Saturday, March 26, 2005

David Brooks on Schiavo

Morality and Reality: "If you surveyed the avalanche of TV and print commentary that descended upon us this week, you found social conservatives would start the discussion with a moral argument about the sanctity of life, and then social liberals would immediately start talking about jurisdictions, legalisms, politics and procedures. They were more comfortable talking about at what level the decision should be taken than what the decision should be. "
Then, if social conservatives tried to push their moral claims, you'd find liberals accusing them of turning this country into a theocracy - which is an effort to cast all moral arguments beyond the realm of polite conversation."
Once moral argument is abandoned, there are no ethical checks, no universal standards, and everything is left to the convenience and sentiments of the individual survivors."
What I'm describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn't accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force."

No wonder many of us feel agonized this week, betwixt and between, as that poor woman slowly dehydrates."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson Rips Ward Churchill and Academia

It's friday and time for VDH - Victor Davis Hanson on Ward Churchill :
"Churchill's presence on campus is like the weaving driver who is pulled over by the state police, who quickly find no license, registration, or insurance, but plenty of warrants and thus wonder how many other paroled miscreants they've missed out there, one accident away from being a public-relations nightmare."

So, again, does this Ward Churchill even exist?

Of course not: His faces are made up of whole cloth.

Yet instead of seeing Churchill as no man, it is better to envision him as an academic everyman. In the alternate universe of the modern campus, any collective imbalance of wealth, education, health, happiness, or almost anything is explicable only in terms of deliberate present discrimination and systematic past oppression.

So who really is this strange creature who calls himself Keezjunnahbeh? The Paris Hilton of the campus, a Peter Sellers-like fraud in his own Being There, or a Tony Randall turning into all sorts of strange beasts in Dr. Lao’s circus? He is nobody in fact, but also everybody in theory.

Perhaps it is best to think of Churchill as our aging portrait of an academic Dorian Gray, in whom all the once-hallowed university’s vices and sins of the last half-century are now so deeply etched and lined."

Henninger On Schiavo

Finally a sensible editorial on Schavio - from Daniel Henninger also in today's WSJ. OpinionJournal - Wonder Land:
"If we lived amid the wisdom of Solomon, Terri Schiavo would be turned over to her loving parents and family. If it is their wish to live out their lives attending the constant needs of their damaged child, so be it. However, we live in an age bereft of the wisdom of Solomon, and so Terri Schiavo is likely to die. That the American legal system is incapable of common sense is very upsetting, but I don't see why it should be found surprising or shocking."

"Democrats, and others, have accused Republicans and President Bush of playing politics with the Schiavo case. Let's hope so. Unlike most, this is a necessary politics that ought to draw the whole country into the argument."

"In 25 years, the baby boomers will be on the cusp of 85, becoming what a physician friend has called "history's healthiest generation of Alzheimer's patients." As the tsunami of red ink collapses the struts beneath the tar-paper shacks of Medicare and Social Security (which the Congressional elders say isn't broken) the "scarce resource" argument will re-emerge, with soothing persuasiveness, for triaging the most ill among us, very old or very young."

"The outpouring of support to give Terri Schiavo back to her parents may prove quixotic, but it ensures that these future questions of who lives and who dies won't be decided by the professional class alone in conferences and courtrooms. It will be done in full view, where it belongs."

Read this one as Henninger gives a true concise history of the legal proceedings in the Schavio case.

WSJ: Good Friday Editorial on Terri Schiavo

"On this Good Friday, in the holiest week of the Christian calendar, Americans of various religious beliefs are keeping vigil for a woman many of them had never heard of until one week ago. If Terri Schiavo's ordeal, and that of her husband and parents, can help our society reach a better understanding of how to deal with these difficult issues, that will be a worthwhile legacy. "

Me, Sugar Land Texas and Tom Delay

I really love Texas. The first time I got off a plane in Houston and asked for directions I clearly remember the girl that smiled after she helped me then said, "you sound like you're from up around Dallas," which was pretty nice to hear for a mountain boy from North Carolina. And as I was leaving to go home as usual I had to change something (always trying to score first class) and the girl at the USAir counter when she looked at my ticket back to Charlotte asked me where I was going which was North Wilkesboro where I lived at the time. She said, "I'm from Miller's Creek and I'll get you home in style! You come see me every trip and I'll take care of you and hear about home." If you don't know NC, Miller's Creek is a "suburb" of North Wilkesboro. Believe me I always found her on every trip to Houston (I love Houston) and we always had a nice talk and I usually had a nice trip back home. I don't know where she is now but I wish her well.

