There are at least two reasons I like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey: He's right on almost all the issues, and this doer is also a talker. See how he responds to a reporter who accuses him of having a "confrontational tone."
Men and Women
I'd add that President Obama seems bent on packing the court with people who never had children, and would suggest that if you haven't had your sleep disturbed for years on end; haven't subjugated everything in your life to someone else's interests ... as opposed to subjugating everything to your career interests ... and never changed a diaper except, say, as a boutique experience; if you haven't seen your hopes and dreams grow up, charge off in their own direction and start talking back to you; if you haven't dealt with abuse of authority and human rights issues sometimes encountered in dealings with obtuse school officials, class bullies and town sports leagues; then there's a high risk your understanding of life may be somewhat ... academic.
It's a humbling experience, parenthood. As well as an inspiring one that gives life meaning. It also, as a friend of mine once put it, makes you sane. Even while it drives you crazy. Put another way, it's part of the maturation thing.
Doesn't the president know any soccer moms who went to a state school?
What Crittenden says about parenthood (and about folks from non-Ivy League schools) rings true with me--particularly because it is flattering to my own circumstances. Also, it is too clever and delicious not to re-print it here. On the other hand, I'm not sure that the larger point about the problem of cocoons (be they intellectual or circumstantial)--at least taken by itself--is a fair one.
Here's the thing: I'd be perfectly happy to take a cocoon dwelling Ivy League, lesbian, non-parent, with a professorial (and even worse, an outright snobbish) attitude if that person also inhabited another kind of cocoon--the one where people go to grow when they take the Constitution as it was written and as it should operate (barring changes wrought through the consent of the governed in the Amendment process) seriously. Or, as Orrin Hatch is reported to have said through a spokesperson when questioned about rumors that Kagan may be a lesbian (snore), "The most important issue for Senator Hatch is whether she is going to follow the Constitution and the laws of the land or whether she will substitute her own views in their place."
Bingo. Now let's move on, shall we (?), and discuss the substance of THAT.
As pundits debate the merits of Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, discussion of "judicial activism" takes center stage. But the accusations of activism are not all being tossed in Kagan's direction. What has typically been a nomenclature used by conservatives is now frequently being touted by the Left to attack the "conservative" justices on the Supreme Court. These criticisms are based on all-too-common distortions of the term's meaning. (I will leave it up to the reader to determine whether some distort it intentionally in order to mislead the American public, who overwhelmingly oppose judicial activism according to its actual definition...)
Among the erroneous definitions of activism is the idea that it occurs whenever the Court strikes down a law. For example, MediaMatters attempts to debunk the "myth" that "liberal" judges engage in activism more than "conservative" judges by citing studies showing that conservative judges strike down legislation and regulation more than liberal judges do. But do we really want judges to uphold all laws, even unconstitutional ones? Would the Court be "activist" if it struck down a statute that, on its face, invidiously discriminated on the basis of race?
Of course not. This facile view of activism is inconsistent with the appropriate understanding of the judicial review as eloquently expounded by Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison: "If then the courts are to regard the constitution; and the constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature; the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply." Courts have a duty to strike down laws that violate the Constitution because the Constitution is supreme.
Judicial activism, rightly understood, occurs when judges make decisions not based on what the Constitution requires, but on their own personal or policy predilections. Contrary to what MediaMatters and many others think, activism does not refer to judges being active in striking down legislation, but being activist in advancing their own policy agenda through judicial decision-making.
Similarly, when we praise judicial restraint, we do not mean judicial passivism---or, reluctance to overturn a law regardless of whether it violates the Constitution. We simply mean restraint from allowing one's own personal preferences to guide his judgment in the case.
Indeed, justices who are truly committed to "judicial restraint" must often cast votes that diverge from their own policy preferences. Take, for example, Justice Potter Stewart's vote in Griswold v. Connecticut, the case in which the Court declared that the "penumbras" formed by "emanations" of certain guarantees in the Bill of Rights grant a right to the use of contraceptives in marriage. In his dissent, Justice Stewart explained that he thought the Connecticut law banning contraceptives was "uncommonly silly," and that he opposed it on practical, philosophical, and policy levels. Nonetheless, he would not vote to overturn it because it did not violate the Constitution.
