Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No more Lionel Barrymore

For the past several decades the most prominent Mr. Potter that showed up around this time of year was Lionel Barrymore playing the nasty Mr. Potter in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.

But over the last few years, Barrymore's Mr. Potter has been supplanted by a much different and younger Mr. Potter. Harry Potter that is.

That's right, I recently sat through the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And like the first three films, it's a winner. Our trio of young wizards are another year older, and as they get older, their adventures become more and more threatening. Of course I'm referring to teen angst and budding romances for Harry, Hermione, and Ron. There's also the not-so-small problem of a reborn Lord Voldemort. Good stuff all the way around.

If you like to suspend your disbelief for about 150 minutes and immerse yourself in a fantasy world of wizards, wonder, romance, and danger, then see this movie. If not, well, don't go see the movie. You won't hurt my feelings at all.

Spoiler Alert!!!! You've been warned.

My only quibble with the movie has to do with the second of the three tests Harry and the other champions have to accomplish as part of the Triwizard Tournament being held at Hogwarts. Harry and the others must go underwater to retrieve something precious to each them that has been hidden underwater. It turns out that the "precious" items are four people, each precious to one of the four contestants. One of the four contestants can't complete the task and she resigns. Harry winds up saving his "precious" in the person of Ron Weasley along with the little sister of the contestant that was forced out.

The storyline seems to indicate that if Harry or any of the others failed in their task, the end result would be that the characters put in the water would be left there to die. Is this really the case or did I miss something? If so, I think parents would be wise not to send their wizard children to Hogwarts. Quiddich injuries are one thing, but to die as bait in a Triwizard event? That's beyond the pale.

Pete Rose

Yesterday, Stephen Green at Vodkapundit posted his thoughts on Pete Rose and OJ Simpson and whether one, both or neither should be in their respective sport's Hall of Fame. You can read about it here.

Here's my take:

Gambling = human weakness

Murder = human evil

Everyone knows that Pete Rose broke a longstanding rule of baseball, that thou shall not bet on baseball. However, there is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.

The spirit of the law against betting on the game was to prevent players, coaches and managers from engaging in acts that were detrimental to true competition on the field. The sport was concerned that players, coaches and managers might do things differently during a game if they're betting on the game vs. what they would normally do if they didn't have a bet on the game. Perfectly understandable. They didn't want decisions or actions taken that weren't done in the spirit of open and honest competition, ala the White Sox in 1919.

Pete Rose certainly violated the letter of the law. But did he violate the spirit of the law? Did he ever do anything as a player or manager that was purely self-serving for his gambling on a game he was involved in? Did he do anything that violated the spirit of open and honest competition on the field of play? I don't know. If he did violate the spirit of the law, then he's been rightly denied his place in the HOF. But if he didn't, I would have overlooked his violation of the letter of law and allowed his ugly mug a place in Cooperstown.

I guess I'm a softie, but I believe that following the spirit of the law is more important than following the letter of the law. Sue me. (You are so sued. - editor)

As for OJ, well, even though the jury somehow didn't see it, there's no doubt in my mind he murdered two people. He shouldn't be in the HOF in Canton.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

UPDATE: Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign

I wrote about this just the other day in this post.

These folks obsessing over "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holildays" should rename the Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign to something more in line with the attitudes of the people supporting the campaign. After reading various threads over at freerepublic.com here, here, and here on this topic, I think the campaign should be renamed this:

Wish me a Merry Christmas, or else! Damn it! Campaign

I think that catches the vibe of these folks pretty well.

Happy Holidays! Oops, er, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Damn it!

There's a new mental disease

Some of you may be familiar with the political disorder know as BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). It's symptoms include the inability to make or follow a logical argument, calling anyone that disagrees with them a fascist, racist, or any other insult handy, and hatred of all Republicans, and that goes double ChimpyBushHitler. The disorder seems to be transmitted by web sites like like democraticunderground.com, moveon.org, and the dailykos.com.

Alas, there's a new disorder similar to BDS that seems to be afflicting some folks over on the Right side of the political spectrum. It's called CPC (Conservative Persecution Complex). It's symptoms include obsessing over holiday greetings, calling anyone that disagrees with them a commie, godless sinner or any other insult handy, and a hatred of all things Democrat, and that goes double for Hitlery Clinton (aka She whose Name must not be uttered). This disease seems to be infesting the freerepublic.com web site and has for quite some time.

