Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The soul of justice

Steve recommended the movie "To End All Wars" (see below), so I took advantage of a slow evening and saw it. Steve’s right, it is a tremendous work. An intense and serious film, one that moves between political philosophy and Christianity with amazing deft. It is realistic, of course, and therefore is about justice, but then moves beyond, to redemption. Thanks to Steve for recommending it. He’s right, best movie I never heard of.

Surviving the Sword, Movie Version

Peter’s post below about the Washington Post Book Review of Surviving the Sword provides the opportunity to bring up the best movie you’ve never heard of, To End All Wars. This movie tells the true story of Ernest Gordon, a Scottish regimental soldier captured in Singapore in 1942 and sent to a Japanese labor camp in Thailand.

The movie, which stars Keifer Sutherland ("24") and Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) is extraordinary. In addition to its gritty accuracy, it tells a story of philosophical and spiritual redemption for the survivors. (Ernest Gordon went on to become chaplain of Princeton University, and died three years ago shortly after the film was completed. The last scene of the movie is real footage of Gordon reconciling with the Japanese camp translator in a war cemetary in Thailand.)

If this were a just world, the filmakers would have a shelf full of Oscars. But despite winning several regional film festivals, the movie never made it to general release in part because it defies all the Hollywood conventions, and all the usual distribution studios were scared to touch the film and had no idea how it could be marketed. But you can order the DVD from Amazon by clicking the link above. You will not be disappointed. You also won’t be able to stop thinking about it for a week.

The film’s producer, Jack Hafer, is a good friend of mine, and tells me that he showed the movie to a number of camp survivors, who all said that it was leagues beyond Bridge on the River Kwai (which they thought was rather cartoonish compared to their real experience), and that, despite To End All War’s graphic violence that earned it an R-rating, it wasn’t violent enough.

The fever swamp again

Cynthia McKinney, no longer my Congresswoman, thanks to the Georgia State Legislature (but still "representing" some hapless Georgians), is up to her old tricks, using a "hearing" to engage in 9-11 conspiracy theorizing.

No mercy

When I was in my teens I spent a few days with an Englishman who was visiting in California. I was driving a Japanese car, and, to my amazement, he would not ride in it. He flattered me by explaining something he almost never talked about (according to his family). He had been a soldier and was captured by the Japanese, captured when Singapore fell. He spent the whole of the war as a slave laborer under the Japanese. He said he very much regretted that he could not forgive them for their horrid treatment of the Allied prisoners. We drove around in my father’s Chevy.

Robert Asahina review a new book by Brian MacArthur, Surviving the Sword: Prisoners of the Japanese in the Far East, 2942-45. The tale is a relentless tale of savagery.

Numbers can only begin to suggest the staggering dimensions of the horror. Within five months after Pearl Harbor, more than 50,000 British and Australians in Singapore, 52,000 Dutch and British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines had fallen into Japanese hands -- a total of 132,142 Fepows. Most spent the next three and a half years in prison camps, where 27 percent of them died (compared to 4 percent of Germans in Allied prisons). A third of the dead -- 12,000 men -- perished during construction of the Burma-Thailand railroad, immortalized in "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

The story just gets worse. (Thanks to Powerline).

The inexorable sterness of Churchill

Given the London terror attacks, Ben McIntyre considers how Churchill would have thought about terrorism. McIntryre’s attempt is not entirely satisfactory (especially regarding Iraq and pre-emptive war), but he does note that Winston would have advanced (as he did in the Sudan) with "inexorable sterness." James W. Muller has edited the first full (not abridged) re-edition of The River War, the first since its original publication since 1899. The original two volumes were shortened into one in 1902, and all subsequent editions have relied on this. That injustice is now righted. Muller’s edition will be published September 1st.

Update: Little Green Footballs notes that the article neuters Winston’s message. Here is what Churchill said, in its entirety about the horrific battle to wrest the Sudan from the jihadists of the 19th century:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

—Sir Winston Churchill, from The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).

What questions should be asked of Roberts

For those interested, Matthew Franck, Gerard Bradley, Mark Levin, and I have engaged in a lengthy back-and-forth on this topic over at NRO’s Bench Memos.

The Roberts family

The national press treats us to an examination of Jane Roberts’ views on abortion, as well as to her life story. And then there’s this utterly tasteless piece, written about the way the Roberts children were dressed for their visit to the White House.

I’m waiting for the inevitable line of inquiry regarding Roberts’s Catholicism and his ability to separate his faith, which he "does not wear on his sleeve", from his judgment.

Update: Not surprisingly, Hugh Hewitt is all over this. And for more on the politics of Roberts’s Catholicism, go here (Charlotte Allen) and here (Amy Sullivan).

