All posts by Matt Veasey

Retired following a three decade career with the Philadelphia Police Department. Manager of website and @philliesbell feeds on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Lifelong Philadelphia resident. Graduate of Saint Joseph's University. Married Conservative-leaning Republican politically and socially. Practicing Roman Catholic. Philly 4x4 sports fan. Huge baseball fan.

Who is John Roberts, and why should you care?

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Earlier this week, in a nationally televised announcement befitting the importance of the occasion, President Bush introduced his nominee to the United States Supreme Court. He named Washington, D.C. circuit court judge John Roberts to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

But just who is John Roberts, and why should you care? Why is this whole Supreme Court thing such a big deal?

Why are you going to be saturated with coverage of Roberts’ confirmation hearings, and why is the same thing going to happen as the President makes even more appointments in the future.

First, let’s get the biography out of the way. John Roberts is a 50-year old married father of two children, a native of Buffalo, New York who graduated magna cum laude from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. While at Harvard he served as Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Out of law school in 1980, Roberts clerked for current Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He moved on to become an associate counsel to the Reagan administration, and then took on the position of deputy solicitor general under the first George Bush, arguing cases for the government position in front of the Supreme Court.

Roberts became a general partner with the firm of Hogan & Hartson, where he again argued a number of cases in front of the high court. He was nominated by the current President Bush to the D.C. court of appeals, where he was confirmed in 2003.

The academic, legal, and professional credentials of John Roberts to serve on the United States Supreme Court are beyond question and challenge. Even ultra-liberal Democratic leader Harry Reid said “The President has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials”.

Suitable? Come on Harry, you can be a little more enthusiastic than that for our nation, can’t you?

There comes the problem, the reason that you should know as much as you can about John Roberts. Over the next couple of months, Roberts is likely to be attacked, pilloried and have his good name and sterling reputation besmirched by a number of ultra-liberal individuals and groups who would oppose any generally conservative nominee put forward by President Bush.

Expect that he will face scathing, attack-style questioning from the likes of Reid, Teddy Kennedy and advocates for places such as the pro-abortion group NARAL, which has already come out publicly against his nomination.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa asked “Who knows about this guy?” when the nomination was announced.

Well, there are two answers, Senator. If you mean his personal and professional record, it is right there to see. The guy is “brilliant”, as classy Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum put it . He is perfect for the job. To put it in the vernacular of the President’s favorite sport, he is a homerun.

Ah, but that is not what Senator Harkin is really asking, now is it? What Harkin wants to know is where John Roberts stands on key topics and controversial issues, such as abortion, religion, free speech and civil rights.

He wants to know if Roberts will make largely conservative rulings, like those of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, or will he be more moderate, as was O’Connor perceived.

Well, you know what Mr. Senator, you just don’t know now, do you? And you know what, you are not going to know, not for awhile, and neither are any of us.

When nominated by the first President Bush, it was expected that Justice David Souter was going to be a conservative. Ditto when O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Neither turned out to be the case.

So we can poke and probe away at every last word that John Roberts has uttered in public for the past twenty years. We can dissect his law school papers, read up on his arguments in front of the high court as a lawyer.

The liberals can be wary of a remark he made back in 1990 in a brief that he co-wrote that stated “The court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion…finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.”

This is the rub. The liberals are deathly afraid that John Roberts not only has respect for, but will cast his votes in support of the United States Constitution, a document that is the basic law of the land on which our nation was founded, and under which we have grown and thrived.

Roberts is right, the Constitution supports no “right” to an abortion. The liberal fear is that, unlike some other Justices who know this but choose to legislate from the bench, Roberts will actually let the Constitution be his guide.

There is every indication that John Roberts is an “originalist”, that he clearly sees the value in the original meaning of our Constitutional framers, and that he is prepared to cast his votes in this manner. This is the type of jurist that President Bush promised us all along that he would nominate, and I am quite sure that Roberts had to answer a few important questions from him in this regard before being offered the position.

So you now have a general idea of just who John Roberts is, and what makes him tick. And in understanding that Democrats in general and liberals in particular are going to attack the nomination vehemently, you understand the importance of knowing him.

