Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

New web resources

Katie Newmark calls our attention to the WaPo’s Think Tank Town, a blog that covers, you guessed it, the think tank beat.

And Power Line helps publicize Intellectual Takeout, directed at college students. (Unfortunately, the direct link to the site is broken right now, not an auspicious beginning.)

Constitution Day

Ken Masugi has an excellent post, with good links. Most importantly, he calls our attention to a colloquy during the Roberts hearings between Tom Coburn--not a lawyer--and John Roberts, with the former pushing toward, and actually mentioning, natural law and the latter apparently resting content with the common law tradition. One can quarrel with Coburn’s characterization of the theological character of the tradition--natural law, after all, is a deliverance of reason, not revelation--but it is striking that Roberts, who by all accounts is a good Catholic, did not seize the teachable moment. One can only hope that it was his (flawed) political judgment that led him to remain silent.

Here’s a story on what some colleges and universities are doing to celebrate Constitution Day--some of it involves very little that could honestly be described as education. What’s striking is how an unfunded mandate--a string attached to federal funding for other purposes--is often described (in a way unquestioned by the author) as a violation of the Constitution. That’s a position of which I’m far from convinced.

Evangelical higher education and the Left

Had Christopher Hayes demonstrated any awareness of God on the Quad, I might have been inclined to say this was a decent bit of follow-up reporting, accompanied by ideologically flawed analysis. He quite often lets his subjects speak for themselves, admits some variety and nuance in the position he examines, and does not snark too much in his own commentary.

Here’s an example of his analysis, taken from his discussion of the role of "Christian worldview" in evangelical higher education:

[T]he insistence on the quantity and even the rigor of the debate obscures the real issue: just what is subject to debate. What a worldview does is cleave the world into two, identifying in one column those first principles that are taken as given (there is a God, Jesus Christ is His only son) and, in the other column, the many beliefs, values, and positions that one might hold that are less certain (like under what conditions preemptive war is justified). Exactly which beliefs get put in which column is going to have profound political consequences, even if the worldview isn’t taught with an explicitly or predominantly political end in mind. If you suggest to students that an opposition to abortion and a defense of “traditional marriage” are foundational aspects of a Christian worldview, you will very likely produce reliable Republican voters.

As he comes back to it time and again, this appears to be pretty close to his real sticking point. His preferred position is what he calls the "fact-value split," which, he says, "embodies a kind of forced humility that, frankly, keeps the entire liberal democratic enterprise running." But he never explains why abortion and marriage are (or ought to be) "private matters of conscience," like "dietary choices" (note the word) or "which day to worship," and not "public matters of law." It sounds to me like he has a "worldview" that isn’t subject to debate.

Finally, his complaint that colleges and universities that teach a "Christian worldview" end up producing Republicans may say as much about the Democratic Party as it says about the colleges and universities. If the Democratic Party were genuinely a "big tent" on these issues, if it had not effectively become (as the Roberts hearings revealed all too clearly) essentially the "Party of Roe," then other issues--poverty, the AIDS crisis in Africa, and so on--might loom larger for students and faculty at these schools, with a somewhat different partisan split emerging as a result.

Don’t get me wrong, dear readers. I’m not arguing that Republicans are wrong and Democrats are right on these other issues. Far from it. But to the extent that how to deal with the sad fact of poverty, for example, is a matter of prudential judgment, "reasonable people" (evangelical Christians, for example) are going to disagree.


I am going to commit conservative heresy:

The rebuilding spending for New Orleans should be paid for with a tax increase. I would propose a one-year, 1% surtax on all income tax brackets (not just "the rich" as the liberals always fantasize). The fiscal purpose is obvious; we can’t let the deficit get totally out of hand. The political purpose is more important: all taxpayers should feel more directly the cost of the huge run up in government spending. Then maybe they’ll start to demand a bit less of it. And maybe it will provide some discipline to some of the slop that is no doubt going to be spent on the Gulf coast.

Fire away, NLT readers.

