Along the Tracks

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
 

Supreme predictions, problems with Parrish ... and some wisdom


Hey, Montpelier, getting’ hungry yet? Start warmin' up the beans.

The Professor is lodging a complaint: “Today’s students are not entertained by my lectures no matter how long I make them stay.”

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner has announced her resignation, and now interest groups to the left and right are salivating at the opportunity to spend millions fighting against or in defense of whoever President Bush appoints.

A little drool has slipped already, in fact.

Despite the hyperventilating - encouraged by a mainstream media too lazy to seek real stories rather than cover food fights – I believe this will be a surprisingly straightforward process.

My hope springs from two sources. First, President Bush’s close relationship and deep trust of Alberto Gonzales, presently the U.S. Attorney General, has always seemed to foreshadow his appointment to the court, should an opportunity arise. Gonzales would be the first Hispanic justice, making him “groundbreaking,” at least to those who judge things based on race, religion and ethnicity. Thus, he will be something close to the “consensus” candidate so many politicians and commentators desire, yet clearly a Bush favorite.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I think the “Gang of 14” deal in the Senate was a major victory for Republicans. To recap, seven Republicans joined seven Democrats to hold off the “nuclear option” and end filibusters on most Bush nominees. Only “extraordinary circumstances” are to warrant a filibuster against a judicial nominee. While the media and many liberal Democrats not among the 14 have tossed out their two cents about what is “extraordinary,” the underreported fact remains: only the 14 senators who agreed to the compromise will be judging whether a filibuster is justified. The seven Democrats who signed the agreement clearly were uncomfortable with filibustering nominees to begin with. To join in one now would appear to be betrayal. Furthermore, the seven Republicans who signed the agreement could well decide such a filibuster is not justified, and join the effort to eliminate filibusters against nominees altogether: the “nuclear option.”

Most of the seven Democrats who signed on to the deal are pragmatic moderates. A couple are even conservatives by their record. They reside on the shaky border of their party, not particularly appreciated by the Deaniacs who have taken over the national Democrats or the Senate leadership team of “Pants on Fire” Harry Reid or “Guantanamo” Dick Durbin. They’ve been left out in the cold by “their” party, while Bush and the Republicans have worked with them on issues they care about: tax cuts, prescription drugs, education, defense, etc.

These Democrats need a compelling reason to join with their party on something against their own beliefs and philosophy.I don’t think they’ll do it.

Prediction: Alberto Gonzales will be nominated by Bush, and approved by 60 votes in late September.

Bonus prediction: Chief Justice William Rehnquist will step down sometime after Thanksgiving.

Backhanded Compliment of the Week: “Your wife sure works hard to make your house and yard look good.”

I spent nearly a decade in 4-H over in Henry County, so I’ve got some personal experience to back me up.

Participation in 4-H is valuable. Through projects, youngsters learn many of the details involved in successful accomplishment. The kids track their progress, read booklets on the specific activity in question, watch as adults perform the tasks and enjoy the opportunity to be involved directly.Today, many 4-H projects are focused on home or even urban activities, along with the traditional farm and family projects I remember.

Yet, the projects themselves – though superb educational experiences – are really secondary to what the members learn by participation. Boys and girls interact in a structured environment with each other and with caring adults. They develop skills in teamwork and communication. They build confidence through their contributions at meetings and in eventual competitions, often at the county fair. Most importantly, they learn the value and the rewards of following rules centered on respect and fairness. They compete on a level playing field and are judged based on their own knowledge, skills and efforts. These are lessons fewer and fewer children in our culture are learning, and 4-H participation is worth special attention and treatment if for this reason alone.

As things stand today in Williams County, 4-H’ers and other junior fair participants are being denied that lesson in equality because the adult leader of the central event in which the youths will compete, the Williams County Fair, continues on in his position despite failing to enforce rules of competition on his own family or act by those rules himself. Fair board members who have chosen to allow Howard Parrish to continue in his role leading them are doing a great disservice to the traditions of the Williams County Fair. They are doing a disservice to the people who have volunteered time and money to improvements at the fair grounds. Chief of all, they are doing a disservice to the young men and women of Williams County who trust them to stage an even-handed competition led by unbiased adults untainted by scandals.

Perhaps this year’s event should be called the Williams County “Unfair.” In any case, until the fair board puts its house in order, I won’t be attending.

Male Proverb #461: “Polls, stocks and fish populations go up and down – but gas prices only go up.”


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