As you can see, both disorders share certain symptoms. Other shared symptoms include but aren't limited to:

1) Each considers the other evil.
2) Each considers the other's politics to be totalitarian.
3) Neither seem capable of accepting that the other's views are arrived at in good faith.
4) Neither seem to want to actually persuade the other to see things their way.
5) Neither seem able to comprehend that their extremist rhetoric does nothing to further their cause.

The cure is for these two disorders is:

1) Understanding that a person's political views are shaped by their basic worldview. It's only natural that people of differing worldviews would have differing political views. You can only change a person's political views by changing their worldview.
2) Understand that because people do have different worldviews, there are always going to be political disagreements.
3) Accept that the other side holds their positions in good faith.
4) Be a little humble about your own views. While you believe your political views to be correct, there is that possibility that you just may be wrong, and the other guy right.
5) Try to persuade the other side, instead of castigating them.
6) Stop the name calling. Disagree without being disagreeable. Calling each other extremists all the time does nothing to further your causes.

Here's hoping everyone will be cured of these two insidious disorders. Remember, a free country is a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Strawmen everywhere

Strawmen litter the landscape of public discourse in this country.

What is a strawman? It is an argument made in support of a position that seems hefty, but really isn't. In fact, it's really as light as straw, hence the term "strawman". And nearly everyone has a strawman argument somewhere in their repertoire, they just don't realize it.

Here are a couple of examples of strawman arguments, one from the Right and one from the Left.

1. There are some conservatives who say they would agree to end the War on Drugs if no tax money would be spent on rehab for drug addicts. Sounds principled to most conservatives. But if they are really concerned about the public treasury, isn't it obvious that it cost billions of dollars more annually to try to enforce a total prohibition against all drug users versus providing rehab treatment to the fraction of drug users that truly qualify as addicts and might actually benefit from a few weeks in rehab?

Nationally, it is estimated that the War on Drugs costs taxpayers between $35 to $50 billion every year. In contrast, it would costs around $15 billion to treat 1 million hardcore addicts with a 3 month stay in rehab. So the "I'll agree to ending the War on Drugs only if no money is spent on rehab" objection is really a strawman argument.

While there are around 30 million drug users annually, most are infrequent users. And of the 12-15 million that are regular users, the vast majority are not addicts. My own rough estimate is that we have around 0.8 to 1.5 million hardcore addicts in this country. We could probably treat them all for around half or less of what we spend to chase down all users and lock them up.

If a person really wants to save the taxpayer's money, he should support ending the War on Drugs. Period.

2. Many anti-war people cite the mounting death toll of military personnel in Iraq as their reason for not supporting the war effort and wanting to bring the troops home now. But prior to the war starting in 2003, many of these same people said they couldn't support the war because they feared that as many as 35,000 to 50,000 military personnel would be killed in the first six months of fighting. The total deaths from fighting in Iraq just surpassed 2,000 in the last few weeks, and the fighting started well over 2 years ago. One might expect that these people would be relieved that their worst fears weren't realized. Yet they still fret over the casualties even though the numbers are way below what they expected.

The truth of the matter is that these folks were against the war in Iraq no matter what the death toll. Whether the casualties ended up being one or one million, they would have been against the war. This fact makes their "don't go to war because the casualties will be too high" argument a strawman argument.

These are just two of the strawman arguments that are out there. I'll post more as time goes by.

How would you like your sacred cow burger cooked?

Well, if you are like me, you like your sacred cow burger cooked well done, with BBQ sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese on a sesame seed bun. You like to put the left-overs in the refrigerator and eat them later the same day. You like to take the bones of the sacred cows and grind them into fertilizer and spread them over the pasture. You like to take the hide of the sacred cow and turn it into a matching set of leather boots and jacket.

Of course, a dinner salad and baked potato go along rather nicely, too.

If you like your sacred cows cooked the way I do, then you too must be a fan of South Park, the show that cooks sacred cows to a crisp on a regular basis.

This week's episode was a classic. Scientology took it on the chin from the South Park team. Tom Cruise and John Travolta, two of Hollywood's most noted Scientologists, get some ribbing along the way.

There's just too much to cover in this episode, so I'll give you my favorites.

In the show, one of the show's regulars (Kyle, as I recall) is deemed to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, the hack science fiction writer that founded this "religion" in the 1950's. As he has no knowledge of Scientology's truths, the leader of the church explains to him the events that occurred 75 million years ago. As this leader narrates these events, the program goes into a montage of those events.

