Thursday, March 31, 2005

The cruelest cut of all...

Terri Schindler Schiavo's parents cannot attend their daughter's burial. These loving parents and family must say goodbye from a distance. Folks, I apostrophaically offer you this bit of encouragement. Terri is not in that body or in those ashes. At this point, her beauty exceeds your wildest dreams. She is no longer about the physical, but an unfettered spirit of live and beauty at the throne of our most joyous and loving Creator. I pray that these words bring you some measure of comfort in this life, as one who has experienced loss in similar ways. Life is not about the body, but about what it contains--that which is eternal.

I have used many terms at my command to describe what I felt to be an uncommonly sick character flaw on the part of Michael Schiavo. And at this point, I am tempted to use language heretofore unpermitted on Liberty Files. Because he is exactly what those terms would describe. But I cannot and will not do so. He is not worth it.

So I'll offer this rebuke from the comforts of the faith which I hold dear:

Michael, you have embraced wickedness in the way that a man would embrace his most beloved. You have chosen evil over justice. You have chosen sickness over reconciliation. You have chosen the law over mercy. You have chosen the most potent gall of bitterness over forgiveness. You have chosen arrogance over humility. May the Lord rebuke you.

But may the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on you. Because my heart is a bit too finite in love to offer you much at this point. But God offers forgiveness through faith in Christ.

Choose wisely, Michael. The depths of your cruelty can be overcome by the love of Christ who freely covers all our sin and shame. He did it for a worthless fellow like me. He can do it for you. Your eternity depends on it.

Offer the Schindlers a bit of mercy. Let them bury this precious person. Be a man.

Hanoi Jane's Epiphany

Jane Fonda feels bad about sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun used to down American pilots was not a good thing. But she really doesn't feel bad about the rest of it (courtesy of Drudge).

I guess it's a bad thing to actually man a battlestation that is used to attack your nation's military, but it's not such a bad thing to be party to the mockery of American servicemen who are being tortured in an enemy prison camp. And she didn't mind asking for and being granted access to North Vietnamese radio to tell U.S. pilots not to bomb North Vietnam. And while she claims she didn't ask them to violate orders (which would presumably have been to bomb North Vietnam), she just wanted them to "consider" it.

Presumably, those things did nothing to give aid and comfort to the enemy. It took her 33 years to reach the level of "still not getting it". Not bad for a member of the far left.

Michael Schiavo, What On Earth Is Wrong With You?

Many of us knew that Michael Schiavo was not a contender for husband of the year. We've spoke about the reasons for that ad nauseum.

But his refusal to permit her family to be present at the time of her passing sinks below the fetid depths in the cesspool of cruelty to which he had already descended.

A fitting end to a heartbreaking story.

There is something so wrong with the character of Michael Schiavo that it escapes description. He has no shame. And I hope that the people who surround him see him for what he is.

It's a shame that Terri didn't do so earlier.

Goodbye Terri

Terri Schiavo left us just this morning. Her very sad life at the hands of Michael Schiavo is over, and her life, in the presence of God, has begun. The Lord will wipe away all her tears, and spare her from any further pain. Her journey through this life may be over, but her enjoyment of eternal freedom in the hands of God has only just begun.

She is in eternally better hands than ours, and I am quite happy for her.

I'm just sorry that she had to go as she did.

Goodbye Terri. Enjoy, and we'll see you in God's time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

CNN Goes Inside Blogs...

...and cites Liberty Files! Check it out, courtesy of Trey Jackson. Typical mistreatment of ideas they don't like. Watch the whole thing. They really, really, don't like blogs!

Been Mistreated...

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, just a few hours after granting a hearing on the Schindler's petition to be reheard, denied their appeal.

The language of the opinion, most notably Judge Birch's concurrence is pointed directly at the other two brances of the Federal government, addressing the "activist judge" label. I can't imagine that the Court didn't see this as their result last night when they granted the family false hope.

Judge Birch finds "Terry's Law" unconstitutional, and goes into a lengthy discussion of the separation of powers. The opinion is essentially a thumbing of the nose at the other two branches, but specifically the Congress. The judge claims that a standard of review has been established in the new law, which is false. The law simply stated that Federal proceedings may take place without the rights of the parties being prejudiced by the state proceedings, not the standard by which facts are found. The biggest problem is that there is no discussion of whether this is a state issue (which it is), or a Federal issue--the most significant factor against the law.

Judge Birch's turf-conscious opinion ignores the real problem of the very well-intentioned Terri's Law, and instead reveals that these courts feel that they are a law unto themselves, free from pesky checks and balances.

But this ignores the larger fact that they emotionally strung along an already dejected family for the better part of a day in order to make a political point to the other two brances of government for whom they have no respect.

John Tabin on Terri Schiavo

John Tabin commented on one of my earlier posts, and his American Spectator article is a must read.

He makes no points about the morality of Terri Schiavo's starvation. Rather, he focuses on what the physical experience would be. Morphine and its family of opoid drugs are effective at relieving pain. And there would be nothing wrong with giving Terri a morphine drip. She would never get addicted if she is going to die.

But that's the problem. George Felos' and Michael Schiavo's arguments hinge on Terri having no conscious perception of pain or anything else. If she is conscious, as several doctors have opined, she is being under-medicated for pain.

But for their legal and politico-philosophical position to be tenable, Terri cannot be medicated. To do anything different would expose the moral deficiencies of their position.

Voter Fraud and Intimidation - Keepin' It Real With The Dems

It seems that the Democrats aren't going to scoot out of their Election 2004 mischief. The House Administration Committee is looking into it all, and here is the link to one of the individuals providing testimony about Ohio mischief.

It contains the usual Democrat bag of tricks. I have a few favorite examples. A registration was filed for one "Jive F. Turkey" in Cuyahoga County, a jurisdiction where the Dems planned to get a wealth of votes. Just so you know, Mr. Turkey's middle name is probably not the kind of thing I'd put on this site. His mother should be ashamed. Despite the clever effort to conceal its fraudulent nature, the subterfuge was exposed. Even better were registration forms filled out in the same handwriting. Or the registration for someone who had been dead for twenty years (kind of a "scary" ballot).

But then there's the not so funny things. Someone was paid with crack by the NAACP to fill out fraudulent registrations. And the election day lawsuits filed to suspend any identification requirement at the polls (presumably because the aforementioned Mr. Turkey couldn't get his potty-mouthed name put on a driver's license), to allow people to vote at whatever the heck precinct they wanted to (because they are presumably too stupid to find the place closest to their home, making it a problem for the rest of us), to expel election observers (when the cat's away...), and to even do away with the requirement of registration.

And finally, there is the stuff we thought was reserved for tinpot dictatorships. Of course, there were the people electioneering within the 100 foot barrier, but so what? It pales in comparison to the stuff that would actually scare people away from the polls. MoveOn, ACLU (whom we thought supported everyone's civil liberties), and other leftist groups physically harassed and intimidated voters, prevented voters from leaving the polls by blocking their cars, yelled at people outside their voting booths that they had only a few seconds left, and called homes to tell voters that the election was on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Bear in mind that they did this to REPUBLICAN voters. It seems that they were too busy to trouble the Democrat voters.

The Democrats charge in their lawsuits and their sorry public statements that the Republicans are out to "disenfranchise" them essentially because legal standards for the conduct of elections are being enforced. And it makes sense, because it seems that these Democrats find it very difficult to keep to the law. And while most courts do not take them seriously, some do. And their effort is to do more than simply disenfranchise their opponents. It is an orchestrated effort to debauch the ballot and our system of free elections.

Consider that well as the next election cycle approaches. Someone is out to snuff your vote.

The Religious Right and Terri Schiavo

I have tired of hearing from the media elite that the supporters of Terri Schiavo and her parents are members of the religious right, far right, etc. Check the comments of Hugh Hewitt on the matter, as well as his dismissal of the hackneyed "religious right" terminology, used as an avuncular label for people of faith.

But I was not aware that the "religious right" included the likes of Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Joe Lieberman, or Patricia Heaton.

To loosely quote Jesse Jackson, which I will very rarely do, this issue transcends politics. It is a moral issue. And to try to pigeonhole those who support Terri's right to live into one easily attacked and misdefined group of people reflects a particular ignorance and religious prejudice on the part of the media and the left.

But then again, we all look alike to them.

We Were Wong All Along

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals just granted the Schindlers a hearing, admitting that there may be grounds to reconsider the ruling of the Federal District Court, because the statute passed by Congress did say that a federal case could be brought notwithstanding the results or evidence presented at the state level. The court somehow missed that glaring black and white detail at the prior appeal.

But don't get too excited. This was a ruling, (1) granting a hearing, (2) to determine whether the Schindlers get a new hearing as to whether the feeding tube gets inserted, (3) pending court action. And we have no timetable for that gateway hearing.

So unless Terri can hold on for a month, this ruling seems, more than anything, to be justice delayed to the point of tragedy. I hope this awakens people to the problem and consequence of tolerating judges who ignore law.

