November 30, 2005

Human dignity in one form or another

While the subject matter among them differs a great deal, all three of these news stories have to do with human dignity in one way or another.

First, the recent release of the much-expected Vatican document banning gays from seminaries. Though, I suppose it depends on how you look at it. If you read the Times (London), it's only those gays with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" as opposed to those with "transitory" homosexuality and therefore the Vatican's current position is, "an intelligent compromise" in the words of Damian Thompson. According to Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor:

“The instruction is not saying that men of homosexual orientation are not welcome in the priesthood. But it is making clear that they must be capable of affective maturity, have a capacity for celibacy and not share the values of the eroticised gay culture. This is especially important because seminaries are all-male environments.”

But, I'm a bit confused here. How can you have a homosexual orientation and not have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies?" How is an orientation "transitory?" Are they trying to say that tendencies means those who actually have sex? Why don't they just say that then? And while the Times tries to make this out (incredibly!) to be a softening of the Church's position on homosexuality, the Independent was a bit more accurate in its lead paragraph:

The Catholic Church has forcefully restated its hostility to homosexuals, banning them from studying to become priests even if they declare they do not intend to become sexually active.

As my fellow editor at Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Nathan Nelson, pointed out out on his personal blog, this is rather a step backwards for the Church and goes against the teachings of the Catechism. After quoting the paragraphs from the Catechism that expound on homosexuality, Nathan states:

Believe it or not, the Church's teaching does go beyond #2357, although it would seem that most Catholics -- including the very authors of the Catechism -- have forgotten #2358-2359. But then again, can you say that these have been forgotten when they were never received in the first place? But I think it's even more clear that the Church has paid no attention to the latter part of its teaching on homosexuality now that the Church is even spitting in the faces of homosexual persons who have followed the Church's teaching on chastity.

Indeed. The Church has told homosexuals, well, okay, you can't get married. You cannot enjoy the intimacy with another human being that heterosexuals do. You must remain celibate and bear your special cross like a good little Christian. Oh, and by the way, now we've decided that even if you're celibate, you can't be a priest. You're just plain out of luck if you want to participate in any vocation within in the Church.

(Be on the look out for a possible blog day on this topic at SRS)

The second story is from the Indy and focuses on the criticism of former aide to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, in which he believes that Dick Cheney "created a climate for US war crimes." He talks about how George Bush tried to steer a "middle ground" between Cheney, Rumsfield, and Gonzales on the one hand and Colin Powell, who insisted that we (what could he be thinking?) follow the Geneva Conventions. And apparently this middle ground consisted of applying the Geneva Conventions to everybody but "al-Qa'ida and al-Qa'ida look-alikes."

Because, you know, as a supposedly "Christian" nation headed by a "Christian" president, the "Christian" thing to do is override God and decide that some people shouldn't be given human dignity, right?

Interestingly, Col. Wilkerson suggests that indeed the actions of Cheney et. al. may be international war crimes. Remember the International Court of Justice that a few years back Bush refused to allow the United States to join? At the time the only conclusion I could think of to explain why was that we were preparing to commit international war crimes and did not want to be held accountable in such a court. I still believe that.

Lastly, again from the Indy (yeah, I tend to read the British press more than the US), is a story in which Europe is chastized for it's poor environmental record. The level of global warming is such that by 2050 seventy-five percent of the Swiss Alps glaciers will be melted. I mean, that's potentially within my lifetime. Scary stuff indeed. But even scarier is that all 25 countries of the EU still only use half the resources that the United States does. Says Tony Long of World Wildlife Fund (I think -- my biggest complaint about the Indy is they are short staffed and badly edited at times):

"Perpetuating the inequality of living at the expense of some of the poorest countries in the world makes European environmental standards nothing to be proud about."

Not to mention American environmental standards, which are apparently on the minds of most delegates at the UN Climate Control Conference in Montreal according to Bill Hare of Greenpeace.

"When you walk around the conference hall here, delegates are saying there are lots of issues on the agenda, but there's only one real problem, and that's the United States."

Mea culpa. Lord have mercy.

