Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twitterati to Arizona Injustice - Blogging By Numbers

I was going to open the week's blogging by numbers by mentioning that TSH is now on Twitter. As most of you know, CNN's resident "bald headed profit of doom" did the heavy lifting for me, making sure half the world knew before the paint had time to dry on my Twitter page. On Tuesday, CNN'S Chief Business Correspondent loaded up his trebuchet of rage and devoted an entire hour to lobbing a litany of agitated tweets at yours truly.

I remember a great article by Jonah Goldberg in which he recounts being called "an idiot" by George Will during a lecture at Groucher College. Regrettably, being called "idiotic" and a "neo-con" by a buffoon with a liberal pedigree that dates back to his days as a left wing activist at Queen's will probably not bring on a case of the warm and fuzzies 20 years later.

Well, at least he's a snappy dresser - Let the blogging by numbers begin!!!

1 - The Administration's decision to drag Arizona's new immigration law before the courts was problematic on several fronts. At it's core, S.B. 1070 simply re-asserts the authority of law enforcement officials to ask citizens to provide proof of their immigration status during the course of conducting their duties, such as traffic stops or investigating criminal complaints if there's a reasonable suspicion they're in the U.S. illegally.

Note "re-asserts". Most people forget that it's been a Federal law since 1940 that ALL citizens are required to carry proof of citizenship. Over at NRO, Mark Levin joins a growing list of legal scholars gob-smacked by Judge Bolton's Decision;

"This is a typical example of a judge stating the correct legal standard, but then ignoring it and applying the test in a fashion completely divorced from the facts of the case in order to reach a predetermined decision.

First, the court states correctly that the sort of constitutional challenge brought here — a facial challenge — is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully. It requires that the plaintiff (here the federal government) must demonstrate that the law can never be applied in a constitutional fashion. The test cannot be met with hypothetical arguments — yet that is exactly what the court relies on in its ruling: the assertion that the AZ law will impose an impermissible burden on law enforcement, which is to determine the legal status of a person detained pursuant to the AZ law on the reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. The court does not provide any empirical basis to support its conclusion. It’s pure supposition."

This was sloppy jurisprudence and this matter is far from over. While the administration and their msm counterparts celebrate this short term victory, they should remember this will have ramifications that go beyond the Democratic wipe-out sure to occur this November. Americans have had Obamacare and financial reform rammed down their throats, and now the President has thumbed his nose in the eye of a State's right to enforce existing Federal laws. President Obama will soon join the list of one term Presidents. Let's just hope a new Republican Congress can help mitigate the damage in the interim.

2 - I know it's summer but before you slap on the sandals, make sure your toenails don't look like the Lamisil Monsters are about to jump out of your feet.

3 - Adam Liptak has written another one of those irritating New Time's Articles (are there any other kind?) that comes right out of the media's David Gergen-style, "Gee I'm so clever" school of punditry. The article tries to make the tenuous case that the Supreme Court under Justice Roberts is the most conservative in history. Seriously?

Mr. Liptak takes a widely discredited political science study that crudely separates Supreme Court cases and litigants into highly subjective categories then, using a magic formula plops them into a "liberal" or "conservative" bucket and assigns them a score. Even the author acknowledges how flawed the study is admitting it probably throws off the results of a few cases, but trudges full speed ahead anyway.

The study casually skips over the numerous cases where this clever equation doesn't apply. For example, the casually dubbed "conservative" justices almost always side with criminal defendants in cases where the constitutional protection of these defendants is in question.

Is Justice Kennedy more conservative than Powell? Powell voted to uphold Georgia's laws prohibiting sodomy and oral sex. Kennedy reversed that decision. Dozens of law scholars have been inundating the web with numerous examples that sweep away Liptak's knee jerk conclusions.

I wish this study had been correct. Some day Americans would be well served if they could call the SCOTUS a "Roberts' Court."

