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CAP , the Swift Vets, and Justice Harlan:
The controversy over Alito and the "Concerned Alumni of Princeton" reminds me a bit of the controversy over John Kerry raised by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth in the 2004 election. The basic idea underlying the claim seems to be roughly the same: Decades ago, the nominee did something or took a position that reveals a very deep and extremely serious character flaw. Granted, the nominee has shown only very subtle hints of this character flaw since then. But, critics say, that's only because he is super-clever at disguising just how evil he is. If we look really hard, we can realize that the nominee's impressive record is really a facade hiding something very sinister. That was the bogus claim about John Kerry in the 2004 election, and that is the bogus claim about Samuel Alito now.

  Looking to past Supreme Court confirmation hearings in particular, the CAP issue also reminds me a little bit of the problems John M. Harlan encountered as a result of his membership in the Atlantic Union Committee and the Citizens Association for the United Nations. Both were organizations dedicated to improving ties between the U.S. and other countries. A few Senators feared that Harlan's membership in these groups was a subtle sign that he was a "World Federalist" with a secret commitment to surrendering U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations. Harlan testified that he had little to no involvement in these groups, and even, in one case, little recollection of having joined them. He testified:
If you want me to be completely frank about my relationship to [the Atlantic Union Committee,] until this matter came up in connection with my nomination, I am afraid that if anybody had asked me if I was a member of the Altantic Union Committee I might have been mistaken in saying, "No."
 Source: Tinsley E. Yarborough, John Marshall Harlan: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court 105 (1992)). A few witnesses at the Senate hearing testified against Harlan, explaining their fears that his membership in the organizations meant that he was an internationalist who would allow international law and the U.N. charter to trump the Constitution. Harlan was eventually confirmed 71-11, however, with 14 Senators not voting. As far as I recall, he never did try to surrender U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations.
Preferred Customer:
That may be the claim that some are making, and I agree that it is bogus.

However, the thing that bothers me about it (to the extent that I am bothered about it, which is not very much) is that I find it hard to believe that he does not remember the circumstances surrounding his membership. I don't remember half the groups I've joined over the years, but I am fairly confident that if someone put a list in front of me it would jog my memory.
1.12.2006 12:55pm
Anthony Leonson (mail):
I disagree that this is similar to the Swift-vets.

In this case, Alito certainly isn't touting his medals and heroics in civil rights. Kerry was.

Also, there aren't people coming forward saying that Alito back then was a huge racist, etc.

So the two situations are different.
1.12.2006 12:56pm
Dave:
Yeah, I think that the Swift Boat thing was a lot bigger, a lot deeper, and a lot less honest. The CAP thing doesn't merit anything like the attention it's been getting, though.

Dave
1.12.2006 12:59pm
Some Guy (mail):
O.K., so let's see, one guy signs up for an alumni association, the other FOUNDS and RUNS a national political association dedicated to influencing defense policy and TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS on its behalf, then runs for Commander-in-Chief on a platform of "I'm a hero."

Uh, yeah, exactly the same. Thank God the left is so tone deaf.
1.12.2006 1:06pm
magoo (mail):
Post of the year, Orin. Nice analogy.
1.12.2006 1:10pm
jstokka (mail) (www):
How about Justice Black's association with the KKK? Oh, wait, he was a democrat...nevermind.
1.12.2006 1:19pm
AF:
There's a very important difference: Alito ADMITS having been a member of CAP. Kerry does not admit the Swift-Boat accusations, and they are, to say the least, unproven.

I think, as well, that we properly hold Supreme Court candidates to higher standards of behavior than elected officials. For example, it's now possible to be elected president despite admitting that you have used drugs in the past, whereas I don't think the same is true of being appointed to the SC.

Had Alito been a member of the Klu Klux Klan -- or the American Communist Party -- I doubt anybody would deny that his membership was, at the least, relevant to his candidacy for the Supreme Court, regardless of whether there was evidence that he was an active member or that he endorsed the organization's most objectionable tenets. How much weight to give such membership is, of course, open to debate, but it's not helpful to accuse those who have problems with a candidate's past memberships of making "bogus claims."

(By the way, to prove I'm not a complete hack, I'll admit that the Vanguard issue is bogus.)
1.12.2006 1:21pm
Beau (www):
The big difference between the Swifties attacking Kerry's character and the Democrats attacking Alito's seems to be that some of the Swift Boat Veterans actually claimed to have been present when Kerry showed his true colors (see http://www.swiftvets.com/index.php). Teddy Kennedy, on the other hand, is just making reckless allegations without even feigning personal knowledge. In my opinion, the latter is much worse.
1.12.2006 1:22pm
Roger (mail):
Anthony, Let me begin by saying that I don't care who is president, and I didn't vote. However, most people would say that a person's educational background is relevant to their qualifications as a judge. (Indeed, many wondered why a TTTer like Miers would be nominated when she didn't even try to academically distinguish herself after law school.) Altio is championed as having the "right" academic credentials, but, it seems that CAP may be an indicator that Alito sees academic credentials as more of a proxy for politics than as a statement of how well one preformed in tests or in school. Now, maybe Alito believes in a meritocracy. Maybe he doesn't. However, he certainly believes in selecting people based on political beliefs for positions, as if he didn't he would think that it was unethical and wrong to even give an interviewer a hint of who they voted for.
1.12.2006 1:26pm
boonelsj (mail):
I think you need to make the distinction that there's a dispute over whether the things that the swift boat vets said happened did, in fact, happen (I happen to think they're just a bunch of lying cranks, for what it's worth), whereas there's no doubt that Alito claimed he was a CAP member in 1985. If the CAP issue was instead merely an allegation being raised by some other Princeton Alums who didn't like Alito, then you'd have a more apt analogy.
1.12.2006 1:26pm
boonelsj (mail):
I'll add that the Harlan analogy is probably pretty accurate.
1.12.2006 1:27pm
byrd (mail):
I'm with those opposing the analogy. John Kerry made his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his campaign. The Swift Boat Vets, whose charges stood up quite a bit better then some of the commenters here seem to think, were talking about their own memories of the young John Kerry, who the old John Kerry personally made a campaign issue.

You've got nothing like that with Alito and CAP. Instead you have people misrepresenting what CAP was and what it did in an effort to make mere membership an offense.
1.12.2006 1:30pm
VC Reader:

Post of the year, Orin. Nice analogy.