Roberts as tabula rasa?

Charles Krauthammer thinks that on constitutional matters, Roberts is a tabula rasa. Bill Kristol is persuaded that Roberts is a conservative on constitutional matters. Worth reading, with a great story by a former law clerk (a liberal) who not only maintains that Roberts is conservative, but also insightfully asserts that given his congenial nature he is likely to have a huge impact on the Court, and "he could ultimately be a progressive’s worst case scenario." Also see Powerline.
And here is
Michael Barone’s take on Roberts: "Justice Roberts will do much to redefine what is the mainstream in American constitutional law."

UPDATE: Anita Hill, the world famous, extremely bright, widely published professor of law--although your memories of her may differ--has an opinion (or two or three) about Roberts. I haven’t heard her name mentioned in years; now I know why.

Dems meeting in Ohio

The annual meeting of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council will be held in Columbus, OH, this weekend. The Dem moderates speaking will be Vilsack, Bayh, (plus Hillary). The president of the DLC said: "If Democrats can’t win in Ohio, we don’t deserve to win the presidency. As ’04 demonstrated, the state has become a real bellwether."

Hunting terrorists in London

It looks as though our tough allies the Brits are hunting down the terrorists responsible for the terrorist bombings of yesterday (and two weeks ago). At least one man, "an Asian man", was shot shot dead at a tube station. More here. Meanwhile, some New Yorkers are upset that bags on subways may be randomly searched. But no racial profiling, of course. Just random.

Maybe he’s gay, whisper the Left

This is a heck of a morning. I get up earlier than ususal (about five) and learn about continued mischief in London and then this: The Left is actually making out that Judge Roberts may well be gay. After all this is a guy who studied French and Latin in high school, was on the wrestling team, and participated in the choir, and, oh yes, there is this: at least once he wore plaid pants. Of course, you understand we’re not saying he is gay, besides even if he is it’s OK by us because are are on the Left and we don’t care, we’re just pointing all this out. Do with it what you will, say they. Isn’t this something? To what lengths will the Left go? They are beneath contempt, says Powerline.

An Evening with Ted Turner

I’ve been quiet on this blog over the last few days because I’m holed up at Big Sky, Montana, attending an environmental policy conference. (In fact, I’m blogging now from a bar that has a wireless hot spot, so I may have more typoes than usual).

The culmination of the conference was a tour this afternoon of Ted Turner’s 112,000 acre bison ranch near here, followed by dinner at Ted’s barn and remarks from Ted. Turner is the largest individual private landowner in the nation, owning a total of 2 million acres in 11 states. Here in Montana and elsewhere he is engaged in a determined effort to restore natural habitat for bison and other endangered species, for which he deserves applause.

But of course I’ve always thought he was something of a barking loon, and he did not disappoint in his remarks. He said that he thinks mankind may only have 50 years left to survive, which is typical Malthusian/enviro apocalypticism. When told he was speaking to a mostly conservative group, he said he considered himself a "progressive" (not a liberal), but that his very anti-communist father had warned him in the 1940s that when the Communists took over America they’d shoot anyone with more than $50, "So for 30 years I went around with never more than $49 in my wallet."

On the whole he was hilarious. When a prominent conservative philanthropist whom I shall not name asked him to rank his greatest innovations, he simply ran through a laundry list--CNN, Goodwill Games, his anti-nuke proliferation efforts, his eco-ranches. But then he added:

"And I married Jane Fonda. That was innovative. . . Any more on that innovation and I’d be getting into private details."

Hard not to warm up to a guy like that. He served us barbecued bison ribs from his own herd. Actually the guy is a bit of a shell of his former self. He is land rich but cash-poor with the collapse of his Time-Warner holdings, a fact he alluded to repeatedly with some bitterness (toward Time-Warner) and sarcasm. In fact he has had to cut back on his grantmaking to left wing organizations and the UN, which isn’t all bad. He no longer has any role with CNN (so we can’t blame him for that any more).

Now back to the beach in California and a regular blogging schedule.

London II and layered defense

The Belmont Club has some thoughtful observations on the terrorist acts in London (that is, the seond ones). After explaining how the Navy used a layered defense around battlegroups to try to prevent the Kamikaze attacks from succeeding, Wretchard writes:

The debate surrounding the prosecution of the war on terror can be conceptually split, though not very neatly, between those who advocate a layered defense with a forward-deployed component (coordination with ’friendly’ Muslim countries, involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, etc), plus everything in between, and those who would rely primarily on terminal or close-in defenses (national IDs, CCTV cameras, border control, etc) in the homeland. A small percentage of policy advocates believe that a complete reliance on nearly passive close-in defenses ("support the troops, bring the boys home", build bridges to Muslim communities, etc) would be adequate to protect the public against terrorism. Over the coming years, the value of every aspect of the defense will be highlighted by different incidents. Some attacks will be stopped by an alert security guard, others will be pre-empted in a land so distant the public will never even know that the attacks were mounted. But they are all needed. If any lives were saved in London today, it probably means that a deep defense makes a difference.