4 - Last month Muhammad and Waqas Parvez were convicted of the murder of Asqa Parvez and sentenced to life in prison. She was the victim of a violent death springing from a medieval and barbaric practice that takes the lives of over 5000 woman each year. This crime did not occur in the brutal theocratic dictatorship of Iran where adulterous women are stoned to death, minors are executed for the most fleeting of infractions, and religious and ethnic minorities are murdered and jailed without trial. This did not happen in the tribal regions of Pakistan where ad hoq Sharia law is still practiced and tolerated by local authorities. This happened in a quiet suburb of Mississauga, Ontario. She is estimated to be the 12th young woman to be the victim of an honor killing in Canada in less than a decade.

Dr. Amin Muhammad, a professor of psychiatry at Memorial University of Newfoundland who specializes in honor killings and cultural psychology predicts that; "...the cases are increasing, and very soon we'll have a problem in Canada."

The media barely devoted a day to the short life of Asqa Parvez - rest in peace.

5 - Have a good week and a warm welcome to all of our new readers. You can get updates from TSH by becoming a member of our fan club on Facebook.

6 - Take care!



Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Must See DVD Review - Frost/Nixon

The tag line of Ron Howard's engaging film, Frost/Nixon, tells us quite a lot about what was otherwise a refreshing and sympathetic look at President Nixon:

"400 Million people were waiting for the truth - Their legendary confrontation would revolutionize the art of the confessional interview, change the face of politics and capture an admission from the former president that startled people all over the world . . . possible even including Nixon himself".

Well, not exactly. After the first of four segments, viewers were bored to tears, and tuned out for the rest of the interviews. The climactic scene of the movie - when the intrepid Frost (Michael Sheen) pins Nixon (Frank Langella) in a corner, causing the disgraced former President to fall into an endless moment of reflective silence followed by a semi-confession of sorts - is utter hog wash. Nixon revealed nothing new in the interviews, and virtually all major news networks were unanimous in their opinion that Nixon had bested the ill prepared, and at times star-struck, Frost. If you're doubting this, here's some excerpts from the major newspapers the day after the supposedly historic "gotcha!" moment:

What did Watergate super-sleuth Bob Woodward think?

“a much-touted television interview which shed little new light on the scandal.”

Hmm. What about Haynes Johnson, a colleague of Woodward's at the Washington Post?

“Last night’s program was billed as a dramatic and historic encounter between Nixon and his opponent, the relentless David Frost. It was nothing of the sort. . . . By the very end of the program, Frost looks as though he’s swept up by the Nixon responses. . . . The tables have been turned. Frost had met his match.”

What about you the supposedly exotic liberal foreign intellectual papers? Surely the Times of London must have seen the interview through different eyes? Nope.

“It was clear that David Frost let Mr Nixon escape in the interrogation . . . Frost finds less adulatory coverage this morning than his advance men expected. . . . whenever the matter strayed from his clip-board of notes he was not informed enough to counter some of Mr Nixon’s most brazen revisions. The main mysteries of Watergate are still intact.”

Public sympathy for Nixon actually increased after the interviews. Americans were somewhat more forgiving when they discovered that the President's chief motivation for lying about when he actually found out about the break-in was more out of loyalty for his friends than it was to protect his office at any cost. Some may justifiably find this behaviour inexcusable regardless of the motivation, but why doesn't anyone direct the same outrage at President Kennedy, who we now know ordered his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to bug the offices of Martin Luther King Jr?

So why did Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind/Angels and Demons), in tandem with one of the sharpest screen writers in the business, Peter Morgan (The Queen, Last King of Scotland), fudge the ending on what was otherwise the first refreshing look at Nixon in over a quarter of a century? The kindest explanation is that the building tension throughout the movie needed a dramatic climax - the so-called "money shot". A more plausible explanation is that Hollywood liberals can't refrain from the annoying tendency to be gripped by media hubris, or what James Bowman called "the saga of media triumphalism".

The good news is that movie breaks ground that no other Hollywood director - let alone media personality - dared to break before.

