Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kagan: "Just forget about my thesis!"

Kagan: "Just forget about my thesis!"
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Posted by: Jillian Bandes at 10:11 AM

That's the second time Kagan has made the statement during her testimony — once during Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-IA) line of questioning, and again during Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D-Minn.) line of questioning. Her 1983 thesis made two important points: first, it bemoaned the decline of socialism in America, and second, it talked about how much she valued judicial activism.

Grassley and Klobuchar referenced the second point in Kagan's thesis when pursuing their lines of questioning. Here was Kagan's response to Klobuchar this morning:

"Lets just throw that piece of work in the trash, why don't we?" she said. "That's before I went to law school, and didn't understand much about the way judges should work."

I can accept that. People say things they regret. They can make rash statements in their younger years that don't reflect their opinion after they've gained knowledge and experience. Just as importantly, even if they still secretly believe in their original nutty statements, it's important for them to publicly renounce them. That way they'll at least feel like they've made some kind of commitment towards normalcy.

The question is whether Kagan was talking about the part of her thesis that referred to judicial activism or the part that reference her socialist beliefs when she was asking that those ideas be thrown in the trash.

Kagan could have been referencing both points in her responses, though it appears that she was only repudiating the judicial activism bit. That's the most important part for a potential Supreme Court nominee to repudiate, but it still leaves some questions about how much she still believes in socialism in America. It's a point that I hope Republican Senators pursue when they grill her later in the day.

It's better to have a socialist on the bench who has publicly renounced her beliefs rather than one who hasn't publicly renounced them. She'll still be a socialist either way, but if she's at least has to pretend she isn't, it may have a moderating effect on her judicial temperaments.

The UnBorkable Elena Kagan

The UnBorkable Elena Kagan
Jonah Goldberg

Say it ain't so, Elena.

Elena Kagan thinks that the "Borking" of Robert Bork during his 1987 confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court would deserve a commemorative plate if the Franklin Mint launched a "great moments in legal history" line of dishware.

This is not the time to rehearse all the reasons why Kagan is wrong on that score. Still, there is one adverse result of the Bork hearings worth dwelling on. Bork was the last Supreme Court nominee to give serious answers to serious questions. But because he was successfully anathematized by the left, no nominee since has dared show Borkian forthrightness.

Consider Monday's thunderclap from the judicial Mount Olympus: The Second Amendment right to own a gun extends to state and local government. Personally, I think Justice Clarence Thomas' separate opinion in favor of the 14th Amendment's "privileges and immunities" clause over the due process clause was the better argument. But that's a debate for another day.

The more newsworthy opinion came from rookie Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She concurred with Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent, which held that there is no fundamental right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution. "I can find nothing in the Second Amendment's text, history or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as 'fundamental' insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes," Breyer wrote for the minority.

But when Sotomayor was before the Senate Judiciary Committee one year ago for her own confirmation hearings, she gave a very different impression of how she saw the issue. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy asked her, "Is it safe to say that you accept the Supreme Court's decision as establishing that the Second Amendment right is an individual right?"

"Yes, sir," she replied.

Both Sotomayor and Leahy festooned their colloquies with plenty of lawyerly escape hatches. That's why Leahy asked the questions the way he did, and that's why Sotomayor answered them the way she did. It's also why he spun her answers into more than they were: "I do not see how any fair observer could regard (Sotomayor's) testimony as hostile to the Second Amendment personal right to bear arms, a right she has embraced and recognizes." He made it sound as though she was open to an expansive reading of the Second Amendment when everyone knew she wasn't. (As a judge, she was hardly a hero of the NRA.)

Here's the point: Sotomayor wasn't an exception to the rule; she was following it.

Although the Bork inquisition was a largely partisan affair, the consequences have yielded a bipartisan sham. Republican and Democratic nominees alike are trained to say as little as possible and to stay a razor's width on the side of truthfulness. The point is not to give the best, most thoughtful or most honest answer, but to give the answer that makes it the most difficult for senators to vote against you. It's as if we expect nominees to demonstrate, one last time, everything we hate and distrust about lawyers before they don their priestly robes.

Nobody is shocked that Sotomayor has revealed herself to be the liberal everyone knew her to be. But the fact that everyone was in on the lie is just further evidence of the sham Supreme Court hearings have become. They are a nonviolent and fairly bloodless cousin to totalitarian show trials, where everyone follows a script and politicians pretend to be "gravely concerned" and "shocked" upon "discovering" things they already knew.

And that's why Kagan should be the hero of this tale. She has vociferously argued that the "Bork hearings were great ... the best thing that ever happened to constitutional democracy." She has lamented how, ever since, the hearings process has become nothing more that "a repetition of platitudes." Kagan once implored senators to dig deep into the nominee's "constitutional views and commitments."

Alas, it doesn't look like Kagan will be following the Kagan standard. On Tuesday morning she distanced herself as best she could from those views. And when asked by Sen. Jeff Sessions whether she is a "legal progressive" -- something pretty much all objective observers and her own friends and former colleagues know her to be -- the brilliant and scholarly Kagan claimed to have no idea what the term even means.

After his rejection by the Senate, Bork wrote a masterful book, "The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law." The title of the book on Kagan might well be titled "The Tempting of Kagan: The Political Seduction of the Process."

The Truth Behind Kagan's Political Record

The Truth Behind Kagan's Political Record
Jillian Bandes

Anyone watching the SCOTUS hearing is familiar with Elena Kagan denying recruiters on Havard’s campus because the military’s policy towards homosexuality was in conflict with Harvard’s (and Kagan's) "non-discrimination" policy. So far, it has proven to be the most divisive issue during the proceedings.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, in particular, has taken the lead on contradicting the nominee’s statements on her military policies.

“I know what happened at Harvard. I know you were an outspoken leader against the military policy. I know you acted without legal authority to… deny the military equal access to campus until you were threatened by the United States government with the loss of federal funds,” Sen. Sessions said.

But Kagan aggressively denied any hostility towards the recruiters, insisting that she had been exceptionally welcoming to the military during her time at Harvard. Backing her up was a highly-publicized editorial published in the Washington Post from a former Marine officer who had attended Harvard Law during her tenure.

“If Elena Kagan is ‘anti-military,’ she certainly didn't show it,” said Robert Merrill, now a captain in the Marine Corps who is serving as a legal adviser to a Marine infantry battalion in southern Afghanistan. “She treated the veterans at Harvard like VIPs, and she was a fervent advocate of our veterans association.”

In the editorial, Merrill went on at length about private dinners with Kagan that were held simply to honor his service, and Kagan’s personal connection to students who were serving throughout their time at school. During the trial, Kagan said that Merrill’s editorial “made her cry,” unlike any other issue.

“We never suggested that any members of the military, you know, should be criticized in any way,” said Kagan. “I tried to make clear in everything I did that how much I honored everyone who was associated with the military on the Harvard law school campus.”

She also insisted that she gave the military “full and good” access.

“The military during all times of my deanship had full and good access,” said Kagan. Military recruiting did not go down… it went up. And it went up because we ensured that students would know that the military recruiters were coming to campus. Because I talked about how important military service was.”

That would seem to be at odds with several emails from Kagan’s time at Harvard showing that the Air Force JAG Corps was blocked from recruiting on campus. According to the memo, the JAG wrote the following in 2005: “Harvard is playing games and won't give us an [On-Campus Interviewing] date; their official window for employer registration has closed. Their recruiting manager told me today that she's still ‘waiting to hear’ whether they’ll allow us.”

After the regularly scheduled recruiting period, the JAG said that he was still denied a time slot or location to speak with students, but was given the full use of the campus Harvard Veterans Student Group. But per the directive of Harvard’s “faculty,” the military could not even post a memo at the office of Harvard’s Career Services.

That would seem to violate the Solomon Amendment, which demands that any school who accepts public funds – as does Harvard – also not discriminate against military recruiters in any way. Indeed, when Kagan was made aware that recruiters were planning on inquiring about her adherence to the Solomon Amendment, the dean relented.

Sessions mentioned that Kagan’s initial prohibition of military access penalized military recruiters who had nothing to do with the DADT policy that Kagan found so offensive. After all, DADT is the product of a federal law, and not individual policy of the recruiting office.

“Why wouldn’t you complain to Congress and not to the dutiful men and women who put their lives on the line for America every single day?” asked Sessions.

