Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sanity Prevailing

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unremarkable ruling in a discrimination case in which a woman claimed she had been systematically underpaid (well below the level of her male counterparts) for a period of years.

The law she filed the suit under, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically states that suits must be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation. The woman who filed the suit was claiming that the discrimination took place years earlier.

The Supreme Court, in a controversial turnabout from the last 40 years, read Title VII and ruled against the woman, insanely interpreting the section of the law that said the suit must be filed within "180 days" to mean that....the suit actually needed to be filed within 180 days. Which it wasn't. In the normal world, this wouldn't seem that complicated, and certainly would be uncontroversial. It's open and shut. The law has an explicit deadline contained in it, and the woman's suit missed that deadline by a matter of years.

But to the liberal justices of the Supreme Court, laws aren't actually laws, and words aren't actually words. Laws are merely suggestions that courts can ignore at will (like, for instance, when the Florida Supreme Court daily rewrote the duly passed election law deadlines in 2000 desperately hoping for some recount that would show Al Gore the winner). Thus, in what ought to be a no-brainer, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a dissent from the majority ruling, which she read from the bench in an unusual show of disagreement. To Ginsburg, the fact that the law specifically and explicitly requires that suits must be filed within 180 days is meaningless and free to be ignored. (In her dissent, without apparent irony, Ginsburg calls the Court's plain reading of "180 days" a "cramped interpretation.")

According to the Washington Post:
Yesterday she said that "Title VII was meant to govern real-world employment practices, and that world is what the court today ignores." She called for Congress to correct what she sees as the court's mistake.
Translation: Ginsburg was unable to change the law by fiat directly from the bench as had previously been her practice, and thus had to resort to the far less savory option of handing the law back to the people (who passed it to begin with) to change it or not change it as they see fit. The outrage of it all!

Of course, Ginsburg's pique notwithstanding, this is the way the system was actually intended to operate. The legislatures write the laws, and the judges apply them as written--without substituting their personal policy preferences for those of the people. The only reason it is working correctly now after a 40-plus year hiatus is because conservative Samuel Alito now sits on the United States Supreme Court, shifting the balance away from the liberal majority Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter, and Breyer were accustomed to ruling over us with.

How revolutionary to have a majority of Supreme Court justices who now read a law and act as if it means what it says.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Assured Results Of Science

As you know by now, the great goddess Science has pronounced global warming a human-induced tragedy that will destroy the entire planet in perhaps hours. (For more on this, see the mid 70's scientific and journalistic pronouncements on the environment, and substitute the words "global warming" for "coming ice age.")

On Friday night, I accidentally tuned into the Anderson Cooper show on CNN. If you've never seen this program before, the idea is that Anderson is sent out into the field to exotic and newsworthy locales, and then reports on how being there makes him personally feel on an emotional level (e.g. "It's really eerie to be here. I have this feeling--it's hard to describe"). On Friday, he'd been sent to Greenland. (Perhaps he welshed on a bet with a CNN boss or something.) The topic, needless to say, was global warming. Anderson was there because Greenland is made mostly of ice, and some of it appears to be melting. ("It's literally changing the map of this country!")

With Anderson in Greenland was Jeff Corwin, a hyperactive environmentalist TV nature show host who I used to have trouble distinguishing from Steve Irwin, though that problem has abated somewhat in the last year. This, of course, was a program about science, part of CNN's ongoing "Doomed Planet of Death" series (or something along those lines). The purpose of the program is to convince us that science shows we're in real trouble.

So Anderson, in telling us about his feelings, mentions that it's eerie and disorienting to be in Greenland because you can't really see the horizon. Because of the color of the ice and the color of the sky, it all looks like one. At this point, "wildlife biologist" Jeff Corwin, whom CNN had flown all the way to Greenland in an effort to help Anderson Cooper make the scientific point that the earth is doomed, chimed in to add some science. I'm taking this directly from CNN's transcript, since I actually had to double-check it to make sure I heard him correctly:
This is what's really amazing. If you were back home, for example, in New York, and you could see where the skyline is, you could see where the horizon is.