All judges, including the next Supreme Court justice, should follow the wise example of Justice Stewart in Griswold, who showed great restraint in concluding: "We are not asked in this case to say whether we think this law is unwise, or even asinine. We are asked to hold that it violates the United States Constitution. And that I cannot do."
Yours truly has an article on Kagan's nomination in today's Washington Times. My argument is that the "inexperience" line of questioning which Republicans are bound to pursue will only prove worthwhile if tied to her actual experience at Harvard Law School - particularly her expulsion of military recruiters.
Never mind that "don't ask, don't tell" is a federal law (the military does not make laws) passed by the Clinton administration and a Democratic Congress (Ms. Kagan worked in the Clinton White House) and that Ms. Kagan continues to esteem highly many of the authors of that policy (reserving her "abhorrence" for young recruiters simply following orders). Rather, focus on her unlawful disobedience of a federal statute, her resort to the courts only as an afterthought and her ultimate decision to relent her tempest-in-a-teapot rebellion only when the Supreme Court (which she hopes to join) unanimously rejected her legal objection to the law in an 8-0 opinion.
Of course, at that time, she was a dean and not a judge. But she was the ultimate role model to her students, leading by example as the dean of a prestigious law school. Her blatant disregard for laws that she found personally displeasing and intellectual satisfaction with legal arguments dismissed by even the most sympathetic judges reflect poorly on the adequacy of her judicial temperament and capacity for unbiased rulings.
I hope you will, as they say in the business, RTWT.
James Q. Wilson's a review, in the latest Claremont Review of Books, of the provocative book, Addiction: A Dissorder of Choice, is now online. A sample:
But if attitudes and sanctions affect drug use, how can we explain the familiar claims that people in drug treatment programs are rarely if ever cured and that "once an addict, always an addict"? The explanation is easy: these claims are not true.
Heyman draws on three major national surveys to show the falsity of the argument that addiction is a disease. The Epidemiological Catchment Area Study (ECA), done in the early 1980s, surveyed 19,000 people. Among those who had become dependent on drugs by age 24, more than half later reported not a single drug-related symptom. By age 37, roughly 75% reported no drug symptom.
The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), done in the early 1990s and again in the early 2000s, came to the same conclusion: 74% of the people who had been addicts were now in remission. As with the ECA, the recovery rate was much higher than in the case of psychiatric disorders. The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), done in the early 2000s with more than 43,000 subjects, came to pretty much the same conclusion.
Maggie Gallagher directs us to a poll that shows young people like socialism more than the rest of the population and just love the progressive label. That seemed disturbing enough that I followed the link. She is right, but I found an even more amazing result. The young are also the group most likely to support states' rights. In fact they like states' rights more than they like socialism, capitalism, progressivism or even civil liberties. Eighty-four percent approve of states' rights and only fourteen percent dissapprove. Now either the Dixiecrats are set to sweep into power, or the poll is telling us that many young people don't know much about the history and policy associations of the labels they are being asked to evaluate.
Just asking: Was there any word the pollster could have put in front of "rights" that would not have gotten a positive response?
The Queen has requested David Cameron to form a new government. He is thus the prime minister of the United Kingdom. But he presides over a hung Parliament, and so must now form a government with the Liberal Democrats. It's sort of like the Republicans needing to form a workable alliance with Ralph Nader and the Green Party. It won't be pretty.
Obama is calling Cameron in order to reach out to the new British government. The Tories have been rather cool toward America, while the Lib Dems border on outright hostility. So, now that Britain is a bit more adversarial and anti-American, perhaps Obama will finally begin treating them with a bit of respect.
One of the more promising aspects of the GOP victories in 2000 and 2004 was the surprising coincidence of the fastest growing counties in the country voting for the GOP. These true progressives perhaps sensed that their economic and familial interests were better protected by a conservative party in power. Bush won something like 97 of the fastest 100 growing counties in 2000. Of course, after the routs in 06 and 08 much of this was forgotten. Just ask Sam Tanenhaus, who still defends his little book.
Michael Barone's recent piece on the Britsh elections suggest that this particular dynamic may have been at work and that it bodes well for further Tory gains. He notes the following:
Brown managed to rally his party's ancient base in factory towns and its more recent base among ethnic minorities and immigrants. But the middle-income suburban seats Blair won are almost all gone, and without them the party has no hope of a majority. In southern England and the Midlands, the majority and more prosperous part of the country, Conservatives won 224 parliamentary seats and Labor only 87.