It seems to me that the only distinction between "post of the year" and "dispicable" is whether or not the post confirms the reader's political bias. This is not to say magoo was one of the commenters on the post comparing McCarthyism to CAP-obsession. Just more of a general observation.
1.12.2006 1:32pm
PD Shaw (mail):
Shorter version of dissenting comments:

Kerry ran on his Swiftboats record; Alito is running away from his CAP record.
1.12.2006 1:39pm
Bobbie:
Orin, I'd agree with you if Alito didn't out down the group on his 1985 job application.

And what's supposed to be the point with Justice Black's Klan membership? He also shouldn't have been appointed to the Court for show the same cowardice.
1.12.2006 1:39pm
magoo (mail):
One of the reasons I like the post is that Orin uses (effectively, in my view) a comparison designed to evoke sympathy among Alito critics, and then turns it to his advantage. He's decidedly NOT making a purely partisan pitch, as I read the post

(and no, I didn't comment on the Zywicki nonsense comparing Kennedy to McCarthy, until just now)
1.12.2006 1:40pm
Goodspkr (mail):
Actually, I agree with the posters who don't see any analogy with the Swift Boats vets. It was Kerry who not only brought up his service, but made it a major plank of why we should vote for him. To look at that service was fair game.

The Swift Boats Vets made a number of claims most of which were proven true. Certainly John Kerry was not in Cambodia on Christmas eve, he had very questionable decorations (what other eye witnesses said vs how he wrote up certain actions were at odds), and his getting out of Vietnam after only three months due to 3 purple hearts none of which required more that a band aid(not even any stitches) to treat.

A CAP membership with no records to say he did anything more than belong to the group is not like be a Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan.
1.12.2006 1:41pm
magoo (mail):
"And what's supposed to be the point with Justice Black's Klan membership? He also shouldn't have been appointed to the Court for show the same cowardice."

WOuld you say the same for Justice Black?
1.12.2006 1:41pm
Mark Buehner (mail) (www):
Kerry ran on his Swiftboats record; Alito is running away from his CAP record.

Can you really run away from something that showed up in 2 (now 3) fleeting instances of your life that consisted of writing either your name or a 7 word desription on a resume? This is the real life equivalent of clicking on a pop-up add and 10 years later being assaulted by 50 windows of spam for it.
1.12.2006 1:43pm
therut (mail):
Did John Kerry ever disassociate himself from Vietnam Veterns Aganist the War or what he said in testimony to the Senate. And was he or was he not in Cambodia on Christmans. Does he have a Chi-Chom real Assault Rifle at home??????????????? If so is it legally registered? Inquiring minds want to know.
1.12.2006 1:44pm
AF:
magoo, I assume that Justice Black's Klan membership would prevent him even from being nominated today. Bringing it up obviously would not be considered a "bogus claim" by anybody.
1.12.2006 1:46pm
ed:
Well, one difference between the CAP flap and the Swift Boat flap is that the latter was a steaming pile of nonesense accusations made by people with no credibility, in direct contradiction to plenty of evidence, whereas there is no dispute about the facts in the former.

And a difference between this and the Harlan situation is that those organizations did not in fact have the sinister objectives imputed to them, whereas CAP most definitely did have motives we can all agree (well, I'm sure Orin would, not sure about some of these increasingly rabid VC commenters)--as does Judge Alito today--were extremely repellent.

I agree that the CAP business ideally ought not to be as big a deal as it's turning out to be, but I think Orin mischaracterizes it as a case of a "nominee's impressive record . . . really a facade hiding something very sinister." On the contrary, the nominee's impressive record rather clearly displays a hostility toward some of the civil rights claims that CAP displayed a hostility toward (which is not to say that he's personally racist or bigoted or anything of the sort).

Unfortunately, in a climate where actually asking a nominee (and getting an answer) about his or her legal views is impossible because the issue might come before the court or because the question doesn't present a fully ripe case or controversey properly susceptible to judicial comment (at least where the answer might be unpopular; not a problem with things like Griswold for some reason where the nominee's views happen to be mainstream), the CAP business is an opportunity to make the point that Judge Alito holds views on civil rights that many people find inappropriate, where the nominee can't decline to comment for reasons of alleged judicial propriety.
1.12.2006 1:47pm
A Blogger:
Ed,

Yes, and the point of the Swift Boat Vets was to show that John Kerry was untrustworthy. In both cases, it's all about the ends justifying the means. Whether you think the tactic was just depends on what side you're on.
1.12.2006 1:51pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
I do not think that the analogy to the Swift Boat Vets works at all; the analogy to Harlan, also, fails, imo.

Alito, like other Republican nominees since Bork, is refusing to say much of anything about his own jurisprudence (not that most of the long-winded Senators of either party are inclined to give him much time to do so). Alito, for example, would overturn Roe v. Wade; he won't say so, because to say so, would sink his nomination.

Alito, like many other conservatives, takes a dim view of civil rights and anti-discrimination policies, which have transformed the culture with regard to the role of women and the place of racial minorities. But, it is hard to say, just how dim his view is, because he will not say, and his supporters will obscure the implications of his record. Did Alito regret and oppose the transformation of Princeton by the admission of women and by efforts to reach out to minorities? It seems like a safe bet that he did. It is hardly an unusual view on the Right. (I seem to remember Scalia, on more than one occasion, getting all maudlin, about, for example, the virtues of an all-male VMI.) He's not going to clarify his personal views, or say much of anything very honest about how they affect his jurisprudence. He put CAP on his resume because he wanted a job, and now he cannot remember anything about it, because he wants a job.

The Democrats desperately want a "gotcha" -- a "smoking gun" -- which reveals some clearly reprehensible sentiment. It is kind of pathetic. Alito does not have the personality to ever yield that kind of thing. Alito is a "reasonable" reactionary, who will move the law in an authoritarian direction in small increments. The search for a "gotcha" which is not there is silly and pathetic. The Democrats should grow enough backbone to vote against Alito because they do not want what he will undoubtedly try to do; Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade and will, if he can -- that's a good enough reason to vote against him, and there is no reason to accept his "open mind" as good enough or to search in vain for some outrageous assertion, which is not in the man's record.

I do not think the Democrat's search for a gotcha, however, is at all like the Swift Boat Vets, whose "gotcha" was, in fact, a baseless slander, a series of reckless fabrications. They did not like Kerry or Kerry's political inclinations, and they were offended by Kerry touting his own brief stint as a war hero. But, they did not simply attack Kerry's self-promotion; they resorted to wholesale fabrications to slander the man's character in ways, which were manifestly false.

