FL Appellate Court Holds that FL Courts Must Recognize Out-of-State Gay Adoptions

•May 14, 2009 • Comments Off on FL Appellate Court Holds that FL Courts Must Recognize Out-of-State Gay Adoptions

File under culture war:

In a decision released yesterday, the Florida appeals court held that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires Florida courts to give “exacting respect” to the adoption decree of a Washington court. The decision is here (PDF).

The case doesn’t break new ground; it just drives home the issues we will all likely be grappling with as gay families become more common.

When they lived in Washington in 2000, lesbian couple Kimberly Ryan and Lara Embry each gave birth to a child and then adopted the others’ child. Four years later, after they’d moved to Florida, they split up but agreed to joint custody. Ryan later married a man (guess she was bi) and in 2007 attempted to prevent Embry from having any contact with her (Ryan’s) biological child. Embry sued to assert her parental rights.

Ryan argued that the Florida court should not recognize the adoption judgment of a Washington court because it is the public policy of Florida to prohibit adoption by gays. Florida has had a law for over thirty years which prohibits gays from adopting. The trial court agreed with Ryan, relying on the adoption law, and dismissed the case. The appellate court reversed and remanded.

The appeals court is correct. The U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that while state courts do not have to defer to the laws of sister states, they must give “exacting” respect for the judgments of sister states’ courts. This was the original purpose of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which explicitly mentions “judicial proceedings”. Under the Articles of Confederation, the state courts had been rather cheekily ignoring their sister states’ judgments by allowing local residents to skip out on the adverse judgments of out-of-state courts. The Full Faith and Credit Clause put an end to that.

Here, the appellate court notes that the Washington adoption decree is a court judgment and so, regardless of the public policy of Florida, must be given full faith and credit. The ruling goes into effect in thirty days unless Ryan moves for rehearing.

Incidentally, last year the Florida gay adoption ban (that was relied on by the trial court to determine Florida public policy) was declared unconstitutional by a Florida court. The court held that there was no rational basis for discriminating against gays wishing to adopt, in part because state law allowed them to be foster parents. The plaintiff there was fairly sympathetic; he’d been the kid’s foster parent for four or five years and then wanted to adopt him. That case was appealed and is still pending.


Rumors of the GOP’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

•May 14, 2009 • Comments Off on Rumors of the GOP’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Moe Lane posted this over the weekend, but I only saw it last night at the Corner and PowerlineBlog. He compares the voter trust numbers for the top issues from just before the election to now:

As you can see, compared to last fall, fewer voters appear to trust the Democrats on all but one issue (government ethics which is a WTF issue anyway). This isn’t an isolated observation. This week was the third week in a row where the GOP led the generic congressional ballot.

Legacy media keeps writing “consciousness raising” articles on the death of the GOP with headlines like “Is this the end?” “How liberal will the New GOP get?” and “Far Right Extremists Shrink their Party Down to Nothing.” All of that is bullshit.

The two party system is quite self-sustaining. If a party has a problem, it adjusts over time. For example, Democrats got the crap kicked out of them on gun control in the late 1990s. Yesterday, 26 Democrats voted to allow concealed carry in national parks. They adjusted.

If it is true, as the legacy media claims, that the Republicans are out of touch on the issues, the GOP will adjust (no matter the howls of the purists, either). But looking at the numbers I don’t think it’s a sure thing at all that the GOP is losing on the issues.

Dems Cry Foul: “The CIA is Out to Get Us!”

•May 13, 2009 • Comments Off on Dems Cry Foul: “The CIA is Out to Get Us!”

Idiots. As the infamously leaky CIA demonstrated over the past eight years, the intelligence agency is out for itself more than any other objective. That means prioritizing protection for its agents, analysts, and methods, above partisanship. The Democrats thought the CIA was an ally against Republicans and they were happy to encourage it’s embarrassing tendency to leak. They were right about the means, but wrong about the objective:

The CIA has long been on the receiving end of harsh rebukes from Congress — on intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq, on secret prisons abroad and on the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects. But with the release of records showing that it briefed members of Congress along the way, the CIA has effectively put lawmakers on the defensive.

Intelligence officials insist it wasn’t intentional and have not taken responsibility for publicly releasing the documents.

