If you need some good news today, I have this piece “An Unexpected and Unusual Ordination of a Priest.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor paid a visit last week to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as part of a judicial conference. Sotomayor was the first Supreme Court Justice to visit the islands.
“There’s still peace here. It is wonderful to see islands unlike the ones I am accustomed to, even my own island, Puerto Rico, that are very, very developed and don’t maintain completely their island identity, but that’s not true here,” she said.
The justice said she was able to watch and experience the CNMI’s native dancing and saw people still living the island life.
“It is really very, very attractive and inviting. I sound like a tourist ad for you, but I’ve been converted. And I think people should come and visit these islands because they are quite enchanting,” she said. . . .
When asked if there are challenges unique to insular areas that she sees in terms of upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of the judicial system, Sotomayor paused for a moment, then stated that “clearly there is a challenge always when there are mixing of cultural experiences,” whether it is for the insular territories or the different parts of the United States. . . .
Sotomayor said she believes that whenever there is a mix of experiences, there’s going to be unique problems and that accepting the rules of another culture is not natural.
“We all like what we are familiar with,” she said.
Guam, you may recall, is where I am litigating a case in federal court regarding restrictions on the right to vote. These restrictions only permit “native inhabitants” to participate in a status plebiscite election which some defenders of the law call a “Chamorro only” vote. Guam’s status election has strategic implications because Guam hosts a forward deployed air force base and an essential navy base. Those most interested in preventing white and Asian voters from participating in the status election are the same people most interested in casting off the American, or as they call it, “colonial,” presence on Guam.
But if you find it shocking that not everyone can vote in every election in Guam, the situation is worse in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) where Saipan is located. There, American whites and blacks can’t even own land, even though the American flag flies over the CNMI.
The Constitution of the CNMI explicitly prohibits land ownership to anyone except one racial group, native inhabitants. (N. MAR. I. CONST. art. XII, § 1 and § 4). That means an American citizen who decides to live in the CNMI cannot own land if they are white, black or Asian. This law is being challenged, but arises out of a complicated compact unique to the CNMI.
Sotomayor said she has been welcomed so warmly and greeted with such hospitality that “I couldn’t help but fall in love with each of the islands. And I already did promise I’m coming back, not in a year or two but down the line. I shall return and visit more of your islands.”
She said the CNMI is a part of the United States that she didn’t know enough about. “And now that I have had a taste, I am anxious and looking forward to learning more.”
Let’s just hope Justice Sotomayor on her return to Saipan, CNMI, doesn’t fall too much in love with the place. Otherwise she will learn that even if she wanted a nice tropical beach house there, she won’t be allowed because she isn’t the approved race.
I never thought I’d see so many purported conservative writers, and once proud conservative websites, shilling for Mitt Romney. Michael Graham of WTKK-FM in Boston certainly isn’t one of them. He has “Smoke Gets In Mitt’s Guise” in today’s Boston Herald:
After the electoral fiascoes of ’06 and ’08, it wasn’t the Washington GOP that turned things around. It was the conservative base and the Tea Party. They helped elect Sen. Scott Brown here and handed the House back to the GOP.
And now party bosses wonder why the base refuses to take our “Mitt medicine” and do as we’re told. Maybe it’s because we’re tired of losing.
That’s the real message Republican voters are trying to send. No more losing politely with some moderate squishy candidate who cares more about what East Coast elites think of him than conservative voters do.
You really want to stop Newt? It’s simple. Dump Mitt. Stop whining about Gingrich winning, stop flogging the GOP’s “designated establishment loser of 2012″ and back someone else.
Graham predicts that if Romney is nominated, he will lose. Which brings me to the taking names part.
Obviously if Romney wins the nomination, only the irrational wouldn’t prefer a Romney presidency to an even more radicalized second Obama term. But if Graham is right, that Romney can’t beat Obama, then we need to hold those in the conservative movement accountable that shilled so. . . demonically for Mitt. We need to remember who they were, and hold them accountable.
Holding them accountable means ignoring them the next time.
It won’t be hard to find them. Elliot Abrams can top the list. There are many many more. Keep the list handy in 2016. When we hear from the Dole-over-Gramm crowd the next time, or the McCain-over-Huck corner, we can check to see if they were part of the Mitt-over-Newt establishment panic of 2012, and appropriately disregard them in 2016.
