Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bush's (not so) Disappointing Nominee

Washington was in a fervor in the first weeks of July with rumors spreading of a looming vacancy in the Supreme Court. Thus, when Sandra Day O'Connor retired, the pundits and politicians all were ready for her replacement. Ann Coulter, in fact, almost immediately penned a column attacking O’Connor’s many decisions during her career as a Supreme Court Justice. In it, she responds to Chuck Schumer's request for a justice similar to O'Connor in judicial philosophy. Coulter suggests that the ideal nominee is one who is "violently opposed by Chuck Schumer." She went on to predict a large shift to the right with Bush's next nominee. Well, the replacement has been named, John G. Roberts, Jr., and Ann Coulter couldn't be more displeased. This intrigues me, because I believe that the perfect nominee is one who is violently opposed by Ann Coulter.

It has always been my belief that to understand the truth behind any amendment, law, or appointment, the most honest criticism will come from the detractors in the party, ideology, etc. from where it originates. Now, bowing to the pressure of special interest groups and the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), the congressional Democrats will surely make noise over Roberts. Liberal papers will smear his career, trying (unsuccessfully) to Bork him. However, the conservative side of the government has fallen strangely silent in praise and, aside from the administration's constant assurances that he is a worthy candidate, there is little support other than praise for his intelligence or clean record. There is a sense of discontentment in the right wing of politics, demonstrated more by the perpetual silence than any vocal protest. The one exception is, of course, Coulter, who likens the situation to George H.W. Bush's appointment of David Souter.

Coulter brings up a valid point: Roberts has lasted his entire career without saying a single controversial word. He has neglected to mention his personal philosophy in any of his writings, making a vocal point that any opinions he authored or co-authored did not necessarily represent his own views. He added a footnote on a 1994 law review which reinforced that his time spent representing the United States (during Bush Sr.'s presidency) as a Deputy Solicitor General was in no way a showcase of his own beliefs. The fact that he tried so often to drive this home was warning enough to many conservatives who were hoping for a nominee who would perhaps legislate from the bench, though in favor of conservative, rather than liberal, philosophy. Coulter mostly took offense to Bush’s choice of a "risky" nominee, even though his party was securely in power and the opposition had failed to capitalize after the arguably disastrous beginning to his second term. Roberts is not risky because he chances a filibuster from Democrats; Roberts is a "blank slate," untouchable by a litmus test and an enigma to the ideological scrutiny both sides will attempt. He is a man that Geoffrey Stone of The Huffington Post referred to as “Bush’s blink.” Though he may share the very conservative philosophy of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, he also demonstrates an extreme reluctance to apply any personal belief in his rulings.

Roberts’s credentials are undeniable: his intelligence and knowledge of government, consistency in the application of law, judicial restraint, and professional demeanor are all top-shelf. For over 20 years, Roberts has exemplified an honest politician, one who ignores partisan hackery while owing judicial obedience to the documents that govern his country. Terry Eastland of The Weekly Standard notes that one case in particular, a decision that had many liberals and human rights activists shouting in anger, is a characteristic example of his judicial restraint. In the case, a 12 year old girl was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, searched, and jailed for eating french fries in a metrorail station that had banned food. Roberts takes a logical stance, saying that it matters "not whether these policies were a bad idea but whether they violated" the girl’s constitutional rights. Speaking for a unanimous panel, he sides with the police, citing that, although the Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures, the girl did break a law, thus subjecting herself to all consequences including jail-time and a search of her nearby posessions. Maggie Gallagher also presents a “close-up look” at his judicial reason in a case where he dissented from two other judges, again on Fourth Amendment interpretation. In this case, a man was pulled over in a car with stolen license plates and was unable to produce a driver’s license or proof of ownership of the car. After arresting the man for driving an unregistered car with a suspended license and stolen tags, one of the officers proceeded to search for the real tags in the car (based on his experience with stolen tags in the past). What he found instead was a .25-caliber pistol and ammunition in the trunk. After being convicted for a weapons violation, the man appealed on the grounds that the vehicle was unreasonably searched, that his Fourth Amendment rights to the vehicle had been violated. Roberts opined to uphold the sentence, saying that because the officers had probable cause, they did not need a warrant to investigate further and search for evidence. It’s difficult not to agree with Gallagher (and Roberts, of course): a man with three legal reasons not to be behind the wheel of a car he is caught driving should not have protection against a search of that vehicle, as it is the duty of an officer to investigate a crime at the scene.

