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June 29, 2007

Forget the Movies

Filed under: Interesting News — acepundit @ 7:01 pm

There’s no reason to go when you’ve got one of these that can do virtually everything but play movies. But you will, and you’ll ignore the “turn off your cell phone” ads because the screen is so pretty and you don’t care about those of us who want to see the movie:

Around 230 million Americans already own a cell phone, but Apple is banking that a handheld portable stereo that is also enabled for calls and e-mail will convince them to abandon their current phones and buy an iPod.

The company recently marked the sale of its 100 millionth iPod personal music device, making it, in Apple’s words, the “fastest-selling music player in history.” The iPhone’s premium features, however, come at a premium price: The device costs about five times more than a conventional cell phone. The four-gigabyte model retails at 499 dollars, while the eight-gigabyte model sells for 599 dollars. Potential buyers will also be obligated to sign up for a two-year phone contract with telecoms giant ATT.

Unlike regular cellphones that have dials and small screens, the iPhone features a larger touch-screen. All commands, from dialing a telephone number to surfing the Internet, are done by tapping or sliding a finger on the screen.

Yeah, count me out. I like phones that, you know, are good for making and receiving calls. Wouldn’t it be funny to learn despite its really cool features that the iPhone gets horrible reception and drops more calls than a pissed off homeowner answering a telemarketer?

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Let’s Break Up the Neighborhoods!

Filed under: Politics,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 6:24 pm

The people who believe Brown v. Board was overturned yesterday scream about how important diversity is and why we need forced-integration, but I doubt many of them would endorse this brilliant hypothetical scenario by National Review’s Ed Whelan:

If, as the Washington Post tells us (in an editorial that is nearly as bad as the New York Times’s), racial balancing plans in public schools are needed “to overcome patterns of residential segregation,” why not directly attack the disparate racial composition of America’s neighborhoods? Why should America’s adults make America’s children bear the burden of long bus rides? Why not instead require that all neighborhoods reflect the racial composition of their broader metropolitan area? Why do we continue to tolerate the invidious freedom of Americans to self-“segregate” by choosing where they wish to live?

Under the logic of Justice Breyer’s dissent, there’s surely a compelling interest in “setting right the consequences of prior conditions of [residential] segregation,” which were long bolstered by race-restrictive covenants in deeds. And so long as the racial residential quota in a neighborhood has broad outer bounds, it would be narrowly tailored. Forced exchanges of property—accompanied by just compensation, of course—would serve a public purpose within the meaning of the Court’s 2005 ruling in Kelo. What better way to fulfill (in Breyer’s words) “the promise of true racial equality—not as a matter of fine words on paper, but as a matter of everyday life in the Nation’s cities and schools”?

Call me crazy but I don’t think Whelan’s idea would fare well in the neighborhoods of the rich and privileged where you have to pass through a gate to get home. But something has to be done. What kind of America are we promoting when there are neighborhoods that are 80% white?

Benito Alito

Filed under: Politics,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 2:22 pm

Today’s hysterical “scary new direction” augury is brought to you by the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr., for demanding of the Senate to accept Not One More Roberts or Alito should there be another Supreme Court vacancy during President Bush’s tenure:

The Senate should refuse even to hold hearings on Bush’s next Supreme Court choice, should a vacancy occur, unless the president reaches agreement with the Senate majority on a mutually acceptable list of nominees.

As for the Supreme Court, we now know that the president’s two nominees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, are exactly what many of us thought they were: activist conservatives intent on leading a judicial counterrevolution. Yesterday’s 5 to 4 ruling tossing out two school desegregation plans was another milestone on the court’s march to the right.

Even after he was confirmed, Roberts was talking about something other than the 5 to 4 conservative court we saw this year on case after case. In a speech at Georgetown University Law School in May 2006, Roberts rightly argued that “the rule of law is strengthened when there is greater coherence and agreement about what the law is.” It’s a shame this quest for broader majorities had so little bearing on the 2007 Roberts-led court.

That’s why a majority of senators should warn Bush now that they will not take up his nominee unless he strictly construes the Constitution’s provision that he appoint justices with “the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” The rule should be: If the advice isn’t taken, there will be no consent.

So Dionne’s “Advice and Consent” to Congress that’s currently enjoying a 24% approval rating is to piss off the American people even more by obstructing judicial appointments and refusing to do their job if the nominee is an “activist conservative” – whatever the hell that means; I’m guessing someone whose judicial philosophy doesn’t match up with that of E.J. Dionne.

But the Constitution (you know, that pesky document that defines the role of our government) gives the President of the United States the sole responsibility of appointing federal judges. Nowhere is he instructed to follow any advice from Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy or Harry Reid.