As for joking about Harlan's supposed goal of world federalism, I do not see that that applies, either. Alito really does want to trim and even overturn Roe v Wade. It is not a paranoid fantasy. Just because Alito is not "confessing in open court" so to speak, provides no reasonable grounds for believing otherwise.
1.12.2006 1:52pm
Ho Chi Minh:
The real problem with Kerry was not that his past was "sinister" or the specifics of his service. It was that his statements about his service in 2004 were diametrically opposed to specific things said and done--on camera or in print--in the 1970s, and thus wholly politically expedient.

We may assume, based on the Dems' frantic search of the National Archives papers, that Alito never expressed any views on CAP, other than to join it and list it on a job application. But since it appears to have been a group of motley conservatives with individualized pet issues, and since he never led, wrote for, or spoke for the group, membership demonstrates next to nothing. Indeed, when Sen. Kennedy (D-Chappaquiddick) grilled him about it, the debate concerned what others said, not the formal pronouncements or "platform" of the organization. Obviously, it is politically expedient for Alito to distance himself from some wacko statements, but without evidence that he ever was close to them, there is nothing to suggest that the distance is artificial.

In other words, this is the most illogical post I've read on this site.
1.12.2006 1:52pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
Reading thru the comments, it is clear that many conservatives appear to believe the Swift Boat Veterans. I, most certainly, did not.

Does anybody think Alito did not belong to CAP, and is not a very conservative fellow?
1.12.2006 1:59pm
Roger (mail):
Goodspkr,


The Swift Boats Vets made a number of claims most of which


were proven true. Certainly John Kerry was not in Cambodia on Christmas eve, he had very questionable decorations (what other eye witnesses said vs how he wrote up certain actions were at odds), and his getting out of Vietnam after only three months due to 3 purple hearts none of which required more that a band aid(not even any stitches) to treat.



How can something be proven "true" when you say it is "questionable." Just admit it. You are a partisan hack, and so is everyone that belongs to a political party. If you did not serve, then I think that you are hurting America. Also, I hope that you tell ever purple-heart-wearer that you see that you think that their injuries, unless grievous, are not worth it, and their service was worthless and they did nothing for their country. Tell all the veterans how much you hate them.
1.12.2006 2:11pm
Mark Buehner (mail) (www):
On the contrary, the nominee's impressive record rather clearly displays a hostility toward some of the civil rights claims that CAP displayed a hostility toward (which is not to say that he's personally racist or bigoted or anything of the sort).

Ah. So we are back to the premise that anyone who opposes affirmative action (for instance) is displaying hostility towards minorities, and if they are not in fact a closet bigot their actions are indistinguishable. The mindset in which Conservatives are out to get minorities is the only one in which this manufactured contraversy makes a lick of sense.
1.12.2006 2:12pm
AF:
No, Mark, but anybody who displays hostility toward affirmative action displays hostility toward the "civil rights claims" of anyone who (for instance) claims they have a civil right to affirmative action. You really chose a bad quote to make your point, as it specifically denies the "premise" you accuse it of supporting.
1.12.2006 2:16pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I think this is worse than the swift boat thing. I would argue that if Alito were, today, applying for a job with DOJ or in the Soliciter General's office, that he would list the CAP association as a positive. He realizes it will look bad for SCOTUS nominee to have expressed views, therefore he is trying to disassociate himself from his past political expressions. Which means he knows how to use his credentials to his favor on a job application. I'm not sure that disqualifies him, but my question is should someone be on SCOTUS who has resume' credentials he does not feel he can explain? My issue is more with his former listing of the association and his ignoring it now; rather than with his actual association with the group. Ought not he be able to defend it? Whether it be he wasn't aware of the groups mission, or that he was young and "stupid" and has since grown up intellectually, emotionally, and has grown up in his views towards women and minorities. That his one time views were merely that of a young man ascribing to ideas he believed would help him get a job. And that he has since realized that is wrong.

Sure its opening himself up for some shots, but at least it'd be an explanation...
1.12.2006 2:16pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
Only problem with the analogy is that the accusation against Alito is a falsehood, whereas the Swifties were telling the truth. Other than that, great post.

Yes, Alito belonged to CAP, but the offensive statements attributed to CAP weren't actually the organization's positions at all, but were the rantings of a single contributor to the organization's publication, which were accompanied by the same sort of disclaimer that accompanies comments posted on blogs such as this one. Sure, CAP took some conservative positions, but the Dems attempting to make an issue of this have distorted those positions. For example, opposition to racial preferences isn't the same thing as opposing admission of minorities, but of course that's how it's been presented by the hero of Chappaquiddick.
1.12.2006 2:19pm
Houston Lawyer:
I also believe the Swift Boat analogy is weak. Kerry has stopped claiming he was in Cambodia at Christmas and no longer refers to the "magic hat" given to him by covert operatives. Kerry used his Christmas in Cambodia and magic hat stories to keep alive his "reporting for duty" persona, which was integral to his campaign.

No one has shown that CAP membership ever meant much of anything to Alito.
1.12.2006 2:25pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Even if every single other claim made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were proven false, they exposed a serious flaw in John Kerry's character by disproving his claims, made on the Senate floor, to have been in Cambodia over Christmas 1968 (an action for which he bizarrely blamed Richard Nixon, who had not yet been sworn into office). Kerry lied in order to affect policy.

The Harlan analogy is much more accurate.

Nick
1.12.2006 2:30pm
Mark Buehner (mail) (www):
No, Mark, but anybody who displays hostility toward affirmative action displays hostility toward the "civil rights claims" of anyone who (for instance) claims they have a civil right to affirmative action.

Hmm, but displaying doubt towards a Civil Rights claim that many consider the be dubious shouldnt be immediately tantamount to attacking Civil Rights in general. The term 'hostility' here is a loaded one.


You really chose a bad quote to make your point, as it specifically denies the "premise" you accuse it of supporting.

I dont think so because in fact it draws a direct line of the reasoning involved- ie: if you have doubts about Afirmative Action you are hostile towards the civil rights claim behind it, just as certain members of CAP were hostile towards civil rights claims in general. And then parathetically of course we're not suggesting that makes a person racist. Just indistingishable.
1.12.2006 2:31pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
How about Justice Black's association with the KKK? Oh, wait, he was a democrat...nevermind.