A Few Issues Regarding the Morphine

One individual who left numerous comments on the morphine post may wish to talk to an expert in internal medicine.

First, decubitus ulcers, known as bedsores, are caused by a buildup of pressure on the skin because a patient was left laying in a particular position for too long. There are certain factors that make pressure ulcers unavoidable, but as one who is intimately familiar with such litigation, there are very few factors (such as AIDS or pre-existing skin disorders) which make pressure sores unavoidable. The way to avoid them is to turn and position a patient every 2 hours, and to keep the patient properly fed and full of water.

Florence Nightingale thought so too, to the point that she attributed bed sores to poor nursing. The Federal government agrees. Check 42 CFR 483.25 which provides that a resident who enters a facility without pressure sores must remain that way, unless they were objectively unavoidable, and that proper care be given to relieve existing sores and prevent new ones. It is not an unreasonable standard, just a legal requirement that the standard of nursing care be observed.

Moving past that into the existential issues, pain and its endurance is an experience which rests in the conscience. We do not anesthetize plants before we reap them, as they have no self-awareness or concept of pain. The comment, incorrectly implying that I argued that she be denied analgesia and comfort measures misses the point of this struggle.

I think she should be given these measures if she is showing signs of pain, but Michael Schiavo and George Felos told us that Terri would not experience pain. They told us that this would be a peaceful repose into death because she lacks the faculties to experience and evaluate it as such. In essence, she would be much like the plant life which is harvested--possibly reacting to certain stimuli, but not out of consciousness or conscious suffering. By their reasoning, Terri would have no need for such comfort measures. There would be no psyche left to comfort.

But we are seeing reactions that are prompting staff to medicate her, despite her impending death. It raises significant questions about veracity of the predictions of the peacefulness and painlessness of this so far two week process of wasting away to death.

ADDENDUM

JWB has a point, but is a little off on the affect of morphine. Morphine and other opoids affect the way pain (among other things) is perceived by the nervous system. This is why you sometimes hear of people describing their experience on morphine as one of still experiencing the pain, but not caring. But the effect depends on the magnitude of the dose. Up the dose high enough, and you will stop voluntary functions like movement and even breathing (yes, breathing is a voluntary action, hence your ability to hold your breath, and your inability to voluntarily stop your involuntary heartbeat). A little higher, and you slow things to the point of stopping even the involuntary functions, causing death. But make no mistake, morphine affects every quarter of the nervous system. It's the reason heroin addicts like the high when they take a hit. Heroin and morphine come from the same place and have similar affects.

But nobody should miss my point. We were told that this death would evoke no painful response. It appears that it has, and that comment comes not from the Schindlers, but from George Felos. Their predictions were fairly unequivocal. The result appears to be different.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More Wisdom on Morphine

Ramesh Ponnuru over at The Corner sent me a link in an e-mail to this Merck comment on ventilators. The very end of the article reads in pertinent part:

A person undergoing mechanical ventilation may experience agitation, which can
be controlled with sedating drugs such as lorazepam and midazolam or opioids
such as morphine or fentanyl.

Now the rub here is that morphine and related drugs are given for what is a conscious response to unpleasant stimuli. Granted, Terri is not going on a ventilator, but her response to the pain of starvation requires pain relief. George Felos makes the point that Terri received two injections, not a constant drip. But in this case, it is a distinction without a difference. The line that they have been feeding us is that she will experience NO pain. She has no facilities with which to perceive it or the extended suffering of it.

Make no mistake, Terri is receiving palliative care in response to pain. That's what morphine is for.

Why Conservatives Care About Terri Schiavo

I've caught enough "religious right"-ing over the past few weeks, to the point that I think it won't hurt to explain why conservatives, including those loathsome religious conservatives, bothered to intervene on Terri's behalf.

The key issue is who gets to speak on Terri's behalf when it comes to gleaning her desire to live (or die) were she to enter a persistent vegetative state.

Who Gets To Speak?
The spouse gets to speak for the other spouse, of course. But in this case, there were some issues, and new questions about the origins of Terri's brain injury emerged that called into question Michael Schiavo's objectivity as Terri's guardian. Evidence of abuse, a refusal to care for Terri after winning a substantial sum in a medical malpractice action, witness statements of callous treatment of his wife while in the hospice, starting a new family with another woman, and reversing prior statements that he would never want her to die of starvation led many to the conclusion that Michael had a significant conflict of interest in directing his disabled wife's medical treatment or lack thereof. Were he a doting and faithful husband, had he exhausted the malpractice proceeds on her care, had he allowed a complete and fair neurological workup leading to the conclusion he claims, I would have been in his corner. It would have been a very easy call, and those opposing him would be interlopers.

Her Desire To Live (Or Die)
There is no way to know what Terri's intent was or is regarding the situation in which she now finds herself, outside of hearsay from the Schiavos and Terri's friends and family. Florida law provides little guidance, as we saw. But when the intent is unclear, and there remains abiguity about whether she retains a life, we must err on the side of life. To do anything else is to presume that life unproductive is ipso facto life worth ending.

Persistent Vegetative State
There is evidence that Terri's personhood is gone. There is also evidence that it is not. Many of her movements are attributed to involuntary reflex movements. And some have claimed that she shows anticipatory reaction to being moved, and that she responds to communication and pain. She has been seen to resist reflexes to cooperate with examinations and is believed by some to be aware of her surroundings. But we really have no idea and never will. Michael Schiavo has prevented a full and complete workup of her condition.

But we cannot toss aside life simply because we have tired of loving it or caring for it, because we don't exactly understand what its purpose is, or because we may benefit from its expiration. Michael Schiavo appears to have done that. Terri has a right to live. The ambiguity must be resolved in favor of life, because you never get a second shot at it.

Of course, this reasoning requires an ethic in order to remain logically viable. The ethic, like it or not, is that God is real, he created people and retains dominion over our lives (whether we like/believe it or not), and he takes seriously the lives he gives us. Terri is an important creation, irrespective of her fragility or function. If she remains a conscious being, the matter of taking her life becomes very serious and not lightly dismissed. Michael Schiavo contends she's gone. As I've said before, I pray he's right. And as I said this morning, it seems he could be very wrong.

Conservatives are in this because the culture in which we live has developed a mind that regards inconvenient life as disposable life. And the ethic by which many conservatives live demands that life be treated with respect. At the close of World War II, we saw isolated camps across Europe that bore witness to what happens when life is easily discarded.

We're never going back there again if conservatives, and yes, those pesky "religious" ones too, have anything to say about it.

Jesse Jackson...Doing the Right Thing?

Jesse Jackson has visited the Schindler family, and has made various statements about the injustice from which Terri is suffering. Now, the cynic in me has a few opinions about ulterior motives, but I'll spare them for now.

Jackson says that this transcends partisan lines. I'd like to believe the best, that he showed up to encourage the hurting and nothing more. For right now, I'll credit him with a very kind and loving deed, free of political quid pro quos.

The Schindlers, their excited rhetoric aside, are hurting people. They could use our prayers.

The Morphine Connection

As an attorney with significant familiarity with medical issues, the fact that Terri Schiavo is receiving morphine doses (check article's end--credit to Drudge), makes me wonder whether Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, really believes the dung he is shoveling, or he is simply a shill for the creepy right to die movement.

Morphine has only palliative value. It can only relieve pain and add comfort. But why on earth would a brain-dead person whose expedition towards the hereafter is described by Felos as "very peaceful. She looked calm..." require relief of pain? They claimed earlier that her alleged persistent vegetative state and alleged absence of cerebral activity precluded any experience of pain.

I am disregarding the comments of the Schindler family as to the status of Terri's strength and responses to stimuli, as people in crisis often see mirages in the depths of their despair. But what is one to make of Felos' claims that Terri is exhibiting "light moaning and facial grimacing and tensing of arms," which was the reason the morphine was administered? A response to the pain and suffering of starvation? Or yet another flippantly dismissed "involuntary reflex action"? But then why administer the morphine?

Whatever we make of this development, it cannot in the least be interpreted to be in any way consistent with any of the diagnostic statements made by the Schiavos. And so it seems that Terri's life and death have become a painful means to wicked, self-serving ends for these men. To Michael Schiavo it was a means to a financial end (the settlement cash) which he could not have touched had he simply divorced Terri. And to Felos, a right to death advocate, she may simply be one of the eggs you have to break to make an omelet.

ADDENDUM

Plenty of comments, but one of them reminds me of an ethical challenge dealt with by the Simpsons' Reverend Lovejoy, who proclaimed that anything is moral once the state sanctions it. Yes, we all know what the courts found. I'm a lawyer who tries cases and who sometimes sees judges find things that are completely outlandish. It doesn't make such findings correct. Because the Inquisition once found the earth to revolve around the sun...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ghoul Duel

As if the battle over whether Terri Schiavo gets to live is bad enough, her parents and Michael Schiavo are battling over what to do with her body when she ultimately expires. Michael Schiavo wants her cremated and put in the family plot in Pennsylvania. The Schindlers want to give her a proper burial.

