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Monday
May232005

Great Moments in Minority Rule

Underlying the fondness for the judicial filibuster is the scantily-disguised philosophy that the minority knows better than the majority.

Husband David has considered this philosophy, and found it wanting:

To hear Senate Democrats talk, you'd think that only majorities are capable of tyranny. That seems to be the general thrust of their argument for maintaining the judicial filibuster.

But history is littered with examples of tyranny by the minority -- examples that prove tyranny is no picnic, regardless of who the tyrant may be.

Here are just a few of the most spectacular examples:

1948-1990
South Africa: Under the apartheid regime, non-whites were barred from voting in general elections; they were required to carry identification cards wherever they went; they were told where they could live and where they could travel; they were prevented from using certain public amenities; and they were routinely abused by the white-run police force -- despite the fact that they accounted for more than three-quarters of the nation's population.

1963-2003
Iraq: After seizing power twice through military coups -- once in 1963 and again in 1968 -- Iraq's minority-run Ba'athist party ruled Iraq with an iron fist until deposed by the U.S. military two years ago. In 1988, for example, Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime used nerve agents to kill an estimated 100,000 Kurds. The Ba'athist Party is made up principally of Sunnis, who currently make up about one-fifth of Iraq's population.

1964
U.S.: To stop the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from becoming the law of the land, Southern Democrats filibustered it for 57 hours before a sufficient number of votes were lined up to invoke cloture.

1972
Burundi: Burundi's Tutsi-run government exterminated as many as 200,000 Hutus. Tutsis are an ethnic minority making up only about a sixth of Burundi's population, while Hutus are the ethnic majority making up more than 80% of the population.

There's no automatic virtue in minority rule.

Monday
May232005

Nice Bias, AP

From the lead paragraph of an AP op-ed news story:

WASHINGTON May 23, 2005 - In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable filibuster rules.
From the American Heritage Dictionary via Dictionary.com, "venerable" is defined as:
1. Commanding respect by virtue of age, dignity, character, or position.

2. Worthy of reverence, especially by religious or historical association: venerable relics.

Thanks, AP, for telling us what to think about the filibuster rule, but we're smart enough to think for ourselves.

Addendum: P.S. to anyone not certain the AP's lead paragraph, above, is biased: Does the following paragraph seem biased?

WASHINGTON May 23, 2005 - In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush's venerable judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves filibuster rules.
Bias-wise, what's the difference between the two paragraphs? Answer: No difference -- except the AP would never print the second one.

Monday
May232005

Cliff Kincaid: Abolish Public TV and Radio

Cliff Kincaid says:

In a front-page story on May 2, the New York Times accused the new Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of "aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias..." That was in the first paragraph. If you got to the 22nd paragraph, continued back on page 19, you found that the CPB chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, was insisting that the programs it supports and funds adhere to the federal law requiring objectivity and balance. That law was passed back in 1967 and has been flaunted by public TV and radio ever since...
He also says:
What's needed is a congressional effort to de-fund public broadcasting. In a 500-channel universe, public broadcasting should survive on its own -- if it can.
I agree.

Read it all here.

Monday
May232005

Catherine Crier: Filibuster Fight is About Creating a Theocracy

Catherine Crier seems to believe that the battle over the "nuclear option" is actually a fight over whether the U.S. becomes a theocracy:

The Senate filibuster fight between Republicans and Democrats is not over the majority's attempt to put more conservative judges on the bench. Contrary to their mantra -- that liberal 'activist' judges have taken over the courts -- the nation has had a majority of Republican appointees on the federal bench and Supreme Court for generations. No, this is a fight over a very specific judicial ideology that the far right wing of the Republican Party wants ensconced in our courts...

The real fight is not over the lower courts in the federal system, but instead, the ultimate prize -- the highest court in the land. There is no question that President Bush will have the opportunity to appoint several justices to that Court during his second term. He has made his ideological preferences clear. Conservative justices aren't enough. He wants jurists of a particular persuasion. They must satisfy the requirements of fundamentalist Christians, with a willingness to roll back the clock to a time where children prayed to Jesus in public school, gays were back in the closet and women were forced into back alleys.

Those with different religious beliefs, (forget those with none at all), are dismissed entirely. Those who assert they are moral without believing in the Scriptures, verbatim, go straight to Hell.