At his initial confirmation hearing, Roberts was asked by Schumer to explain why he would not reveal his personal opinions on past rulings. Roberts replied that to judge a case before sitting on the bench would undermine both his credibility and the strategy of the litigants who bring the case in future sessions. To do so would cause a bias in the arguments, causing those presenting a case to either attack a justice's personal opinions or attempt to play off them. Further inquiries have revealed his steadfastness and dedication to the ideals he has pushed for over 20 years. He refuses to bargain for votes, again demonstrated by his refusal to reveal any of his beliefs or even a single thought on an upcoming case. The only real admission in the past decade has been his view that Roe vs. Wade is time-tested as "law of the land," and that it would take significant evidence to make him overturn the landmark decision. His allegiance to well-established precedence demonstrates that he will not resort to conservative activism, an inclination to disregard or overturn precedent due to personal belief or political pressure.

It is the belief of this particular writer that Roberts is the perfect candidate for the Supreme Court, a man who refuses to bow even the slightest to the partisan hackery that both sides wish to foist upon him. He appears solidly moderate, as in he is motivated by neither the left nor right agendas, with a clearer vision of the Supreme Court's purpose than O'Connor and an utterly unsympathetic ear for the conservatives who wish to control him. The question is not about his beliefs, for it is almost certain that his beliefs are solidly conservative. The only necessary question has already been answered: whether or not he will be a fair and restrained justice. I hope he receives a clean and smooth appointment, and that the Democrats and Republicans save their energies for other issues that are actually controversial.
---Souter In Roberts' Clothing by Ann Coulter
---Reading Roberts's Mind by Terry Eastland
---The Volokh Conspiracy (various contributors)
---JUDGING JUDGE ROBERTS by Maggie Gallagher
---John Roberts: Bush's Blink by Geoffrey R. Stone

(final draft)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My Life As A "Libtard Idiot"

It was not too long ago that I was browsing an opinion article written in the Huffington Post, a piece that congratulated Tom Cruise for calling out Matt Lauer on his glibness (I personally would not know how shallow Lauer is) and for bringing attention to a national dysfunction at the hands of psychiatric drugs and treatments. Because I wonder what my peers think about this situation, I visited the discussion board for the article and read the responses. The only messages were several posts decrying Cruise (and the doctor who wrote the article thanking him) as an ignorant hack, saying his assault on psychology was unfounded and based on information spoon-fed from the Scientologist propaganda machine. I felt it necessary to defend Cruise, if only because the posters opted to wholly ignore Cruise's position and instead proclaim psychiatry as a fool-proof science. Such a misguided notion needs to be addressed, and I reminded them first that his attack was not on psychology, a much less controversial science, second that numerous psychiatric drugs have been recalled both by their parent companies and the FDA, and third that Cruise has taken an enormous interest in the topic and is apparently very well read. His arguments are concise and based on fact. The initial response from several users was "Show me your Ph.D. and I'll listen to you." This was also their response to Cruise's assertions, that his lack of higher education negated any logical argument he could present. I considered my options for response: (1) inform them that they have no Ph.D. either, and calling Cruise a hack is just as ignorant on their part, (2) Point out each and every one of my sources, written by much more credible sources who are educated in mental health or (3) flame them. I refrained from posting alltogether. My reasoning? Their response demonstrated that they considered me an unintelligent hack, and anything I told them would be disregarded as trash. It's a sad day when someone refuses to accept a logical argument unless it is spoon-fed to them by a so-called "expert," especially when so many of these scientists are proven wrong on a daily basis. Remember when margarine was better for you than butter? Or when bottled water was supposed to be the cure-all of drinking water problems? Or how about the healthy lifestyle from low-carb diets? If you demand and expect empirical, uncontested, unbiased data from an unstable and relatively new science, you are unreasonable.Before I could even respond, the same posters attacked my sources, basically saying "I've never heard of it, so it can't be true." I considered asking them how reliable the FDA's recall records were, but I didn't want to risk being flamed. I could have mentioned how my parents put me on ritalin until I grew old enough to know better, and how as soon as I stopped taking it I crashed into depression, something I had never experienced before. Or how I fight bouts of depression every year because the medicine permanently affected my brain (research it if you don't believe me). I could have also told them of people in my communities who have killed themselves while on anti-depressants. I could have told them that my sometimes extreme depression is fixed easily by a week of athletic activity and healthy eating, and how seeing a psychiatrist just pissed me off and made me feel helpless. I could tell them about the herbal remedies my mother takes, and how they work better than any foreign substance she ever introduced into her body. And I could tell them that between a man who is passionate about a subject and a man who is ordered to interview him and counter him about it, I'll believe the passionate one any day. But I didn't say any of this because of my experience as a "libtard idiot."