The fact that this is even an issue proves that Michael Schiavo is a man of peculiar cruelty.

Michael Schiavo has a new family. He won in court at all levels. He trounced the Schindlers. He even beat them with a governor, President, and Congress against him. He won. His soon-to-be late wife will be dead soon, and he gets the money. He'll get to marry his girlfriend/fiancee with whom he already has children. He has a built-in new life.

It would be different if he didn't have a family to go to. It would be different if there were no allegations of abuse. It would be different if he were a doting spouse. It would be different if there were not evidence of his crude behavior to his incapacitated wife, as he began dating other women, considering Terri's life for naught. I would have been in his corner.

Everything he is doing is legal. But rather than some final stab into the heart of the Schindlers, standing behind his legal rights, it would be a very small sign of kindness to let these broken-hearted people begin to heal by giving their daughter a burial they feel is proper. It doesn't benefit Michael Schiavo to keep control of her body. It only hurts these already dejected people.

And it would be a sign of an altogether darker meanness than even the worst accounts of Michael Schiavo allow us to glean.

Schiavo Protestors: Irrational Product of the Left

Ok, the subject line needs some explanation, so hear me out before you start shouting.

The right to life protestors at Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, FL are by and large rational people. Granted, there are a vocal and nutty few who seem to be coming a bit unglued emotionally, who feel that it is their civic duty to get arrested, as if that helps Terri's position any.

But their most recent calls for extralegal measures from Jeb Bush (to ignore the court rulings and engage in an abuse of executive power by staging an Elian Gonzales-style raid of the hospice to rescue Terri, forcing a confrontation between local and state police), and the demand for Federal involvement in what appears to be a state issue are the very kind of things that weaken their cause, because they are requesting an overreach of state power. We know that because the media and the left tell us so. And for once they are correct.

But these protestors are taking their lead from the very people who are their critics.

The left has never hesitated to abuse the executive power at their hand or to abridge states' rights by bringing a controversy into the federal realm. The left was only too happy to watch Elian Gonzales taken by force and repatriated to an oppressive communist dictatorship which his mother gave her life to escape. Janet Reno responded to defiance by attacking Branch Davidian compound, killing all inside. She also quashed a number of investigations into ethical and legal issues of her boss, Bill Clinton. And while we are on the topic Bill Clinton, never was his executive power more abused than in his last few days in office. Not wishing to trouble Congress with the burden of introducing, conducting hearings on, and voting on legislation to ensure that the policy changes were in keeping with the will of the people, he created new environmental standards by executive order, and ordered the ratification of a treaty subjecting the U.S. to an international criminal court, among other things. He also repealed lobbying restrictions which he imposed eight years before on outgoing Bush 41 staffers, arbitrarily granting his staff courtesies which he was unwilling to grant those of his predecessor. And then there were the pardons of his amigos. Marc Rich who fled the country was pardoned because of his wife's campaign checks. Former Democrat Congressman Mel Reynolds was pardoned for his history of child molestation. And drug kingpin Carlos Vignali got a pass because, yes, you guessed it, his father funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats.

Not a single leftist complained at these flagrant abuses of power, and while they are right to question the legality of the demands of the Schindler family and the right to life activists, they are hypocrites for doing so. Because these are moves out of their own playbook.

People have become so accustomed to watching the left and their sympathizers in power abuse the restrictions that guarantee us a limited government, so it is only natural that the protestors would request the exact same abuses for their benefit.

They're wrong to request it. It should never be granted them. But then again, the same should apply to the left. They created the monster they see in Pinellas Park, so they can't be heard to complain about it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Bob Ehrlich - Risking His Political Life

Tom Bevan makes some excellent points today about how Republican governors can successfully scuttle any hope of achieving higher office by permitting tax increases or by being pro-choice.

Maryland's Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, may well join the host of Republican governors who may have topped out. He is pro-choice which is close to being a requirement in Maryland, but which would not have affected his election much in 2002. And while he has pretty much held the line on taxes, he has raised state fees of all kinds. Tell my wallet that there is a difference. Add to that the fact that Maryland has been running astounding surpluses which it does not return to taxpayers, and having 15th highest tax rate in the nation, it makes me wonder what the difference would have been had we elected the uniquely underwhelming Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to office.

People elect Republicans when they have tired of a parental state. They elect them when they want to know that their money is being used properly, and that not a cent more is being extracted from them than is absolutely necessary. If we wanted a continuation of the Democrats' policies, we wouldn't have ousted them. Perhaps Ehrlich's tax inertia indicates that he has much to fear in the way of re-election in 2006. But Republicans motivated to elect him in 2002 may just not turn up in 2006 because we really didn't get anything different than what we had under Parris Glendenning, Maryland's roundly unpopular governor during the 90s.

But the legislative session is largely over for 2005. No tax cut bill will slip through. And the mandate for a second term becomes quite dubious.

Jeb Bush - Doing The Right Thing

Florida Governor Jeb Bush deserves much credit--and an apology--from the Schindler family and their advisors. The Governor has spent a good deal of his political capital in the past few years on the battle for Terri Schiavo's life, to the point that he has pushed the Florida state legislature to pass laws for her protection, and filed suit to intervene to protect her. But the family accused him of "blinking" after he lost the court fight to intervene on Terri Schiavo's behalf. They want him to exceed his powers under the law, and force a physical confrontation between State Police and Sheriffs over Terri's custody. Their spiritual advisor, Brother Paul O'Donnell said as much this morning on Fox & Friends.

The Governor should do nothing of the sort.

We live in a government of laws. And sometimes we get results we don't like. We can appeal them. We can petition government to change the laws. We can speak our mind about what we perceive to be outrages. But what we can't do is violate the law when we don't like it. When government officials overstep their constitutional and statutory mandate, we move from limited government to tyranny. The judicial overreach that we have seen in this case has been repugnant, but it is not cured by retaliatory abuses of power.

We witnessed an overextension of executive power at the hands of Bill Clinton and Janet Reno in Florida with Elian Gonzalez. He was returned back to his native Cuba, in violation of U.S. law granting Cubans asylum in this nation, so that he could be separated from the father who loved him to be indoctrinated in the ways of Che Guevara by the Castro government. We also witnessed something similar in Waco, Texas in 1993 when Janet Reno's stormtroopers invaded the Branch Davidian compound, burning the place and the people to a crisp. There was nothing redeemable about the place or its leader, but it was not Reno's duty to doom the people inside to a fiery death because they defied her. Executive power is a mighty thing, and it is a terrible thing when abused.

And the same goes for judicial power. Judge Greer paid no attention to the evidence that he didn't want to hear. The higher courts apparently unwilling to get involved in a moral controversy took the easy way out and couched his bias as the court's prerogative to weigh and believe the evidence that it will. There are appropriate avenues for dealing with renegade judges, such as impeachment, and we should not hesitate to use them as judges should be held to account for overstepping their powers.

But the law exists to limit the powers which the state may want to exercise. While the emotions are running quite high in this case, Governor Bush must allow a cooler head to prevail. His duty lies before him, and it may be best carried out by doing nothing more.

Because the strength of the right to life movement is the willingness of the people to obey the law. Our opponents don't do that. We cannot sink to their level if we expect to retain any legitimacy.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Life - Denied

Here is the text of Justice Anthony Kennedy's Order. Not too much ink wasted or trees killed to get there. I'm tempted to make some kind of snide remark, but I'll spare you.

This is just too cold for sharp humor. For a court that took up the matter of young-adult savage killers, and invented new law in order to spare their lives from the hand of justice, a simple dropping of the issue of an innocent person's struggle to remain alive at the hands of a ghoul like Michael Schiavo because of its lack of convenience is reprehensible.

Freedom Contagion

They say that bad news travels halfway around the world before good manages to get out the door, or something like that.

But the push for freedom and democracy seems to be moving even faster than that. To wit our new friends in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic, have rejected despotism-lite. The place is a mess, but no revolution was ever very peaceful.

Now remember that these movements all have uphill struggles, because a democratic government requires significant organization and cool heads from the people. But I think the freedom movements we are seeing have much in the way of staying power. They are not imposed from above, but rather originate among the common folk. And when something like that happens, the people will be willing to weather the difficulties and disappointments along the way, knowing that they are striving towards a more important goal.

And they'll be less likely to take the counsel of the western media who, while taking for granted the freedoms these people want, curiously and eagerly hope that they will give up the fight at the first sign of adversity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Which Anthony Kennedy?

Stay tuned folks. Justice Anthony Kennedy gets to decide if Lee Malvo's life is more important than Terri Schiavo's. The wonderfully euro-minded Kennedy will have the duty of deciding whether the statute passed by the U.S. Congress and approved by the President will be followed. Or he can decide that left-trendy, and frankly creepy right-to-die philosophies trump the law.

But his decision will make a very important point about his respect for life and the law and his fitness as a Supreme Court Justice.

