Thursday, March 31, 2005

How Dare Christians Be Involved In Politics?

May Michael learn what the "full weight of conscience" means. And may he be graced with repentance and forgiveness. Sometimes you only see things clearly after you get what you thought you wanted. It'll be that much tougher to think straight with a $10 million dollar book deal and all (come on, you know that's got to be coming), but, hey.

I take it that Krugman and many of the usual suspects are aghast and appalled that with this case, the country is sliding down the slippery slope. To theocracy that is.

Back in January I attended the West Coast Walk For Life. I had an extensive running blog post about it. Oh, the anti-Christian hatred we saw on that march! One of the interesting things that happened was a debate I had in my blog comments. I looked it over again, and it seems to bear on this current question of Christians daring to stick their theocratic noses into politics. So I excerpt it below:


I honestly don't understand the pro-life point of view. I was raised Fundamentalist Baptist Christian and as soon as I was old enough, fled. It's all about oppression, in my opinion. Everyone is "pro-life", otherwise we all would have committed suicide a long time ago. I would really like to know, in your heart, why you identified with the others who took part? I identify with the left because of it's emphasis on freedom (of course absolute freedom is not a good thing), and thinking sanely about matters to curtail that freedom, as opposed to putting "faith" in some ethereal being. It feels great to let go into a higher being and not be responsible for your actions, but is that the right way to be? No one WANTS to have an abortion, circumstances put them there, but the option MUST be offered, or we are living in a fascist country. Walk for Adoption, Walk for Condoms, but Walk for Life makes no sense to me.


Thanks for being so gracious with your post. You've asked an honest question, and honestly and kindly stated your position. As you may have noticed in my profile text at the top of the page, I am not unfamiliar with the left, so I do understand what attracts you to it. 10 years ago, before I became Catholic, I held a strong pro-choice position.

The conversion to the Catholic faith came first, the turning to the pro-life position was a result of that.

My embracing of Catholicism is not based on an ethereal and vague "faith", in other words, something mysterious that you either feel or don't. It is the opinion of this Electrical Engineer and Software Engineer (and former technical manager, as well as author of 5 technology patents; I state all this not to boast, but simply to indicate that I'm not some sort of simpleton driven by illogic), that the Catholic faith rests on a sound and demonstrable logical, factual, and historical basis. More demonstrable than scientific atheism, more demonstrable than an "everyone is his own God" New Age pantheism, more demonstrable than Buddhism, more demonstrable than hedonistic leftism, and more demonstrable than Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity. Mathematically demonstrable? No. Court-of-law demonstrable? Yes. Is it possible that I am wrong? Maybe. But with less probability than for the other world views I listed.

Of course, I can't lay out the case in a simple blog comment. There are many excellent books out there that make the case. It's somewhat rare that someone who hates the whole idea of the Christian God or the Catholic Church would bother to read them. It takes a strenuous act of open-mindedness, and it's not a particularly comfortable process. It wasn't for me. The truth can hurt at first. Are you certain that you have heard the best arguments in favor of what you are rejecting? Have you really listened to the case for the Defense, and not just the case for the Prosecution? Really? Honestly?

It is part of my belief (for which there are solid reasons) that the Catholic Church has been empowered by The Almighty with the ability to teach infallibly on faith and morals. When I came to see this, without knowing much about the specific anti-abortion arguments, I switched my position. Then I was willing to read the arguments against abortion (and somewhat more specifically, the refutation of every pro-abortion argument out there). And these arguments are not based on "because the Church says so".

Are you open minded enough to read "Politically Correct Death by Francis Beckwith and "Pro Life Answers to Pro Choice Arguments" by Randy Alcorn? There's nothing vague or sentimental about any of what they say. Just sharp, shiny-as-surgical-steel, logical arguments.

Leftism is supposed to be about protecting the weak and the defenseless, and those who are "different", against the strong who would abuse them for reasons of convenience, vanity, or what have you. Slaughtering the unborn who "get in the way" is an egregious violation of this principle. I'd argue that modern leftism is merely a hollow shell because it has embraced this contradiction, and that a great deal of activist fury (Save the Whales, Save the Trees, No Fur, PETA, Save Mother Earth, Don't Eat Meat, Bush is Hitler, No WAR!, etc, etc) is a desperate attempt to compensate for the total abandonment of this principle where it counts the most.

If you think that believing in God somehow lets you take less responsibility for things, then I don't think you understand faith at all. I didn't know what responsibility WAS until I became Catholic. The Civil Rights movement in this country in the 50's and 60's was not driven by atheists and hedonists, was it? Wasn't MLK a Christian?

You say that no one WANTS to have an abortion. Why not? Is there something wrong with it? If abortion is murder, then I can't see that the option MUST be offered and that it is a component of freedom. Are we living in a fascist country because a mother MUST NOT kill her inconvenient toddler? Is this a missing freedom?

Do you have a convincing proof that abortion isn't murder? Do you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it isn't? That's the central issue. Everything else ("You guys don't care about anybody after they're born!" (like most of you would know; I mean don't you avoid churches and religious people like the plague? How would you _know_ what we do?) "It's my body!" (Yeah, and your baby's is your baby's) "You have no right to force your religious views on me!" (like the person saying this and pushing for laws that favor HIS point of view doesn't have some major rock-bottom assumptions about the nature of God, Man, the universe, moral repsonsibility; hence a religious viewpoint)), everything else is a red herring.

PROVE to me that abortion is not murder and I'll be a pro-choicer. I don't have to PROVE that it is (although a probable case from many converging directions can be made). If it merely might be, then prudence and responsibility says we shouldn't allow it. You wouldn't do target practice at a barn door using a high-powered rifle if you weren't DARNED sure that kids weren't playing in there, would you?

I have a motto, that, while in the form of a jest is actually quite serious:

"I am personally in favor of abortion, but I would never dream of imposing MY values on unborn babies".

Chadster, I thank you for asking the question and I hope this makes things a little clearer...


Wow- thanks for the reasoned discourse. I don't know what I expected when I commented on your post, but your time spent in replying is appreciated. :)
I don't know however, if there is a middle ground for this issue. Murder is bad, we all know that. In my mind, that's not the basis for this argument. The basis is whether it should be legal or not. Should we base our state laws on faith? Faith being the arbitrary decision that the definition of murder begins at conception. Abortion is never entered lightly, it's a tough decision for all involved, and brings forth obviously extreme emotional elements. But who is to say whether the life of a child brought forth by a 14 year old girl in the trailer park will be of much less quality than the life of that same child if the girl had an abortion, went to college, bought a nice house, could afford groceries and then had the child. The word "convenience" in this case is taking lightly the situation of human well-being. It's not convenience when you cannot afford to feed your child. According to the Bible, we are the stewards of the earth. We have the intelligence and freedom to take things and make them better (or worse as the case may be). We can make choices, and be held accountable for those choices by the circumstances that arise from them.
Now, playing devil's advocate, one could say that the child brought forth from that 14 year old girl needed to learn certain lessons that being well-off would have precluded- that God wanted that child to be born, that we cannot understand God's ways. Again, should that be something that the state decides for us?
A woman does not get an abortion just because she can, it's because it seems to be the best option at the time. "So let's offer other alternatives." Great, but I really wish there was as much energy, or any energy, on the conservative side, for expanded sex education, and condom distribution in schools.


Chadster, thanks for the second response.

Aren't all laws based on faith? As I said before, no one has a "neutral view" when it comes to their idea of the rock-bottom nature of reality, the nature of God, what a human being is, what morality calls for, etc. To say that we shouldn't legislate on faith is really only to say, "your faith is wrong, mine is right".

I don't know if you expressed yourself the way you meant to, or if there is something revealing in this, or whether it's just metaphysical confusion, but you said, "But who is to say whether the life of a child brought forth by a 14 year old girl in the trailer park will be of much less quality than the life of that same child if the girl had an abortion, went to college, bought a nice house, could afford groceries and then had the child." You know, the child she had later is not the same child she aborted, so there is no better life in store for it. It's dead. Right?

You speak about convenience and affordability. Now, unless you are willing to say that abortions should only happen if the mother is poor, then why bring it up? Most abortions are undergone by women who are far, far, from destitute. Are you saying that the children of poor women have less rights than those of rich? Or that the rights of rich and poor women should be different? If you instead are saying that there should be no restrictions whatsoever, then what does poor or rich have to do with the basic right?

