Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Orange Revolution comes to the White House

President George W. Bush talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in the Oval Office, Monday, April 4, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper

Yesterday the Orange Revolution came to Washington, D.C., as President Viktor Yushchenko of the Ukraine met with President Bush. A video of their joint press conference is available here.

Excerpts from the two leaders' remarks are provided below. Although President Bush spoke first at the joint press conference, I have provided excerpts of President Yushchenko's remarks first below out of respect for the Ukrainian President. President Yushchenko still literally wears the scars from his election campaign against the corrupt, Putin-backed candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych - the former Ukrainian Prime Minister - apparently had Yushchenko poisoned with dioxin during the campaign. See here for some background.

President Bush and President Yushchenko shake hands after a press availability on Monday, April 4, 2005. The Ukrainian President and his wife visited the White House for the day. White House photo by Paul Morse

President Viktor Yushchenko:

* * *

Mr. President, dear American friends, for me, for my wife, it is a great honor and privilege to be received here in the White House and to hear the words that are addressed to my country, my nation, my homeland.

Our ideals are simple and eternal: We want democracy and freedom -- our apparent European aspirations, which we were discussing from the first days, many days before the Maidan events when me and my team went into the politics. This is my vision; this is the vision shared by my team. This is something that my father taught me.

The legacy that we inherited is a very difficult country; Ukraine, where the rule of law did not exist and human rights were not observed; where half of the national economy is a shadow. The humiliated profession of journalism, the journalists wanted to speak the truth and stood against the official power, they could pay dearly. Dearly -- I mean it -- they could pay their lives for it. We're talking about the country where the number one problem remains to be corruption. We're talking about the country where the huge problem remains the problem of poverty. We realize all those challenges. We realize that it's only -- the work that has to be done by the Ukrainian power will help cope with the problems that the country inherited.

However, it is very important, Mr. President, to feel that we have partners standing by, that we are not left in solitude in coping with these troubles. Our conversation began with my saying that, for Ukraine, it was a very long road to the Oval Office. I do appreciate the attention that you display and the words that you have said. And I would like to, once again, reiterate that the ideals of Ukraine are democracy, which we perceive as the priority of people's interests in political, economic and other areas of development. These are freedom of speech that are the oxygen for democracy, this is a market economy which grants equal rights to people, this is the reliable system of social guarantees that secure protection to the weak.

Shortly speaking, the ideals for the new Ukraine are the ideals shared by the Western civilization. I fully concur with my American colleague in his saying that the freedom is not the gift for America, this is the Godly gift.

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President George W. Bush:

* * *

Thank you. It's an honor to stand with a courageous leader of a free Ukraine. Mr. President, you are a friend to our country and you are an inspiration to all who love liberty. Welcome to America, and we're pleased to welcome your wife, as well. We're looking forward to having lunch with you.

President George W. Bush gestures to Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko Monday, April 4, 2005, during a press availability at the White House.White House photo by Paul Morse President Yushchenko was the first head of state I called after my inaugural address. I told him that the Orange Revolution was a powerful example -- an example of democracy for people around the world. I was impressed, I know millions of my fellow citizens were impressed by the brave citizens who gathered in Kiev's Independence Square and rightly demanded that their voices be heard. It's an impressive moment, Mr. President, and an important moment. I've oftentimes told our fellow citizens that the world is changing, freedom is spreading -- and I use Ukraine as an example, along with Afghanistan and Iraq, about a changing world. A world, by the way, changing for the better, because we believe free societies will be peaceful societies.

Mr. President, I appreciate your vision. I want to thank you for our discussion we just had. We discussed a lot of matters. We talked about the neighborhood, of course. We talked about your commitment to fighting corruption; your deep desire to introduce principles of the marketplace in Ukraine. I told the President that our nation will stand by Ukraine as it strengthens law enforcement, as it fights corruption, as it promotes a free media and civil society organizations. To this end, I've asked Congress to provide $60 million for new funding to help you in your efforts, Mr. President.

* * *

For more on President Yushchenko's historic visit, see this post at the excellent Orange Ukraine weblog.

I see a long, friendly, and productive relationship for the Ukraine and the United States going forward. Best wishes to President Viktor Ukraine as he works to end corruption in his country and as he works to bring freedom of the press and other individual liberties to the long-suffering Ukrainian people.