Oh, here's the Tom Delay part:

"Drive down U.S. Highway 59 from downtown Houston, and you take a sociological journey from the city's old, urban center to the picturesque suburbs of neighboring Fort Bend County. You also embark on a political odyssey, from the traditional precincts of the Texas Democratic Party to Sugar Land, the home of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay."
"...for the lion's share of Mr. DeLay's supporters in Texas, the ethical charges against the majority leader amount to little more than a partisan witch-hunt by a Democratic district attorney in Austin, Ronnie Earle, and the Democratic leadership in Washington--the not-so-unexpected result of unseating six congressional incumbents."

"...Like his experience as a foster parent, his advocacy for abused children and his small business roots, Rep. DeLay's down-home ordinariness is at odds with his ominous Capitol Hill reputation as "The Hammer."

I also learned in my many visits to Texas that there is no politics quite like Texas politics - Texas is where I first learned how and why to lobby for changes...

A Real Life Reason for School Vouchers

Courtesy of the WSJ & Taranto's Best of the Web Today:
"A Bronx teacher who repeatedly flunked his state certification exam paid a formerly homeless man with a developmental disorder $2 to take the test for him, authorities said yesterday. The illegal stand-in - who looks nothing like teacher Wayne Brightly - not only passed the high-stakes test, he scored so much better than the teacher had previously that the state knew something was wrong, officials said.
'I was pressured into it. He threatened me,' the bogus test-taker Rubin Leitner told the Daily News yesterday after Special Schools Investigator Richard Condon revealed the scam." "I gave him my all," said Leitner, 58, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a disorder similar to autism. "He gave me what he thought I was worth."

Brightly, 38, a teacher at one of the city's worst schools, Middle School 142, allegedly concocted the plot to swap identities with Leitner last summer. If he failed the state exam again, Brightly risked losing his $59,000-a-year job. "I'm tired of taking this test and failing," Brightly told Leitner, according to Condon's probe. "I want you to help me."

Along with being much smarter than Brightly, Leitner is 20 years older. He also is white and overweight while Brightly is black and thin. Yet none of those glaring differences apparently worried Brightly."
"He said no one would ever know," Leitner said outside the Brownsville, Brooklyn, building he has called home since briefly living on the streets.

The two men met years ago at Brooklyn College where Leitner earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history in the late 1970s, and Brightly got a bachelor's degree in 1992. After meeting in the alumni office, Leitner began tutoring the teacher as he struggled to pass the state exam, officials said."
About 19,000 teachers across the state take the certification exam each year and roughly 95% pass. Teachers are required to be certified - but the city has a temporary waiver from the state because the Education Department has not been able to find enough qualified instructors."


Pope is "serenely giving himself to the will of God"

Times Online: "THE POPE is "serenely abandoning himself to God's will," according to a senior Vatican cardinal. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the head of the Congregation of Bishops, made his comments during a sermon at a Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass at St Peter's, in Rome, where he was standing in for the ailing Pope John Paul II.
Senior Roman Catholic sources in London emphasised last night that the comments referred to the Pope's spiritual rather than physical health, but acknowledged that his health was deteriorating... " "Cardinal Re said: “We want to thank him for the witness he continues to give us even through his example of serene abandonment to God, which he links to the mystery of the Cross.” At the start of the Mass, the Cardinal read a message from the Pope. It said: “I am united ideally with all of you who are gathered in the Vatican basilica. Via television from my apartment, my dearest ones, I am spiritually with you.”

Maundy Thursday is the day that Catholics commemorate the founding of the priesthood. On this day priests renew the vows they first took when they were ordained."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

In Love With Death: The Bizarre Passion of the pull-the-tube People- Peggy Noonan

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan:

"God made the world or he didn't.

God made you or he didn't.

If he did, your little human life is, and has been, touched by the divine. If this is true, it would be true of all humans, not only some. And so--again, if it is true--each human life is precious, of infinite value, worthy of great respect. Most--not all, but probably most--of those who support Terri Schiavo's right to live believe the above. This explains their passion and emotionalism. They believe they are fighting for an invaluable and irreplaceable human life."

You really, really need to read all of this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

WFB on Terri Schiavo

Buckley on Schiavo: "Was the court system in Florida, then, acquiescing in death by pain for Mrs. Schiavo? A doctor consulted by one television analyst brushed aside the question, in language not readily transcribed by a layman. He seemed to be saying that Mrs. Schiavo would not suffer pain as the term is commonly understood.