As far as expanded sex education and condom distribution, I don't see how it helps. The frequency of abortion, out of wedlock births, and pregnancies of 14 year old girls have all gone up with the explosion of sex education since the 60's. Speaking for myself, I know that exposure to sex ed as a kid in the 70's definitely made me want to go out and have sex. There was no abstinence message whatsoever in the sex ed I got. The leftists who are so enamored of pushing sex-ed HATE the abstinence message. You know, that's the message of the joy-hating FASCISTS. So it's not like sex ed as practiced today is free of "religious faith", it just happens to be the religious faith of the leftists, whose anthropology of Man says that we are little different than animals (Peter Singer), we've got urges we can't control, "they're going to do it anyway", and that it is mentally unhealthy not to be gettin' it on.

So is there a middle ground on this issue? Probably not. What compromises has the Democratic Party and the liberal judiciary been willing to make? None. Partial Birth Abortion Ban? Struck down. Parental Notification? Struck down. Limiting abortion to the first trimester? Nope. It is legal up to the point of full term as long as the head is still in there ("My body"). Letting the Legislative Branch be the one to make the, you know, laws concerning abortion? No. The liberal Judiciary shall write these laws.

It's reached the point where Democratic Senators have effectively said, "no serious Catholic can serve on the federal bench", despite the ban on religious tests for office clearly stated in the Constitution.

If anybody needs to be doing the compromising here, it's not my side.

Now, would I want abortion to be banned as an imposition from a minority, by way of the courts? No.
32 years ago, Roe v Wade did just that. If the last 32 years have taught anything it is that nothing but discord and bitterness will result from such methods. If abortion is so important and necessary to so many people, then surely it would not harm anything to put the question back into the state legislatures where it belongs? BTW, this could include a Constitutional Amendment banning abortion. That's got to get past the state legislatures also, so it's not more unfair in any way.

The Democratic Party has been suffering greatly at the ballot box for many reasons, one of which is certainly their rigid adherence to no-holds-barred abortion "rights". You are basically asking, "Who are you to impose your moral views on other people?" The answer to that is simple. I am a voter in a democracy. I am *supposed* to be the arbiter of such moral questions. I am a member of The People (In Greek: The Demos). Democracy is instituted for the very purpose of upholding the Good. That's why we have it, instead of Monarchy. The whole point is that you are far more likely to find morality and wisdom amidst the mass of common men, than you are in some royal family or oligarchy or hereditary aristocracy, or chamber of Nine Robed Masters. So, in that sense, it is my very DUTY to do what I can to impose my morality on others. As it is yours. But let's not fool ourselves that there is somebody out there who is morally neutral.

Now as far as other options for the destitute 14 year old girl, are you aware that NARAL, Planned Parenthood, etc, are doing everything they can to prevent women from knowing what these other options are? Want to pass out information at an abortion clinic? RICO laws will let them bankrupt you. Want to pass a law instituting a waiting period or requiring abortionists to provide information about fetal development, an opportunity to have an ultrasound done, and information about alternatives? In other words a simple, informed CHOICE? Uproar! FASCISTS!

If the 14 year old in the trailer park were allowed by the pro-abortion absolutists to be told what her options and sources of help were, maybe she'd see something like this [followed by a very long list of organizations that want to support women with crisis pregnancies]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Yes, another Schiavo post. But the issues are the issues, and the news is the news, and that's what this blog is about. When I saw last night that the 11th Circuit (for whatever reason) was going to, you know, at some point, maybe get around to hearing arguments about whether or not to consider the future option of allowing the possibility of legalizing the potential reinsertion of the tube, I have to be honest. The gorge started to rise in my throat. Why'd they change their mind? Was it seeing some far left icons like Jackson, Nader, and Hentoff going against them? Was it because they've finally started to realize that in addition to Terri, they are euthanizing the legitimacy and prestige of the Judiciary? Was it because they are starting to see that this case is an unmitigated disaster for the left?

So now they make some noises about doing the right thing almost two weeks into the execution. After they've probably immensely added to the damage to this poor woman. After they've turned her into beef jerky.

This is equivalent to commuting a death sentence *after* the smoke and sizzle has already started in the electric chair.

Robed Masters, if you are going to save this woman, do it now, and quit dithering around. This has become a revolting, inhuman farce. If you have no intention of saving her, then quit trying to cover your own asses and have the courage of your convictions.

A situation of perhaps honest confusion is starting to become downright Satanic.

I'm a pretty level-headed guy, but I'm starting to feel the urge to puke.

Here's a good column that looks at how this all relates to the parable of The Good Samaritan.

Update: This NRO article takes an in-depth look at how the 1990 Cruzan case, even though it decided against "pulling the tube", put us right where we are today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chilling Possibilities

If instead of focusing on the fact that the lady was put to death unjustly, people end up focusing on how she was put to death, we may be screwed.

America watches Terri Schiavo die over a prolonged period from dehydration/starvation.

More attention is paid by everyone to things like living wills and other legal instruments. More commonly, husbands and wives will be explicit with each other about detailed situations.

Many stop and ask, why did Terri have to die of dehydration? Why couldn't she have been well-cared for to the end and finally delivered via an overdose of morphine or some other quick, painless finisher?

The euthanasia movement gains significant momentum.

Assisted suicide is legalized in a significant portion of the states or the Supreme Court federalizes the issue as it has abortion. Justice Kennedy's "sweet mystery of life" reasoning extends private discretion to decisions about the life and death of dependent, helpless persons.

America attains the moral status of, say, the Netherlands.


Much of leftism seems to me to be a gigantic compensation reaction. Which leads me to assert these aphorisms:

Tree hugging does not atone for baby killing.

Loving animals does not atone for hating people.

Punitive taxation and income redistribution does not atone for a lack of personal charity.

Loving mankind in general does not absolve from the requirement to love people in particular.

Saying "I would not want to live that way" does not absolve from the duty to care for those who do live that way.

Keeping quiet about vice does not give license to indulge in vice.

Pacifism does not atone for cowardice.

Being a religiously neutral secularist does not mean you haven't chosen which master you will serve.


After six hours, Blogger has seen fit to actually allow me to post. So to minimize my grief, I'm going to collect a few items here.

First, Barbara Nicolosi has a great post examining some common shibboleths about death.

Death with dignity for believers means one thing - being in the state of grace. If you aren't in a state of grace, then, having a painless, calm slipping away is the ultimate cruel joke, because it masks the fact that the demons are casting lots for you on the other side.


And nevermind the Christian ethical worldview. How about the historical argument? The fact is, in the long history of humanity, no group that EVER defined down another group of humans so as to kill/control them, has been judged to have been right. Not once. Women, blacks, Jews, the mentally ill, Gypsies, Indians, homosexuals, Aboriginees...who else do you have? In every case, the people who defined another group of people as "not people...or at least not like us" have been judged to have been greivously wrong, and even evil. Why, oh why, do we keep doing this?!


"Right to Die" - Is anybody else completely sick to death of the whole shifty-eyed, ever-expanding, trump all, litany of rights stuff?! There's a reason the forefathers only put ten rights in the Constitution. The emphasis is not on what is owed to you, but what you achieve through your labor and honor.

But really, the "right to DIE"? Sure, and tomorrow we can secure your rights to have zits, to get your car repossessed and to get fired from your job just before you're eligible for a pension. Dying isn't something to be fought for! (Quick, some judge somewhere is about to rule that the Right to Die ipso facto includes the implied rights to have your bodily fluids drip through your eyeballs and to have maggots bury their larvae in your flesh. Chant with me, "Drop Dead, Good-bye, Don't You Touch Our Right to Die!")


A big grief to me over the Schiavo case is how many Christians are assenting to the "I wouldn't want to live like that" thing. If one more Christian tells me they are making a Living Will! See, we aren't the people who decide when we are ready to check out. We just die when we die because we believe that God is Sovereign, the Lord of our Lives. (Besides the fact that I knew a healthy 68 year old woman who died because she had a Living Will and when she got pneumonia, the doctors couldn't treat her by putting her on a respirator to save her life.) We have to stop talking like the pagans do who get to make choices about stuff that we don't because of our faith.

Here's the only answer to Christians who are going around mumbling the above: "Suck it up, Louise!" It's "Church Militant" - not "Church Effete."

Next we have this excellent wrap-up of how the MSM has once again failed in its primary obligation not to bear false witness.

Finally, Nat Hentoff, leftist and atheist, has much to say about the Schiavo outrage.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Hell, Yeah

The American Spectator has a column about Hell. Nothing earth-shaking, but I really liked this bit:
MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, the Reverend William Aitken, who was the Presbyterian Minister of Newcastle, New Brunswick, from about 1860 to 1900, often preached sermons on the terrors of hell. One Sunday morning he was warming to his familiar theme, advising his congregation that in hell there would be "wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Sitting in the front pew was an infirm but rebellious old lady who could stand it no longer. So through her toothless gums she muttered in the direction of the pulpit: "Not for me. I haven't got any teeth."