Asked for comment about the Democrats’ charges, CIA spokesman George Little said only that the CIA “understands the importance of a strong relationship with the Congress, which in our democracy, conducts oversight of secret intelligence activities.”

But another U.S. intelligence official went further, noting that the records of the congressional briefings were “prepared in response to a request from Congress.”

Intelligence Committee member Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said it appears that “members of the committee or their staff were not in any way involved in [the release of the document]. It appears to come from the executive branch itself. … I think it’s unbelievable.”

A top congressional official who has participated in the briefings added: “I think the agency wanted to get this out, quite frankly.”

The 10-page document, which was prepared after an April 20 request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), lists 40 instances in which the CIA briefed members of Congress between September 2002 and March 2009. But they provide a vague description of the briefings, giving just enough information to fuel claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top officials have long known about waterboarding and other tactics but did little to stop the techniques from being used.

Congress hung the CIA and its contractors out to dry. Of course individuals and the agency itself are going to hit back. I’d say it’s likely that the average American is more likely to believe the CIA than Congress, especially since San Fran Nan has so obviously been lying about what she knew and when she knew it.

Democrats who were so eager for “torture commissions” may not be so eager now. Republicans already fessed up to supporting harsh interrogations, which are not torture. Pelosi and her fellows, who spent the last four years lying about their involvement, are not eager for the truth to be widely known. Which means that with a little leak the CIA will have made this whole issue go away.

Consider the arrogance of the Democrats, who thought they could use the CIA like a punching bag, secure in the knowledge that the CIA would never dare punch back. What the Democrats failed to consider is that the CIA believes that it should be setting national intelligence policy. That makes it the natural enemy of Congress and the White House, no matter which party is in power.

Still Waiting on the Truth About the Terror Force One Fly-by

•May 11, 2009 • Comments Off on Still Waiting on the Truth About the Terror Force One Fly-by

Ann Althouse’s commenters have the goods (and prove once again that there’s more combined sense and knowledge among a host of commenters than there is in any one journalist or blogger).

It boils down to this observation: the photo released by the White House, which is so obviously snapped as a souvenir by one of the escort pilots, cannot possibly be the reason for the flight. The Friday afternoon sacking of the White House military liaison was meant to shut people up and give the White House press corps a reason to let the whole thing go.

See the sunlight reflected off the window in the upper right? The edge of the cockpit in the lower right corner? This is an amateur photo, not the product of a professional photo op.

Abortion at Notre Dame

•May 11, 2009 • Comments Off on Abortion at Notre Dame

The upcoming issue of the Weekly Standard has the best treatment of the Notre Dame situation that I’ve seen. The author recognizes that for Catholics this isn’t about politics–or not just about politics. It’s about what it means to be a Catholic institution.

What all these critics of Glendon share is a sense that Catholic unhappiness with Notre Dame must be about politics. “There is a political game going on here, and part of that is that you demonize the people who disagree with you, you question their integrity, you challenge their character, and you brand these people as moral poison,” Fr. Kenneth Himes, chairman of the theology department at Boston College, complained to the Boston Globe. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal noted, this was the same Fr. Himes who in 2006 wrote the faculty a letter objecting to an honorary degree for Condoleezza Rice–a letter that read, “On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice’s approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university’s work.”

You could cut the irony with a knife: It’s only demonizing when conservatives do it. Still Fr. Himes joins Douglas Kmiec, and America, and Commonweal, and the administration of Notre Dame, and most of the newspaper columnists who’ve weighed in on the controversy, and a surprising number of conservatives. They all look at the Notre Dame protests and think it must be about politics. Bad politics or good politics, take your pick. But politics all the way down.

As it happens, they’re wrong. Politics has very little to do with the mess. This isn’t a fight about who won the last presidential election and how he’s going to deal with abortion. It’s a fight about culture–the culture of American Catholicism, and how Notre Dame, still living in a 1970s Catholic world, has suddenly awakened to find itself out of date.

The role of culture is what Fr. Jenkins at Notre Dame and many other presidents of Catholic colleges don’t quite get, and their lack of culture is what makes them sometimes seem so un-Catholic–though the charge befuddles them whenever it is made. As perhaps it ought. They know very well that they are Catholics: They go to Mass, and they pray, and their faith is real, and their theology is sophisticated, and what right has a bunch of other Catholics to run around accusing them of failing to be Catholic?