Kagan was given the option not to respond because Sessions’ time had expired, and chose to remain silent.

The 'Elusive' Truth About Kagan

The 'Elusive' Truth About Kagan
Brent Bozell

It's not cute when reporters play dumb. Last year, when Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, CBS anchor Katie Couric said labeling her "won't be easy." CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews found "no clear ideology" in her public record. This week, the Washington Post embarrassed themselves with a front-page story claiming, "Obama has not chosen outspoken liberals in either of his first two opportunities to influence the makeup of the court."

That ridiculous sentence collides with a June 8 report by liberal Los Angeles Times legal reporter David Savage. "The early returns are in, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor is proving herself to be a reliable liberal vote on the Supreme Court. Cases this year on campaign speech, religion, juvenile crime, federal power and Miranda warnings resulted in an ideological split among the justices, and on every occasion, Sotomayor joined the liberal bloc."

That verdict came before Sotomayor voted with the gun-controllers in the Chicago gun-rights case, before Sotomayor voted for allowing public universities to deny recognition to Christian student groups who dare to oppose homosexuality and before Sotomayor voted as part of a 6-3 minority that it shouldn't be illegal to provide material support to groups defined by our government as foreign terrorists.

Now match that record with what the liberal media claimed about Sotomayor. "You know, for a Democrat, she has a pretty conservative record," NPR reporter Nina Totenberg announced on PBS's "Charlie Rose" show last year. "In fact, on a lot of criminal law issues, you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia."

If Totenberg sold shoddy diet pills that fraudulently, she'd be a red-hot case for the Federal Trade Commission.

So why should anyone believe the media are telling the truth now when they suggest Elena Kagan cannot be called liberal? Kagan's views are "elusive," the media chant in unison. They all tried to evade Kagan's vivid writing as a college student in the Daily Princetonian in 1980, about how she cried and got drunk when Ronald Reagan won and "ultraconservative" Al D'Amato defeated her candidate, ultraliberal Democrat Liz Holtzman.

She wished that "our emotion-packed conclusion that the world had gone mad, that liberalism was dead and that there was no longer any place for the ideals we held or the beliefs we espoused" would be replaced by the hope that the Reagan era would be "marked by American disillusionment with conservative programs and solutions, and that a new, revitalized, perhaps more leftist left will once again come to the fore."

Unbelievably, our journalistic geniuses can read that and say Kagan's political views are "elusive."

In their deference to Obama, the networks barely mentioned Kagan for the six weeks between her nomination and her confirmation hearings. Conservative interest groups putting out complaints that she'd be a radical justice on abortion and gay marriage are not newsworthy, even though liberal interest groups ranting about "far right" Bush nominees were tenderly solicited by the same networks.

One TV reporter filed one story that broke the mold. On June 3, CBS legal reporter Jan Crawford said documents in Thurgood Marshall's papers in the Library of Congress showed that "Kagan stood shoulder to shoulder with the liberal left, including on the most controversial issue Supreme Court nominees ever confront: abortion."

The White House was furious that Crawford would dare tell the truth about such a thing. "Their reaction has been to push back so strongly on allegations, as they would put it, that she's a liberal," she revealed. "Like there's something wrong with that, like it's a smear to say their nominee is a liberal."

When the hearings began, ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions offered a devastating opening statement documenting Kagan's extreme liberalism. He ran through her college thesis that worried about socialism's demise, and her master's thesis praising the activism of the Earl Warren court. He noted how she worked for the Michael Dukakis for President campaign, and took a leave as a law school professor to help Joe Biden get liberal Justice Ruth Ginsburg confirmed.

If that's ancient history, Sessions added that in 2005, Harvard Law School Dean Kagan joined three other leftist law school deans to write a letter in opposition to Sen. Lindsey Graham's amendment on determining who was an "enemy combatant" in the War on Terror. She compared Graham's amendment to the "fundamentally lawless" actions of "dictatorships."

The networks skipped those facts in brief, perfunctory news reports.

Liberal partisans expect the "objective" media to spout obvious lies that there are no liberals to be found in Obama's Supreme Court selections, that they have been far too "elusive" to be categorized. That is why Americans are turning away in droves: They're not finding the media's biases to be "elusive."

Peer-Reviewed Science is Politically-Revised

Peer-Reviewed Science is Politically-Revised
Janice Shaw Crouse

Many of us have known for years that the scientific community is not as pristine pure as they’d like the public to think; politics has long been alive and well at American universities and among the peer-review networks. It is still shocking, however, to discover that the White House has tampered with scientific findings.

The political official in charge of defending the partial-birth abortion act in federal court during the Bush administration, Shannen Coffin, described for National Review his discovery of documents released by the Clinton White House that show the apparent manipulation of a scientific report on partial-birth abortion by Elena Kagan, the nominee for the Supreme Court who is undergoing confirmation hearings this week.

If the reports are true –– and there are hand-written notes that seem to indicate Kagan’s direct involvement in the deception –– Kagan’s name should immediately be withdrawn from consideration for the Supreme Court and she should be disbarred and disgraced.

Here are the facts. A “select panel” of physician-members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional medical association that sponsors/conducts medical studies and publishes results, issued a report –– with the professional credibility of ACOG behind it –– that declared that the partial-birth abortion procedure “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”

That statement was used in numerous court cases as “official” medical opinion regarding the partial-birth abortion procedure.

Now we learn –– thanks to Powerline blog and National Review –– that ACOG’s original statement said exactly the opposite. Further, we learn –– appallingly –– that ACOG sent their findings to the Clinton White House for review prior to publishing the report. [Astounding. Can you imagine any scientific report being sent to a conservative politician for review and editing prior to publishing. The media would, rightly, be up in arms.] At the White House, the original statement was read by Elena Kagan, who was Clinton’s deputy assistant for domestic policy.

According to Powerline and National Review, Kagan was horrified that the report said “ACOG could identify no circumstances under which” partial-birth abortion “would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” Kagan apparently “took matters into her own hands” and, in her own handwriting, produced a draft suggesting that the procedure “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”

ACOG produced a final statement utilizing Kagan’s version verbatim.

If these facts are, indeed, true, Kagan –– a nominee for the Supreme Court –– manipulated a scientific report to suit her political opinions and deliberately, as Powerline put it, “subverted what was supposed to be an objective scientific process.” And, ACOG was complicit in the distortion for political and self-serving reasons. As Powerline further said, “The federal courts were victimized by a gross deception and a perversion of both the scientific process and the judicial process, carried out, the evidence appears to show, by Elena Kagan.”

ACOG’s involvement in this deception is especially egregious. Their president at the time, Douglas W. Laube, was self-righteous in his statement of opposition to the Supreme Court decision in 2007 upholding the partial-birth abortion ban. His statement called the decision “shameful and incomprehensible” and lamented a situation where “scientific knowledge frequently takes a backseat to subjective opinion.”

Lesser scholars have lost their positions and their reputations for plagiarism or scientific distortion. Here a prestigious professional organization deliberately manipulates its findings to accommodate a political ideology and aligns itself with a lowly deputy in the Clinton White House to accomplish its ideological distortion. The false report is used in courts to continue an abhorrent, brutal practice that repels people of compassion and decency.

In the meantime, the woman behind such a pivotal lie sits in the catbird seat, practically assured confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice of the United States by complicit senators who control the nomination process –– with dozens of television cameras recording her “charm” and practiced, vapid responses for future generations.

Will the Republican senators find the courage to stop such an outrageous nomination from proceeding? Will they quietly stand by while colleagues confirm someone who was willing to distort a scientific report to suit her purposes? Is this the caliber of person whose judgment will be considered high court “wisdom?”
Kagan on ACOG memo: Did I do that?
posted at 1:36 pm on June 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If the intent of Elena Kagan’s testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee is to build confidence in her competence, her answer to Orrin Hatch about a controversial memo has to be a huge step in the wrong direction. Despite the issue having been in the news for the last 24 hours and the centrality of it to the Clinton-era efforts to stop a ban on partial-birth abortion, Kagan initially claimed ignorance of the issue. Only when pressed did Kagan recall her intentions, as Byron York and LifeNews‘ Steven Ertelt both report this afternoon:

“Did you write that memo?” Hatch asked.

“Senator, with respect,” Kagan began, “I don’t think that that’s what happened — ”

“Did you write that memo?”

