Zen Politics: The Sound of One Party Clapping

The State of the Union address tonight highlighted the deep divide between the Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. Repeatedly during the speech, the President laid out initiatives for the future. On most issues the applause was limited to one side of the aisle. (The most notable exception was the introduction of the family of a fallen Marine, which even drew applause from the members of the Supreme Court who normally sit silently while the speech is given.)

The one time that the Democrats wholeheartedly applauded was when the President decried the failure of the last year to act on Social Security. They celebrated not dealing with the largest long-term financial problem facing our nation. When the President proposed making permanent the tax cuts that have driven the recent economic expansion, only one party--the Republicans--responded. The pattern was repeated throughout the night.

The implications of this divide for future legislative progress are grim. There is no doubt that we need Congress to act on a number of fronts. But given the narrow margins in both the House and the Senate, it is unlikely that large-scale changes to meet the challenges we already know are coming will be passed. Like a troubled marriage where the spouses have stopped talking to each other except to yell, the shrill partisan rhetoric filling Congress is preventing progress.

The outrageous slurs and slanders leveled against Samuel Alito (now a lifetime member of the Supreme Court!) are just the latest and most visible indication of the degraded discourse. Ted Kennedy's red-faced, desperately shouted attempt to launch an unwarranted filibuster on the Senate floor should have been an embarrassment to his party...instead it was hailed by the radical left. In fact the moonbats of the Internet are threatening bodily harm to the Democrats who voted against Alito but would not support the filibuster.

The 2006 election season is in full swing after tonight. Many political observers have projected modest Democratic gains in both houses of Congress, but almost no one expects tham to control either the House or the Senate. The country would probably be better served for the long run if one party or the other held a more decisive majority...things need to get done. But as long as we have this Zen divide in Washington, they won't.

Cindy Sheehan Arrested (Again)

Cindy Sheehan had planned to be present for the State of the Union address tonight (invited by a liberal Democratic Congresswoman from California). That raised an interesting prospect, given her propensity for public utterances. However NBC News reported just prior to the President's speech that she had been arrested (again). Not sure yet what happened, but it does remove some of the drama from the event.

Lessons of Alito's Confirmation

Today the United States Senate voted to confirm Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The inability of the Democrats to sustain a filibuster the nomination removed the final doubt, as there were clearly enough votes for him to win. This confirmation offers us several valuable lessons.

1) It is after all possible to nominate and get confirmed a candidate with a long and public conservative record. There is no reason to fly stealth candidates under the radar and end up with Souters as a result.

2) The Democrats are running scared for the 06 elections. Look at the votes of Nelson (NE), Byrd (KKK), and Johnson (SD). They abandoned their party masters because they're concerned about their reelection. Properly addressing this requires a separate post (which I've been trying to get to for a couple of days and will soon...maybe), but the fear is evident.

3) The conservative movement far into the future owes thsoe who stood up against the President's inexplicable and indefensible nomination of Harriet Miers a debt of gratitdue. Rather than an unqualified and unproven quantity, we have an enormously qualified man with a track record. That was a fight worth having and winning.

4) The Democrats will not vote (at least most of them) for any candidate President Bush puts forward, assuming we are blessed enough for him to get a third pick. So he may as well pick the very best, preferrably youngest, full-throated conservative candidate he can find and take the fight to the enemy.

5) The 2006 elections are critical. Republicans need to increase their majority in the Senate, and the chances for that happening are better than most people give them credit for (again, that's the other post).


Down in Flames

The opposition by left-wing Democrats (but I repeat myself) to Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court has completely failed. Even the last ditch attempt by Ted Kennedy...pun fully intended...and John Kerry to mount what Michelle Malkin called a filibluster has collapsed under its own weight. They're in the minority and the votes just aren't there. Confounding the predictions of many that a known conservative with a track record could not be confirmed, the President has picked an outstanding candidate. All of the distortions and smears brought against him have failed, and Alito will be joining the court long about next Tuesday.