Another reason for Alberta to secede from Canada

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this suggestion, which would provide for governmentally-sponsored religious self-regulation in Canada. The author advances it as "help[ing] the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions," but either he’s joking or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. To make agreement with a "professional" consensus the prerequisite for being a "religious practitioner" (heh) is a prescription for totalitarianism and a license for the persecution of those who insist on being different, i.e., at odds with modernity.

Multiple hat tips to Gideon Strauss (the permalink isn’t working again), David Koyzis, James M. Kushiner, and Lydia McGrew.

Bethany Christian Services: Catholics now welcome

Via Southern Appeal, we learn that Bethany Christian Services of Mississippi has decided to do the right thing, bringing its policy and practice in line with those of the national organization (which has decided no longer to leave its state affiliates any choice in the matter). For background, go here and here.

Good for Bethany and good for the families they serve.

Roberts as a post-60’s conservative

Here David Brooks’ take on the Roberts pick for the Court. I like his political point--that by selecting Roberts Bush has put the screws to the Demos--because he agrees with my first-sight analysis

and also think that his point about Roberts being a post ’60 conservative is thoughtful and worth pondering. Conservatives are now governing, and they look a bit different than those of us who were bred on the ramparts.

Win Myers moves on

No, he hasn’t gone over to the dark side, but in the course of telling us about this op-ed, he lets it slip that he has become managing editor of The American Enterprise (link currently dead, but sure to come back to life), a publication of the American Enterprise Institute. Rumor has it there may be a blog in AEI’s (or TAE’s) future. I hope so.

As for Win’s op-ed, he writes about Vanderbilt University’s attempt to erase an inconvenient part of its (and our) past. Win notes that people do this all the time--altering evidence about or rewriting accounts of the past in order to serve present political or cultural purposes. It’s especially troubling--or ironic, if you will--for a university supposedly dedicated to free inquiry to do so. Here’s his conclusion:

Absent sustained, sincere and rigorous efforts to present any nation’s or individual’s past forthrightly, the intergenerational conversation that is historical debate becomes artificial, stilted and propagandistic. This is true for research and writing based on manuscript collections, letters, public records, works in myriad fields — for the primary sources that historians draw on to craft a vision of how those who came before us lived, what they thought, and why they acted as they did. It’s also true of our physical past, of the remains of those who preceded us. Whether these artifacts are recovered by archaeologists or maintained by historic preservationists, they are a priceless repository of the human experience. It’s why we value old structures and why we support museums.

To join this conversation is to become part of a greater dialogue that, over the centuries, shapes our perceptions of who we are as a people, a civilization and a world. But to deny the past, even to the point of physically expunging the historical record from academic buildings, is to engage in a destructive folly to scrub history in the search for a more perfect future.

What Vanderbilt attempted was indeed intellectually myopic. But more importantly, it was a violation of our obligations to our descendants — and to our ancestors, whoever and wherever they were, to keep the conversation going from one generation to the next.

Read the whole thing.

Should the Court be "balanced"?

Andrew Busch explains why those who object to President Bush trying to shift the balance of the Supreme Court are wrong: They participate in a species of aristocratic elitism that is wholly inappropriate in our constitutional regime. This reveals a "profoundly anti-democratic understanding of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court." Of course, what lies behind all this is partisanship and ideology. These same people would not be making such an argument of Kerry had won the election, nor would they have advised Franklin Roosevelt "to appoint a strict constructionist so that the balance of 1935 would not be altered."

London, again

Here is what the Washington Post has so far on the "attempted explosions" in London.


Apparently, the Claremont Review of Books.

Democrat exit strategy on Roberts

Ryan Lizza declares victory and moves on:

Why then did the president break with most of his known habits and instincts last night? A few theories:

The Democrats’ strategy of unified opposition and obstruction may finally have chastened the White House. Democrats have recently made life miserable for Bush. They have killed Social Security and ground the rest of Bush’s domestic agenda to a halt. They have eaten up weeks of valuable time in the Senate with their opposition to lower court nominees. They killed John Bolton’s nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats have been warned by Republicans that their obstructionism will cost them at the polls, but it may have forced Bush into choosing a more conciliatory nominee. If O’Connor had resigned immediately after Bush’s reelection one has to imagine that Bush would have picked a more mischievous jurist. So while conservatives are hailing the Roberts pick, it may actually be a sign of Bush’s current weakness.