President George W. Bush and Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko are joined at the podiums by first ladies Laura Bush and Kateryna Yushchenko on Monday, April 4, 2005, in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse

Some additional photos are available here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan worked together to assist the Solidarity movement in the liberation of Communist Poland

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan hold discussions at the Vatican

Via Newsmax:

* * *

After Archbishop Karol Wojtyla's rise to the papacy in 1978, he soon ignited a prairie fire for freedom in his native Poland.

The Russians had become unnerved by the discontent brewing in Poland, a nation that had remained a Soviet satellite since Russia "liberated" her from Nazi occupation after World War II.

As early as 1981, the Reagan administration had warned both Moscow and the Polish government against taking action against Poland's growing Solidarity movement.

When the Russians appeared to be on the brink of an invasion – similar to ones they had launched to crush freedom movements in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, President Reagan's White House made clear the U.S. would not be acquiescent again.

* * *

June 7, 1982[:] . . . a private Vatican meeting [was held] between President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The two men were alone for 50 minutes and the subject of their discussion was Poland and the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Writing in "The Holy Alliance, Ronald Reagan and John Paul II," one of the Pope's biographers, Carl Bernstein, described what happened: "Reagan and the Pope agreed to undertake a . . . campaign to hasten the dissolution of the communist empire … Richard Allen, Reagan's first National Security advisor [was quoted as declaring] ‘This was one of the great . . . alliances of all time.' "

* * *

In October of 1982, President Reagan took the first open step to exert pressure on Poland's Communist masters.

Following that government's outlawing of the Solidarity movement, which the Pope had publicly and covertly supported, Reagan suspended Poland's Most Favored Nation trading status, costing cash-strapped Poland some $6 billion a year in sales.

Solidarity was the weapon that the Pope and the U.S. would use to batter down the tyrannical Polish Communist government.

The trigger was an unemployed electrician, Lech Walesa, who had worked at the Gdansk shipyards. He was one of the leaders in a clash there in December 1970, was fired in 1976, and in 1980 became leader of the labor movement that became Solidarity.

Under the iron hand of the Communist regime, that movement could not survive on its own.

The mastermind of the U.S.-Vatican strategy was Reagan's CIA director, William J. Casey. A famous World War II spymaster and also a devout Catholic, Casey saw the Vatican as a secret conduit to supply the Solidarity movement with the financial resources it needed to survive and grow.

The clandestine U.S. support using the Vatican's Catholic network grew to $8 million a year during the mid 1980s. High tech communications equipment was smuggled in along with printing equipment, supplies, VCRs and freedom tapes.

Thanks to the Vatican's covert pipeline, over a seven year period 1,500 underground newspapers and journals and 2,400 books and pamphlets were circulated.

Using CIA supplied equipment Solidarity was even able to insert slogans and messages at breaks during soccer matches.

By 1988 Solidarity was strong enough to stage nationwide strikes in 1988 which forced the government to open a dialogue with it.

* * *

As Jesuit scholar Thomas J. Reese, S.J. has written, the Pope's "support of Solidarity in Poland began the avalanche that swept Communism from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union."

During Solidarity's years of confronting both Moscow and the Polish government the danger of armed Soviet intervention in Poland in the face of the growing anti-Communist movement was always present.

In the end, however, Soviet domination of Poland and Eastern Europe ended, along with the Soviet Union itself, without a shot being fired, thanks to the alliance between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II – an alliance formed between two men who understood the evil nature of communism and knew how to bring it down.

* * *

Another staunch foe of Communism, The Right Honorable Baroness Margaret Thatcher, wrote moving eulogies for both Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Now we all need a Terry Schiavo bracelet: "If I'm incapacitated, I want to live!"

Now we all need a Terry Schiavo bracelet: "If I'm incapacitated, I want to live!" (That used to go without saying.)

If my (soon-to-be) ex-spouse could pull the plug on me while I was incapaciated in the hospital ... she'd do it in a second. And she'd have me cremated quick - with no autopsy. Kind of like - well - you know who.

In the words of Mark Steyn:

* * *

Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

* * *

During another Easter season, five years ago, the Clinton Administration and the INS rolled over the Florida State court system - to seize Elian Gonzalez (as opposed to today's non-seizure of Terry Schiavo) - in a way that would make today's Republican Congress and President blanch.