My first attempt at reasonable discourse with the red side of the country began on the discussion board for Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement. I loaded up the board and was immediately hit with all-caps titles like "FUCKING LIBTARDS CRY" and "DIE NAZI BITCH" and other most unpleasant topics. Undeterred, I searched for a thread started by someone with a shred of dignity. After a fruitless search I tried again, this time for someone who used lower-case letters and wasn't trolling. Well, there was one I saw that had been untouched so far: "Liberals, answer just one question for me." I clicked, and the question seemed to be a legitimate request. The author asked us (liberals) to explain why we condoned abortion. So I replied, naively, saying that to me at least, a fetus that early in development bore no resemblance to a human, and that although it was potential life, so was a sperm and an unfertilized egg, and because I had no problem with preventing fertilization, I saw no outstanding evidence that a fetus was any more valuable. This is of course why I fully support stem cell research from embryos. Anyway, I posted my response and waited for theirs. Immediately it came. The man hurls the most vicious insults at me, calling me a nazi bastard, kin to slaveowners, and thoroughly immoral and idiotic example of a worthless human being. Future replies to my answer all referred to me, in some form or another, as a "fucking libtard idiot." These words were filled with emotion, and I know the man was angry at me, and all I had done was what he had asked. The man went on to explain that if I saw 3 month old baby ripped from its mother's womb, screaming and wiggling its arms in anguish, I would immediately renounce my sins and admit that abortion is a monstrous infection in society. I politely informed him that a baby has only minor feeling in its face and genitalia by the 3rd month, and is in fact unable to sense any real pain until well into the second trimester, finally having the ability to recognize pain as humans do during the 32nd week (end of 8th month). The baby doesn't have a bit of control over its body until week 16 (4th-5th month), at which point it can flex its developing body. The developing fetus begins to resemble a human during the third month, before which it looks mostly like a tadpole. Even in the early stages as a fetus, there is small resemblance to the human body. Only 1% of abortions take place after the 20th week, when a fetus would have the opportunity to barely wriggle its arms. It hasn't even developed the ability to use its voicebox yet (that doesn't come until the 6th month, upon which the baby is able to breathe air). So for over 95% of abortions, the doctor is removing a small, inch-long tadpole with rudimentary arms and legs and no developed neck or throat. I was drowned out by threats and more violent hate-filled insults. By the way, if you doubt my claims, read the handbook on pregnancy below. My abortion data comes from a pro-life site, though they left a blank between week 13 and week 20. I extrapolated conservatively (in favor of higher weeks) for my numbers.