But that question was not directly accosted by the judge, who said only that Terri's rights had not been abrogated. It was unseemly for critics to compare her end with that of victims of the Nazi regime. There was never a more industrious inquiry, than in the Schiavo case, into the matter of rights formal and inchoate. It is simply wrong, whatever is felt about the eventual abandonment of her by her husband, to use the killing language. She was kept alive for fifteen years, underwent a hundred medical ministrations, all of them in service of an abstraction, which was that she wanted to stay alive. There are laws against force-feeding, and no one will know whether, if she had had the means to convey her will in the matter, she too would have said, Enough."

And I say to Mr. Buckley, perhaps Ms. Schiavo would have said and my be struggling now to say, "Let's keep trying..."
Who indeed are we to judge? I still think the wise words from President Bush stand - if in doubt, err on the side of life.

Fed Warns of Greater Inflation

The Grey Lady reports that "The Fed nudged up short-term interest rates for the seventh time in the last year, raising the federal funds rate on overnight loans between banks to 2.75 percent from 2.5 percent. It restated its intention to keep raising them at a 'measured' pace in the months ahead.
But in a departure from previous declarations, the central bank said there were rising inflationary pressures beyond those tied directly to the recent jumps in oil prices.
'Though longer-term inflation expectations remain well contained, pressures on inflation have picked up in recent months and pricing power is more evident,' the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement.
The Fed also changed its assessment of risks to the economy. Last month, it said the risks to inflation and growth were 'roughly equal.' On Tuesday, it said the risks 'should be kept roughly equal,' but said its outlook was dependent on 'appropriate monetary policy action.' That implied that the Fed might have to take tougher action.
The hawkish new language jolted investors, who immediately raised their bets on the possibility of bigger rate increase by the end of June and higher long-term interest rates."

My prediction in this space on January 2, 2005: "I am rather bullish on the US economy, not worried about either trade deficits or what I see as temporary spending deficits, and slightly worried about inflation concerns starting middle to 3rdQ of 2005."

I am glad the Fed is agreeing with me once again.

NC Editorial on Trusting the Gov'ment

The Kinston Free Press: "For most of my adult life, I have believed that, when dealing with social programs, the U.S. government has the reverse Midas touch.
Everything King Midas touched turned into gold. In the area of social programs, everything the U.S. government touches turns into piles of something no one would ever mistake for gold.
....Social Security is just one more example of what happens when government decides to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves. Because of our faith in government, we have learned to save less, spend more, and mortgage our future. In short, we citizens imitate U.S. fiscal policy in place since FDR was president.

Before you trust the federal government to handle your retirement or health care, look at the results of federal efforts to provide "public housing." Use the image of "housing projects" as a metaphor for "public pension plan."

Sen. Santorum on Death Penalty

Santorum rethinks death penalty stance: "'I felt very troubled about cases where someone may have been convicted wrongly. DNA evidence definitely should be used when possible,' he said.
'I agree with the pope that in the civilized world ... the application of the death penalty should be limited. I would definitely agree with that. I would certainly suggest there probably should be some further limits on what we use it for.'"
He spoke in a brief phone interview after the U.S. Catholic bishops launched a renewed push against the death penalty. Their poll showed that Catholics who attend Mass daily -- among the Americans most likely to have voted for President Bush -- also are among the most likely to oppose capital punishment.

Overall, the poll showed that Catholic opposition to the death penalty has grown from 27 percent in 2001 to 48 percent. Opposition jumps to 63 percent among daily Mass-goers -- making it 1 percent above the percentage of daily communicants who voted for Bush in 2004. Of those who say they only attend Mass on holidays, 62 percent support use of the death penalty."

See the article for a link to the actual poll.

Lenny Kravitz Remembers Bobby Short

"Another musician who heard Mr. Short at a tender age is funky rocker Lenny Kravitz. 'I've known Bobby Short since I was five years old,' he says. 'He was the person who coaxed my mother into marrying my father.' Mr. Kravitz admired Mr. Short's impeccable style--'the classiest gentleman I ever met in my life.' But above all, he loved the way Mr. Short put across a Gershwin or Porter tune. 'Bobby Short will remain my favorite artist of all time.'"