I'm off to order my "Let me live!" bracelet now...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Move over Brad & Jen. Britney Spears is knocked-up!

Britney Spears is pregnant per the Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that Britney Spears is pregnant.

I kind of saw this coming...

Via the Drudge Report.

Seriously though - good luck to Brit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

National Health Care in practice: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

Socialized Medicine in Action: Canadians Face Long Waits for Health Care

Socialized health care in practice:

* * *

TORONTO [March 21, 2005]- A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

* * *

More from, of all places, the New York Times:

Full Hospitals Make Canadians Wait and Look South

* * *

MONTREAL, Jan. 15 [2000] - Dressed in her orchid pink bathrobe and blue velour slippers, douardine Boucher perched on her bed at Notre Dame Hospital here on Friday and recounted the story of her night: electric doors constantly opening and closing by her feet, cold drafts blowing across her head each time an ambulance arrived in the subzero weather, and a drug addict who started shouting at 2:30 a.m., "Untie me, untie me."

But as nurses hurried by on Friday morning, no one thought it remarkable that Ms. Boucher, a 58-year-old grandmother awaiting open heart surgery, had spent a rough night on a gurney in an emergency room hallway. After all, other hallways of this 3-year-old hospital were lined with 66 other patients lying quietly on temporary beds.

To explain overflowing hospitals here and across the nation, Canadian health officials are blaming the annual winter flu epidemic.

But, at the mention of flu, Daniel Brochu, the veteran head nurse here, gave a smirk and ran his pen down the patient list today: "Heart problem, infection problem, hypertension, dialysis, brain tumor, two cerebral hemorrhages." On Thursday, he said, crowding was so bad that he was able to admit one patient only after the ambulance crew agreed to leave its stretcher.

* * *

The siren song of socialism must be fought forever. This is because there will always be suckers who actually think they can get someting for nothing. And there will always be politicians who are willing to get those suckers' votes...

No National Health Care in America? That's just sad.

Via Fark, Yahoo News and The New York Times.

Speaking of health care ... here's more than you ever wanted to know about circumcision. Via Classical Values.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Jane Fonda: Moral Compass of the Vietnam Era Left

Jane Fonda, moral compass of the Vietnam Era Left

While leading the anti-war movement with John Kerry, supporting the Communist Vietnamese, and helping American POW's get extra torture, Jane Fonda, moral exemplar, was also:

(1) having sexual threesomes with her French director husband, and

(2) "ceased eating except for crusts from his bread and rinds from his camembert."

Bob loses reason to smile as Feds raid Enzyte's headquarters

Enzyte Bob loses his mojo

Smiling Bob - of Enzyte's ubiquitous commercials - just lost that loving feeling. The Feds have raided Enzyte's Cincinnati headquarters. Bob's little missus back at the clubhouse has gone looking for the golf pro.

Via Fark. Original Fark post, with comments, here.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Justice Scalia eviscerates Justice Kennedy's legal reasoning in the Eighth Amendment case of Roper v. Simmons

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Here's an excerpt from Justice Scalia's dissent in Roper v. Simmons:

* * *


On writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Missouri

[March 1, 2005]

Justice Scalia, with whom The Chief Justice and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.

* * *


Though the views of our own citizens are essentially irrelevant to the Court's decision today, the views of other countries and the so-called international community take center stage.

The Court begins by noting that "Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, [1577 U. N. T. S. 3, 28 I. L. M. 1448, 1468-1470, entered into force Sept. 2, 1990], which every country in the world has ratified save for the United States and Somalia, contains an express prohibition on capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles under 18." Ante, at 22 (emphasis added). The Court also discusses the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), December 19, 1966, 999 U. N. T. S. 175, ante, at 13, 22, which the Senate ratified only subject to a reservation that reads:

"The United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional restraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crime committed by persons below eighteen years of age." Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, S. Exec. Rep. No. 102-23, (1992).

Unless the Court has added to its arsenal the power to join and ratify treaties on behalf of the United States, I cannot see how this evidence favors, rather than refutes, its position. That the Senate and the President--those actors our Constitution empowers to enter into treaties, see Art. II, §2--have declined to join and ratify treaties prohibiting execution of under-18 offenders can only suggest that our country has either not reached a national consensus on the question, or has reached a consensus contrary to what the Court announces. That the reservation to the ICCPR was made in 1992 does not suggest otherwise, since the reservation still remains in place today. It is also worth noting that, in addition to barring the execution of under-18 offenders, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits punishing them with life in prison without the possibility of release. If we are truly going to get in line with the international community, then the Court's reassurance that the death penalty is really not needed, since "the punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is itself a severe sanction," ante, at 18, gives little comfort.