“I’m sorry — the memo which is?”

“The memo that caused them to go back to the language of ‘medically necessary,’ which was the big issue to begin with — ”

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

But after finally admitting that she wrote it, she then dismissed it:

Hatch continued to press Kagan about the document, and she ultimately told Hatch she didn’t think she had the power to alter ACOG’s statement: “there was no way I could have or would have intervened” in ACOG drawing up its own opinion.

Kagan said she wrote the memo to present the “most accurate understanding” of what ACOG thought about partial birth abortion and said ACOG’s original statement didn’t represent the totality of what it thought about partial-birth abortion as originally expressed to the Clinton administration. …

“They could think of circumstances in which it was the best or most appropriate procedure and that it was the procedure with the least risk” for women’s health. “We informed President Clinton of that fact and there did come a time when we saw a draft statement and I had some discussion with ACOG about that draft.”

“I recall generally talking to ACOG about that statement and about whether that statement was consistent with the views we knew they had,” [she] said to explain away the criticism.

“The document is certainly in my handwriting” is a way to say, “I’m not going to explicitly admit writing it.” Otherwise, why not just say, “Yes, I wrote it”? Note also the “I recall generally talking to ACOG” rather than “this is what I wrote and why I wrote it.” It’s deceptive and only somewhat responsive to what Hatch asked and why he asked it.

In other words, it’s more or less an Urkel defense of saying, “Did I do that?” Kagan seemed ill prepared to discuss the memo, despite the debate that has erupted since yesterday over its meaning. When she did discuss it, she did so in an evasive manner. I doubt seriously that this alone will derail her confirmation, but this evasiveness plus her utter lack of judicial experience should have Senators questioning the wisdom of this choice, and questioning Kagan with more enthusiasm on her track record as a political activist within the Clinton administration.

Update: Shannen Coffin, who published the memo and its edits, responds at National Review:

First, the ACOG task force — formed specifically and solely for the purpose of studying the medical efficacy of the procedure — met for two full days in October 1996, and the result of their collective work was a statement concluding only that it could identify no particular circumstances where the partial-birth method might be the only method to save the health or life of the mother, but that the committee thought it important to leave that judgment to the individual doctors — that is, a policy statement that Congress should stay out of it. After they deliberated in October 1996, the task force forwarded its draft statement to the ACOG board. It was only then that Kagan stepped in to suggest changes.

Therefore, any suggestion that her work was merely the synthesis of the task force’s deliberations doesn’t account for that time line — she had no interaction with the task force itself, only the executive board of ACOG.

Second and more significant, the White House had already met with ACOG’s former president and current chief lobbyist (to whom Kagan’s revisions were addressed) in June 1996, before the special task force was even formed. At that meeting (which apparently Kagan did not attend but recounted in a memo to her bosses, dated June 22, 1996), Kagan wrote that the White House staffers were basically told that ACOG couldn’t identify any particular circumstances where the procedure was medically necessary.

Coffin quotes from the relevant memo that makes this even more clear. Perhaps another Republican on the panel will pick this up where Hatch left off.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

11 questions for Elena Kagan

11 questions for Elena Kagan
6-26-10 George F. Will:

Pursuant to Elena Kagan's expressed enthusiasm for confirmation hearings that feature intellectual snap, crackle and pop, here are some questions the Senate Judiciary Committee, starting today, can elate her by asking:

• Regarding campaign finance "reforms": If allowing the political class to write laws regulating the quantity, content and timing of speech about the political class is the solution, what is the problem?

• If the problem is corruption, do we not already have abundant laws proscribing that?

• If the problem is the "appearance" of corruption, how do you square the First Amendment with Congress restricting speech in order to regulate how things "appear" to unspecified people?

• Incumbent legislators are constantly tinkering with the rules regulating campaigns that could cost them their jobs. Does this present an appearance of corruption?

• Some persons argue that our nation has a "living" Constitution; the court has spoken of "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." But Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking against "changeability" and stressing "the whole antievolutionary purpose of a constitution," says "its whole purpose is to prevent change -- to embed certain rights in such a manner that future generations cannot readily take them away. A society that adopts a bill of rights is skeptical that 'evolving standards of decency' always 'mark progress,' and that societies always 'mature,' as opposed to rot." Is he wrong?

• The Ninth Amendment says: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The 14th Amendment says no state may abridge "the privileges or immunities" of U.S. citizens. How should the court determine that are the "retained" rights and the "privileges or immunities"?

• The 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people") is, as former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont has said, "to the Constitution what the Chicago Cubs are to the World Series: of only occasional appearance and little consequence." Were the authors of the Bill of Rights silly to include this amendment?

• Should decisions of foreign courts, or laws enacted by foreign legislatures, have any bearing on U.S. courts' interpretations of the Constitution or federal laws?

• The Fifth Amendment says private property shall not be taken by government for public use without just compensation. But what about "regulatory takings"? To confer a supposed benefit on the public, government often restricts how persons can use their property, sometimes substantially reducing the property's value. But government offers no compensation because the property is not "taken." But when much of a property's value is taken away by government action, should owners be compensated?

• Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom you clerked, said: "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up." Can you defend this approach to judging?

• You have said: "There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage." But that depends on what the meaning of "is" is. There was no constitutional right to abortion until the court discovered one 185 years after the Constitution was ratified, when the right was spotted lurking in emanations of penumbras of other rights. What is to prevent the court from similarly discovering a right to same-sex marriage?

Obama Loans 2 Billion of tax payer dollars to Brazilian Oil

Obama Loans 2 billion of tax payer dollars to Brazilian Oil

Today on a segment of the "Glen Beck Show" on FOX (Fox Cable News) was the following:

Today, even though President Obama is against off shore drilling for our country, he signed an executive order to loan 2 Billion of our taxpayers dollars to a Brazilian Oil Exploration Company (which is the 8th largest company in the entire world) to drill for oil off the coast of Brazil! The oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of China and NOT THE USA! Now here's the real clincher...the Chinese government is under contract to purchase all the oil that this oil field will produce, which is hundreds of millions of barrels of oil"..

We have absolutely no gain from this transaction whatsoever!

Wait, it gets more interesting.

Guess who is the largest individual stockholder of this Brazilian Oil Company and who would benefit most from this? It is American BILLIONAIRE, George Soros, who was one of President Obama's most generous financial supporter during his campaign.

If you are able to connect the dots and follow the money, you are probably as upset as I am. Not a word of this transaction was broadcast on any of the other news networks!

Forward this factual e-mail to others who care about this country and where it is going. Also, let all of your Government representatives know how you feel about this. November is getting closer and closer .

Below is the Wall street Journal article to confirm this.

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling

Too bad it's not in U.S. waters. 6-29-10

You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil.

The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.

But look on the bright side. If President Obama has embraced offshore drilling in Brazil, why not in the old U.S.A.? The land of the sorta free and the home of the heavily indebted has enormous offshore oil deposits, and last year ahead of the November elections, with gasoline at $4 a gallon, Congress let a ban on offshore drilling expire.

The Bush Administration's five-year plan (2007-2012) to open the outer continental shelf to oil exploration included new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. But in 2007 environmentalists went to court to block drilling in Alaska and in April a federal court ruled in their favor. In May, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department was unsure whether that ruling applied only to Alaska or all offshore drilling. So it asked an appeals court for clarification. Late last month the court said the earlier decision applied only to Alaska, opening the way for the sale of leases in the Gulf. Mr. Salazar now says the sales will go forward on August 19.

This is progress, however slow. But it still doesn't allow the U.S. to explore in Alaska or along the East and West Coasts, which could be our equivalent of the Tupi oil fields, which are set to make Brazil a leading oil exporter. Americans are right to wonder why Mr. Obama is underwriting in Brazil what he won't allow at home.

Elena Kagan Should Be Rejected

Elena Kagan Should Be Rejected
Phyllis Schlafly

Barack Obama revealed his goal for the Supreme Court when he complained on Chicago radio station WBEZ-FM in 2001 that the Earl Warren Court wasn't "radical" enough because "it didn't break free from the essential constraints placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution" in order to allow "redistribution of wealth." Now that Obama is president, he has the power to nominate Supreme Court justices who will "break free" from the Constitution and join him in "fundamentally transforming" America.

That's the essence of his choice of Elena Kagan as his second Supreme Court nominee. She never was a judge, and her paper trail is short. But it's long enough to prove that she is a clear and present danger to the Constitution.

When Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she presented a guest speaker who is known as the most activist judge in the world: Judge Aharon Barak, formerly president of the Israeli Supreme Court. The polar opposite of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "all legislative powers" are vested in the elected legislative body, Barak has written that a judge should "make" and "create" law, assume "a role in the legislative process," and give statutes "new meaning that suits new social needs."

Barak wrote that a judge "is subject to no authority" except himself, and he "must sometimes depart the confines of his legal system and channel into it fundamental values not yet found in it." Channel? Does he mean he channels in a trance, as Hillary Clinton supposedly channeled discourse with the long deceased Eleanor Roosevelt?

Despite Barak's weirdo writings, or maybe because of them, Kagan called him her "judicial hero." Judge Robert Bork, a man careful with his words, says that Kagan's praise of Barak is "disqualifying in and of itself."

Bork said that Barak "establishes a world record for judicial hubris." Bork wrote that Barak embraces a judicial philosophy that "there is no area of Israeli life that the court may not govern."

During Kagan's confirmation hearing for solicitor general, Sen. Arlen Specter asked her views on using foreign or international law or decisions to interpret our Constitution and laws. She wrote in reply that she approves using "reasonable foreign law arguments."

Au contraire. The U.S. Constitution states that our judges "shall be bound" by "the Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof."

Federal law requires all educational institutions receiving federal funds to present an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on every Constitution Day, September 17. Kagan thumbed her nose at Constitution Day 2007 by hiring a transnationalist to the Harvard faculty, Noah Feldman, and featuring him for two days of speeches.

Transnationalists are lawyers who advocate integrating foreign and international law into the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and laws. In his Harvard Constitution Day address, Feldman urged the "use of international legal materials in constitutional decision-making ... to help actually decide cases," and opined that "international tribunals' rulings must be treated as law."

Kagan's hero is also a transnationalist. In his book "The Judge in a Democracy," he sharply criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court for failing to cite foreign law, and he praises Canada, Australia and Germany for their "enlightened democratic legal systems."

Kagan is particularly inappropriate because this anti-military woman would replace the only veteran on the court, John Paul Stevens. As Harvard Law School dean, Kagan signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn or rewrite the Solomon Amendment, which she called "profoundly wrong."

That popular federal law denies federal funds to colleges that bar military recruiters from the campus. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Kagan's argument, which proves what an extremist she is.

Kagan demonstrated her feminist extremism when she served as the lead White House strategist advising President Bill Clinton to veto the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Ten years later, substantially the same act was passed by Congress, signed by President George W. Bush and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Feldman has just published a long New York Times magazine article in which he worries about how the Supreme Court will rule on lawsuits over Obamacare, Obama's takeover of big corporations and the cronyism in stimulus spending. Feldman hopes the Kagan appointment means that "the moment has arrived for progressive constitutional thought" to take over the courts.

The left is counting on Kagan to play a major role in getting the Supreme Court to uphold Obama's transformation of our exceptional private enterprise system to a socialist economy. The New Republic magazine is salivating at the prospect that Kagan will reassert the discredited doctrine of the "living Constitution."

A Rasmussen poll reports that 42 percent of Americans oppose Kagan's confirmation, and only 35 percent favor her. Are senators listening?

Would Kagan Defer to Foreign Law?
Deborah O'Malley

With Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings well underway, her approach to foreign law remains an important concern.

In recent years, Supreme Court justices have increasingly looked to the laws of other nations when interpreting the United States Constitution -- a practice detrimental to the American principle of self-government. Senators should vigorously question Kagan to determine whether she too would sacrifice our sovereignty to the whims of foreign opinion, especially selective foreign opinion.

Kagan’s statements so far are troubling. In a letter written to Senator Arlen Specter before her Solicitor General confirmation, she wrote, “There are some circumstances in which it may be proper for judges to consider foreign law sources in ruling on constitutional questions.” As an example, she discussed the Eighth Amendment “cruel and unusual punishment” line of cases.

But she did not clarify when it might be appropriate to look to foreign law and when it wouldn’t be. In fact, neither has the Supreme Court. The justices who cite it have been curiously selective in their use of it and have never even hinted at a principle behind their cafeteria counter approach.

Yet it’s clear from their jurisprudence that the principle is a political one: some justices look beyond our borders only when doing so would bolster their desired result.

The Court’s habit of looking to world opinion when interpreting the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is a troubling example of things to come. In 2005, the Court used foreign standards as one of three factors leading to its conclusion that executing a 17-year old murderer amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Foreign laws were considered in the Court’s misguided evaluation of the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Contemporary foreign laws were apparently more relevant than the Clause’s text or original public meaning in America, to which the Court did not dedicate even a sentence.

The Court looked to foreign law again -- albeit to a lesser degree -- in an Eighth Amendment case this term to determine that juvenile non-homicidal offenders cannot receive life without parole sentences. Before the Supreme Court imbued the Eighth Amendment with foreign law, both of these purely domestic criminal justice issues were decided by the people of the United States through the democratic process.

It’s interesting that the judges find foreign law to be indispensable in the Eighth Amendment criminal law context, yet completely irrelevant in other areas of criminal law. For example, our Exclusionary Rule, the mandatory omission of illegally obtained evidence in court, has almost no parallel in the rest of the world. Yet the justices did not see fit to consider this foreign consensus when they ruled that all states must enforce the Rule. If the Court was “guided” to abolish the death penalty for juveniles based in part on foreign law, then why not the Exclusionary Rule? The answer is that justices don’t turn to foreign law for “guidance;” they turn to it for justification.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a regular defender of the practice of citing foreign law, says it’s particularly useful to do so when considering human rights issues. In fact, “advancing human rights” is often the siren song of other justices who defend the practice. Yet these justices do not always put this supposed principle into practice.

Take the issue of abortion -- a human rights issue to those on both sides of the debate. Justice Antonin Scalia has pointed out that the Court said “not a whisper” about foreign law in its recent abortion cases. Perhaps this is because the United States is one of only six countries that have embraced a right to abortion on demand at any point prior to viability.

At the heart of this practice is an unsettling disregard for the bedrock American principles of separation of powers and self-government. The people’s representatives may look to foreign countries while crafting laws in order to see how other nations have addressed similar policy problems. Judges, on the other hand, shouldn’t try to devise solutions for such problems. Their role is to apply the laws and hold them accountable to the Constitution.

In order to determine whether Elena Kagan might be the next justice to wield the tool of foreign law, senators must dedicate considerable efforts to probing her views on this most important issue. Their duty to uphold and defend the Constitution requires nothing less.

Five Ways the Obama Administration Has Made the Gulf Oil Crisis Worse

Five Ways the Obama Administration Has Made the Gulf Oil Crisis Worse
John Hawkins

The oil spill in the Gulf AKA Obamatrina has been a disaster for everyone involved. Millions of ordinary people who did nothing wrong are taking a huge economic hit, it's a genuine environmental disaster, BP may end up going bankrupt over the whole disaster, and Obama's incompetence has been so galling that even Democratic apparatchik's like James Carville and Chris Matthews are criticizing him publicly.

The political beating Obama has taken over the spill has been entirely appropriate. After all, this is a far left-wing President who believes in inserting the Federal Government into EVERYTHING because he thinks there's nothing they can't do better than the private sector. Run the banks? Run the auto-companies? Student loans? Health care? You name it and Barack Obama wants the government to control it.

Of course, the government can't handle any of those industries any better than they can this oil spill, but there's the rub: This time, there's no waiting. People are getting to see the failure of government in the Gulf in real time. Here's a test of the government's preparation and competence that can be judged by a simple standard: How long will it take them to "plug the damn hole" and get the mess cleaned up? Answer: Apparently, a long, long, long, long time.

Yet, what is Obama primarily being criticized for? His inability to even pretend that he cares more about the Gulf than his golf game. His creepy autocratic demand that BP give him 20 billion dollars to use how he sees fit instead of staying within the law of the land. His disengagement. His flat emotionless response to this disaster. His inability to make any significant progress, even though he has admitted that his Administration, not BP, is calling all the shots.