Liberals are going to attack him because they fear him. They are also going to attack him because they fear even more the next nomination to the court that President Bush will likely make in the next year or so, to replace ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

It is expected that nomination will be even more obviously conservative, and the liberals will feel that they need to put up a strong fight on Roberts to show the administration just what they will be up against next time around.

I say, bring on the fight, Dems. Swing away, libs. Take your best shot. The President, and thus his Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, have a large army of us in their corner fighting right along side them, and there will be no “Borking” of Roberts or any future Bush nominee. This is exactly what we have been waiting for since Election Dday 2000.

Historic opportunity for parents of Philly school children

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Well, the ultra-liberal City of Philadelphia has done it again. Back in June, the school board voted to make African-American History a required course for all students in order to “further the understanding of black history.

I have just one question for the board. What about American History, period?

Ask many of the kids currently in Philly’s public school system about American history and you will get back a blank stare.

Our kids have heard of George Washington (he was a President, right?) and Abraham Lincoln (he freed the slaves, right?) They may even have heard of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The vast majority of Philly’s public school children get a sampling of real American history. But that exposure is inside a program that has become watered down. It is wholly incomplete, and virtually of little or no use in instilling a feeling of the shared national pride with which we and our parents and grandparents were raised.

Forget about learning the basic foundational principles of our nation. Forget about teaching of the many great men and women, and the pivotal events establishing the same.

Have there been black Americans who have contributed greatly to the success of America during it’s founding and growth? Of course. Just as there have been great white, Asian, Hispanic and Native American contributors, to name just a few ethnic and racial contributors.

Having an “elective” class on African-American history would be wholly appropriate, given that there is a large percentage of these students within the Philly school system. Same can be said for Hispanic-American history. These classes would teach the culture beyond what the students already receive at home (at least, we hope it is being taught at home, since it is so important) to anyone interested.

But to have a “mandatory” class in this subject is ludicrous. Kids who are not of this background and who share none of it’s culture, and who have little or no interest in it, will now be force-fed the subject matter, having it compete for their valuable study time with science, mathematics and other necessary courses.

Why is Philly doing this? Because they can. Because, in the immortal words of African-American Mayor John Street “the brothas and sistas are runnin’ this town” now. This is nothing more than another Street-influenced move to further liberalize the already deteriorating City of Brotherly Love.

Businesses and families have fled, and continue to flee, the old town for the past couple decades, and the radical polarizing efforts of this administration have just made things worse.

Philly has steadily dropped in national rank of population from it’s once and longtime position as #4 behind only New York, LA and Chicago. It will never return to the top five, not as long as the liberal politicians continue to run the town into the ground with policies like this mandatory class.

The Philadelphia school district is not doing enough to churn out kids who will be highly productive citizens in the future. School violence is rampant, especially when compared to Philly’s local Catholic and other private schools.

But the parents of Philly’s school kids have a choice. They can vote with their feet, just as their fellow citizens have voted with theirs over the years, and get their kids out of the public school system before it is too late.

Of course, this will likely take a commitment in dollars. Parents will have to shell out the cost of education, the cost of tuition at a decent school.

As someone who went through twelve years of primary education in a non-public setting, and someone who saw three daughters through a mixed bag of public/private education, I can tell you that it is absolutely worth the cost. Whatever sacrifices you need to make, make them.

At the very least, Philly’s parents need to begin to stand up for a stronger basic education for their children in the really important subjects that will help their kids compete on a national and world stage. These same parents need to demand a stricter disciplinary system that sorts out and deals substantively with juvenile delinquents, many of whose parents are a large part of the problem.

Getting the system to change in a positive direction in Philly, be it in city government or in the school district, has become one of the most difficult chores, one that is beyond the scope of most parents.

But the parents can do one thing for sure. They can ensure greater odds of success for their own children by pulling them from the sinking ship that is the Philadelphia public school system.

Hello, American liberals? London calling

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What a difference a day makes. Twenty four little hours.

It was actually less than a day ago when the city of London was awarded the rights to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. The city exploded with joy, and all of England looked forward to their opportunity to shine under the spotlight as the world gathered in the British Isles for the greatest sporting event for the first time in over sixty years.