It is interesting that whereas the Court is not content to accept what the States of our Federal Union say, but insists on inquiring into what they do (specifically, whether they in fact apply the juvenile death penalty that their laws allow), the Court is quite willing to believe that every foreign nation--of whatever tyrannical political makeup and with however subservient or incompetent a court system--in fact adheres to a rule of no death penalty for offenders under 18. Nor does the Court inquire into how many of the countries that have the death penalty, but have forsworn (on paper at least) imposing that penalty on offenders under 18, have what no State of this country can constitutionally have: a mandatory death penalty for certain crimes, with no possibility of mitigation by the sentencing authority, for youth or any other reason. I suspect it is most of them. See, e.g., R. Simon & D. Blaskovich, A Comparative Analysis of Capital Punishment: Statutes, Policies, Frequencies, and Public Attitudes the World Over 25, 26, 29 (2002). To forbid the death penalty for juveniles under such a system may be a good idea, but it says nothing about our system, in which the sentencing authority, typically a jury, always can, and almost always does, withhold the death penalty from an under-18 offender except, after considering all the circumstances, in the rare cases where it is warranted. The foreign authorities, in other words, do not even speak to the issue before us here.

More fundamentally, however, the basic premise of the Court's argument--that American law should conform to the laws of the rest of the world--ought to be rejected out of hand. In fact the Court itself does not believe it. In many significant respects the laws of most other countries differ from our law--including not only such explicit provisions of our Constitution as the right to jury trial and grand jury indictment, but even many interpretations of the Constitution prescribed by this Court itself. The Court-pronounced exclusionary rule, for example, is distinctively American. When we adopted that rule in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U. S. 643, 655 (1961), it was "unique to American Jurisprudence." Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, 415 (1971) (Burger, C. J., dissenting). Since then a categorical exclusionary rule has been "universally rejected" by other countries, including those with rules prohibiting illegal searches and police misconduct, despite the fact that none of these countries "appears to have any alternative form of discipline for police that is effective in preventing search violations." Bradley, Mapp Goes Abroad, 52 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 375, 399-400 (2001). England, for example, rarely excludes evidence found during an illegal search or seizure and has only recently begun excluding evidence from illegally obtained confessions. See C. Slobogin, Criminal Procedure: Regulation of Police Investigation 550 (3d ed. 2002). Canada rarely excludes evidence and will only do so if admission will "bring the administration of justice into disrepute." Id., at 550-551 (internal quotation marks omitted). The European Court of Human Rights has held that introduction of illegally seized evidence does not violate the "fair trial" requirement in Article 6, §1, of the European Convention on Human Rights. See Slobogin, supra, at 551; Bradley, supra, at 377-378.

The Court has been oblivious to the views of other countries when deciding how to interpret our Constitution's requirement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion... ." Amdt. 1. Most other countries--including those committed to religious neutrality--do not insist on the degree of separation between church and state that this Court requires. For example, whereas "we have recognized special Establishment Clause dangers where the government makes direct money payments to sectarian institutions," Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U. S. 819, 842 (1995) (citing cases), countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia allow direct government funding of religious schools on the ground that "the state can only be truly neutral between secular and religious perspectives if it does not dominate the provision of so key a service as education, and makes it possible for people to exercise their right of religious expression within the context of public funding." S. Monsma & J. Soper, The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies 207 (1997); see also id., at 67, 103, 176. England permits the teaching of religion in state schools. Id., at 142. Even in France, which is considered "America's only rival in strictness of church-state separation," "[t]he practice of contracting for educational services provided by Catholic schools is very widespread." C. Glenn, The Ambiguous Embrace: Government and Faith-Based Schools and Social Agencies 110 (2000).