How about it. Justice Black admitted his mistake and did not lie like Alito and say he could not remember his association with the group.

CAP was a group opposed to permitting Blacks attend Princeton. Mind you, it was not opposed to affirmative action, it favored it for the sons of alumni, but was opposed to letting in the niggers (and let's be honest, that's exactly the word I am sure its members used behind closed doors). Alito, for some very bizarre reason, touted his membership in that organization. He should explain why, and not lie and say he does not recall any association or ever writing down his membership (while at the same time having an explanation for his membership).

As to the comparison to the swift vets, this is nothing like it. For example, no one has accused Alito of shooting himself in the leg so he could get a purple heart, a la the reonowned racist and hero of the right-wing blogosphere, Michelle Malkin. No one has subtly, but repeatedly, accused Alito of treas, a la the other great hero of the rightie blogosphere and perhaps the most intellectually dishonest person I have ever read, Glenn "Republican hatchet-man" Reynolds.

1.12.2006 2:33pm
Andrew P (mail):
The two situations are very different. One involves a liberal, and the other involves a conservative. Therefore, the majority of readers will find a way to convince themselves that other important differences exist, and that these other differences are why they sympathize with one man and not the other.
1.12.2006 2:36pm
A.S.:
Re: Swift Boat analogy. Let's also remember that Kerry lied about everything he did in Vietnam. He lied about what he did for his bronze star. He lied about what he did for his silver star. He lied for his purple hearts. He lied about everything.

Mind you, I don't have any evidence to back up any of those allegations, but neither does anyone have any evidence that Alito is lying about anything. So my allegations are just as valid as the allegations that Alito lied.
1.12.2006 2:40pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):

one difference between the CAP flap and the Swift Boat flap is that the latter was a steaming pile of nonesense accusations made by people with no credibility,

I'm interested to note that you are claiming that two medal-of-honor winners "lack credibility".

Only 3 of the 9 Swift Boat ads were about JFK in Vietnam. The other 6 were about his activities after the war which are very well sourced (they were usually televised). Those ads don't depend on testemony.
1.12.2006 2:40pm
Roger (mail):
I am very disturbed that non-veterans are commenting on these things. Also, a lot of the veterans that are commenting never saw combat, so I don't think they love America as much as Kerry does. (W was also wounded in combat, so he loves America just as much as Kerry.)

Also, it is worth noting that Affirmative Action issues to come before the Supreme Court are different than discrimination issues in many ways. (E.g. one usually involves whether a federal statute has been violated, and the person seeking redress seeks to invoke the statute, and the other involves people that claim that a state statute violates the constitution) However, none of the posters care about these nuances. Instead, they pound the table.
1.12.2006 2:48pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
GC,
So what you're saying is that anyone who opposes discrimination against Asians and Jews in college admissions, but does not oppose preferences given to relatives of alumni, is nothing but a garden-variety racist? How do you sleep?
1.12.2006 2:49pm
gawaine (mail):
The biggest difference to me is that Alito is asking to be judged on the basis of what he has done in his tenure as a judge, while Kerry was trumpeting his military service as an indicator of his ability to continue with military service.

If the controversy had come up back in the 80s, when Alito highlighted the service on his resume, I'd understand the parallel. I don't see the parallel now, though - it's more parallel to Mary Jo Kopechne or Byrd's KKK status, as things that reasonable people will argue about the importance of in judging the candidate's character, but the candidate himself isn't raising as an issue. (Despite attempts by some to connect Kopechne to Kennedy's complaints about Water Torture as a rheotorical device).

Another thing that seems significantly weaken the analogy is that CAP is about membership in an organization, while Swift Vets is specifically about the individual and his behavior. Perhaps Dukakis' smearing as a member of the ACLU?
1.12.2006 2:52pm
Mark Buehner (mail) (www):
So what you're saying is that anyone who opposes discrimination against Asians and Jews in college admissions, but does not oppose preferences given to relatives of alumni, is nothing but a garden-variety racist?

No, no. Dont mischaracterize the point of view. It doesnt make a person racist (necessarilly). Its just that they are indistinguishable from racists. We wouldnt want to impinge anyones character or anything.
1.12.2006 2:59pm
Steven:
In light of today's revelations that Alito basically had nothing to do with CAP, are we to conclude that the Judge is not a racist or anti-feminist, but merely a right wing apple polisher who needed a little something for his resume?
1.12.2006 3:03pm
Hoosier:
Andrew P (et al.):

I am a Republican, or at least lean that way. I voted for Kerry, and think Bush II has been a mitigated disaster. So I'm not looking to grind an axe here.

The Swift Boat adds on their own were unconvincing. But they did highlight Kerry's strong tendency to have memory problems. Not of the Alito sort. Kerry remembered things--he just remembered them differetly depending upon political utility. And yet I crossed party lines and voted D for the second time in a row. His creative memory was less disturbing than what I took to be be Bush's manifest inadequacy.

Alito's sins of memory are no where near as serious, and don't demonstrate, contra many VK posters and the NYT, that he is lying. "He'll have a lifetime appointment!" they say. Yes, but as one of nine. The presidency is a MUCH more significant office, and we have to go back to 1961 to add up nine presidents, since they come one to a box.

If you can vote for Kerry, you can support Alito.
1.12.2006 3:13pm
legitprop1 (mail):
I'm not sure I get the analogy. Alito is being tarred for controversial statements by a CAP member in a magazine article, notwithstanding that (a) there is no evidence Alito even knew the author; (b) there is no evidence that Alito agreed with the authors views as articulated in the article; and (c) there is considerable doubt as to whether the authors statements fairly reflected the views of the organization (indeed, I believe the article included a disclaimer to that effect).

With the Swift Boat ads, the situation is quite different. It strikes me that the most devastating Swift Boat ad by far was the second one, in which Kerry's testimony concerning alleged atrocities committed by U.S. troops was juxtaposed with statements from former POWs saying that they took torture to avoid giving the enemy what Kerry gave them for free. With all the hoopla about alleged deception by the Swifties, I've never understood what was deceptive about this particular ad. Indeed, it was devastating because it was true, which was why Kerry had a hard time rebutting it. (And yes, I've read Kerry's full testimony and understand that he was repeating allegations others had made, but he was doing it in a manner designed to convey that the accusations were credible, and that gave the North Vietnamese the same propaganda advantage that they were trying to extract via torture from U.S. POWs).