November 28, 2005

Reform Ohio, Really

It is expected that Dr. Bob Fitrakis, who has been working tirelessly to expose voting irregularities and fraud in my home state of Ohio, will announce his bid to become the Green Party's nominee for Ohio Governor tomorrow. He's running with a couple of other well-known Ohio Greens: Anita Rios (Lt. Governor) and Tim Kettler (Secretary of State), both of whom have also been active in exposing election fraud in Ohio and working to correct it. I think it's safe to expect that their campaign will focus heavily on election reform, an issue that all Greens care passionately about -- and rightfully so, since voting rights are the foundation of our democratic republic.

What's clear is that the Republicans will have work to do in Ohio if they want to keep the Governor's mansion. Governor Taft has brought scandal after scandal to Ohio. Secretary Blackwell, who will likely receive the Republican nomination for Governor, was the key figure in Ohio's most recent election irregularities. Sen. DeWine has angered the Republican base in Ohio by teaming up with the so-called Gang of Fourteen, and Congressman Bob Ney is being investigated for dirty dealings with Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. I think all of this will make the next election difficult for Ohio Republicans, since Ohio voters have got to be getting tired of scandal after scandal all centered in Ohio.

But are the Democrats a better alternative? I'm sure everyone remembers Democratic attempts to keep Greens and other third party candidates off the ballots during the 2004 election, because the Democrats were afraid to give the American people the free choice we're entitled to. Doesn't it do a disservice to our democracy for us to take the position of Governor and Secretary of State from one party owned by corporations and special interests, only to give it to a party owned by other corporations and other special interests? Can we really be sure that Congressman Strickland is going to do any better with Ohio than Governor Taft has or Secretary Blackwell might, or isn't it possible that Strickland will spend his term as Governor the same way Taft did -- doing favors for his corporate buddies and special interest partners, while ignoring the needs of and bringing scandal after scandal to the people of Ohio?

It seems to me that Ohio needs a heavy dose of justice and accountability, and I think Dr. Fitrakis & Co. might be just what the doctor ordered. I'll be looking forward to learning more about the Ohio Green candidates and their plans for Ohio in the year to come.

(Hat tip to Ken Sain).

November 18, 2005

Shame on you

Just when we thought the House would do the right thing and not try to reduce deficits on the backs of the poor, they passed a budget in the wee hours of the morning that will throw working poor off Medicaid and Food Stamps, provide fewer subsidized student loans for their kids to go to college, and in a winter when heating costs have skyrocketed, will not provide additional Low Income Home Energy Assistance.

While they talk about about painful sacrifices -- which they won't personally feel -- they also want to pass a "five-year $57 billion tax cut that would more than undo the savings in the deficit-reduction measure."

It makes me think of the parable that the prophet Nathan used when he confronted King David in the Old Testament.

"In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought...Now, the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepar a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man's ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor." (II Samuel 12: 1-4 NAB)

Hearing that the rich man took the poor man's ewe lamb rather than take from his own flocks enraged King David -- and then made him ashamed when he realized it was he who had taken the ewe. Why does it not bring shame to Republicans to take the ewe lamb of Food Stamps rather than from the flocks of capital gains?

November 16, 2005

Not guilty after 17 bullets

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Not guilty. The Israeli captain who put 17 bullets into a Palestinian schoolgirl

An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

Wow. So the end result of an obsession with security is that even toddlers become targets...

"The fog of war"

The fog of war: Independent Online Edition

More evidence the U.S. military used white phosphorus bombs in Fallujah. Alternet also has a good review of the evidence for the use of white phosphorus and napalm.

November 15, 2005

Pulling the rug out

Stonewalling the Katrina Victims - New York Times

I think most of us were never so appalled by this Administration as we were when it completely failed the residents of the Gulf Coast after (well, and really before as well) Hurricane Katrina. Sure, there was plenty of blame to go around at all levels of government. Yet, the President et. al. continue to show an amazing level of callousness in regard to the poor in seeking spending cuts for Medicaid, Food Stamps, and housing programs like Section 8 in order to fund tax cuts for themselves and their wealthy pals.

The New York Times editorial linked above put the situation clearly:

Many, including the Brookings Institution and the conservative Heritage Foundation, urged the administration to switch on HUD's famously successful Section 8 program, which gives families government vouchers to find decent housing in the private real estate market. That program worked well after the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California. But the White House - which seems less interested in conservative philosophy about how to make government programs work than with simply cutting the amount of money that gets spent on poor people - has been working feverishly to cripple HUD and destroy the Section 8 voucher program for years.

