Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Harriet Miers Delimma

I've developed a "surfing habit" each time I sign on to the Internet. First I go to The Drudge Report and follow all interesting links. Then I go to The Huffington Post and read the most interesting commentaries (blogs) and follow any other news links. I find this pattern is actually more informative and better balanced than my old habit of reading MSNBC or Yahoo News.

But, over the last few weeks, Drudge and Huffington almost mirror each other. Both conservatives and liberals are bashing Harriet Miers.

But it seems to me that the liberals ought to be very cautious. As the old saying goes: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

For five years I've been writing here that Bush is no conservative. If you like BIG GOVERNMENT, HUGE DEFICITS, and new SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMS, Bush is your man.

Now you can add MODERATE, PRAGMATIC SUPREME COURT JUSTICES to the Bush legacy.

The LA Times wrote:
In Dallas, Miers supported a move to create City Council districts so black and Latino candidates would have a better chance of winning seats.

"She came to believe it was important to achieve more black and Hispanic representation," Hasen said.

"She could have a profound impact as a justice if she brought that view to the court. So from the perspective of the voting rights community, they could do a lot worse than her."

It's frankly very clear that Miers will be a thoughtful judge who brings world experience rather than Ivy League Scholarship to the bench.

Of course Conservatives like Ann Coulter are going ballistic!

Ann Coulter wrote:
We're told she has terrific "common sense." Common sense is the last thing you want in a judge! The maxim "Hard cases make bad law" could be expanded to "Hard cases being decided by judges with 'common sense' make unfathomably bad law."

Miers also told Sen. Patrick Leahy — in front of witnesses — that her favorite justice was "Warren," leaving people wondering whether she meant former Chief Justice Earl Warren, memorialized in "Impeach Warren" billboards across America, or former Chief Justice Warren Burger, another mediocrity praised for his "common sense" who voted for Roe v. Wade and was laughed at by Rehnquist clerks like John Roberts for his lack of ability

Now here's the dilemma. Democrats hate Bush with a destructive passion I've never witnessed in thinking human beings before. The columnists at Huffington spew poison in every sentence and every word. After reading Huffington one would have to believe Hitler was a misunderstood choir boy when compared to the corrupt, evil, dangerous and stupid Bush.

So, naturally, they giggle with glee as the Conservatives turn on George Bush and pick apart Miers like vultures on an road kill armadillo.

And they throw their spears, not to scare off the vultures, but to be certain the poor Miers armadillo is really dead.

Yet Democrats "claim" they want another justice like Sandra Day O'Connor. And in Miers they actually have one. Harriet Miers is absolutely, positively the best nominee Dems can possibly hope for!! If she goes down, we will get a true constructionist nominee in the mold of Scilia and Thomas. And that nominee will get confirmed. You might even get the "nuclear option" as part of the bargain.

So the question is, can any Democrats hold off their left flank and stand up to the Huffington hate mongering wing of the movement and actually support Miers, a thinking moderate?

Or do they win the "Beat Bush Battle" and lose the "Supreme Court War" when Priscilla Owen or her clone actually becomes the next Supreme Court Justice and does alter the balance of the court?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

National Call In Day for Darfur

Between the twin hurricanes Katrina and Rita and now the earthquake in Pakistan it's easy to forget about the horrific genocide in Darfur.

Unlike Katrina, Rita and the earthquake, the tragedy in Darfur is entirely man made. It is nothing less than people murdering people.

I apologize that I've let this National Call-In Day for Darfur sneak up on me without giving it the publicity it so strongly deserves. Please take a few minutes to understand the issue and make a telephone call to your Congressperson, Senator and others you think might help raise awareness.

Here is a letter from Brian Komar, American Progress Action Fund, for the entire Be A Witness team.

Today, October 18 , please join thousands around the country in a National Call-In Day for Darfur coordinated by the
Genocide Intervention Fund , the Save Darfur coalition, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Last year, Congress and the Bush administration declared that genocide was underway in the western Darfur region of Sudan. Today, even amidst reports of spiraling violence, Congress has failed to take action to address the ongoing crisis. In recent weeks, attacks against civilians in camps, humanitarian workers, and most recently, African Union (AU) peacekeepers, have prompted the AU Peace and Security Council to call on the UN Security Council to address the deteriorating security situation in Darfur.

Members of Congress need to hear from constituents that there is strong public support for promoting peace and accountability in Darfur. Please take a moment tomorrow to call your senators and representative and ask them to support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act– an important piece of legislation that outlines necessary next steps toward ending the violence in Darfur. Information on contacting your members of Congress and a sample script to help you make the calls is included below.

Please pass this message on to others to multiply our message. Thank you for your willingness to take action and for your continued commitment to saving lives in Darfur.

Here are Calling Instructions and Script Ideas:

Thank you for joining the National Call-In Day for Darfur! To call your senators and representative:

Contact the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and provide your zip code or ask for your member of Congress by name. You'll be transferred to the member's office.

Useful Links:

Look up your members of Congress
Check if your members of Congress are cosponsors of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act

What to say when you call:

Below are two basic scripts to use on the phone. Version 1 is a bit more complex but is likely to be a bit more effective. If you don't have the time or feel uncomfortable with version 1, feel free to use version 2. Whether you use one of these or just talk to the offices in your own words, the important thing is letting your elected representatives know that you care about Darfur and that you expect them to do something about it.

Version 1

Hi, this is ___ calling from ___. I'd like to know if Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator ___ is a cosponsor of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127 in the House of Representatives; S. 1462 in the Senate).

If yes: That's great. I would appreciate a written response on what he/she is doing to make sure that this bill gets a vote before Congress adjourns this year. This is just too important to leave undone. And thank you for your time.