Of course it is not too late to disregard them now, particularly those who cling to an obsolete linear political model from a generation ago. A candidate does not become more electable the closer they are to the center. Favorable coverage on NBC Nightly News no longer swings elections. In today’s polarized political landscape, the opposite may be true. A candidate that creates no excitement, even if nicely positioned in the non-offensive middle, cannot win. It is a lesson some conservatives have yet to learn, particularly inside the Beltway.
I previously noted that Romney’s loss can be explained many ways, including an inability to connect with voters. But the primary reason Romney lost is because he lags behind the mood of his party.
The most successful politicians are always ahead of the electorate, but not too far ahead. Churchill, for much of the 1930s, was too far ahead of the British public, until circumstances caught up to his warnings. Reagan was ahead of the establishment when he characterized the Soviet Union as an evil empire. Leading the public into the future, with language that captures public sentiment before that sentiment has even matured, is what separates great political figures from the rest.
Romney’s language lags behind the mood of the country, and more importantly, the mood of Republicans. He has just recently begun to use words and images that reflect the congressional revolution of 2010, when the Tea Party re-popularized limited government.
Notice Romney’s lag from Saturday night’s speech in Columbia, South Carolina. President Obama has been “demonizing success and disparaging conservative values.” This assessment is both vague and late. “Conservative values?” Which? “Disparaging?” Most GOP primary voters suspect Obama doesn’t have “disparagement” on his mind, but destruction instead. What should be a rallying cry for Romney sounds instead like those first clues we detected in 2009 that Obama really wasn’t a centrist.
Worse, in something appropriate in the fall of 2008, Romney said Saturday, “President Obama has no experience running a business or running a state.” But in 2012 he has experience running the federal government. This language reinforces Romney’s fundamentally incorrect assessment that Obama is merely “in over his head.”
Republicans who presume that Obama is primarily incompetent are making a deadly mistake. I’ve appeared on Fox News to warn how dangerous it is to ascribe incompetence to this administration. Romney’s assessment lags behind the perception among Republicans that this is an ideologically driven presidency intent on fundamentally transforming America. After all, Obama plainly says so.
“Our president has divided the nation and engaged in class warfare,” said Romney Saturday night. Most Republicans realized this years ago. Now they seek a general to lead them into a titanic political battle against a president who, they believe, seeks to convert this country into something that was unimaginable a generation ago. They want a general who uses language to inspire them for the fight. And so far, Mitt Romney hasn’t found it.
They want a leader in the fight that does not lag behind them. They want a leader who says the things they believe.
Romney has exactly one week to find the right words, the inspirational language. Even presuming he does, the danger is that Florida Republicans may view it as another politically expedient Romney conversion. The biggest reason Romney lost in South Carolina is that he seems to lag behind the views of his own party. It is far more dangerous to lag behind the public than to be too far in front of it. As Churchill learned, it’s easier for the public to catch up to one articulate and inspirational voice, than for a lagging politician to catch up to the public.
The First Amendment is a brilliant check against the government. For centuries, newspapers and columnists have used press freedom to hold the government accountable. Yet today, some media organizations have the singular purpose of defending the government. They also do things the government can’t do directly, like attack particular American citizens.
Consider the attacks on former PJ Media contributor and now Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch. Loesch said that she had no problem with the video of American soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters — “I’d drop trou and do it to.” It wasn’t clear if Loesch was being sarcastic, but it hardly matters.
Predictably, leading the indignant outrage was Media Matters, an outfit funded by the convicted felon George Soros. They’ve devoted bold red fury to her comments, stopping just short of calling for her to be roasted on a spit.
Media Matters specializes in defending the government through scattershot internet smears against anyone who effectively criticizes said government. In olden days, this task fell to state-run media and occasionally rough thugs who stepped in when propaganda just wasn’t enough. Today, the administration outsources their dirtiest work to groups like Media Matters.
A free copy of my book Injustice to the first person who sends me a link to any Media Matters story critical of the Obama administration. I’ll even sign it to make it worth your while. It will be a long hunt.