President Nixon was a kind, loyal, intelligent, witty and wonderfully eccentric - if somewhat insecure - man. To it's credit, Peter Morgan and the hypnotic Frank Langella capture all of these traits beautifully. This is the first movie in which Nixon is not a villainous cartoon caricature. Nixon is portrayed much like every aide and advisor who worked with him described - the kind of guy who despised the snobbery and intellectual elitism of what Jefferson called the "natural aristocracy", and who treated everyone from Henry Kissinger to the guy who washed the windows with respect. A White House janitor recalls that Nixon always remembered his name and the birthdays of his children. Nixon showed an interest in everyone. He found the tiniest details of people's lives fascinating. He inspired a unique and heart-felt loyalty from his staff and advisers, a quality that Kevin Bacon portrays with wonderful sincerity.

The movie partially redeems itself at the end when Frost pays Nixon a farewell visit at his villa:

"Those parties of yours. The ones I read about in the papers. Tell me, do you actually enjoy them?", asks Nixon.

"Yes, of course," replies a befuddled Frost.

"Really?", wonders Nixon. "You have no idea how fortunate that makes you. Liking people. And being liked. That facility you have with people. That lightness. That charm. I don’t have it. Never have. Makes you wonder why I chose a life which hinged on being liked. I’m better suited to a life of thought. Debate. Intellectual discipline. Say, maybe we got it wrong. Maybe you should have been the politician. And I the rigorous interviewer."

For all of what the movie gets all wrong, it's more than made up for with what the movie gets completely correct - and it's a must see for that reason alone.



(Quotes from Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, and The Times of London were researched by National Review Online's Fred Schwarz)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Curious Case of Shirley Sherrod

Robert Gibbs was acting contrite today. This is kind of like saying Charlie Sheen was enjoying a soda and chef salad at the church fund raiser, or Whoopie Goldberg made a coherent and enlightening argument today. I don't get it. Gibbs was distancing the White House from Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, claiming there was no pressure from the Administration to fire Shirley Sherrod, the state director of rural development in Georgia. Sherrod was forced to resign after a video was released which at first, appeared to show her making racially charged remarks at a NAACP banquet.

Stanger still is that NAACP CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous, also wanted her head on a platter claiming the group was "appalled by her actions." The NAACP'S initial reaction was curious in light of the fact that Mr. Jealous loves to play the race game himself. Why should the NAACP, the MSM, and the administration get themselves in a twist over comments from some obscure government bureaucrat when other higher profile officials have done or said things far worse?

Sherrod is claiming that the administration was spooked after hearing she was going to appear on Glenn Beck to clear her name - the full speech is actually quite moving as she speaks from the heart about how she, an African American, overcame her own personal prejudices towards white farmers and became a colorblind advocate for all those who toil the land.

So, Vilsack is falling on his sword claiming there was no contact with the White House, and the media has moved on to playing a disingenuous game of self flagellation - chattering about their "rush to judgement" and how this is "a teaching moment." We've seen this act before. Remember Dan Rather, the 2000 election, Richard Jewell...?

Something isn't sitting right, and I just can't put my finger on it. Gibbs was walking on egg shells over the whole affair, and Gibbs is usually a smug little jerk. I don't believe for a second that the administration was in the dark about this. It is impossible that as this story exploded in the media, the White House had absolutely no contact with the department. Gibbs was lying, and to quote a famous movie - "I can't think of one reason big enough for him to lie about, that's small enough not to matter."

Anyway, there's lots more stuff coming on deck so stay tuned to TSH and remember, we're on Facebook so join the fan club!



Sunday, July 04, 2010

Justin Bieber, Blick v. Connecticut, and Blogging By Numbers

Justin Bieber creeps me out. Not just Bieber, but this entire Bieber fever. Grown women should not be swooning over a kid who's not even old enough to legally drink in Quebec. Ephebophilia aside, he looks like Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, or a homeless Rice Krispies elf. That's what`s swirling about in our cultural vortex these days. Vampires and a 16 year old R&B singer who sounds like he wanted to be a castrato but chickened out half-way through the snipping, leaving us with nothing but a quasi mezzo-soprano abomination. How many years before that kid's sniffing airplane glue out of a Doritos bag on a curb somewhere with Lindsay Lohan?