Rosett on the UN & Kofi Annan

OpinionJournal - The Real World: "The grand failure of the U.N. is that its system, its officials and most visibly its current secretary-general are still stuck in the central-planning mindset that was the hallmark of dictators and failed utopian dreams of the previous century. Mr. Annan's plan takes little practical account of a modern world in which competition, private enterprise and individual freedom are the principles of progress."
"...the real push for a better world on Mr. Annan's watch has come not from the U.N. but from a Bush administration that Mr. Annan has done plenty to thwart and revile. Mr. Annan includes high-sounding words in his report about U.N. "support" for elections in Iraq. They ring hollow when you consider that had Mr. Annan and the U.N. prevailed instead of Mr. Bush, Iraqis would still be living under Saddam (and the U.N. would still be running the rotten Oil for Food program).
How to reform the U.N. is a big question, in need of real debate and workable proposals from some quarter. What we got from Mr. Annan as he presented this latest menu for U.N. improvement was his warning that no one should pick and choose among his proposals "a la carte." Great. If he really wants all or nothing, the next move is to toss this report, and start looking for a secretary-general who can get it right."

Claudia Rosett is truly a great reporter and commentator. If she doesn't deserve the Pulitzer then no one does.

Krauthammer Proposes 'Terri's Law'

Between Travesty and Tragedy : "There is no good outcome to this case. Except perhaps if Florida and the other states were to amend their laws and resolve conflicts among loved ones differently -- by granting authority not necessarily to the spouse but to whatever first-degree relative (even if in the minority) chooses life and is committed to support it. Call it Terri's law. It would help prevent our having to choose in the future between travesty and tragedy. "

Besides being one of America's best original thinkers note that Charles Krauthammer is an M.D. The entire column is worthy of thought.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Err on the Side of Life!

OpinionJournal - The Western Front:
"It is said that tough cases make bad law, and that's why it was wise for Congress to legislate only on this specific case rather than 'making law' for everyone.
But it is also true that extreme examples have a way of laying out cultural markers that help define our society. On stem cell research, cutting off federal funding of abortion clinics overseas, bringing faith-based groups into public policy and judicial nominations, President Bush has been nudging American society toward a culture of life. Now, by flying back to Washington and signing legislation well into the night, Mr. Bush is laying out a cultural marker. The president of the United States is saying, We're for life. That's not political pandering. It's the rise of a cultural movement. "

Monday, March 21, 2005

Federalist Patriot Reader on Schavio

A reader of the Federalist Patriot (an email letter available free) sent in the following in response to the Schiavo situation:

"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink'." --Matthew 25:40-42

Go to link for free e-letter.

We Derived Our Law from the English?

From the Telegraph:
"A teenage criminal who received 567,000 [pounds] in compensation after falling through a roof while trespassing boasted about his wealth yesterday, saying that he was looking forward to buying 'a few houses and a flash car'.

Murphy received his compensation after suing the company that owned the warehouse. He claimed that if the perimeter fence had not been in disrepair he would not have been able to gain entry and suffer his injuries."

Followup on Republican Editor: Fired

On the republican Playgirl editor-in-chief from DRUDGE:
"Zipp, in an e-mail, claims she was fired after an onslaught of liberal backlash.

'Hello Drudge,

'After your coverage of my article about coming out and voting Republican, I did receive many letters of support from fellow Republican voters, but it was not without repercussions. Criticism from the liberal left ensued. A few days after the onslaught of liberal backlash, I was released from my duties at Playgirl magazine.

'After underlings expressed their disinterest of working for an outed Republican editor, I have a strong suspicion that my position was no longer valued by Playgirl executives. I also received a phone call from a leading official from Playgirl magazine, in which he stated with a laugh, 'I wouldn't have hired you if I knew you were a Republican."

Terri Schiavo and Elian Gonzales

From The American Thinker courtesy of The Corner:
"...a striking parallel between the Terri Schiavo and the Elian Gonzales cases:
In each case, the victim is under the legal control of a man who is no longer living with the victim, who in fact has run off with another woman and fathered her children, and who no longer plays an active role in the victim's life. In Terri's case, this is her husband. In Elian's case, it's his father. Moreover, in each case there are people willing and able to care for the victim- Terri's parents; Elian's relatives in Miami. Yet in each case, the man with legal control insists that the victim be harmed: Terri killed, Elian shipped back to Castro's Cuba. And in each case, the liberals who never shut up about their concern for the weak and the oppressed have sided with the creep against the victim."

Roger L. Simon's Reader Comments from Her Heart on Schiavo

Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter:
"I've been heartsick over Terri Schiavo and her family since Friday, so I'm grateful to Roger for offering me a guest spot to talk about it.

Terri Schiavo is being killed because she has brain damage.

She is not dying-or wasn't until yesterday, when a Florida judge ordered her doctors to withhold food and water-and she is not on life support. Nor did she write a living will.