"Madam, in hell teeth will be provided," retorted the Minister.

Well. I Guess That Puts Me In My Place.

Jeff Jarvis has a column in which he tries to make the case that the "loony religious right" has 'Jumped The Shark' with the American people in the Schiavo case.

Interestingly, his piece ends with this little gem of a paragraph:
Mind you, I am writing this after leaving my church on Saturday setting up the lillies and pansies for the dawn of Easter sunday. And I am posting this on Easter morning as millions of Americans go to church -- huge numbers of them who may not be devout in media terms and, in fact, go only once or twice a year. These are the reasonably religious, not the zealots, not the theocrats, just Americans.

I am at a loss for words.

Update: You can freshen the air again by reading this excellent Mark Shea piece.

The Glories of 'Single Payer'

Jeff Jacoby's has a column which compares the 'free health care' that other countries 'provide' with what we're getting in the United States. The column has lots of stats, and a is a good reference for argument.

This Circus, Summarized

For the sake of charity, I refrain from assigning moral blame on any of the participants in the Schiavo case, but I do not refrain from applying moral analysis to the situation. It seems probable to me that this case is something of a "tip of the iceberg" thing. More likely than not, disabled people are unjustly deprived of life more often than we would like to think (if everyone capable of speaking up in a particular case agrees on the decision, then it simply does not become a publicly visible issue, and no one is the wiser). However, sometimes Providence sees fit to shine a very bright spotlight on "standard operating procedure".

I do not see how it can be denied that (speaking about rights themselves and not any particular ruling, legal brief, statute, etc) Terri Schiavo, under the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution, is afforded the same due process rights that a confessed and convicted serial killer would have. These rights include the right to a very high standard of evidence before an execution can be carried out, the right to appeal at the federal level, the right to a stay of execution at the order of the executive, and the right not to undergo cruel and unusual punishment. Terri Schiavo is being detained and executed by the state. The method of her execution is equivalent to the ancient Roman practice of being entombed alive. This is a punishment that is not, and never has been, a part of U.S. law.

Congress, under its Constitutional authority to determine the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, passed an emergency law which called for a reopening of the case and a fresh examination of all available evidence. Now, the federal judiciary, which has shown itself in its exquisite sensitivity to be capable of finding legally binding "penumbras and emanations" on the back of a box of imported cereal, went into "jot and tittle" mode and just couldn't discern any substantive intent behind the emergency law.

After Schiavo is dead, our activist Judicial Lords will simply claim, "nobody said the magic words!"

Our federal legislators and the Chief Executive are sworn to uphold, defend, and protect the Constitution. The Judicial Branch, for whatever reason (who knows, maybe there are some good Levitical or Deuteronomical, or Numeric reasons why the Judiciary was bound by the "letter of the law" and thereby not able to carry out the "spirit of the law"; really, maybe there were some very good legal reasons why they simply could not act), was unable to uphold fundamental Constitutional rights in this case. Due to the (perhaps inevitable, perhaps logically required) failure of the third branch, the first two had a duty to act. The litigation which would have followed would have served to clarify the Constitutional issues involved, and set the precedents required to get these rights handled properly by the judiciary. However, the response of the first two branches was, "The Almighty has spoken. Ours is but to tremble and obey."

Surely it will be the case from time to time that the Judiciary (and perhaps for perfectly honest reasons) will paint itelf into a corner, and that the other branches will need to step in and cut the Gordian knot? It's hard to see how the legal system in this fallen world is not going to be subject to the universal law of entropy and not in need of some periodic adjustment from outside. Of course the threshold for doing this should be high. If this threshold hasn't been met now, then when could it ever be?

We acknowledge that the Executive can fail and that there are quick remedies by way of the Legislative or Judiciary. We acknowledge that the Legislative can fail and there are quick remedies by way of the Executive or Judiciary. Are we really to believe that the Judiciary can fail, and that the only available remedy is to say, "Oh well, maybe with a decade or so of Herculean effort, we can get better judges or pass an amendment?" When the Legislative does something blatantly unconstitutional, does the Judiciary say, "Oh well, maybe some day people will vote for better legislators?"

People have argued that Congressional or Presidential action would have precipitated a Constitutional crisis. This is wrong. The crisis is already upon us, and has been precipitated by the Judiciary.

Update: Andrew MCarthy, who, I think, is probably the most clearheaded writer on this whole issue, opines on what needs to be done in the aftermath of this case.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Humor Break

The Therapist is at it again with some excellent spoof news items. He's a master and you'll find these worth your time: this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this. I mean these are excellent.

Here are some of the headlines from the above links (the body text of each item is also very well done):

ABC To Air Pilot, Greer Eye For The Alzheimer's Guy
Judges luxuriate as incoherent patients flounder at rejected appeals

God Overturns Judicial Appeals To Have Messiah Reinserted In Tomb
Brief claims that Savior didn't want to rise again

Media Hoping No Consecrated, Bible-Quoting Teenagers Among Casualties In School Shooting
Federal Judge orders survivors to credit other gods

Police Taser Barometric Condensation Near Hospice
Judge Greer signs restraining order against cumulonimbus clouds

Judge Greer Orders Feeding Tube Inserted Into Lenin's Corpse
Communist leader's persistent rigor mortic state "inconsequential" says judge

Court Warns Schiavo Against Spiking Terri In End Zone

Michael Schiavo Reaches Compromise With 1000 Gallon-A-Minute Feeding Tube
Stipulates for nothing less than "full and unrelenting nourishment"


No legislator should have a lifetime term.

Judges have become legislators.

Ergo, no judge should have a lifetime term.

Paul Jacob discusses the idea of term limits for justices here.

What Is Good?

I do not have the right not to be killed in the womb if I am an inconvenience.

I do not have the right not to be executed by the state if I become incapacitated, and in that incapacitation ugly, frightening, inconvenient, a burden.

Secularists keep telling us it is possible in the aggregate to be moral and good without believing in God.

I'm sorry, but I don't see it.

Orson Scott Card has written a wonderful essay about the principles of the case. He's a great writer who has had many books (science fiction, I believe) published. He's such a good writer that each short paragraph of the piece would be worthy of a quote...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Joe Scarborough

Not being a TV watcher, I've never seen Scarborough in action, but it appears he's doing an amazing job on the Schiavo case. Here are two amazing commentaries from his show, captured as WMV files (via Polipundit).

Best Summary So Far

Here's the best article I've found that gathers the known facts of the Schiavo case. It's very hard to conclude that we're witnessing anything other than the execution of a disabled person. And it's very, very hard to conclude anything but that this execution is taking place according to a standard way below "beyond a reasonable doubt".


Protecting the weak against the will of the strong is a conception of justice.

What the Florida courts have done is a miscarriage of justice.

What the Federal courts have failed to do is an abortion of justice.

Criminals Have More Rights To Due Process Than The Innocent?

Superb article here.

Just one excerpt, out of a longer, and, I think, ironclad argument:
I believe it is unquestionably the law of the United States — today, already, without any need to change the law for Terri's benefit — that due process mandates that no person may be deprived of life by state action unless every factual predicate legally necessary to validate the state action has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.


[T]he Florida court, which claims (however dubiously) to have made its conclusions using a lesser "clear and convincing evidence" standard, cannot and presumably would not contend that the reasonable doubt standard was used in the state proceedings. Where a taking of life by state action is at issue, the Constitution minimally requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Period.


A state court has issued an order that has no other purpose and effect than to kill Terri Schiavo. Without that order, she would be living unthreatened and being sustained today. Because of it, she is being detained, those who would help her are being kept at bay by the police, and she is being slowly killed. Functionally, this situation is no different from the entry of a judgment in a capital case ordering an execution.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments do not distinguish between the lives of capital murderers and the lives of other persons. They don't mention "criminal" and "civil" distinctions. In this context, they command simply that no person shall be deprived of "life...without due process of law." There is no reason in the text of the Constitution to believe that "due process of law" should have a different meaning depending on whether the life to be taken by state action is that of a convicted criminal or that of some other person.

Complementing that textual consideration are the equities involved. Given the absence of any apparent reason for having one set of due process requirements for murderers and another set for everyone else, if society nevertheless decides to have different requirements, why in the world would we think the murderers should get the better process? Such a notion is ridiculous on its face.