There’s more, but you can read the rest yourself, if you want.

Roberts on church and state

For those of you interested in these matters, Beliefnet has provided excerpts of and links to two briefs on First Amendment cases John Roberts co-authored while he was Deputy S.G. The cases are Westside v. Mergens and Lee v. Weisman.

Of course, the qualification regarding ascribing to the attorney the opinions of his client apply. Roberts is listed third on both briefs, after Ken Starr and the Assistant A.G.

Update: Beliefnet missed a brief, providing a link only to the amicus brief on the petition for the writ of certiorari in Lee v. Weisman. Here’s the amicus brief on the case itself.

Update #2: Beliefnet does have a package of columns speculating about Roberts’ religion clause views. Nathan Diament thinks that Roberts will favor the "equal treatment" position that has gained favor against the "wall of separation" argument. Samuel Estreicher argues that "a Justice Roberts is likely to look more favorably on permitting limited references to religion in the public square, as consistent with the nation’s history and values." Marci Hamilton thinks that on free exercise cases there will prove to be a big difference between Roberts and Michael McConnell, with the former arguing that accommodating free exercise is the job of legislatures and the latter that accommodations are constitutionally mandated.

The big religion case coming up in the next term is Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Etc., a case concerning the protections extended by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the religious use of controlled substances. Here’s the Appeals Court decision, and here’s the result of the en banc rehearing by the entire 10th Circuit, in which Michael McConnell authored a significant concurrence, which is not surprising, given his criticism of the Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith and his very public support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (in two articles in First Things, unfortunately not archived on the website). I guess we’ll likely know soon enough (confirmation optimist that I am) how different Roberts and McConnell are.

Critical of Roberts

Tom West is not amused "at the conservative gushings" over the Roberts pick. Here is all of it:

I am amazed at the conservative gushings over President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts for the Supreme Court. What do we know about him? Almost nothing, based on what I have read. Yet Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Robert Alt, Peter Schramm, Powerline, National Review online, you name it--all these folks seem to be sure that this is a great pick. But I have seen very little that gives any serious evidence of what Roberts actually thinks the Constitution means.

I remember how conservatives rallied around Souter when he was nominated. Like Roberts, Souter’s record was very thin. He turned out to be a disaster.

Of course, we may one day discover that Roberts was all along a secret but passionate admirer of Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence. If that proves to be the case, I will gladly admit that my suspicions were wrong.

Other things aside, I never rallied on behalf of Souter. I’ll get back to this later.

Ann Coulter is also disappointed. Powerline responds to her.

A musty old book

A nice piece from The Chronicle lamenting the movement among university libraries like U. Texas to replace books with electronic versions. No blogger can be a Luddite. But is there a lovelier experience than ambling through library stacks, flipping open a book at random, perusing a little passage, and then gliding to the next interesting-looking volume? Could there be a sweeter smell than the pages of a musty old book?

Call me old-fashioned, but a glaring computer screen can never replace a well-worn copy as a student’s best friend.

Early opinions on the Roberts pick

Adam Nagourney, writing for the New York Times, explains why the Roberts pick disarms Bush enemies. Note the reference to threading the eye of the needle in the article, from a Democrat. This is a revealing article because it shows that the establishment liberal press cannot refute the obvious. Bill Kristol is very impressed at what Bush has done. Fred Barnes is not as impressed. He calls it the "safe pick." Rich Lowry asserts that there is "no downside" to choosing Roberts. Shannen Coffin thinks it is a great choice.

Misunderestimated Again

George W. Bush amazes again. Just when you think he is going to do something politically correct to win a few votes in the Senate, just when you think he is going to compromise in a way that disappoints conservatives, just when you think his wife is giving crucial hints, he steps up to the plate and whacks a ’no doubt about it’ homerun.

On important matters, W rises to the occasion.

A few political thoughts on the Roberts nomination

I have been watching CNN, FOX, et al, since about 8:45 and I have a few quick thoughts on the Roberts pick. First, the President surprised everyone, especially his politically enemies, because he nominated a good conservative with great credentials. This is visible by their first reactions: They are not quite sure whether or not they should attack; they cannot re-define Roberts the way Bork’s opponents were able to. Now it is true that Durbin, Schumer and a few others went ballistic immediately, but aside from some fireworks on the Judiciary Committee, it will have no effect. The surprise is directly connected to the fact that W chose an excellent person, ignoring the ethnic and gender winds that have been howling around him. So W’s reason for appointing Roberts is better than Reagan’s was for nominating O’Connor in 1982. Not a small point, this.

