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  • The end of the filibuster   19 weeks 6 days ago

    your consistency (and our mutual love of Transformers). The standard critique of the Democrats' ending the filibuster for judicial nominations is as I see it, that 1)it's a power grab, and 2)it's hypocrisy. Well, as for the latter point, if by hypocrisy, critics mean that the Dems have changed positions on this issue, then yes, that's true. Obama was against the nuclear option then, and he's for it now. I contend that the situation has changed.

    I've always argued that the filibuster is a useful and important tool in checking the majority; I still hold to that view, but things have been drastically warped since then. The filibuster has been grotesquely abused. In 2005, the filibuster was used as a relatively infrequent tool to hold up certain nominees--I opposed the Dems' strategy as a permanent policy, and supported the Gang of 14 compromise. The moment that GOP lost power, they decided to twist the filibuster into a permanent block on the majority--in other words, majority rule superseded by minority rights. This reached a new low, when the GOP decided to try and disrupt the ordinary function of an entire branch of government, by filibustering executive branch nominees--not based on any performance or even ideological issues with the nominees, rather because they did not wish to see those agencies function. They couldn't stop the EPA, or the CFPB, or the NRLB legislatively, so they decided to cheat. When the Dems threatened to force the issue, the GOP promised to do a deal, and broke their word at least three times.

    Why should the Democrats abide under an arrangement, in which the other side has proven their bad faith? Why should they continue to hold to a process which would be dissolved the very moment the GOP gets the majority again?

    I've heard it argued that the filibuster is what separates the Senate from the House. How can that be true, if the Founders never put it explicitly in the Constitution?

  • Intervention in Syria   33 weeks 1 day ago

    An addendum on the question of Presidential authority to act. I am inclnied to think that the President doesn't require, but should get, Congressional approval. Still, it's worth considering that if the President can take actions that provoke war, the power to declare war becomes a dead letter. That is also the case even if Syria doesn't declare war on us in the aftermath of a strike; it's actually difficult to think of the stopping point once we start saying yes to Presidential power.

    Suppose we fire a missile at Syria, and Syria responds by lobbing a chemical warhead into Jordan with Obama's name chalked onto its fairing. If the President can lob a cruise missile at Syria without congressional approval, why can't he fire a missile from a drone without Congressional approval? Syria fires more rockets; if the President can fire cruise missiles at Syria and patrol her airspace with drones without congressional approval, why can't he patrol her airspace with manned planes? More rockets and rhetoric from Syria ensue; if the President can put cruise missiles and drones and manned aircraft into Syrian skies without congressional approval, why can't he put helicopters into Syrian airspace? If he can do all that without congressional approval, why would he need congressional approval to put a covert team of marine spotters onto the ground to paint targets for the ærial firepower that he can deploy without congressional approval? More rockets and rhetoric from Syria ensue; if the President can hit Syria with a variety of sea- and air-launched munitions without congressional approval, and can have marines on the ground supporting that operation by painting targets without congressional approval, why would he need congressional approval to have those marine teams directly engage targets as an incident to their primary mission? More rockets and rhetoric from Syria ensue; if the President can, without congressional approval, hit Syria with a variety of sea- and air-launched munitions and have marines on the ground supporting that operation and engaging targets as an incident to their primary support function, why would he need congressional approval to have those marine teams directly engage targets, period? More rockets and rhetoric from Syria ensue; if the President can, without congressional approval, hit Syria with a variety of sea- and air-launched munitions and have a few small marine teams on the ground engaging targets, why would he need congressional approval to send more and bigger teams of marines to directly engage targets? If all that, why not regular army? And so on.

    Without Congressional authorization, the President would be acting in Justice Jackson's zone of twilight, and if the last decade has taught us anything, it's this: Twilight sucks.

  • Still alive!   44 weeks 3 days ago

    ...though I've been pretty quiet myself.

    Hell, its been so long since I've commented on here I forgot my user name was my actual name. (Weird how that works.)

    Congrats on the new one Pat! Best to the whole family.

  • Still alive!   45 weeks 3 days ago

    Congratulations Pat!