I can barely stand to think of Terri Schiavo's family, what they are going through. Like me, they are the parents of a child with special needs. Also like me, at times in my own life, they are seen by the experts as delusional. It is obvious to our elites-to the usual suspects-that the Schiavo's don't understand their child's condition."
They are not realistic.

We spend a lot of time on this blog protesting foreign policy realism.

But I don't think I've ever mentioned that my own aversion to foreign policy realism grew naturally out of my experience with the Terri Schiavo kind of realism. My husband and I have been battling that particular brand of realism for a long time now, and my proudest moment as a parent was & remains the day I told a school administrator, who had just said he 'had to be realistic,' that in our household we don't believe in realism.

That shut his water off.

As it turns out, every time I've been optimistic while others were being realistic, I've been right and they've been wrong. So I stay away from the realists. I work with the doctors and teachers who will take a chance on a child.

Terri Schiavo's parents have hope that their daughter's functioning can be improved or perhaps one day cured with treatment, therapy, and emerging knowledge.

They may be right, they may be wrong. Or they may be ahead of their time, because one day brain damage will be repairable. That's my bet.

In the meantime they choose to love and care for their daughter.

Her legal husband chooses to starve her to death.

If he starved his dog, he'd be arrested.

I wasn't going to complain about the media or the Democrats, because there can't be too many people in favor of deliberately starving a brain-damaged woman to death.

But then I read this New York Times article - Experts Say Ending Feeding Can Lead to a Gentle Death

Why is it I feel that if Terri Schiavo were a brain-damaged Iraqi prisoner whose food and water had been ordered withheld, the TIMES would not be hastening to tell us that death by dehydration is gentle and dignified, not a horrific thing at all?

Catherine Johnson"

I don't need to say a word.

Mickey Kaus on Schiavo

Mickey Kaus:
"Opposition to the Florida court's ruling seems like a legitimate protest against what appears to be a disingenuous machinery of euthanasia lawyers are busy establishing under the guise of a 'right to die' (a right Terry Schiavo can only be said to be exercising by an extremely suspect chain of reasoning). ... Our society is going to have to have this out at some point--why not now? And why isn't it a perfectly reasonable issue for the national legislature to address? ... P.S.: Emailer R.H. writes:
After the election, several Dems talked about extending some kind of olive branch to the religious right ...[snip] ... Isn't this a great opportunity for the Dems to make a symbolic gesture to pro-lifers that wouldn't hurt anybody except Terri Schiavo's creepy husband? But instead, Dems are once again telling the right -- in a swing state, no less -- to shut up and obey the courts ...."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

George Will: Why Filibusters Should Be Allowed

Yes I post columns I agree with - even though this one is painful at least in the short term.

Why Filibusters Should Be Allowed
"Exempting judicial nominations from filibusters would enlarge presidential power. There has been much enlargement related to national security -- presidential war-making power is now unfettered, Congress's responsibility to declare war having become a nullity. Are conservatives, who once had a healthy wariness of presidential power, sure they want to further expand that power in domestic affairs? "

The Senate's institutional paralysis over judicial confirmations is a political problem for which there is a political solution: 60 Republican senators. The president believes that Democratic obstruction of judicial nominees contributed to Republican gains in 2002 and 2004. In 2006, 17 of the Democrats' seats and that of Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, their collaborator, are up, five of them in states the president carried in 2004.

No Democratic filibuster can stop the 2006 elections. Those elections, however, might stop the Democrats' filibusters.

Freidman Recommends A Nobel for Sistani

Once again I find myself agreeing with Freidman. I must be getting soft or Tom is getting smarter.The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Nobel for Sistani: "The process of democratizing the Arab world is going to be long and bumpy. But the chances for success are immeasurably improved when we have partners from within the region who are legitimate, but have progressive instincts. That is Mr. Sistani. Lady Luck has shined on us by keeping alive this 75-year-old ayatollah, who resides in a small house in a narrow alley in Najaf and almost never goes out the door. How someone with his instincts and wisdom could have emerged from the train wreck that was Saddam Hussein's Iraq, I will never know. All I have to say is: May he live to be 120 - and give that man a Nobel Prize. "

MoDo Column I Like

X-celling Over Men:
"'Alas,' said one of the authors of the study, the Duke University genome expert Huntington Willard, 'genetically speaking, if you've met one man, you've met them all. We are, I hate to say it, predictable. You can't say that about women. Men and women are farther apart than we ever knew. It's not Mars or Venus. It's Mars or Venus, Pluto, Jupiter and who knows what other planets.'
Women are not only more different from men than we knew. Women are more different from each other than we knew - creatures of 'infinite variety,' as Shakespeare wrote."