While these are all valid grounds for criticism, there's another area where Obama has actually been getting much more of a pass than he deserves: His administration has greatly hindered the clean-up efforts in the Gulf. In other words, there are businesses that have been ruined, people's livelihoods lost, and beaches that have oil on them today as a direct result of the Obama Administration's incompetence. It's a real world example of Ronald Reagan's famous quotation, The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Here's some of the "help" the Obama administration has provided to the Gulf states in the aftermath of this crisis:

Why Won't Obama Waive the Jones Act? Waiving the Jones Act would make it easier for "foreign vessels to move in U.S. waters and between ports." This is quite significant, since the "State Department acknowledges it has had 21 aid offers from 17 countries." Getting that help could have been the difference between skimming off the oil at sea and seeing that same oil wash up on American beaches. George Bush waived the Jones Act during Katrina, so why hasn't Barack Obama followed his lead? Whatever his reasoning may be, the consequences of his inaction have been rather severe,

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) pressed the president on the Jones Act during a recent face-to-face meeting. LeMieux said the action would signal America's allies that their help is wanted. Given the dire situation in the Gulf, what's the harm?

Two other members from Florida, Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and John Mica (R), said their state is suffering while skimmers sit idle. At a hearing on Thursday, Brown held up photos of vessels in Mexico and Norway, asking, "What is the process for the state to take advantage of skimmers from other countries?"

Mica trained his criticism on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for failing to mobilize the entire American fleet. "U.S.-flag vessels have the capacity to bolster the current oil skimming and removal taking place in the Gulf of Mexico," he said. "Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen oil products wash up on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida while vessels, which could have been pressed into service, sit idle. This is unacceptable."

Perhaps the real problem Obama has with waiving the Jones Act is that it would be an acknowledgement of the obvious truth: That government regulations often slow the private sector down and get the way. When you're a liberal who has never seen a regulation that you don't like, that can be a hard admission to make.

The Louisiana Sand Berms: Louisiana has been trying to build sand berms to keep oil away from their coastal marshes, where it would obviously cause a lot of environmental damage. Rather bizarrely, after dragging their feet about approving the sand berms, The Obama Administration has told Louisiana to stop building the sand berms because they might cause environmental damage. In other words, their logic is that Louisiana needs to allow oil to permeate their coastal marshes in order to prevent possible environmental damage. No wonder Bobby Jindal is pleading for, "the federal government to get out of the way."

16 Crude Sucking Barges Taken Out Of Action By The Feds: Believe it or not, the Coast Guard actually stopped 16 crude-Sucking Barges from siphoning up oil in order to make sure "there were fire extinguishers and life vests" on the ships. Had Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal not pitched a fit to the media and called the White House, those barges might still be sitting around today, waiting for some Coast Guard bureaucrat to allow them to get back to work.

Government Delays Hamstring Alabama: Alabama Governor Bobby Riley's biggest hurdle in dealing with the oil spill has apparently been the Coast Guard,

As an example, (Riley) said a Coast Guard plan for protecting the Alabama shoreline has been held up for 45 days because another member of the committee is reviewing it.

"You can't continue to do that. We're going to have to have one person who makes the call on what we do and where," he said.

Imagine desperately needing to swing into to action to help safeguard your state and having some bureaucrat strangling you in red tape for 45 days. But wait, it gets worse,

Riley, who has quietly lobbied for weeks for more oil-blocking barriers called booms, said the Coast Guard wrongly decided to remove miles of boom from Alabama and Mississippi last week and take it to Louisiana after large amounts of oil began hitting that state.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press during a three-state conference on hurricane planning, Riley said the decision meant wetlands, estuaries and beaches on the northern Gulf Coast are more at risk from the oil that began hitting their coasts in reddish-brown globs on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard wrongly believed floating booms could be returned to their original positions and used along with oil-removing boats called skimmers to keep oil off the coasts, Riley said, and the agency has held up approving the use of hundreds of private boats to remove oil.

If you think this is bad, just wait until the American people get to experience this sort of bureaucracy in action as the government takes over America's health care.

Deploying Only A Tiny Percentage Of Skimmers: As of a week ago, only 1/100th of the skimmers in the United States were deployed to help clean up the Gulf oil spill. Here's what Florida GOP Sen. George LeMieux had to say about this from the floor of the Senate.

61 days ago is when the tragedy started. We are here 61 days later, we still have this tremendous pouring of oil from the bottom of the sea floor into the Gulf of Mexico.

In fact, the amount of oil that is coming into the gulf now equals the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill every 2 1/2 days.

...Last week -- a week ago tomorrow, I met with the President of the United States and Admiral Allen in Pensacola.

At that time, I raised the issue of skimmers. Why are there so few skimmers in the Gulf of Mexico? Why were there only at that time 32 skimmers off the coast of Florida?

...And I'll come to the floor tomorrow to talk about that in more detail. But the state of affairs is that there are only now 20 skimmers off the coast of Florida for.

When there were 32 last week, there are now just 20.

While there are 2,000 skimmers available in the United States alone. That number comes from Admiral Allen.

I spoke to Admiral Allen last week, along with my colleague from Alabama, senator Sessions, and we said, where are the skimmers?

I showed him information like I have here today which is the Deepwater Horizon response report from the incident command in the state of Florida.

Then it showed 20 skimmers.

Today it still shows 20 skimmers.

And I asked him to reconcile this for me. If we're asking for all these skimmers, if we're calling for all of them to come here, where are they?

The response is anemic, at best.

So, Mr. President, today I've sent a letter to Admiral Allen asking for an inventory of the 2,000 skimmers that he has said are available in the United States of America.

Now, when I talked to the President and Admiral Allen about this last week, they said, look, some of these skimmers are not available because we may need them for an oil spill. Well, we have an oil spill.

It wasn't so long ago that Obama said, the Gulf Oil Spill "echoes 9/11." Yet, the Obama administration is holding back all those skimmers in case there's a real emergency? I guess we're lucky Obama wasn't President when 9/11 happened or he'd probably still be trying to figure out who to bow to and where Afghanistan is on a map between games of golf.

To read more of John Hawkin's lists, click here.

If You Believe America Has Lousy Health Care, Here's Why

If You Believe America Has Lousy Health Care, Here's Why
Dennis Prager

If you believe that Americans have lousy health care, it is probably not because you have experienced inferior heath care. It is probably because you were told America has lousy health care.

Last week, major news media featured these headlines:

Reuters: "U.S. scores dead last again in healthcare study"

Los Angeles Times: "U.S. is No. 1 in a key area of healthcare. Guess which one ..."

NPR: "US Spends The Most On Health Care, Yet Gets Least"

The Week: "US health care system: Worst in the world?"

Now let's delve into this widely reported headline as written by Reuters.

For those readers who rely on a headline to get news -- and we all do that sometimes -- the issue is clear: America is rated as having the worst health care "again."

For those who read the first sentence or two, an even more common practice, the Reuters report begins this way: "Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday. The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found."

For those reading further, the claim of the headline and of the first two sentences is reinforced. The third sentence offers commentary on the study by the head of the group that conducted it: "'As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it,' Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters ..."

Only later in the report does the discerning reader have a clue as to how agenda-driven this report and this study are. The otherwise unidentified Karen Davis, president of the never-identified Commonwealth Fund, is quoted as saying how important it was that America pass President Obama's health care bill.

Could it be that Ms. Davis and the Commonwealth are leftwing?

They sure are, though Reuters, which is also on the Left, never lets you know.

Here's how the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 Report from the president begins: "The Commonwealth Fund marshaled its resources this year to produce timely and rigorous work that helped lay the groundwork for the historic Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010."

As for Davis, she served as deputy assistant secretary for health policy in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Jimmy Carter administration all four years of the Carter presidency. And in 1993, in speaking to new members of Congress, she advocated a single-payer approach to health care.

I could not find any mainstream news report about this story that identified the politics of Karen Davis or the Commonwealth Fund. If they had, the headlines would have looked something like this:

"Liberal think tank, headed by single-payer advocate, ObamaCare activist, and former Carter official, says America has worst health care"

Conversely, imagine if a conservative think tank had released a study showing that, in general, Americans had the best health care in the world. Two questions: Would the media have reported it? And if they did, would they have neglected to report that the think tank was conservative? The answer is no to both.

In microcosm, we have here four major developments of the last 50 years:

1. The Left dominates the news media in America; and around the world, leftwing media are almost the only news media.

2. The media report most news in the light of their Leftwing values (whether consciously or not).

3. Most people understandably believe what they read, watch or listen to.

4. This is a major reason most people on the Left are on the Left. They have been given a lifetime of leftist perceptions of the world (especially when one includes higher education) and therefore regard what they believe about the world as reality rather than as a leftwing perception of reality.