Dana Loesch is their latest target for a simple reason — thugs like Eric Boehlert at Media Matters only attack the most effective critics of the government, and particularly those who cannot be easily cowed. They don’t waste energy smearing conservatives at some websites who ponder topics as scintillating as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They don’t waste time on conservative news outlets that either don’t understand the modern Left, or have never effectively opposed it.
Governor Rick Perry has appealed Friday’s federal court decision which ruled his name could not appear on the Virginia primary ballot. The first brief filed in the appeal by Perry is here.
On Friday, the district court found that Virginia’s ballot access law is unconstitutional, but ruled that the cases were filed too late and the doctrine of laches barred relief. This was a big victory for Perry and the other campaigns challenging Virginia’s law. (Disclosure: I am one of the attorneys on the case representing different candidates). It is not accurate to say, as some have, that Perry didn’t “know how” to get on the ballot.
Virginia has a law which unconstitutionally restricts political speech to only residents of Virginia. Only Virginia residents are allowed to circulate petitions seeking to have candidates placed on the ballot. The restriction violates the First Amendment. For example, who would defend a law that requires a license to attend church or publish a newspaper by saying this or that person was able to obtain the license without any trouble? Who would say the newspaper license isn’t burdensome because some newspapers were able and willing to pay it?
The same is true in Virginia. The law at issue will soon either be struck down in another case, or the Fourth Circuit will require more candidates to be added to the Virginia ballot. Unfortunately, it will cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth a bundle in the meantime.
The battle for the GOP nomination moves to South Carolina, and there are signs that Romney faces a tougher path in the Palmetto State. I wrote last year of the South Carolina primary at PJ Media:
Pro-business mainstream conservatives who give no offense to evangelicals and mainline Protestants — and, ideally, who have demonstrable national security credibility — are the candidates who win the South Carolina primary. Everyone wondering who will be the GOP nominee in 2012 should read that last sentence ten times over. Failure on any point means failure in South Carolina.
South Carolina politics have a brutality unknown in New Hampshire or Iowa. I cut my teeth in South Carolina politics. I remember a political consultant there who spray-painted his own candidate’s signs with slurs to engender sympathy. And that’s just one of the milder things that happen.
It is a culturally and philosophically conservative state, and Romney has a number of problems there which I allude to in the quoted paragraph above. If the conservative vote wasn’t split among many candidates, I don’t believe Romney could win South Carolina. But for now, it is a close contest.
The action next week will be focused on the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Charleston at the TD Arena. You can watch the fight for the nomination in real time, culminating in a Thursday night debate. I will also be one of the speakers, talking about voter fraud, election integrity, the New Black Panther Party and the Holder Justice Department. I will also be signing copies of Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department.
Eric Holder is conducting a war on southern election integrity. He blocked Georgia’s law to verify that only U.S. citizens are voting in American elections. He has sued Governor Bobby Jindal because not enough voter registrations were coming from his welfare agencies. He has blocked S.C. Voter ID. He will block the Texas law shortly. Florida seeks election integrity changes his DOJ wrangled over. Come to Charleston and learn what is happening, and what can be done about it.
Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney found that the statute which Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum were challenging was indeed unconstitutional. First Amendment freedom of speech was violated by Virginia’s statute which says that only Virginia residents may gather petition signatures. Unfortunately, the judge also ruled the doctrine of equitable laches prevents the four candidates from being added to the ballot. In other words, he ruled the case was late filed, so the plaintiffs will not be added to the Virginia ballot for now. Bryan Preston has some more here.
An aside. Someone made off with my grey herringbone coat from the courtroom. I have yours; you have mine. You took mine and yours was the only one hanging on the rack. Mine is a Ralph Lauren. Yours is a Tommy Hilfiger. Let’s find a way to exchange it. My email isn’t hard to find if you go to electionlawcenter.com.
Apart from me losing a coat, the big message from the case today relates to all those who were critical of this case being filed. It shows there were real constitutional rights injured by the Virginia law. It is a violation of the First Amendment to have laws which limit who may express political speech when collecting petition signatures. Let’s hope the Virginia General Assembly fixes this law, fast, before the next plaintiff, (without a laches concern), gets a big hefty attorney’s fee award against the Commonwealth.
