Pelosi Buries Property Rights Under A Mountain Of Ignorance

Nancy Pelosi held a press conference this afternoon, during which reporters asked her about her position on the Kelo decision. The SCOTUS ruling, CQ readers will recall, allows legislative bodies to exercise eminent domain to seize private land and transfer it to other private ownership, as long as it considers the transfer beneficial to the public good. It does, however, specifically leave those decisions to the legislature, a nuance that Pelosi appears to have missed.
Senator Jon Cornyn will shortly introduce legislation to restrict the use of federal funds for projects such as those involved in the Kelo case that simply trade one private owner for another. When reporters asked Pelosi about Cornyn’s effort, she revealed that she knows nothing about Constitutional law, the Kelo decision, or even the power invested in the Congress that she supposedly leads:

Q Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal funds from being used in such a manner.
Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?
Ms. Pelosi. As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we’re going to withhold funds for the Court because we don’t like a decision.
Q Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn’t involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn’t be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.
Ms. Pelosi. Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church — powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.
So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I’m not saying that I’m opposed to this decision, I’m just saying in general.

First Pelosi reveals that she has no knowledge of Cornyn’s well-publicized effort, despite her position as House Minority Leader. Second, she appears completely incapable of understanding the question, somehow getting the notion that Cornyn’s proposal would defund the Supreme Court. When the reporter patiently explains to her what the proposal actually says, she still doesn’t understand the issue, and talks about defunding enforcement of the decision.
Let’s be clear on this point. Congress doesn’t have to “enforce” anything on this decision. What it can do is to set conditions for the use of federal funds for supposed urban-renewal projects, and it can restrict funds to projects that use eminent domain to seize lands for the benefit of another private owner. Nothing in Kelo prevents this, and in fact the majority opinion states that SCOTUS wants the legislature at each level to take responsibility for use of ED. Cornyn wants to use the legitimate power of the legislature to ensure that federal funds do not get used to diminish private-property rights — which doesn’t conflict with Kelo at all, but shouldn’t be necessary had SCOTUS followed the Constitution in its decision.
Pelosi, however, can’t stop herself from looking even more foolish as the reporter follows up, trying to allow her to express some sort of opposition in principle to the decision. After all, politicians on both sides of the aisle found reasons to criticize SCOTUS on this case. Pelosi instead digs the hole as deep as she can, throwing in a reference to the Almighty moments after she castigates Republicans for not respecting the separation between church and state:

Q Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?
Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It’s an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.
Q Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?
Ms. Pelosi. The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

This is almost as if God had spoken. But if He did, it wouldn’t matter anyway, since church and state must be kept separate, right? Besides, the Supreme Court is not God in our system. The judiciary is a co-equal branch to the Legislature and the Executive. Congress does not exist to bow before the nine robed members of SCOTUS, and neither does the President. One would think that any high-school graduate would understand that, let alone the House Democratic leader.
What an embarrassment Democratic leadership has become. We may yet see a collection of more ignorant, petulant, self-important incompetents at one time as Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean, but I wouldn’t bet on it. (via The Corner)

NBC: Founding Fathers Could Have Been Terrorists

NBC’s Brian Williams extended the concept of moral equivalence into the territory of the absurd in tonight’s installment of the NBC Evening News. The new anchor discussed the story about Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s possible involvement in the 1979 American embassy takeover in Teheran and subsequent hostaging of its staff. As I argued earlier, Williams noted that even if true, it wouldn’t make much difference in how we interact with the Iranian government, which supported the takeover and quickly co-opted it themselves.
However, as Dread Pundit Bluto noted, Williams instead argued that the British likely faced the same dilemma after the creation of the United States. After all, Williams says, one can easily confuse people like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with George Washington:

The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news organizations. It is a story that will be at or near the top of our broadcast and certainly made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I’ll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England.

Did Washington bomb women and children indiscriminately in order to chase the British out of North America? Did John Hancock send teenagers with bomb belts into marketplaces to kill as many people as possible to destabilize colonial society? This comparison insults the intelligence and the memory of those who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, which (despite what’s commonly thought) mostly saw European-style, set-piece combat between uniformed forces.
Williams indulges in the same, tired moral equivalency that led Michael Moore to declare Zarqawi as the Iraqi version of the Minutemen from our war of independence. This minimizes the cruelty and inhumanity of the enemies of freedom that use civilians as their targets while trying to impose tyrannies far worse than anything George III could ever have dreamed in his most feverish illusions. It also continues the generation-long effort to rewrite American history to eliminate the idea of American exceptionalism, where all forms of government are relatively equal and democracy is simply another choice with no special moral value over monarchies or autocracies.
Shame on Brian Williams, and shame on NBC.

This Is A Blog. This Will Remain A Blog.