My further attempts to bridge even significantly less controversial issues, such as the 10 Commandments display and even censorship, have led to my receiving a string of hate. How one can get so angry over a video game is beyond me. If you recommend that parents regulate what their children are playing, the NeoCons, as the trollers like to call themselves, will call you an immoral bastard. If you suggest that the video games aren't as bad as the media makes them out to be, the NeoCons will call you an immoral bastard. And if you remind them that a Democrat is co-sponsoring the bill with a Republican, well, that's when they fall back on "libtard" and company. The moral of the story is debate is useless with anyone with blind faith, whether it be in religion, in one's country, or in the president. No topic can be reasonably approached with these people. So I'll take "fucking libtard idiot" as a compliment, because it signifies that I refuse to blindly believe without questioning what I am told.'s Pregnancy Factbook's abortion data

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Democrats' Folly and Dicing Religion with Ann Coulter

As promised, here are the topics I had almost addressed earlier:

I've lost my faith in the national Democratic party. It seems they've taken a liking to the "second mouse gets the cheese" style of politicking. Aside from a few bi-partisan initiatives, the vast majority of Democratic activities has been naysaying everything the Republicans try, and little has actually been offered in return. They seem to have resorted wholly to Bush bashing as a platform, something that all but the most diehard and unreasonable left-wing devotees are sick of hearing. Now I agree with the Bolton filibustering, and I'll get to the reason of that standoff later (next time). First, I have 3 specific Democrats who I have a serious gripe with:
1) Hillary Clinton - when initially I read of her speculation on running, I was all for it. Clinton in the White House?!? Unfortunately, she has spent all her time building herself up for the election already. I read a lengthy article detailing her rise to the Senate in Vanity Fair and I must say that she seems to be a rather obtuse woman, especially with the things she has been saying. About Bush for instance, calling him on multiple occasions Alfred E. Neuman (the freckled face of Mad Magazine), she says hateful and wholly non-productive things, the lowest of partisan hackery.
2) John Kerry - I don't think he realizes that the election is over. He has been harping Bush constantly ever since he gained the spotlight and contributes absolutely nothing worthwhile to the media stream.
3) Harry Reid - The mouthpiece for everything irrelevant and unintriguing, he uses his leadership position to represent all of the left-wing Americans with... beating a dead horse. Every stumble, every mistake of the Republican government is repeated several MILLION times by every democrat under his wing, saving the loudest burst for their mother hen.

So the problem is the Democrats are not taking a stance. Instead, they're trying to catch their majority brethren in a mistake, hence why the Rove story has been attacked and blown up. Here's a thought: Senators are legislators. They aren't press secretaries, they aren't pundits, and they aren't political analysts. So why are they spending the majority of their public efforts analyzing and critiquing the administration? The answer: they're desperate. They need to change up their game plan. This is obviously a ploy for seats in 2006, and if they had just let the Republican party screw themselves over and focused instead on their own non-partisan agenda, the mess would have sorted itself out. Now, however, congressional approval is at 28%, no doubt as much because of Democratic inactivity as Republican mistakes. I don't see much gain at all for Democrats, and some of them may even lose their seats.
Dean Barnett of the Weekly Standard has a good analysis of the turn the party has taken:
"The last six months have been a horrow show for Republicans. And yet, astonishingly, the Democratic party has suffered more in the polls than the Republicans. According to a recent poll done boy Democrats Stanley Greenberg and James Carville, 43 percent of Americans have warm feelings for the Republican party compared to 38 percent who feel the same way for Democrats. Greenberg characterizes his poll's results this way: 'Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more.' Greenberg says the Democrats' fall is due to voters feeling that the party has 'no core set of convictions or point of view.'

"Why is that? The Democratic party has decided to imitate the style of the political blogs, even though the most trafficked one, the Daily Kos, receives fewer than 600,000 visits a day.


As Markos Moulitsas observed, his virtual community (The Daily Kos) is a 'different world.' Democrats seem to have forgotten that elections are held in the real one."

And that, in a nutshell, is why I have lost faith in both the Democratic party and politics in general. Any time your leaders begin to buy into the same style of 9/11 conspiracy theorists, with "bare-knuckled, obscentity-laced politics," is a time for worry.