Freudian Slip?

I'd like to give MSNBC the benefit of the doubt that they probably favor the elimination of the terrorist insurgants in Iraq, but this headline that is on their site gives me pause. I copied it verbatim, using that handy copy function that computers have in the event that they change the wording:

"85 Iraqi militants killed Worst death toll for rebels in months as U.S., Iraqi
forces raid suspected training camp"

I would argue that this us the BEST death toll for these terrorists. I hope MSNBC would too.

UPDATE

Yep, they changed the headline already. I think this is just a hilarious byproduct of the reflexively negative reports we get on Iraq.

Abolishing the Judiciary

I have been asked, as a result of several of my posts, by liberal commenters whether I favored the abolition of the judiciary. And I find that the question says more about those asking it than it does about me and others who have been complaining about judicial overreach of late. As a member of the judicial branch of government (attorneys are officers of the Court), I certainly do not favor the abolition of the courts. But I do favor its restraint.

The courts are not law makers. They are law-appliers. They apply law to our disputes with the state and with one another and make decisions based upon it. But all to often judges look not to the law, but to a subjective and political concepts of "fairness" and rewrite the law out from underneath the litigants. It's one thing to set the rules of the game before you start. It is quite another to revise them mid-game to the benefit and/or detriment of the players who had no notice of the judge's political or philosophical epiphanies.

There are times when our laws violate the governing standards found in the U.S. Constitution and those of the various states, and the courts do exist to strike them. But they do not exist to "fix" them. The legislators can clean up their own messes. Because the laws set by judges are not subject to a vote of the people's elected representatives or the executive who has to carry them out. They are government by fiat.

The judiciary was designed to function as the people's final backstop between limited government and tyranny; they defend our freedoms by applying the laws by which we choose to be governed to the facts of a controversy, and weighing the Constitution that prescribes and proscribes government action against the very acts it takes. But when certain judges extend their power to the realm of restating, remaking, or formulating entirely new law, they have stepped beyond their mandate. Because the written law is not the starting point of contoversy. It is the thing that decides it.

But when the question arises about whether I want to eliminate the judiciary, it implies that those asking it have no problem with judicial overreach. Rather than the brand new rights which the Supreme Court begat (much like Victor Frankenstein at Ingolstadt) in Roe v. Wade, would these people find equally fair a finding that religious groups had a 1st Amendment right to teach classes advocating one faith over another in public schools so long as those classes were completely optional? Would they prefer a ruling that restricted abortion to people over the age of eighteen and only during the first two months--or outlawed it altogether except for cases where a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother? Would they welcome a ruling that found that pornography was not protected 1st Amendment speech? Would they accept a ruling that found that Miranda and its progeny placed extra-Constitutional and unnecessary burdens on law enforcement, thereby making any voluntary inculpatory statement and the evidence falling from it admissible against a defendant (save those that result from obvious coercion which really do violate the 5th Amendement)? Despite the fact that a fair reading of the terms of the Constitution may well permit such things, I can't imagine these folks popping champagne corks.

But because judicial overreach benefits the left significantly more than the right (as conservative judges often tend to be strict constructionists), leftists claim that an effort to rein in judges is an effort to abolish courts altogether. But sorry folks, the hyperbole is becoming all the more transparent. They are relying on an abuse of power to remain in the legitimate marketplace of ideas.

And I do want to abolish that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Ruling

Folks, it is what it is. Here is the PDF version, courtesy of RealClearPolitics. The judge's arguments are hard to dispute. His ruling was only regarding an emergency injunction requested by the Schindlers to reinsert the feeding tube until litigation is concluded. And while the judge agreed with just about all of their reasoning regarding the emergent nature of the injunction and the comparatively little inconvenience suffered by Michael Schiavo, he found that there was not a substantial likelihood of success for their claims.

This is where the judge's discretion comes in, and the way he argues it is fair enough. His defense of the proceedings before Judge Greer is devastating to the Schindler case. Having said that it is equally fair to find that at a new trial, there may be substantial evidence that Terri is conscious of her surroundings which would justify the re-insertion of the feeding tube until such matters could be determined.

But the judge found as he did. It's not good, and he's really unlikely to be overturned. And so I pray that Michael Schiavo is right that she cannot perceive what is going on with her body. Because he just may be getting his way.

ADDENDUM

My anonymous commenter may want to stay that way. The comment which was attached was attributed to the Memorandum Order from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in the Schiavo case. I thoroughly read the document. You'll not find that language there. Actually, it is language from the state intermediate appellate court from last week. And to be really clear, I DO disagree with the rationale. Judge Greer ignored medical evidence that he didn't want to hear, and allowed George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, wide latitude that he did not allow to the Schindlers, to the point that he produced critical witnesses to the case two days before the hearing. These were not surprise witnesses either. They were Mr. Schiavo's brother and sister-in-law. Surprise indeed. The Schindlers had no chance to depose them or to prepare for their cross. Judge Greer heard what he wanted to hear, and ruled as he wanted to rule.

What the Left Thinks of Life

Terry Schiavo lost in Federal Court, at least insofar as a stay of the removal of the feeding tube is concerned. More on the later today. But remember by previous admonitions about the left and their rather ghoulish attitude towards life that does not have a utilitarian function for society. It is Huxleyism at its best.

But Daily Kos, one of the most influential blogs on the internet today provides a much better picture of the left's view of frail and socially unproductive life than I could ever construct. I caught this (beware of the language folks) from Daily Kos, courtesy of Jonathan Last at Galley Slaves. It must be read. Forgetting how absolutely cruel, unintellectual, and light on fact it is, the post exudes a singularly uncut evil. The left tries to candy coat their feelings with unctuous words, but remove the gloss and this is what they are all about.

Consider this when you consider your political associations.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Left Does Not Like The Law

Imagine that a leftist legislator places a bill in the Congressional hopper at the opening of the Congress. The bill is one to legalize gay marriage. Or it is one that will repeal sodomy or age of consent laws. It allows minors the right to have an abortion. It permits abortion up until the moment of birth. It will require parents to have their children subjected to a curriculum that indoctrinates them to the homosexual lifestyle. It legalizes euthanasia of the terminally ill or mandates sterilization of the mentally handicapped. It relaxes penalties against criminals based on their race or ethnicity. It treats Al Qaida terrorists as citizen criminals. It eliminates the Patriot Act which protects us from terrorists. It mandates tolerance and targeted recruitment of openly gay people in the military.

While the list above is by no means exhaustive, the chances of passage of such things ought to be fairly obvious. They're DOA. And that's the same in just about every state legislature in the U.S. Garbage of the variety described above just won't pass. Americans don't favor this stuff, and legislators know that they risk their political lives to play games with propositions like that.

Now imagine going to court with a case that hinged on one of those issues. Many folks would be sitting on the edge of their seats to await the result of the court case. How will a judge or group of judges change the law to affect the rest of us? What new law will they make? These are the wrong questions to be asking. Because that's not the job of a court. But tell that to the left.

The courts are their legislative and executive bodies. The American left has no pull among Americans in general. But their jurists have gotten themselves appointed to various courts and they have made a point of facilitating the leftist agenda just about any time they are given the opportunity to do so. Which is why we see these cases in the courts so often.

But what is the legal authority upon which these people base their claims that such things should be permitted? You will not find a single statute on point. Rather, they base their dubious claims on far-fetched claims of fundamental fairness (14th Amendment, 5th and 6th Amendements), the right to privacy (1st Amendment), and any number of other claims. But that's the problem. If it's fair, the legislators who exist to pander to the common folk will be only too happy to offer a bill. If the proposition is a little too racy, it won't see light of day.

And that's how majority governments work. If you don't like it, work to get like-minded leftists elected. But why would they bother when a judge will be only too happy to skip past interpreting the law based upon the facts before him to rewrite the law to fit his personal views?

The left doesn't like the law making process. And who could blame them? They lose when they play by the rules. This is not Sweden. So they have made law by a few conveniently placed judges. But this back-door approach towards making the law reflects a particularly inexcusable willingness to play dirty to win. And it is reflective of their opposition to majority rule which our nation has been based upon since our founding.

Being in the minority is no fun, but the minority doesn't make the rules in a republic. The majority wins it. And if they don't like that, they can simply amend the Constitution. Unfortunately, that requires a majority of, yes, the states and their legislatures. But, perhaps they'll just file suit the next time a gay man gets arrested for child molestation...

Spare Us The Talk Of States' Rights

The beauty of the left is their chameleon-like ability to wrap themselves in the very political propositions upon which they spat last week in order to achieve their ends. I am referring to their current cry that Congress's passage of the Terry Schiavo bill violates states' rights.

This is pure foolishness. The Congress affected people's rights at the Federal level and stated the Schindler family's rights to bring suit for a Federal claim. Any high school student could tell you that the Constitution permits the Congress to expand or contract the jurisdiction or even the existence of the federal courts. So Congress acted within its specific powers to affect a change at the Federal level. And there is nothing unconstitutional about that.

