Hope at Last

     Before addressing the weighty question of whether 
the widowed Anna Nicole Smith is entitled to her late 
husband's huge estate, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 
unanimously, liberals and all, that the use of federal 
anti-racketeering laws against pro-life demonstrators 
violates the Constitution.

     By invoking those laws, the National Organization 
for Women tried, for two decades, to shut up -- and ruin 
-- the great Joe Scheidler, maybe America's most tireless 
and inventive defender of the innocent, to say nothing of 
his courage. When I think of the Church Militant, Joe 
comes to mind first. And for all that, he has a wonderful 
sense of fun. It doesn't seem the least bit paradoxical 
when you know him. I think the saints must laugh holy 

     Meanwhile, South Dakota, without waiting for 
judicial permission, has gone ahead and passed a law 
against abortion, virtually daring the baby-killers to 
take the issue to court. Some who oppose abortion think 
the time is not yet ripe, with a pro-abortion majority on 
the Supreme Court, and they make a strong case; yet I 
wonder if even the liberals want to defend the miserable 
logic of Roe v. Wade, which even Justice Ginsburg has, to 
her credit, criticized.

     At any rate, you have to wonder how long the 
gradualist strategy is going to take. After a third of a 
century and tens of millions of dead children, I'm 
inclined to say it has had its chance. The forces of evil 
disdained the gradualist approach in 1973.

     If the Court reaffirms that monstrosity, we still 
have the remedy nobody thought to use in 1973: 
impeachment of the justices. If the gross usurpation of 
power doesn't fall under the heading of "high crimes and 
misdemeanors," then, pray tell, what does? Are the 
Republicans too busy killing Arabs to protect American 

     Lewis Lapham, editor of HARPER'S, makes a powerful 
case in this month's issue for impeaching President Bush. 
The point is not to impeach just presidents, especially 
those you are angry at, but to hold all public officials 
to their constitutional limits, regardless of partisan 
passions. Impeachment is essential to any sort of truly 
constitutional law, and it shouldn't be reserved for 
special occasions; in fact, it is used far too seldom, 
especially against the wayward judiciary.

     Why should judges feel that their jobs are 
absolutely safe, no matter what they do? Isn't that a 
great part of what's wrong with our government today?

Buckley Bails Out

     My old boss, Bill Buckley, has just said it is time 
for the United States to acknowledge "defeat" in the Iraq 
war. This admission may seem long overdue, given so many 
papal statements over the last few years; but better late 
than never.

     It may also come as a shock to those who have come 
to think that there is some connection between 
conservatism and war, the most destructive and least 
conservative of all human activities, one of whose chief 
side effects is to destroy limits on government. I myself 
took many years to grasp this simple fact, so I'm in no 
position to disdain those half my age who are still 
learning. (Why on earth did I assume that when our Lord 
recommended "peace," it didn't apply to the U.S. 

     Buckley's magazine, NATIONAL REVIEW, is now in the 
hands of younger men; under their management, it has 
eagerly supported this war, so the founding father's 
defection must come as a severe shock to them. They are 
victims of the notion that "peace" is somehow a left-wing 
cause, suitable for Democrats but not Republicans.

     I hope they will begin to rethink this now. It can 
be painful, and embarrassing, to let go of a position you 
have passionately espoused for your whole adult life; but 
sometimes it's a duty.

     More and more conservatives are now realizing that 
Bush is no conservative in most respects, so the time has 
come not only for political realignment, but also for 
personal introspection. "What would Jesus do?" is always 
a good practical question, even for politicians and 

Bugs Invade Canada!

     It was a routine news story, but it got me thinking 
about what we mean by "liberal media bias," an imprecise 
term that irritates journalists who think they are just 
delivering facts without prejudice or "hidden agendas."

     On the front page of THE WASHINGTON POST, Doug 
Struck reported that a voracious beetle is devouring the 
forests of British Columbia. The bug is reproducing 
rapidly, Struck said, because its numbers are no longer 
controlled by cold weather. "Climate change" is here, and 
the beetle may soon cross the Rocky Mountains and do 
immeasurable damage.

     Another boring "global warming" story? Maybe. That 
was my own first reaction. Whether it was true or not, I 
instantly felt my "bias" alarm go off. I sensed that 
lurking within this seemingly straightforward report was 
the usual POST moral: "The government must do something, 
pronto!" The same implicit moral has governed all the 
recent coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

     Yet the vast majority of reporters don't think they 
are promoting any specific policy or political 
philosophy; their stories, just by being so conventional, 
solicit "liberal" reactions without meaning to. This is 
true whether they are informing us about hunger, 
"discrimination," secondhand smoke, or any other source 
of discontent. It doesn't matter how accurate their 
reportage is. The moral is always that we need more 
government, not less. No problem (or "crisis") ever 
points up the urgent need for a reduction of government.

     Here is the impasse. What some people think of as 
pure "news" strikes other people as selective and 
tendentious; in a word, "biased." So the two sides keep 
talking past each other, each failing to comprehend what 
the other means, each using terms that only baffle and 
irritate the other.

     Though I am trying to understand the problem, I 
can't be neutral about it. I think the conservative side 
is usually and essentially right. But I want to 
understand just why accusing journalists of "liberal 
bias" fails to persuade people who are conscientiously 
trying to do their job. We have to find new and better 
ways to say it.

                 +          +          +                  

     "The Constitution isn't supposed to authorize gun 
control. It's supposed to guarantee government control" 
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