My final thought: If McCain runs, and Warner (or a Democratic candidate other than Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, and their type) doesn't get nominated, I'm voting (shock, gasp) Republican. I'm not confined to party lines, and I WILL vote for the best man. A reasonable, proven, moderate conservative is better than an extreme left with no sense of direction. I'm liberal, but I won't put my political fate in the hands of an incompetent. Or an incompetent party, for that matter.
--- Blogging Alone
--- Sen. Clinton Attacks Bush Over Tax Cuts

Time for the Religion corner... please try not to be offended.
Ann Coulter writes an article (two of them, actually), one about the various government-subsidized expressions of speech that she deems more offensive than religion. The other was her take on "Reagan's biggest mistake," Sandra Day O'Connor, and her meddling in the affairs of the Christian.
First off, the problem I have with Coulter is that she is intelligent, but she allows partisan shots and crude insults to undermine her points. Just when she begins building a case for something, she takes a cheap shot at abortion or atheism or something else she deems savage, leaving her column as just something for other hacks of her ilk to read and applaud. Now that that's out of the way...
Exhibit A: The case...
"(1) A Ten Commandments monument does not establish a religion. (2) The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law "respecting" an establishment of religion -- meaning Congress cannot make a law establishing a religion, nor can it make a law prohibiting the states from establishing a religion."
Exhibit B: The breakdown...
"That's the America you live in! A country founded on a compact with God, forged from the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights is now a country where taxpayers can be forced to sbusidize "artistic" exhibits of aborted fetuses. But don't start thinking about putting up a Ten Commandments display. That's offensive!"
First of all, her case is valid. Congress is not allowed to make a law addressing religion directly. However, her support is faulty. This country was founded BY religious people, men I should say, who believed in a compact with God, but they made expressedly clear that religion was to play no part in the creation of our government. Now, if Thomas Jefferson walked into a Kentucky courthouse and saw a 10 Commandments display on the wall, would he think our government abstained from religious endeavors? This is why O'Connor ruled against it. My idea for balancing it out is to put the 10 Commandments on one wall and on the wall across from it place a huge plaque that says "There is no God." If one is ok, the other should beas well, right? Secondly, and the basis for my idea comes from another author Cynthia Tucker, the argument should bypass the Establishment Clause and go straight to the heart of basic citizen rights: Those who do not hold the 10 Commandments as a valid historical document; agnostics; atheists; and religions other than Christianity, Judaism, and (to an extent), Islam; are oppressed by the presence of such a religious document in a supposedly non-religious environment. Here is Tucker's example:
"Iraq, after all, has a tiny minority of Christians, men and women who still suffer oppression, even after the fall of Saddam Hussein. They dream of the day when they will be free to worship as they please, without fear of intimidation. Would they feel equal under law if every courthouse in the new Iraq housed huge monuments of popular verses of the Quran? Would they believe they could stand before a Sunni or Shiite judge and get fairness if the wall behind him posted a declaration from the Islamic holy book?"
Of course not. We atheists feel the same way, that Christian judges and politicians are forcing their religion into the decision process. This has nothing to do with establishment, and everything to do with equality.
--- Reagan's Biggest Mistake Finally Retires
--- Thou Shalt Not Commit Religion
--- The Principles We Push Abroad Should Be Upheld Here at Home

It's getting late, so I'll finish up tomorrow:
coming soon: behind the scenes with Bush the Messiah, the issues students face today, stem cell jabs, feints, and knockouts, some other random musings, and (eventually) my experience as a "Fucking Libtard Idiot" (this one burns me up). Also, Jon Stewart's dream come true.

Doonesbury on Bush and Iraq

Also, check out the Doonesbury series on suicide bombers, here from Tuesday until Saturday. They're hilarious AND ring true, though against the Bush administration's claims.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Catch Up

Because I missed 2 weeks, I'm just going to sort through my approximately 300 pages of news articles and pick out about 40-50 pages worth to comment on. My apologies for taking so long to get back into this. Unfortunately, after reading and sorting my articles, I'm out of time to write tonight. Tomorrow I will attempt to finish (with the addition of more articles, no doubt).

Coming soon: Democracy's, Democrats' Respective Falls from Grace
Also playing soon in a blog near you: My Experience as a "Fucking Libtard Idiot"

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Suspended Posting

I'm not much in the writing mood at the moment, my mono resurfaced and some personal problems are occupying my time and mind. I'll return shortly. Don't worry, I'm saving it all up for post when the time is right.