The same thing happened on a far larger scale in 2000 when the world press reported that the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) ranked America 37th in health care behind such countries as Morocco, Costa Rica, Colombia and Greece.

This WHO assessment was reported throughout the world and regularly cited by leftwing critics of American health care. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one other than a few conservatives noted that Cuba was ranked 39th, essentially tied with the United States.

Which means that the WHO report is essentially a fraud. Who in his right mind thinks Americans and Cubans have equivalent levels of health care? For that matter, how many world leaders travel to Greece or Morocco instead of to the United States for health care?

The answer is that WHO doesn't assess health care quality; it assesses health care equality, exactly the way any organization on the Left assesses it. And since the world's and America's news media are on the Left, they report a Leftist bogus assessment of American health care as true.

Imagine this headline around the world: "World Health Organization declares America and Cuba tied in health care."

Of course, only Leftists would believe that. But since non-Leftists would realize how absurd the claim was, that is not what anyone was told. Instead, the world and American media all announced "America rated 37th in health care by World Health Organization."

These two reports illustrate why so many people in America and around the world think America's health care is inferior and why they support movement toward nationalized health care.

But these two reports are only one example of the larger problem -- the world thinking is morally confused because it is informed by the morally confused. How else explain, for example, why America, the greatest force for good among nations, is hated, while China, never a force for good, isn't?

The answer is, unfortunately, simple: Garbage in, garbage out.

The Gun Rights Decision in McDonald v. Chicago

The Gun Rights Decision in McDonald v. Chicago
Ken Klukowski

On June 28, the Supreme Court handed down the most consequential decision of this term in the historic gun-rights case, McDonald v. Chicago. Now the Second Amendment right to own a gun extends against every level of government, in a complex 5-4 decision that shows President Obama is using the Supreme Court to push a gun-control agenda.

After the 2008 Heller case holding that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, the biggest question for anyone working in constitutional law was simple: Does the Second Amendment provide a right only against the federal government, or does it also provide a right against state and local governments?

When the Bill of Rights went into effect in 1791, it only secured rights against the federal government. When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, it extended many federal rights—including most of the Bill of Rights—against the states and states’ subdivisions (counties and cities).

But the states are separate sovereigns. In the following decades, the Court held that only those rights that are fundamental rights can trump state sovereignty, limiting the power of state and local governments.

The city of Chicago has a gun ban as restrictive as the one the Court struck down in D.C. So in McDonald the Court was finally confronted with whether the right to keep and bear arms is one of these fundamental rights.

In a lengthy opinion (totaling over 200 pages), the Court held in a narrow 5-4 decision that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right. As a result, the Chicago gun ban has suffered the same fate as D.C.’s, but that’s where agreement ends.

Contrary to many press reports, the Court could not agree on why the Second Amendment applies to the states. The Court agreed that the right to own a gun is fundamental, and so applies to the states. Because it applies to the states, the city law that bans all guns—such as the law in Chicago—cannot stand.

But that’s the end of the Court’s holding. In an opinion written by Justice Sam Alito, four justices went the straightforward route argued by the NRA that the Second Amendment is part of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, which is the approach that the Court has used since 1897.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the most conservative justice on the Court, declined to go along with that approach. The Due Process Clause route, called substantive due process, is at root a liberal activist theory contradicted by the history and original meaning of the Constitution. Justice Thomas instead argued that the Court should apply the right to bear arms through the Fourteenth Amendment Privileges or Immunities Clause, which was the way the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment designed it.

The four liberal justices dissented in what should be a shocking move. Given how the Court extended First Amendment rights such a free speech and religious freedom, Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizures, and Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the Second Amendment should have been a foregone conclusion.

The four liberal justices nonetheless set forth elaborate arguments as to how and why the right to own a gun is not fundamental, and therefore cities and states should be free to regulate them in any fashion, or even completely ban them. Justice Stevens wrote his own dissent for his last day on the bench. Justice Breyer wrote another dissent, which Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor joined in full.

What’s interesting about that is it contradicts what Sonia Sotomayor said during her confirmation hearings just last year. In response to the question of whether it is settled that the Second Amendment secures an individual rights, Sotomayor told Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, “Yes, sir.”

Really? How does that square with the dissent? The one that said, “I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history, or underlying rationale … to protect the keeping and bearing arms for private self-defense purposes.” Although that statement only concerned whether the right to own a gun is fundamental, the dissent also said that the Court should consider overruling Heller altogether.

Those statements are consistent with the decisions Sonia Sotomayor joined when she was an appeals judge on the Second Circuit. Those were the decisions that led defenders of the Second Amendment to oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Heller and McDonald are only the beginning. There are many important questions remaining about the meaning of the Second Amendment. Those questions will be answered by whoever sits on the Supreme Court over the next thirty years. McDonald is a reminder that the biggest battles over the Second Amendment will now be won or lost in the courts.

That being the case, senators should ask some very serious questions about the Second Amendment during Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings this week.

To read what Thomas Sowell has to say about Gun Control Laws, click Here.

Alternatives to Surrender

Alternatives to Surrender.
Caroline Glick

To the roaring cheers of the local media, on Sunday the Schalit family embarked on a cross-country march to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's residence. They set out two days after the fourth anniversary of IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit's captivity.

Outside their home in the North on Sunday, Gilad's father Noam Schalit pledged not to return home without his son. The Schalit family intends to camp out outside of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's home until the government reunites them with Gilad.

For weeks the local media - and especially Ma'ariv and Yediot Ahronot - have portrayed the Schalit family's trek to Netanyahu as a reenactment of Moses' journey to Pharaoh. Like Pharaoh, the media insinuates that Netanyahu is evil because he refuses to free Gilad from bondage.

The only drawback to this dramatic, newspaper-selling story is that it is wrong. Gilad Schalit is not a hostage in Jerusalem. He is a hostage in Gaza. His captor is not Netanyahu. His captor is Hamas.

And because the story is wrong, the media-organized cavalcade of ten thousand well intentioned Israelis is moving in the wrong direction. And not only is it going in the wrong direction, it is doing so at Gilad Schalit's expense.

The truth that Yediot and Ma'ariv's marketing departments ignore is that Schalit's continued captivity is a function of Hamas's growing strength. To bring him home, Israel shouldn't release a thousand terrorists from prison. It shouldn't strengthen Hamas.

To bring Gilad Schalit home a free man, Israel must weaken Hamas. And this is an eminently achievable goal. Gilad's father Noam knows it is an achievable goal. That is why last week Noam Schalit was the most outspoken critic of Netanyahu's decision to abandon Israel's economic sanctions against Hamas-controlled Gaza. That is why over the past four years the Schalit family has staged countless protests against Israel's massive and continuous assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

If anything positive is to come from this march, then when the Schalit family arrives in Jerusalem they should abandon the newspapers' demand that Israel surrender to all of Hamas's demands. They should acknowledge that doing so will only guarantee that more Israelis will be kidnapped and murdered by Hamas and its allies.

If the Schalits wish to criticize the government, they should criticize Netanyahu and his government for the steps they have taken to strengthen Hamas. The Schalits should demand that the government reinstate and tighten Israel's economic sanctions against Gaza. They should demand that Israel end its supply of electricity and gasoline to Gaza and take more effective action to block smuggling into Gaza through the tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border. All of these actions will weaken Hamas, and so contribute to the prospect of Hamas being forced by the Gazans themselves to release Schalit to his family.

ONE OF the important truths ignored by Israel's pathological media is that Hamas and its Iranian sponsor are not all powerful. They are vulnerable to criticism from their own publics. And Israel is capable of fomenting such criticism.

For example, the imprisoned terrorists whose release Hamas demands in exchange for releasing Schalit have consistently responded rationally to Israeli threats. The Knesset is slowly debating a bill that would worsen prison conditions of terrorists. And the terrorists are worried. Their worry provoked them to demand that Hamas be more forthcoming with Schalit.

By the same token, were Israel to cut off electricity to Gaza - an act that is not merely lawful, but arguably required by international law - we could expect residents of Gaza to express a similarly rational demand to Hamas. That is, were Israel to weaken public support for Hamas, Hamas would be more likely to bow to Israel's will.

