August 28, 2007

Senator Craig’s Non-Conservative Bathroom Adventures

He says he’s not gay. I couldn’t care less. The police report is highly uneventful and hardly worth the media fanfare covering the minor charges of “interference with privacy” and “disorderly conduct,” but he pleaded guilty anyway, and now regrets admitting guilt. With good reason too, as the available evidence would probably not have held up in court had Craig fought the charges.

But is he a hypocrite, as many have suggested, for being a conservative Republican while living a liberal social life? Hardly. Gays don’t have to support the legislation pushed by the homosexual lobby. You can be gay and oppose same-sex marriage at the same time. Blacks don’t have to support affirmative action. Women don’t have to support abortion. Christians don’t have to support prayer in schools.

Let’s not be so quick to accuse everyone of being a self-hater because they live a life that supposedly doesn’t fit their voting record. Let’s especially not use this incident to encourage Senator Craig to shed his conservative ideology and come out as the next gay-rights crusader.


July 28, 2007

Fool Me Thrice

Filed under: Congress,Democrats,Elections,Republicans,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 12:58 pm

Senator Chuck Schumer, the high-ranking Democrat who sits on the judiciary committee, cannot believe how easily President Bush was able to fool him not once but twice with his two stellar picks for the Supreme Court: John Roberts and Sam Alito, and vows not to be fooled a third time.

Speaking to the American Constitution Society, Schumer all but promised that President Bush is done picking Supreme Court justices, telling the group he and his colleagues were “too easily impressed with the charm of Roberts and the erudition of Alito.”

Says Schumer, “I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee EXCEPT in extraordinary circumstances.”

Like when there’s a retirement? I don’t think the American public would pleased with a Senate that refused to act if presented with a vacancy more than a year before the next election.

ABC correspondent Jan Crawford certainly put it mildly when she wrote, “some of the liberal commentary on the Court since the justices packed up and left town has been almost breathtaking in its over-the-top hysteria.”

It also doesn’t help when the media is consistently wrong in its analysis of the last Supreme Court term. Just yesterday on his blog at the Washington Post, Paul Kane wrote about Schumer’s childish plan to give Bush the silent treatment should another retirement take place with erroneous information on what the Roberts court has done, saying, “The Roberts court overturned previous rulings on partial birth abortion and campaign finance reform.”

An all too familiar pattern. Certainly the Left has little to cheer about in regards to the recent Supreme Court decisions that didn’t turn out their way, but their predictable “sky is falling” rhetoric goes beyond the pale. Contrary to what you’re being told by the media and even respectable law professors, the Supreme Court did not reverse a bunch of precedents and send the country back 200 years.

The Court did not overturn any previous rulings on partial-birth abortion. Everyone swears it did but the Nebraska state law that banned the nasty procedure was scratched by the Supreme Court in 2000 and is still dead.

This year the Court simply upheld a federal law passed by Congress – you know, the branch that’s popularly elected by the people to write laws – outlawing partial-birth abortion in 2003. And it wasn’t exactly an ideological piece of legislation. The House passed it by a vote of 281-142 and the Senate by a comfortable margin of 64-34.

When it reached the Supreme Court on appeal, the nine justices had to decide whether to invalidate or uphold a fairly new and popular law supported by 345 members of Congress plus the president, to 176 members who opposed it.

For all the screaming liberals do about respecting precedent and not enacting it’s own ideological agenda, they come off mighty contradictory for assaulting the Court for upholding a four-year-old congressional law.

Campaign Finance is also alive, albeit weakened, but when the Supreme Court found it a violation of the Constitution to prohibit an advocacy group from running a televised campaign ad less than 60 days before an election, liberals went nuts.

It was a blow to students’ free speech rights, liberals argued, when the Supreme Court sided against a high school student who refused to take down a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner at a school-sponsored event because the principal thought it violated the school’s policy against advocating drug use.

It would have been interesting, had the Court recognized such free speech rights that trample school policy, to see what else students could get away with. At least now we know a student who shows up at school with a swastika on his t-shirt probably wouldn’t get the support of the Supreme Court.

So Chucky has spoken. Will we witness the greatest showdown ever to take place in the Senate? It’s a fight in which at least one senator from New York is willing to participate.

