative, goes back before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Brown is one of many Bush nominations sunk by Senate Dems in the last Congress through the use (actually, through the threat) of filibusters — a tactic never before used on judicial nominations.

To counter this — in other words, to restore the confirmation process to status quo ante — the Senate GOP leadership appears ready to invoke a rules change explicitly stating that only 51 votes are necessary to cut off debate on judicial nominations.

Unless I missed this detail in the blizzard of words that have been expended on the topic, the filibuster rules change applies only to debate on judicial nominations, not to any other issue (despite what Dems are claiming).

I said here and here that the Senate GOP appears to be showing trace amounts of backbone on this issue. I remain ever hopeful, but I will also remain skeptical until I see them carry this through to its proper conclusion.


PETA gets no respect in Brownsville, TX

From an April 14 AP story:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A trio of animal-rights protesters didn't find any welcome mat when they stopped at a KFC, but the restaurant manager did turn on the sprinkler system for them.

Manager John Olivo turned the sprinklers on full blast to soak the protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who were standing by the curb. They were campaigning for more humane methods of killing.

The protesters, including one in a chicken suit, were followed by a man with a microphone who said he eats beef.

"You're not going to win, not in Brownsville," David Ingersoll shouted through his microphone at the protesters at a busy intersection. His stepchildren passed out anti-PETA pamphlets to stopped drivers.

April 13, 2005

My awareness is superior to your awareness

Suffering ribbon magnet fatigue? Now there's a web site that allows you to tell the whole world via.... ribbon magnets!

Here are a couple of samples:

Someone else has gone through the trouble of trying to map out the various causes associated with the various ribbon colors.

IMO, the novelty of the magnets is long gone, and their proliferation has rendered them pretty much meaningless (not to mention invisible).

April 11, 2005

Uncle Sam didn't want me

I just spent a week not serving on a jury for the U.S. District Court, about 100 miles from home. For those of you not familiar with the process, I was on call for six working days (all of last week, plus today). At 6p.m. on the evening before each potential service day (or 6p.m. on Friday evening prior to a Monday service day), I had to call the court's automated Jury Information Service (JIS) and find out what my reporting instructions were for the next day. If they had said "Come on down!", I would have been required to drop everything and show up at the courthouse at 8a.m. the next morning.

As it was, each time I called, JIS informed me that, even though I was still on call, I was not required to report the next day. Finally, three days ago, JIS cheerfully thanked me for my (availability for) service, and told me I was free to carry on with my life.

Just kidding on that last part — but it is good to finally be able to plan more than 24 hours into the future again.

Also on the plus side, the constitutionalist in me is thrilled that at least this court didn't have enough work to keep a jury pool busy...

April 5, 2005

True Life: I'm Immature, And I Don't Care Who Knows It

I am the staff advisor for a student organization at the university where I work. In that capacity, I get spammed from across the fruited plain by those seeking access to the students in this group. Today, I received an e-mail from someone scouting out prospects for a new episode of MTV's "True Life", a documentary series on "the lives and concerns of young adults". Here is an excerpt from the casting call:
TRUE LIFE: I Have Jealousy Issues

At first, jealousy in a relationship can be flattering. When your partner doesn't want anyone else to even look at you, it can seem like it's because they love you and are scared of losing you. But jealousy can easily become ugly, quick. An extremely jealous partner can make you feel trapped and ultimately destroy the relationship.

Is jealousy putting a strain on your relationship? Is it common for your boyfriend/girlfriend to start arguments or fights with other people when the two of you are out on dates? Or are you the jealous one? Do the actions of your partner consume your every thought? Do you go to extremes when you find yourself in a fit of jealousy?

MTV is currently conducting research and casting for an upcoming episode of the Emmy Award winning documentary series True Life. Since 1998, True Life has covered a diverse mix of stories, ranging from pop culture trends to breaking news topics. Whether documenting the lives of soldiers going to war, or people undergoing plastic surgery -- True Life tells its stories solely from the varied voices and points-of-view of its characters -- putting the series in the unique position of reflecting the state of youth culture at any given moment.

Recent True Life shows include True Life: I'm Obese, True Life: I'm in a Wheelchair, True Life: I'm Shipping Out, True Life: I Have an Eating Disorder and True Life: I'm Adopted.

Currently, we are looking for men and women, who appear to be between the ages of 18 -28, who are involved in jealous relationships. We are scheduled to begin shooting immediately. If you know of anyone who meets this criteria and who would like to share their story please contact us. We will initially be conducting phone interviews with those interested in sharing their journey.
I suppose that I can understand some people being willing to tell the world their feelings about shipping out or being in a wheelchair, but there's something really twisted about a couple going in front of the cameras to talk about unresolved problems in their relationship — instead of simply working to resolve them. Going on TV won't help.