So the administration rigged up a hastily thought out program that is less flexible and less helpful than Section 8 - and confusing in the bargain. Still focused on tax cuts for the wealthy, the administration is apparently hoping that people who need housing will be frustrated by the difficult process of applying for federal relief dollars and simply give up and go away.

I'm all for reforming welfare. I live on it and know there are a number of rules that discourage recipients from seeking the financial independence taxpayers would like to see. But I am certainly not for pulling the rug out from beneath the those trying desperately to stand upright as appears to be the intent of the Bush Administration.

November 09, 2005

and God created chaos

World is 'intelligent project' that reflects divine origin, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said that far from being a product of chance the created world is an "intelligent project" that reflects a divine origin. The pope made the remarks at a general audience at the Vatican Nov. 9, commenting about Psalm 136, which gives thanks for creation. The pope quoted St. Basil the Great, who in the fourth century warned that some people, "fooled by the atheism that they carry inside them, imagine the universe deprived of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance." Speaking extemporaneously to the crowd in St. Peter's Square, the pope said St. Basil's words had "surprising relevance" today. "How many people are there today who, fooled by atheism, think and try to demonstrate that it would be scientific to think that everything is without direction and order," he said.

But what if God created the chaos and let it go, excited to see what happens with the randomness of creation? I honestly have never had a problem with believing in the theory of evolution with the understanding that this was how God chose to create the world. Past generations made sense of it in terms of "days" and their own understanding. In our time we understand it through science. Who knows what new insights future generations will come to. But God as the architect of creation, whether by a methodical use of evolution or even chaos theory, makes sense to me. Made sense to me in 3rd grade. Makes sense to me now.

Just a thought….. And I love how they point out that he spoke "extemporaneously". For the record, so am I!

USA Today Article on Catholics & Death Penalty

The folks at USA Today have written an article about the shifting Catholic Attitudes on the Death Penalty - "Catholics Come Together to Fight Death Penalty."

Similar to the analysis in my last post.

In each others' hearts and lungs

Ha'aretz: Family of boy shot dead by IDF donates organs `for peace between peoples'

When Israeli soldiers shot and killed his son, Ahmad Al-Khatib remembered his older brother who had died of kidney failure from lack of a suitable transplant and decided to donate his son's organs.

"I don't mind seeing the organs in an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn't matter who the person is," said Jamal al-Khatib, the boy's father, who added that he hoped the donations would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

And indeed, they went to three Israeli girls, two Jewish and one Druze.

It's not the first time those who have lost their lives to terrorism of either the state or individual sort have gone on to provide life for those on the other "side." On September 22, 2002, the Catholic news agency Zenit reported that the parents of a Jewish student killed in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv donated his organs, including a kidney that was transplanted into a seven-year old Palestinian girl. The year before that, the organs of a Palestinian man killed by a Jewish settler provided life for one Arab and three Jewish Israelis.

For those who think that Palestinian Islam is all about hate and revenge, consider the reasoning the family of the Palestinian man gave for their gift.

"I consulted the Muslim authorities, who assured me that the gesture not only could be carried out according to the Koran, but that, in addition, it is a meritorious and just act, regardless of the religion of the recipient of the organs,"

A sentiment shared by our own Holy Father while he was still Cardinal.

Yep. Palestinians and Israelis share more than just borders. They carry each others' hearts and lungs.

This was the point that my friend Nur Masalha (one of the nicest guys ever!) made in the current issue of the Nation regarding Iran's unfortunate comments about Israel.

Ahmadinejad's rhetoric...raises a key issue at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict: the need for Palestinian Muslims and Christians to make a clear distinction between our political struggle against institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing in Palestine-Israel and the fact that we and the Israelis will, ultimately, have to live together as equal citizens under some form of secular democracy--rather than wipe each other out. Muslim fundamentalists (Ahmadinejad included) have miserably failed to understand the reality in historic Palestine. In the process of brutal colonization of the country, a Hebrew-speaking "nation" has emerged, with its own distinct language, culture and flourishing literature. There are 5 million to 6 million Hebrew-speaking Israelis, and no one has the right to talk about wiping them out. Acknowledging the current binational reality is completely different from legitimizing the colonial process by which this reality has come about.

You can build exclusive by-pass highways and walls higher than the old Berlin Wall. You can refuse to acknowledge the Zionist entity and establish diplomatic relations. But the plain fact of the matter is that the future includes Israelis and Palestinians together and there's no getting around it without genocide either way.