Following the depressing nature of the questions at the latest FEC hearing on regulating the Internet, it appears that some bloggers are ready to jump ship, so to speak. Jeralynn Merritt has declared yesterday as the Day the Blogs Died, and now says that TalkLeft is no longer a blog, but an “online magazine.” Joining her are Americablog (which might therefore require a name change), The Talent Show, Crooks and Liars, and even Instapundit, although I suspect that Professor Reynolds has tongue firmly in cheek.
Not Captain’s Quarters. I may describe myself in a variety of ways, including citizen journalist, free-lance writer, pundit at large — but foremost in this community, I am a blogger. CQ is a blog, and it will remain a blog. It will undoubtedly evolve over time, offer new concepts to the CQ community, change its look, but at its heart, Captain’s Quarters will be a blog.
Why do I insist on that distinction? Because I will not allow the FEC to chase me from my rights as an independent voice in politics to write what I please and to post what I want based on a silly bit of nomenclature. I understand what Jeralyn and other members of the, er, “online magazine community” mean to say with these statements, but I won’t surrender to the bureaucrats an inch when it comes to my right to speak my mind. I don’t plan on playing silly name games with those who plan on regulating speech for our own good. All that does is play into their strategy of twisting words and meanings until nothing means what it says any more.
I won’t do it. I won’t play along. I won’t even do it as a protest, as these bloggers obviously mean it to be.
I wish my friends the best of luck as they transform themselves into the online magazine community, or ‘zines, as they used to be called in the early days. I’m glad to serve instead as the canary in the coal mine, in a manner of speaking. But when the FEC continues playing its word games to avoid exempting the online magazines, don’t be too terribly surprised. Eventually, we will all learn that the nannies who want to control political speech will not be stopped by shifting nomenclatures, and as long as we allow them at the levers of power, they will continue to issue ever-encroaching regulations to shut down the inconvenient voices that threaten them.
What will we do then, when we have no more names to hide us?

Ardaiz Considered For Federal Appellate Bench (Updated)

One of CQ’s sources within the legal community informs me that the Bush administration is considering James Ardaiz, the presiding justice of California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal, for a nomination to an opening on the notoriously far-left Ninth Circuit, which covers most of the western United States. Ardaiz has served in his present role for eleven years, an appointee of Governor Pete Wilson, after six years as an associate justice on the same circuit as an appointee of George Deukmejian. He has a total of twenty-four years of experience as a jurist, and prior to that spent six years as a prosecutor for the County of Fresno, specializing in homicide cases.
Justice Ardaiz has strongly supported California’s three-strikes law, and has authored a book on its use and effect. He has a long track record of working with legislatures and other jurists in the California system as spokesman for various vocational organizations, building confidence in his ability to work with elected representatives on both sides of the aisle. Ardaiz has also won numerous awards from his colleagues for his judicial temperament and skill, including a 1999 California Jurist of the Year from the state’s Judicial Council.
Justice Ardaiz appears to be the kind of jurist that the Ninth Circuit so badly needs: professional, thoughtful, with the proper approach to law that the oft-reversed Ninth obviously lacks on many occasions. Hopefully, the White House will nominate Ardaiz and the Senate will expedite his confirmation.
UPDATE: I initially understood this decision to already have been made by the White House, but my source tells me I misunderstood — which I did. Ardaiz is under serious consideration for this opening.

Likely Voters Running Away From Democrats

A new poll by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Democratic Party shows a significant erosion of support for the Democrats among likely voters:

[T]he poll indicated 43 percent of voters favored the Republican Party, while 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats.
“Republicans weakened in this poll … but it shows Democrats weakening more,” said Stanley Greenberg, who served as President Clinton’s pollster.
Greenberg told the Christian Science Monitor he attributes the slippage to voters’ perceptions that Democrats have “no core set of convictions or point of view.”

Obstructionism and a monopoly of gainsay has undermined the Democrats during wartime, and they cannot see it. The Democrats have vaulted their radicals to the leadership positions, people like Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom think that saying “No!” amounts to responsible opposition. In all three cases, the leaders spend more time calling the GOP names and engaging in personal attacks than in highlighting alternate approaches to issues.
Social Security provides a great example. After years of complaining that the program was at serious risk — Al Gore ran for President practically standing on a “lockbox” in 2000 — suddenly the official party line has transformed into denial that any problems exist at all. What changed? The Republicans put together a plan to address the long-term economic catastrophe that everyone knows is coming. Instead of proposing an alternate plan, Democrats sat on their butts and simply refused to engage.
The Democrats consider this their Newt Gingrich strategy. Gingrich torpedoed Hillarycare in 1993 without ever proposing an alternative, and won a majority in 1994 for his work. But Hillarycare would have created a huge government expansion and nationalized a private industry. Social Security already is a huge government program, and Congress has the responsibility to see to its maintenance. That difference hasn’t yet occurred to the Democratic cogniscenti, but the American electorate appears a bit smarter than Reid, Pelosi, and Dean.
Democrats need to decide whether they intend to stand for something other than Bush-hatred. Bush will only have an impact on one more election, the 2006 midterm cycle, in which he will only play a moderate role. If the Democrats plan on achieving a majority in their lifetime, they need to start demonstrating that they deserve to lead. That involves providing solutions, not the steady diet of petulant footstamping that has been their trademark the last two sessions of Congress. (via Michelle Malkin)
UPDATE: As always, Gerry has more in-depth analysis of the polling.