Anyway, I better get to some actual punditry or my Editor, The Lovely Mrs. Leger, will discover a provision in the 25th Amendment for dealing with delinquent writers. Let the blogging by numbers begin!!

It's about to get judicial up in this mug.

1 - Justin Bieber has nothing to do with Blick v. Connecticut but I had to rope you in somehow.

2 - Speaking of Blick v. Connecticut, June was a month of surprising victories for conservatives in the courts. On June 21st, a Connecticut trial court soundly rejected a petition by two doctors seeking to legalize physician assisted suicide. What is significant about the Blick decision is that firmly quashed the game of punting legal euphemisms about in an attempt to try and circumvent the state's manslaughter laws . The court clearly asserted that using the term “aid in dying” to describe what the doctor's claim is “the choice of a mentally competent terminally ill individual” still constitutes suicide. As William Saunders & Mailee Smith of Bench Memos noted;

"Looking back at the history of the Connecticut manslaughter statute, the court found that official comments by the statute’s drafters “make it quite clear” that the prohibition was intended to include physician-assisted suicide. This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that suicide advocates have tried and repeatedly failed to amend the statute."

- and for all of you anarchists, I mean, libertarians and RINOS out there the court also held that such matters are best left in the hands of the legislature, not the courts, providing that such laws do not jeopardize the rights of the elderly, mentally challenged or other vulnerable persons.

3 - Speaking of "would you like some hemlock with your Geritol?" the Supreme Court in Montana overturned Baxter VS Montana, a lower court ruling that stated physician assisted suicide was "a right" and not subject to the state's homicide laws. While the decision was a victory for conservatives, it shied away from explicitly outlining any boundaries protecting those most vulnerable should the Montana legislature decide they want to be the next Switzerland where you can take your elderly mother skiing before strapping her to a bed with a glass full of Nembutal.

4 - It's really creepy that Microsoft Office knows how to spell check "Nembutal".

5 - If you've ever pondered whether Gonzalo Higuain, Thomas Mueller, or Mesut Ozil is the most impressive rookie, chances are you're a pretentious douchebag who should have a vevuzela rammed up your a%*.

6 - While Elena Kagan tried to explain away the astoundingly stupid White House memo in which she compared the NRA to the KKK during her SCOTUS confirmation hearings, the very same bench she is aspiring to sit on handed down the most resounding and definitive ruling on the 2nd amendment in the court's recent history. In a landmark ruling in the case of in McDonald vs. City of Chicago, the court declared that the second amendment applies to federal and state governments. David Rittger`s opined that;

The McDonald decision is a harbinger for the end of gun prohibition as an idea. The simple, undeniable truth is that gun control does not work. McDonald brings the law up to speed with reality, where advocates of gun control have been wrong since the issue became a national discussion.

A generation from now, legal and policy discussions will look back and see gun control for the sham that it has always been. The real shame is that it took decades of political action, millions of dollars in litigation, and thousands of lives lost to end the preposterous idea that governments can reduce the number of victims of violent crime by first taking away their means of resistance.

I couldn't have said it better myself - so I won't.

7 - Anyway, for those who haven't left to do whatever it is people do in "Café World", reason scored yet another victory in June when U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman overturned President Obama's 6 month moratorium on drilling. The MSM briefly acknowledged the ruling to allow for the perquisite feigned outrage, then quickly went back to the business of pretending it never happened. Judge Martin's ruling may well be overturned but we would well served to remember that the executive, or legislative branches for that matter should not as a rule, engage in reactionary legislation. Government mechanisms should jump into action to stem the bleeding from acts of God or man-made mishaps, but politicians should resist the urge to "do something" in the way of legislation, bans or massive government spending every time the wind blows a tent over. The President assured the American people that the moratorium would last no longer than 6 months, but as the lovely Mrs. Leger loves to remind me;

"There's nothing as permanent as a temporary government solution".

Take us out Hugh!