With three years remaining in office, it is by no means a stretch to hope that Mr. Bush will get at least one more pick--and hopefully the next one will be one of the court's liberal members so that a balance of sanity can be restored to the Supremes.


Dick "Our Troops Are Nazis" Durbin Removes All Doubt

During the debate on the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court today, the idiotarian senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin violated, or perhaps illustrated, the principle (again) that it is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open the mouth and remove all doubt. He said:

"It is rare that the Senate gets an opportunity to select a justice for the Supreme Court."

Yep, given that the Constitution gives that right to the President, I suppose it is pretty rare. But I think the remark is very revealing, and not just for its Constitutional illiteracy. (Given the "grave concerns" expressed by the Democrats for the Constitution, you might think they'd want to actually read it once in a while!) Durbin and his colleagues really do think they are supposed to run the country. The inconvenient fact that their party lost the election (and the one before that) and are a minority in the Senate is secondary to the fact that since they're "right" (or perhaps they would prefer correct) in their own minds, they should still rule from the minority. Not long ahead Harry Reid complained that the Senate was starting to function as if the side with the most votes should win! No doubt left--the mental level of Durbin and his buddies has been clearly demonstrated once again.


Palestinian Elections Show Problem with Spreading Democracy to Fight Terror

When parlimentary elections are held Wednesday in the Palestinian Anarchy (as long as the only power comes from the barrel of a gun, calling it an "authority" is a joke) the flaw in the Bush Administration's strategy of spreading democracy as a means of fighting terrorism will be revealed. According to news reports from the region and the limited polling that has been done, the slate of Hamas candidates is poised on the brink of sweeping the current ruling Fatah party (which is not exactly a paragon of freedom and virtue) from power.

The problem with this is that Hamas, officially designated as a terrorist organization, remains committed to the destruction of Israel as their official policy. The fact that their candidates are likely to be voted into office poses this question: How does the US respond to an elected terrorist government?

Lest you think that description is too harsh, consider the case of Miriam Farhat. Known as the "Mother of Martyrs" (Mother of Cold-Blooded Killers Who Wage War against Innocents would be a more accurate title) three of her sons have, with her encouragement, perished in the intifada. Farhat is one of Hamas' candidates for office, and adamantly declares that her expected electoral victory will not mark any halt in the campaign of terror against Israel.

This puts the US in a box. We have, I think unwisely, declared the spread of democracy as our one of our primary goals in the war on terror. While fighting the war on teror on enemy soil rather than on our own is a good idea, this particular tool has severe limitations. Many of the countries that produce the majority of the world's terrorists (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan) as well as those that support terrorists (Iran, Syria) would in free and fair elections throw their support behind those committed to the Islamic jihad against the Western world.

We must find a way to spread the values of respect for life and freedom, or establishing democractic governments will not promote safety for us. It is not just our electoral system that the Middle East needs. (Which is not to say that mullahs and the oil sheiks should be encouarged to stay in power.) They need our pluralistic values and our principles of tolerance. We need to have teachers in their schools, programs in their media, seminars in the public square and widespread distribution of books and tapes and CDs and mp3s and websites. We must start promoting the ideals of freedom rather than simply the concept of democracy if we are going to ultimately change those countries and win the war on terror.


Border? What Border?

If you haven't heard/seen about the Mexican Army operating on the Arizona side of the border, this may be a real eye-opener. (From Guard the Borders Blogburst) I've said this before, and I'll repeat it now. If the Democrats want to win in 2008 and are willing to get serious about this issue, they can take several red states (enough to win the electoral college) on a silver platter.

Last week, those of us who keep an eye on border issues noticed that several mainstream media sources had featured articles about the regular Mexican military incursions over our borders and into our country. This is nothing new, as the Border Patrol has documented hundreds of such illegal incursions by an armed Mexican military over the past decade, and our government has done nothing to curb these incursions. In fact, it seems our government has looked the other way. While I'm relieved that this information is getting out into the mainstream, I have little confidence that our governement will actually do its job and secure our borders.