Ashbrook Center

Celebrating Constitution Day

September 17th is Constitution Day, the day we commemorate the signing of our fundamental law in 1787. In honor of this day, Judge Alice M. Batchelder of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will be delivering the Seventh Annual Robert E. Henderson Constitution Day Lecture entitled: The Judiciary: having "neither Force nor Will, but merely judgement"? The lecture will be at 7:30 pm this evening in The Ashbrook Center. If you are in the area, please come by for what promises to be a very timely discussion, and if you are not, you may listen live via the Internet here. For those wishing to learn more about Judge Batchelder, Christopher Flannery wrote an excellent article about her for NRO, and our own Peter Schramm describes her as "the judge Bush should get to know" here.

But why not take advantage of Constitution Day to learn a bit more about the document itself, as well? The National Endowment for the Humanities web site is featuring an interactive version of the famous Howard Chandler Christy painting of the signing of the Constitution, which version was designed by Professor Gordon Lloyd for our Teaching American History web site. Go ahead, click on the picture and see how many of the signers you actually can name.

Categories > Ashbrook Center

Intellectual diversity at Brown U

This article elaborates on something I noted here and here.

Roberts roundup

The stories in my dailies (WaPo, NYT, WT) make it tolerably clear that Roberts is unlikely to win any Democratic support in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Well, some Democrats are saying they’re conflicted, but I’m not convinced.

There’s only one scenario that might produce a couple of Democratic votes for Roberts on the committee, and that’s if someone wishes to gain credibility as an "honest broker" in order to be able to oppose the next conservative nominee more effectively. But I don’t expect that. Having spent so much time and effort portraying Roberts as an arch-conservative, the liberal interest groups can’t afford to permit an influential Democrat to contradict them, for fear that such credibility as they have will be weakened in the next round.

The case for opposing Roberts is, as many have noted, that he "lacks a heart," which I guess means that he decides on behalf of the little guy only when the Constitution requires it, not all the time.

Still, if Democrats need some cover in supporting Roberts despite the best efforts of Americans United, PFAW, and the others, there’s these quotes:

He is not in the mold of Scalia and Thomas," said Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern and a chairman of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group. "They have more of a theory of how to decide cases, and they look to text and original meaning. Roberts will look at text and original meaning, but he will also look to precedent and the consequences of his decisions."

Professor [Cass] Sunstein said that Judge Roberts’s testimony was in an entirely different vein than his early writings.

"He doesn’t talk like someone who believed at any level in changing the current understanding of the Constitution," Professor Sunstein said. "He’s not the same person he was in his 20’s."

On the other hand, I find this comforting:

Prof. Charles Fried of Harvard, a former Republican solicitor general, applauded Judge Roberts for adhering to his views of the law, even when doing so led to outcomes his opponents have attacked. "I wonder whether the critics are not really complaining that Judge Roberts didn’t start with a result - their result - and then wrestle the law around until it fitted," Professor Fried said.

"He knows the difference between law and politics," Professor Fried said. "Judge Roberts seems to understand this down to his shoes."

Bush speech roundup

With many analyses and responses trying to put a negative spin on the President’s speech, it was hard to find a positive take, though I did succeed, in perhaps the unlikeliest place--the New York Times. What’s more the NYT’s analysis struck me as more even-handed than the WaPo’s, which, by the way, is to some degree undercut by its own front page story.

I did learn a couple of things from reading all this. First, although he didn’t mention it in the speech, the President is calling for education vouchers for displaced families. I’d love to see them, and I wonder if the Democrats think they can afford the risk of opposing this proposal and obstructing the package of which it’s likely to be a part.

Second, I learned that Michael Gerson had a hand in the speech, which may explain why I liked it as much as I did.

In the end, I’m not convinced that the Democrats can effectively defeat the President on this. He has seized the initiative and can, I think, successfully look forward, while the Democrats are left looking back in anger (which I don’t think will play well with anyone but the Kossacks) while simultaneously trying to outbid him. He can, of course, still botch this winning hand, but I think, I hope, he won’t. And for those who say that he’s playing an unfamiliar role (as domestic president), it’s only because they haven’t paid sufficient attention to his 2000 campaign or his pre-9/11 presidency, which had a substantial domestic focus and some success. He can’t, of course, emote to a crowd the way Bill Clinton can, but GWB sincerely and sympathetically connects one-on-one and with small groups. He’s got the right proposals and the correct orientation. If the Republicans follow him--as they should, if they know what’s good for them--the country will.

