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Thursday, October 13, 2005

POLITICALLY CHARGED: Harriet Miers testified she would not join the Federalist Society because the group is “politically charged.” Asked if she would likewise consider the NAACP to be a politically charged group, Miers specifically said no. Hello? This nomination grows more surreal by the day. Does the president really want to put Harriet Miers before a Senate panel, most of whose GOP members will be grilling her ferociously about conservative credentials, most of whose Democratic members will demand to know how she can possibly put aside her rather clear anti-abortion sentiments? If Miers is as loyal to Dubyah as she appears to be, she'll step aside now and let the president start from scratch. Then again, she may well be a "pit bull in size 6 shoes," in which case she and her mentor might be willing to go to the mat. Is this really how George W. Bush wants to spend his remaining political capital?
PARENTAL NOTIFICATION: Here in California, a female middle school student gets a headache and asks the nurse for an Advil. She's told by the school: We've got to get your parents' permission first. Here's the premise: Public schools don't dispense medicine to minors without parental authorization. The same underage girl wants an abortion but doesn't want her parents to know? Not a problem, say opponents of Proposition 73 requiring parental notification. This battle has already been fought in other states; the arguments on both sides are familiar. What's interesting in the California campaign is the pitched rhetoric of the opponents, for instance these Orwellian editorial comments from the San Francisco Chronicle:
In cases when one or both parents are vehemently anti-abortion -- perhaps even to the point of regarding it as murder -- they might go to extreme lengths to coerce a young woman to carry the pregnancy to term. In such situations, notification could be tantamount to a consent requirement.
"Even to the point of regarding [abortion] as murder." The phrase conveys the editorial writer's pure astonishment that any sane, sensible person might reach such a conclusion. Whoa. No matter what your views on the "choice" question, could we at least begin to acknowledge that those who consider abortion to be taking a life, are acting in accord with their beliefs when they seek to persuade a pregnant woman to consider the life she's carrying? The left regularly affords a similar acknowledgment to those who show up at San Quentin to oppose the latest instance of capital punishment, usually demanding to know how a civilized society can justify strapping down a prisoner for a lethal injection. For hardcore activists in the abortion-as-sacrament movement, all is not lost if Proposition 73 passes. Girls who fear telling their parents can try to persuade a judge to waive the parental notification requirement. Yes, that's an "extra step." But, hey: Because abortion arguably causes the death of an unborn child, maybe — oh, just perhaps — a majority of California voters will decide that the extra step is not an unreasonable imposition. That school nurse would probably be just as glad to give the girl an Advil, rather than having to pick up the phone to track down a parent first. Oh, the obstacles, the gauntlets, the barriers to convenience...
OFFICE WIFE HARRIET: Let's see now. An unmarried, childless woman devotes herself rather singularly to her career. Such a woman would seem to have all the makings of a feminist — oh, but wait. She appears to actually like her (male) boss, enough to stick with him through over time. I guess that disqualifies Harriet Miers for feminist acclaim. Regardless of the debate about her qualifications for O'Connor's seat, a woman expressing gratitude and loyalty to her male superior — how reactionary. Speaking of sticking up for powerful males, remember Gloria Steinem's pathetic, sniveling defense of feminism's favorite predator of women?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

BIG GOVERNMENT BUSH: Democrats create big government, Republicans cut budgets. Sound like a plan? Does to me. Nick Gillespie's latest makes clear all the old bets are off:
Over the past two weeks, I've written or co-written a couple of things about how George W. Bush outspent Lyndon Baines Johnson in his first four budgets. To recap: When it comes to inflation-adjusted increases in discretionary spending (comprising most defense and nonentitlement spending), Dubya beats LBJ like Sam Houston beat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.
This doesn't come as news to conservatives. They haven't liked it but many chose to stay silent because they had their eyes on the Supreme Court. Now they're seeing red because they believe Bush failed to deliver. Post-Miers, will conservatives continue excusing the administration's big spending ways? That's one question. Two more: Why were so many on the right so willing to ignore Bush's big government conservatism all along: beginning with the Medicare drug entitlement? Could it be that part of their rage toward Bush — ostensibly about Miers — is actually anger at themselves, for making a Faustian bargain they now regret?