And if Hamas is vulnerable to public criticism, the Iranian regime is downright terrified of public criticism. Take the regime's behavior in the wake of the Turkish-Hamas flotilla campaign. In the days that followed Israel's bungled May 31 takeover of the Mavi Marmara terror ship, Iran announced it was sending two of its own ships to Gaza. Israel responded rationally and forthrightly. The government warned that any Iranian ship would be viewed as an enemy ship and Israel would respond in accordance with the rules of war.

As Iran expert Michael Ledeen has argued repeatedly, the Iranian regime is terrified of getting the Iranian people angry over its radical foreign policy. In light of its precarious standing with its own public, Israel's forthright threat of war brought the regime to its knees.

Last Thursday Hossein Sheikholdslam, the Iranian regime functionary responsible for the Gaza-bound ships told the Iranian news service IRNA that plans to send the ships were scrapped because Israel "sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on [Israel] and it will confront it."

During the war with Iran's Hizbullah proxy in 2006, thousands of Iranians demonstrated against Hizbullah. They demanded that the regime invest its money in the local economy and not in Hizbullah and the Palestinians. Were Israel to present Schalit as an Israeli victim of the Iranian regime, it could provoke a similar popular outcry against Iran's support for Hamas.

The media-manipulated Schalits are not the only ones acting precisely against their own interests. The government is acting with similar madness in its relations with the Obama administration. Indeed, Netanyahu ended Israel's lawful economic sanctions against Hamas-controlled Gaza, (sanctions that served, among other things as a bargaining chip for freeing Schalit), because the Obama administration placed overwhelming pressure on him to do so.

Not wishing to let the Mavi Marmara crisis go to waste, US President Barack Obama has used it as a means to weaken Israel against Hamas. Obama announced that he is giving Hamas-controlled Gaza $400 million in US aid. He forced Netanyahu to end Israel's economic sanctions against the illegal Hamas regime. And he continues to threaten to abandon US support for Israel at the UN. Moreover, according to remarks by a senior Hamas terrorist to the London-based al Quds al Arabi newspaper on Friday, the Obama administration maintains direct ties to the Hamas leadership in Syria.

When Netanyahu entered office last spring his desire to appease Obama was understandable. At the time, he was operating under the hope that perhaps Obama could be appeased into ending his onslaught against the Jewish state. But the events of the past year have made clear that Obama is unappeasable . Every concession Israel has made to Obama has merely whetted the US President's appetite for more.

The policy implications of this state of affairs are clear. First, Israel must strive to weaken Obama. Since Israeli concessions to Obama strengthen him, Israel must first and foremost stop giving him concessions.

Weakening Obama does not involve openly attacking him. It means Israel should act in a way that advances its interests and forces Obama to reconsider the desirability of his current foreign policy.

Regionally, Israel should make common cause with the Kurds of Iran, Iraq and Syria who are now being assaulted by Iran, Turkey and Syria. Doing so is not simply the moral thing to do. It weakens Iran, Syria and Turkey and demonstrates that Obama's appeasement policies are harming those who love freedom and empowering those who hate it.

By the same token, Israel should do everything it can to strengthen the Iranian Green movement. Every anti-regime action in Iran - regardless of its size - harms the regime and therefore helps Israel. And every anti-regime action in Iran exposes the moral depravity and strategic idiocy of Obama's policy of appeasing the mullocracy.

As for the US domestic political realm, in Ambassador Michael Oren's all but schizophrenic recent statements about the Obama administration's policy towards Israel we may at last be witnessing an embrace of political sanity on the part of the government. For the past several months, Oren has acted as the Obama administration's most energetic cheerleader to the US Jewish community. Oren has repeatedly and wrongly reassured US Jewish audiences that Obama is a great friend of Israel, that his Democratic Party remains loyal to the US-Israel alliance and that the Republicans are wrong to claim that there is a difference between the two major US political parties when it comes to supporting Israel.

The pinnacle of Oren's pro-Obama campaign came with his interview last week with the Jerusalem Post. There he brought all of these false and counter-productive claims into the public realm. Apparently Oren's decision to make his adulation of the Obama administration public finally forced his bosses in Jerusalem to order him to cease, desist and do an about face.

And so, last week, Oren told a closed audience of Israeli diplomats the truth. Under Obama, Oren whispered, there has been a "tectonic rift" in US relations with Israel. While some of Obama's advisors are sympathetic to Israel, these advisors have no influence on Obama's positions on Israel. No doubt recognizing how silly his about face made him look, Oren tried to deny his statements at the Foreign Ministry. But it is hard to imagine anyone will take him seriously.

During his visit to the White House next week, Netanyahu should follow the path set by Oren's quickly leaked remarks. Netanyahu should abstain from praising Obama for his friendship and speak instead about the fact that the US-Israel alliance is vital for both countries' national security.

NETANYAHU SHOULD insist on the right to call on questioners at his joint appearance with Obama. And he should use those questions and those appearances to discuss why Israel's actions are not only legal and necessary for Israel, but vital for US national security. During his stay in the US, Netanyahu should discuss the global jihad, Islamic terrorism, the freedom loving Kurds and the freedom loving Iranian people every chance he gets. Indeed, he should create opportunities to discuss them.

Here we see a crucial point of convergence between the Schalit family march to Jerusalem and Netanyahu's trip to Washington. To increase the effectiveness of their efforts on behalf of Gilad, ahead of Netanyahu's visit to Washington, the marchers should split into two groups.

The first group should continue to Jerusalem and demand that Israel take a firmer stand against Hamas. The second group should walk to Tel Aviv and camp out outside the US Embassy. There they should demand that the administration end its contacts with Hamas, end its pressure on the Israeli government to strengthen Hamas, cancel Obama's plan to give an additional $400 million dollars in aid to Hamas and use the US's position on the UN Security Council to condemn Turkey for its material support for Hamas.

For too long, by allowing themselves to be led by our deranged media, Israeli citizens and governments alike have ignored the basic fact that the answer to every question is not more Israeli concessions. Contrary to what our tabloids would have us believe, surrender is only one option among many. It is time we try out some alternatives.

To read another article by Caroline Glick, click here.

Gun Control Laws

Gun Control Laws
Thomas Sowell

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect?

Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn't be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence.

Many people who are opposed to gun laws which place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based themselves on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

If the end of gun control leads to a bloodbath of runaway shootings, then the Second Amendment can be repealed, just as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist for people, not people for laws.

There is no point arguing, as many people do, that it is difficult to amend the Constitution. The fact that it doesn't happen very often doesn't mean that it is difficult. The people may not want it to happen, even if the intelligentsia are itching to change it.

When the people wanted it to happen, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years, from 1913 through 1920.

What all this means is that judges and the voting public have different roles. There is no reason why judges should "consider the basic values that underlie a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance," as Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent against the Supreme Court's gun control decision.

But, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was "to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not."

If the public doesn't like the rules, or the consequences to which the rules lead, then the public can change the rules via the ballot box. But that is very different from judges changing the rules by verbal sleight of hand, or by talking about "weighing of the constitutional right to bear arms" against other considerations, as Justice Breyer puts it. That's not his job. Not if "we the people" are to govern ourselves, as the Constitution says.

As for the merits or demerits of gun control laws themselves, a vast amount of evidence, both from the United States and from other countries, shows that keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It is not uncommon for a tightening of gun control laws to be followed by an increase-- not a decrease-- in gun crimes, including murder.

Conversely, there have been places and times where an increase in gun ownership has been followed by a reduction in crimes in general and murder in particular.

Unfortunately, the media intelligentsia tend to favor gun control laws, so a lot of hard facts about the futility, or the counterproductive consequences of such laws, never reach the public through the media.

We hear a lot about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have lower murder rates. But we very seldom hear about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have higher murder rates, such as Russia and Brazil.

The media, like Justice Breyer, might do well to reflect on what is their job and what is the voting public's job. The media's job should be to give us the information to make up our own minds, not slant and filter the news to fit the media's vision.

To read another article by Thomas Sowell, click here.

To read another gun control laws article, click here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Here Comes the Judge

Here Comes the Judge
Paul Greenberg

As if Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf coast hadn't been hurt enough by a succession of disasters natural and man-made, the Obama administration has chosen to pile on by arbitrarily banning deep-water drilling for six months. At least.