And then less than twenty four hours later, Londoners were dead and wounded on their buses and in their subway cars, and the Brits were in shock. At least seven different explosions spread over at least four different sites rocked the city as the public transportation system became the target of a coordinated terrorist attack by Muslim extremists during the morning rush hour.

A branch of al-Qaeda operating in Europe has taken responsibility for the blasts, and warns specifically that the Danish and Italian governments, and the governments of all “Crusaders”, must pull their troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, or those nations will be next on the terrorists hit list. The group specifically states that the attack is in direct response to, and as retaliation for, the military activity in the Middle East.

The attacks are fresh and new, and the rightful target of our wrath should be those radical Muslim terrorists. Our rightful targets should be al-Qaeda, bin Laden and his agents and supporters. Our rightful thoughts should now be with the British people as they mourn solemnly their many losses, the least of which, as we know well here in America from our own experiences on 9/11, will not be the psychological damage inflicted on a free and open society.

However, there is another group, a group right here at home, that needs to be pointed out and singled out right now, while this latest transgression against humanity is still fresh in our consciousness. That group would be those in the American liberal political movement in general, and the Democratic Party in particular.

For many, many months now, leading liberal Democrats have been berating President Bush over the War on Terror. They have stated that it was an unjustified war, and have called for American troop withdrawals loudly and publicly, the drumbeat of their insistence getting louder and louder, the negativity of their rhetoric getting stronger and stronger, as the weeks have passed.

The liberal mouthpiece, the New York Times, said on June 28th in response to the President’s speech to the nation on the Iraq chapter of the war that Iraq “had nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks” on 9/11/2001, and that it was wrong for the President to have used those references so strongly in his speech.

This is a theme that the liberals, from Ted Kennedy to Harry Reid, from Hillary Clinton to John Kerry, have been putting forth ad nauseam with speeches at the halls of government and on the airwaves and in the print media. These liberals have been using the fact of many mainstream Americans tiring of the war effort for political capital, trying to paint themselves as moderate, tolerant, and peaceful.

Well, you were wrong Teddy, Hillary, John, Harry, and friends. This is a war, and Iraq has as much to do with it as any other nation. Iraq is not alone. Afghanistan was the first chapter, Iraq the current, but it won’t be the last. The words of the European radical terrorists prove it once and for all, that the 9/11 attacks were a coordinated effort by a real enemy that is bent on destroying our way of life. And now they have struck our friends and allies.

Need still more, Teddy? How about the efforts of Saddam’s regime to recruit bombers to take out Radio Free Europe in the late 90’s?

Need more, Hillary? How about your own husband’s Justice Department in a ’98 indictment against bin Laden that stated “… Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq” on projects including weapons development. Not the Bush Justice Department, your husband’s.

Need more, Msrs. Reid and Kerry? How about Saddam harboring ’93 Twin Towers bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin for a decade? Or his statement after the ’98 embassy bombing attacks by al-Qaeda calling bin Laden “an Arab and Islamic hero”? Or Abu Musab Zarqawi choosing Baghdad for surgery in 2002 after being wounded while fighting Americans?

There is so much more. The links between Iraq and al Qaeda, between Hussein and bin Laden, are so clear to anyone who looks with open eyes.

But the eyes of the American left, the liberal Democrats like Kennedy and Clinton and Kerry, remain blinded by an all-consuming hatred of George W. Bush, so much so that they endanger the lives of America’s service men and women by issuing anti-war and anti-administration proclamations on a daily basis that outlets like Al Jazeera use to fan the anti-American flames in the Middle East.

The actions and comments of the American liberal, leftist, Democratic party have been shameful as we try to fight and win a justified War on Terror, a war that they have made even more difficult. Shame on them, and all of their media mouthpieces like the New York Times, Al Franken, and Michael Moore.

The attacks this morning on our good friends and loyal allies over in England once again highlight for us that we are in a real war, one that will not be fought and won over weeks and months, but over years and perhaps even decades. In response to the attacks, President Bush stated with resolve; “We will not yield…we will spread a message of hope and compassion that will overcome their ideology of hate.”