What happened 75 million years ago, you ask? It seems there was this evil dictator in an over-populated galaxy. He froze billions of beings and shipped them to pre-historic earth and dropped their frozen bodies in volcanoes. The spirits of these beings tried to escape from the earth, but our evil dictator was prepared for this. He had devices placed above the earth that forced the spirits to stay on earth. Those spirits are called Thetans, and they plague us to this day. If you have any problems, it's because of the Thetans. And only Scientologists can help you overcome these Thetans.

What made this bit so juicy was that while these events were being narrated and depicted on screen, the phrase "This is what Scientologists really believe" was super-imposed on the screen the entire time. Too funny.

Toward the end, Kyle decides he is not going to play along with the fraud being perpetuated by the Scientologists and publicly denounces them in the press conference they've arranged for him. When Kyle breaks away from them, the Scientologists tell him they will sue him. It goes something like this:

Leader: We're going to sue you.
Kyle: Fine, sue me.
L: Okay, we will.
K: Good.
L: You are so sued.
K: Then sue me then.
L: We will sue you.
K: Sue me.

Back and forth, back and forth......

After this, the credits begin to roll. Every name in the credits is John Smith or Jane Smith, so as not to get sued. Hilarious.

Click on this link to see the schedule for South Park on Comedy Central.

I know. I know. The show can be very crude and rude. But it also has the most biting social commentary found anywhere on television.

Ah, the smell of sacred cow burgers. Delish.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The (Lack of) Compassion of the Conservatives

First, my apologies to Mel Gibson as the title of this post is a a little word play taken from the title of his powerful, heartfelt movie The Passion of the Christ. With that said, the title seemed appropriate given that so many social conservatives seem lacking in compassion for those that truly are in unfortunate circumstances.

Case in point is this story I ran across on freerepublic.com this afternoon. For those not familiar with freerepublic.com, it is a news and forum website founded, maintained, and financially supported by grass-roots conservatives. Registered members can post links to articles on the Internet as well as post comments about the articles and respond to the posts of other registered users. The comment sections to the posted articles are commonly known as "threads" in Internet slang.

The story linked to above is about a 27 year-old Belgian man confined to a wheel chair. He's quadriplegic and can't talk, eat, or walk but is normal mentally and communicates through a computer. One other thing he can do is get an erection. He can function sexually.

For several years now, his mother has been paying prostitutes to come visit her son about once a month. I don't believe any further details are necessary here.

This man would like to have sex more than once a month, but his mother can't afford that. His story has made the news because recently his mother has petitioned the Belgian government for money to pay for weekly visits from the prostitutes as reimbursement for medical expenses, which they've so far rejected.

Now I fully realize this all sounds absurd. But what would you do, my dear reader, if you were a parent in this situation? What if it was your son? Would you even pay for a prostitute? Given this young man's severe physical limitations, his chances of finding a woman who would be willing to spend her life with him are rather slim. Should he be condemned to a life devoid of any sexual gratification because of his physical limitations?

While these types of situations are thankfully rare, they do occur. Sadly, the "compassionate" conservatives that took the time to write a post on this story could only mock or show disgust at this man's situation.

There are currently 68 posts to this article and only two posts show any compassion for this man's plight. First, there's this post early in the thread from RichInOC:

This is one of those stories that really shouldn't be funny...but is.

Then, towards the end of the thread, wouldntbprudent does a little better when he writes this response to the post above:

And it's also the other way around: it really should be funny . . . but isn't. :-;

That's it for the compassion on this thread. Impressive, wouldn't you say?

The following items are representative of the other 66 comments:

1. ROTFLMAO! What more can you say?

Note: ROTFLMAO=Rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off

2. Could a Moslem citizen of Belgian therefore demand 72 virgins?

3. My brain needs soap after reading that.

4. It is tempting to dismiss this piece as something from The Onion, but sadly enough it is true. This is what happens to a once Catholic country that allows itself to be pulled down into the gutter with the worst of the eurotrash.Even money says they give in within six months.

5. And then they can pay for his medical treatment after he contracts AIDS or an STD.

6. LOL! Good catch. I'm MARRIED, and sometimes I don't even get sex once a week. Maybe I should sue my wife for depriving me of my basic human rights!

7. It is frequently said on this site that a country that can't control its borders will not be a country for very long. I don't disagree, but I would add that a country that publicly funds pocket-pool is in even more trouble.