And the related whimper that this somehow undercuts the power of the courts is hilarious, despite the fact that it is truly frightening. The Congress' job is to make the laws that govern us. That is not the province of the courts. But somehow, judge-made law is something that they not only expect, but prefer to legislation. Guess what? The left doesn't like our form of government because it so rarely works to pass their agenda.

But when have they ever cared about smaller government and the right for states to govern themselves? They loved Roe v. Wade which took away from states the right to decide whether they wished to permit abortion within their borders. And they loved the recent Roper decision which overturned the workings of 20 state legislatures, passing a one-size-fits-all law on the entire juvenile justice system of each of the 50 states. They also thought Hillary Clinton's health care nationalization in 1994 was equally marvelous. They care nothing about the states, because they can't effectively influence the nation that way. Only with the overreach of federal power at the judicial level can they effectively get their policies enacted into law.

But as I stated before, their states' rights arguments are off the mark. This has nothing to do with states' rights. But this should surprise nobody. They wouldn't know what states' rights looked like if it bit them on the nose.

Why The Left Hates The Terri Schiavo Bill

Bravo to the U.S. Congress for passing and to the President for signing the Bill to protect Terri Schiavo's life until a determination as to the true nature of her neurological and mental condition can be ascertained. I say "true" nature, because Michael Schiavo, who, again, lost the race for husband of the year, is unwilling to allow a full neurological examination of Terri to provide a scientifically accurate diagnosis of her current mental state.

But, of course, there are naysayers, and you'll find them mostly on the left. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), among others have appeared on TV and made statements about their opposition to the bill.

But take a look at the bill, now law. It is limited in scope, and sets forth what rights the law will allow and how it will affect the people involved. In this case, society demanded a change, and the legislature responded. Isn't it amazing how quickly they can act when they need to?

This is how the legislatures at the Federal and state levels are supposed to, can, and do operate. They can respond very quickly to public pressure, sparing the judges on our courts the need to perform that function. And to those who say that the Congress should not have done this because of personal privacy concerns, as the misguided Rep. Wasserman-Schultz did this morning on Fox News, among other intellectually inconsistent and simplistic statements, I would ask them if they would keep it a private matter if someone was were to keep them restrained and starved. I have a feeling that they'd be quick to involve the state. Be that as it may, the case had been in the courts for years. It isn't getting any more public than that. They just favor the eugenic paradigm.

And they need to hope and pray (if they condescend to do the latter) that they remain healthy and useful to society. Because this Kervorkianesque ethic being advanced by many leftist judges will hit them in their hour of frailty as surely as they wish it to hit Terri Schiavo.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Who Has A Right To Live?

It is very strange how several similar issues of life and death have converged at the same time for the convenient evaluation of the priorities of the left which our society has adopted. I am speaking specifically of Terry Schiavo, Scott Peterson,the cleft palate abortion case, and Lee Malvo, beneficiary of the aforeblogged Roper decision from the Supreme Court.

And so I ask the only slightly rhetorical question, who has a right to live?

Let's start with the brain-injured Terry Schiavo. Terry's husband, Michael Schiavo, has refused to take the necessary steps to have a complete neurological work up to determine the exact nature of her condition. So, she may indeed be in a persistent vegetative state as Mr. Schiavo and his lawyer claim. Or she may just be having colossal problems getting coherent thoughts and perceptions to her hands, feet and voice. But they both look the same from the outside. Nonetheless, Michael Schiavo, who no longer has any use for her given that he has a new lover with whom he has already had a few kids, is only too content to let her expire so that he can get on with his life. And despite the input of various neurological experts, Judge George Greer seems interested only in hearing Mr. Schiavo's un-scientific claims that Terry is a vegetable. And while there exists no law permitting his Order to remove the feeding tube, he boldly and illegally issues one nonetheless. I wonder if Charles Schumer would block Greer's nomination to the Federal Bench?

Terry's life is unimportant to her unfaithful husband (who, by the way won a million dollar verdict to pay for her care, but has refused to provide therapy or treatment of any kind for her). No longer a caring husband, it's time that his input regarding her care be disregarded. I hope that his lover is taking careful note of Mr. Schiavo's behavior. She would do well to stay healthy and socially useful so long as she is together with him.

Then there is the cleft palate case. Who among us does not know someone who was born with that very, very minor and easily correctable defect? But to some British abortionists, it was defect enough to justify a late-term abortion, denying him life. Unfortunately, the child wasn't given the opportunity to present his own case as to why he'd rather have a small hairline scar on his face but experience an otherwise full existence. But that tiny defect was enough to eliminate the validity of that child's life.

But Scott Peterson is a different story. He killed his wife and child and dumped them into the bay which his new death row residence will overlook. All because they had become inconvenient given his new love interest--the kind of girl every mother wants every son to bring home--Amber Frey. Scott had such a depraved heart that he, without remorse, murdered and dismembered the woman who trusted him with her life. And in the same stroke he intended to and succeeded in ending the life of his unborn son, Conor. But Scott, who has plenty of resources at his command is entitled to an automatic appeal upon imposition of the death sentence. Because the judge and jury's verdict is somehow automatically suspect because it condemned a murderer of a particularly vile quality to death.

But the funny thing is that death row in California is rarely a place where death is meted out by the state. No, it's the Reaper, coming in his own time, who most often escorts death row inmates from the earth. Because Scott may very well never be executed as there is no deadline by which he must appeal his sentence, or by which any of these matters must be heard.

The protections that exist for Scott Peterson and his ilk are curious. Because his acts render him a completely dangerous and evil member of our species, and yet every safeguard available on the planet is offered to him to protect his life from the wages of his crime, a courtesy he was unwilling to extend to his own innocent wife and child.

And then there is Roper. I spoke about it before, but the effects of it are completely ridiculous. Recall Lee Malvo. Lee thought it was funny to shoot Linda Franklin in the head when he and John Mohammed went on the sniper killing spree in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. But because the Supreme Court legislated its own beliefs, all persons who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed their criminal acts, including Lee Malvo, who knew what he was doing as he did it, and found the destruction of life and family funny, are hereafter spared the death penalty irrespective of the nature of their crimes, simply because they were a few months shy of their eighteenth birthday. Again, his value to society is nil. He is a reprobate murderer. But the value that many in our legal system place on his "right to life" is quite high.

Terry Schiavo offers little to this world in terms of her personal labor, but she fell upon circumstances not of her own choosing. And the same with the cleft-palate fetus. Their lives have become unfortunate disasters, the solution to which, the left feels, is their quiet disposal. In a world when many things are disposable, we have reached the level where even human life has become so when its maintenance is inconvenient. We have allowed this to be couched in terms of the "right to die". But such convenience misses a significant point. That "right" is often exercised upon not by the helpless in a summary fashion, by those who want the messy loose ends of life neatly tied.

And yet the same folk believe that life that exists to destroy has an inherent value that we simply cannot allow to be extinguished.

And you have to wonder whether the radical left considers or even cares about the moral implications of their antisocial policies on the importance of life. Quickly killing the inconvenient and helpless innocent while doing their best to provide barbarians insulation from the wages of their crimes is not only inconsistent, it is simply obscene. Conservatives and others who oppose abortion and euthanasia were stupid to have allowed the left to euphamize murder as "choice" or a "right" to die. Similarly, allowing the left to put the "rights" of the guilty to evade punishment over the rights of citizens to have their laws obeyed was a mistake.

And we find ourselves where we are today. Valuing a murderer's wasted life over those fragile lives which are just begging for the chance to be taken seriously.

Despicable Indecency

I've never credited the further left Democrats for having any redeemable qualities. And after this from Kevin McCullough, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, I'm not about to start.

The Congress took up the Terry Schiavo issue, but certain leftist senators, such as Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein (the last of whom I had a good deal of respect for before this), felt that the Republicans have scored too many wins in the Senate this month to get "Terry's Bill" as a freebie. I can only presume that Terry's Bill is "Republican" rather than non-partisan because it somehow opposes the eugenic "right to die" philosophies that the left often supports. Not wanting to be bogged down in the petty moral dilemmas caused by Terry's case, these Senate Democrats rose above that and logrolled Terry's life to get unrelated items in the Federal budget that they wanted. Because, I guess, it was the Dem's turn for a win.

I'd love to know which programs, for how much, and what states/districts were benefited by "Terry's Tradeoffs". Because it would help me get a better handle on the monetary value that these people place on a life.

Whether I ever find that out or not, at the very least, I have obtained a much greater insight into the moral character of these Senators.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

But who will know the difference?

This post courtesy of Drudge is hilarious. Apparently, because of budget shortfalls, the restrooms in these government buildings are not being cleaned or maintained in any way. Having frequented many a government building and having seen the fairly scary condition of their restrooms, I'm left wondering how on earth these government employees can tell the difference.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Chinese Chess

I caught this spectacular article on the Weekly Standard website. The gist of it all is that China is all too content to keep us busy with North Korea, pretending to be an ally in the stalled Six-Party Talks, as it plots behind the scenes to restrict our access to oil and to retake Taiwan, in an effort to become the counterweight to the United States. And they have a decent chance at testing it if things with North Korea go sour or we oppose their crossing of the Formosa Strait.