But, in fact, they live in a different world from most American Catholics. Opposition to abortion doesn’t stand at the center of Catholic theology. It doesn’t even stand at the center of Catholic faith. It does stand, however, at the center of Catholic culture in this country. Opposition to abortion is the signpost at the intersection of Catholicism and American public life. And those who–by inclination or politics–fail to grasp this fact will all eventually find themselves in the situation that Fr. Jenkins has now created for himself. Culturally out of touch, they rail that the antagonism must derive from politics. But it doesn’t. It derives from the sense of the faithful that abortion is important. It derives from the feeling of many ordinary Catholics that the Church ought to stand for something in public life–and that something is opposition to abortion.

This is the calculation that the Notre Dame administration failed to make. Take it as a given that it would and will ignore the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which instructed Catholic institutions not to honor individuals who act to support abortion. The university has always held itself apart–it is, after all, the most prestigious Catholic university in the country–surely the rules don’t really apply to it. The administrators recognized the prestige attached to a visit from the Historic President and, well, damn the rest. Catholicism can wait for tomorrow, right?

To be honest, this isn’t unexpected. Catholicism itself has been mainstreaming for forty years. Vatican II gets blamed a lot, but the USCCB went above and beyond in its accommodation to divorcing Catholicism on Sunday mornings from Catholicism the rest of the week. Relaxing instruction and expectations in “core” Catholic institutions, including at Mass and in religious education, is something all Catholics are used to by now. (This was hilariously and accurately parodied with Dogma’s Buddy Christ.)

No bishop has spoken up to support Notre Dame, but the Notre Dame administration is probably thinking: “I didn’t leave them, they left me.” The administration is not wrong. The USCCB has decided that it has come this far, but no farther. Will its late-recognized authority be recognized? I doubt it:

A better place to make all this public might have been the Sacred Heart University dinner this spring, which honored the pro-abortion activist Kerry Kennedy. Or the Xavier University commencement, which is honoring the pro-abortion political strategist Donna Brazile. Or the University of San Francisco graduation, which is honoring the pro-abortion district attorney (and prominent Proposition 8 opponent) Kamala Harris.

For that matter, the fight should have been held in April, when Georgetown University accommodated President Obama’s handlers by covering up the IHS, the monogram for Jesus, on the wall behind the rostrum when Obama spoke on campus. You’d think this really would mark the end for Georgetown. The school typically shrugs off criticism of its lack of Catholicism by proudly declaring its “Jesuit Tradition,” but the IHS monogram was the symbol for the Jesuits that St. Ignatius Loyola himself chose when he founded the society in the 16th century.

Read the whole thing.

Outbound in the Houston Ship Channel

•May 10, 2009 • Comments Off on Outbound in the Houston Ship Channel

Timelapse video of an itty-bitty tanker on its way out to sea. It’s a gorgeous trip.

0:40 – 610 Bridge
0:54 – Lyondell Turning Basin
1:10 – Crown Bend
1:44 – Jesse Jones Bridge (aka Beltway 8 bridge, aka 2 dollar bridge)
2:13 – Battleship Texas (on the right, mostly unlit)
2:17 – Lynchburg Ferry Crossing
2:20 – Peggy’s Lake
2:37 – Baytown
2:46 – Fred Hartman Bridge
2:58 – Morgan’s Point
From then on it’s Galveston Bay.

This is a Panamax tanker–that is, the largest tanker that can make it through the Panama canal.

Star Trek Was Good

•May 7, 2009 • 2 Comments

Just got back from seeing it. No time needed to mull this one over. It was great. They did a very fine job with the characters, the plot, the setting (which was like an Apple Store meets 1966). There were so many shout outs to the original show and the original crew, plus many nice references to the other TV series that I’m sure I missed some. IOW, I will be seeing it again while it’s in theaters.

The only thing that wasn’t perfect was the music. They used some of the Star Trek themes we’ve come to love, but overall it was quite a break from Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic work. The new Enterprise theme wasn’t all that satisfying and it certainly doesn’t have the room for growth or breadth of emotion of Goldsmith’s.

I won’t give anything away except to say that, yes, there is some green babe action. Go see it.

Also, in reply to my little joke in this morning’s Star Trek thread my bro sends this:

Mission accomplished!