Some confrontations between the Mexican military troops and our own Border Patrol agents have become violent as Mexican soldiers have fired their weapons at the Border Patrol. It's a mystery why our government refuses to acknowledge these hostile invasions. They surely know about it, and the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. has gone so far as to publicly deny that the Mexican soldiers are hostile, but rather there to "patrol for illegal border jumpers". Contrary to that public statement, however, most of the Mexican military troops on the border are moonlighting as security escorts for drug smuggling gangs the coyotes who are running large groups of illegals across the border.

T.J. Bonner, a 27-year Border Patrol veteran who heads the National Border Patrol Council [said], "Intrusions by the Mexican military to protect drug loads happen all the time and represent a significant threat to the agents. "Why else would they be in the area, firing at federal agents in the United States? There is no other explanation," said Mr. Bonner, whose organization represents all 10,000 of the nonsupervisory Border Patrol agents.

He also challenged reports that Mexican military units had crossed mistakenly into the United States, saying, "Every country's military has a [global positioning system] nowadays, including the Mexicans. "If the border is so poorly marked, why don't the thousands of Border Patrol agents working 24/7 along it ever seem to get lost, and none of us have been issued a GPS," he said.
Attacks on Border Patrol agents in the past few years have been attributed to current or former Mexican military personnel. U.S. law-enforcement officials have long thought that current and former Mexican soldiers are being paid to protect drug shipments bound for the United States.

Several agents said the attacks have escalated in the past two years as U.S. security efforts on the border have increased -- including the July shooting of two agents in an ambush near Nogales, Ariz., by assailants in black commando-type clothing, who fired more than 50 rounds. Authorities said the gunmen used military-style cover-and-concealment tactics to escape back into Mexico. No one has been arrested.

Without any federal commitment to secure our borders, the Minutemen, a volunteer citizen's group, has performed an invaluable civic service in patrolling our borders to document and verify the location of illegal border crossers. They, too, have encountered Mexican soldiers on the WRONG side of the border. The video clip below comes directly from the Arizona Minutemen who told the Mexican soldiers, when confronted, they were there as "media" to document the border situation. It is incredibly important to note that there is no reason why American citizens should EVER be required to justify their lawful activities on American soil to a FOREIGN military presence. That is anathema to our rights as American citizens!

(SCOTTSDALE, AZ) January 20, 2006 – The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps ("MCDC") announced the release today of video footage of an incursion by a unit of the Mexican army across the U.S. border in Arizona.

Chris Simcox and a group of Civil Defense Corps volunteers encountered a squad of approximately eight armed Mexican soldiers about 500 yards inside American territory. The Mexican soldiers started running back through the brush to Mexico when they realized they had been spotted.

The video shows a uniformed Mexican soldier climbing through a barbed wire fence on American soil to return to the Mexican side of the border as he races to catch up with the other Mexican soldiers who had also climbed back through the fence as they retreated back into their country.

A group of armed Mexican soldiers then returned to the barbed wire fence (on American soil) and confronted Simcox and the volunteers. A discussion in Spanish ensued, with the agitated soldier 'in charge' saying the Americans had no business being there.

Simcox and the volunteers did not budge. The Mexican soldiers left and drove off. Judging from earlier activity observed at the ranch that morning, Simcox is of the belief that a trafficking operation had been disrupted by the volunteers.

The footage, filmed in 2004, was sent to then Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. His office did not respond. The video has remained in the Minuteman video archive and is being released in response to recent news reports that over 200 cross-border incursions by the Mexican army have been documented since 1996.


This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we're going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to euphoricrealitynet at gmail dot com.

