Thursday, March 31, 2005

From The Mail Bag

From an email I received yesterday:
Terri Schiavo has been dead for fifteen years, I submit keeping her alive without a brain is tantamount to torture. Now I am aware that the current version of the Republican Party is fine with the idea of torture as long as it helps move along its political agenda, but that doesn’t make it right.
Interesting reasoning, if you can call it that.

My question would be: If Terri had no ability to process pain, what made keeping her alive “torture?” How do you torture someone who is either dead or “has no brain”?

This supposed argument is supremely self-defeating. If Terri was able to process pain, then she certainly wasn’t brainless and dead. And if she was not able to feel pain, then “ending her suffering” could hardly be used as a justification for killing her.

So which was it?

Her loving husband assured us that Terri couldn’t feel any pain, all the while fighting to kill her in order to “end her suffering.” The author of the above email claims to be against torture. But it seems to me that if Terri was actually capable of being tortured (as the author suggests), the thirteen days without food and water while her organs shut down certainly would have qualified.

So who was it who wound up on the side of torture here?

But this isn’t really about reasoning. Its about ridding ourselves of undesirables. We'll find reasons even if we have to invent them, and even if they make no sense.

The End

The judicial execution of Terri Schiavo is complete.

Sons of bitches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'll Bet Mark Fuhrman Did It

Former O.J. Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran died yesterday, killed by an inoperable brain tumor.

But if he were still alive, he'd probably get the tumor acquitted.

The Enemy Of My Enemy

Despite the fact that Jesse Jackson has entered the Schiavo case on my side, after thinking it over I still think I'm right.

But talk about re-evaluation. Jackson is the best thing yet they've thrown against the pro-Terri position.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Only One Issue

I’ve talked to some folks recently who are concerned about the Schiavo case but honestly believe the issues are so complex that they can’t come to a firm conclusion on the issue.

I can certainly understand and respect the desire to react deliberately rather than jumping on the evangelical crusade du juor. But at root, the questions in this case really are not that complicated. We simply need to clear away the obstructions so we can see clearly.

Yes, there is all sorts of competing evidence on both sides. One doctor contradicts another, and it’s difficult to know whom to believe. One person says Michael loved his wife, another says they were going to get divorced. Lots of issues, lots of questions. Add a bunch of lawyers and procedural issues, and you end up with a case that could be seen as impossibly complex.

But it’s really not. All the rest of the fog detracts from the singular, main issue: Did Terri Schiavo express a desire to die in these circumstances?

That’s it—the whole enchilada. Until that question is answered affirmatively, her medical condition is irrelevant. As Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America told me in an interview today, if Terri left behind no instructions, it does not legally matter even if she IS still in a “persistent vegetative state.” She must be kept alive.

The evidence that Terri “wanted to die” comes from one person: her husband, who didn’t remember her wishes until after he won a large malpractice lawsuit seven years after her injury, and who lives with another woman with whom he has two children. If you think his testimony is suspect, then Terri’s medical condition doesn’t matter. It’s a sidetrack. All the rest is a haze diverting you from that one crucial question.

We would never send a convict to the electric chair on such flimsy “evidence.” Yet, as liberal Nat Hentoff points out in a spectacular piece in the Village Voice, Terri has never even been allowed to have an attorney represent her interests. So where’s that “bastion of the Bill of Rights” (as Hentoff derisively calls them), the ACLU?

As it stands, Terri will be dead in a few hours based on the testimony of one questionable witness.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Greer's Forty Pieces Of Silver

As Terri Schiavo fades quickly in her Florida hospice, nagging questions remain about the objectivity of the judge who has sent her to her death.

In 1998, the Judge George Greer appointed a guardian ad litem ("guardian at law"), Richard Pearse Jr., to investigate Terri's case. Pearse's final report (PDF file) is one of the most important documents I've read in this case. There's a lot there to make the pro-Terri side cringe. Pearce's report is very sympathetic to Michael Schiavo, discussing Michael's early efforts to rehabilitate Terri ("played a very active and agressive role") and his formerly solid relationship with her family.

Which is what makes Pearse's conclusion so damning.

After rehearsing the facts of the case, the court-appointed , independent guardian ad litem ultimately concludes that Michael's credibility is "adversly affected" by his conflicting interests, and recommends against Michael's request to remove the feeding tube, saying it doesn't meet the "clear and convincing standard" set by legal precedent. Specifically he cites Michael's "obvious financial benefit" to be gained from Terri's death, and says that Michael's credibility is "adversely affected" by the chronology of his actions in the case.

This guardian ad litem was removed by Judge Greer in 1999 after Schiavo's assisted suicide lawyer George Felos complained he was "biased." Greer agreed, and replaced Pearse with....himself.

Greer is now not only the judge, but also in essence Terri's guardian ad litem...and Felos is one of his political contributors.