Just ask Ahmad al-Khatib, who sees his son in the little Jewish girl who has his heart.

November 08, 2005

A Willy Pete eating away at our souls

I don't know what to say anymore about the war in Iraq. I just cry a lot.

I cried through the twelve years of sanctions that killed over one million Iraqis. I cried when we invaded. I cried when I read in The Lancet that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of that invasion. I cried when my brother-in-law was killed serving in the U.S. Army outside of Mosul last March. I cried when I read Will Willion's prayer for the 2000th U.S. soldier killed on October 26th. And I cried again today as I read this article in The Independent that more evidence is emerging of our use of phosophorus bombs -- Willy Petes -- in Fallujah. Saddam gassed Halabja, we've now gassed Fallujah.

There is no such thing as a moral occupation. The people we send are indeed good, moral men and women. But dominating another people is simply incompatible with loving your neighbor as yourself.

November 07, 2005


What's behind Iranian leader's anti-Israel rant |

A few weeks ago when the president of Iran made a comment during a speech to one of those constituencies every President has that Israel should be "wiped off the map," people in Europe and America were understandably horrified. Condoleeza Rice, who has been trying to get the U.N. to slap sanctions on Tehran, as well as keep any nuclear material away from the Persian nation, stated that this was a good example of just why Iran should not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. Tony Blair, breaking ranks with his EU buddies as he so often does, even hinted that military action might be necessary to deal with a state that had made him feel "a real sense revulsion." He later backed down from the threat, but has continued to voice his displeasure.

The president of Iran also backpedaled when he began to realize, as Dan Murphy in the above article points out, people actually listen to you when you're president instead of merely the mayor of Tehran. But, he said it. It's out there and everyone has to live with it. Though, it's not like Iranian hostility to Israel is a big shock.

I think it's important to note a bit of history and geography here. Iran, i.e. Persia, has long been the dominant hegemon in the Middle East. Pick up your Bible and you'll see them mentioned quite a bit. And unlike other groups that have come and gone, the Persians have stuck around and have quite liked being a dominant force, though admittedly, their domination was subdued a bit by the Arabs in the seventh century. We Americans quite liked them being a dominant force also until the Iranian Revolution of 1978 when Iran turned decidedly anit-American because, well, we had been funding the despot making their lives miserable.

Since their remarkable victory in 1967, Israel suddenly became a new hegemon in the Middle East. Yes, Israel only has 5 million Jews against a hundred million Arabs yada yada yada (and Iranians, who, please dear reader, note are NOT Arabs but Persian). But Israel has the most powerful military in the region -- including the only nation there with nuclear weapons -- and therefore, has a lot of diplomatic power. And, frankly, that's what nuclear weapons are useful for: diplomatic leverage. Yeah, it's not a particularly healthy form of leverage, but as the nation with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and the only country to have actually used them in wartime, it's not like we can really talk.

Now, not only is Iran threatened by someone else taking over what they see as their rightful hegemony, but now they've got the United States, which says they are part of an Axis of Evil, surrounding them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine if the Soviet Union had been in Mexico and Canada during the Cold War. Indeed, I doubt we would have been limited to just trying to make nuclear weapons in such an instance.

Kicking Iran out of the U.N., as Ariel Sharon wants to do, or isolating them with sanctions, as the U.S. wants to do, is not going to make Iran feel less threatened. Removing our military bases on their borders and encouraging Israel to make a just peace with the Palestinians, however, just might.

Passport to Health Care At Lower Cost to Patient

Passport to Health Care At Lower Cost to Patient

While I am certain that healthcare in Mexico is as good as what most people in the U.S. get, I'm disturbed by the trend discussed in the Washington Post article above of HMOs in California sending people down to Tijuana for their doctor's appointments. I think the quote at the bottom from Jack Lewin of the California Medical Association best articulates my dis-ease:

"It's understandable that lower-income workers are trying to seek health care they can afford...But these people are largely paying taxes and contributing some of their own financial resources to this country. It's high time we provided good care for these people through enlightened public policy."

November 05, 2005

That Baptist from Plains

I'm watching Jimmy Carter on NOW and he's talking about how the U.S. only gives 16 cents for every $100 to foreign aid and development. Far below other industrialized countries.