And let us not forget the Court's abortion jurisprudence, which makes us one of only six countries that allow abortion on demand until the point of viability. See Larsen, Importing Constitutional Norms from a "Wider Civilization": Lawrence and the Rehnquist Court's Use of Foreign and International Law in Domestic Constitutional Interpretation, 65 Ohio St. L. J. 1283, 1320 (2004);
Center for Reproductive Rights, The World's Abortion Laws (June 2004), http://www.reproductiverights.org/
pub_fac_abortion_laws.html. Though the Government and amici in cases following Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), urged the Court to follow the international community's lead, these arguments fell on deaf ears. See McCrudden, A Part of the Main? The Physician-Assisted Suicide Cases and Comparative Law Methodology in the United States Supreme Court, in Law at the End of Life: The Supreme Court and Assisted Suicide 125, 129-130 (C. Schneider ed. 2000).

The Court's special reliance on the laws of the United Kingdom is perhaps the most indefensible part of its opinion. It is of course true that we share a common history with the United Kingdom, and that we often consult English sources when asked to discern the meaning of a constitutional text written against the backdrop of 18th-century English law and legal thought. If we applied that approach today, our task would be an easy one. As we explained in Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 973-974 (1991), the "Cruell and Unusuall Punishments" provision of the English Declaration of Rights was originally meant to describe those punishments " 'out of [the Judges'] Power' "--that is, those punishments that were not authorized by common law or statute, but that were nonetheless administered by the Crown or the Crown's judges. Under that reasoning, the death penalty for under-18 offenders would easily survive this challenge. The Court has, however--I think wrongly--long rejected a purely originalist approach to our Eighth Amendment, and that is certainly not the approach the Court takes today. Instead, the Court undertakes the majestic task of determining (and thereby prescribing) our Nation's current standards of decency. It is beyond comprehension why we should look, for that purpose, to a country that has developed, in the centuries since the Revolutionary War--and with increasing speed since the United Kingdom's recent submission to the jurisprudence of European courts dominated by continental jurists--a legal, political, and social culture quite different from our own. If we took the Court's directive seriously, we would also consider relaxing our double jeopardy prohibition, since the British Law Commission recently published a report that would significantly extend the rights of the prosecution to appeal cases where an acquittal was the result of a judge's ruling that was legally incorrect. See Law Commission, Double Jeopardy and Prosecution Appeals, LAW COM No. 267, Cm 5048, p. 6, ¶1.19 (Mar. 2001); J. Spencer, The English System in European Criminal Procedures 142, 204, and n. 239 (M. Delmas-Marty & J. Spencer eds. 2002). We would also curtail our right to jury trial in criminal cases since, despite the jury system's deep roots in our shared common law, England now permits all but the most serious offenders to be tried by magistrates without a jury. See D. Feldman, England and Wales, in Criminal Procedure: A Worldwide Study 91, 114-115 (C. Bradley ed. 1999).

The Court should either profess its willingness to reconsider all these matters in light of the views of foreigners, or else it should cease putting forth foreigners' views as part of the reasoned basis of its decisions. To invoke alien law when it agrees with one's own thinking, and ignore it otherwise, is not reasoned decisionmaking, but sophistry.9

The Court responds that "[i]t does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom." Ante, at 24-25. To begin with, I do not believe that approval by "other nations and peoples" should buttress our commitment to American principles any more than (what should logically follow) disapproval by "other nations and peoples" should weaken that commitment. More importantly, however, the Court's statement flatly misdescribes what is going on here. Foreign sources are cited today, not to underscore our "fidelity" to the Constitution, our "pride in its origins," and "our own [American] heritage." To the contrary, they are cited to set aside the centuries-old American practice--a practice still engaged in by a large majority of the relevant States--of letting a jury of 12 citizens decide whether, in the particular case, youth should be the basis for withholding the death penalty. What these foreign sources "affirm," rather than repudiate, is the Justices' own notion of how the world ought to be, and their diktat that it shall be so henceforth in America. The Court's parting attempt to downplay the significance of its extensive discussion of foreign law is unconvincing. "Acknowledgment" of foreign approval has no place in the legal opinion of this Court unless it is part of the basis for the Court's judgment--which is surely what it parades as today.

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Read Justice Scalia's entire dissent in Roper v. Simmons here. The majority opinion is also available here (scroll up to the top).

Commentary from The American Thinker is available here.

Some comments on this article are available at Lucianne.com.

And, of course, Justice Scalia - the best, most freedom-loving, judicial-tyranny-resisting - member of the Court, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.