Blogs already on board:

Euphoric Reality
A Lady's Ruminations
TMH's Bacon Bits
Part-Time Pundit
The Right Track
Cao's Blog
Ogre's Politics and Views
In The Bullpen
Stuck on Stupid
Kender's Musings
Watchman's Words
Third World County
Gribbit's Word
Right on the Right
Team Swap
Gina's Rantings
The Irate Nation
Publius Rendezvous
Freedom Folks
Bear Creek Ledger
Something and Half of Something
Mover Mike


Michael Medved's Homosexual Hypocrisy

Today on his syndicated radio show, Michael Medved spent time complaining about the gay agenda of Hollywood. Decrying (and I believe rightly so) the attention being paid to Brokeback Mountain, he called the recent awards show the "Golden Gays." I believe that is an appropriate conservative and moral critique. I applaud him for presenting it.

But his moral standing was gravely undermined when he then turned around and began promoting The End of the Spear. Now if you haven't heard about this movie, it is the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliott and the other missionaries who were martyred in Ecuador 50 years ago this month, told from the perspective of the natives. This is one of my favorite stories. I even played the role of Jim Elliott in the play about their lives The Bridge of Blood when I was in high school.

I had heard about the movie being made, and was looking forward to the story receiving a fresh telling to a new audience. It is a story of Christian faith, love, sacrfice and forgiveness that should never be lost. But I was shocked and saddened (I know I should not expect this vile world to be a friend of grace, but still...) to find that the production company had deliberately selected one of the leading gay activists in Hollywood, Chad Allen, to play the role of Nate Saint.

The first I heard about this was in an article posted at Sharper Iron (which is worth a regular look if you want to know what's going on in the rational wing of the religious right), detailing that the "Christian" production company had intentionally chosen Allen for the role after seeing him profiled in the Advocate, a leading gay activist magazine! Needless to say that decision (and let me make it clear that while I firmly believe that homosexual conduct is a sin, my specific beef is not with Chad Allen, but with the promotion he is receiving from this project and the needless compromise of the "Christian" film company) has pretty much ruined this one for me. And hearing Michael Medved voice his unconditional support for this project and encourage churches to go see it to "send a message" to Hollywood was the final straw for me.

When I called Medved's show to voice my complaint, his producer refused to let me on the air to register my complaint and then hung up on me. If you go to movies, I strongly encourage you to give this one a pass. Rewarding this kind of intentional misconduct by "Christian" entertainment companies will only insure more of this abominable behavior.


Robert Burns Please Call Your Office

Dear God, I have tried very hard to be good this year (I know we're not that far into the year, but still). Please let this be true. Amen.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

To a Louse -- Robert Burns

The Old Old Joke Says...

How can you tell if a politician is lying? If his lips are moving.

So now the Democrats are going back on their commitment not to delay the committee vote on Alito. When are the Republicans ever going to learn? You cannot depend on those guys to keep their word about anything. (This is the party of Kennedy and Biden we're talking about after all.) I wish Frist and Specter would get a spine transplant before the new session starts. In fact, could we order 55 in all and just start acting like the majority party? Pretty please?


One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Today's holiday honors the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, given in Washington in 1963, he expressed his longing for the day when people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Today in ceremonies marking King's birth, New Orleans Mayor Ray "Busses" Nagin said, "It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans -- the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."

Does anybody else see a disconnect here?

The First Thing We Do

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" -- Dick the Butcher, Henry VI part 2

Watching the college bowl games and now the NFL playoffs, I've been struck by the absolutely abysmal performance of the officiating crews. Yes, I know players drop passes, fumble and make mistakes too. But the refs are at least supposed to know the rules of the game (and preferrably enforce them).

The Steelers-Colts game was about the worst I've ever seen. The use of instant replay to overturn a correct call on the field was the most glaring error, but there were a number of missed calls...the "no call" on the false-start/offsides late in the game, the glaring pass interference in the first half that wasn't called...it was just ugly.

It's time for the refs to go back to school. And if they still can't cut it, well, maybe Shakespeare had it right.


Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid

I am not genetically predisposed to believe reports that the sky is falling. Part of that is inheiriting a cyncial nature. Another part is having grown up in a fundamentalist church in the 1970s and being exposed to a constant stream of reminders that the world was going to end any minute. I vividly remember the breathless excitement with which it was announced that the buzzards in the Holy Land were laying twice as many eggs as usual (Revelation foretells that buzzards will eat the bodies after the battle of Armageddon and they're going to need a lot of buzzards!) and this surely indicated that the time was getting short! Then too, I remember the science scares of my teen years--after all the next Ice Age is going to start soon if we don't do something right now. (Boy how that one has changed.)

But...this is truly scary. I keep up with government economics pretty closely, and I knew it was bad, but not this bad. The actual deficit last year, if you use standard rather than government accounting was ten times larger than the reported deficit. The long term implications of this "off the books" accounting are ugly. Economist John Maynard Keynes said, "In the long run, we're all dead." He may have been more right than he knew.


The Coaching Genius of Paul "Bear" Bryant

My kids (having been trained early in the paths of righteousness) got me Allen Barra's outstanding biography of Bear Bryant, The Last Coach, for Christmas. It's a thoroughly researched and well-written book and I enjoyed it a great deal.

In reading it, I was reminded again of the outstanding success the Bear enjoyed. Although his major college victory mark has now been broken by Bowden and Paterno, each has coached significantly more games. Bryant has the highest career winning percentage (.780) of all of the winningest coaches. The contrast becomes even greater if you compare the best 20 year period of each coach's career. (In addition to coaching fewer games because of the schedule rule changes, Bryant rebuilt floundering programs at four different schools!)

Bear Bryant (1961-1980) .844
Joe Paterno (who despite this season had his best 20 years from 1966 to 1987!) .822
Bobby Bowden (1986-2005) .819

In the 1970s (71-80), Bryant's teams lost more than one game only twice in ten years! (No wonder I grew up expecting Bama to win every week...they almost did.) Four times during Bryant's best 20 years his team averaged giving up fewer than six points a game. Further, over his entire career, Bryant coached 129 games against coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame...and won 2/3 of them!

And to top off everything else, he won SIX national championships, and got cheated out of two others by the most overrated team in American sports history (Notre Dame) and the poll voters in 1966 and 1977 (not that I'm bitter or anything).

The Bear will have been gone for 23 years at the end of this month. But he was the greatest, and as they said of Patton, we will never see his like again. Thanks kids for the wonderful book, and the trip down memory lane.

Calling Dr. Seuss

Everybody knows about Green Eggs and Ham...but this...well, you really just have to see it to believe it!

Laying the Foundation for Filibuster

I've been on the fence about whether the Democrats would actually try to filibuster Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court. But watching Kennedy's performance today seems to indicate he's at least trying to lay a foundation for a potential filibuster. There is no logical or rational reason to fuss and holler about old papers (3 years newer than Chapaquiddick just for a point of reference) except to set up a straw man of concealment to be used to justify filibustering.

The plain truth is that all of the Dems attacks on Alito have failed to produce any smoking guns, or even warm knives. They've got nothing. He has demonstrated a depth of knowledge and a calm, reasoned approach that leave no openings for attack. They could vote no, but there's nothing to support a filibuster. After tomorrow last attempt, I think now we are going to see at least an attempt. I remain skeptical that it will get past the talking stage (too many red state Dems up for reelection, and believe me, they remember what happened to Tom Daschle), and still expect a vote next week. I doubt Alito will get 60 votes, let alone the 78 Roberts got, but I still expect him to be comfortably confirmed.

In a special gift to the Republican party that is bound to end up somewhere in commercials for the 2006 elections, Joe Biden has been given twice as much time as the other Democrats in tomorrow's additional session. (Bet he still asks fewer questions though!)


Who's Out of the Mainstream?