Bottom line, Orin's analysis is usually solid, but I think he may have missed the mark on this one.
1.12.2006 3:16pm
Hoosier:
legitprop--

BTW: I teach a course on the history of the Vietnam War, and so I too have read Kerry's testimony. You have it exactly right. His defenders did keep repeating that this was simply "reported speech." There is no question, however, that he was reporting speech that he wanted us to accept as true. And much of it was, we now know, fabrication. A number of those "vets" quoted never got closer to Vietnam than a Cantonese restaurant in San Diego.

I just couldn't grasp Kerry's approach to this entire episode. The undecided voter doesn't care all that much about Vietnam these days, unless I'm way off base. This only became a George-Romney-moment because of Kerry's defensive and evasive response. (And, yes, I still voted for him. Reluctantly.)

What if he'd said: "I saw things in Vietnam that left me an angry young veteran. I've grown since then. I regret any hurt that I've inflicted on my fellow veterans. I never meant harm to my comrades. But at the time, I believed in the Winter Soldier testimony, and thought I was doing the right thing. I am proud to have served my country when it called me." I think he'd be president now. We wouldn't be talking about Alito. Everything would be peace, progress, and prosperity. And my coffee would always be fresh and warm.
1.12.2006 3:49pm
minnie:
I wonder what Orin thinks about the performance of Sen. Cronyn? After a witness is removed from the list of those to testify, Sen. Cronyn reads into the record a single article, or rather, excerpts from an article, written by a person who is not even going to appear before the committee in an attempt to unfairly discredit the author and to cast doubt on all critics of Alito by so doing.

To my mind, that was the single most disgraceful thing that happened at these preposterous hearings. The author is a distinguished journalist and the grandson of Isaac Bashevis Singer, winner of the Noble Prize for literature. The views put forth in that article, with which I agree passionately and happen to think that most people, if they were privy to all the facts, would also endorse, were re-statements of some of the views of his grandfather. Taken out of context, they might appear questionable. In contect, they reflect the views of many of the world's most revered and respected thinkers.

What does Orin think about that?

Also, just a question, since I believe Orin knows Judge Alito. Was Alito's father a Freemason?
1.12.2006 3:54pm
minnie:
Judge Leonard Garth: Never once, in all the years he has known Alito, has he ever heard Alito express a single principle. Yup, that's what he said.

Gosh, I am so re-assured. Just the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court. A person who leaves his "principles" at home when he punches the timeclock.
1.12.2006 4:02pm
ThirdCircuitLawyer (mail):
Minnie,

Do you have a link for that statement?
1.12.2006 4:05pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Yes do provide a link and keep in mind that the Professor Kerr also clerked for Judge Leonard Garth.
1.12.2006 4:26pm
David Matthews (mail):
Alito's father a Freemason? Not likely. The Catholic Church frowns on Freemasonry and other "secret societies." See, for example: This link

Certainly there exist Catholic Freemasons, but they're not in the Catholic mainstream.

Anyhow, who cares what Alito's father was?
1.12.2006 4:33pm
Davod (mail):
How can you compare CAP and Alito to Kerry and the Swift Boats. Kerry is shown on TV both in the Congress and TV shows slandering the American serviceman and parroting the North Vietnamese negotiating position. Compare this to Kennedy on Alitto and CAP.
1.12.2006 4:38pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):

What if he'd said: "I saw things in Vietnam that left me an angry young veteran. I've grown since then. I regret any hurt that I've inflicted on my fellow veterans. I never meant harm to my comrades. But at the time, I believed in the Winter Soldier testimony, and thought I was doing the right thing. I am proud to have served my country when it called me." I think he'd be president now.


That might be better, but "I regret that I hurt anyone" is a non-denial denial. A true denial would be admitting that he's wrong. "At the time, I believed in the Winter Soldier testimony, but now, I no longer do." Followed by either a denial that the atrocities happened, or a denial that they were approved by all levels of command. (Of course, if he still believes that and can't make the denial, then veterans can legitimately criticize him for that.)

"I regret that I hurt anyone" without admitting wrong, or "I thought I was doing the right thing" without "I no longer think that" is worthless.
1.12.2006 5:04pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Am I mistaken or is this place infested with trolls.
1.12.2006 5:05pm
jahoulih:
The problem with this blog is that the Conspirators are far from disinterested: they find it all too easy to imagine themselves in Judge Alito's position, and they become nauseous at the thought that their own dubious associations might someday be scrutinized. Hence their ever more irrational and perfervid defenses of Judge Alito's CAP membership and failure to recollect the same.

And how many of the Conspirators would ever have found themselves disadvantaged by CAP's efforts to restrict admissions to Princeton?
1.12.2006 5:14pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
That might be better, but "I regret that I hurt anyone" is a non-denial denial. A true denial would be admitting that he's wrong. "At the time, I believed in the Winter Soldier testimony, but now, I no longer do." Followed by either a denial that the atrocities happened, or a denial that they were approved by all levels of command. (Of course, if he still believes that and can't make the denial, then veterans can legitimately criticize him for that.)


Good point although I have to somewhat disagree that saying you regret that you hurt someone is a "non-denial denial." One can believe that s/he was right to say something or that what they said was correct and still feel genuine regret that in saying it, they hurt someone. However I think in Kerry's case, had he apologized he ought to have expanded on it with at least acknowledging that he had painted with too wide of a brush and/or too little regard for the harm that his words would cause during a time of war.
1.12.2006 5:18pm
SLS 1L:
Are you trying to say that if the Swift Boat Vets' factual contentions had been true - that Kerry had lied to get medals he didn't deserve - then it shouldn't have made any difference to us?
1.12.2006 5:26pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
This is, I guess, a litle off-topic, but have followed this thread because I am interested in communications issues; specifically, how the perception of the "Swift Vets" has evolved and the process by which one perception or another becomes cemented as the Conventional Wisdom.

If my general sense of the issue is correct, Ed accurately reflects what seems to be forming as the CW: the Swift Boat matter "was a steaming pile of nonsense accusations made by people with no credibility, in direct contradiction to plenty of evidence."

As best I can tell, though, Swift Boat "attacks" fell into three categories:

1. Matters of public record (the statements Kerry made before Congress, his meeting with the North Vietnamese, etc.)

2. Matters in which the evidence seems to support the Swift Boat vets (for example, the fact that Kerry was almost certainly not in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, which he claimed was a pivotal event "burned into [his] memory")

3. He said/she matters, in which the truth is almost impossible to determine.

I am not aware of any Swift Boat accusations that were actually shown to have been lies. Are there any? I'd genuinely be interested to know.