God bless you, Mr. President. And God bless all of our fighting women and men in this most historic struggle. It is the age-old classic struggle of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, moral vs. immoral. It is really that clear a struggle, and it is long past time for the liberals to set aside their politics and stand up for democracy and freedom for once.

And finally, may God bless the British people as they struggle to come to grips with the war reaching their shores. Here is to hoping that they and all of Europe are prepared to do what needs to be done over the long haul to win this war. Because against this enemy, much as against the fascism of Nazi Germany over a half century ago, nothing short of complete and total victory is acceptable.

Courting a Texas Originalist

Judge J. Michael Luttig

The announcement was not unexpected, it had been rumored at least for weeks. And yet when Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the U.S. Supreme Court last week it still seemed to take many of us by surprise.

It has been 11 long years since the last opening occurred on the nation’s highest court, and it was beginning to seem like this latest coterie of individuals would preside over our most intimate and important issues forever.

Of course, nothing lasts forever but God Himself, and so this opening for a new appointment to the court was inevitable.

Mrs. O’Connor was the first female to ever be appointed to the court, named by the man who was just recently voted the greatest American in history by a poll conducted by the Discovery Channel and AOL, beloved former President Ronald Reagan.

However, it was not just making history that Reagan was after. He had been out front in helping defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, which proved to be the death knell for the activist womens’ movement that had swept across liberal America during the 1970’s.

In defeating the ERA, Reagan had promised to appoint the first woman to the high court if elected in 1980. When he nominated O’Connor, who was obviously pro-abortion in her decisions, the most conservative Senators fell in line and approved her, not wanting to challenge their staunchly conservative leader as he appointed the first woman ever to the court.

Over the years, O’Connor proved that she was neither a “constructionist”, holding strictly to the words and phrases of the constitution in making her decisions, or even an “originalist”, interpreting the constitution based on the meaning intended by the Framers.

She frequently fell into the trap that many jurists do when given the ultimate power of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, she took to the idea of rewriting the constitution based on her own opinions, rather than on strictly interpreting it’s original intent.

The clues as to how a nominee is going to act in the future as a member of the court are usually available in the history of their past decisions. In the past, when a conservative, even one as great as President Reagan, has tried to nominate a true constructionist or originalist to the courts, they have frequently caved in to the liberal backlash and withdrawn the nominee or failed to support them strongly enough.

Look at two of Reagan’s nominees as a prime example. Who among us who lived through it can forget the outrage of liberals and their mass media tools as Reagan nominated first Robert Bork, who the liberals defeated, and Clarence Thomas, who was reached the court only after a bloody, ugly, embarrassing confirmation process.

In fact, the history of the past couple of decades is that conservative judges get roasted over the coals when nominated, with scathing attacks by both liberals pols and the liberal press.

Meanwhile, when “centrist” or outright liberal judges, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former attorney for the ACLU appointed by President Clinton, are nominated they receive a virtual free pass from those on the Right.

Now, with the resignation of O’Connor, there will be an opening on the court that a Republican president will fill for the first time in over a decade and a half.

President George W. Bush was elected by his constituency with a specific eye towards changing the makeup of the high court towards a much more decidedly conservative bent, and the President must not make the mistake that Reagan did in backing himself into a corner with O’Connor or backing down on Bork.

There are a number of qualified conservative candidates out there, but the best of them all is a man born in Bush’s own back yard, J. Michael Luttig, a jurist with the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Virginia.

A former clerk under Warren Burger, Luttig worked in the Justice Department during Bush’s father’s administration, and was appointed to the appeals court by him.

By any measure, Luttig is a strong conservative, frequently called “mini-Scalia”, referring to his close judicial philosophy with one of the current court’s most publicly originalist members. Also, at just 51 years of age, Luttig would be positioned to make a mark on the courts for decades to come.

For his philosophy alone, Luttig will be put under the microscope and have every facet of both his public and private life scrutinized by the liberals, who will fight this type of nominee to their political deaths.

In fact, it is very likely that the Ted Kennedy’s of the world would use a nominee such as Luttig to invoke their newly tested filibustering strategy.