Thomas Jefferson on the judiciary's respect for the Constitution

From a September 6, 1819 letter to Judge Spencer Roane:
The Constitution...is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

Credit: The Federalist's"Founders Quote Daily"

April 4, 2005

Boortz strikes out again on euthanasia

While I agree with Neal Boortz on countless issues, I find in him a consistent hostility toward abortion and euthanasia opponents that borders on the irrational. The latest evidence of this is today's item he has on the Pope's death:

Part of the story about the Pope's final days goes that John Paul II was offered the chance to go back to the hospital in Rome in order to prolong his life, but instead he chose not to. According to an official spokesman, the Pope was "informed of the gravity of his situation" and decided to remain in his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square." In other words, John Paul II chose to not to have his life prolonged by artificial means, but instead to stay home and let nature take its course.

So since his passing over the weekend, there have been a few stories circulating noting the parallels between his illness and Terri Schiavo's (the coverage of which has been mercifully knocked off the front page.) The Pope was attached to a feeding tube....Terri Schiavo had a feeding tube. The feeding tube wasn't enough to keep Pope John Paul II alive, in Terri's case it was enough to at least keep her body going. The Pope said no. Will we hear a peep out of the abortocentrist crowd about the Pope's decision to die with dignity?

Probably not. After all, it doesn't fit their agenda.
Boortz sees the presence of a feeding tube as sufficient grounds to declare both cases identical, and then declares the euthanasia foes hypocrites for treating the two cases as different.

Boortz really must have a blind spot here. Does he really not comprehend that the Pope had a terminal illness, and Terri did not? She was severely incapacitated, but she had no life-threatening medical condition. In the Pope's case, he did not decline food and water. What he did decline was any medical treatment that would delay his imminent death.

Death by starvation and dehydration is about as undignified as can be imagined.

Will we ever hear Boortz admit these truths?

Probably not. After all, it doesn't fit his agenda.

MSM correction of the day

From the L.A. Times. As Best of the Web quipped, "Other than that, the story was accurate."

March 31, 2005

Cal State Chico — An article in Tuesday's California section about hazing at Cal State Chico mistakenly said that a pledge to a fraternity at nearby Butte Community College died of alcohol poisoning. He did not die but was hospitalized. The article also said Chico has a population of 35,000; according to the city, the population is 71,317. In addition, University President Paul Zingg was quoted saying the school would shut down its Greek system if problems with hazing did not abate. Zingg made his comments to a group of 850 students and others, and his remarks were quoted in the local media. He did not speak with The Times. Also, although the article characterized the school as being well-known for its basketball program, its winning baseball program may be best known outside campus.

April 1, 2005

"Next time it will be easier"

National Review's March 31 editorial on the killing of Terri Schiavo notes the polls showing high public approval for her death, but also suggests that public opinion was greatly manipulated through the use (by the media and by George Felos) of euphemisms to mask what was actually happening.

The disinformation campaign was so successful that most people were untroubled by the manner of Terri's killing. NR makes an observation similar to ones made here and elsewhere:
Why not kill Mrs. Schiavo quickly and efficiently, by depriving her of air to breathe? In principle, that would have been no different from denying her the other basic necessities of life. Why not give her a lethal injection? The law would not have allowed those methods; but the reason nobody advocated them was that they would have been too obviously murder. So the court-ordered killing was carried out slowly, incrementally, over days and weeks, with soft music, stuffed animals, and euphonious slogans about choice and dignity and radiance. By the time it ended, no one really remembered how many days and hours it had gone on. The nation accepted it, national polls supported it, and we all moved on to other things.
There's no going back— a line has been crossed regarding what the American public will tolerate:
Next time it will be easier. It always is. The tolerance of early-term abortion made it possible to tolerate partial-birth abortion, and to give advanced thinkers a hearing when they advocate outright infanticide. Letting the courts decide such life-and-death issues made it possible for us to let them decide others, made it seem somehow wrong for anyone to stand in their way. Now they are helping to snuff out the minimally conscious. Who's next?

Schiavo case: The fix was in from the start

The Empire Journal outlines in excruciating detail the "tangled web of deception [and] corruption" that has permeated the Schiavo case since it first entered the Pinellas County legal system.

For all of the accusations of Terri being made a pawn of the right to life movement in recent months, it appears that she really has been a pawn of the euthanasia gang all along. I can think of no other way to explain this bizarre string of occurrences.