8. If there is legal sex for handicaps then only handicaps will have legal sex...

9. Never bring a 'hand' to a 'prostitute' fight.

10. I am actually speechless. These people are mad, mad, mad.

11. The guy can't feel anything from the head down, but he NEEDS sex? This WANT is just that, a want. This is just an attention seeking issue, a poor useless cripple who can't have sex, both physically and finacialy. I guess adressing the finacial aspect is his way of "having sex". Paying some cheap hooker to flog his dead useless member for a half hour isn't having sex. I guess it's called visual/mentaL sex.

Don't these eleven posts just drip with sympathy, compassion and understanding for this unfortunate soul's plight? Well, no, actually they show zero compassion. Nada. Nil. Remember that there are 55 other posts that mirror these 11. Click on the link in the second paragraph to read the article and all the comments, if you have the stomach for it.

Now I can appreciate the humor some of the folks posted. But is it too much to expect a "but seriously, folks" followed by some words that would at least show a smidgen of sympathy?

And sample post eleven is, well, just disgusting.

Granted, this is a very unusual situation, so most of us have never pondered it before. I understand that a person morally opposed to prostitution might be reluctant to have it paid for out of public funds. I also understand that it would be difficult for most of us to even think about securing the services of a prostitute for a disabled son. But it sure would have been nice if a poster or two would have at least acknowledged the complex moral issues surrounding this family's situation.

But none of them did. I hope they all had a good laugh or something.

The social conservatives of the Right may know the Bible backwards and forwards, but very few of them actually understand much of it. Futhermore, I'm certain that reactions here to this man's plight would be fairly representative of a large portion, if not a majority of social conservatives. The sad thing is that most of them are probably rather nice decent folks in their daily lives and habits. But when it comes to certain political and/or moral issues, many of them become self-righteous ideologues, condemning anyone that deviates from their orthodoxy as just plain evil. Just like the far Left does. I can't be a part of that.

That doesn't mean I'm becoming a Lefty. Far from it. I guess I'm now one of those despised RINO's that social conservatives talk about (RINO = Republican in name only). Or even worse, a libertarian. So be it. At least I don't mock the sex life of a disabled man in a wheel chair.

You know it's TV sweeps week.....

....when the local news advertises a big feature news story on escort services (SEX SELLS), like station KMOV-Channel 4 did the previous weekend. Larry Conners, the station's anchorman, seemed to be channeling Claude Rains in Casablanca as he narrated the promotional spots for the story. Larry was shocked, shocked I say, to report that escorts operate right here in Saint Louis, in 2005 no less, thumbing their nose at the law and making way too much money while doing so.

Come on, is any one really surprised that the world's oldest profession is still being practiced right here in good old Saint Louis? Does anyone really care? I don't as I certainly don't consider prostitution to be a crime in and of itself.

Is it sinful? Yes, based on any reasonable understanding of Judeo-Christian teachings. Is it criminal? Hardly, as sexual intercourse between consenting adults that doesn't involve force or fraud cannot, by definition, be criminal.

I say legalize it and require regular medical exams of prostitutes. As for soliciting on the street, that can either be prohibited or zoned to specific areas and times in non-residential areas. Otherwise, leave the prostitutes and their customers alone. Legalization will make it safer for the prostitutes and their customers, aid in controlling STD's, weed out violent pimps and organized crime, and eliminate police and law enforcement corruption.

However, the biggest benefit would be no more titillating stories during quarterly sweeps weeks informing us that, unbelievable as it may seem, un-saved people still do un-saved things. Even in 2005.

One more thought, who is the bigger prostitute here? Is it the women who sell their bodies to a man for pleasure? Or is it the TV news organization that just happens (now I'm shocked) to do a story about escorts during "sweeps week" when local TV ratings are measured, affecting the station's advertising revenues for the next quarter? It's a toss-up, at best. However, I do know which one is the more honest of the two. Sorry Channel 4, you lose in the honesty sweepstakes.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

More culture war nonsense

Is anyone else besides me weary of the so-called "Culture Wars"?

Here's a story in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that Rev. Jerry Falwell has added his support to, now get this, the "Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign", sponsored by the Liberty Counsel, a "conservative legal organization". The story gives the details of a network of lawyers that will work to counter the ACLU's crusade to prevent various governmental entities from engaging in non-secular actions (i.e.. religious displays on public property, carols being sung in public schools, etc.).

Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign? Is Christmas really in that much danger? Even if you believe as I do that the ACLU and others have gone overboard in their never-ending efforts to remove religion from the public (governmental) square, isn't "Friend or Foe" a little too much "in your face"? Why not call it the "Friends of Christmas Campaign" or the "Stop the Insanity Campaign" or something less confrontational? Doesn't anyone at the Liberty Counsel understand that such a confrontational slogan plays right into your opponent's hands?

Everyone on both sides here needs to take a deep breath and relax.

Let me talk to both sides here. First, I want to address the ACLU and their supporters. Look, I know you mean well, but the nation survived for nearly 200 years with public displays of Christmas and Christmas carols being sung by school children, so why don't you just give it a rest. Furthermore, millions of non-Christians have immigrated to this country in the last 50 years. They seem to have no problem with the dominant Christian culture, why do you? Typically speaking, it is nations dominated by Christians that are the freest in the world. You tend to view Christians as if they are the Mongol hordes. Christians are rightly proud of what they founded here on these shores and what it has become. Our country isn't perfect and it never will be, but compared to the rest of the world, it is a mighty nice place to be. You might want to give them their due every once and a while.

Furthermore, your tactics lately seem more like blackmail. I know how you work. For example, some city or county has a cross on its seal, you demand that the governing authority remove said symbol under threat of a costly law suit, governing body often caves in to your demands to save tax payers money. It is pathetic.

If you really want to do something about civil liberties, why don't you turn your attentions to the War on Drugs. There are tens of millions of people at risk of arrest for behaviors that are the morally no different than buying or selling alcohol, but to my knowledge your organization has done precious little work in this area (medical marijuana being a notable exception). The War on Drugs is by far and away the biggest rights violator in this nation. Nothing else comes close.

If Christians ever start burning heathens at the stake in this country, I'll be right along side you to fight them. But from my vantage point, your crusades seemed designed to give offense, not right real wrongs. Your organization is akin to the fable about the boy who cried "wolf", you see dangers were danger isn't present. One of these days, you may be right about a danger to our liberties, but because your efforts to date have merely marginalized you from the Christian majority in this nation, your warnings might not be heeded when they need to be.

Now to my Christian co-religionists. Don't be so confrontational with those that disagree with you in these matters of public policy. The fact of the matter is that the more confrontational you become, the more you feed their paranoia. I'm not saying you mustn't engage them in the courts, although it's not a bad idea. But if you must engage them, do it with a light heart. And if you lose, don't worry about it. Remember that it is the job of Christians to spread the Word. It is not the job of the public schools or the government in general to spread Christianity. People will still celebrate Christmas as they choose whether or not a religious carol is being sung at the local public high school or if there is no creche on the lawn in front of city hall. Is it silly for the ACLU to worry about these things? Yes it is. But if it is silly for them to worry about it, it is for you too.

One more word to my Christian friends. Get over this obsession with "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays". It is selfish, childish, petty and beneath you. If an employee at the local department store wishes you "Happy Holidays", take it as the well wishes it is meant to be. Politely respond with a "Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to you, too", and give the well wishes right back to them. Please understand that a stranger does not know your religious affiliations or beliefs and is merely being polite to a stranger.

Also, remember that the late December/early January time frame has been referred to as the "Holiday Season" for a long long time now owing to the fact that the Christmas holiday, New Year's day, and Hanukkah, (and now Kwansa) all occur during this time short time frame. Thus the term "Happy Holidays" was coined to encompass this entire time of year. It is a joyous time of year for Christians, and many non-Christians are happy for us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus even if they themselves don't celebrate the birth of Christ. Be generous of spirit and don't seek offense in the words "Happy Holidays" because no offense is intended. "Happy Holidays" is a wonderful phrase for all of us. So lighten up, Francis.

Denny Crane?????

I'm not sure, but I think Fox play-by-play announcer Thom Brennamen referred to Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green as "Denny Crane" late in the Rams-Cardinals game today. Of course, Denny Crane is the name of the character played by William Shatner on Boston Legal, on another network, as they say. Kind of funny. Maybe I misheard Thom, but it sure souned like "Denny Crane" to me. Heh.

BTW, the Rams lost.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Abortion and the Supreme Court

With the passing of William Rehnquist and the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor, President Bush gets to nominate their replacements. John Roberts has already been sworn into the position of Chief Justice while Samuel Alito awaits his confirmation hearings in January.

Of course, this means that the political fireworks have already begun and will continue through the Alito hearings. The source of the fireworks is primarily over abortion.