Their strategy would be to dig at any personal weakness of Luttig’s with a public assault led by their most visible leaders, using the powers of their friends in the liberal mass media, and attempt to either have the President rescind the nomination, or have Luttig himself back down.

In the end, if this attempt fails, they will resort to the filibuster, forcing Republicans to attempt the “nuclear option” of changing Senate rules to force the nominee through.

It is time for all true conservatives, the people who got President Bush elected in the first place, to stand up and be heard. If it is a bloodbath that the liberals want, it is time that we stand up and give it to them.

This is no time for either a weak nominee, a compromise nominee, or even a friendship nominee such as Bush’s pal Alberto Gonzalez.

This is what we got behind Bush for in the first place, the opportunity to begin to turn America back towards it’s center, it’s very foundational roots. To bring back the great constitutional principles upon which our nation was founded. To restore the honorable, moral, and democratic thought process on which our country was built.

This is what the majority wants. What we deserve is J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the liberals be damned.

Supremes loose Leviathan to become master of all

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On Thursday the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case of Susette Kelo (left) et al v. City of New London, 04-108 that stated in it’s simplest explanation “If the government wants your property, it can come and take it, no matter what you want. Period.”

In what is becoming typical of most of the court’s controversial rulings, the vote was by just a 5-4 margin.

Voting to allow local government’s increased powers to take your land, home and business were the four usual liberal suspects: Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer and Stevens. Siding with them, as he has done increasingly over years, was Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy.

The Great Communicator must be rolling over in his grave these days about that appointment. Caving in to the political pressures against outstanding dream nominee Robert Bork was one thing. But compromising with the increasingly nightmarish Kennedy has to be considered a whole other matter entirely. The liberals fretted all those years with Reagan, and ended up with one of their own on the top bench anyway.

But back to the matter at hand. The case that the court was deciding involved the small Connecticut town of New London. A few years back, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Corporation decided that it wanted to locate a facility in the town.

Good news for local business, right? Everyone in the community on board. The trouble started when the commission formed to evaluate the plans for the Pfizer development decided to get ambitious.

Plans began to expand in city officials’ minds for an entire waterfront business park initiative. They foresaw hotels, clubs, restaurants, even a new Coast Guard Museum, all attached to the Pfizer property and aimed at bringing tourists to the area.

Problem was, some folks, including Kelo (pictured) owned houses in the development area, and they didn’t want to sell.

Now, no one is arguing against the validity of the overall theory of ‘Eminent Domain’. I am fairly certain that the vast majority of us recognize the need to make compromises between the legitimate needs of a growing community for such items as roads, hospitals, and public buildings such as schools, and police and fire operations.

But what the Supreme Court did here was to lift any and all restrictions on government as they pursue your land for any purpose that they deem to be worthy, no matter your objections. Oh sure, you will be able to have your day in court. And sure, you will receive ‘just compensation’, whatever ‘just’ happens to mean to some allegedly neutral arbitrator.

Writing the minority opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor summed it up succinctly in stating

“The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” 

Or to bring it to your mind maybe a little more closely, your own home that you and your family currently live in for some facility that the city fathers feel will bring a hoped-for economic boon to your city or town.

Do you trust John Street or Ed Rendell or Bob Brady with making the determination that a new concert hall, stadium, conference center, or hotel is better for Philadelphia than your own neighborhood of twin, single or row homes? Didn’t think so, but that is exactly what this ruling will now allow to happen.

In his watershed 1953 classic “The Conservative Mind”, considered by many to be the bible of the current surge forward in American conservatism, Russell Kirk provided in the very first chapter for the six canons of conservative thought.

Briefly they are:

  • Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.
  • Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence.
  • Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes.
  • Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked.
  • Faith in prescription and distrust of those who would reconstruct society along abstract designs.
  • Recognition that change may not be salutary reform (not hasty).

It is in the absolute violation of the fourth of the canons by the Supremes in their ruling that we must all now be concerned, whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, black or white, rich or poor, business owner and home owner alike.

“Separate property from private possession”, explained Kirk, “and Leviathan becomes master of all.