Sunday, June 30, 2002

Opinion Journal has a great article on Bush vs. the Federal Bureaucracy today. But don't let the word bureaucracy scare you off - this link gives you the big picture.

The permanent bureaucracy, which Henry Kissinger once accurately described as the fourth branch of government, resists change. Harry Truman knew this well. When he turned over the presidency to former Dwight Eisenhower, he remarked that Ike, who was accustomed to having his orders obeyed, was going to get a big shock when he issued an order from the Oval Office and nothing happened....

President Bush, faced with multiple crises, is no doubt learning this sobering lesson. His Forest Service, taken over by "environmentalist" dilettantes during the Clinton years, is helpless as dead wood accumulated through years of neglect fuels fires that are destroying many thousands of acres of forests, endangering people, animals and homes. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission lawyers, emboldened presumably by recent corporate scandals, are having atavistic spasms, hunting down companies that are either competing too little or too much....

And so it goes. Mr. Bush is somewhat in the position of trying to steer an 80,000-ton supertanker with nothing more substantial than a sailboat rudder. He is rueful about the difficulties. When the Environmental Protection Agency undercut his Kyoto policy with a report asserting that the globe is certain to be warmer than now in a hundred years, he brushed it off as yet another vaporous emanation from the EPA bureaucracy.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Things are stranger and stranger. The circuit court judge who voted to ban "under God" from the pledge has just issued a stay of execution order - against his own decision. Apparently public opinion (and a 99-0 vote in the Senate condemning the decision) made some impact. It appears now that the decision will go to an 11-judge appellate court panel.

More information:

I don't like to buy into a slippery slope, but pundits are already predicting that "In God We Trust" might be next to fall if this decision is upheld. I'm thinking in even starker terms. Our own calendar is based on Christian and Catholic precepts - will contracts be invalidated? And speaking of dates, the Constitution itself makes a reference or two:

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.
(Thanks to Opinion Journal for the last bit)
As to be expected, Atlanta talk show host Neal Boortz has written up an extensive review on yesterday's Circuit Court decision. I think the comments about the plaintiff, Michael Newdow (well, he is actually the plaintiff's father) are on target:

First and foremost, this man seems to be a publicity hound. He’s a professional victim and guilty of emotional and psychological child abuse. He professes to be an atheist...his animosity toward religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is probably based in some sort of an association he makes between people with deeply held religious beliefs and conservatism. Conservatives are more open about expressions of their religious beliefs and their love of God. Michael Newdow can’t figure out how to use our laws and our Constitution to suppress conservative speech, so he concentrates his efforts on trying to suppress expressions of faith. Further – he has decided to use his daughter as a tool in the furtherance of his efforts.

This morning Michael Newdow was asked whether or not his daughter came to him and asked him to pursue this case on his behalf. His response was that he would rather leave his daughter out of this. “This is my case,” he said.

Wait a minute! This isn’t his case! He wasn’t a student in that school. He wasn’t required to sit there while that pledge was being recited in school. His daughter was enrolled in that school, not him. Now he says that his daughter should be left out of this?

Get real! This man has used his daughter as a tool in his fight against religious conservatism. Now he wants to protect her from the backlash. Someday she may well hate her father for this exploitation.
That said, however, Neal actually comes around to agreeing with the court. I see the point in his arguments, but regardless of the reasons of the original legislation, I think the phrase is perfectly valid in the context of what I said below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstituional.

What a crock. The GOOD news (considering) is that the 9th Circuit Court rendered the opinion. It has a reputation as being the most liberal federal court in the country and has been overturned by the Supreme Court more than any other Circuit Court. (The 9th Circuit covers the 9 western states, including California, where you might guess some of the more loony court cases turn up.)

Actually, the meaning of "under God" in the context means that man is subordinate to a higher calling - not even a creator, necessarily. The alternate would be to assume that MAN is the highest authority, which would mean that all "rights" would be from mankind - which would of course make them subject to revision. There would be no such thing as "inalienable rights," and additional rights (to welfare, to free lunches, etc.) could be added at any time. But then I'm waxing philosophical.
(thanks to Brian Ross (again!) for the notice)

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

One of my MANY readers, Brian Ross, told me about this site:

I found a couple of errors, which I attribute to sheer exuberence, but the concept seems sound. But there are plenty of pictures and even video to check out. Something to look forward to. Maybe.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Almost a year ago, Vermont senator James Jeffords departed the Republican party, thrusting control of the Senate to the Democratic Party and causing damage to Republican prestige and dashing hopes that something useful could come from this Congress. In an interview, Jeffords mentioned that the Senate Democrats joined in singing “Consider Yourself,” from Oliver!, when he joined their caucus. (“Consider yourself – at home – consider yourself – part of the family….it’s clear – we’re – going to get along…”) I’m not the first Oliver! fan to note that in the musical, that song welcomed Oliver Twist into a gang of pickpockets.
OMB director Mitch Daniels gives an example of philosophical conversations with his college-age daughter: “If James Carville and Geraldo Rivera were both drowning, and you could only save one, would you read the paper or eat lunch?”
Bush made a speech in Miami a couple of weeks ago: “Nearly a half century ago, Cuba’s independence and the hopes for democracy were hijacked by a brutal dictator who cares everything for his own power and nada for the Cuban people…For 43 years, every election in Cuba has been a fraud and a sham. Mr. Castro, once, just once, show that you’re unafraid of a real election. Show the world you respect Cuba’s citizens enough to listen to their voices and to count their votes. Start to release your chokehold on the working people, and on enterprise. Then – and only then – will we talk about easing sanctions, and not before…Viva Cuba libre!
(Source: National Review Magazine)

By the way, press reports indicate that Carter did happen to mention the Varela Project (see my original note by clicking here). Not that Castro will actually do anything, but it's something.