Monday, October 31, 2005

Now It's Alito!

That demonic howling-and-shrieking you hear is not from Halloween spooks, but from the usual suspects reacting to W's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, conservatives, prolifers, and others who support constitutional jurisprudence are rallying to support the Alito nomination. Let's Roll!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Two Who Made a Difference

Charles Millard, writing for National Review Online, takes note of two people who passed away this week who advanced the cause of human rights.
Rosa Parks died a legend in the fight for civil rights, and rightly so. Her willingness to serve as the personification of the fight against Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, Ala., may seem obvious in retrospect: Who wouldn't want to change history for the better? But keep in mind that this was not some academic, "good government" kind of exercise. Rosa Parks put her life at genuine risk to win the enforcement of some basic human rights.

It is less well known that Wellington Mara, too, fought to protect human rights. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that we are all endowed by our creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and Mara made a point of defending that fundamental right to life. It is interesting that the lengthy obituaries this week discuss many dimensions of Mara — as Catholic, old-school, and a gentleman — but few so much as mention his dedication to the cause of protecting the lives of the unborn.
Washington Intrigue

I'm not sure what to make of the indictment of VP Cheney's aide 'Scooter' Libby. The indictment is not on the original case behind the investigation, the supposed 'outing' of CIA operative Valerie Plame, but on charges of perjury, misleading the grand jury, and obstruction of justice. From the outside, it is difficult to know whether any deception was intentional or simply a result of fading two year old memories.

The Dems and the Old Media, who must be frustrated that W's aide Karl Rove was not also indicted today, are trying to make this into another Watergate. I don't know where this will end up, but these are different times and different circumstances.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harriet Miers Withdraws

While I was taking a wait-and-see position, I am relieved at the Miers nomination withdraw. Recent revelation of apparently conflicting public statements added to the uncertainty surrounding this nomination.

Ms. Miers deserves credit for gracefully withdrawing and so does President Bush for accepting it. Now he has an opportunity to nominate a clearly qualified constitutionalist for the vacant seat, which will spark an intense national discussion on legal issues and philosophy.
Man of Steele

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele on Tuesday formally announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat from Maryland (replacing the retiring Paul Sarbanes). His run will cross conventional party lines and draw national attention and money to the Maryland race.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Results of Hubble Lunar Surveys

NASA today announced the results of the August lunar observations by the Hubble Space Telescope.
"These observations of the moon have been a challenging and highly successful technological achievement for NASA and the Hubble team, since the telescope was not originally designed for lunar observations,” said Jennifer Wiseman, program scientist for the Hubble at NASA Headquarters. “The images will inform both scientific studies of lunar geology and future decisions on further lunar exploration," she said.

Here is another site with further explanation and a link to more images.

And, speaking of the frontier, I'm off to the Space Frontier Conference 14 in LA this weekend.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

'Purple Fingers' Arise Again

Iraqi citizens went to the polls to vote on a new constitution (results to be announced in several days). While predictions about the situation in Iraq are always tricky, the fact that terrorist violence against the election was less than expected lends hope to the possibility that the more Iraqi citizens of each of the factions feel they have a stake in democracy, the more likely the terrorists can be isolated and defeated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ongoing Miers Nomination Furor

Developments even in the past twenty four hours have been too numerous for my slow typing fingers to keep up with. I have heard conflicting clues regarding Ms. Miers' qualifications and judicial philosophy. Debate is a healthy thing, but I think the rhetoric on both sides has at times gotten a little too heated.

As one of millions who worked hard for W's re-election last year, I do not feel 'betrayed' by the President's nomination of someone he has reason to be confident reflects his (and many of our) view of the constitutional role of the judiciary. I also feel that some of the comments regarding Ms. Miers' limited qualifications were too sweeping. Not all Supreme Court justices have been constitutional scholars, but have come from various experiences with the law.

At the same time, the critics of the nomination do raise some serious question that deserve attention, especially given the importance of the Supreme Court's involvement with fundamental issues of life and liberty. Comments, some from within the White House itself, referring to critics of the nomination as 'sexist', 'elitist', or 'disloyal' are also overly heated.

Some have urged the President to withdraw the nomination or for Ms. Miers to withdraw herself. I'm not joining this call, as I'm reluctant to support pressuring a nominee to withdraw before she has a chance to speak for herself in the Senate hearings (though, given the turns this nomination fight has taken, I admit that I might be relieved if she does take that course).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

China's New Star in Orbit

China's second manned spaceflight is underway as Shenzhou 6 was launched, carrying 'taikonauts' Fei Junlong and Nie Haishen for a planned five day flight. China became the third country to launch a human into space two years ago, and plans future missions including a space station and a robotic lunar probe in the next few years.