    I saw Simon commenting over at Althouse and clicked to see if it was the same Simon, then clicked on the link to here. Was pleasantly surprised that the link was active again. I've missed reading you guys and hope you do get the band back together!

  • Still alive!   45 weeks 5 days ago

    Holy crap, we're back! (well, sort of). That was a long hiatus. Oh yeah, and congrats, Pat!

  • Walker wins in Wisconsin!   1 year 45 weeks ago

    I would prefer to do away with recall election provisions entirely; they simply aren't necessary for offices that are subject to frequent and regular elections, a fortiori if the occupant is also subject to impeachment for true cases of malfeasance.

    I agree.

    As to the policy, there is of course the question whether the policy at question does in fact produce gains--long-term or otherwise, and many argue that the policies in fact cause long-term pain, with little or no gain at all. Again, a different debate.

  • Walker wins in Wisconsin!   1 year 45 weeks ago

    I would prefer to do away with recall election provisions entirely; they simply aren't necessary for offices that are subject to frequent and regular elections, a fortiori if the occupant is also subjcet to impeachment for true cases of malfeasance. All they do is discourage precisely the kind of strategic action that we want politicians to engage in; policies that produce long-term gain are right out if they cause short-term pain (Wisconsin, case in point).

  • Walker wins in Wisconsin!   1 year 45 weeks ago

    here's a thought. As a matter of principle, I was ambivalent, and I ultimately soured on the recall process in general, for many of the same reasons I was against the 2003 recall. One of the obvious problems is the precedent that is set, and the prospect of theoretically endless elections. While I found some of the complaints about respecting the intent of the election a bit telling, seeing as how certain people responded post-2008, the point is nonetheless valid--another election, based purely on policy disagreements seems to violate the spirit of democracy, and prevents any sort of finality. I mean, there have been three elections in the last two years--I think people, even people not necessarily pro-Walker were simply fed up with the whole process.

    I sympathized with a lot of the frustrations underlying the protests that fueled the recall, but the whole thing ultimately became an exercise in self-sabotage. Tom Barrett, having already lost once, was unable and unwilling to make the case that needed to be made, as he basically ran from the union issue (although it was still there). Walker ends up stronger than before, and public sector unionism suffers a major blow (that debate I'll save for later).

    At the end day it's over, and the people have spoken. Walker's speech, all things considered was pretty good--he talked about working together to solve problems. Let's hope it can happen,. I always tend to chuckle though, when I hear Republicans talk about moving past the election, or the President being in "campaign mode." The national GOP is been in campaign mode since January 2009, and if things do go their way this term, I suspect they'll remain so.

    P.S. Not that the Democrats won't do the same.

  • Abortion and the population: New Gallup numbers   1 year 47 weeks ago

    Projecting from amorphous categories created by a handful of poll questions is a silly game. What we know when we probe deeper is that outside the hardcore prolife set, folks are for the most part satisfied. Where they favor restrictions, they're ones which would not affect the vast majority of abortions now being performed.

    What some folks favor is limiting or ending the rare practice of 3rd trimester abortions, and parental input on the decisions on pregnant minors. That's about it.

    It's important for advocates to paint a picture of a promising trend. But the truth is that views are pretty stable a majority wants women to continue to be able to end a pregnancy is that's their choice.

  • Abortion and the population: New Gallup numbers   1 year 47 weeks ago

    there is a difference between being pro-life, and supporting some of the more controversial abortion measures coming out of state legislatures lately. Also, not everyone who is pro-life opposes contraception, so there is something of a distinction there as well. The flaws in the "war on women" meme are still there, but that's one point to consider,

    USians? I don't think I've seen that anywhere before. Bizzare.