Dionne’s call for obstructionism is only slightly less ridiculous than the plan to impeach justices who do not achieve Chief Justice Robert’s goal of consensus by siding with Ruth Bader Ginsburg every time.

It is safe to say the addition of Roberts and Alito moved the court further to the right than many of us expected because Roberts turned out to be every bit as conservative as his predecessor was, and was in agreement with Alito more than any two justices were this term. Not everyone will be comfortable with this new court, but the hysterics are rather unnecessary.

June 28, 2007

Dusting Off the Clocks

Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Race,Republicans,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 11:28 pm

Once again we’re hearing about how clocks are being turned back, this time at the most recent Democratic debate. Seriously, where are all these clocks I keep hearing about?

A half century of desegregation law — and racial tension — was laid bare for the Democrats hours before they met. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court clamped historic new limits on school desegregation plans.

Clinton said the decision “turned the clock back” on history, and her competitors agreed.

The conservative majority cited the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case to bolster its precedent-shattering decision, an act termed a “cruel irony” by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent. The 1954 ruling led to the end of state-sponsored school segregation in the United States.

Obama, the only black candidate in the eight-person field, spoke of civil rights leaders who fought for Brown v. Board of Education and other precedents curbed by the high court. “If it were not for them,” he said, “I would not be standing here.”

Biden noted that he voted against confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion. He said he was tough on Roberts. “The problem is the rest of us were not tough enough,” he said, seeming to take a jab at fellow Democrats. “They have turned the court upside down.”

All the Democratic candidates in the Senate opposed the confirmation of conservative Justice Samuel Alito, another of President Bush’s nominees. Clinton, Biden and Obama voted against Roberts; Sen. Chris Dodd voted for his nomination.

Once again, it must be restated that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was nothing about segregation. Segregation was a racist practice implemented by schools in the southern states to keep blacks out of white schools until they eventually came around to accepting the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, “with all deliberate speed.”

It was and still is impossible, the Court found, to fashion a system that could both forcefully segregate schools and maintain equality at the same time.

Today’s decision doesn’t breath life into forced segregation as many are charging it with doing; it strikes a blow to forced integration. In our noble quest to achieve racial equality the Supreme Court was troubled by the social experimenting going on to get there.

The most hated justice by the Left, self-hating negro Clarence Thomas, made the most sense in his dissection of forced integration and its hardly-noticed consequences:

“[R]acial paternalism and its unintended consequences can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination.” Adarand, supra, at 241 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). As these programs demonstrate, every time the government uses racial criteria to “bring the races together,” post, at 29, someone gets excluded, and the person excluded suffers an injury solely because of his or her race. The petitioner in the Louisville case received a letter from the school board informing her that her kindergartener would not be allowed to attend the school of petitioner’s choosing because of the child’s race.

Most of the dissent’s criticisms of today’s result can be traced to its rejection of the color-blind Constitution. See post, at 29. The dissent attempts to marginalize the notion of a color-blind Constitution by consigning it to meand Members of today’s plurality.19 See ibid.; see also post, at 61. But I am quite comfortable in the company I keep. My view of the Constitution is Justice Harlan’s view in Plessy: “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537, 559 (1896) (dissenting opinion). And my view was the rallying cry for the lawyers who litigated Brown.

Like it or not, the world doesn’t abruptly become peachier when you’ve got the same number of white and black children eating lunch together in the school cafeteria. And trying to balance the equation by using children as variables because of their race is exactly the problem our nation had with segregation: it’s based on race.

George Tiller ‘The Baby Killer’ Charged

Filed under: Abortion,Child Exploitation,Ethics,Politics,Trials/Lawsuits — acepundit @ 4:41 pm

Very good news coming from the office of the Kansas Attorney General, Democrat Paul Morrison, as reported in the Kansas City Star:

TOPEKA | Wichita abortion provider George Tiller broke the law when he performed late-term abortions, Attorney General Paul Morrison said today.

Morrison said he is rejecting all charges filed against Tiller by his predecessor, Phill Kline, but the attorney general today filed 19 misdemeanor charges of his own.

Kansas law forbids abortions after the 22nd week unless the procedure will save a woman’s life or prevent significant injury to a major bodily function. That exception has been read to apply to mental health.

The law also requires that two doctors agree the late-term abortion is medically necessary before the procedure is done, and the state forbids those doctors to have financial or legal ties. However, Morrison alleged today Tiller and the other physician had a financial relationship.