"It's very difficult for the American people to believe that our government, one of the richest on Earth, is also one of the stingiest on Earth," he says


But instead of relying only on shame, Carter points out that while many Americans struggle with their own problems, then are generous in helping out as best they can. He believes that if Americans understood how much a little bit goes a long way in the developing world, they would be more than willing to bump up our giving to 60 cents or even a buck per $100.

He also mentions that he wished he knew what he knows now about poverty in the world when he was in the White House. Talks about how his concern for the poor comes from his Christian faith. At one point, David Brancaccio says something about Carter sitting next to a sex worker during a discussion while on a tour of Africa. Carter says that didn't at all conflict with being a Christian as that sex worker needed to be treated with dignity as a human being and indeed, is an important player in any discussion of AIDS. Even talks about how he does not believe abortion is something that Jesus would favor.

Sigh. Man, can't Jimmy Carter run for President again? I mean, he was only president for one term, so constitutionally there wouldn't be a problem...

November 03, 2005

approaching 1,000

We are approaching a grim milestone. No, not the number of US military deaths in Iraq …. the number of Americans executed on our own soil by our own government, in our name. It is expected that the 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 will take place November 29, 2005.

Did you know that the US is the only Western Democracy that continues to use the Death Penalty? Or that the US, China Iran and Saudi Arabia together account for 80% of executions worldwide? Let alone the fact that our justice system is biased - some innocent people have been put on death row and at least 23 innocent people executed.

In March the US Bishops renewed their push to end the death penalty. Their website says they were inspired by the 25th Anniversary of the Bishops' statement on the Death Penalty. My cynical side thought they were spurred to action at least in part by a Zogby Poll that shows a majority of American Catholics are now against the death penalty. Less than half (48%) of Catholics interviewed expressed support for the death penalty. This is a huge shift from past polls, where Catholic support mirrored that of the rest of the American public at close to 70%. I have to think this is in part due to a realization that our tradition supports a consistent ethic of life - we don't get to pick and choose which lives are worthy. That's up to God.

Now as the 1,000th death approaches, I wish they would promote their effort more strongly. American Catholics may be increasingly against the Death Penalty. But what (if anything) are we doing about it? What can we do about it?

Well, a good place to start is to pray for an END to the death penalty. We can pray for the approximately 3,500 inmates on death row in 38 states. We can pray especially for those who are pending execution. There's a list of pending executions here. You'll see off to the right side where you can Take Action on behalf of some of them.

We can also educate our friends and family about our criminal justice system and Catholic Social Teaching. We can educate ourselves too for that matter - the US Bishops campaign website is a good place to start.

And as the opportunities arise we can advocate for an end to the death penalty. If not us, who? If not now, when? We will no doubt not be able to avoid the 1,000th mark. But I hope and pray we can save the next 1,000 lives. There is a better way.

November 01, 2005

Opposing Judge Alito

I've decided to come out early in opposition to Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. As our longtime readers know, I never did oppose the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts because I was never convinced that he was a far-right extremist. I am, however, convinced that Judge Alito is a far-right extremist and I don't want to see him on the nation's highest court; I don't want to see him partially responsible for the definitive interpretation of our Constitution.

My reasoning for this has nothing to do with Roe v. Wade or abortion, although it is quite clear that Judge Alito will be a vote to at least restrict legal abortion if not overturn Roe altogether. At this point, I have an ambiguous opinion of Roe and abortion rights. I continue to maintain that it would do more harm than good to overturn the ruling, but I'm also of the opinion that certain legal restrictions on abortion are called for. And I am completely opposed to the idea of abortion as a moral choice. One might say that I am neither supportive of Roe nor the suggestion of overturning it. I think it was a mistake that was made by judicial activism and bad jurisprudence, and I think that it is a mistake that cannot now be easily undone by more judicial activism. But let me say it more clearly: Roe v. Wade is not a factor in my opposition to Judge Alito's confirmation. Period.

So why have I decided to oppose his confirmation?

  • Although Judge Alito favors restriction of abortion rights, he opposes lawsuits claiming wrongful death for stillborn children. Although Judge Alito twice tried to thwart Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Planned Parenthood v. Farmer, he opposed the identification of a stillborn child as a person in Alexander v. Whitman. Not only is this an inconsistent application of his judicial opinion, it also indicates that Judge Alito will apply precedent when it serves the interests of his ideology but not when it doesn't. This is judicial activism.