- AJ
1.12.2006 5:33pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Are you trying to say that if the Swift Boat Vets' factual contentions had been true - that Kerry had lied to get medals he didn't deserve - then it shouldn't have made any difference to us?


Actually SBVFT attacked Kerry for renouncing his medals rather than for whether he had earned them.
1.12.2006 5:34pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
jahouli - you write:


Hence their ever more irrational and perfervid defenses of Judge Alito's CAP membership and failure to recollect the same.


This is bizzare. What exactly do you find "irrational" or "perfervid" about pointing out that something written in a magazine, 20 years ago, by someone else, as part of an organization that Alito doesn't seem to have had much if anything to do with, expressing literally sophomoric ideas that he has explicitly disavowed, perhaps shouldn't be THE MAJOR FACTOR in deciding whether or he would be a good choice for the U.S. Supreme Court?

I just don't get it. I used to be, for a very brief time, a member of a highly ideological organization and, in some circles, controversial organization. I attended a few meetings and even paid dues. So if nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court, could my appointment reasonably be torpedoed by something written in Boy's Life?

Finally, in what has to be the best non sequitur in this thread, you write:


And how many of the Conspirators would ever have found themselves disadvantaged by CAP's efforts to restrict admissions to Princeton?


Well, I'm currently disadvantaged by their admissions policy. I'm just curious as to whether you think I should, logically, personally support or oppose liberal SCOTUS nominees on that basis.

- AJ
1.12.2006 5:50pm
SLS 1L:
"Actually SBVFT attacked Kerry for renouncing his medals rather than for whether he had earned them."

The Swift Boat Vets made a lot of claims, but their principal ones, made in Unfit for Command, were that he didn't deserve two of his Purple Hearts (because the wounds were self-inflicted, possibly even deliberately self-inflicted) and only got them because he lobbied for them; and received his Silver Star under false pretenses.

Kerry's renunciation of his medals, testimony to Congress, etc., had been part of the public record long before the Swift Boat Vets appeared.
1.12.2006 5:52pm
jahoulih:
AJ,

"an organization that Alito doesn't seem to have had much if anything to do with"

Except that he apparently joined it and touted his membership in it on a job application.

I certainly don't think his membership in it should be THE MAJOR FACTOR. I think it should be a factor. Your characterization of the Conspirators' argument as an argument that perhaps Alito's CAP membership should not be THE MAJOR FACTOR in his nomination suggests to me that you are not altogether serious.

I concede that I don't know anything about "Boy's Life." What's controversial about it?

It's interesting to learn that you are currently a potential candidate for admission to Princeton.
1.12.2006 6:05pm
minnie:
Where did they dig up this panel of Judges? For once, I respect Sen. Leahy, who made the obvious observation, but in a subtle enough way that it should get the prize for the first nuanced statement of any agility made at these hearings, that those Judges have personal motives, something to gain, by testifying, so what's the point?

Also, to the Judge who commented that Alito's father was an Italian immigrant, so "of course" Alito has a profound respect for the "little man", I say, oh really? I guess the Mafia only rubbed out "big men", if every Italian immigrant respects, a priori, the rights of the little guy.

As for learning that Sen. Cornyn used to be on the Texas Supreme Court, I shudder to think of what havoc he created when on the bench. I'd investigate his rulings, but I hate horror stories.

Here's what I would have asked. "Judge Alito, remember the case where a retarded person was cruelly taunted, harrassed, and sexually abused by his co-workers? The case where you ruled he was not entitled to redress, and you came to that ruling by citing a technicality, that one of the lawyers who was defending that unfortunate victim, left out some obscure point in his papers?

Well, Judge Alito, how come in another case you did the exact opposite, and came to a wrong ruling by INSERTING into the briefs an argument that the State itself never raised. (This is the case Goodwin Liu addressed.)

If he'd done the same thing in both cases, played by the same rules, you could argue that was his form of judicial interpretation. But he used two different standards to get to the results he wanted. Isn't that the DEFINITION of judicial activism?

Also, to remind those who haven't read the case, the reason that Alito ruled against that poor retarded person who was so mercilessly tormented by his co-workers was that he said that type of treatment was just an example of typical macho roughhousing by other males.

Sure, stick a broomstick up the rear of a retarded person. HO HO HO. What fun!

Shoot an 110 lb. unarmed eighth graders in the back of the head because he stole $10?

It's that type of callous attitude that is why I have been against Judge Alito from the time I first started reading his dissents. I never saw anything of that mind set in Clarence Thomas or John Roberts, which is why I supported them both enthusiastically.

I never would have thought that I would rather see a Goodwin Liu on the SC than a conservative Republican, but that's what it's come to. He's the only person whose testimony echoed what I know in my heart is the truth.
Alito is not a good man. Everything else, maybe. But good, no.
1.12.2006 6:06pm
Truman:
Also, Kerry paraded around the country with his "band of brothers." The Swift Boat Vets came forward to counter the impression that Kerry was supported by Vietnam Vets.
1.12.2006 6:13pm
Anthony Leonson (mail):
Except that he apparently joined it and touted his membership in it on a job application.


I seem to recall seeing questions on applications referring to 'are you a member of any clubs or do you have any other activities you want to tell us about'. To the life of me, I can't recall anything I've ever put on that line, but I'm sure I've filled out various things.

And I certainly can't recall any clubs or organizations, specifically, I was involved in 15 years ago, let alone 20 or 30.

minnie said-
The author is a distinguished journalist and the grandson of Isaac Bashevis Singer, winner of the Noble Prize for literature. The views put forth in that article, with which I agree passionately and happen to think that most people, if they were privy to all the facts, would also endorse, were re-statements of some of the views of his grandfather.


You passionately agree that the food industry is the same as the holocaust, except with animal victims? You think everyone else would agree with that statement?

Like the victims of the Holocaust, animals are rounded up, trucked hundreds of miles to the kill floor and slaughtered. Comparisons to the Holocaust are not only appropriate but inescapable because, whether we wish to admit it or not, cows, chickens, pigs and turkeys are as capable of feeling loneliness, fear, pain, joy and affection as we are. To those who defend the modern-day holocaust on animals by saying that animals are slaughtered for food and give us sustenance, I ask: If the victims of the Holocaust had been eaten, would that have justified the abuse and murder? Did the fact that lampshades, soaps and other "useful" products were made from their bodies excuse the Holocaust? No. Pain is pain.