It is also unrealistic. Where the Constitution talks about the taking of life by due process of law, it is obviously talking about criminal defendants. At the time of the founding, in the domestic context, the federal and state governments did not kill Americans other than criminal defendants — killing other citizens is a modern development. The people who raise "substantive due process" as if it were a worthy objection have it backwards. It is not we who seek a dramatic change. It is they who push a radical notion: that even though the constitution describes only one "due process of law" for takings of life, and even though the Supreme Court has imposed minimal standards for that due process on the states for eons, somehow, in the last decade or so, there has supposedly grown up, without our notice, a second, laxer due process to be applied to innocent people who haven't killed anyone. Nonsense.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Core Question Of Principle

Do the strong and healthy have the right to decide whether the sick, infirm, pitiful, inconvenient, and unable-to-speak-for-themselves are worthy of living? If not, then can a person in a healthy state really legitimately create a "living will" calling for his own execution should he find himself in such a degraded state? On what grounds? Who is the healthy person to evaluate the desires of the sick person who is in a condition that the healthy person cannot even imagine? In our country, no one has the "right" to sell himself into slavery. Why would there be an effective right to "euthanize oneself as an undesirable life?"

I'm reminded of one of my favorite little Seinfeld stand-up jokes. He just says the line without needing to explain it. The line refers to the common situation in which you can barely get out of bed in the morning because foolish you stayed up way too late the night before (figuring it wouldn't be a big deal trying to get up the next day). The line is: "Night guy screws morning guy!"

If "night guy" can screw over "morning guy", then certainly, "well guy" can screw over "sick guy"!

There's a nice Weekly Standard article that gets into this. The whole article is worth reading.

For some, it is an article of faith that individuals should decide for themselves how to be cared for in such cases. And no doubt one response to the Schiavo case will be a renewed call for living wills and advance directives--as if the tragedy here were that Michael Schiavo did not have written proof of Terri's desires. But the real lesson of the Schiavo case is not that we all need living wills; it is that our dignity does not reside in our will alone, and that it is foolish to believe that the competent person I am now can establish, in advance, how I should be cared for if I become incapacitated and incompetent. The real lesson is that we are not mere creatures of the will: We still possess dignity and rights even when our capacity to make free choices is gone; and we do not possess the right to demand that others treat us as less worthy of care than we really are.

A true adherence to procedural liberalism--respecting a person's clear wishes when they can be discovered, erring on the side of life when they cannot--would have led to a much better outcome in this case. It would have led the court to preserve Terri Schiavo's life and deny Michael Schiavo's request to let her die. But as we have learned, the descent from procedural liberalism's respect for a person's wishes to ideological liberalism's lack of respect for incapacitated persons is relatively swift. Treating autonomy as an absolute makes a person's dignity turn entirely on his or her capacity to act autonomously. It leads to the view that only those with the ability to express their will possess any dignity at all--everyone else is "life unworthy of life."

This is what ideological liberalism now seems to believe--whether in regard to early human embryos, or late-stage dementia patients, or fetuses with Down syndrome. And in the end, the Schiavo case is just one more act in modern liberalism's betrayal of the vulnerable people it once claimed to speak for. Instead of sympathizing with Terri Schiavo--a disabled woman, abandoned by her husband, seen by many as a burden on society--modern liberalism now sympathizes with Michael Schiavo, a healthy man seeking freedom from the burden of his disabled wife and self-fulfillment in the arms of another. And while one would think that divorce was the obvious solution, this was more than Michael Schiavo apparently could bear, since it would require a definitive act of betrayal instead of a supposed demonstration of loyalty to Terri's wishes.


[T]he autonomy regime, even at its best, is deeply inadequate. It is based on a failure to recognize that the human condition involves both giving and needing care, and not always being morally free to decide our own fate.

The article also has this insight:

Perhaps we should not be surprised at the immovable desire of Terri's parents to keep her alive and the willingness of Terri's husband to let her go. Parental love and spousal love take shape in fundamentally different ways. Parents first know their children as helpless beings, totally dependent on their care. Husbands first know their wives as attractive, autonomous beings who both give and receive love, and who enter into marriage as willing partners.

Another Great Letter

In response to this.
The Courts Should Stick to Their Job
Greg Richards - New York

Mr. Henninger ignores several points that have emerged in recent days. Most important among those are: (1) to what extent is Michael Schiavo Terry's "husband," given that he has a common-law wife and children; (2) since his interests are very likely not aligned with Terri's, why should his wishes be paramount; (3) three nurses have now come forward to say that there have been signs of life in Terri; (4) the reason that Terri has not received rehabilitation is that Michael Schiavo denied it to Terri; (5) it appears there is no authoritative medical opinion as to just what Terri's mental condition actually is; (6) she is not on life-support; she has been on a feeding tube; (7) what is the rush to kill this woman given points 1 through 6 above? Those, I suggest are the points at issue.

As to the procedure of the courts. Permit me to comment as a citizen that we have had to accept a series of intellectually outrageous results from the courts since the 1970s. The Supreme Court found a constitutional right to abortion, which nobody had noticed for 200 years. I speak here, as Mr. Henninger does in his article, to the legal reasoning, not to whether abortion itself should be legal or not. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts discovered in the Massachusetts Constitution a right to gay marriage that had escaped every other observer since the Pilgrims first put ashore at Plymouth Rock--that is to say for 380 years. Again, I am not addressing the merits of gay marriage itself, but rather the pretensions and procedures of the courts in discovering such a right. There are many other examples, of which readers of the Journal will are aware.

My point is that the courts have been so promiscuous for so long that they cannot now clothe themselves in Victorian modesty and pretend they are restricted in their ability to consider new evidence in a case of life or death.

Finally, Mr. Henninger takes the philosophical and world-weary attitude that he claims is typical of the legal profession, that the courts are poor discoverers of the truth and that indeed judges go home every night believing that justice was not done in their courts that day. If that is the case, then let's have a bit more of that attitude shouted from the rooftops when we are invited--actually required--to defer to the musings of courts.

Perhaps after the morning prayer in Congress, there should be a "crier" who gets up in front of each body every day and proclaims, "Remember the courts are poor discoverers of the facts and the law, that judges are convinced that injustices occur every day in their courts, and that they stand well below the standard of Solomon in rendering their verdicts." Perhaps with that salubrious reminder, the predicate would be laid--as the lawyers like to say--to withdraw from the courts some the power they have arrogated to themselves. Let's remind judges what it is that we have hired them to do, and more importantly, what we have not hired them to do.

This Guy Must Be A Lawyer

Good letter to Opinion Journal:
Ample Precedent for Federal Intervention
Michael J. Kelly - Philadelphia

The claim by some conservative commentators and scholars that it was wrong for Congress to grant jurisdiction to the federal courts to review the Schiavo case is bogus. The fact that some "conservatives" make an argument does not automatically make it an argument in accordance with conservative principles.

The fact is, the state court order barring feeding and hydration of Terri Schiavo--a disabled person who was not dying--was a death sentence. Terri Schiavo has a federal constitutional right not to be deprived of life without due process of law. In 1789 Congress passed the All Writs Act, which granted federal courts the power to issue any and all writs commonly recognized in English common law. The right of persons convicted in state courts to petition for federal court review of their state court convictions (and especially death sentences) pursuant to two of those common law based writs--habeas corpus and coram nobis--is well established and provide precedent for congressional intervention in the Schiavo case. The only substantive dispute over the years has been the scope of review and the number of times review may be sought.

In the Schiavo case, the state court's handling of the case as been atrocious in terms of weakly supported findings of fact and refusal to consider proffers of evidence via affidavits which contradict the court's fact-findings and which suggest, if truthful, fraud and even assault on the part of Michael Schiavo. Moreover, Terri Schiavo was never afforded a lawyer to advance her interests, and the lawyer retained by her parents in the early years of litigation was greatly outmatched by the "right to die" specialist retained by Michael Schiavo. The only solution--short of relinquishment of Terri's care by her disaffected husband to her parents--would have been for Jeb Bush, years ago--when "Terri's law" was winding its way through the Florida court system--to have ordered the state agency charged with protecting the elderly and disabled from abuse to take Terri into protective custody. It is too late for that now.

In sum, this case is the equivalent of the kind of case the federal courts have dealt with on occasion over the years--a death penalty prosecution in a state court featuring an overly aggressive prosecutor, conniving state courts and ineffective defense counsel. But unlike some of those cases, the facts will never be fully discovered and disclosed in a full-fledged evidentiary hearing in federal court.

Sowell Says It So Well

In this pair of columns.

Here are some highlights:
People who say that the government has no business interfering in a private decision like removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube somehow have no problem with a squad of policemen preventing her parents (or anyone else) from giving their daughter food or water.