I’m shocked, just shocked

The Atlanta paper published my Constitution Day op-ed, where I took a page from John Zvesper’s book and focused on Benjamin Franklin’s (Jerry Weinberger wants you to click on the link) speech on September 17, 1787.

No mugs, because it is far from profound. But make my mama happy and read it anyway.

Oh yes, and vanity demands that I say that the accompanying picture does not flatter me.

Bush in N.O.

This was a great speech, acknowledging pain, sacrifice, and heroism; looking forward to a better, brighter tomorrow; offering an account of and proffering a solution to the special vulnerability of the neediest; and "presidentially" rising above partisanship to take responsibility for any governmental shortcomings and leading the way toward a better response in the future (followed by the folks in the states and localities).

There are some, of course, who will object to Bush’s "big government conservatism," but the emphases on self-help, home-ownership, and strategic government intervention to promote individual self-sufficiency represent the best of Bush’s "compassionate conservatism." This is an agenda I get support and one that it will be hard for his adversaries effectively to criticize.

Like the Power Line guys, I wonder about New Orleans, but let’s leave the details to be worked out later. For more, go here.

Religion and religious persecution

Richard Reeb call our attention to this deconstruction of Dianne Feinstein’s inane comparison of Nazis and religious conservatives.

You can get a much better sense of the congruence of the "religious conservative" and "Jewish" agendas by reading these remarks by President Bush, delivered yesterday evening. The spirit of persecution and the love of liberty are diametrically opposed to one another. But one can love liberty without being a secularist and while thinking that there is no simple-minded wall of separation.

Starving the beast

Ted Rall makes an even nastier version of the argument I critiqued here: Because charities can’t foot the bill for Katrina recovery, and because some allegedly use charitable giving as a substitute for, and argument against, government action, we should stop giving to charities. It’s time, he says, to "starve the beast," by which he means "private charities used by the government to justify the abdication of its duties to its citizens."

I don’t know of anyone in the Bush Administration who thinks that charitable giving can completely substitute for government spending in dealing either with disasters or ordinary neediness, so this is a straw man. Charitable supplements to or (limited)replacements for government action (in this and other, more routine cases) offer some of the following advantages: efficiency (leveraging voluntary gifts of time, money, and expertise, and responding flexibly and less bureaucratically); reaching hard-to-reach populations, especially where there is a special cultural, religious, or ethnic connection or the organization is already present "on the ground" or "in the neighborhood"; promoting self-reliance, responsibility, and life-transformation by engaging swith "clients" over the long term; and, finally, avoiding "Leviathan" government, where isolated individuals depend upon and are subject a monolithic government. Clearly Rall doesn’t care about diversity, self-reliance, or independence, either in this case or in any other.

For more along these lines, go here.

"America! We love America!"

An environmentalist from the Earth Policy Institute wandered through Iran recently and offers this report on her surprise at America’s popularity there. It was no doubt disorienting to realize that Iranians are more fond of America than many American environmentalists are.


“Where are you from?” a young man outside one of the many carpet stalls asked me.

Sigh. “The U.S.,” I replied.

“U.S.?” His face screwed up in puzzlement. “U.S., U.S.,” he repeated, brow furrowed, the wheels turning. “Aaah!” the light bulb turned on. “U.S. Aaaahh! United States of America!” his dark eyes now gleaming, looking like he would hug me, were it permitted. “Welcome to Iran!”

Such interactions were repeated many a time throughout my stay in Iran. Curious people, perhaps tipped off by my blue eyes or the awkward positioning of my headscarf, would approach me and ask, in English, where I was from. After learning that I was from America, their responses varied from the inquisitive to the exuberant: “America! We love America!”

Newdow’s back

Winning in the District Court.

Update: Hugh Hewitt thinks this calls for nominating Michael McConnell to the Supreme Court. Eugene Volokh thinks this helps conservative Court nominees politically. Yup to both views.

Update #2: Here’s the opinion, which I haven’t yet had time to read.