China is not the Soviet Union. All the Soviets had to do was go south and shut off the oil supply to the west. That would be disastrous. China is unable to do that, and is geographically isolated from such resources. But they know we are too, and there's the brilliance in the plan. When we cut them off, they return the favor with their tinpot dictator allies in Venezuela, Iran, and elsewhere.

And if there were any better justification for the Senate approving the ANWR drilling legislation today, I don't know what it would be. Our dependence on foreign oil is a significant strategic vulnerability begging to be exploited, but which the Democrats seem loath to address because their obsession with environmental bromides leads them to believe that that arctic wasteland is somehow an unspoiled paradise and that Halliburton will come in and violently pollute the place.

As warm and fuzzy as it may feel to think that the Chicoms want to partner with us, they remain a nation that wants to beat us. And who are we kidding? If Beijing snapped its fingers, Pyongyang would jump.

So What Does It Mean If I Flunk "White History"?

New Jersey is home to smokestacks, nuclear waste dumps, and a disturbingly left-wing government. To wit, this report courtesy of Drudge. Apparently the New Jersey Secretary of State Regina Thomas, a McGreevey appointee, accused students of not being up on their black history and implied that they were racists for same.

As a result, students and teachers walked out of the speech, and then refused to attend class in protest.

Of course, every crowd has its morons, as various black students were greeted by cowardly and anonymous racist threats. The walk out and protest were appropriate responses to this government official's unprofessional and antisocial behavior. Intimidation of others who look different was not. And I hope that those who sent those messages to black students will have the guts to put their own names and faces to the beliefs they hold in order to defend them in the marketplace of ideas. Because while such viewpoints are repugnant, they are entirely legal. Unless of course, the proponents of same are just too gutless to let their names be known for fear of the justified social ostracism that awaits them.

But the bigger point is similar to the one I raised in the post below regarding the academic environment at Harvard. Thomas attacked students for not having the same knowledge as she did about the roles of blacks in American History. And the implication that a lack of fact knowledge translates to racism reflects a particular level of arrogance on the part of the Secretary, given her willingness to use social intimidation on children to reach her political ends.

And so I wonder what it says about a person who is unable to name the U.S. Presidents in order, or to describe the Great Compromise or the Monroe Doctrine and the thought underpinning it and how it related to the Manifest Destiny? Is it racism against white Americans? Or is it a sign that it wouldn't kill the person to pick up a school book?

But this is the very thing to expect of the Secretary. Her biography lays out her history of service to corrupt New Jersey politicians such as Bob Torricelli and the aforementioned Jim McGreevey. But it also includes service to one of the greatest race-baiters of all times; the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition.

So she's simply following in the creepy footsteps of those who went before her. Consider her admonitions to the students in that context.

And finally, we come to the touchy topic of black history. And I wonder if that term is reflective of one of the biggest racial problems in our society. Because I thought that black history is included in American history, and I don't believe that the term "American" means "white". So to argue that one needs to treat one component of history with a different degree of respect than any other implies that the component is somehow severable from, independent of, and perhaps even supercessory to another. And there is no reason to do that, unless the people proposing that it be done that way have some political axe to grind.

Now perhaps this is naive of me, but once we begin to treat ourselves as one society made up of all sorts of different people united together, rather than eternally bitter and aggrieved groups looking to one-up each other, we might actually come to a point where we can move forward in race relations, and indeed, do away with the very concept of relations needing to exist between races.

But it won't happen until we can move past the grievances of generations ago to actually make forward progress.

Slamming Summers

Larry Summers, President of Harvard University, suffered an entirely symbolic blow to his presidency at Harvard University--he lost a split no-confidence vote among the Arts and Sciences faculty.

I previously discussed the problem here, where Summers raised several questions for academic research and debate about women's abilities in the scientific and mathematical disciplines, which one would imagine to be part of his job as the president of one of the nations oldest and most prestigious universities. But some intellectually and emotionally fragile professors were so upset by his challenge that they raised an uproar that has gained national attention. And one professor found his remarks so personally unsettling that they made her physically ill. My impression, however, was that she became more politically ill than anything else. But the flap indicated that the professors refused to investigate a situation raised by Summers, because of an inherent belief that philosophy takes a back seat to fact.

Not since the days when Galileo was before the Inquisition has learning been secondary to parochialism.

But the professors maintain that this non-binding vote had nothing to do with Summers' remarks of January. I'd be curious then to know why they bothered to have this unprecedented vote.

But perhaps Summers is getting his just desserts for two reasons--he apologized for the remarks which were a legitimate part of his duties as the president of an institution of higher learning, and in the same act proved that he had no backbone when faced with academic inertia.

Universities do not exist to perpetuate viewpoints, but rather to try them in the crucible to see which ones are valid and which ones are not. That is why just about every university expects scholarly work from each of its professors and not just the teaching of classes and grading of tests and papers. The faculty must also continue to learn in order to effectively teach. Summers' remarks, for those who bothered to actually read them, were very tentative. He drew a conclusion which he said that he hoped was wrong, and invited the faculty to research his claims in a scholarly manner to find out the real truth. And if the feminist position that many of these professors held is true, what better opportunity to validate it through careful research? But instead he apologized because he upset some noisy professors who pledge allegiance to leftist political philosophy.

I have defended Summers in this space before, but I find it hard to defend his apologies, because he is essentially apologizing to the faculty for their own immaturity, ineptitude and ignorance. By excusing these things in order to comfort the hypersensitive, he gives quarter to the academic laziness which plagues our universities.

So perhaps the professors got it right. But for the wrong reason.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Moonwalkin' Out of Court

I predicted it before, and I'll predict it again: Michael Jackson will Moonwalk out of the courtroom a free man with what remains of his odd little body. Because the prosecution's star witness is a flop.

This post (courtesy Drudge) is an excellent post mortem on Mesereau's cross examination. The kid's admission that he denied being molested to school officials would ordinarily be of little use for the defense, because no boy on earth wants to admit that something like that happened. And this can't be easy for a boy to get up in court and face a withering cross examination from a talented trial lawyer.

But taken in light of the so far very successful strategy which Mesereau seems to be pursuing, it's devastating. The accuser and his family are very properly being cast as grifters. And while it is still just as bad to do this to a con artist's child, the credibility off the accuser and his family will evaporate.

From his inability to put a date on the molestation, to his attributing statements about masturbation to both Jackson and his grandmother, to his cocky attitude, the jury is going to find it easier and easier to distance themselves from this boy and his accusations.

None of this in itself means that Michael Jackson will walk free, but if this case turns into a credibility war, I think Michael has it won.

And from here on out, any parent that lets their kid within a mile of Michael Jackson should be charged with abuse.

The Cost of Outing Churchill

Paul Campos, Ward Churchill's fellow CU professor and one of his chief detractors, offers this bit of sugar to make his otherwise unpleasant medicine go down. The offer to pay Churchill three years' salary in exchange for his disappearance from the CU campus is blatantly abhorrent. And Campos gives no indications that he disagrees with that assessment.

But as I advise many of my clients, regardless of the merits of your case (or what you think of them) there is a risk inherent in going to trial. Judges and juries will see things different ways, and may very well ignore a wealth of facts and latch on to an irrelevant detail that brings your otherwise excellent case down. In this situation, Ward Churchill may have a shot in court. And if CU loses and can't fire him, he has no reason to leave a job that pays him to be the anti-American traitor that he is. It may be better to cut the losses here. It's a small price to pay for the University to restore its good name.

And while it may not feel great to CU, Churchill will be largely unemployable after that. Sure, he'll collect the occasional honorarium, but that will be it. Unless of course, Air America has an open time slot...

In the Poorest of Taste

Jonathan Last puts up this post on Galley Slaves which is worth the read. The New Republic Article is a subscriber-only thing, but it is reproduced in pertinent part in the Ross Douthat article. Gregg Easterbrook's reasoning is particularly snide and cruel. His implication that Christians, in their moments of greatest emotional pain, as they grieve the parting of a loved one, are somehow denying their faith, is grotesque.

Death and separation from those we love was never part of God's plan. It makes sense to grieve those who ignored God's lordship and free gift of salvation, because such folk have only their own record of deeds, both good and bad, upon which to stand, not Christ's forgiveness and a clean slate.

But Mr. Easterbrook would do well to note that Christians do not claim to be perfect idealists as he seems to be, but rather they struggle with issues as would anyone. We don't claim to be perfectly selfless all the time either. And while Ronald Reagan went into glory, he left the rest of us here. Our grief was not for him, but for us, to lose such a kind man. And with the passing of John Paul II/Karol Wojtyla, we will do the same, both Catholic and otherwise. His life will be celebrated as one lived devoted to Christ and opposed to evil, both physical and spiritual, and his death as the beginning of the sinless life God intended. But nonetheless, his loss will hurt, as we will no longer have him. And the Vatican won't need to "stage" that. It is part of our fallen condition with which we cannot part in this life. Because Christians are as fallen and lowly as anyone else. We just accept God's free forgiveness.