Second, this puts the Democrats in a bind. It is as clear as things get that Roberts will be confirmed. His reputation for intelligence, wit, and character are significant. It will be very difficult to vote against him; the vast majority of Democrats will end up voting for him. The party will be split on an issue that the Liberal leadership has been claiming to be unified on.

Third, Bush will benefit from this nomination in very clear ways. He kept his promise, appointed a solid conservative, a guy who was--so to speak--first in his class , an affable smart guy. And, it will be seen as a courageous decision by Bush because what cannot be argued is that he did it for low political reasons (which could have been argued if he had nominated a person who is black or Hispanic or a woman). It is simpler to argue that since there is no side benefit to Roberts, he is nominated for his excellence only. And he has a reputation for excellence.

Fourth, Roberts is not only a very young guy (born in ’55) and will be around--God willing, as they say--for maybe thirty plus years, but also has, as everyone says, a very pleasant disposition; he is easy to like. This will be important in the confirmation hearings; he will need his agreeable nature when he refuses to answer questions that shouldn’t be asked; combine this with his intelligence and wit, and he will sail through, and his few opponents will look like
severe carpers.

As far as I can tell the Demos will push on his views on abortion (especially the brief he wrote when he was at Justice) and the very recent decision the DC Circuit Court made upholding Bush’s stance on enemy combatants. To work both of these publicly, especially the latter, will be very dangerous for Democrats. His oppponents will not be able to make Roberts out to be an extremist. And Bush has satisfied his party and his base and has pushed his political opponents off balance. Political advantage to Bush without a doubt.

The Left on Roberts

This thread on the Daily Kos contains lots of despairing comments about how hard it’s going to be effectively to oppose Roberts. Here’s a sample:

Listen guys, he ain’t Thurgood Marshall, but the fact is that we got 45 seats in the senate, and 7 of our guys are not gonna agree to a filibuster (Roberts ain’t exactly an extraordinary circumstance).

Confirm him quickly, and let’s get back on our issues for the 2006 elections.

Democrats gain absolutely nothing by opposing, filibustering, or otherwise delaying his confirmation to the bench. He’s simply not conservative enough to be sufficiently "Borked". Democrats will look petty trying to dig up phrases and isolated sentances from his legal writings.

Instead, let’s have the Democrats ask a few tough questions, and let’s get back on Karl Rove, Tom Delay, and the issues that we can get traction on for the 2006 elections.

Of course, if we find out next week that this guy was a slaveowner, I’ll feel pretty stupid. I’m not saying "Let’s not examine him". I’m just saying that we get nothing out of drawing his confirmation out.

Here’s the Alliance for Justice brief against Roberts when he was nominated for the D.C. circuit. A quick scan of the document suggests to me that he’s an extremely effective advocate, writing lots of briefs to which the Alliance objects, but with which the Supreme Court ultimately agreed.

Other useful previews of the opposition are press releases from NARAL, PFAW, the Alliance for Justice, and the ACLU. Only NARAL has already announced its opposition; the others are simply now expressing their concerns.

My guess is that the Democrats will make a lot of noise and demand all sorts of documentation from the Reagan and Bush 41 Administrations, but will quickly realize that they don’t have the votes to sustain a filibuster, especially against the threat of a change in the Senate rules. Roberts holds all the Republican votes and gets a couple of Democrats to boot.

One Good Result

One good result of the Roberts pick is that it breaks the precedent that there is or are "women’s seats" on the Court that must be filled by women or some other symbolic minority.

Info on Roberts

This is his brief professional bio, and this has more info. And this has more, with good links.

A fine choice

John Roberts is an excellent choice--one of the best available--for the Supreme Court. He is a lawyer’s lawyer, and has the reputation for being one of the finest appellate advocates to argue before the Supreme Court. He was a fine brief writer, and has garnered a reputation as a D.C. Court of Appeals Judge for being an excellent opinion writer, authoring concise, well-reasoned decisions.

Any attempt to filibuster him should be dismissed as silliness: when they finally permitted a vote on Roberts for the court of appeals, he was confirmed by unanimous consent. If the Democrats attempt to call him an extraordinary circumstance and use the filibuster, it will show their own disengenuity, and will guarantee not only the use of the nuclear option, but public support for the nuclear option.

Judge Roberts

Here is a profile from the Washington Post on Roberts (and Luttig) of a few days ago, and a shorter profile from two weeks ago. And here is the two-minute old AP story on Roberts, who is called "a rock solid conservative." This is the CNN story. I’m off to watch the announcement...

Drudge says John C. Roberts, Jr.

So it must be true.