Do those who want to keep the government out of private decisions think that the police are not the government? Do they think that the judges who authorized this are not the government?


Terri Schiavo is being killed because she is inconvenient to her husband and because she is inconvenient to those who do not want the idea of the sanctity of life to be strengthened and become an impediment to abortion. Nor do they want the supremacy of judges to be challenged, when judges are the liberals' last refuge.


Liberals can count all the judges they want, but that does not mean that all these judges agreed with the merits of the original court's decision. It means that they found no basis for saying that the original court's decision was illegal.


These federal judges could have ordered the feeding tube restored while they gave this issue the thorough examination authorized -- and indeed prescribed -- by the recent Congressional legislation.

As dissenting Judge Charles Wilson of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals put it, the "entire purpose of the statute" is to let federal courts look at the case "with a fresh pair of eyes." But, by the Circuit Court's decision, "we virtually guarantee" that the merits of the case "will never be litigated in a federal court" because Terri Schiavo will be dead. Never -- regardless of how many judges are counted as talking points.


The liberal line, both in politics and in the media, is that Congress somehow behaved unconstitutionally. All federal courts except the Supreme Court are created by Congress. The Constitution itself gives Congress the authority to define or restrict the jurisdictions of federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

Is the Constitution unconstitutional?


The issue is not only whether Terri Schiavo should live or die, important as that is.

Another important issue is whether self-government in this country will live or die. Judges who ignore the laws passed by elected representatives are slowly but surely replacing democracy with judicial rule. Meanwhile, the media treat judges as sacrosanct and any criticism of them as almost blasphemy.

Some Good Points

Interesting couple of paragraphs from this article:
In challenging activist-atheists who wish to raze all religious symbols from public life (erroneously citing the First Amendment and Thomas Jefferson's "Wall of Separation"), we have often asked, "If you truly believe in atheism, why does any religious symbol, which you take as meaningless, matter at all?" [I reckon he's saying that suing over meaningless symbols in a public place makes as much sense as suing because you don't like the architecture or paint scheme] As for the courts that take these cases seriously, we ask the following: On what constitutional basis do atheists have standing to sue? Are atheists granted standing under the view that atheism is a religious faith constitutionally guaranteed free-exercise rights? If so, then what "free exercise" of atheism is hampered by permitting those holding other faiths to practice their beliefs freely in public observances? What acts are required of atheists to remain atheists in good standing, which are restrained by the presence of others engaging in acts consonant with their own religions? Are atheists so weak-minded that the mere propinquity of those of other beliefs causes them to lose their faith?

However, if atheists have standing because atheism is properly understood as a religion, then why is their demand that it be the only officially permissible public practice [that is, the failure to show any sort of religious symbols is itself a positive practice and statement, tantamount to asserting: "God has nothing to do with the moral foundations of this particular public institution or building, therefore not acknowledging him via physical symbols in the physical embodiment of the institution is not corrosive to public morality and does not insult the Author of Providence. Besides, He doesn't exist!"] not itself a constitutionally banned establishment of atheism as the government's official religion? Either godlessness is or isn't a religious faith. To our way of thinking, either atheists cannot legitimately sue on religious liberty grounds, or atheism itself must be as constrained as other faiths.

Tribute To A Giant, Nay, A Legend

I just got the first season of the old Capt Kirk Star Trek series on DVD. I'll start watching it during the glorious 50 days of Easter. Via Ace of Spades, here's a fantastic tribute to William Shatner.

Furious Anger

Is in order, as made clear by Ben Stein (H/T The Anchoress). Let us hope it is to be followed up with "great vengeance" in the form of an outraged populace calling for reform of the judiciary and an end to the judge-worship of this society. Also, I pointed out to a friend in an e-mail exchange yesterday that there was a case to be made that due process had taken place, since under Florida law, feeding tubes are considered "extraordinary measures". But I just learned something. The law was passed in 1999, and only as the result of a bill written by Michael Schiavo's lawyer. Well, bugger all.

Stein's column is quite short, so I quote it in full:
Here is what makes me furious about the Terry Schiavo case, short and sweet.

The courts of the United States can find a right for the abortion industry to take a fully formed, totally healthy baby at nine months' term, out of his mother's womb and murder it by putting scissors through his brain and grinding them about.

They do this without one single word of support from any Congressional act of any kind ever.

They can find a right of savage murderers of innocent women who drown them for a lark to avoid the death penalty because they are old enough to drive and to kill but supposedly too young to be executed. Again, there is not one syllable in any Congressional act that sanctions this protection of the guilty.

But with the Congress and the President of the United States pleading for the life of a woman who is not brain dead, who responds to words and to touch, who is not on life support, whose parents beg for her to be kept alive, whose nurses give affidavits that she can be rehabilitated, with a specific law commanding the courts to review the case to keep this poor soul alive, the courts instead find no rights for her.

This is a court system totally out of control, obviously committed to death, obviously bound by nothing beyond its morbid obsession with its own omnipotence and its fascination with the letting the innocent die. This is simply terrifying. The Falange followers of Francisco Franco had an evil cry: Long live death. Obviously, Justice Kennedy was listening.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Coulter Nails It


Democrats have called out armed federal agents in order to: 1) prevent black children from attending a public school in Little Rock, Ark. (National Guard), 2) investigate an alleged violation of federal gun laws in Waco, Texas (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), and 3) deport a small boy to Cuba (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

So how about a Republican governor sending in the National Guard to stop an innocent American woman from being starved to death in Florida? Republicans like the military. Democrats get excited about the use of military force only when it's against Americans.

In two of the three cases mentioned above, the Democrats' use of force was in direct contravention of court rulings.


As a practical matter, courts will generally have the last word in interpreting the law because courts decide cases. But that's a pragmatic point. There is nothing in the law, the Constitution or the concept of "federalism" that mandates giving courts the last word. Other public officials, including governors and presidents, are sworn to uphold the law, too.

It would be chaotic if public officials made a habit of disregarding court rulings simply because they disagreed with them. But a practice borne of practicality has led the courts to greater and greater flights of arrogance. Sublimely confident that no one will ever call their bluff, courts are now regularly discovering secret legal provisions requiring abortion and gay marriage and prohibiting public prayer and Ten Commandments displays.

Just once, we need an elected official to stand up to a clearly incorrect ruling by a court. Any incorrect ruling will do, but my vote is for a state court that has ordered a disabled woman to be starved to death at the request of her adulterous husband.


What was supposed to be the "least dangerous" branch has become the most dangerous – literally to the point of ordering an innocent American woman to die, and willfully disregarding congressional subpoenas. They can't be stopped – solely because the entire country has agreed to treat the pronouncements of former ambulance-chasers as the word of God. The only power courts have is that everyone jumps when they say "jump." (Also, people seem a little intimidated by the black robes. From now on we should make all judges wear lime-green leisure suits.)

Bennett On Where The Buck Stops

I think this is a must-read column. As I've said before, it is my great hope that, if nothing else, this case finally clarifies just what the balance of powers is supposed to mean, and it's not "When the Judiciary says jump, you say how high".

Clearly, Governor Bush believes "Terri's Law" to be constitutional. Not only did he sign it into law, he later challenged the decision of his own state Supreme Court by appealing to the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear the case.

In theoretical terms, this is a conflict between the separate powers of Florida government, as the judicial and executive branches have different opinions about what the Florida constitution requires. But in practical terms, Terri's life hangs in the balance: If the Florida supreme court prevails, she dies. If Governor Bush prevails, she lives. It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means. Every governor is bound by oath to uphold and protect his state constitution. In the case of Florida, the constitution Mr. Bush pledged to defend declares that, "All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty..." If the governor believes that he and the Florida legislature possess the constitutional authority and duty to save Terri's life, then he is bound by his oath of office to do so.


In taking these extraordinary steps to save an innocent life, Governor Bush should be judged not by the opinion of the Florida supreme court, a co-equal branch of the Florida government, but by the opinions of his political superiors, the people of Florida. If they disagree with their governor, they are indeed free to act through their elected representatives and impeach him. Or they can vindicate him if they think he is right. But he should not be cowed into inaction — he should not allow an innocent woman to be starved to death — because of an opinion of a court he believes to be wrong and unconstitutional.

