Sunday, November 30, 2008

Please Visit Opinion Forum

After an extended absence, I'm back at Opinion Forum. Please visit!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Courageous Democrats

An excellent Washington Post editorial today discussed the need for Democrats to do the right thing and vote for the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice. As I discussed in Yes on Roberts, this would go a long way toward restoring a much-needed sense of integrity and seriousness in the Senate. The Washington Post said:

Supporting overwhelmingly qualified members of the opposite party for the Supreme Court used to be the norm, not an act of courage. Yet, set against the general opposition from Democrats to the nomination, and truly intense pressure from interest groups, the votes cast by ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) and Wisconsin's Herb Kohl and Russell Feingold took guts. Their votes ensure that Judge Roberts will not take the helm of the judiciary perceived as the representative of only one party, and they guarantee that at least some Democrats -- albeit sadly few -- will have the moral authority to demand Republican support for qualified liberal nominees in the future.

The larger Democratic opposition to Judge Roberts represents a disturbing departure from longtime Senate practice. ... In refusing to support an indisputably qualified conservative, Democrats send a message that there is a strongly partisan component of the task of judging -- something those who believe in independent, apolitical courts must reject.

The three senators who voted yes are taking a beating from liberal groups for it. ... The liberal groups have made clear that they will oppose any nominee from this administration, regardless of qualifications.... Never mind waiting to find out who the nominee is or what he or she happens to believe.... In opposing Judge Roberts, some Democrats are following these groups off a cliff. The Judiciary Committee Democrats who refused to jump deserve credit for showing backbone.

No doubt there are diehard partisans in the Senate who can't bring themselves to act in the best interests of the country. For them, ideology is the absolute first priority. But I don't think many of them are that extreme. If Roberts is confirmed by at least 80 votes, it will mean that the majority of Democrats in the Senate had the courage to do the right thing, despite intense pressure from the far left. We'll see.

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day, an oldie but a goodie, is in comments.

Friday, September 23, 2005

No on Whomever

I found an odd paragraph in an AP report on fractured leadership in the Democratic Party as it tries to exploit political gains in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The paragraph said:

Katrina has overshadowed the nomination of John Roberts to be chief justice. Though his confirmation is virtually assured, liberal interest groups have put the squeeze on Senate Democrats to oppose Roberts and Bush's yet-to-be-named pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Hold on a minute. Liberal interest groups are determined to oppose an unknown nominee? What if President Bush goes crazy and nominates someone they like, such as Ramsey Clark, Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Jane Fonda, George Soros, or Ted Kennedy? (No, you don't have to be a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court.)

Maybe they ought to find out who the nominee is before they oppose him or her. It would make them look a little more rational, and who knows, they might be surprised.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hunting Gay Priests

It's being reported in the media that the Vatican is on the hunt for gay priests and plans to exclude them from the priesthood. Newsweek reported in its "Periscope" section that:

The Roman Catholic Church has embarked on a vast investigation that could push men with homosexual inclinations out of the already dwindling ranks of seminarians.

Newsweek also quotes one scholar who says, "23 to 58 percent of Catholic clerics have homosexual orientations." Strange numbers. It has also been reported that more than 80 percent of the people sexually abused by Catholic priests were young males.

All this leaves me a little confused. Since priests take a vow of celibacy, what difference does it make whether they prefer boys or girls--or for that matter, cows or sheep? Seems to me their sin, and the offense that would merit de-frocking, would be breaking that sacred vow of celibacy, regardless of the sex, species, or age of their sexual partners.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day is in comments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yes on Roberts

After the confirmation hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it's impossible to understand how any Senator can vote against John Roberts. However, it seems Democrats in the Senate are again taking careful aim at their own feet and wondering whether to pull the trigger. The Los Angeles Times agrees:

It will be a damning indictment of petty partisanship in Washington if an overwhelming majority of the Senate does not vote to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. to be the next chief justice of the United States. As last week's confirmation hearings made clear, Roberts is an exceptionally qualified nominee, well within the mainstream of American legal thought, who deserves broad bipartisan support. If a majority of Democrats in the Senate vote against Roberts, they will reveal themselves as nothing more than self-defeating obstructionists.

Beyond his sterling qualifications, John Roberts is the most moderate judicial nominee Democrats could ever expect to get from a Republican president. If they're waiting on another very liberal, ACLU-credentialed nominee like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they would do better to focus on the 2008 presidential election and hope a Democrat wins.