But Gregg Easterbrook's column reflects a certain meanness about him and a disrespect for people of faith. And I can only hope that he finds comfort in his own words of ignorance at his own time of difficulty in the future.

We Yearned for Sarbanes

Paul Sarbanes just announced his retirement, which for those of us from Maryland, is a great thing, as he really added nothing positive to the U.S. Senate. So now, there is news that Kweisi Mfume is going to run for the seat. Other potential comers are Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Albert Wynn, and Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan of John Muhammed/Lee Malvo sniper fame in 2002. Other runners are discussed here.

Sarbanes is no big loss. He has always been a voice for the far left. But it seems that his successor may be an even bigger nightmare. Elevating Steny Hoyer means that Maryland subscribes to his admitted tax and spend addiction. Only in Maryland's 5th district could he get elected. Albert Wynn would be little more than an also-ran, given that he appeals to very few Marylanders, with a fairly respectable left-wing voting record. But Kweisi Mfume is a very powerful figure and his election would send an unfortunate message. As head of the NAACP, Mfume has turned the organization into an alternate voice for the left, and an opportunity to keep urban blacks under the impression that state hand-outs, fourth-rate education, low wage jobs and low expectations are the best they will ever do. He really brings very little other than a radical civil rights background, and nowadays, nobody wants to hear anything about the race card.

E.J. Pipkin, the most promising Republican candidate is from Maryland's much more conservative but much less populous Eastern Shore. He ran in 2004 against Barbara Mikulski, another figure from the far left, and garnered 35% of the vote, which was a fairly good showing for a first time candidate whom nobody knew. He has the potential to keep the race competitive, and as such, would make a credible candidate.

But Maryland has some real political liabilities, known as Baltimore City, Prince George's County and Montgomery County. These are the three jurisdictions that propel Maryland Democrats to Washington and to the State House and which keep the state reliably blue. Mfume needs to win only these three counties to get Sarbanes' seat.

The biggest political drains on the state are Prince George's County and Montgomery County--the suburbs of Washington D.C. Even Baltimore City is not so liberal if you look at past election returns. Were the areas of those counties most immediately surrounding D.C. ceded to the District, Maryland would become a red state on the order of Louisiana or Nevada. Pretty likely to go red, but where moderate Democrats like Martin O'Malley remain very competitive. But the absence of those areas would make a much harder challenge for leftists like Mikulski, Sarbanes and Mfume to get elected to statewide national office.

Sending Pipkin to the Senate would send a message that Gov. Bob Ehrlich really has made Maryland a more competitive place for Republicans. Sending Mfume would signify that the broad conservative base of 21 counties in Maryland continues to be held hostage to three localities.

But the bigger fear is that we know that Sarbanes added nothing particularly horrific to the Senate. He was a relative unknown who did very little, which means that in a state like Maryland, conservatives had little to fear from his occupation of that seat. Mfume would not be so silent, but would be a powerful voice for the left and for the left-wing politics of race. So I pray that we don't get to find out what kind of senator Mfume makes. Because the devil you know is generally better than the one you don't, and I'd hate to imagine that we will be yearning for the days of Sarbanes.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Most Important Things

Politics is nothing, what God does is everything...my brother-in-law, Frank and his lovely fiancee Jennifer announced their intentions in front of a bunch of very nicely dressed people in uncomfortable clothing on Saturday. It was the culmination of several years of public and private displays of Godly love, respect, holiness and patience with one another, as God worked in them both. They did it God's way, and I pray that their marriage will continue to be as blessed as their courtship and engagement was.

And the reception was, of course, a blast. But what else do you expect from two absolutely marvelous families!

And despite what Jennifer saw in those of us who form Frank's family, she still agreed to go through with it. Love is indeed blind!

Welcome (officially) to the family Jenn!

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Trailer

If you got to see the Episode Three Trailer last night, you'll know that we are likely in for one heck of a movie. A few things are pretty easily discerned. Anakin no longer looks goofy. He looks scary. The trailer shows him attacking someone with a red lightsaber, most certain to be his rematch with Count Dooku who amputated his right arm in their last meeting. It also shows the Jedi council catching up to Darth Sidious/Palpatine/The Emperor, and a wicked showdown. And of course, the inevitable emotional and intense lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

The thing that has harmed the previous two prequels has been Lucas' predilection for development of unnecessary characters and conflicts (Jar-Jar Binks, the love relationship between Padme and Anakin, and I would go so far as to say the entire Jango/Boba Fett thing). He has spared us a real ramping up of Anakin's skills and ego and Palpatine's force/political intrigue, which is the entire purpose of the prequels.

I'm getting my hopes up, which Liberty Friend Jonathan Last would tell me not to do, but I just can't help myself. The only thing to remember...the good guys don't win this one! **Insert Imperial March music here**

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Kind of Fatwa

This is what he needed to hear in 2001 after 9/11. Spanish Muslims uniting against Whabism and Islamism. It could very well be the start of a very powerful movement to reject the violent reputation that that religion has earned by its most obnoxious members. But then again, we've been hopeful before.

Nonetheless, this is very encouraging.

Rather Pitiful

So ends 24 years of broadcast worthlessness. Dan Rather took CBS from #1 to behind Comedy Central's fake news with Jon Stewart. Quite an accomplishment. But I ran into several articles today on the topic. This courtesy of RCP, which argues that Rather is nothing more than an egomaniac on a trip, this one filled with quotes from a career full of blatantly biased reporting (courtesy of Powerline).

Dan Rather, more than anything, was a man not suited to his job. Between the odd metaphors and subreferences that, while appropriate coming from Dennis Miller, were out of place coming from a network news anchor, to the truly weird displays where he walked off the set leaving 6 minutes of dead air because a tennis match preempted a few minutes of his broadcast, his bizarre refusal to take Cipro after his office was attacked by letter-borne anthrax in an odd heroic display, and articles in the Wall Street Journal before the Iraq war, lauding what he felt to be the majesty of Saddam Hussein after meeting the man later found in a spider hole, this was a character, not a reporter.

Rather was not just a biased reporter who let his leanings affect his reporting, but rather one who let it drive the entire story. He never really came across as one who could be trusted to give the facts. Instead, he came across as a myopic and egotistical figure, lacking any significant measure of introspection.

His final stand was probably the most accurate allegory for his career. He was fed a story about a president whom he disliked, and despite serious issues with the authenticity of the documents on which the story was based, Rather aired it because he so badly wanted to believe the tale the documents told. When the documents were exposed a day later as frauds, instead of admitting an error, he instead became a blustery and stubborn self-defender who aired several cover stories to protect the original story he so badly wanted to be true. He laid the truth and the facts aside in favor of politics, then questioned the motives of those who were presenting the facts which could not be ignored. Rather than being a journalist devoted to truth, he tried to fabricate a reality to fit his convoluted political world view. And in the end, despite being discredited, and ignoring the elephant in the living room, he behaved as if nothing was wrong, still defending to the end, a proven-false story. And as the cruelest cuts of all, Rather's own colleagues, Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite indicated that they didn't bother to ever watch his newscast.

This was the most wrong person for the anchor chair. He lived in a strange fantasy world. While many said he was a nice guy, it seems to me that he was a crank. He never took fact seriously when it disagreed with his insular world view, and he lashed out at those who disagreed with him. Good night Dan, and "courage". Because if I were you, I would not be showing my face at CBS headquarters any longer. They stopped taking you seriously a while ago.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

How Much Could Saddam Have Paid Him???

One of my least favorite people, Scott Ritter, decided to open his mouth regarding the Iraqi elections. Per Ritter, the elections were fixed and the Bush Administration plans to attack Iran in June of 2005. So continues the anti-Bush/anti-U.S. screeching of this once anti-Iraq hawk.

Remember that Ritter was a U.N. weapons inspector who once believed that Saddam had WMD and resigned claiming that Bill Clinton was too easy on Saddam. But then, just as soon as he resigned, he mysteriously switched gears. His new tune was that there existed no WMD in Iraq, and that any action against that nation was wrong. The reasons for the flip flop are discussed here, but center around an allegation that Ritter was on the take from Saddam.

As for his other predictions, he claimed in March of 2003 that we would be defeated in Iraq.

But he's moved on to better things. He's now a writer for Al Jazeera.

And I thought Darth Vader was an excellent example of what happens when you switch to the dark side.

Secrets of the Bekaa Valley

It has been rumored since just after the Iraq invasion in 2003 that the Bekaa Valley likely housed Saddam's WMD. The weapons were very likely provided to Bashar Assad, Saddam's willing ally, who moved them into his country and then into Lebanon for safekeeping.