Last minute rumors on SCOTUS

It was Clements, the knowers said. Then they said no, it will not be her. Then they moved to the other Edith (Jones), then maybe not, maybe it will be--as Major Garrett said on TV, an "angry white male" (isn’t that stupid!)--Judge Luttig, or maybe even Roberts, or McConnell. No one is talking about Bathelder now. Maybe it will be Janice Rogers Brown or Garza. You’ve got to hand it to Bush. He makes politics good clean fun. The only thing I am certain of is that it will not be AG Gonzales. If you want to kill fifteen minutes go to NRO’s Bench Memos, where they have just reported that CNN is saying it will be Judge Roberts.

SCOTUS rumors

I’ll be watching eagerly tonight. According to this report, it’s not Edith Clement. Bench Memos is, of course, going full tilt in every conceivable direction, with Robert Alt noting Peter’s promotion of Alice Batchelder.

In favor of Batchelder, again

Now that we know Bush will announce his choice for the Supreme Court tonight, perhaps my attempt to explain why I like Judge

Alice Batchelder may seem superflous. Most of the rumor-mill says that he will nominate Judge Edith Clement of the Fifth Circuit. I am not yet persuaded. I’ve been wrong before, I am told (but I can’t remember when!).

William Westmoreland, RIP

A lot of what went wrong in Vietnam was not Westmoreland’s fault, but there is one area where his strategy was mistaken, and from which it would seem we are applying the lessons in Iraq. Westmoreland--and the other service chiefs--were fans of the "big unit" search-and-destroy war in the mid-1960s, which is why total troop levels rose to over 500,000 by 1968. All of that time very little was being done to train the Vietnamese army to fight for itself. (McNamara rejected this, saying by the time the Vietnamese were trained, we’d have the war won.) When Gen. Creighton Abrams took over in 1969 and began the drawdown of troops, things went much better because Abrams largely abandoned the search-and-destroy strategy in favor of an "enclave" strategy that emphasized turning over the war to the Vietnamese. (See Lewis Sorley’s fine book, A Better War, for a full account of the Abrams command.)

So when you hear people complain that we don’t have enough troops in Iraq, remember that the opposite complaint was made about Vietnam. From afar it seems our basic strategy in Iraq is the right mixture of Westmoreland and Abrams--protect crucial enclaves, train the Iraqis, and engage in specific search-and-destroy missions (Falluja, etc) when key targets can be identified.

In favor of Batchelder

Rumor has it that President Bush will announce his choice to replace O’Connor either today or tomorrow. Chris Flannery, writing for NRO, thinks--I’m glad to say--that his choice should be Alice Batchelder of the Sixth Circuit. Flannery goes into some detail on some of her decisions, including, Plaut, Ejelonu and DeMatteis. Nice line: "Taken together, Batchelder’s decisions demonstrate that she has what might be called a judge’s soul: deliberative, infused with common sense, and confined by the limits of law. She is a restrained jurist without being a parody of one -- she can stand up to the other branches of government when necessary."

Today’s Washington Post makes a big point about how so many judges from the Fifth Circuit are in the running, including Edith Brown Clement, Emilio M. Garza, Edith Hollan Jones, Priscilla R. Owen and Edward C. Prado.

College Guides: Help This Man

Jay Matthews of the ’Washington Post’ has been assigned the task of reviewing several College Guides and asks for your help.

Perhaps you can offer him some advice.

The Latest Buzz: Gonzales Out

’The Hill’ , the newspaper of Capitol Hill, reports that conservatives have been assured that Alberto Gonzales will not be nominated to replace O’Connor.

The inside money now focuses on the two Ediths, Jones and Clement, on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hadley Arkes comments in the article:

“Edith Jones has the sharper definition as a conservative, tagged as pro-life in her perspective, and she is bound to draw the heaviest fire,” Hadley Arkes, a conservative legal scholar and professor of jurisprudence at Amherst College, wrote last week for National Review Online. “Clement, in contrast, would be a harder target: her own specialty was in maritime law; she has not dealt, in her opinions with the hot-button issues of abortion and gay rights.”

Though Gonzales is out, two Hispanic judges have emerged in the buzz, Florida Supreme Court Justice, Raoul Cantero, and 5th Circuit Judge, Emilio Garza.

Get out the hard balls.