Canadian Prescription Drug Channel May Close

After a number of states have demanded access to the Canadian pharmaceutical market, where the nationalized health-care system keeps drug prices lower than in ithe US, Canadians may take action to protect their pricing and supply needs. Paul Martin’s government announced that it will draft legislation limiting such sales to prevent domestic shortages, which will probably put a halt to end-arounds such as those proposed by Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty:

The government announced Wednesday that it was drafting legislation to limit bulk exports of essential Canadian drugs in an effort to ensure that online pharmacy sales to the United States do not cause domestic shortages. But the proposal fell far short of what the online pharmacy industry feared might have forced it to leave Canada.
It is unlikely that the two million uninsured and underinsured Americans who depend on cheaper Canadian drugs to treat chronic conditions will be immediately affected. It is possible, however, that tighter regulations in Canada may give other foreign online suppliers a new competitive edge and encourage Canadian companies to warehouse more of their inventories in other countries.
“Canada cannot be the drugstore of the United States of America,” Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told reporters as he announced the legislation and several vaguely defined proposed regulatory changes, including one that could limit some Canadian doctors’ practice of co-signing online prescriptions for American patients without examining them.

The incursion of Americans into the previously-closed Canadian pharmaceutical market has seriously distorted pricing and supply on both sides of the border, a predictable outcome especially when dealing with state-controlled markets. As the Americans bought more of their drugs north of the border, margins for the manufacturers decreased here in the US and overall. That put pressure on the distributors to withhold or limit the amount of drugs sold to Canadians. The intent was to either limit the loss of margin to a smaller percentage of production, and/or to force the Canadians to limit access to their privileged pricing in order to protect their supply.
None of this should have surprised anyone who has studied entry-level economics or even had responsibility for a profit/loss statement. However, these basic principles of supply, demand, production, and profit escaped Americans who thought they could get a discount without the necessary sacrifices to create the organized buying power necessary. It also escaped the short-sighted Canadian retail pharmacies, who only saw large-scale American dollar signs.
Dosanjh, who has his own problems surrounding Gomery and the Grewal tapes, cannot afford to let the supply of pharmaceuticals get choked by having Americans poach their distribution channels and pricing agreements. His Liberal Party also cannot afford to drive off the retail pharmacies that have benefitted from American encroachment. Look for Dosnajh to either push for the middle ground, limiting American sales to small levels intended for individual consumers, or to throw the entire mess at Parliament for a legislative-sourced solution.

Army Meets Recruiting Goal For June

The Army has come under considerable criticism for failing to meet its recruiting goals the past four months. Critics blame the war in Iraq for the shortfall, which has put the Army behind in its overall recruiting for the fiscal year. However, the Army has managed to meet its goal for June, according to the New York Times, which points out a different reason for lower recruitment:

For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but it still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service’s annual quota.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a public forum at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the Army exceeded its June quota, but he gave no details. Senior Army officials said in interviews earlier in the day that the Army exceeded the goal of 5,650 recruits by about 500 people. The Army Reserve also made its first monthly quota since last December, the officials said.
That still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year that ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters’ lives miserable.

The Army has been the only branch of the service to miss its overall goal, or more accurately find itself in danger of missing its annual goal. The other branches of the service appear to be meeting their goals, and all branches have met or exceeded their re-enlistment objectives. Re-enlistment appears especially popular among those who serve in Iraq.
Interestingly, Eric Schmitt brings up a diagnosis that has not yet been raised in regards to this issue. The last time the Army faced a recruitment goal failure was six years ago, when the hot economy made it difficult to attract new recruits. So why doesn’t that get much mention now? After all, our economy has grown tremendously over the past three years, and now sports an impressive 3.8% growth rate for the first quarter of 2005. In fact, the Federal Reserve might announce a ninth straight interest-rate hike today to temper the growth.
It doesn’t appear that the Army’s missed goal is the crisis of confidence that the media has ginned up. Military recruitment gets affected by a number of factors, and deployment is an important but not exclusive issue for potential volunteers. Market competition also plays a role, as the Times reminds us, and right now the market is as tough as it has been since that last recruitment shortfall. Before the Chicken Littles of the media and the Left start screeching about falling skies, perhaps they should take a look at the big picture.