Morrison’s decision to charge Tiller is likely to come as a shock to anti-abortion groups who expected Tiller to be cleared. They predicted that Morrison would decline to charge Tiller, saying the attorney general would shield the abortion provider. A political action committee controlled by Tiller spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the recent election attacking Kline.

Michelle Malkin was quick to jump on the story. Bill O’Reilly has also been following the abortion provider who may have broken the law by not reporting the rapes of underaged girls.

The reluctance of abortion providers to follow the law and report underaged girls who come for abortions with their adult boyfriends is troubling. When this whole thing is through we can only hope -at the very least – that Tiller will have lost his license to practice.

Clarence Thomas Health Watch

Filed under: Supreme Court — acepundit @ 3:15 pm

The warm-hearted Kos Kids are already counting the days until the Supreme Court will reverse direction and endorse schools that judge children by the color of their skin. Radian asks: “Anyone happen to know medical histories of Scalia or Thomas or Kennedy. Any hospitalizations recently. Not to be morbid or anything like that, but does anyone know anything?”

In response IhateBush opines: “Thomas is a chain smoker, I’d bet he’s the one to go first. I think an impeachment attempt on Thomas would be the place to start. See if you can put enough stress on him to cause him to retire a couple years earlier.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of an “impeach Thomas” movement, but his critics never say what the grounds for impeachment will be. Not thinking the way blacks are supposed to? Believing the Constitution is colorblind? Paying Scalia to write his opinions for him? It would be fun to watch Harry Reid debate this one.

Racial Imbalance is Not Segregation

Filed under: Education,Politics,Race,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 10:01 am

Wrote Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion as part of the 185-page decision from the Supreme Court today that ultimately rejected a school’s voluntary integration plan. The decision was 5-4 with the Chief writing for the conservatives plus Justice Kennedy. Thomas’s concurrence is a rebuttal to Justice Breyer’s dissent. I’m still reading through it right now and I can say that Breyer and his liberal colleagues are PISSED. Usually justices end their dissents with “I respectfully dissent.” Breyer, after saying the court will “regret” today’s decision, ends his opinion with “I must dissent.”

UPDATE: More to come as I finish reading the opinions, the final ones for this term. Once again swing-voter Justice Kennedy has proven to be the most powerful judge in the country. While he has more often than not sided with the conservative justices, he today voted with the liberals in a 5-4 decision repealing the death sentence for a “mentally delusional” inmate.

Update II: The Supreme Court got it right, plain and simple. Chief Justice Roberts reminds us that “Seattle has never operated segregated schools – legally separate schools for students of different races.nor has it ever been subject to court-ordered desegregation.”

Because there’s no history of segregation, the majority argued, there’s no compelling interest to divide up the students by race. If as a result one school is prodominatly one color that’s the way it is. As Thomas wrote:

The dissent repeatedly claims that the school districts are threatened with resegregation and that they will
succumb to that threat if these plans are declared unconstitutional. It also argues that these plans can be justified as part of the school boards. attempts to .eradicat[e] earlier school segregation. Contrary to the dissent’s rhetoric, neither of these school districts is threatened with resegregation, and neither is constitutionally compelled or permitted to undertake race-based remediation. Racial imbalance is not segregation, and the mere incantation of terms like resegregation and remediation cannot make up the difference.

Although there is arguably a danger of racial imbalance in schools in Seattle and Louisville, there is no danger of resegregation. No one contends that Seattle has established or that Louisville has reestablished a dual school system that separates students on the basis of race. The statistics cited in Appendix A to the dissent are not to the contrary. See post, at 69.72. At most, those statistics show a national trend toward classroom racial imbalance. However, racial imbalance without intentional state action to separate the races does not amount to segregation. To raise the specter of resegregation to defend these programs is to ignore the meaning of the word and the nature of the cases before us.

It is a noble goal to achieve racial harmony where schools are divided perfectly even by racial demographics and the students hold hangs singing songs of racial diversity. But we shouldn’t get there by socially experimenting with race.

June 25, 2007

The John Roberts Court in Full Force

Andrew Cohen at Washington Post’s Bench Conference laments the ass-kicking we were handed today by a conservative Supreme Court majority in four of five rulings (the fifth was near unanimity):

The Justices further chipped away at the wall that separates church and state, took some of the steam out of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, neutered federal regulators in environmental cases to the benefit of developers and slammed a high school kid who had the temerity to put up a silly sign near his high school.

Indeed, so strong is the conservative bent to the court right now that even when its right-facing Justices did not agree on the legal reasons or rationale for their rulings– which was the case in the religion case noted above– they are able to agree to promote government sponsorship of religion and to block taxpayer efforts to prevent it. In other words, there is room for dissent even among the Court’s working majority– a bad sign for liberal judges, lawyers and litigants in the months and years to come.

