Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter's Switch

I suppose I should have some thoughts on Senator Specter's switch to the Democrat party, so here are a couple:

It's not a surprise. He's been a very liberal senator most of his career. The Democrat party, by gaining Specter, has not changed its ideological complexion, but the Republican party, by losing Specter, has just grown more conservative. If he was going to do it, though, I wish he hadn't promised just a month or so ago that he wouldn't jump parties.

I do respect him for the courage with which he has battled his cancer and for his stalwart defense of some good Supreme Court nominees. He was an ardent defender of Clarence Thomas against the calumnies of the Left and Anita Hill and was a key player in getting Roberts and Alito through Senate confirmation. Other than that he's been a millstone around the neck of the GOP.

I've never voted for him in the primary and never voted against him in the general election. Now I can.

His move was pure self-interest. He would've lost to Pat Toomey in the GOP primary. I can't imagine aspiring Democrat office-holders not being a little miffed at his horning in on their political ambitions. It'll be interesting to see what kind of a primary challenge he'll face. It'll also be interesting to see what Harry Reid offered him in return for making the switch.

Now that the Democrats have the 60 votes they need for cloture there's no reason not to encourage Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to follow Specter into the Democrat party.


Repealing the Right to an Attorney

You may recall the efforts of the Bush administration to set aside a law established in the wake of the Supreme Court's Michigan vs. Jackson decision in 1986. This ruling required police to allow a defendant to have a lawyer present for any questioning to which he is compelled by the police to submit.

The Bush Justice Department, arguing that the law was unnecessary and outdated, sought to have it repealed. The sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right of criminal suspects to be "represented by counsel", but the administration argued that this merely means the right to have a lawyer present in a criminal trial.

The Justice Department, in a brief signed by the solicitor general, said the 1986 decision "serves no real purpose" and offers only "meager benefits".

The government said that suspects have the right to remain silent, and that officers must respect that decision. But it argued that there is no reason a defendant who wants to speak without a lawyer present should not be able to respond to officers' questions.

No wonder people thought the Bush administration was hostile toward civil rights. Any administration that would attempt to deny prisoners the right to an attorney before being questioned by the police is just one step away from bright lights and rubber truncheons. We can thank the media for their vigilance in calling this surreptitious attempt to roll back civil rights protections to our attention.

What's that you say? You never heard of this case? You don't recall the media outrage over the fascist Bush administration's attempt to turn the U.S. into a police state?

Well, perhaps that's because the case is in fact just now moving through the courts, and the administration that is pushing it is not the Bush bunch but the Obama brigades, and that's doubtless why you haven't heard anything about it from the media. People who would be outraged if Bush had tried something like this, people who would be conjuring up images of jackboots and swastikas if a Republican president sought to overturn Michigan, are perfectly content to let Obama do it.

Is it any wonder that Americans' respect for Big Media is flagging? Is it any wonder that a lot of people are very worried about which of our rights the Obama Justice Department will try to repeal next?

Thanks to Hot Air for the link.


Not Much Hope for Peace

Strategy Page runs a dispiriting analysis of the state of efforts to gain peace between Israel and the Palestinians:

International efforts to get peace talks between Palestinians and Israel going, are failing because of disunity among Palestinians. Not only are Hamas and Fatah not willing to work together (as rival political parties, not rival governments), but many Palestinians are opposed to both Hamas (for its radicalism) and Fatah (for its corruption). The Arab nations are finding it impossible to even get Hamas and Fatah to pretend to unite to negotiate a peace deal with Israel (that would create a Palestinian state.) Hamas is still running its propaganda about eventually destroying Israel and driving all Jews from the Middle East. Hamas appears to be practicing what it is preaching, with preparations continuing for a major attack on Israel.

Violence continues inside Gaza and the West Bank, but a different kind of violence. In Gaza, Hamas is well on its way to establishing a functioning police state. Opponents are being terrorized into inactivity. In the West Bank, Fatah only controls about half the territory. There are many more factions there that have maintained their local power. Some of these groups are terrorists, more interested in carrying out attacks on Israel than in establishing a Palestinian state.

The Israelis cope by continuing their counter-terror operations, seeking out and arresting or killing the more active terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank. This war is largely unreported, because both the terrorists and the counter-terror forces keep their secrets. Since the Israelis figured out how to defeat Palestinian terrorists five years ago, you have few suicide bombs going off in Israel, and any attacks that are carried out are low level and crude. The Israeli operations continue to detect and disrupt terrorist operations, which is how they keep the terrorism out of Israel.

Hamas would like to subvert Fatah control of the West Bank, but appears to see another battle with Israel happening first. Hamas fighters can be seen training, with new weapons smuggled in from Iran, to use new tactics. Hamas hopes the new weapons and tactics will defeat the new Israeli tactics that [allowed them to] so quickly [tear] through Hamas defenses earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the world criticizes Israel for not doing more to bring peace to the region. On one recent Sunday morning talk show a commentator remarked that Obama has to pressure both sides, but especially the Israelis, to negotiate. This is worse than absurd. Israel is in an existential crisis and the American pundit class thinks they should negotiate their right to exist.

What, one wonders, do these people think a compromise would look like with an enemy determined to destroy you? How do you negotiate with people whose whole raison d'etre is your obliteration and that of your children? What, other than an auto de fe, can Israel give the Palestinians that would mollify them and bring peace? At what point do the Israelis realize that there will never be peace with Hamas and simply say, "Let's get this over with?"