As Yogi Berra would say, it's deja vu all over again.

For long a long time, I laid the blame for these abortion fireworks at the feet of the Left. Their insistence that judges be made to swear allegiance to the Roe ruling seemed a threat to the independence of the judiciary. While that is still true, I have to be honest and say that the pro-life side's open campaigning to overturn Roe (via the appointment of judges) is what set the Left off in the first place. In other words, while Roe may started the fire overall, the Right started the fire in the Supreme Court battles by politicizing the issue, the Left just throws gasoline on that fire.

I wouldn't begrudge the pro-lifers their strategy of trying to overturn Roe via nominating anti-Roe judges if that was their only option. But the fact of the matter is they do have another option, amending the Constitution.

It really is ironic. One of the pro-life arguments against the Roe decision is that it excluded the voice of the people in the abortion issue. Yet there is a way to include the voice of the people via the amending the Constitution, and they refuse to try.

The reason the pro-lifers don't want to try for an amendment is because they know it will likely fail. The reason it would fail is because, despite their claims to the contrary, most voters think abortion should remain legal. An amendment might be possible if the pro-lifers would compromise and allow unrestricted abortions in, say, the first trimester of pregnancy. But they won't so any amendment is doomed to failure.

And so the abortion quagmire continues. When will it end? Who knows. It might go away if Roe is upheld once or twice more in the next few years. It might go away with time if Roe were overturned, returning the issue back to the states. Socially liberal states would allow abortions with few restrictions while socially conservative states would likely restrict abortions to one degree or another. And abortion rights activists might start a campaign to amend the Constitution to guarantee abortion rights should Roe be overturned.

The bottom line is that this issue is ripe for compromise and most Americans would be satisfied with a compromise that allows unrestricted abortions early in the pregnancy. I think there are many abortion rights supporters that would accept this. However, the pro-life side will not, so the abortion rights activists aren't going to either. Like I said, quagmire.

And I'm weary of it.

GWB and the Supremes

There's a lot of ground to cover here, so here goes:

First, Sandra Day O'Conner's retirement pending confirmation of her replacement. Justice O'Conner will not be missed by me. Not because she was considered a moderate or a swing vote. My criticism of Justice O'Conner is mainly that she had a tendency to sometimes make rulings based more on policy preferences than on underlying constitutional and statute law. This rarely leads to clearing up an issue, and rather tends to muddy the water and prolong the issue. The affirmative action votes she made in Michigan cases a couple of years ago are an example of this. She somehow reasoned that it was fine to use race as a determining factor for the law school but not for undergrads. Or maybe it was vice versa. Either way, it was logically inconsistent and typical of her "split the difference" jurisprudence on way too many occassions.

As for Chief Justice Rehnquist, may he rest in peace. He gets praise from me for trying to put some teeth back into the Commerce Clause. I think history will judge him as a fine justice, while not particularly influential as a Chief Justice.

Now on to the nominees.

From what I've read and seen of John Roberts, he is a fine selection and will prove to be a fine Chief Justice. He has a top-notch legal mind and a humble judicial temperament. Way to go, GWB. Shame on you Senators that voted against this obviously well qualified jurist.

Harriette Miers. Harriette Miers? What were you thinking, GWB? When she was announced as the nominee for the O'Conner seat, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I'd never seen her mentioned on any insider's listing of potential nominees, so I took a wait and see position. I waited and what I saw was not impressive. I think she did the right thing by withdrawing herself for the seat.

To explain this nomination, I tend to agree with those who say GWB was trying to (a) avoid a nomination fight in the Senate, (b) reward a long-time friend, servant, and supporter with a plumb appointment to the Court, and (c) appoint a Bush loyalist to the Court. None of these reasons are particularly good reasons to appoint Miers, but they don't disqualify her either. Rather, it became clear as her hearings date approached that she was not up to the job. End of story.

Now for Judge Alito. Alito is another fine jurist in the Roberts mold. Sharp legal mind with a restrained judicial temperament. I've read several stories on the web either penned by liberals or feature quotes from liberals that know him, worked for him, etc. and they have nothing but high praise for the man. He will be confirmed in early 2006 with about the same margin of approval as Roberts recently received.

In summary, President Bush has nominated two fine, eminently qualified jurists, with the Miers stumble in between.

Lot of catching up to do

Well, it's been a few months, but I'm going to try to make regular posts.

Yeah, right. (editor)

I understand your skepticism. Only time will tell. Let the blogging begin.