Governor Jeb Bush may find it difficult to protect Terri's rights without risking impeachment. But in the great American experiment in republican government, much is demanded of those who are charged with protecting the rights of the people. Governor Bush pledged to uphold the Florida constitution as he understands it, not as it is understood by some Florida judges. He is the rightful representative of the people of Florida and he is the chief executive, in whom the power is vested to execute the law and protect the rights of citizens. He should use that power to protect Terri's natural right to live, and he should do so now

Solomonic Wisom

John Hawkins has recast the King Solomon story (you know the one where two women are arguing over who the baby belongs to, so Solomon says he'll just cut the baby in two and give each woman one half, finally giving the baby to the woman who is willing to give it up, rather than seeing it die), for a modern American audience.

Brilliant job, here's how it starts:
"Are you sick and tired of those dry, old, Bible stories that don't seem to relate to life in today's America? Well, RWN is coming to your rescue by rewriting the Bible to reflect modern mores. Enjoy!"

Two women came before wise king Solomon with a baby, each claiming the child as their own. Solomon faced a dilemma: how could he know which woman was the true mother of the infant? Solomon quickly came up with a clever idea that would settle the question once and for all. Solomon spoke to the two women:

Since we don't know which of you is the mother, we're going to take the baby and leave him in his crib without food and water until he dies. What do you think about that?"

Also, via Hawkins, this is darned good, too.

A Strange Parallel

Brian Tiemann has a post about the paranoia and suspicion which resulted from some recent car repairs, and his inability to know just what the hell is going on, and who's grifting whom. I couldn't help but notice a striking parallel with the Schiavo situation. In place of the dueling stories from two different repair shops, and an indication that one or the other of them must definitely be pulling a scam (but with no convenient way of figuring out which, since the complexity of the car results in the need to trust in "expert testimony"), we have the legal process contending with the "something is rotten" circumstantial evidence of the Schiavo case. It's an interesting parallel, and you might find it worth reading about Brian's perplexity, keeping the Schiavo case in mind.

Maybe This Will Finally Be The Time

It is my hope that if the freakin' Judiciary doesn't do the right thing here (and PDQ), that the Executive will carry out the will of the Legislative and take custody of Terri for the purpose of reinstating food and water, and for conducting a thorough de novo investigation of her condition. It is time, high time, for the Judiciary to be told to sit down, shut up, and like it. What are they going to do? Sue? Send in the martials to arrest the Executive? The Executive controls the martials. Is the Legislative branch going to impeach itself?

So, what are the black-robed ninnies going to do about it? Cry?

Could this be the "under a searing national spotlight" moment where the Judiciary is finally, finally, shown not to be the supreme branch of government? Has a fulcrum at long last been found to shift the earth?

Dictating Creeds, Directing The Faithful Using The Unfaithful

A fine column by Brent Bozell addresses the growth and militant proseletyzing of the "Secular Orthodox Church" being run by the Media, and the media's auxiliary arm, the Democratic Party.

It’s a stunning disconnect. The creators and salesmen of news are the least likely people to see the world through what might be called an eternal perspective. Rarely do they offer reverent silence on the sacred, while happily profiting from the profane. The media’s tone on religious questions is predictably wary of demanding ancient dogmas, preferring a comfortably modernist rethinking of religion, one that acknowledges that primitive men once had primitive creeds, but now — Thank God? — we’ve built up enough of a deposit of worldly wisdom to see through them. They have the arrogance to form God in their own image.


In 2004, the media were shocked to discover that President Bush was re-elected by a flock of people they clinically identified as "values voters," people who marched to the polls in resistance to liberal agenda items like unlimited partial-birth abortion and the "marriage" of two men or two women, or perhaps trios and quartets as the progressive future unfolds. These journalists had every right to be surprised. After all, they’d worked so very hard to ignore opponents to this agenda, or dismiss them as an unhealthy threat to the Jeffersonian notion of the separation of church and state.

Since every poll taken of reporters finds them measurably less religious than the average American, it’s not surprising that they miss what traditionally religious Americans perceive as the real and growing threat to church-state separation: the state dictating to the church what its creed can and cannot include, and the media presuming that they will direct the faithful by using the unfaithful.


The networks barely touched this issue, but when they did, they knew who they were going to "watchdog." The Catholic Church, not Kerry. CBS released a poll touting how "78 percent" of Catholics disapproved of the bishops disapproving of Kerry. But as with so many surveys of this nature, it was disingenuous. CBS was acting like....well, CBS. CBS did not poll practicing Catholics, but simply asked anyone who claimed to be Catholic, even if he hadn’t seen the inside of a church since he was 12.

See how the media presumed to direct the creeds of the faithful (bishops trying to uphold church teachings) by using the opinions of the unfaithful (who were more likely to be Kerry voters). But the real poll came in November, and even the Kerry-friendly network exit polls showed Bush beating Kerry among all the self-proclaimed Catholics, 52 to 47 percent.


Their reporting carries with it an arrogant insistence that all wisdom comes from saying that God has to be compartmentalized into Someone we only consult at meals or at bedtime – under our breath, of course, lest anyone be offended. The dogma of their orthodoxy insists God should not be allowed to have any influence in our legislatures, in our schools, in our music and movies, or in our voluntary associations like the Boy Scouts. We have a duty not only to separate church and state, but to separate church from education, church from entertainment, church from everything we share with each other in public.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


This is a superb essay.

The Latest Judicial Outrage

Hugh Hewitt has a couple of good posts on the flagrant ignoring of Congress's power by the federal judiciary as reflected in how the judiciary handled the emergency law passed in special session last weekend. I swear, we're quickly reaching the point in this country where Congress is going to need to impeach some judges.

The key point:
Judicial contempt for the coordinate branches on this scale is simply staggering. Anyone defending this morning's majority or yesterday's ruling has to defend this disregard of Congressional action. Had either court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, that would have at least clothed the Pontius Pilate approach with some legal cover. But reciting irrelevant standards for granting injunctive relief in advance of trial in a case where Congress intended the injunction to issue is simple sophistry.


I can only hope that four justices oblige the Supreme Court to take up the matter so we can at least get some opinions on this subject of Congressional intent from the dissenters, or at least an honest rejection of the right to Congress to act. At this point we have a robed charade: Two courts pretending that Congress had the power to order what it ordered, but ignoring the law that was passed.

Here's What I Can't Understand

I think it's highly possible that Terri really is in some sort of PVS and all the apparent "signs of mental life" are just chimeras. But here's what I don't get. If it's so bleedin' obvious that such is the case, then why aren't all the folks so eager to see her die and who I've seen in various comment threads ridiculing everyone making a fuss over this, why aren't these folks (who also seem to be big fans of euthanasia in principle) willing, nay eager to see the lady given a new set of tests by impartial doctors in order to utterly and totally discredit all of the meddling "pro-lifers"? Wouldn't it be an ultimate victory to be able to say, "See? All you MORONS who couldn't mind your own business were WRONG! DEAD WRONG!" Wouldn't that do some serious damage to the Pro-Life movement by having all of this ruckus perceived as being a gigantic "crying wolf" scenario? Are the euthanasia advocates too stupid to see this tremendous, tremendous opportunity? Or is something else holding them back, here? What could it be?

Outtasight Satire

Regarding the sanctity of the right to die here. Also, here we find a superb series of answers to a Canadian's bunch of annoying questions. Also, if you don't mind a little bit of raunch, Ace has his own set of questions for the annoying Candian.

Steyn Hits It Out Of The Park

Outstanding Mark Steyn column here. A lot of great stuff. Here's just one excerpt:
But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of. When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2005, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2025 (or 2033, or 2041, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management, Systemic Racism and Gay Studies degrees). If that's not a political issue, what is? To cite only the most obviously affected corner of the realm, what's the long-term future of the Scottish National Party if there are no Scottish nationals?

When I've mentioned the birth dearth on previous occasions, pro-abortion correspondents have insisted it's due to other factors - the generally declining fertility rates that affect all materially prosperous societies, or the high taxes that make large families prohibitively expensive in materially prosperous societies. But this is a bit like arguing over which came first, the chicken or the egg - or, in this case, which came first, the lack of eggs or the scraggy old chicken-necked women desperate for one designer baby at the age of 48. How much of Europe's fertility woes derive from abortion is debatable. But what should be obvious is that the way the abortion issue is framed - as a Blairite issue of personal choice - is itself symptomatic of the broader crisis of the dying West.

Since 1945, a multiplicity of government interventions - state pensions, subsidised higher education, higher taxes to pay for everything - has so ruptured traditional patterns of inter-generational solidarity that in Europe a child is now an optional lifestyle accessory. By 2050, Estonia's population will have fallen by 52 per cent, Bulgaria's by 36 per cent, Italy's by 22 per cent. The hyper-rationalism of post-Christian Europe turns out to be wholly irrational: what's the point of creating a secular utopia if it's only for one generation?