If we want a Theocracy in this country, then ignore the assault on our nation's judges. If you believe in the Republic that our Founding Fathers bequeathed, then prepare to battle for the one remaining branch of the government that has not yet been co-opted -- the federal Judiciary.

I read her post four times in an effort to be sure she really means this. It seems too extreme to be her real view, so I urge my readers here to read the whole thing for yourself to judge for yourself if I am accurately describing her views in this piece.

Sunday
May222005

Strengthen The Good: Tom Family Education Trust

This month's Strengthen The Good charity is the Tom Family Education Trust.

Please take a minute and read about this single Mom of 13 children, 11 of whom she adopted, many with handicaps or a serious disease.

The Tom Family Education Trust has been set up to help these children pay their college expenses. Please donate if you can (we did), but, even if you can't, please read their inspiring story.

Saturday
May212005

Wondering

From William F. Buckley on the "nuclear option": "Really, you would think the Republicans had proposed to topple the Statue of Liberty."



Would the left mind that?

Friday
May202005

Former Senators on the Filibuster

Five former Senators have sent a letter to Senate leaders Frist and Reid on judicial nominations:

May 20, 2005

Senator Bill Frist, M.D.
Majority Leader
S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Harry Reid
Democratic Leader
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Frist and Senator Reid:

For 214 years, the United States Senate has been referred to as the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body." Since before any of us served in this hallowed chamber, it was a bastion of civility, dignity, honor and respect.

And though we may have disagreed on public policy, members always recognized that the Senate must preserve its bipartisan pedigree. That is why it is so disturbing to us that current members of the Senate have not been able to resolve the current debate over judicial nominations. Just as troubling, we regret that the chamber's debate has degenerated into a series of partisan attacks, grounded in willfully disingenuous and misleading justifications for delaying and denying votes on judicial nominations.

The current tactic of withholding a vote on a president's judicial nominations is an unprecedented rejection of Senate tradition. The claim that the Senate filibuster of judicial nominees has been an accepted parliamentary tactic is plainly false; an overt distortion of the Senate's responsibility to give the president advice and consent on his nominees.

The constitutional option is not the ideal way of guaranteeing that the president's judicial nominees receive the votes they deserve. However, barring the minority's willingness to restore 214 years of precedent and tradition, it is a far better option than allowing the minority to hijack the chamber and deny the Senate the opportunity to fulfill its constitutional obligations.

The Senate must be allowed to function in a way that allows it to fulfill its constitutional obligations to the country. Denying votes on these nominees not only forces the Senate to abandon its duties, but tears at the very fabric of our great republic.

Sincerely,

Fmr. Senator James Buckley
Fmr. Senator Slade Gorton
Fmr. Senator Zell Miller
Fmr. Senator Paul Laxalt
Fmr. Senator Fred Thompson
Thanks to Barbara Ledeen of the Senate Republican Conference for sharing this.

Friday
May202005

Janice Rogers Brown: Role Model

Project 21 has just issued a press release praising Justice Janice Rogers Brown and calling Brown a "role model of American achievement."

Friday
May202005

Extremist Judicial Nominees

Salon has a new article posted Friday listing the "extremist credentials" of seven Bush judicial nominees. The article's first complaint:

An assessment of the nominees' records suggests that all consider government regulation a central problem, while they view private enterprise and property a bedrock constitutional right.
Meanwhile, a document a tad older than the Senate filibuster rules says:
No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Would Salon's editors consider James Madison deserving of a straight up-or-down vote?

Friday
May202005

News Flash: Senate Divided

A page one story by Dan Balz in Friday's Washington Post says a small group of Senators "working to avert a historic showdown over President Bush's judicial nominees" are attempting to "codify the principles of trust."

"Trust" is not a principle; it is a belief. If the Senators have justifiable trust in one another, it need not be codified. If they don't, it can't be codified.

As the article continues, it seems that Balz agrees. These Senators aren't getting anywhere, says Balz: "...trust, rather than language, is at the heart of the impasse."

Uh huh.

Thursday
May192005

A Look at Senate Staff

The New York Times has an interesting look at some of the Senate staffers working on the filibuster rules change debate.



Apparently, one of the top GOP Senate rules strategists learned his craft in part by watching Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Thursday
May192005

Gregory Kane on Janice Rogers Brown: Two Uncle Toms Are Better Than One

Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane discusses the Janice Rogers Brown nomination in a (very frank) way, raising points I haven't quite seen anywhere else:

Black folks have so much invested in hating [Supreme Court Justice Clarence] Thomas that seeing him depicted as a handkerchiefhead, a lawn jockey and a shoeshine boy moved us in ways that more serious and important stories couldn't. Hating Thomas has been cathartic for most of us.