The news now is that Assad will first pull his forces back to the Bekaa Valley and then back to Syria. I wouldn't want to leave my smoking gun there for the world to find either. Of course, Assad claims that he is simply keeping to a treaty which provided for a stop in the Bekaa Valley before returning home. But that treaty is dead because Assad's father, Hafez al Assad, was supposed to do that in 1992.

It remains to be seen what resides in that valley, but I'm thinking that what we began in 2003 is not yet resolved.

The Wrong Cheerleaders

After we saw the Lebanese peacefully oppose the Syrian occupation of their nation last week, now we see a pro-Syrian rally pulled off by none other than Hezbollah, the "Party of God". For those who don't know, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. More to the point, they are a terrorist organization that receives money and weapons from Syria. Which makes their support of Syria's occupation of Lebanon quite understandable.

Of course, they were waiving the Lebanese flag with the cedar tree on it (as it would probably convey the wrong message to waive a Syrian flag), but the gigantic terrorist-led demonstration has another twist. Many of its members were people coerced into being present and bussed in from Syria. Nothing like people celebrating their lives being under a dictator's thumb.

But I just can't get past the Hezbollah thing. Nobody who wants to establish legitimacy wants David Duke or Ward Churchill being the face of their cause. But when the Saudis of all people rebuff Bashar Assad, it's clear that his list of allies in the region is pretty short. Or it could be that Assad is so blitheringly insulated that he doesn't see a problem with bloody hands applauding his regime.

Either way, the PR effort was less than successful.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Second Legislature

When our Founders set the framework for our government, they established three branches, each with the ability to check an overreach of the others. The idea was that centralized power was an inherently bad thing, because it left too much power in the hands of too few people. So to combat that, they drafted a government nt of divided, enumerated, and limited powers, where the legislature writes the laws by which we will be governed, the executive approves and carries them out, and the judiciary decides controversies based upon them and if necessary, strikes them if they are incongruent with the terms of the Constitution. And lastly, the powers not enumerated remain in the hands of the states/localities and the people, not to be swooped up by the Federal government as it likes, but only by the passage of a Constitutional amendment.

I provide that mini-primer on civics because we have to a very significant degree lost the concept of how our laws are made and how we allow ourselves to be governed. And it seems that the social contract has been violated by judges who ignore the law and rewrite it.

I alluded to the arrival of this piece here when I discussed the value of judicial appointments. At this point in our history there are few other things that are more important than the judges who sit on our Federal and state courts. And that's actually a sign of an unfortunate development. Because the rulings of judges should almost always be boringly predictable upon a plain reading of plainly-worded law. And as I write, the U.S. Supreme Court was kind enough to provide fodder for this post by the Roper v. Simmons decision. Thanks to Justice Anthony Kennedy for the reach.

In the Roper decision, Justice Kennedy, citing a so-called "national consensus", "standards of decency" and relying on extralegal, non-binding, and non-persuasive sources, such as socio-political studies, psychological research, unratified treaties and the practices of other nations, he and four other unelected and unaccountable justices supplanted their judgment for that of 20 state legislatures made up of people who are frequently subject to election and removal. There is nothing wrong with the simple act of considering those materials and reaching the academic conclusions that the Justices did. But there is every problem in the world with the Justices applying such research to the law. Because that's why the legislatures conduct hearings on the impact and efficacy of the laws they pass.

The courts do not exist to put new law on the books, but rather simply to balance them. Put another way, the courts exist to make sure that the laws agree with the Constitutions of the various states and of the United States, and to strike the ones that don't. They do not exist to rewrite them or insert new meaning into them that is not plainly discernible from the text to fit the particular judge's political concept of the way the law "ought" to be. But judicial activism has become the practice, rather than the hallmark of sloppiness and disrespect that it is.

Judicial activism takes its most common form through the treatment of law as one treats literature in a college classroom, where judges put whatever fanciful political meaning they desire into existing law, rather than taking a plain meaning from its terms. The best example are the decisions that come from the "penumbral" (meaning "shadow surrounding") cases which have broadened the terms of the Constitution to the point that the words themselves have become largely meaningless. Roe v. Wade is a perfect example of a decision where "penumbral rights" were held to emerge from the provisions of the Constitution.

Roe held that there was an inherent right to privacy that could be interpreted from the terms of the Constitution, and that those rights in some way included the right to abort a pregnancy. Ignoring the moral and emotional debate that surrounds abortion, Roe was a very big reach. The terms of the Constitution say nothing about privacy, let alone reproduction or the rights attendant with it. It is not even implied. But the Justices, wanting to bow to what they felt was an emerging trend in society at the height of the sexual revolution, made law from loose philosophy about law.

And while the spurious reasoning of Roe had at least some loose ties to the text of the Constitution, the aforementioned Roper does not. Roper held that the death penalty for murderers who committed their crimes while under the age of 18 was unconstitutional because of a consensus that the Justices claimed had developed. Avoiding any discussion of the actual text of the Constitution itself in their reasoning, the Justices reached their decision. There is nothing per se constitutional or otherwise about consenses or a developing political trend, Nor about penumbras, or what the law might be interpreted to mean by individual justices. It only becomes "Constitutional" when the states ratify a new amendment to the Constitution. In the most boring of senses, the Constitution "is what it is", and only becomes something different if amended.

The implications of the Roper decision are breathtaking, because this means that Justice Kennedy and his four brethren who joined him do not believe that the actual terms of the Constitution need to be considered when determining what exactly is "Constitutional". Instead, this opinion means that the term "Constitutional" is defined by which way the wind is blowing.

But that is why we have Federal and state legislatures. Legislators hear citizen concerns and write bills that are debated, tweaked, researched and ultimately voted on by the legislative body and approved or vetoed by the executive. If there is a consensus, the legislators will deal with it. And if they get it wrong or have a tin ear, they'll have to answer to the voters. This is why our founders battled over the mechanics of government in the first place. They hated the tyranny of the English Crown and wanted to spread out power so that one person or group of people did not have the ability to hijack the government. But when courts take on the job of the legislature, by restating or writing entirely new laws because of changes they perceive in society, a hijacking is just what you get. A look at Roper and Roe should tell anyone why such loose interpretations are dangerous. Because anyone can pull any meaning out of any statute if they want to and make it law, and the public has no say in the way a judge "interprets" the law.

Judges who for the most part have life terms, enjoy such tenure by design. It was the intent of the framers that they would be isolated from the swinging pendulum of public opinion, thereby making decisions on the law that, while possibly boring and unpopular, were congruent with the law. If the people disliked the law upon which such decisions were based, they had legislators to whom they could turn. But that isolation has actually turned many courts into unelectable and unaccountable legislatures. And most of them tend to bend towards the left.

With that backdrop, enter the current controversy over activist and strict constructionist judges. Republicans, including President Bush prefer to appoint judges to the Federal courts who are strict constructionists, meaning individuals who interpret the law within the language of the statute. And the Democrats, especially those in the Senate have taken that term to mean "judges who will legislate conservative policies from the bench", because these liberals believe that it is the job of judges to be political activists--in essence, a co-equal legislature. So much is that their belief that in an unintentionally revealing moment, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) declared an appointee's political views to be fair game when considering their appointment to the Federal bench. Unwittingly, of course, Senator Schumer admitted that he believes that it is the province of judges to supersede the work of the legislators if the law does not agree with the individual judge's concept of what it ought to be. He and others on the left want to make sure that the judges making those calls are liberals.

But that's just the problem. Conservatives who tend to be strict constructionists almost always refuse to apply novel meanings to laws, but insist that the laws should stand by themselves. Some on the left consider it "punishing" the legislature for not writing decent laws. But the laws exist to place people on notice of prescribed or proscribed behavior, and the legislature is in complete control of how such things are worded. Loopholes and poor drafting do happen, but the legislature can and regularly does amend its work as well. It is not for the court to stretch or contract laws beyond their clear terms unless they violate the clear meaning of the Constitution, because to do anything different would be to make our justice system from one objective fairness to one of a judge's selective whim.

The making of laws is a political art unto itself. Certainly there are crackpot bills offered in both the Federal and state legislatures, but they never really see the light of day. They either die in committee, or if they improvidently make their way to a full floor vote, are killed there. Because it requires a consensus for bills to pass, and reconciliation of the differences between the bills of both houses (except Nebraska which as but one legislative chamber), unpopular legislation often never passes. And legislators, whom we expect to legislate their political leanings, are held responsible at regular intervals for the bills to which they affix their name or their vote.

Essentially, newspapers have no place in a judge's chambers. If there are trends changing in society and the people favor a particular shift in the law, it is time for the legislature to write it. It is not the job of the court to beat them to it.

Because there is a very fine line between the power which a judge holds and tyranny. The difference is how the individual judge wields that power. And such a subjective standard is intolerably dangerous to our form of government. And it is time that we as a society place open and obvious limits on the power of courts to make decisions in the stead of our elected representatives.

Being governed by the unelected is a frightening thing. And when laws stand and fall based upon whether individual judges like them on a political basis, our freedoms are being eroded.