Lind’s Lincoln

Some months ago I discovered a new book about Lincoln by Michael Lind, What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President. How could I resist, even though I knew the author was on the Left? I got a bitter cup of coffee, hoping for the best. Thirty pages later, appalled at the silliness and inacurracy of the whole thing, I put it back on the shelf, next to two other worthless books on Lincoln. I was right and

James M. McPherson (in The Nation, no less) explains why. Great review. McPherson savages the book. Thanks, professor. By the way, why would the famous Doubleday publish such rubish? Just one paragraph from McPherson regarding some factual things:

Puzzled readers may be forgiven if they come away from this book convinced that Lincoln’s beliefs were closer to those of the Ku Klux Klan than to those of the NAACP--for that is precisely Lind’s argument in most of the book. Or perhaps they will conclude that Lind does not know what he is talking about when he maintains that there was no inconsistency between Lincoln the liberal democrat and Lincoln the racist despot. This conclusion would be reinforced by some of the alleged "facts" reported in these pages: that the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in states (it applied only to territories); that the Dred Scott decision applied to a runaway slave in Ohio; that "most Northern states" in the 1850s banned free blacks from settling therein (only four of eighteen did); that William Seward was Secretary of State in the Grant Administration; that ratification by a simple majority of states could amend the Constitution; and that the Congress elected in 1936 contained 524 representatives and 112 senators (the actual numbers were 435 and 96, respectively).

NRA will not come to Columbus

The National Rifle Association was going to hold its 2007 annual meeting in Columbus. Wayne LaPierre explains: "The convention is canceled because last week your City Council unanimously voted to revoke the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in Columbus by banning perfectly legal firearms." The ban was on semi-automatic firearms, the same ban that Congress passed in 1994 and was allowed to expire last Fall because it was proven to be ineffective. Columbus will lose circa 20 million bucks.

(via The Remedy.)

Walmart Goes Beltway--Sigh

This article in The New Republic discusses how the left is targeting WalMart in Washington DC, and how WalMart is having to respond by hiring lobbyists and playing the usual campaign contribution game, which hitherto it has not done.

This is one of the main purposes of the administrative state--to drag everyone into the DC orbit one way or another. I remain convinced that one of the reasons for the Microsoft anti-trust crusade in the 1990s was that the software behemoth wasn’t paying tribute to DC with lobbyists and campaign contributions (Microsoft had barely any presence in DC before the late 1990s--now it pays squads of lobbyists and lawyers and ladles out campaign cash like every other big company). The appeal of Washington is not much different from that other organization you sometimes hear about: "Nice little company you have here--shame if anything happened to it."

Iraqi boy helped

This front-page New York Times article tells the story of 13 year old Ayad al-Sirowiy from Iraq and how he was hurt in the war, and how some enterprising Americans, including Robert Reilly, an old friend of mine, helped him.

Judge Alice Batchelder to the Supreme Court?

This Washington Post article claims that Bush is close to announcing his choice to replace O’Connor on the Court, and that person is likely to be a woman. A name that has been mentioned by Sunday morning talk shows, AP, USA Today, and the Post, over the last few weeks, and yet is not getting the attention she deserves is Judge Alice Batchelder of the Sixth Circuit. I’m paying a bit more attention to this because I happen to know her and have her scheduled to give our Constitution Day Lecture in September. Although she always appears a bit low on the list of possibles, I have reason to think she is much higher. She is a smart and deeply learned jurist who understands the role of the Court in our Constitutional order. Her opponents therefore will call her a conservative. That’s fine. I’ll probably have to find someone else for the Constitution Day talk if she gets appointed, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Martian Americans

John Leo writes: "David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for War of the Worlds, says the Martian attackers in the film represent the American military, while the Americans being slaughtered at random represent Iraqi civilians." There is more here.
These guys are off the wall, are they not? But Harry’s Place reminds us that the moral equivalence arguments were around even during WWII. (Via Instapundit).

Server problems

We have, for the past three days, have been having problems with our server. I think it should be OK now, but nothing will surprise me. Sorry about this.

It’s Baaaack!


Evangelicals and Catholics

This is indirectly related to Joe’s post below, "Christian adoption." I just got my copy of Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assesment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism, by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom. If you have read it, I would like to know what you think of it.

Christian adoption: Catholics need not apply?

Steve Dillard, the animating spirit behind Southern Appeal, has a personal blog, on which he posted this item, regarding the Mississippi office of Bethany Christian Services, a faith-based adoption organization.

It seems that the Mississippi office (unlike the
national organization, which does not in principle object to helping Catholics, but lets each state affiliate make its own decisions) will not provide its services to Catholics because "[i]t has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith." Here’s the Statement of Faith. According to the Catholic couple that was turned away, their priest "told them it did not conflict with Catholic teaching."

I can imagine two possible points of doctrinal conflict--the assertion of the "final authority" of Scripture and the affirmation of "salvation by grace alone"--but I am no more than an armchair theologian who can imagine a number of ways of parsing what Bethany says it believes and how the Mississippi priest and his parishoners understand it.