They Still Can’t Grasp It

After the election last fall, I noted in a several places that liberals still couldn’t get used to the idea of being in the minority, as though the election of 1994 never happened. For evidence I pointed to a New York Times article on the new Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in which Sen. Joe Biden, said this: "The idea that people are looking at Harry to sort of be the spokesperson of the Democratic Party, that’s not a role all majority leaders have filled before."

Wait a minute: What did he say? Let’s roll the tape again: “That’s not a role all majority leaders have filled before.” "Majority leader"?? Majority leader? News flash, Joe: Your team hasn’t had a majority for ten years now (excepting those few months brought to you courtesy of Jim Jeffords), and you’re not likely to be in the majority again for a while. Deal with it. And learn to start saying the word "minority," as in "minority party."

Ditto for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who told the Times in the same article: "If we keep going on this way, we’ll be a minority party." Hello? News flash Dianne: You’re there already. This is rather like Captain Smith, looking at the Titanic’s propellers pointing up at the sky remarking, “if the water keeps coming in at this rate, the ship might be in danger of sinking.”

Comes now the following correction to an item published yesterday in

"This article originally and incorrectly identified Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as Majority Leader of the Senate. He is the Minority Leader. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is the Senate Majority Leader."

Faith-based organizations and Katrina relief

It turns out that the real cause of the government’s alleged or possible shortcomings in hurricane and flood relief (about which more here and here, the latter containing the whole of the President’s carefully worded statement) is the faith-based initiative. Say what?

In a meandering and insidious column, Boston Globe columnist James Carroll can’t actually offer evidence or even much or an argument, just a few factoids and insinuations. To wit:

The church-state divide, undercutting norms of supervision and accountability, means religious groups, even while entrusted with public functions, can embody antipublic values. To take last week’s most glaring example, Operation Blessing, one of the FEMA-recommended relief agencies, is affiliated with Pat Robertson, an advocate of assassination as a tool of foreign policy. Why were American citizens being encouraged by the United States government to support Pat Robertson’s enterprise?

I defy you to find the "antipublic values" on
Operation Blessing’s website. Here’s Charity Navigator’s evaluation of Operation Blessing: it receives the highest marks for organizational efficiency and capacity, with 99.4% of its expenses being devoted to its programs. Of course, guilt by association is enough for The Nation and Americans United, whose talking points Carroll repeats. Don’t get me wrong: I hold no brief for Pat Robertson politically or theologically. His statements about Hugo Chavez were far beyond the pale. But there’s no evidence that money that goes to Operation Blessing for Katrina relief does anything other than help the victims.

Of course, Carroll doesn’t stop there. Apparently, it’s impossible for those who are moved by religion to help their neighbors in need not to impose on them:

The missionary impulse is implicit in the good works of religion. Mother Teresa required nothing of those she helped, but she still hoped that the compassionate face of Christ shined through her eyes. To some of us, it surely did -- but that hope itself can become an imposition on those who are in need.

If I love my neighbor as myself because he or she is created in God’s image, my action--the work, without which faith is dead, as John Kerry regularly insisted on the stump--is suspect. Carroll would seem to require that I launder my compassion through a secular agency. After all, secular compassion, however patronizing, is apparently not an imposition.

In the final analysis, all we have is the stock criticism of the faith-based initiative--that it’s simply an excuse the dismantle the social safety net, which having been dismantled, failed in hurricane relief. There is of course not a shred of evidence that FEMA’s failings, such as they are, had anything to do with vouchers going to faith-based alcohol and drug rehab programs, or to welfare-to-work programs sponsored by churches or FBOs, to take a couple of prominent faith-based initiative programs.

And yes, the poor people of New Orleans, many of them mired in a culture of dependency, were not well-served, to say the least, by any level of government, certainly not before or during the crisis. But the levees didn’t fail because the government had subcontracted with FBOs to shore them up. And the buses weren’t submerged because the government had hired pastors to drive them. And the poor people in New Orleans were in rough shape long before George Bush came into office, through many Democratic administrations in Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge, after decades of Democratic dominance on Capitol Hill. I’m far from arguing that a welfare-to-work program run by an FBO is necessarily better for everyone than a government, secular, or for-profit program. But the state of the argument and evidence regarding the faith-based initiative has nothing to do with the quality of federal, state, and local disaster response.