The Dumbest Controversy Ever

The New York Times eats up several column inches on what has to be the pettiest controversy of recent memory — The Case Of The Missing Applause. As I remarked during my live blog, the lack of reaction to George Bush’s speech appeared planned, as Bush spoke at a more rapid pace than normal, without the usual politician pauses that these addresses have. Carl Cameron confirmed immediately afterwards that the audience had been told to hold off on any reaction.
Apparently no one else thought to check that out, at least at the NY Times, which results in this David Sanger report:

So what happened to the applause?
When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg – the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq – the clapping is often interspersed with calls of “Hoo-ah,” the military’s all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.
So the silence during his speech was more than a little noticeable, both on television and in the hall. On Wednesday, as Mr. Bush’s repeated use of the imagery of the Sept. 11 attacks drew bitter criticism from Congressional Democrats, there was a parallel debate under way about whether the troops sat on their hands because they were not impressed, or because they thought that was their orders.

Not only was that apparent from the moment that Bush walked into the auditorium — the troops stood at attention, and didn’t utter a peep when Bush had them sit — but as I noted, his delivery made it obvious that he planned on no interruptions. The Fort Bragg soldiers maintained the discipline requested by their officers and the White House. Yet somehow this has become an embarrassment for the Bush administration:

Republicans moved quickly to respond to what was becoming a significant embarrassment.
Capt. Tom Earnhardt, a public affairs officer at Fort Bragg who participated in the planning for the president’s trip, said that from the first meetings with White House officials there was agreement that a hall full of wildly cheering troops would not create the right atmosphere for a speech devoted to policy and strategy.
“The guy from White House advance, during the initial meetings, said, ‘Be careful not to let this become a pep rally,’ ” Captain Earnhardt recalled in a telephone interview. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, confirmed that account.

If the same soldiers had greeted Bush with wild cheers and hoo-ahs, or had repeatedly interrupted the speech with cheers, we’d be hearing that the White House had secretly arranged that reception. Instead, we now have Clapgate, which doesn’t have nearly the fun that such a monicker might suggest, where the big question is who initiated the applause that followed the one line where Bush told the nation that we would stay in the fight to the finish.
Well, this certainly qualifies as a national emergency. Can we say, “Slow News Day”?
If any of the soldiers at Fort Bragg has information on what happened, please e-mail me from your military e-mail accounts before the conspiracy theorists spin this into a passive mutiny against the current Commander-In-Chief. I guarantee readers that within 24 hours, that’s exactly how this meme will be spun in the more radical corners of the political arena.

I’d Like To Teach The World To Live-Blog …

Trey Jackson has a video clip of today’s installment of Inside The Blogs, part of CNN’s Inside Politics. The team of Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner highlighted CQ today for the live-blog of the President’s speech last night, and they gave me a very fair presentation. As always, I’m glad they’re reading CQ, and I’m glad that Trey has the video. Check it out for other blogger highlights.
NOTE: It’s a bit off topic, but I wanted to thank those of you who have donated to CQ using the PayPal link on the left sidebar. It used to title the donation “RNC”, which stood for Republican National Convention, when I put it on the blog to help fund my trip there. I’ve changed it to “Captain’s Quarters Donations” for clarity.

New Iranian President Old Iranian Hostage-Taker

Gateway Pundit, My Pet Jawa, and LGF all have highly interesting documentation — including a number of photographs — that appear to indict newly-elected Iranian President as one of the radicals who seized the American embassy in 1979. The photographic evidence is bolstered by a number of sources on the background of president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that put him in the center of the organizations involved in the hostage crisis that destroyed Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes and made the US look weak and toothless. If so, and the evidence looks damning, then one could make the argument that Ahmadinejad helped start the Islamofascist offensive against the United States.
These three and others have done excellent blog work in fleshing this story out. However, its impact is really more historic and academic than practical. After all, the government in Teheran now is the same as that which co-opted the hostaging, even if one accepts that the embassy takeover was an impulsive grass-roots movement by student radicals. We have dealt both openly and covertly with that government in the 26 years since that act of war against the US. We also know that Iran has provided financing and shelter for terrorist groups worldwide, including Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and probably al-Qaeda.
With all of this already out in the open, having the mullahcracy twist the recent election to put an experienced terror operative as their head of state really doesn’t amount to a big surprise. And given Hashemi Rafsanjani’s track record, that result was inevitable anyway.
UPDATE: On the other hand, one of Rusty’s commenters brings up an excellent point. Will Jimmy Carter rush to Teheran now as an independent observer to verify Ahmadinejad’s election?