Monday, October 10, 2005

More on Blessed von Galen

Perhaps the Miers nomination debate has distracted attention from the occasion of this courageous prolife Church leader being elevated a step toward sainthood. I've found no mention of Cardinal von Galen's beatification yesterday among the prominent Catholic or prolife blogs I've surveyed, except for Catholic Analysis, who reposted the Vatican Information Service (VIS) news release describing the event.
Returning to his prepared text, the Holy Father continued: "Among the many witnesses of Christ in the twentieth century, the figure of this zealous pastor and generous bishop stands out. The Lord gave him the heroic courage to defend the rights of God, of the Church and of man, which the National Socialist regime gravely and systematically violated in the name of an aberrant neo-pagan ideology.

"His beatification today again presents him as a model of profound and intrepid faith. We invoke the intercession of the new Blessed: may he bless the Church and human society in Germany, Europe and the entire world."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cardinal von Galen Beatified

Cardinal Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), bishop of Munster, Germany, was beatified today at the Vatican, a step toward his sainthood. Cardinal von Galen spoke out boldly against the culture of death that was Nazi Germany. In particular, he denounced the Nazi euthanasia program that killed many sick and disabled persons.
If you establish and apply the principle that you can kill 'unproductive' fellow human beings then woe betide us all when we become old and frail! If one is allowed to kill the unproductive people then woe betide the invalids who have used up, sacrificed and lost their health and strength in the productive process. If one is allowed forcibly to remove one's unproductive fellow human beings then woe betide loyal soldiers who return to the homeland seriously disabled, as cripples, as invalids. If it is once accepted that people have the right to kill 'unproductive' fellow humans--and even if initially it only affects the poor defenseless mentally ill--then as a matter of principle murder is permitted for all unproductive people, in other words for the incurably sick, the people who have become invalids through labor and war, for us all when we become old, frail and therefore unproductive.

Then, it is only necessary for some secret edict to order that the method developed for the mentally ill should be extended to other 'unproductive' people, that it should be applied to those suffering from incurable lung disease, to the elderly who are frail or invalids, to the severely disabled soldiers. Then none of our lives will be safe any more. Some commission can put us on the list of the 'unproductive,' who in their opinion have become worthless life. And no police force will protect us and no court will investigate our murder and give the murderer the punishment he deserves.

Who will be able to trust his doctor any more?

Blessed Cardinal van Galen's words have an ominous relevance to our society today. Let's pray that leaders in the Church and society today follow his courageous example and speak out in defense of life.
X-Prize Cup Countdown

This year's Countdown to the X-Prize Cup event in Las Cruces, N.M. featured some flight demonstrations (not all successful) of emerging privately developed space technology, plus a NASA announcement of two prizes for suborbital space development, as reported by MSNBC.
The rocket show was the climax to the Countdown to the X Prize Cup exposition, presented here by the X Prize Foundation. The event follows up on last year's big finish to a $10 million competition for suborbital spaceflight.

On Sunday, one rocket soared, and another blew up. Yet another spaceship lifted off, hovered for a few seconds, then fell over when it landed. Several companies showed off mockups of several future spaceships, and NASA took advantage of the occasion to announce yet more contests for private-enterprise rocketeers.
Another Natural Catastrophe

The earthquake centered in Pakistan has claimed over 20,000 lives. With the recent hurricane damage fresh in our minds, we are reminded that people around the planet are suffering from calamities and need our assistance and prayers.

Friday, October 07, 2005

War on Terror

New York City remains on high alert after a reported threat of terrorist action against the city's subway system. The fact that the source of the information was a terrorist captured in Iraq would tend to corroborate President Bush's position that the war in Iraq is a key focus of the global war with terrorists.

Just yesterday, the President gave a major speech on the war on terrorism, in which he described the nature of the enemy:
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

and stated the determination needed to prevail:
There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Miers Brouhaha

President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers as Supreme Court Justice has sparked a raging discussion, particularly in conservative circles. Amy Welborn links to some of the major sources of commentary, while prolife groups are tending toward supporting the Miers nomination.

My view? While I do think W could have picked someone with more of a legal intellectual background to persuasively move the court, I don't share the doom-and-gloom sentiments of some who feel that the Prez has betrayed his most passionate grassroots supporters. As the President has known his nominee fairly well for a number of years, I don't think this is quite the gamble his father took (and lost) on the unknown David Souter.

I am probably in a middle position on this nomination. Let's everyone take a deep breath and calm down until the Senate hearings provide a chance to evaluate Ms. Miers' world view and qualifications. Let's keep in mind the words of a most respected and beloved conservative leader who said "Trust, but verify."