In the meantime, Democrats voting in large numbers to confirm Roberts will perhaps restore some sense of integrity and seriousness to the Senate. Voting against him will not only be a wasted vote, it will reinforce the Democrats' current image of being little more than partisan hacks.

Joke of the Day

If you're hunting for the Joke of the Day, it's in comments.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Quirky Mayor

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin isn't doing anything to mitigate his quirky image. And that's a very moderate way to put it. First the totally botched evacuation of his city, then his profanity-laced street-talk interviews, followed by his aborted order to evacuate the city by force, and finally his surprise announcement that he is re-opening parts of the city for up to 180,000 people to return immediately.

After Mayor Nagin made his surprise announcement, obviously without coordinating it with anyone, Vice Admiral Thad Allen, the head of federal relief efforts, spoke up and said that it's a bad idea--electricity problems, sewage problems, water problems, food problems, transportation problems, levees still weak, no evacuation plan in place, etc. VADM Allen may be worrying about another problem like the city had at the Superdome and the Convention Center.

Seems like the quirky mayor is miffed again. I just heard Mayor Nagin responding on Fox News to VADM Allen's comments. He said, "Maybe he's the new federally-crowned mayor of New Orleans, I don't know."

Remember, this is the same Mayor Nagin who was raving and cursing about the lack of federal presence. Now he's got it, but it seems he doesn't care about it.

Sounds like New Orleans could use some adult leadership.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Paying for Katrina

As reported widely, President Bush plans to spend $200 billion on the federal effort to recover from Katrina. However, he plans to do that not by increasing taxes but by spending less on other things. I wonder exactly how he plans to do it?

I don't want to see taxes increased. We're already seeing the economic improvement and increase in government revenue that follow tax cuts, and increasing taxes now would be harmful. But considering that $200 billion is about 10 percent of annual government income, there are going to have to be serious spending cuts to come up with the money.

Thoughtful people have pointed out that Congress is certainly among the institutions that share blame for the slow response to the Katrina disaster. It will be interesting now to see if they can behave like adults in helping to find money to pay for it. How about, for example, the huge amount of pork now greasing the transportation bill? Will the corpulent worthies on Capitol Hill be willing to give up some of their pet projects? Or will they insist on keeping them, given that this is their principal way of buying votes?

And one more thing. Anyone who understands American politics knows that Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular are famous for more than charm, Spanish moss, and jazz. It's one of the most corrupt political environments in the U.S. Who's going to be watching the money?

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day is in comments.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Occupied New Orleans

Cindy Sheehan, writing at

George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power.

Occupied New Orleans?

Seems Mrs. Sheehan, beloved of the extreme left, makes a bigger fool of herself every day. No wonder most Democrats keep their distance from her.

I'm sure Republican strategists want to keep her talking as long as possible, though.

The Anthrax Investigation

Many people, including me, have wondered why the person or persons behind the anthrax attacks of 2001 have never been caught. The Washington Post reported that the investigation seems to be slowing down to the point of becoming a cold case.

Apparently the investigation hasn't been stymied by a lack of effort. According to the report,

FBI agents and postal inspectors have pursued leads on four continents, conducted more than 8,000 interviews and carried out dozens of searches of houses, laboratories and other locations. They traveled to Afghanistan twice in the past 16 months to follow up on tips that proved fruitless, said law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

The failure to find whoever committed these acts of terrorism is frustrating. The reality, however, is that law enforcement often doesn't work as smoothly and heroically as depicted in TV shows and movies. The hard-bitten, brilliant, and invariably good-looking cops don't always defeat the criminals. As The Post notes, the 18-year hunt for the Unabomber produced no results until he made a mistake and his brother turned him in.

As law enforcement statistics show, many crimes are never solved. All the criminal usually has to do is be smart enough to avoid leaving behind fingerprints and other forensic evidence, make sure there are no witnesses, and then keep his/her mouth shut. It also helps if there are no accomplices.

We can only hope that whoever the scumbag or scumbags are who perpetrated the anthrax attacks will make a mistake along the way. Otherwise, we may never know who did it.