  • Thoughts on Biblical Stewardship   2 years 7 weeks ago

    The creation story in Genesis offers no support for the notion that self-appointed climate alarmists are to lord over our economic activity until they have "saved the planet" to their satisfaction. Why introduce Genesis as a moral basis for environmental policy, and then balk at the fact that Genesis does not suggest any ability by man to have dominion over climate or over other men? The straw man in the argument is the IPCC. An honest assessment is that the IPCC models are seriously flawed and do not correlate with statistics on ocean temperature or temperature readings from satellites. The readings on increasing CO2 concentrations are a concern, but it is not at all clear that attempting to suppress CO2 emissions by suppressing Western economies translates to anything useful, particularly when North America is a net scrubber of CO2. Asia and Africa appear to be the primary land masses acting as net producers of CO2.
    Further, CO2 remains a relatively minor greenhouse gas, it is pale in comparison to the greenhousing effect of water vapor. The carbon credit people don't know what to do about water vapor, so they ignore it and foolishly double-down on CO2 being the primary concern. Given the scientific uncertainties and the property values at stake, a path of least intrusion seems most appropriate. Since trees are monumental scrubbers of CO2, let's create incentives to plant trees and stop world-wide deforestation -- and keep the EPA carbon police away from our power grid, our transportation system and our economic lives. This is not because I don't care, it is because the green movement thinks that the solution is to have all the power and they'll figure out the details later. Nobody knows how to manage climate, and only fools can be persuaded to entrust economic decision-making to "Save the Planet" bureaucrats. The incredible over-reach by climate alarmists is offering us The Road to Serfdom.

  • Thoughts on Biblical Stewardship   2 years 7 weeks ago

    dominion over men. Now obviously, there's a big debate over which policies are sensible, and which ones are not, but let's debate that honestly, as opposed to, you know, propping up straw men.

  • Thoughts on Biblical Stewardship   2 years 7 weeks ago

    In many respects, the Genesis line about human dominion over plant and animal life states the obvious. The scripture's purpose is to distinguish the human creation as exceptionally special in comparison to the remarkably awesome and beautiful spectrum of flora and fauna. Note further that the creation scripture provides no line in which man is to have dominion over another man (or over weather, or water vapor or even CO2 concentrations). While it may be a fact that humans are predisposed to dominate plants and animals, it does not follow that we should presume to be anything more than feeble actors with respect to the sun's radiant heat, the planet's weather and atmospheric greenhouse balances that are essential to life.

    I see nothing in Genesis that lends support to surrendering our economic activities to review, modification and approval (or confiscation) by a new climate police presuming to possess the power to save the planet. Put another way, I don't see how can we use Genesis to support man's dominion over other men. I am concerned about an imbalance in carbon releases, but I suggest we stop deforestation and plant a lot more trees. But the Left prefers to shove a Chevy Volt up our posteriors, and then tells us to like it.

  • "When Seuss compared The Cat in the Hat to Kerensky-style leftism, he may have been exaggerating,"   2 years 8 weeks ago

    Conservatives that are freaking out about it though will forget that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was remade not too long ago, has been read as a parable of the seven deadly sins, and that Chronicles of Narnia have been recently turned into films.

  • Thoughts on Biblical Stewardship   2 years 8 weeks ago

    I think people are creating a gulf between Santorum's views and the Vatican's that doesn't exist --

    "There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church's magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the "dignity" of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms." -- Pope Benedict XVI ( )

    "Well, it's perfectly clear. I mean, let's be honest. This is standard fare. I mean, I'm not saying anything particularly new here. I mean, what we have been talking about, the radical environmental agenda that puts the earth over the needs of man, that, you know, doesn't understand that the best way to create a sound environment is for people to be doing well and to have prosperity. Because you go to countries where in fact the mankind is not doing well. And let me assure you, the last thing they worry about is the environment. It depends on America's growth and prosperity, so we can in fact be good -- husband to the environment as the way we should." -- Rick Santorum ( )

  • Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011   2 years 9 weeks ago

    It is entirely possible that in the moments before he stepped into eternity, he did in fact make peace with God.

  • Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011   2 years 9 weeks ago

    No, he did not "make peace with god", and for you to insinuate that he would consider it, is offensive.

  • No, Justice Kagan shouldn't recuse   2 years 9 weeks ago

    This is quite good advice. The issue is Obamacare and whether there is no limit to what the federal government can do in its uniquely autocratic, unstoppable, and unaccountable ways. [I am reminded of how State volunteers during the Gulf oil spill were run off by federal clean-up crews that were far less willing to work effectively on the task.] Why not stop the side show about whether Kagan should participate, and put full focus on what the nine justices have to say about limits on federal power?