Nice to have at least gotten the "bias" out of the case, eh?

Better Slate Than Never

We have a spate of new visitors after having evidently been quoted in Slate late yesterday.

Welcome, liberals. And before you start ranting and raving, please make sure to read this instructive article published by Slate itself yesterday called "Not Dead at All: Why Congress was right to stick up for Terri Schiavo."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's Down To One Man

I'm not encouraged by the AP story that moved at 3:12pm this afternoon, which said:
Bush said he was expecting Greer to rule against the state and he planned to appeal. He added that he won't violate Greer's order by sending state officers to take custody of Schiavo under a law that allows the Department of Children & Families to act in emergency situations of adult abuse.
My understanding is that there is yet another silly appeal going before Judge Greer this evening. If Greer is going to be the final word on all of this, Terri will die. Period. The time for appeals is over.

This is the text of the email I just sent to Governor Jeb Bush (whose email address is
Subject: Sir, you MUST defy Judge Greer

Dear Gov. Bush,

I know you are a good man, and I know you are in a difficult position. But the fact is that Terri Schiavo is going to die if you do not intervene in the next few hours. Her life is now squarely in your hands. Sir, you have a duty before God and before the Constitution of Florida to step in and preserve this woman's life. As the executive of this state, you DO have the power to stand up against an incorrect, immoral ruling by a judge.

The executive branch is coequal with the judicial branch. The judicial branch is out of control. YOU, Gov. Bush, do have the power to intervene and have Terri's feeding tube re-inserted. It will be controversial, and it will foment what some will call a "constitutional crisis." So be it. Such a confrontation is needed and has been needed for a long time. A courageous man will be willing to take that heat.

Governor, PLEASE BE A MAN OF MORAL COURAGE and stand up against the judiciary in defense of this innocent woman's life. You hold her life in your hands now whether you asked for that or not. Whatever her fate now, you will have been complicit in it. Please be on the right side.

I'm praying for you and hoping you will take the courageous stand.

John Rabe

Conflict Of Interest

Sam Kastensmidt of the Center for Reclaiming America has discovered that Felos & Felos, the lawfirm of Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos, is a campaign contributor to Judge George Greer.

You can check it out yourself at the Florida Division of Elections website. Simply type in the name "George Greer" under "candidate" and you'll find the $250 donation from Felos & Felos dating 05/07/2004.

Interesting that Felos gets one favorable ruling after another from Judge Greer, and quite possibly a mere coincidence. Also coincidental is the fact that the contribution was made one day after Greer's Pinellas Circuit Court collegue W. Douglas Baird ruled "Terri's Law" unconstitutional.

William Bennett Gets Radical

And I couldn't agree with him more. In the National Review, Bennett calls on Governor Jeb Bush to put it all on the line for Terri Schiavo. This is a definining moment--one way or the other.
The "auxiliary precautions" of Florida government — in this case the Florida supreme court — have failed Terri Schiavo. It is time, therefore, for Governor Bush to execute the law and protect her rights, and, in turn, he should take responsibility for his actions. Using the state police powers, Governor Bush can order the feeding tube reinserted. His defense will be that he and a majority of the Florida legislature believe the Florida Constitution requires nothing less. Some will argue that Governor Bush will be violating the law. We think he will not be violating the law, but if he is judged to have done so, it will be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., who answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion. In so doing, King showed respect for the man-made law by willingly going to jail (on a Good Friday); Governor Bush may have to face impeachment because of his decision.

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.
Every minute that goes by, Terri gets closer to death. In a radio interview I did this afternoon, Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association said he didn't expect Terri to survive past Sunday or Monday. All other options have been exhausted. It's now or never for Governor Bush to put his money where his mouth is.

The Right To Kill

Take a few minutes to read Doug Wilson's superb post on the Schiavo case. It will be well worth your time.

There is one Christian position on this issue. Period. If you have trouble wondering what the hubub is all about, or if you sympathize with Michael Schiavo's position, you've got some serious homework to do if you profess to be a Christian.

At bottom, this is not a "right to die" case, as Wilson points out. It's a right to kill case. Terri Schiavo is being deprived of things you and I and every normal person need each day to live. She will not die naturally--she will be forced to death by starvation and dehydration.

As Wilson points out:
[F]ood is not medicine. Yes, someone might answer, but the food is being administered to her. She cannot feed herself. Exactly, and note where this logic takes you. Babies cannot feed themselves either. There is nothing here that cannot serve equally well as an argument for starving an unacceptable infant. And if what constitutes "acceptable" or "unacceptable" is to be waved off as an "intensely private issue," just know that you have opened the door to starving people because they have Downs, a club foot, or simply because she is a daughter and not a son.
One would hope that the logical absurdity that arises from this position would open some eyes, but sadly it will not. Indeed, there are already those (like Peter Singer of Princeton) who believe that a, say, six-month-old baby's inability to care for itself is part of the reason it really isn't fully human.