This statement? Those aren't the words of his grandfather, and he's not paraphrasing there. He completely agrees with that position, and that position is fallacious.
1.12.2006 6:30pm
Noah Klein (mail):
Truman:

As far as I know, the Swift Boat Vets were not under his command, as were his band of brothers. Kerry was saying he was supported by his unit and a number of generals who also served in Vietnam. I don't think he ever claimed that he was supported by ALL Vietnam Vets.

Everybody:

The Swift Boat Vets used deceit and outright lies to try to disparage the record of a Vietnam Vet. Also, Kerry served two tours in the Vietnam War. The first was on a destroyer in the South China Sea (I believe). The second was on the Swift Boat. He didn't need to serve the second or for that matter the first (since he volunteered). I think mischaracterizing a person as the Swift Vets, who volunteered for service and served a second tour in country is wrong. Also, I have never heard of any witness who had a better view of what was happening than his crew on his boat, who all say what he did deserved the medal.

Yet the Swift Vets did make some legitimate claims. Not new ones, but legitimate ones none the less. The "Christmas in Cambodia" claim by Kerry was demonstrated to be wrong. Furthermore, the "Winter Soldier" testimony has been proven mostly wrong. I do believe that during the 2004 campaign and before he apologized for being mistaken, but I am not sure. So I will accept that he didn't until somebody does the research and shows that he did. But saying that atrocities did not happen in Vietnam is wrong. Just ask Lt. Calley. Also, saying that it was widespread and that the whole command structure knew of and allowed these atrocities is wrong. These issues were brought up before in his Senate campaigns and he addressed them there, but it does mean they can not be brought up again in his Presidential campaign. Yet bringing false accusations that are impossible to disprove, because you can't disprove a negative is wrong.

Calling Alito a racist or anything like it because he doesn't believe in Affrimative Action and he has some small tie to a controversial group is wrong. From what I see about Alito, I think I am going to disagree with his opinions, but that does not mean he should be on the bench. His opinions are not radical and his character is not evil.

Noah
1.12.2006 6:34pm
Noah Klein (mail):
The second to last sentence is supposed to read his opinions and his small tie to a controversial group does not disqualify him from being on the bench.

Noah
1.12.2006 6:39pm
minnie:
One last point. No, Liu shouldn't be on the SC either. Maybe I should:) Liu backed down when being questioned by Sessions, who simply MAKES UP the facts as he goes along, and posits them as truths. In the strip search case, he has said for two days now that the mother and child were only made to remove their outer garments. However, that is not the case. They were in fact strip searched. Liu should have known that. Also, it is NOT true as Sessions slipped by that the Magistrate authorized the searching of whomever was in the house. That gets us right smack up against the Fourth Amendment. The Magistrate SPECIFICALLY permitted the affadavit to be incorporated as to probable cause. He specifically did NOT authorize the affadavit to be incorporated as to the issue of who could be searched, although he could have done that if he so chose. There's a huge difference. The Fourth Amendment inserts the judgment of the Magistrate between the police and the individual, and specifies that the warrant itself must contain the search information. It's too bad Liu didn't truly familiarize himself with the entire facts of that case, and that he let himself be discredited by a dishonest distorter of facts like Sessions, and a "fat cat" member of the old boys club like that overpaid Carter Phillips. This was anything but a case of qualified immunity for a police officer. It was first of all a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, and secondly, a revealing insight into Alito's priorities. Alito even said so himself in his testimony a day or two ago. He said that nobody was arguing that you couldn't strip search children who happened to be on the scene of a drug raid, because if someone argued that, then drug dealers would hide their drugs on children.

Keep in mind that in the Doe case, the drug dealer was outside the house when the police arrived, and didn't even have time to stash any drugs on those inside the house at the time of the raid. The police did that search as a deliberate, spiteful attempt to get back at the alledged petty drug dealer, to throw their weight around, not to find drugs on the woman and child, which they in fact did not.

The case of the police was so weak that they settled with the alleged drug dealer, rather than pursue it at a jury trial.
1.12.2006 6:44pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
jahouli -


"Except that he apparently joined it and touted his membership in it on a job application."


Sure, if by "touted" you mean "once mentioned it in seven words in a job application 20 years ago."


I certainly don't think his membership in it should be THE MAJOR FACTOR. I think it should be a factor.


OK. A major factor?


I concede that I don't know anything about "Boy's Life."


Google

It's interesting to learn that you are currently a potential candidate for admission to Princeton.


Hmm? I never made that claim, unless of course you mean that everyone is a "potential candidate" for admission, In which case I confess I fail to see why that is interesting.

Cordially,

- AJ
1.12.2006 7:36pm
jahoulih:
"A major factor?"

A factor that it is not McCarthyite to consider.

I don't think being a Boy Scout is particularly controversial, since Boy Scouts are generally not adults but boys. I think it would be worth asking an adult Scoutmaster whether he shared the Boy Scouts' views on various issues.

You said that you are currently disadvantaged by Princeton's admissions policies. Unless you are or will be an applicant for admission, I don't see how you are disadvantaged.
1.12.2006 7:54pm
David Matthews (mail):
"As far as I recall, he never did try to surrender U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations."

The opportunity never presented itself....
1.12.2006 8:11pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
There's a big difference between racisim and policy preferences.

It's irrational to claim that someone (like me) who opposes both affirmative action and the 1964 Civil Rights Act (I opposed it in '64 in a 7th Grade debate) is a racist. One's view towards members of other races is different from and cannot be determined by one's view of specific public policy proposals.

In the most extreme case For example, If I am an anarchist and don't think that government should exist then I don't think there should be a 1964 Civil Rights Act but that opposition provides no evidence as to my view of other races.

Similarly, if I believe that single-sex education is superior to co-ed education I may do so for a host of reasons beyond a belief in the inferiority of men or women.

Whether or not I believe that a specific program such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children should exist, I can still be a charitible person (or not).

I dislike hearings where people feel that they can't state their beliefs.
1.12.2006 9:15pm
Neal Lang (mail):
When "Hanoi John" Kerry-Heinz saluded and announced that he was "Reporting for duty" - he was saying with regards to military record "Bring it on!" Now until he releases his entire military records to anyone interested, you must assume that something is wrong. Personally, I believe he received and "Other than Honorable Discharge" in 1972 when he was giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies. This is why the "corrected" discharge dated years later during the Carter Administration indicates:
An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site (now missing) listed as Mr. Kerry's "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.