The disingenuous Credit Check Chuck Schumer has been blathering a lot about his "grave concerns" that Judge Alito may not be "in the mainstream." Well, there's mainstream, and then there's mainstream. One of the most reliably far-left groups in America is the Americans for Democratic Action. Here's what they think of the eight Democrats who make up their side of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein (CA) - 100
Biden (DE) - 95
Durbin (IL) - 95
Kennedy (Liquor) - 100
Schumer (NY) - 100
Leahy (VT) - 100
Kohl (WI) - 100
Feingold (WI) - 100

ADA Percentage Rating 98.75%

So I guess if you and your buddies consider the ADA to be the mainstream, Alito might be troubling. But to normal Americans, he looks pretty, well, mainstream.

Way go Lindsey Graham

I am not the world's biggest Lindsey Graham fan. His support for the RINOs like McCain is a little too much for me to truly believe he's a movement conservative. And his membership in the Gang of 14 was particularly disappointing.

But, he absolutely showed up the classless and crude Democrats today with his apology to Mrs. Alito. It was well spoken and well timed. Excellent statement. Thank you Senator Graham for standing up for a little decency in this process.

And for the record, listening to Ted Kennedy lecture anybody on ethics and proper conduct is just revolting. I thought that Congress had just passed a big thing against torture???

Please Don't Throw Me in the Briar Patch

Today the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pushing to add an extra day of questioning to Judge Alito's confirmation hearings. On the one hand, this clearly represents a desperation attempt to drag things out hoping something--anything--that would justify a filibuster will come up. They know they're losing, so like the Russian basketball team in 72, they want more time put on the clock.

But on the other hand, from a purely political standpoint, Ken Mehlman and the guys at the RNC must be begging Specter to say yes. The prospect of another day of Biden, Kennedy, Schumer and Leahy having rings run around them by Alito is almost too good to pass up. In fact, I'd offer them TWO more days if Biden did all the questions...well, speeches anyhow!

Born and bred in the briar patch Br'er Fox.


Alito among the Lilliputians

Cast onto the shore of the Judiciary Committee by the aftermath of the storm that wrecked the nomination of Harriest Miers, Samuel Alito woke up this morning to find small people trying to bind him with tiny ropes. Revealing more about themselves (and spending most of their "question" time making statements) than about him, they devoted agonizing effort to trying to discern on which end he would crack various eggs.

Senator Ted (I Can't Be Troubled to Learn Your Name Judge "Alioto") Kennedy waddled through an incoherent set of questions about racism based on false premises. Senator Patrick (Leaking Classified National Intelligence Since 1986) Leahy seemed to still have his feelings hurt that the President hadn't personally briefed him on super-secret programs so he could run to CNN with the scoop. Senator Joe (I Really Don't Like Princeton--but Neil Kinnock Didn't Like it First) Biden pronounced himself puzzled...and after listening to him consume 80% of his alloted time rambling along, so was everyone else. Senator Charles (Credit Check Chuck) Schumer waved around a copy of the Constitution and asked Alito to agree with him that the things he wants to be in there that aren't really are.

On and on (and on) it went. (And lest I be accused of too-partisan a bias, the Republicans weren't much better.) At the close of the day, at least several of the Lilliputians seemed poised to sentence Alito to be blinded by the poison filibuster arrow. But given the immense gap between the size of his intellect and theirs, it seems likely at this point that he will safely reach a seat on the Supreme Court, leaving the little people bobbing harmlessly in his wake calling out their futile insults against him.

What I Learned over Christmas Break

Three weeks can go by almost as fast as three days. Our daughter is now back at college (deserting the 70 degree temps here for the upper 30s there, can you believe it?) and boy did the time fly. I think in some ways it was harder to have her go back after being here longer than after a shorter trip. We sure got used to her being here in a hurry! But hey, only four more months till summer vacation!


More Proof the Democrats Don't Listen to Good Advice

During the Roberts confirmation hearings, Hugh Hewitt noticed the absurdity of the bloviators on the left taking up their time with statements rather than posing short, pointed questions, and letting Roberts do the talking. It appears from their opening statements today in the Alito hearings that they're going to repeat the mistake. The plain truth is that nothing bad can happen to Alito (other than dying of boredom) while Bidden, Schumer, Kennedy et al are droning on. The only possible thing that could change someone's vote must come from his mouth, not theirs. If the Democrats had brains, they would have foregone the 80 minutes of scripted "grave concern" they expressed today and asked to reserve it for questions--not statements.

