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The Los Angeles Times and Benedict XVI’s Return of the Dark Ages

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When the name “Ratzinger” resounded from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to indicate who would be the next supreme pontiff of the 1.1 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church, elation burst out in many nations. Across Western Europe and in the U.S., though, particularly among progressive and liberal Catholics, a nearly audible groan could be heard.

That’s how the Los Angeles Times review of John L. Allen’s new book on the election of Benedict XVI begins. Do you need to read anymore?

In case you have any doubt, the first paragraph of the review ends with this sentence: “His election, for many, initially looked like a move back to the Dark Ages.”

Faced with plummeting circulation and management upheavals, the Times still fails in ways large –and in this case small– to see how ever day it sends message after message of contempt for the vast population of California that holds ordinary views of things like religious belief. The Dark Ages? Really? Outside of media elites, who, exactly, believed such nonsense. And who but the Times’ editorial staff could fail to grasp the offense –unnecessary in every way– that such sloppy throw away lines gives to devout and not-so-devout but loyal Catholics?

This is guaranteed to make the mullahs running Iran tremble.

Mark Steyn, at his best:

Tony Blair talks a good talk, explaining the rationale for war far better than President Bush. But he now needs not just to talk but to act. In France, the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has just expelled another dozen Islamists. By contrast, Mr Blair seems paralysed. In the weeks after 9/11, Mr Bush rethought 40 years of US policy in the Middle East. The Prime Minister has a more difficult task: he has to rethink 40 years of British policy in Leicester and Bradford and Leeds and Birmingham.

He has to regain control of Britain’s borders from the EU and of Britain’s education system from the teachers’ unions and of Britain’s welfare programmes from wily Somalis and others. In 20 years’ time, no one will remember whether Tony Blair abolished the House of Lords or foxhunting: that’s poseur stuff. They’ll judge him on whether or not he funked the central challenge of the times. If “the images of ruin and destruction” come to pass, it will not be because of the bombers but because of a state that lacked the cultural confidence to challenge them.

The Democrats in the U.S. are flunking “the central challenge of the times,” and Daniel Henninger suspects the voters will remember.

Stephen Schwartz reports on the death of King Fahd.

Michelle Malkin has the latest on Air America’s creative start-up financing. Ed Morrissey has more as well.

Off to D.C.

Ronald Brownstein on Hillary but not on McCain

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The Los Angeles Times’ Ronald Brownstein writes on the 2008 presidential race today. He does not disclose that his wife is a senior aid to John McCain. Which candidate does McCain favor getting the Democratic nod? My guess is that it has to be Hillary as that will significantly boost the Beltway chatter about McCain’s cross-party appeal.

Indeed, it seems odd that this article does not mention the DLC’s role in blunting a potential McCain or Rudy challenge from “the center.” You have to wonder if Brownstein is holding back on references to McCain because of the problem his wife’s employment poses.

The Times recently pledged transparency in conflict-of-interest matters. I guess that means if you declare a conflict once in print, every reader for all time is presumed to know and not care about it. BTW: To my knowledge, the paper has still not detailed Mrs. Brownstein’s job or salary, or how funds paid her by Senator McCain are not part of Ron Brownstein’s direct financial interest that would preclude him from covering McCain or related stories, like today’s on Hillary: “[S]taff members may not cover individuals or institutions with which they have a financial relationship.”

My guess is that before long Mrs. Brownstein will resign from McCain’s staff because objective voices within the paper will see the iceburg the paper has already hit. Brownstein’s a fine writer, but his pieces should be in the opinion section, and his conflict fully noted every time asuch a piece runs.

Some guidelines.
Some ethics.

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Instapundit Voters

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Glenn’s correct in part that folks who voted in Patrick Ruffini’s straw poll that came from my site are “more representative of the GOP primary voters,” but New Hampshire and Michigan, both early primary states in 2008, don’t run GOP primaries, they run “open” primaries. If everything is too tight to matter in Iowa, and Romney wins in New Hampshire, Allen in South Carolina, and Rudy in Michigan (with Romney a close second due to his deep ties to the state his father governed, then the Instapundit vote will have helped throw the race into the most competititve scramble of the past forty years.

Which is one reason why Michigan Republicans are thinking about changing the rules for voting in their state’s 2008 primary.

The real news in the Ruffini poll is that there are so few Frist partisans working the web. Fewer still, after last week’s declaration on stem cell research.

The “Hapless Toad” Case and Stare Decisis

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Interesting column on the “hapless toad” case. As readers of this site know, I represented this landowner before the federal agencies and my colleage at Chapman Law School, Professor John Eastman argued the case before the D.C. Circuit. Judge Roberts’ dissent from the denial for rehearing cannot be loaded up with the significance that environmentalists are arguing for. Professor Epstein, as usual, has it exactly right:

It’s less clear just how far Roberts would go; his opinion, like most he has written, was cautiously worded.

“Although it’s somewhat troubling that Judge Roberts wrote this opinion, it is by no means conclusive evidence of a radical or extremist approach,” said Timothy Dowling, chief counsel of the pro-environmentalist Community Rights Council. “He’s simply saying we need to look at the issue more closely. ”

Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor and a leading property rights theorist, said the case was being overblown.

Even if Roberts forms part of a Supreme Court majority to limit the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws, Epstein said, that would mean only that “some fraction of (environmental regulation) would be left to the states.”

Democratic Senator after Democratic Senator keep extolling the virtue of stare decisis. They are talking about Roe and Casey, of course, but does the same honor flow to Morrison and Lopez, the Commerce Clause cases that warn lower courts to be aware that there are limits to the clause’s reach? If so, how can anyone critique the Roberts’ suggestion that the regulation of the toad by the federal government presented some unique issues that needed further study and amplification.

Every attack on Roberts’ opinion in this matter will tell us something of the speaker’s real view on stare decisis.


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