But if you look, there's horizon all the way around you, which is really incredible. You're that close to the top of the world, that you don't get sort of a dividing point. You're completely surrounded by the top of the world.
That's right, kids. According to scientist Jeff Corwin, whom CNN has flown to Greenland to give us the Scientific Perspective on Global Warming, the reason you don't see a horizon in Greenland is because you're nearly at the top of the planet. See, when you stand at the top of this round planet, the horizon disappears...because you're so high up. I just hope he held onto something so that he didn't slide off. Presumably, that would be an awfully long fall from "the top of the planet."

So enough already, you doubting, obscurantist flat-earthers. Stop doubting science of global warming and get behind the geniuses before more of the horizon melts away and we're all hurtled into space.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In an odd confluence, the themes of my previous two separate, unrelated posts suddenly come together in this Slate article today in which the aforementioned Christopher Hitchens savages the aforementioned Jimmy Carter.

It starts mercilessly and builds from there:
Almost always, when former President Jimmy Carter opens his big, smug mouth, he has already made the psychological mistake that is going to reduce his words to absurdity. When he told the press last week that the Bush administration had aroused antipathy around the world, he might have been uttering no more than a banality. But no, he had to try to invest it with a special signature flourish.

It's fun to read because Carter is such an inviting target. Unfortunately, however, Hitchens, because of his rabid antipathy toward Christianity, misplaces the locus of Carter's stupidity, rooting it in Carter's professed faith (which, by the way, bears little resemblance to the faith of traditional Christians) rather than where it belongs--in his reflexive leftism . But of course Hitchens himself has long been a man of the Left, albeit an unpredictable (and increasingly dissatisfied) one. Thus, while he recognizes and chafes Carter's characteristic inanity, he necessarily finds it easier to blame on Carter's supposed religiosity than on their many shared presuppositions.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hitched To The Wrong Horse

These have been widely linked in the blogosphere already, but be sure not to miss the fascinating exchange between the atheist Christopher Hitchens and the Christian Douglas Wilson in the online pages of Christianity Today.

Wilson does a magnificent job of exposing Hitchens' utter inability to justify--on his own principles--his manifest moral outrage. While Hitchens is big on bluster, he's dodged the central question for the entire debate. It's a failing shared by all atheists with whom I've ever had contact. I can't help thinking it's not accidental.

The discussion can be found here: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Opening The Peanut Hole

It takes a lot to bring an uninspired, reclusive blogger--who's been on hiatus for nearly a month--out of his self-imposed exile. But Jimmy Carter's just the guy to do it.

As I've pointed out before, despite the saintly image the media desperately tries to pin on him ("the greatest ex-president ever!"), Carter is a venal, bitter opportunist who desperately wants to obscure his true legacy--the disastrous, spirit-crushing presidency he foisted on America from 1977 to 1981. No living president is more relentlessly vain than Jimmy Carter, who coddled every evil Leftist dictator on the planet in an effort to garner his much-lobbied-for Nobel Peace Prize.

As you undoubtedly heard, Carter decided to air the latest in his long string of criticisms of the Bush administration this weekend, breaking a longstanding post-presidential tradition of relative neutrality as he continues his attempt to prop up his own tarnished legacy by attacking subsequent administrations. He told an Arkansas newspaper that, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." This, of course, coming from a president who fecklessly stumbled through the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet nuclear buildup, locked us into a disastrous deal with North Korea (as an ex-president, no less), fumbled the economy every which way, and made America a laughing stock in the post-Nixon years.

Today, in the face of stinging (and much-deserved) criticism, Carter tries to weasel out of his remarks, and does so with the craven gutlessness that characterized his entire presidency. He now says about his remarks, "They were maybe careless or misinterpreted."

Beautiful. I don't think a single statement could better sum up Jimmy Carter. "My remarks were possibly a mistake, and they were either a mistake that I made, or a mistake that somebody else made about me. I'm not sure yet. I was either utterly out of line as an incompetent former president, or else maybe all of you just misunderstood me. I don't remember for sure. Let me get back to you."

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