What an exciting prospect: More unemployment, more idled capacity, more workers without work, more families on the dole, and, of course, less energy for an economy that, conventional Greenism to the contrary, must still depend on that remarkably efficient and convenient fuel called petroleum.

But it turns out there is still some law and even reason left in the chaotic aftermath of BP's disastrous explosion-cum-oil spill that's now going Gulf-wide. For here comes the judge. His name is the Hon. Martin Feldman and he's had the simple candor to call an arbitrary decision arbitrary.

Can you believe it -- a ruling by a federal court that takes reality into account? While recognizing that the Deepwater Horizon spill is "an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster," His Honor refused to condone piling another one on top of it via federal fiat.

Reason has long been the last resort of law. This judge has made it the first, much to the consternation of the administration's lawheads.

To quote the judge, "If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like the Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing."

Rather overbearing? There's no rather about it. The administration has responded to the oil spill by drawing a line in the water at 500 feet. Regardless of all the wells operating safely above -- or below -- that level. That isn't reason, it's ... well, arbitrary.

With one edict it put a total of 33 exploratory oil wells out of commission. And threatens to shut down a good part of the whole petroleum industry.

Washington's diktat brings to mind the doomsters' reaction after the Hindenburg burst into flames that fateful night in 1937 with horrific, and well-publicized, results. It was a time when manned flight was still far from routine -- and some said the disaster just showed that man has no business flying. It was just too dangerous. Like drilling for oil below 500 feet.

Judge Feldman also called the administration's decision "capricious." Maybe not. It seems a calculated enough decision -- calculated to appeal to the public's panic, and the general demand that Washington not just sit there but Do Something, preferably something dramatic. Even if it's the wrong thing. Even if it adds to the oil spill's already catastrophic impact on the economy and people of the Gulf states.

It's a grandstand play that will allow the president to stack the commission that's supposed to investigate the feasibility of drilling for oil in the Gulf. Now he can fill it up with enviro-ideologues who never wanted to drill there in the first place. None are likely to recuse themselves from an appointment; even if they have prejudged the issue; this may be their big chance to throw a monkey wrench into the whole idea of drilling offshore.

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's governor, has a better idea; he usually does when it comes to tackling this spreading oil spill. He's been ahead of Washington on this problem -- way ahead -- since Deepwater Horizon went down in a sea of spreading of spreading oil. He would conduct a top-to-bottom inspection of these oilrigs over the next 30 days, double-checking all the equipment, putting all personnel through a refresher course, and putting any additional precautions in place. Then assign a full-time inspector to each rig around the clock. All of which makes more sense than shutting down a whole industry because of one accident, however disastrous.

The disaster on Three-Mile Island in 1979 derailed the expansion of the country's nuclear industry for a generation, adding one disaster atop another. Are we now going to do the same to offshore drilling in the Gulf? And maybe beyond?

Judge Feldman's decision revives hope in the federal courts. Let's hope this rare sighting in the law -- of reason, perspective and proportion -- sets a new trend. But the tendency to substitute ideology for reason, and reaction for judgment, won't be easy to buck. The judge's decision will surely be appealed. There is a whole level of officialdom in this country that finds reason ... well, unreasonable.

Judge Feldman, in his zeal for reason, turns out to be quite a rhetorician. But in the end, what should matter most in this case is whether the Obama administration followed the law -- whether it respected its own rules and regulations or acted arbitrarily.

The administration pretty much answered that question when, without hearings or investigation or any further ado, it picked a nice round number -- 500 feet -- and simply imposed it, arbitrarily, on the oil industry. And on all those who depend on it.

A Shrine to Sharia

A Shrine to Sharia
Frank Gaffney

The supremacist program authoritative Islam calls Shariah is big on symbols. Arguably, none is more effective than its practice of building mosques on its conquests' most sacred sites.

In Jerusalem, triumphant Muslims built the Al-Aqsa mosque on top of the Jews' revered Temple Mount. They transformed what had been for a thousand years the largest cathedral in Christendom, Constantinople's magnificent St. Sophia basilica, into a sprawling mosque complex. And the Moorish Ummayad dynasty in Spain, made the city of Cordoba its capital, and installed an immense mosque on the site of an ancient Christian church there.

Now, an imam in New York, who has suddenly come into $100 million from undisclosed sources, wants to build a 13-story Islamic Cultural Center adjacent to the site of Shariah's greatest triumph to date in America: Ground Zero, the place where the World Trade Center's twin towers proudly stood until they were destroyed by Shariah-adherent jihadists on September 11, 2001. It is not a coincidence that the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has called his project "the Cordoba House."

Such a mosque on 9/11's hallowed ground would not only constitute a durable, symbolic taunt by our enemies about their bloody victory. In accordance with Shariah, once ground has been taken for Islam, it can never revert to the non-Muslim Dar al-Harb, literally the House of War.

In other words, the Ground Zero mosque is designed to be a permanent, in-our-face beachhead for Shariah, a platform for inspiring the triumphalist ambitions of the faithful and eroding resistence to their demands for separate and (for the moment, at least) equal treatment in America.

So why, one might ask, have Mayor Michael Bloomberg, various other elected officials and clergy and community leaders expressed support for the Cordoba House?

In part, it is a function of local considerations: Who wouldn't welcome the prospect of an infusion of $100 million into the still-suffering economy of lower Manhattan? What is more, if the mosque serves as a magnet for new Muslim residents, depressed housing prices could rebound.

The larger problem is that too few of our leaders understand the nature of Shariah and its implications. Even when an imam like Rauf explicitly says he favors bringing Shariah to America, officials at every level of government seem untroubled by the fact that such an agenda necessarily is anti-constitutional and incompatible with our freedoms.

To be sure, Imam Rauf is a skilled practitioner of the Shariah tradition of taqqiya deception for the faith. It turns out, he was to the manner born: As ace researcher Alyssa Lappen has documented, Rauf has family and other longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

So, in a page taken straight out of the Brotherhood taqqiya playbook, the imam and his wife and collaborator on the Cordoba House project, Daisy Khan, have been much in evidence of late, professing their commitment to interfaith dialogue and the dedication of their new facility to serving the non-Muslim as well as Muslim communities.

As it happens, similar assurances about mosque complexes built elsewhere by other Shariah adherents have amounted to the old "bait-and-switch" scam. A group called Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) has monitored, for example, the Islamic Society of Boston's Saudi-funded, city-enabled mega-mosque in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Despite professions of tolerance, the mosque has ties to Hamas and other terrorists. According to APT, the mosque's imam, "Abdullah Faarooq, has told his followers to ‘pick up the gun and the sword' and supported local terror suspects Aafia Siddiqui and Tarek Mehanna."

In the United Kingdom, the North London Central Mosque (a.k.a. the Finsbury Park Mosque) has been embraced by the British government and is considered an archetype for its effort to counter radicalization by working with the Muslim Brotherhood's "non-violent" Islamists. Yet, this mosque hosted one of America's most wanted terrorists: Anwar al-Alwaki. According to National Public Radio, among those who attended his sermons there was the Nigerian panty-bomber, Umar Farouk Abulmutallab.

We have reason to fear that the United States government is poised to follow Britain's disastrous course - further compounding the muddle-headed thinking among leaders across the country about Shariah and the threat it poses. John Brennan, President Obama's Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor has repeatedly signaled that he wants to reach out to "moderate" jihadists of the Taliban and Hezbollah. President Obama has said he intends to provide more than $400 million for Hamas-run Gaza.

Then, Brennan gave an interview in the Washington Times last week in which he displayed anew his profound misunderstanding of the enemy and its threat doctrine. As the Times' Eli Lake reported: "Mr. Brennan said that he opposed granting any legitimacy to what he called al Qaeda's ‘twisted' interpretation of Islam. ‘Clearly, bin Laden and al Qaeda believe they are on this very holy agenda and this jihad. However in my view, what we cannot do is to allow them to think, and the rest of the world to think, for the future terrorists of the world to believe al Qaeda is a legitimate representation of jihad and Islam.'"

Such denials of the centrality of violent jihad to authoritative Islam - and the obligation to engage in more stealthy forms of jihad to the same end, the global triumph of Islam, where violence is not practicable - is a formula for disaster. Unchallenged, it will produce a toxic shine at Ground Zero to the doctrine that animates al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood alike, Shariah.

To read another article by Frank Gaffney, click here.