Three possibilities come to mind. 1) They are so convinced of their (slanted) view of Alito that they think repeating it often enough will cause it to spread to their colleagues. 2) They know they're going to lose, but don't want to face the annoyance of the base. This way they can say, "Well, we tried our best. Didn't you hear us?" 3) They are politically clueless....hmmm. Maybe I just answered my own question.

UPDATE: Ed Whelan at NRO's Bench Memos points out that of the 30 minutes Joe Biden was allowed today, he talked for 24 of them and Alito talked for 6. QED.


A Profoundly Unserious Man

New York Senator Charles (Credit Check Chuck) Schumer was bloviating on Meet the Press this morning about the NSA, the Alito hearings, and the war on terror. In the process, he revealed himself as a man who in no way deserves to to be taken seriously.

His attempt to characterize Judge Alito as "out of the mainstream" is laughable. Alito is reasoned, experienced, thoughtful, and described by people on both sides of the aisle as a very fair judge. If such a man cannot be confirmed because he does not pass an ideological test, the federal judiciary's role as an independent branch of government is over. At first, Schumer tried to hint that he hadn't made up his mind about Alito, but that is demonstrably false (he voted against Roberts after all) so he then shifted to expressing doubt over whether he would support a filibuster or not. Many Republican commentators have expressed doubt about a filibuster of Alito, but based on Schumer's performance today, I think an effort will be made. Whether it will be enough to convince the red state Democratic Senators who are up for reelection this year to go along is anybody's guess.

I still think Alito is more likely to be confirmed than not, but it's far from a sure thing now. The President is reaping the harvest of the wasted months caused by his inexplicable nomination of Harriet Miers. The Republican base is reaping the harvest of the party establishment's support of the squishy Arlen Specter who refuses to make things happen, even to schedule timely hearings, for the conservatives. The chickens from the day Bush chose to openly oppose Pat Toomey have come home to roost.

Back to Credit Check Chuck. For the man whose own staff illegally (and this was without question illegal, rather than being disputed as the NSA matter is) rummaged through the credit files of a potential Republican Senate candidate (Michael Steele of Maryland) to complain about Presidential overreach and failure to protect privacy should have gotten him laughed off the program. Of course the urban former aide to Mario Cuomo isn't about to do that to a Democrat, so Schumer's hypocrisy went unchallenged.

The fact that this profoundly unserious man is one of the leading lights of the Democratic party is unsettling. The nation is best served by having two serious, adult political parties. Right now we don't. (Given Bush's recess appointment of the well-connected but completely unqualified Julie Myers to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I'm not sure we even have one.) That's really too bad.


Rose Bowl Recap

Business yesterday kept me from commenting on the BCS National Championship game between Texas and USC, but a couple of observations come to mind. USC was highly overrated (still not as much as Notre Dame, but a lot). "Great" teams, especially the "greatest" ever, do not give up 42 points to Fresno State. Yes, they had a high powered offense, but their failure to convert on fourth and short twice during the game, along with their pathetic defense did them in against Texas. It was a highly entertaining game, especially the second half.

Once again a team has failed in an attempt to win three national championships in a row. It's never been done...although (fan bias alert) the 1966 Alabama team was seriously ripped off in the polls. As the two-time defending national champion, and the only major undefeated college team in the land, they finished third (!) behind Notre Dame and Michigan State, who had played to a 10-10 tie in which neither team made a serious effort to win in the fourth quarter. It was widely regarded as punishment for Alabama's slowness to integrate their team (which would come five years later) rather than a serious evaluation of who was the best team in the country.


Dear Pat Robertson, Please Shut Up!