As Dostoevski famously wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, "without God, all things are permissible." As Wilson says:
We are living in a time when an attorney for a man like Michael Schiavo can get in front of the cameras and compare the actions of the U.S. Congress in this to the actions of Stalin -- and he is not immediately laughed off the public stage. Stalin, the man who starved millions in the Ukraine? Congress, for trying to prevent one starvation, is likened to one of history's great starvation masters? George Orwell, call your office.
Truth and justice no longer matter; only the desired result matters. Michael Schiavo has tried to portray himself as the loving husband, a transparent charade that millions have seen through--which is why this is even an issue. If Michael had a history of single-minded devotion to his wife, this wouldn't even be a story--it would be a private matter. It's precisely because his credibility is so shoddy that it's an issue. Who wants someone with (at best) extremely divided loyalty making life or death decisions for her?
Michael Schiavo taunted the president the other day by asking him what color Terri's eyes were. I am sure the president does not know, as most of those protesting on behalf of Terri's life do not. But neither do we know the color of his concubine's eyes. It is, as they say, beside the point.
(Thanks to Anne for the heads up on the Wilson article.)

Better Than I Could Have Said It

In the comments section of my previous post, reader Marie writes:
I had a grandfather who was on a feeding tube (no other support) for six years before he died of natural causes. He was in a coma, we were told, but his eyes followed us around the room. He was unable to speak after part of his brain was shot out in a tragic accident. He received the best loving care available.

I have a nephew who has been on a feeding tube all of his 12 years, and is blind and profoundly retarded. His parents are right now with him at a Florida hospital, helping the doctors fight another bout of pneunomia. His only means of food and fluids is a feeding tube.

I have a son who needed surgery as a newborn and was on a feeding tube for two weeks. There are thousands around the country whose only method of food and fluids is a feeding tube. This is a horrible thing that Terri and her family are going through. I am beside myself with anger and frustration over her "husband" who won't let her parents care for her at home. It seems her death now is unavoidable, and I am praying it comes quickly now. Now that the courts have shown how little life is valued (as if we didn't already know), when will they come for my nephew and all the other disabled people, I wonder?
That's what this case is ultimately all about. As I write this, the expected news has come that the United States Supreme Court will not reinstate Terri's feeding tube. Of course, the haggling in the courts has been beside the point for months now. The real issue is whether we will be ruled by judicial fiat, or whether the other branches of government will step up to reassert their power. The Florida Legislature declined to stand up yesterday. Now the only question is whether Governor Jeb Bush, who is the one remaining obsticle between Terri Schiavo and death, will stand or lie down.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Court-Ordered Starvation: Day 6

The Terri Schiavo case has the nation's attention as it chugs toward its tragic and seemingly inevitable conclusion.

For the life of me, I still cannot understand why Jeb Bush will not simply send the highway patrol into the hospice to take Terri into protective custody. Diddling around in the court system is a waste of time. This entire case is about the runaway courts to begin with. It's time for a constitutional showdown between the judicary on the one hand, and the legislative and executive branches on the other. Enough motions and stays already. Such nonsense simply acknowledges the false legitimacy of the courts in this case.

Elsewhere on the web, Michelle Malkin does a tremendous job of annhilating the bogus ABC poll of last week which showed 63% of people supporting the removal of Terri's feeding tube, and 70% opposing congressional intervention. If those numbers seemed a little lopsided, Malkin says it's for a reason:
Here is how the spinmasters framed the main poll question:
As you may know, a woman in Florida named Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her parents and her husband disagree on whether or not she should be kept on life support. In cases like this who do you think should have final say, (the parents) or (the spouse)?
A follow-up question asked:
If you were in this condition, would you want to be kept alive, or not?
The problem is that, contrary to what ABC News told those polled, Terri Schiavo is not on "life support" and has never been on "life support." The loaded phrase evokes images of a comatose patient being artificially sustained by myriad machines and pumps and wires. Terri was on a feeding tube. A feeding tube is not a ventilator. Terri can breathe just fine on her own.
Among other excellent recent things on the case:

Charles Krauthammer (himself an M.D.) says in the Washinton Post that medical assurances that Terri has no conscioiusness are nonsense.

National Review Online features an essential Q&A with Princeton's Robert George.

And Kathleen Parker asks the question "When is a husband not a husband?" Echoing the thoughts of my good friend Brad in California who asked me this question the other day and got me thinking, Parker points out that "the fact that Schiavo's fate has rested in the hands of a man who is her husband in title only is both mystifying and maddening."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Last Chance

This morning, the Florida State Senate is meeting to consider HB701, which would block health professionals from withholding food and water unless a patient has given his “express and informed consent.” Terri Schiavo never gave such consent, and her husband only "remembered" her wishes after winning a large malpractice judgement he promised to use for her rehabilitation--years after her brain injury.