In the end, Carroll’s poor substitute for an argument is just another example of someone attempting to hitch his wagon to the rising star of Katrina-inspired Bush-bashing. I guess I don’t blame him too much. Everyone else is doing it. Which of course tells me more about the quality of their arguments than it does about anything else.

Divided by God

Thomas C. Berg reviews Noah Feldman’s Divided by God and admiringly turns the argument on its head. If we’re concerned as much with religious liberty as with religious conflict, then carefully designed voucher programs might be less objectionable than symbolic speech. I’m not totally happy with either position, but you already knew that.

Higher ed economics

This tongue-in-cheek proposal might turn me into a rent-seeker.

Yesterday’s constitution shindig

As anyone in the higher ed business (actually in any part of the ed business) probably knows, we are facing an "unfunded mandate" to commemorate Constitution Day, the anniversary of the final meeting of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Bless Robert Byrd’s heart. (Yup, you read that right. Sometimes his constitutional vanity produces good results, though I would be interested in seeing what my higher ed colleagues do to commemorate the day.)

Well, at Oglethorpe we organized a panel discussion on approaches to interpreting the Constitution. Our panelists were two smart attorneys, one a committed "textualist," the other a representative of the ACLU. Both were able advocates for the positions they represented, given the constraints under which I placed them (keep the opening remarks to about 15 minutes each; heck, it takes me that long to clear my throat). Hunter Baker notes the biggest surprise of the afternoon, when Gerald Weber (the Legal Director of Georgia’s ACLU) remembered that there’s an amendment process that those of us who object to the Court’s interpretations of the 14th Amendment could use. Of course, if we took his advice, I’m sure some would argue that we shouldn’t burden the Constitution with particular language, for then it would "partake of the prolixity of a legal code". Ah well, there are some courts in which we can’t win.

Nevertheless, both advocates acquitted themselves well, as did the students in the audience, who asked some pretty darn good questions, if I do say so myself.

Update: Demon textualist Michael DeBow--clearly a scrupulous and excellent teacher--offers his commentary on the afternoon’s event.

Penguins as Political Symbols??

Apparently, the surprise smash hit documentary film March of the Penguins is a conservative movie. So says today’s New York Times. I recall the old saying "the personal is political," but this is getting ridiculous.

For the record, I found the film, while spectacular in its production values and camera work, a tad slow and slightly boring.

Ontario Premier Rejects Sharia Law

The Toronto Star reports that Dalton McGuinty, premier of Ontario, Canada (not to be confused with Ontario, the suburb of Mansfield, Ohio) is moving to ban all religious arbitration in his province.

The announcement prompted tears of joy and cartwheels among opponents of sharia who say they suffered constant harassment, including verbal taunts, physical attacks and even death threats by fundamentalist Muslims because of their stance.

Anti-Business Week

Business Week magazine acquired the reputation back in the 1980s of being "the nation’s only anti-business business magazine." That’s one reason I quit reading it. It seems it has not improved much. Our Powerline comrade John Hinderaker catches Business Week with its pants down in this post.

Roberts round-up

These two analyses suggest--I’m going to regret writing this--that the confirmation will be a cakewalk. According to the NYT’s Linda Greenhouse, Roberts hit the day’s rhetorical high point. And the WaPo’s Dan Balz offers evidence from Notre Dame’s Richard Garnett (for more, go here) that Roberts, at least, has his eye on the prize--not just being confirmed, but making the case for a self-consciously limited judicial role in a regime characterized by the rule of law. (For more on this, see Lucas Morel’s most excellent post.)

For summaries of the day’s events, go here, here, and here.

For other analysis and interesting back story, go here (Specter’s confused unreliability), here ("elections matter"), here (Lee Otis vs. Nan Aron), and here (what it means to be the "political" deputy SG). Obviously, also, Bench Memos and Power Line should be among your bookmarks.