Certain commentators have observed that the country party/court party dynamic may be a better way to think about our current politics. The country party consists of those who are on the inside and stand reasonably prosperous but are largely not in ruling circles of law, finance, business, government, etc. To be sure, philosophical polarities amongst conservatives and liberals remain, but may not be the best way to explain our current situation. The Tory success in the economically surging parts of Britain while Labor cobbled together a coalition of minority voters and denizes of the old manufacturing age, as well as many elderly citizens, can't bode well for that party's future. One wonders if we will see the return of a similar dynamic this fall and in 2012 in America. It seems likely that the parts of America that are growing will not entrust their future to an Obama dominated party. Also of note in the British elections were the Tory failures to improve their standing in some of the wealthies parts of England. This occurred despite slick marketing efforts made by Cameron. They probably would have been better off reaching to the outsiders who voted for the UK Independence Party.
This same dynamic seems obvious in our country. The conservative electorate and the tea partiers seem willing to change a lot of seats, mostly Democrat, but also entrenched GOP incumbents like Sen. Bennett of Utah. The coalition isn't Bob at the hedge fund and Joe the plumber. It is something very different, more stable, and a better trade off.
The first questions I would have the Senators ask her involve the unamendable parts of the Constitution, as I have noted a couple times before. But the particular questions I would ask Kagan involve her love of Jane Austen. She allegedly rereads Pride and Prejudice every year. Will some educated Republican staffer know that Pride and Prejudice is not a treatise about affirmative action?
I would ask her about love, manners, vulgarity, censorship, and tyranny--the themes explored by Azar Nafisi in her wonderful novel, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which has a most insightful chapter on Austen--see my initial post and follow-up. In other words, force Kagan to make the case for civilization and explain what causes the coarsening of a culture--and its relationship to the rule of law. She might also opine why Tocqueville's notion of the legal profession as America's aristocracy is now something of a lawyer joke. The Republicans by and large muffed their chances with Sotomayor--they should have used her strengths against her, as I argued: e.g., force her to repudiate racial/ethnic preferences.
Proper questioning of Kagan will disperse this preposterous fluff about consensus-building (and ability to seduce Justice Kennedy), and we can get to the core problems, summed up in her defiance of federal law, as Bill elaborates below. The point here is not to defeat her--likely impossible short of some scandal--but to expose the man who nominated her and those who vote to confirm her as failed guardians of liberty who should be defeated.
ADDENDUM: Paul at Powerline notes that the three women Justices would come from three boroughs of New York.
Congratulations to this month's winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute estimates that the last time U.S. emissions were that low, William Howard Taft was President. On a per capita basis, the U.S. population of 420 million projected for 2050 would be held to the same overall emissions as the 40 million Americans in 1875.
Obama's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is, as expected, Solicitor General Elena Kagan. The New York Times and Washington Post already have (generally positive) coverage of the nominee on their sites, including biographies, notable writings and a glimpse of potential nomination issues.
In a break from precedent, Kagan has never been a judge (having withdrawn her name after a lengthy stall by Republicans). Her notable achievements have been as a White House advisor, Harvard Law School dean and present role as solicitor general. She should be considered a "stealth" candidate, as she has produced scant and inconsequential writings by which to determine her jurisprudence.
But, of course, there will be plenty of red meat for the confirmation hearings.
I'm not totally sure what to make of the election results fron Britain in which the Tories just failed to win a majority in Parliament. I think that one underplayed element is that if parliamentary seats had been reapportioned to account for Tory-leaning, high population growth areas in Southern and Middle England and the population declines in the Labor-leaning industrial North, the Tories would have won a majority and Cameron would be seen as a big winner. I think. On the other hand, you would think the main center-right party would be able to win 40% under favorable circumstances against a split center-left opposition. My main takeaway is that in order to win, a winning agenda (a set of policies that command wide support on matters of high priority to the electorate) is much more important than a tonal change aimed to appeal to the liberal-leaning elements of the upper middle-class and waiting for a favorable environment.
Men and Women
Mother's Day, as a national day of celebration, is largely the handiwork of Ann Jarvis and her daughter, Anna. The holiday grew from women's peace groups following the Civil War, particularly the gatherings of mothers who had lost children on opposing sides of the war. Julia Ward Howe, perhaps most famous for having penned "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," wrote the "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870 as a call to celebrate the burgeoning holiday:
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.