July 18, 2007

Three Cheers for Senator Feinstein

Filed under: Congress,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Trials/Lawsuits — acepundit @ 10:53 pm

That’s right. I’m showing love for Senator Dianne Feinstein. It’s the first and probably last time for the Democratic senator but she should be commended for trying to free Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. In the wake of Scooter Libby’s commuted sentence, President Bush really has no choice in the matter:

WASHINGTON — Sens. John Cornyn and Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday joined the ranks of lawmakers urging President Bush to release two Border Patrol agents sentenced to more than a decade in prison each for wounding a Mexican drug courier.

A group of Republican House members also has called on Bush to commute the sentences or pardon Compean and Ramos, echoing the demands of predominantly conservative grassroots advocacy organizations that are rallying behind the two agents. Pressure for the agents’ release escalated after Bush commuted the sentence of convicted former vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Ramos and Compean were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison respectively after they were convicted on more than a half-dozen charges in the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on Feb. 17, 2005. Aldrete-Davila was shot in the buttocks as he fled from the agents after abandoning a van loaded with marijuana. He escaped across the border but later re-emerged as the key witness against the two agents.

Feinstein and Cornyn challenged the prosecutor’s decision to include a firearms charge that mandated a 10-year minimum sentence. The firearms offense was unnecessary, the senators said in their letter to Bush, since prosecutors lodged 12 charges against the agents, some of which were dropped by the jury.

It is without question that the two agents screwed up by failing to report the shooting, but that’s not why they’re doing more time in prison than most child sex offenders. The prosecutor nailed them on gun crimes that carry mandatory sentences.

Border Patrol agents are required to carry firearms due to the nature of their jobs. In this case the two agents used them when they thought it was necessary because they thought the drug runner had a weapon of his own. They may be guilty of violating policy, but they certainly shouldn’t be put on par with felons who wantonly use firearms to commit violent crimes, and that’s exactly what the prosecutor has done.

July 7, 2007

Impeaching the President

A survey conducted by the American Research Group of a random sample of Americans found that 45 percent support the impeachment of President Bush, with 46 percent opposed, and a 54-40 split in favor when it comes to Darth Cheney – when asked:

Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush/Vice President Dick Cheney?

The phone survey, while appearing to have been conducted appropriately and professionally, has one major flaw in its design that prevents me from putting too much weight into it. It takes for granted that the respondents all understood the constitutional grounds for impeachment. In order to impeach the president he has to be found guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” by the House of Representatives. The Senate must then vote to remove him from office by a two-thirds majority vote.

If any of the respondents in the survey said they supported impeachment just because they believe Bush is an ineffective or incompetent leader then the numbers are inflated.

Remember that before the Iraq War the president was enjoying high-altitude approval ratings and even helped his party win seats in the 2002 and 2004 elections on the road to complete GOP dominance. It is that issue alone that has turned so many against him. And while I certainly believe Bush and his cohorts have badly mishandled the ongoing occupation, I don’t think we should be talking about impeachment, especially when very few congressional Democrats believe it’s worth the effort.

July 3, 2007

Democrats Suddenly Care About Perjury and Justice

I’ve tried my best to stay out of the whole Scooter Libby affair. It just didn’t interest me, but I knew that the story would only get bigger when Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. As expected, President Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence and Democrats started flying off the wall as if Bush just coddled a serial killer.

That Democrats are so determined to see Libby in a prison cell for committing perjury and obstruction of justice is quite interesting considering that these same Democrats were the ones who reduced themselves to the mantra: “it was just a blowjob” when beloved President Clinton committed perjury and obstruction of justice.

Libby lied to a grand jury about what he told reporters before Valerie Plame’s name was revealed. Clinton lied to a grand jury about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinski. No one’s comparing the two cases, but it’s undeniably true that President Clinton committed the same crimes. But he never faced jail time; Republicans just wanted the liar out of office. Libby lost his job and got a prison sentence.

Democrats were outraged over the Clinton impeachment and his subsequent disbarment. Sure, it was perjury and obstruction of justice, but he was just trying to protect his family that he didn’t so much care about when he was being pleasured by a White House intern.