Contrary to the forthcoming hysteria, today’s rulings were hardly earth-shattering developments. Yes, the conservatives weakened McCain-Feingold; good news for people who appreciate free speech. McCain-Feingold is a crappy law that tells us when we can and cannot promote a candidate of our choosing with our own money during election season. Even a majority of liberals are satisfied with today’s outcome in this case. Nevertheless the justices restrained themselves from striking it down completely. So don’t worry, Congress can and will still tell us how we we’re allowed to participate in political campaigns.

The supposed “wall” that separates the evil church and state is still intact; the Supreme Court simply reminded us that charities vying for federal funds ought not to be punished because they have a religious affiliation. Instead, charities should be judged by their effectiveness.

The kid whose “silly” sign got him into trouble was reminded that you can be punished for celebrating illegal activity (in this case drug use) if done on school time. To be sure, Cohen is right in his analysis that there was dissent amongst the majority – Clarence Thomas would have given schools the power to regulate all forms of speech because, “in the earliest public schools, teachers taught, and students listened,” and that’s how it should be today. He was alone in concurrence.

Cohen is also right that any doubts there may have been that President Bush moved the court to the Right have been surely extinguished. Expect more of today on Thursday when the court is expected to finish this year’s term.

Five Decisions From Supreme Court

Filed under: Politics,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 9:43 am

The Supreme Court was active today and released five decisions in its final week of the term. The most anticipated case involving school and race will probably be decided Thursday. This thread will be continuously updated as the details come in. Today the Right will be cheering over the lot of 5-4 outcomes.

Update: Here are the links to the decisions as well as the voting breakdown. Not a good day for Stevens and Ginsburg going 0-5.

NAHB v. Defenders of Wildlife
Decision: 5-4
Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito (opinion)
Minority: Stevens (dissent), Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer (dissent)

Summary: The endangered species law takes a back seat to the clean water law when it comes to the EPA handing authority to a state to issue water pollution permits. Solid win for land developers.

Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation
Decision: 5-4
Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito (opinion)
Minority: Stevens, Souter (dissent), Ginsburg, Breyer

Summary: Taxpayers don’t have standing to challenge President Bush’s faith-based initiatives that send money to religious organizations in court. Taxpayers in this case “set out a parade of horribles that they claim could occur” unless the court stopped the Bush administration initiative, wrote Justice Samuel Alito. “Of course, none of these things has happened.”

Wilkie v. Robbins
Decision: 7-2
Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter (opinion), Thomas, Breyer, Alito
Minority: Stevens, Ginsburg (dissent)

Summary: Government employees carrying out their official duties (not for personal benefit) are not subject to damage claims against them personally based on a lawsuit asserting that they violated the RICO anti-racketeering law or private property rights.

Morse v. Frederick
Decision: 5-4
Majority: Roberts (opinion), Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito
Minority: Stevens (dissent), Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer

Summary: School acted appropriately when it suspended a student for displaying a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner. Student was not covered by First Amendment protection because his banner was found to be promoting drug use.

FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life
Decision: 5-4
Majority: Roberts (opinion), Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito
Minority: Stevens, Souter (dissent), Ginsburg, Breyer

Summary: In a less-than-lethal blow to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, a Wisconsin anti-abortion group had a First Amendment right to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections. The court said the law unreasonably limits speech and violates the First Amendment.

June 24, 2007

The Right Has Hijacked Religion

Filed under: Abortion,Democrats,Politics,Religion,Republicans — acepundit @ 7:57 pm

Said Barack Obama in a speech this weekend:

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right- wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

“Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.

“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.

I agree with Obama that religious Americans care about issues other than abortion, gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design, but they certainly care about abortion, gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design.

Like it or not a great percentage of Democrats unfortunately “disrespect” religious values. To them if you oppose abortion you hate women, if you oppose same-sex marriage you hate gays, if you support school prayer you want to alienate and indoctrinate the godless children, and if you believe in a God you’re a science hater who believes the Earth is flat.

We‘re certainly divided all right, but the vitriol is coming from the radical Atheists who want to quarantine every last show of religious expression to the home like some contagious disease. And these people are largely Independents and Democrats. That’s the undeniable truth.

I do believe there is room for religion in the Democratic party. They need it if they want to survive, as most Americans identify themselves as religious people and vote with religious issues in mind. But if Democrats want to debate and liberalize attitudes toward conventional religious topics they’re going to have to drop that whole condescending superior-elitist act.

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