It is no defense to argue that some candidates in the past negotiated an unconstitutional law. If the government made some people buy a license to attend church, it is no defense to say the burden is minimal because some people could comply with the church license. Conservatives are America’s best champions of the Bill of Rights, whether the Second, Fifth, of First Amendments. Slavish attachment to an unconstitutional statute doesn’t do the conservative cause any good. Perhaps some conservative elected officials in Virginia who have long championed constitutional limits on government will step up and do what’s right now that the the Virginia General Assembly opened today.
Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has quietly advanced legal arguments in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and the teaching of other Christian denominations. If the Department of Justice prevails, the Catholic Church and other churches will have a difficult time preserving doctrinal traditions central to church teaching, particularly in church schools. The quiet and radical legal attack comes with perilous political risk, because active Catholics may determine Obama’s fate in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Like so much from this Justice Department, Holder’s radical legal positions are at odds with long American traditions. This latest species of Holder’s radicalism is a frontal attack on faith communities.
In the case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Holder’s DOJ argued that a church cannot fire an employee for acting contrary to church teaching, and contrary to an employment contract that incorporates that teaching. A teacher filed a complaint to the government about how the school handled her narcolepsy, which presumably would involve sleeping at work. The church school then fired the teacher because the church forbids lawsuits among believers based on 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. (“But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!”)
This particular Lutheran church had well established dispute resolution mechanisms within the church, and based on church teaching. Instead, the teacher went to the government, contrary to church teaching.
Holder’s Justice Department believes that religious schools should not be able to enjoy a longstanding exemption to various employment laws which conflict with church teaching, or, the “ministerial exception.”
Assistant to the Solicitor General Leondra R. Kruger (photo below) argued that the religious school could not fire the teacher for filing a complaint to the government even if church teaching forbids it. (Some background on Kruger here, here, and here). At oral argument, Kruger advocated positions so extreme that even Justice Elena Kagan appeared to reject them.
The big news over the weekend, that the Obama White House had a secret Alice and Wonderland-themed Halloween party, really didn’t surprise me. The taxpayer-funded event featured Johnny Depp in full Mad Hatter costume prancing on tables in the White House State Dining Room. Someone wore the actual Chewbacca Wookie costume, while guests drank punch from blood vials. (An aside: why is Halloween such a big event for some people, requiring excessive decorations and festivities?) The State Dining Room was turned into a Lewis Carroll-themed house of horrors for the invited guests.
Not surprisingly, the White House deliberately concealed the existence of the grotesque party from the public and the press corp. That pesky 16% real unemployment rate required stealth.
The Alice in Wonderland party won’t surprise anyone who has read my book Injustice, for Chapter Seven is actually titled “Through the Looking Glass.” The Justice Department held a similar bizarre party at the Mellon Auditorium courtesy of the taxpayers on April 27, 2010. They called it a “retreat,” but it had skits, singing, dancing, and of course free lunch for nearly 800 DOJ employees paid for by you. It also featured a bizarre agenda, almost as strange as Johnny Depp in Mad Hatter makeup dancing on tables:
Between the breakout sessions at the retreat, outlandish comedy took center stage. Like a campfire program at Cub Scout camp, all the Civil Rights Division’s sections participated in a skit contest. For weeks leading up to the retreat, DOJ employees spent work time writing scripts, singing songs, and rehearsing. Despite the festive nature of the skits, all scripts had to be submitted well ahead of time to a designee of the assistant attorney general for approval. The Civil Rights Division leaders couldn’t help themselves—their instinct to control extends even to bad community theater.
In all there were twelve skits to fill the day. The Voting Section sang songs about elections. Another section presented a faux TV newscast featuring clips from the TV show Glee. Lawyers took the stage to sing, dance, and act out.
The retreat was more than a frolic and detour. It was a policy rally right out of Wonderland:
There were breakout sessions discussing topics such as “emerging areas” in civil rights practice, “outreach to Muslims,” and “environmental justice,” as well as a session of the “LGBT [lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender] Working Group.” A session on “collaboration opportunities” included speeches on “collaboration with sister agencies,” “anti-immigration discrimination,” and something called “place based initiatives.” These are hardly pressing civil rights issues for most Americans, but like Lewis Carroll’s March Hare, many in the Civil Rights Division have “murdered time.” To them, it’s always 1964, with Jim Crow devising new schemes