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day is in comments.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Performance, Not Politics

David Ignatius, in The Washington Post:

The immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has looked like politics as usual. The Democrats are in a paroxysm of righteous indignation -- much of it justified but in the long run counterproductive. When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid proposes that the Senate investigate whether President's Bush's vacation contributed to the disaster, the public response is likely to be: Give me a break! When the Democrats focus all their criticism on the GOP-led federal government and ignore the appalling lapses of Democratic administrations in New Orleans and Louisiana, they lose credibility.

Ignatius quoted Newt Gingrich:

For the last week the federal government and its state and local counterparts have consistently been behind the curve. The American people overwhelmingly know that the current situation is totally is a mistake to get trapped into defending the systems and processes which clearly failed.

They've got it right.

Overplaying Their Hand

There are some whose intellectual life centers on intense, irrational hatred for George W. Bush and those associated with him. Expressions of their hatred are easy to find--it's in blogs, extremist pronouncements by some politicians, cockamamie statements by entertainers, and media "news" reports.

I've commented a number of times on the likelihood that these unrelenting attacks on the President, and by extension the Republican Party, could well create a backlash among fair-minded people. The Hurricane Katrina disaster has given the Bush-haters an unexpected opportunity to pour forth their venom, and they're overplaying their hand again.

As just one example, some Bush-haters almost immediately starting claiming that black people were allowed to die in New Orleans because President Bush is a racist. Kanye West, a hip-hop artist, proclaimed on TV that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." The media covered his statement extensively, of course, including numerous repeats on CNN.

According to a Boston Globe report, last Saturday at an NFL pre-game show in Boston Kanye West performed via video link: was disconcerting to hear his name booed loudly by Patriots fans who evidently didn't appreciate his nationally televised comment the other night on a Hurricane Katrina benefit that President Bush "doesn't care about black people." The boos were thunderous and lasted for much of his number.

I searched without success for a report on this at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the LA Times. I've heard nothing on CNN. The only thing I found was a brief item on The Drudge Report. Seems the same press that repeatedly showcased West's statement didn't think it was important enough to report the reaction of a large group of average Americans.

The political warfare being waged by some Bush-haters is way over the top. They've maneuvered themselves into the absurd position of dealing with tragedy and failure as victories for their side, whether it's natural disasters or set-backs in Iraq. All that matters to them is having an opportunity to attack the President.

They're overplaying their hand on every deal. As any poker player knows, that's a sure-fire prescription for losing.

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day is in comments.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Pointing the Finger

Pointing the finger of blame for deficiencies in the response to Hurricane Katrina has become a full-time pursuit for some people. Who they blame, of course, depends largely on who they perceive to be their political enemies.

Charles Krauthammer addressed the issue in a way that will surprise many people. I realize that liberals rarely deign to read Krauthammer, but I hope they'll make an exception in this case. Much of the last half of the column will please them. Here's the beginning:

In less enlightened times there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed those of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenue would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and that the reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Post noted, "the levees that failed were already completed projects."

He continued, using the sparse amount of information now available to point the finger of blame at Mayor Nagin, Governor Blanco, FEMA Director Brown, President Bush, Congress, and the American people. His logic is persuasive.

Dave on Gas Prices

Dave Barry wrote about the high price of gasoline in April 2000, then went on to propose his own unique solutions. Note the prices he was talking about in the beginning of the column:

If you've been to a gas station lately, you have no doubt been shocked by the prices: $1.67, $1.78, even $1.92. And that's just for Hostess Twinkies. Gas prices are even worse.

Americans are ticked off about this, and with good reason: Our rights are being violated! The First Amendment clearly states: "In addition to freedom of speech, Americans shall always have low gasoline prices, so they can drive around in 'sport utility' vehicles the size of minor planets.''

And don't let any so-called ''economists'' try to tell you that foreigners pay more for gas than we do. Foreigners use metric gasoline, which is sold in foreign units called ''kilometers,'' plus they are paying for it with foreign currencies such as the ''franc,'' the ''lira'' and the ''doubloon.'' So in fact there is no mathematical way to tell WHAT they are paying.

But here in the U.S., we are definitely getting messed over, and the question is: What are we going to do about it? Step one, of course, is to file a class-action lawsuit against the cigarette companies. They have nothing to do with gasoline, but juries really hate them, so we'd probably win several hundred billion dollars.

Joke of the Day

The Joke of the Day is in comments.