  • Judge Alito is weak on privacy rights unrelated to abortion. In Doe v. Groody, Judge Alito wrote a dissenting opinion that granted qualified immunity to police officers who strip-searched a woman and her ten-year-old daughter during a drug raid, even though the woman and her daughter were not mentioned in the warrant.

  • Judge Alito takes a narrow view of the Commerce Clause. This was one of my concerns about Chief Justice Roberts, as well. In United States v. Rybar, Judge Alito wrote a dissenting opinion that expressed a narrow view of the Commerce Clause when applied to the sale of machine guns. He did this again in the majority opinion for Chittister v. DCED, this time in relation to the Family and Medical Leave Act -- and this opinion would have rendered Congress unable to apply FMLA to state employees. The Supreme Court later effectively reversed the Third Circuit decision and others like it in Nevada v. Hibbs, a 6-3 ruling in which then-Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor ruled with the majority. It is conceivable that Chief Justice Roberts and Judge Alito could shift the balance of the court and overturn Nevada v. Hibbs, making it a 5-4 decision to overturn the precedent. It is also conceivable that Roberts and Alito could side with Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy (the three dissenters in Nevada v. Hibbs) on other Commerce Clause cases to issue 5-4 rulings that would limit the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause, which could upset our entire governmental system. This is, without question, the most important factor in my opposition to Judge Alito's confirmation.

  • Judge Alito is simply too dangerous. In Rompilla v. Horn, Judge Alito led the majority in refusing to provide relief for an inmate who had been sentenced to death but whose defense attorneys failed to consider material that may have mitigated his sentence. Rompilla appealed to the Supreme Court and it overturned the Third District ruling, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as the fifth swing vote in the 5-4 decision. With Judge Alito replacing Justice O'Connor, it is clear that such decisions will now swing the other way. Judge Alito is simply too dangerous. The balance of the Supreme Court is at risk, and Judge Alito will without question shift the court much too far to the right.

It is clear to me that Judge Alito will alter the balance of the Supreme Court in more ways than one. What is not clear to me is whether or not his nomination will have any lasting effect on abortion rights. When Planned Parenthood v. Casey was decided in 1992, it was a 5-4 decision, but if it were revisited today with Justice O'Connor on the bench it would be a 6-3 decision because the composition of the Supreme Court has changed since 1992. If Judge Alito replaces Justice O'Connor and the decision is revisited, it will in all likelihood be a 5-4 decision in favor of the precedent, with Alito joining Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia in the dissenting opinion. It seems that the only real effect that Judge Alito will have on legal abortion is in making its situation more tenuous. It must be noted that all of the majority who would currently vote to uphold the 1992 decision are over the age of 65, while by contrast the dissenters with the exception of Justice Scalia are all much younger -- Roberts is 50, Alito is 55, Thomas is 57, and Scalia is 69. Justice John Paul Stevens is 85-years-old; his retirement or death before President Bush's term is over could indeed tip the balance against the 1992 decision and thus against Roe v. Wade.

We may find out soon what impact President Bush's nominations will have on abortion rights in a pending case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. It is scheduled to be argued on November 30, and will deal with the issue of parental notification. It is unlikely that Judge Alito will be confirmed in time to rule on this case -- I'll go out on a limb and say it's impossible -- but we will at least be able to see how Chief Justice Roberts will rule.

In the nearer future, Judge Alito could have a devastating impact on other important decisions in which Justice O'Connor was the swing vote. It is imperative that we maintain moderation on the Supreme Court in order to ensure that our Constitution is authentically interpreted and our democracy preserved. That's why I have decided to oppose Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court and why I continue to hope for a moderate nominee from President Bush.

A climate change Top Ten

Here's a tough list of the top ten things the British paper The Independent says could be done to slow down climate change. And I have to admit, there's at least one that makes me think "ouch" even though I know they're right. (My boyfriend lives in the UK so cheap airfares are essential to our relationship at this point!)


Do anything you can to get George Bush to change his mind about climate change. The world needs America, the biggest CO2 emitter, to lead the fight against global warming. The President is denying the evidence.

Yup. While we make up only 5% of the world's population, we have accounted for 50% of the increase in CO2 emissions. Not exactly something to chant "we're number one" over.