Nice Summation

From The Corner.

[----excerpt in full----]


John, I have resisted getting into this with you because I have enormous respect for you, I don't think your position is unreasonable (I just don't buy it), and I sense I have already burdened people enough with my views about this case -- they can decide at this point for themselves. But I don't believe I have abandoned myself to rhetoric. I have committed myself to logic.

First of all, I do not doubt the propriety of the people of Florida governing themselves, or that they may deny sustenance to a person who (a) actually is in a PVS and (b) actually has asserted in a knowing and intelligent way a rejection of life saving measures in certain dire circumstances. What I object to here is the appallingly suspect evidentiary record on these two crucial questions -- especially on PVS, where it seems indisputable that fairly standard tests, which would be easy to do in relatively short order and which could give us confidence in the PVS finding, have not been done. If we can be confident that Terri is a PVS case -- and particularly that her brain damage has left her largely insensitive to pain -- I seal my lips and accept the outcome, however much I may question its wisdom insofar as society's general regard for life is concerned. Under such circumstances, the Supreme Court has said sustenance may be withheld, and the absence of pain would destroy my contention that she is being tortured.

I am not interested in attacking the motives of Michael Schiavo (something that seems to be of importance to you) unless the evidence against him becomes more reliable than it is now -- although I do believe his incentives are highly relevant on the question whether Terri actually evinced a desire not to have life sustaining measures because he is the primary witness on that score. But I must say that on this score it has seemed to me, reading your exchanges with others, that it is you who is abandoned to rhetoric. Much as I instinctively agree with you that a spouse should be given great deference in these matters (and as I would try to ensure that my own wife had a free hand in making them for me), the law is that it is not the spouse's decision. It is the individual's decision, and it cannot be removed from the individual because you decide that in your own life you would not want intrusion into what you regard as your affairs. My view is that the proof that Terri actually made this election is highly suspect. (It is worth noting that a court, for example, is not permitted to allow something so comparatively inconsequential as a confession into evidence in a criminal case without clear and convincing evidence that the defendant's waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege was knowing and intelligent.) I would like to see the issue fully reviewed by an impartial federal court (as I believe there is great reason to question the impartiality of the judicial proceeding in Florida). Again, if after a full and fair hearing the federal court determines that Michael is credible and Terri did make this assertion, I have nothing to complain about. As the Supreme Court's Cruzan case indicates, the proof in this regard need not be inarguable, but it does have to be credible.

Finally, your argument that the difference between starving and dehydrating someone versus shooting her is that "for crying out loud ... one thing is morally acceptable to the US public (including me), and the other isn't," hardly seems to me like a model of logic over rhetoric.

We are talking about different methods to induce death for an arguably non-PVS person. Your suggestion that lock-em-in-a-cell versus shackle-and-flog-em is somehow an apt analogy is beneath someone of your superior intellect. Locking someone in a cell is detention; shackling and flogging someone is torture. They are different not only in degree but in kind -- they are not even aimed at the same end. That is not a worthy comparison. But if it's the other side's shooting analogy you think is silly, fair enough. Let's leave that aside.

The argument is here is about analogous methods of denying sustenance, let's say starving/dehydrating versus suffocating (instead of shooting), aimed actually at achieving the same end: death by court order. My point is, if the person is non-PVS and aware of pain, both are forms of cold-blooded murder. The only meaningful difference is one is slow, less blatant, and designed to be less offensive to the spectator (regardless that it may be more painful to the victim), while the other is swifter, colder and more offensive to the spectator. It is not more immoral -- just more obviously immoral (even if it is actually more merciful to the victim). If your point here is that the latter is unacceptable but the former is OK for no better reason than that you and some polled majority of some cross-section of the population thinks so, I don't think that's very principled.

Posted at 11:19 AM

[----end excerpt----]

Things Have Come To A Pretty Pass

Good column by Chuck Colson.

It starts thusly:
Ironically, while the Supreme Court was debating the role of religion in American public life and whether the monuments of the Ten Commandments could stand on public property, one group of Americans has settled the question for themselves. Medical students in Boca Raton, Florida, recently filled their classroom with the smell of incense and the sound of ancient chants. They lit candles and spoke about the body being the “temple of the soul.” And they did it all “on a state university campus, in facilities funded with . . . tax dollars.”

Did I mention that all this chanting and candle-lighting was in accordance with Buddhist ritual? You didn’t really think that it would be Christian, did you?

Malkin On Schiavo Coverage

Malkin takes the MSM out to the woodshed.

But ABC News did not see fit to inform either the poll takers or its viewers of the truth. Instead, it misled them -- and the result was a poll response that produced -- voila! -- "broad public disapproval" for any government intervention to spare Terri from slowly starving to death. Blogger Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters ( noted: "Either ABC is completely incompetent in conducting research, or they have attempted to fool their viewers and readership with false polling that essentially lies about the case in question. Since when does ABC conduct push polling for euthanasia?"

Imagine how the poll results might have turned out if ABC News had made clear to participants that Terri is not terminally ill. Not in excruciating pain. Capable of saying "Mommy" and "Help me." And of "getting the feeling she's falling" or getting "excited," in her husband's own testimony, when her head is not held properly.

Imagine how the poll results might have turned out if ABC News had informed participants that in a sworn affidavit, registered nurse Carla Sauer Iyer, who worked at the Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in Largo, Fla., while Terri Schiavo was a patient there, testified: "Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri's death. Michael would say 'When is she going to die?' 'Has she died yet?' and 'When is that bitch gonna die?'"

Now, if you were in this situation, would you want to be kept alive, or not?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another View

Here is about the most impartial summary of the Schiavo situation which I've found.

Federalism For Thee, But Not For Me

Rich Lowry does a bang-up job demolishing some liberal "federalism" arguments, the arguments discovered only to aid in starving the helpless, and no doubt, immediately to be discarded once she's gone.

My, How The Tables Have Turned

It seems to me, that, say, back in the 80's, the analog of the present situation would have had liberal activists almost violently sticking up for the rights of the disabled woman whose (possibly) big brute of a husband was trying to do her in, while the "heartless Republicans" would be fighting for government non-interference, privacy, and the giving of the benefit-of-the-doubt to the legal process that had already taken place.

Now, reflecting back on all the campaigns on the part of the left for "disabled rights", it seems that their primary goals might really have had very little to do with the disabled and everything to do with using "disabled rights" as yet another club to "stick it to the corporate man", and as another way to preen about their own moral superiority. When the rubber really meets the road and it's time to stand up and be counted, these opportunists are nowhere to be found. It's a pattern with these people. The National Organization of Women and their total inaction about Clinton's serial abuse of women, including his sexual exploitation of an intern? They who brayed all throughout the 80's that it would be nice if just once, the US would topple dictators rather than supporting them, and who ended up throwing a seditious tantrum when we've gotten around to doing just that?

David Limbaugh says in his column today:
The more I read about this case, the more it weighs on me -- the more a creeping feeling of horror sweeps over me. If, in fact, Terri Schiavo wants to live and is going to be denied that right, the prospect of a court-ordered removal of her feeding tube is no less horrifying than that of a person being buried alive.

If Terri truly wants to live -- as a lawyer visiting with her when her feeding tube was removed avers -- how could any caring person wish death upon her? The question is not whether we think we would want to live in Terri's state, but whether in fact she wants to. Are those advocating Terri's death allowing themselves to consider that this woman truly wants to live -- just like they do?

I doubt that I'll ever be able to understand, much less relate to, the sympathies of certain people. Generally speaking, they seem to feel more compassion for wildlife than animals, more for animals than human beings, more for guilty human beings than innocent ones, more for Communist dictators and tyrannical thugs than freedom fighters, and more for the vindication of an abstract principle devaluing human life than for an actual human being like Terri Schiavo, who, though severely disabled, may truly want to live.

How can we possibly view in a favorable light the position of those who protest to save the lives of convicted killers on death row and who bend over backward to believe their most incredible stories of innocence, but won't lift a finger in support of Terri Schiavo and won't even momentarily consider that Terri wants to live? Where are the "Free Mumia" chanters when Terri needs them?


I detect more than a bit of intellectual dishonesty among many favoring Terri's death. They are claiming they merely want to honor Terri's wishes, yet they rely on her tainted husband, callously discount the testimony of her loving parents, blindly accept the disinformation that Terri is in a purely vegetative state, and ignore multiple firsthand accounts, including from examining physicians and nurses, that Terri is responsive, sometimes animated, and definitely wants to go on living.