The exhibited lunacy of Pat Robertson once again embarrassed just about every thinking Christian in America today when he suggested that Ariel Sharon had suffered a stroke as a judgment of God for dividing the land of Israel. I know he makes good copy, and the media is never reluctant to display something that's embarrassing to Christians, but really, is there anybody left who takes that loon seriously?

In the first place, his statement ignores reality. Ariel Sharon is a 77 year old overweight man in poor health (he was already scheduled for surgery the day after his stroke) who is on blood thinning medication--a prime candidate for cerebral hemorage. In the second place, Sharon decision to turn Gaza over to the Palestinian Anarchy (there certainly is no authority there!) was, rather than giving up holy ground, a brilliant stroke that has exposed the terrorist thugs to the world, or at least to as much of the world as is willing to look. It also frees Israel's hands to respond to terrorist attacks with much greater force, freed from the burden of worrying about casualties of their own, or hostages being taken in response. Third, the Bible clearly teaches (remember that book Pat?) that every man has an appointed day to meet God.

Of course God could strike down someone in judgment. He did with Herod, as recorded in the Book of Acts. But it is beyond presumptous for mortals to assume they know He has done so. Shame on you, Pat Robertson. You are a disgrace to the Lord and to your fellow believers. Please, please, please---just shut up!

Never on a Sunday

A really interesting pattern has developed over the past two weekends among the movie-going population. The two biggest films out right now, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and King Kong have been trading back and forth the top spot on various days. The Narnia movie has, to the delight of some and the amazement of others, outsold the big ape remake overall, and may actually outdraw the latest Harry Potter movie when all is said and done. (Which would truly be a shock to Hollywood.)

Anyhow, the pattern for the last two weekends is this: on Friday and Saturday, LWW outdrew KK; on Sunday, the ape climbed over the lion to the top of the heap. Apparently enough of the audience for the C S Lewis classic goes to church instead of to the theater on Sundays to hold down the take at the box office. This is by no means earthshaking, but it did catch my interest.

On a larger (but related) societal note, there can now be no doubt that there is a market for Christian/religious films that take both the subject and the audience seriously. It would be nice to think that the powers that be would notice this, but probably not. Instead we're more likely to get the same reaction Pauline Kael (film critic for the New York Times) had to Richard Nixon's landslide reelection in 1972: "I don't see how he could have won...no one I know voted for him."


Coal Mine Tragedy

My mother was born and reared in West Virginia. Her father and all four of her brothers were coal miners. It is a hard life, then and now. I still remember as a kid the look that would come over her face any time there was news of an accident in a mine somewhere.

The Sago Mine disaster has represented the worst of all worlds. The timing, so soon after Christmas (not that there is a good time), the false report that 12 of the 13 had survived, the incredible emotional roller coaster the families have been on...it's just sad. I can only pray that the one man apparently still alive does make it. What a tragedy.


Tide "Rolls" to Cotton Bowl Win

Calling it rolling is a bit of a stretch, but a win is a win, and I'll take it. For the 30th time (an NCAA record) Alabama won a bowl game today. They completely outplayed the much-hyped Texas Tech offense, and were just a couple of bad Brodie Croyle passes away from a pretty comfortable win. Continuing the propensity for trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the offense/special teams set Tech up with with an easy score, which they took advantage of for their only TD of the game.

Brodie closed out his career leading the team in a crisp two minute drill, setting up what has to have been the single ugliest successful field goal in the history of organized football, dating all the way back to the Rutgers-Princeton game in 1869. When Christenson kicked the ball, I didn't think it was going to reach the goal line, let alone trickle over (and just...and I do mean just) inside the upright. But there are no style points, and it gave us the win.

To complete the day, both Auburn and the most overrated team in America (Notre Dame if you didn't know) lost their bowl games. I've often said a perfect day is when both of those teams plus Tennessee lose....but remind me again which bowl the Vols went to???? Oh yeah, no bowl for you 5-6 whiners!

Happy New Year, and Roll Tide!