  • Executive malpractice   2 years 9 weeks ago

    LifeSiteNews has a nice piece on PP trying to dupe and then bully a St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. The PP racketeering is in full swing, what a coincidence that HHS is issuing its anti-life mandates now. hat tip: The Anchoress.

  • Executive malpractice   2 years 10 weeks ago

    "There's no way back from this; Komen is dead." And isn't that precisely the stake to that heart that Planned Parenthood wants to wield in its sphere of influence. The PP Death Star feigns innocence as a helpful charity, and everyone looks the other way while it uses the charity to further twist minds to see abortion as a respectable, normal and guilt-free act -- while its for-profit wing of abortion on demand clinics benefits enormously from the public relations done by the charity with tax-free donations and government grants. Now PP has morphed into a protection racket, and other charities better return PP's call -- if they know what's good for 'em.

  • "HHS says employers can appeal a decision on whether they qualify for an exemption..."   2 years 10 weeks ago

    has been fixed with the new compromise. In fact, as I see it, the solution seems so simple that one wonders why they didn't start with this in the first place. Of course, those against the health care law and contraception before this brouhaha won;t be satisfied, but as for me, the religious liberty issues have been settled.

  • "HHS says employers can appeal a decision on whether they qualify for an exemption..."   2 years 10 weeks ago

    I don't think it was intended to crush religious liberty, I do think they tried to repackage social policy as health care policy, and in a way that was deaf and dismissive towards the conservative and religious point of view.

    Presumably, the reason for health care plans to pay for contraceptives would be that, because people are going to be having sex anyway, contraceptives need to encouraged as strongly as possible as one of many preventative measures, because this reduces the rate of abortions. There are as it is plenty of places to get cheap contraception, of course, and plenty of other methods to reduce your chances of pregnancy, but it isn't as easy as if all of options are put right in front of you. Its the same kind of point of view that you saw in the 90s when Donna Shalala advocated the distribution condoms in public schools.

    Obviously, the Catholic church disagrees with it, as I'm sure do many conservatives for both religious and non-religious reasons. Personally, I don't see a First Amendment issue... There are other types of rules the government could put on health insurance that wouldn't be considered a violation of the freedom of conscience. There may be a religion that disapproves of vaccination, but if the government required paying for vaccination, nobody would think that should impact policy. So again, I think the problem is that the administration wants to dictate social policy under the guise of health care.

    But again, you see the same type of dismissive attitude with the same-sex marriage issue and adoption agencies, where people on the left are so convinced that their point of view is correct, that they don't care at all whether it negatively affects groups that disagree with them.

  • "HHS says employers can appeal a decision on whether they qualify for an exemption..."   2 years 11 weeks ago

    stopped funding it, that solves that problem, but what if you're a Catholic or Protestant organization, that has a large number of secular employees, but is nonetheless guided by church teachings? I mean, I hear what you're saying, but if a church organization that deals with the unchurched, let's say a Christian bookstore--if you're forcing them to choose between their beliefs and providing health insurance, that's just a troubling thing for me. Why not the opt out, like the California system?

  • The House contingency, redux   2 years 11 weeks ago

    most of the folks who voted for Wallace are dead now, and I don't see any issue as big as segregation in this year's cycle. The Solid South may rise again, but it will certainly rise for Gingrich or Romney, not Ron Paul.

  • "HHS says employers can appeal a decision on whether they qualify for an exemption..."   2 years 11 weeks ago

    The way I read it, the Catholic institutions only have to fund birth control for their employees if a) there are more non-Catholic workers than non-Catholic workers at the place and b) if they are already funding similar medicine for male employees. Thus, if you're a Catholic hospital that has 53% non-Catholic employees, and funds Viagra for your male employees, then you're duty bound to fund birth control for your female employees as well. If you're a Catholic school which employs only Catholic workers, then there's nothing to worry about.

    Of course, there could be a painless way around this; simply stop funding Viagra. Nobody's discriminated against, everybody's treated equally, and you save money as well. And they can't do that because...?

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