If no or not sure: I've heard that this is the only bill with a real chance of passing this year, and that it has bipartisan support. As a constituent, I urge Cngressman/Congresswoman/Senator ___ to cosponsor the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. Can you send me a letter letting me know if he/she will become a cosponsor? This bill is just too important to leave undone. Thank you for your time.

Version 2

Hi, this is ___ calling from ___. I would like to let the Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator know that I support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127 in the House of Representatives; S. 1462 in the Senate) and hope that he/she will too. If possible, I'd like a written response letting me know his/her position. Thanks.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Ultimate Oxymoron: Elitist Conservative?

Friends and long time readers know that I think Ann Coulter is easily the brightest and one of the funniest columnists writing today. That she is ever attacked by anyone speaks either to the attacker's lack of intelligence or lack of a sense of humor. She is brilliant, witty and devastatingly funny.

But that doesn't mean everyone has to agree with her, not all the time, not even part of the time. You can and should be able to recognize her talent without agreeing with her philosophy. But you simply have to admit she is funny.

Here's an excerpt from her column last week, entitled "THIS IS WHAT 'ADVICE AND CONSENT' MEANS," in which she explains her utter disdain for the newest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers.

"Unfortunately for Bush, he could nominate his Scottish terrier Barney, and some conservatives would rush to defend him, claiming to be in possession of secret information convincing them that the pooch is a true conservative and listing Barney's many virtues - loyalty, courage, never jumps on the furniture ..."

As you might guess, I do disagree with Ann and a legion of conservative commentators over their chosen method to attack Harriet Miers. But, for the record, Ann's comment above is both totally correct and amazingly funny. You can link to Ann's columns every week here: There are archives of past columns here, too.

To explain my disappointment for the conservative's method of attack we, sadly, must now relive the Clarence Thomas hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.

In those wondrouss days of yore it was never possible for Democrats (or Republicans) to attack a nominee over their judicial philosophy. We were all much too civil back then. Hearings were limited to the "qualifications" of the nominee. Since Thomas was well qualified, Democrats were faced with the possibility of a true constructionist sitting on the bench. One thing was for certain, if possible, Thomas would be a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

So out came a secret weapon: Anita Hill. Hill was able to attack Thomas on purely personal grounds: sexual harassment. Philosophy would never have to be mentioned. In reality she was there, as she herself would later admit, as part of the fight for abortion rights.

It was a comic and tragic hearing. And it did have a profound effect the American workplace. Every company held sexual harassment seminars and workshops. But, in the end, it didn't keep Thomas off the bench.

Democrats quickly realized the error of their ways. From that moment on, a nominee's judicial philosophy was not only fair game, it was the only game!

Conservatives, however, were true to their conservative nature. Judicial philosophy was still a topic never to be discussed. So conservatives not only let Ruth Bader Ginsberg sail through the Senate 'Advice and Consent' hearings, they actually voted for her nearly unanimously. And you must remember that Ginsberg is so liberal it should have been shock to have her considered for the Supreme Court of Denmark, let alone the United States.

Meanwhile, the President has to live in this bizarre world of double standards. Democrats will attack any candidate with the slightest paper trail indicating a conservative or constructionist philosophy. So we enter the era of the stealth candidate. Nominate only persons with no provable philosophy. Now confirmed Chief Justice Roberts was a perfect choice. A well qualified blank slate.

Now fast forward to the nomination of Harriet Miers. The conservatives, still living in 1979, don't ever attack based on philosophy. "We have no litmus test," cry the conservatives.

Meanwhile, President Bush, forced to live in 2005, chooses another stealth candidate, one with even less of a paper trail than Roberts, Harriet Miers. Only this time even conservatives are frightened they don't know her philosophy. The slate is so blank, they're actually afraid there might not even be a philosophy there.

So what's to do? Boxed into a corner, they can't attack the lack of a philosophy they claim they don't require. So conservatives pull out their version of Anita Hill. No, not sexual harrassment . Instead they attack her educational background!

To quote once more from the wonderful Ann Coulter:

"Harriet Miers went to Southern Methodist University Law School, which is not ranked at all by the serious law school reports and ranked No. 52 by US News and World Report. Her greatest legal accomplishment is being the first woman commissioner of the Texas Lottery."

"Second, even if you take seriously William F. Buckley's line about preferring to be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston telephone book than by the Harvard faculty, the Supreme Court is not supposed to govern us. Being a Supreme Court justice ought to be a mind-numbingly tedious job suitable only for super-nerds trained in legal reasoning like John Roberts. Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a "Best Employee of the Month" award. It's a real job."

Perhaps the most ironic fact in reviewing Conservative's misplaced attack on Miers is that conservative's first choice for the Supreme Court is 5th Circuit Court Justice Priscilla Owen, a fellow Texan and graduate of Baylor University. Let me assure you that Baylor is no SMU. Hence, the primary argument against Miers falls flat on its face!

Tragically, conservatives have fallen into the Anita Hill trap. And they look and sound petty, childish and, well, elitist. Instead of making up a false and silly new litmus test for Supreme Court Nominees, like an Ivy League Law Degree, they need to actually be willing to embrace their own philosophies.

This Conservative Elitism is not only an oxymoron, it's actually moronic.

Postscript: Here's perhaps the best statement I've read concerning the Miers' debate; it comes from Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver:

"First, the President had a number of highly qualified candidates with proven track records and well-developed judicial philosophies. He passed over them and chose an invisible nominee. Second, selecting a nominee who has held her views in silence for 60 years sends a wrong message to conservatives - if you want to be appointed to the federal bench, you should keep your views to yourself. That's a terrible message to send to our future leaders."