Could it be that something besides Terri's wishes motivates many of the death-soldiers, such as an allegiance to the culture of death, or some abject, inhumane resentment that we spend so much money keeping severely disabled people alive? I've received appalling e-mails from people complaining about the financial burden on society in keeping Terri alive.

I noticed this typical canard in a letter to the WSJ today:

If the Republicans are saying, "We're for life", then why are so many of them proponents of the death penalty?

To which my response [forgive me] is, "Uhhh, dickweed, if you're so against the death penalty, than why are you for the killing of innocents?"

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Whole Fishy Situation Spelled Out?

Very interesting summary with links, here.

After spelling out instance after instance of some of the suspicious facts of this case, the summary says:
Am I the only one who thinks this is a case for CSI Tampa, not euthanasia court? If they manage to kill Terri Schiavo, Franz Kafka is reportedly coming back from the grave to write another book.

The Terri Schiavo question is not about the Right To Life or the Right To Death with Dignity. It is really about the Right To Indemnification from acts of Mortal Treachery, Medical and Legal Fraud. It is also about the Right To Have Our Mortal Wishes Respected.

A Simple Question

I've read a lot of stuff on both sides of the Schiavo case. I've looked at the videos of the lady responding to events around her, and read some affidavits from nurses who cared for her, apparently "under-the-radar" of a menacing Michael Schiavo. There even seems to be a line of evidence that Michael is some sort of Scott Peterson who didn't finish the job, yet. But I do not conclude this, because a storm of hearsay is not the way to judge such a case. Also, it would be nice to know more about when the videos of Terri were taken. There's something a little underhanded about that not being stated. From the videos, it looks to my untrained eye like we have a person trapped in a damaged, mostly unresponsive body, who is desperately trying to communicate. I've read some "experts" say that all she is capable of is "vegetable reflexes". It doesn't look like that to me.

All of these issues aside, isn't the core question whether anyone, guardian or otherwise, can order a "retard" starved to death? If a parent had a severely retarded kid, would the law allow him to order the kid starved? Does guardianship confer any such right? I doubt it. Or do "retards" only have rights when the right people say they do? I guess that's why everyone on the "let her starve" side claims she's a vegetable and not a "retard"...

So the only crucial question is whether the de facto divorcee, Miss Schindler, is a "vegetable", or merely severely handicapped. Surely getting some "second opinions" on this couldn't hurt anything?

My mind is completely open on the whole affair. My main concern is that the whole situation to this point reeks of injustice and a lack of due process. Maybe Michael is squeaky clean and on the side of the angels. On the other hand, maybe he really deserves to be on trial for the attempted murder which put his wife into her present condition. I honestly have no idea. But someone needs to be looking into it.

Rachel Lucas has a pretty good rant about the whole affair (hattip: The Anchoress).

Also, Lileks finds a pretty amazing tie-in of this case to a famous episode of the original Start Trek series.

Is There Anything, Anything At All, That Is Not About Socialism?

This letter to the Chronicle is just rich:
Obesity as a threat to life expectancy in U.S.

Editor -- Regarding the article headlined, "Obesity threatens to cut life expectancy in U.S." (March 17): Richard Suzman, associate director of the National Institute on Aging, is quoted attributing shorter life expectancy in this country to lifestyles that increase obesity.

There was no mention of some of the other differences between this country and France, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

In those countries, there are more universal health-care systems, lower incarceration rates, more humane treatment of prisoners, less dependency on automobiles, more vacation time, shorter work weeks, less homelessness, less gun violence, no capital punishment, less income disparity and stronger trade unions. And those are only some of the differences.

Couldn't those other factors account for at least some of the difference in longevity? I don't doubt that fat people do not live as long on average, but the logic presented in that article can't be called a scientific conclusion.

San Francisco

Against Evil? You Must Be Some Kind Of Darned Republican!

Tidbit from Jay Nordlinger's column today:
Another in our occasional series on assuming Republicanism:

I'm a grad student at the University of Pennsylvania, and I recently attended a party thrown by several grad students in the social sciences. It did not disappoint. Late in the evening, the various flirtations and invitations to further . . . um, "contact" began. In particular, I happened to notice one couple making out rather furiously in the corner of the room.

I also happened to recognize the man with whom the young lady was playing tonsil hockey as the husband of another woman — of a colleague of mine. Without thinking before I spoke, I wondered aloud if his wife was at this party, and what she might think of her spouse's extracurricular activity.

The reaction of several acquaintances (all female grad students) standing near me was instantaneous. One student immediately turned to me and shrieked loud enough for the entire room to hear: "What are you, a Dick Cheney supporter or something?!?!?!"

Says a lot, doesn't t?

Oh, yes.

Some Good Points

From a Q&A with Robert George.

I don't see that any just authority of the state of Florida is being displaced by the effort of Congress to ensure that Terri's right to life is honored and that civil rights claims on her behalf are given a hearing in the federal courts. By "just authority of the state of Florida," I mean the authority of the people of Florida to make laws through their elected representatives, subject to the provisions of the state constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I am not impressed by appeals to "federalism" to protect the decisions of state court judges who usurp the authority of democratically constituted state legislative bodies by interpreting statutes beyond recognition or by invalidating state laws or the actions of state officials in the absence of any remotely plausible argument rooted in the text, logic, structure, or historical understanding of the state or federal constitution. The fact is that, under color of law, Michael Schiavo is seeking to deprive Terri of sustenance because of her disability. Under federal civil-rights statutes, this raises a substantial issue. It cannot be waved away by invoking states' rights.

The federalism argument is more plausible in the case of Oregon's assisted-suicide law than it is in Terri Schiavo's case. It wasn't some judge in Oregon who manufactured a right to assisted suicide or claimed to find it hiding in a penumbra. I think the people of Oregon made an unwise, indeed, tragic, decision, but it was a decision made by the democratically constituted people of Oregon. Whether or not there are legitimate grounds for the federal government to override that decision, the federalism argument for not overriding it is far weightier and more serious than it is when trotted out as a reason to keep Congress from acting to prevent Terri Schiavo's being starved to death at the command of her husband.

The other thing that Congress is being accused of is interfering in a family decision. Now look: Terri Schiavo has been abandoned by her husband. Michael Schiavo took a vow to be faithful to Terri "in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, 'til death do us part." But he has not been faithful; he has not forsaken all others. He has set himself up in a marriage in all-but-name with someone else, a woman with whom he already has two children. He has disrespected Terri and, indeed, forsaken her. Now he is seeking to bring about her death by starvation. Notice something wrong with this picture? Terri's parents and siblings, by contrast, have never abandoned her. They are prepared to shoulder all the burdens, including the financial burdens, of caring for her. They want to provide the therapy that many medical people who have observed Terri, whether at the bedside or by videotape, believe can help her. No one expects a full recovery, but it may be possible for her to make genuine progress. That possibility will be foreclosed, however, if she is killed by deliberate starvation before it can begin.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Wild Parrots

Just saw a great movie today, called "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill" (promotional website here). It's a fascinating documentary done on a low budget (but beautifully shot and edited), starring a flock of wild parrots in a very unlikely urban location, and the modern day St. Francis who tends them. A really nice aspect was the humility of the man and also the film maker; the story is told without any sort of ideological overlay. 97% on the Tomato Meter, too!

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Magic Carpet Ride

A little Steppenwolf, a little F-18, a little carrier takeoff and landing, all as seen looking back at the pilot from a panel-mounted camera. Kind of cool.

Note that during some of the turns you can see a condensation cloud above the wings due to the high G-loading in the turn.

Testosterone. It's what's for dinner, tonight.

Cool T-Shirts

Here (all images below are click-to-zoom).

Some Solid Catholic Apologetics

Served up by The Anchoress to a self-styled John Calvin.

Item 6 refers to statues and reminds me of a Catholic in-joke:
I was on an internet list group one time when an angry young Fundamentalist wrote in and said, "Why is it you guys worship statues!?" A very droll deacon wrote back to him and said, "Oh, we don't worship statues anymore. That went out with Vatican II. Now we worship banners."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Giving The Onion A Run For Its Money

I just discovered this new blogger. The guy writes some very clever, very intelligent political/MSM satire. See here, here, here, and here. These are some of the headlines:
Racial Profiling Mars Courthouse Killer Manhunt
Black men singled out in search for African American

Nichols Released After Court Overturns Biblically-Based Surrender Terms
Must be influenced by non-sectarian hostage

Dems Support Drilling For Stem Cells In Protected Uterine Wilderness

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Mona Charen has an amusing article on the special language her sons seem to speak in. Some pretty clever panache amongst the youngsters, if you ask me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Saint Patrick, Pray For Us!

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I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.