FAKE SCIENCE BASHES FAITH: A new study by a leading scientist proves religion is toxic to America's social and cultural health. If you noticed a headline making this claim a couple of weeks ago, you may have wondered about the study and the social scientist who conducted it. Here's what the mainstream media forgot to mention when they trumpeted the story. The science is sham ... and as for the scientist, Lee Duigon has the story:
By now you’ve probably heard of a new “scientific study,” rescued from obscurity by the London Times, that “proves” that religious belief is the source of America’s social ills. What you haven’t heard is that the “social scientist” who authored the study, Gregory S. Paul, is in fact a freelance writer and illustrator best known for his drawings and paintings of dinosaurs... If he has an advanced degree in anything, he has successfully concealed it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: In the event that what Arlen Spector calls Miers' "crash course" on the Constitutional finds her ill-prepared for the hearings, pro-abortion Democrats eager to deal Bush a body blow may join with principled conservative senators to defeat her nomination in the judiciary committee. So thinks Bill Kristol:
We are headed towards hearings that will in no way resemble the recent triumph of John Roberts. These hearings will not be easy for Miers, as she will have to at once demonstrate a real knowledge of constitutional jurisprudence, reassure conservative constitutionalists, and presumably placate Democrats as well. Conservative senators will for the most part withhold judgment until the hearings are completed. Many have already said as much, leaving open the possibility of a no vote in the event things do not go well. It would be awkward, of course, if a combination of conservative and Democratic votes defeated Miers. But this is a moment where it is more important that conservatives stand for core principles than that they stand with the president.
WITHDRAW THE NOMINATON: I expressed doubts but held my fire about the Harriet Miers nomination when it was announced, hoping evidence of her qualifications would emerge after the initial disappointment. To the contrary, this nomination looks worse every day. Some conservatives advocate waiting for the hearings, but for those who waited two decades for this moment what we already know about Harriet Miers makes clear she's not suited to serve on the Supreme Court, especially given the many qualified conservative jurists. George Will, Charles Krauthammer, John Fund and Peggy Noonan all make excellent cases that President Bush has blown a remarkable opportunity. But I see almost no chance that she'll step aside or that Bush will withdraw the nomination — certainly not before the hearings begin. I agree with Noonan:
...It's going to come down to Harriet Miers's ability to argue her own case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the American people decide she seems like a good person--sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable--she'll be in; and if not, not.
The larger question is how much damage Bush has done to chances of getting anything important accomplished during the remainder of his term. Yes, three years is a long time and the president could recover. But if the Miers nomination causes Bush to lose the passion of his conservative base, it's hard to see who the president will rally to his cause. Conservatives bit their tongues about Bush's domestic spending habits because he was good on the war on terror and, frankly, because the left is too nutty to take seriously. Feeling betrayed by Bush's nomination of Miers, conservatives may give up on the White House and begin looking to elect a small government, reduced domestic spending, strong national defense president in 2008. The most sickening prospect is that if Bush continues to plummet, many Americans might think it's time to put the Democrats back in charge, beginning with the control of the Senate in 2007. If that happens, there goes the Supreme Court for the rest of our lives. Sorry to sound so depressing, but this is the way the world looks to me this morning. At this moment, Bush 43 is looking a lot like Bush 41, and the likeness isn't appealing. Here's Andrew Sullivan:
[Bush is] responsible for a dynasty as much as a democracy. Miers is the dynasty's constitutional guardian - as well as potentially a minimalist Justice, in line with Roberts. No other candidate could fulfill both roles. Bush, in other words, is treating the Court as a means for personal protection and dynastic noblesse oblige. The question is simply whether the GOP wants to become the vehicle for a crony-ridden aristocracy or something more transparent and meritocratic. I know which GOP I prefer. But those days keep receding further and further into the past.
The president could have used this moment to fight a real fight for the O'Connor seat; Edith Jones or Edith Clement would have been terrific nominees — and confirmable. Instead, he nominated Harry Reid's preferred candidate. "Trust me"? Please. Private whisperings may be enough for James Dobson; not for me. And listen to this from Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention: "In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty... If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." This sounds like a loyalty oath from feudal Europe! Understand: Land is arguing in her favor. My head hurts. I think I'll go get out my videotapes of Ronald Reagan speeches, to remind myself of principled leadership at its finest.