For me, the larger issue has to do with how we regard affirmations of faith. How far do we go in investigating the bona fides of those who make a profession of faith when, say, they join a church? We take them at their word, do we not, assuming that only God can know what’s in their hearts. If the couple, and their priest, affirm Bethany’s statement, how can Bethany then say that it cannot be so?

I, by the way, do not object to Bethany’s demand that adoptive couples affirm its statement of faith. Even the fact that Bethany receives support from the proceeds of Mississippi’s Choose Life license plate program does not pose a legal problem. According to this article,

Though the fee passes through state coffers, it is considered a private donation, said Kathy Waterbury of the Mississippi Tax Commission.

"They aren’t public funds in that we are collecting money on behalf of the organization the tag represents," she said.

Of course, Bethany now has a massive public relations problem in Mississippi and across the country, as, for example,
this editorial indicates. The Knippenberg family has in the past supported Bethany, both directly and through our church. As we make further inquiries, we are reconsidering our support.

Top Rated Beers

The Corner at ’National Review Online’ proves useful in many ways.

Ms Lopez provides a useful link here to the top rated beers in the world.

Yes, Sierra is excellent but don’t forget the little known Goose Island Honker’s Ale out of Chicago.

Joe Wilson Equals Titus Oates

Michael Barone says all that needs to be said about Joe Wilson.

The left-wing keepers of the Modern Adminstrative State look out their windows and ask who is the most effective conservative in the land and then try to destroy them. That’s the story behind the attacks on Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, etc.

The Harry Potter passion

I had to watch the Harry Potter madness from a distance, since I was travelling. Joe mentions that he was picking up the family copy in the morning. Well, I can tell you that my two Harry Potter kids (Becky and Johnny) had each ordered a copy, as did my wife. We don’t share Rowling books in our house! They went down to the local (small) bookstore at eight to pick up their tickets that would allow them to pick their three copies at midnight. Their numbers were in the high forties, hundreds of people were there at midnight. And if this isn’t bad enough, they actually re-read all the previous volumes (for the fourth or fifth time, I can’t remember) during the last month. They wanted to be prepared. The first thing Becky said to me when I got home was not, "Hi Dad, it’s good to see you, how was your trip," but this: "[character name] died." The whole phenomenon is quite remarkable, and I’m glad of it. I explained Johnny’s first encounter with Harry Potter when he was eleven years old (he is now seventeen; Becky is twenty-one) here. He is still enthralled. Good for him. J.K. Rowling made $36 million in one day. Good for her.

A good ride

I got back this afternoon. A good 900 mile ride to Washington and back. It was hot and humid for the whole ride. The thunderstorms were unpleasant at times, especially on Thursday afternoon east of Latrobe, on the Lincoln Highway. About fifty miles in heavy rain. With a naked bike, you feel every drop at first and then you just feel the bathtub. After the first three minutes of the rain, it just doesn’t matter; besides, twenty minutes after the rain stopped, I was dry. It was like going from a washing machine into a dryer. The bike was flawless and comfortable. Great machine. Not exactly a vacation, but it was close.

Supreme Court Speculation

Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when William Kristol talks, everybody listens. He prediceted that O’Connor would resign before Rehnquist but now backs off his prediction that Bush will appoint Alberto Gonzalez.

Here Kristol speculates on Bush’s upcoming nomination. Kristol believes that Laura Bush’s comments that she thinks it would be a good idea if her husband appoints a woman is a polite way of letting Gonzalez know that he is not going to get the nomination.

Kristol argues that today, unlike 1981 when O’Connor was appointed, that there is a deep bench of well-qualified female consitutionalists. Kristol writes: "For now, he just has to worry about the O’Connor vacancy. For that seat, President Bush would improve the Court by appointing any from a long list of well-qualified women. Among them are federal appellate judges like Edith Jones, Edith Brown Clement, and Priscilla Owen on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Janice Rogers Brown on the D.C. Circuit, Karen Williams on the 4th Circuit, and Alice Batchelder on the 6th Circuit; distinguished law professors like Mary Anne Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, and Lillian R. BeVier, John S. Shannon Professor of Law at Virginia; and state court judges like the impressive Maura D. Corrigan, who served on the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1992 to 1998, and has been on the Michigan Supreme Court since then, including a stint as chief justice. And the list goes on." In a couple of weeks, we can check and see if Kristol’s sources are correct. I’m bettng that the appointment will be someone from Texas.

I share Kristol’s admiration of Maura Corrigan on the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court is the best in the country. With Corrigan, and Justices Steven Markman, Clifford Taylor and Bob Young, Michigan can count on four solid votes to uphold the U.S. and Michigan Constitution. It would be a disaster for Michigan if Corrigan were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, as that would give Governor Jennifer Granholm an appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court and the Constitutionalists would then be in the minority on the seven member Court.