Evil neocon Straussian on Iraq

Gary Schmitt predictably offers sensible advice and analysis: the proposed Iraqi constitution is a pretty good deal for all parties concerned, including the Sunnis, but they will not acquiesce until they’re convinced that the insurgency has absolutely no prospect of restoring something resembling the status quo ante bellum. Here’s my favorite paragraph:

Contrary to most commentary, then, the key to succeeding in Iraq is no longer putting in place a grand political bargain in which Iraqis of all sectarian stripes live happily ever after. In fact, by suggesting that this is the goal, we probably have fueled the Sunnis’ own misperception of their future status in Iraq and hardened their own position.

Read the whole thing.

Judge Roberts’s Opening Statement

I caught the last few senators’ statements on the radio today, as well as Judge Roberts’s short but principled
opening statement. My favorite passage follows here:

Mr. Chairman, when I worked in the Department of Justice in the office of the solicitor general, it was my job to argue cases for the United States before the Supreme Court. I always found it very moving to stand before the justices and say, "I speak for my country."

But it was after I left the department and began arguing cases against the United States that I fully appreciated the importance of the Supreme Court and our constitutional system. Here was the United States, the most powerful entity in the world, aligned against my client. And yet all I had to do was convince the court that I was right on the law and the government was wrong and all of that power and might would recede in deference to the rule of law.

That is a remarkable thing. It is what we mean when we say that we are a government of laws and not of men. It is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all Americans. It is the envy of the world, because without the rule of law any rights are meaningless.

This, in a nutshell (which you can be sure a few Democratic Senators will try to crack starting Tuesday morning), is Roberts’s answer to those critics who are trying to characterize him as someone who will "turn back the clock" on civil rights. In short, Roberts argues that the best defense of the rights of the individual is a regime that operates according to the rule of law, rather than specific justices who make individual rights their raison d’etre.P>

Compare Roberts’s point with the following claim made by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL):

Twelve years ago, at the nomination hearing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my friend Illinois Senator Paul Simon said something worth repeating. He said to the nominee, and I quote, You face a much harsher judge than this committee. That’s the judgment of history. And that judgment is likely to revolve around one question: Did you restrict freedom or did you expand it?

I think Senator Simon put his finger on how the United States Senate should evaluate a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Judge Roberts, if you’re confirmed, you will be the first Supreme Court justice in the 21st century. The basic question is this: Will you restrict the personal freedoms we enjoy as Americans or will you expand them?

"Did you restrict freedom or did you expand it?" Upon what constitutional grounds does any Supreme Court justice have the power to to restrict OR expand individual freedom? The principal protection of individual freedoms are the laws produced by a legislature of their choosing, enforced by their executive. When there is a controversy, then a court is invited to decide if a given law has unconsitutionally infringed upon a person’s rights. But it is the Constitution, not this or that justice’s desire to expand individual freedom, that marks the standard for judging whether a wrong has been committed. (This reminds me of Lincoln’s comment in 1838 about the danger of a "towering genius . . . [that] thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen." The Simons and Durbins and Kennedys of the world would have us appoint judges who, while seeking to emancipate slaves [read: expand freedom], would end up enslaving freemen by undermining the rule of law that stands as the greatest institutional bulwark of individual freedom.)

Judge Roberts also stood up to those who tried to make his service under President Reagan a badge of unremitting partisanship, and did so with a short citation of Reagan that reflects Roberts’s respect for how constitutional self-government works as well as his recognition of it in Reagan’s political thinking:

President Ronald Reagan used to speak of the Soviet constitution, and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful rights of all sorts to people. But those rights were empty promises, because that system did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. We do, because of the wisdom of our founders and the sacrifices of our heroes over the generations to make their vision a reality.

I’ll let others chime in about the baseball analogy he used elsewhere in his opening statement. For now, I am encouraged by this man who was not afraid to stand up for the Constitution and one of its greatest defenders.

Pajama Party?

Dennis Praeger pointed out this story on his radio program today about a Michigan school finally getting the gumption to ban the wearing of pajamas to school! Having endured 12 years of Catholic education where there were no uniforms (but a dress code so strict you wished there were uniforms!) I cannot imagine this! Upon graduation from high school, I was grateful for the discipline this dress code had unwittingly etched on my brain. Despite the plethora of sweat pants and loungewear that surrounded me in college, it took me two and a half years before I could even show up to class in a pair of jeans! I soon discovered that my distaste for jeans in class was correct. Wearing them inevitably became an excuse not to take myself or the class seriously. It was an outward expression of bad attitude. This is not to say that jeans are bad--obviously there is a time and a place for them just as there is for pajamas.