That's why we should be the ones demanding that the Senate confirm Brown. Because if one shuffling black conservative-Uncle Tom-handkerchiefhead-Sambo-house-nigger on a federal bench has been good for us, imagine what TWO can do.

And don't listen to the naysayers like Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a sister who wrote that Brown "does not belong on the federal bench." Tucker didn't argue that Brown was unqualified...

Read it all here.

Thursday
May192005

Top Five Reasons Senate Democrats Oppose Ending Partisan Judicial Filibusters

From husband David, who says he is writing only slightly tongue-in-cheek:

The top five reasons why Senate Democrats oppose an end to partisan judicial filibusters:
5. Tom Daschle, we shall avenge you!

4. To preserve the right of out-of-the-mainstream politicians to define which judges are out of the mainstream.

3. To protect the principle of separation of powers by separating the majority from its powers.

2. We might need filibusters again to stop pesky civil rights legislation.

1. To preserve America's long tradition of one man, one-and-one-quarter vote.

Thursday
May192005

Noble History of the Filibuster

The noble history of the filibuster:

Filibusters were particularly useful to Southern senators who sought to block civil rights legislation, until cloture was invoked after a fifty-seven day filibuster against the Civil Right Act of 1964... The record for the longest individual speech goes to South Carolina's J. Strom Thurmond who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
(Yes, the word "noble" in the title is sarcasm.)

Thursday
May192005

Black Activists Praise Priscilla Owen

Project 21 members have thoughts about Justice Patricia Owen:

Priscilla Owen is one of the finest jurists in the country. The fact that she has been forced to endure more than four years of public humiliation and character assassination is appalling. While her antagonists have tried to portray her as outside of the mainstream, quite the opposite is true. She is precisely the type of jurist our Founding Father intended to see in our courts. - Mychal Massie

Priscilla Owen is among the most respected judges from Texas. Not only was she overwhelmingly supported by the voters, but she enjoys the respect and admiration of her peers as well. - Michael King

Wednesday
May182005

Five-Second Rule

Drat.



I thought the five-second rule was the law of the land.

Wednesday
May182005

David Bellamy Challenges Global Warming Orthodoxy

Husband David has some thoughts on a recent news item:

You ever wonder why environmental groups walk in such lock step on the global warming theory? Maybe it's because they censor colleagues who disagree.

The Sunday Times (UK) reported last Sunday that Professor David Bellamy is about to be forced out as figurehead of two leading environmental organizations, Plantlife International and the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, because he refuses to believe in human-induced global warming.

Bellamy, a former botany lecturer at Durham University, is the author of over 40 books and more than 80 scientific papers on the ecology and the environment. He has written and presented over 400 programs for the British Broadcasting Corporation and Britain's Independent Television. This work has won him the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' Richard Dimbleby Award.

His environmental work has earned him the Dutch Order of the Golden Ark and the United Nations Environmental Program's Global 500 Award, among others.

In January, Bellamy told the Royal Institution in London, "Global warming is largely natural phenomenon. The world is wasting stupendous amounts of money on trying to fix something that can't be fixed... The climate change people have no proof for their claims. They have computer models which do not prove anything."

The Sunday Times article is worth reading in its entirety.

Tuesday
May172005

The Shape of Days: Web Typography

This essay could have been written by many [hyphen] but wasn't.

Jeff did it justice.

Tuesday
May172005

Majority Leader Frist: Unreasonable?

A quote from today's Hotline:

"It appears that the Majority Leader cannot accept any solution that does not guarantee all current and future judicial nominees an up-down vote."

-- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, on the Senate floor, 5/17/05

A quote from the U.S. Consitution:
[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for...
I'm just guessing, but I think than when the Founders wrote "advice and consent," they were thinking of -- I know I am going out on a limb here -- a vote.

I don't have to take a position on any particular nominee to know that we elect Senators to vote. If the public does not not like the nominees who are approved (or likes ones who are not approved), the public can let the Senators know the next time the Senators run for re-election.

Ultimately, the public speaks -- which is how it should be.

Monday
May162005

Funding PBS

An argument against the existence of PBS:

An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.
This quote comes from Bill Moyers, who, strangely, thought it was an argument in favor of government-run news broadcasting.