Libby (not the president by a chief of staff to the vice president) didn’t give federal investigators the right names and because of that Democrats want him rotting in prison for two and a half years., one of the most influential liberal political action committees, was established in 1998 to defend President Clinton for committing perjury and obstruction of justice. Today, they’re fuming with rage because someone who isn’t President Clinton was spared for committing perjury and obstruction of justice.

It’s time to cut the rhetoric.

July 2, 2007

Scooter Libby Remains Free

Filed under: Congress,Democrats,Ethics,Politics,Republicans,Trials/Lawsuits — acepundit @ 6:12 pm

But no warm reception from leading Democrats:

“As Independence Day nears, we’re reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said through a spokesman.

Presidential pardons are nothing new, but when a president executes that power as infrequently as Bush has, it certainly raises a few eyebrows when that rare gift is afforded not to a member of the downtrodden class but an employee of the vice president.

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.

June 20, 2007

Stem-Cell Bill Stymied Again

Filed under: Congress,Democrats,Elections,Politics,Republicans — acepundit @ 7:01 pm

President Bush used his once-non existent veto pen to block a bill that would have eased restrictions on federal funds for stem-cell research. It was only his third veto in seven years as president, but an important one if he wants to win back a lot of his base that’s still angry over his support of the unpopular amnesty bill.

But the veto certainly won’t help his image with the majority of Americans who strongly support federally funded stem-cell research.

Democrats made this legislation their top priority when they took control of Congress last year, and because the House only has a 14% approval rating with the public, Democrats are going to have to turn this defeat into a plea to the American people to vote in more stem-cell friendly legislators in 2008.

On the other side Republicans are going to have warm up to the idea of stem-cell research. According to Gallup only 16% of the country are against any funding. On the other side only 22% oppose any restrictions.

Once again the answer seems to be somewhere in the middle and the first party to realize this will capitalize.

June 1, 2007

Calling up Owen and Brown From the Minors

Filed under: Congress,Democrats,Republicans,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 6:16 pm

Jan Crawford is blogging that the Bush administration is preparing for the loooooooong shot chance at replacing a third Supreme Court justice, the one who could strip Justice Kennedy of his swing vote power and make the Supreme Court firmly conservative.

Word is Bush wants to try the woman or minority thing again, but now that he knows stealth option Harriet Miers won’t satisfy the people who were promised more Scalias and Thomas’, all-stars (and lightning rods) Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown will likely be warming up in the bullpen having been called up from lower federal bench.

But for Own (woman!) and Brown (women! and black!!) to have even the slightest hope of becoming the next Supreme Court justice, they would need strong and persistent support from Senate Republicans. And if by any chance you need more convincing that the Senate GOP lacks many a spine, this ABC News report paragraph defines the Senate GOP perfectly:

Either (Brown or Owen) could have been a likely replacement for O’Connor in 2005, but leading Senate Republicans told the White House not to nominate them because they were seen as too controversial at the time. Now that both are on the federal bench, the White House has put them back on a working short list.

Or…now that Democrats control the Senate, confirming either Brown or Owen would be close to impossible. Not only will Senator Ted Kennedy get to slander judges again because they have a better understanding of the Constitution than that bloviating drunkard, but he’ll get to do it as a member of the controlling party.

Ever since justices began dropping off the Rehnquist court I’ve strongly rooted for Janice Rogers Brown, whose streaks of libertarianism as part of her strong conservative jurisprudence will most often agree with my palate.

But the ‘once a poor black woman from a poor black sharecropper’ card will only work for so long before the Senate Republicans would actually have to defend her strong judicial record. We all know how inept Republicans are at defending anything…and that was when they were the majority.

But I digress into a fantasy of another Supreme Court battle that’s unlikely to happen under Bush’s watch. Liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, at the ripe and healthy age of 87, only has to hang on for one more year. Some speculate Ginsburg will go to0, but I don’t see her stepping down after only 13 years of service (a short tenure for the Rehnquist/Roberts court) and being the third most junior justice.

But justices are unpredictable. We could very well see another vacancy very soon, something President Bush really needs if he wants to be remembered as a success of any kind by a base getting shorter and shorter everyday.

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