Praeger made the reasonable point, however, that pajamas may actually be preferable to some of the "clothing" (such that it is) that young girls are wearing today because "at least it would have the virtue of not being sexually provacative." One has to admit that that is a serious point! But, seriously, why not just go back to uniforms for school? My daughter was perfectly delighted with hers this year (I hope the novelty does not wear off). It makes everyone’s life so much easier and the canard about individuality being suppressed is such an obvious joke that it deserves no comment.

Another American Jihadist

Last October, American born and raised Jihadist, Adam Gadahn made the news with a videotaped threat to America. Yesterday he made another threat directed specifically to Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. Adam Gadahn, like his predecessor John Walker Lindh ("Johnny Jihad"), boasts an interesting upbringing and family life. His father, an old hippy and founder of an underground 60’s psychedelic band, changed the family name to Gadahn from Pearlman because he didn’t want a name that "meant anything." Gadahn was raised on a goat farm in Riverside County where the "humane slaughter" of goats was practiced in accordance with Islamic law and where there was no electricity, running water or schools (he was home-schooled). See more here from FreeRepublic and here from Michelle Malkin.

FEMA Has a Rap Song???

This gives an extra groan to any claim that FEMA gets a "bad rap"--there is, according to NRO reporter Eric Pfeiffer, a rap tune on FEMA’s website. Just offal.

Hat Tip: "The Buzz" on The Corner.

Getting ready

Edward Whelan tells us what to expect during the Roberts hearings, as does the NYT’s Linda Greenhouse, who provides a kind of primer of possible challenging questions. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter offers a glimpse of his opening statement.

Paul Rosenzweig regards the hearings as a "redundant ritual," orchestrated to please the interest groups. Nevertheless, Democrats think they have something to gain in the hearings:

Democrats are likely to use the televised hearings that begin Monday to accomplish two more modest goals: to retool their party’s message and to set the stage for the struggle over O’Connor’s successor.

"More than anything else, they want to lay down markers for what would be acceptable or unacceptable in the next vacancy," [Progressive Policy Institute Senior Fellow Marshall] Wittmann said. "That means there will be an intensification of the questions they will ask Roberts because they know they will be sending signals to the administration about the next nomination."

Our two major dailies offer different larger contexts for the hearings. The Washington Post gives us a
long article about Roberts’s Supreme Court appellate practice, which suggests that he has accepted a certain discipline that might have taken him some distance from his fire-breathing conservative days in the Reagan Administration. The New York Times decides that it’s appropriate, in effect, to speak ill of the dead by dredging up items used to attack William Rehnquist in his confirmation hearings. Given what the Post tells us about Roberts’s preparation habits and a previous article about "sherpas," it’s highly unlikely that Roberts will be blindsided the way Rehnquist was. So why retell that story? Perhaps the Times wants to remind its readers that Republicans were on the "wrong" side of some civil rights issues.

Bad Kinsley Link Alert

The link to the Kinsley piece in the previous post is incorrect: this is the correct link.

Kinsley on Hindsight

The thoughtful Michael Kinsley of the 1980s, rather than the snide, opportunistic heckler he is most of the time these days, returned to print today with a column appearing in the LA Times, WaPo, and probaly elsewhere on the subject of New Orleans and "the fetid aroma of hindsight."

Money quotes:

Landrieu’s I-told-you-so’s would be more impressive if the press release archive on her website didn’t contain equally urgent calls to spend billions of dollars to build boats the Navy hasn’t asked for in Louisiana shipyards, self-congratulations for having planted a billion dollars of "coastal impact assistance" for Louisiana in the energy bill (this is before the flood), and so on. Did she want flood control or did she want $10 million to have " America’s largest river swamp" declared a "National Heritage Area"?

In fact, the one president who is pretty much in the clear on this is our current Bush — not because he did anything about the levees but because even if he had started something, it probably wouldn’t have been finished yet.

As the saying goes, read the whole thing.