Judicial Activism for Toddlers

Saturday morning cartoons aren’t what they used to be. The 24/7 nature of television, along with the increased demand for folksy morning-news programming, has put most weekend cartoons out to pasture. Still, some vestiges of this ancient Saturday morning tradition remain — especially on cable.

Take, for instance, the Disney Channel cartoon “Higglytown Heroes.” It’s animated series where ordinary people are exposed as heroes for the ordinary things we do. The “we’re all winners” mentality is nothing new within popular culture, but a certain “hero” in a recent episode I watched with my son caused me to do a double-take.

The character, who followed the heroic exploits of a crane operator, was a member of the Higglytown judiciary. She introduced herself with a song:

I’m a judge and all day long,
I decide what’s right and wrong.
And when it’s hard to see what’s right,
We have laws to give us light.

Read that again, and if necessary, sing it aloud. Does something seem a little backward? I’ll grant the writers a little poetic license — after all, the words do have to rhyme — but the law shouldn’t just appear on a judges horizon whenever it’s difficult to determine right and wrong.

I don’t know whether or not this poor perception of the judiciary was intentional or just came from a generation raised on the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Whichever it is, is does show that popular notions of judicial philosophy are in dire need of an overhaul. Where is Mighty Mouse when you need him?

WordPress 2.1

Non-bloggers will want to ignore this post, but I just want to note that I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest WordPress 2.1 (the software that runs and powers this blog).  Overall, I like the upgrade, which has quite a few snazzy changes under the hood.

There were a few snags in the upgrade, particularly with the new classification of the links manager as the “blogroll.”  I incurred many a headache trying to figure out how to display my links as I did before the upgrade.  HINT: for those of you attempting the upgrade, editing the bookmarks file in the [wp-includes] folder can accomplish all you want and more.

The WYSIWYG text editor is now actually good enough to use!  I had previously had it turned off, but now you can easily switch between the visual editor and the code editor.  The autosave feature is nice too.   The best part is that is doesn’t seem to slow down the administration interface any, as upgrades in software tend to do.

All in all, the upgrade was worth the headaches.  Kudos to the WordPress team for continuing to improve an amazingly efficient and expandable product.

Belarus makes SOTU

In addition to using the unseeming phrase “contagion of violence,” President Bush also used another word that has previously been unused in a State of the Union address: Belarus.

The president pronounced it “Bail-uh-rus,” but Belarus (pronounced byelaRUS) was added to what amounted to a miniature axis of evil. Said the president:

And we will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma – and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.

It’s not much, but it does begin to draw some attention to a small European nation with a large dictator problem. Human rights and religious freedom violations aren’t limited to Islamic regimes, and though it was but a brief mention, it’s good to know that the world hasn’t forgotten.

Blogs For Life

I’ll be in attendance tomorrow (Monday, January 22) at the second annual Blogs For Life conference. This is a conference hosted by Family Research Council — a place I’ve been known to frequent during the workweek. The lineup for the conference looks to be stellar, with Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Bobby Schindler (brother of the late Terri Schiavo), and Ramesh Ponnuru (editor at National Review and noted author of The Party of Death) all scheduled to appear.

The event will be webcast live “on the internets” by FRC, which you can access by visiting www.frc.org on Monday. For a schedule and more information, follow this link.

Ready your pen, Mr. President

In a debate that was often heated, emotional, and woefully misinformed, the House of Representatives voted today to extend federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. As this will likely also pass the Senate, only a veto from President Bush stands in the way of your tax dollars and mine being used for the destruction of human beings in the name of research. I hope the president has plenty of ink for what’s ahead.

I got to hear some of the debate via C-SPAN, and shockingly evident were the typical verbal shenanigans that surround the embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) debate . For example, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) reamrked that cloning was not involved with ESCR, rather something called somatic cell nuclear transfer, which was “another way of looking at the cells.” Somatic cell nuclear transfer is, of course, a five-dollar word for — you guessed it — cloning.

Though Democrats were in the vast majority in passing the bill, they weren’t alone. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) exhibited one of the more common rationales for supporting ESCR. After touting his “nearly perfect” pro-life record, Rep. Barton went on to describe why he as a pro-lifer was for embryonic stem cell research. He quipped, “What’s more pro-life? Medical waste or medical hope?”

The argument that says it’s morally acceptable to destroy human life because it’s going to be destroyed anyway only works in a utilitarian ethical worldview. We’re all going to die anyway, Rep. Barton. It doesn’t make it morally acceptable to kill someone because he or she is going to die. Never — at any point from conception to the grave — is a human being “medical waste.”