The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration's secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of "a board of officers." This in itself is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.

According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163." This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.

For this reason we should all call upon Senator Kerry-Heinz to authorize complete access to all his military records by filing a standard Form 180, a simple two-page release form, as he promised, yet has not dome.
1.12.2006 11:47pm
Justin (mail):
This thread has soured me on the prospects of democracy ever working. Thanks, guys.

Let's just hope Jesus Christ never runs for President as a Democrat. I'm sure his threesome with Mary Magdalen and his "adopted" father Joseph will be "proven true" any day now.
1.12.2006 11:51pm
Challenge:
It's odd that after Orin's humble and worthwhile analysis on the NSA wiretaps he pulls a 180 with this post, speaking so positively about something he understands so little of.

The Swiftees'charges were numerous and complicated, but some of them were proven to be true (Cambodia, to name one example). Others were substantiated but not "proven" in any sense. Still others were never really in dispute (throwing away the medals [well, somebody else's anyway], his remarks in front of Congress, etc). Orin is just speaking from ignorance on this point, and the analogy is peculiar and utterly inapt (for a number of reasons, illustrated already).
1.13.2006 2:33am
minnie:
He completely agrees with that position, and that position is fallacious.

No Anthony, that statement is not fallacious. It is true. It simply uses an analogy to make a valid point.

However, I suggest that before we continue the debate, you go put your finger in the fire for thirty seconds, then come back and we'll talk.

The issue is pain. That's the only issue. Many people in this world care if their families suffer pain, but are not that sympathetic to others. There are groups who care about the pain felt by members of their groups, but not the pain felt by members of opposing groups.

Then there are those of us who do not want any sentient being to feel pain. We have empathy. We can project: "I don't want to feel pain, therefore, I don't want others to feel pain."

If a man needs to kill an animal to survive, that's one thing. But in today's world, where that is almost never the case, and where in fact those who do not eat animals are far healthier and live longer, it's an eternal, never ending holocaust for the billions of animals who are made to suffer horribly before and as they are slaugtered, especially the huge numbers who are factory farmed. They are defenseless. They are innocents. They cannot protect themselves. They are at the mercy of people like you.

My own opinion is that nine tenths of the world's population, if they had to spend a week in a slaughterhouse, would cease to eat animals. What enables people to eat animals, or wear their hides, people like me until I had my consciousness raised, is the distance that is put between the horror of what actually goes on and sitting down at the table.

I suggest you read the follow up article that Mr. Dujack wrote and then decide if you think he is a "wingbat" or wacko, as the animals profiteers have painted him.
1.13.2006 6:34am
David Matthews (mail):
"in fact those who do not eat animals are far healthier and live longer"

Even vegetarian experts don't find this to be true:

Link

And note that this is from the "Oxford Vegetarians Web Site."
1.13.2006 10:58am
Neal Lang (mail):
This thread has soured me on the prospects of democracy ever working. Thanks, guys.

Let's just hope Jesus Christ never runs for President as a Democrat. I'm sure his threesome with Mary Magdalen and his "adopted" father Joseph will be "proven true" any day now.

Actually, He couldn't pass the Honorable Richard Durbin religious test!
1.13.2006 12:54pm
Challenge:
"If a man needs to kill an animal to survive, that's one thing. But in today's world, where that is almost never the case, and where in fact those who do not eat animals are far healthier and live longer, it's an eternal, never ending holocaust for the billions of animals who are made to suffer horribly before and as they are slaugtered, especially the huge numbers who are factory farmed. They are defenseless. They are innocents. They cannot protect themselves. They are at the mercy of people like you."

"What enables people to eat animals, or wear their hides, people like me until I had my consciousness raised, is the distance that is put between the horror of what actually goes on and sitting down at the table."

If you really believe killing animals for food is a "holocaust," how do you feel about animals eating animals? Surely if you believe humans killing animals for food is morally wrong you also believe animals killing animals for food is morally wrong. Do you propose we feed the lions, tigers, and bears soy too?

You're as bad as Dujack. Sorry that this is off topic.
1.13.2006 2:10pm
Neal Lang (mail):
There's a very important difference: Alito ADMITS having been a member of CAP. Kerry does not admit the Swift-Boat accusations, and they are, to say the least, unproven.

Kerry-Heinz refuses to release his complete military records. I believe the people have a right to know whether or not the Commander-in-Chief got an "other than honorable discharge" or not!

As for what Kerry-Heinz admits to - not much beyond his illegally invading Cambodia without orders and committing various war crimes.
I think, as well, that we properly hold Supreme Court candidates to higher standards of behavior than elected officials. For example, it's now possible to be elected president despite admitting that you have used drugs in the past, whereas I don't think the same is true of being appointed to the SC.

Really? So membership in an alumni organization is the moral equivalency of drug addiction.
Had Alito been a member of the Klu Klux Klan -- or the American Communist Party -- I doubt anybody would deny that his membership was, at the least, relevant to his candidacy for the Supreme Court, regardless of whether there was evidence that he was an active member or that he endorsed the organization's most objectionable tenets. How much weight to give such membership is, of course, open to debate, but it's not helpful to accuse those who have problems with a candidate's past memberships of making "bogus claims."

As I recall Associate Justice Hugo Black, despite his KKK membership, was not accused of bigotry at his confirmation hearing as was Judge Alito merely because he joined an alumni organization at Princeton, similar to the Harvard "Owls Club" that Teddy belongs to.
1.13.2006 2:43pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
jahoulih -

You're obviously correct. Sam Alito is a respected legal mind, given the highest rating by the American Bar Association. His former law clerks and colleagues, even those who describe themselves as "progressive democrats," describe him in glowing terms.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012800.php
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012806.php
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012814.php

In his years of sterling service on the bench, he has shown no pattern of judgement outside the mainstream of American thought.

But you're right. The fact that a sophomoric article, by someone he didn't know, and which he probably never read, appeared in the magazine of an organization he once signed on to - and which he doesn't seem to have any other connection to besides the fact that once, 20 years ago, he mentioned it in a job application - should absolutely be considered a matter of the gravest consequence.

I concede the case. I don't know how I missed it.

- AJ
1.13.2006 7:27pm
jahoulih:
AJ, the fact that you are unable to argue except against straw men suggests to me that I should defer to your expertise on sophomoric articles.
1.13.2006 8:01pm