The Senate previously rejected the bill, which fell short by 3 votes. The following is a list of the Senate Republicans who voted against the bill. Some have said that some of these senators are now on the fence:

Senator J.D. Alexander, Majority Whip
Phone: (850) 487-5044

Senator Nancy Argenziano
Phone: (850) 487-5017

Senator Mike Bennett
Phone: (850) 487-5078

Senator Lisa Carlton
Phone: (850) 487-5081

Senator Paula Dockery
Phone: (850) 487-5040

Senator Dennis Jones
Phone: (850) 487-5065

Senator Jim King
Phone: (850) 487-5030

Monday, March 21, 2005

The L.A. Times Goes Coup-Coup

The increasingly ridiculous Los Angeles Times calls this weekend's intervention by Congress in the Terri Schiavo case a "coup."

In an editorial called "The Midnight Coup," the paper claims:
[Congress] brushed aside our federalist system of government, which assigns the resolution of such disputes to state law, and state judges. Even President Bush flew back from his ranch to Washington on Sunday to be in on what amounts to a constitutional coup d'etat.
There is so much irony piled atop irony here that it would take all day to unwrap it. But just so we understand where those stalwart defenders of federalism at the L.A. Times are coming from, we must remember that a "coup" is an overthrow of the governing authority.

Who has been ostensibly "overthrown" in this case? You guessed it: one unaccountable judge.

Only a dinasour of print media could still, with a straight face, characterize action by the legislative body representing the people of the United States to reign in one runaway judge (who has repeatedly ruled in violation of common morality and the democratically-enacted laws of the state of Florida) as a "coup."

In one sense, it's a startling admission, however. The Times, in calling it a "coup," acknowledges that it views judges as our true rulers, and any action against them as something of a revolution. My hope is that this will be only the first of many such "coups," as the legislative bodies of our land begin reasserting their constitutional role against a runaway, tyrannical judiciary.

El Nino, Part II

Antonin Scalia, the greatest Supreme Court justice of the last hundred years, does it again with this stellar, bite-sized exposition of proper constitutional interpretation.

This article--actually a transcription (by the Center For Individual Freedom) from a talk Scalia gave at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 14 that was televised on C-SPAN--is essential for anyone grappling to understand the judicial crisis facing our nation today. It's typical Scalia: concise, incisive, and at times hilarious:
[P]rior to the advent of the “Living Constitution,” judges did their distortions the good old fashioned way, the honest way — they lied about it. They said the Constitution means such and such, when it never meant such and such.
In the speech, Scalia makes an essential point. Originalism (which is what Scalia calls his own interpretive philosophy and means "what did it mean when it was enacted?") is really the only theory of interpretation there is. The others are not even philosophies in any real sense:
What is the criterion that governs the Living Constitutional judge? What can you possibly use, besides original meaning? Think about that....[t]here really is nothing else. You either tell your judges, “Look, this is a law, like all laws, give it the meaning it had when it was adopted.” Or, you tell your judges, “Govern us. You tell us whether people under 18, who committed their crimes when they were under 18, should be executed. You tell us whether there ought to be an unlimited right to abortion or a partial right to abortion. You make these decisions for us.” I have put this question — you know I speak at law schools with some frequency just to make trouble — and I put this question to the faculty all the time, or incite the students to ask their Living Constitutional professors: “Okay professor, you are not an originalist, what is your criterion?” There is none other.

...What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean? There is no such thing as a moderate interpretation of the text. Would you ask a lawyer, “Draw me a moderate contract?” The only way the word has any meaning is if you are looking for someone to write a law, to write a constitution, rather than to interpret one. The moderate judge is the one who will devise the new constitution that most people would approve of.
May your children and grandchildren live in a nation with nine Antonin Scalias on the Supreme Court bench.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Execution Has Begun

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube has been removed at the order of Judge George Greer, who has ignored another judge's ruling and congressional subpoenas.

At this point, and I am not exaggerating, I hope to see Gov. Bush send in the National Guard to save this woman's life, and I hope that Congress, on the grounds of contempt of Congress, sends federal marshalls to take this lawless imperial judge into custody.

I'd Answer, But It's The Principle

I think the point in Congressional hearings yesterday where I finally became convinced of Mark McGwire's innocence on all charges of steroid use was when he tearfully refused to answer any questions on it.

Judge Mojo Risin'

One odd piece of trivia from the Schiavo case simply must be mentioned.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Judge George Greer, who essentially acts as God over Terri in this case, was once the college roommate of Jim Morrison.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Approaching D-Day

Tommorrow is the day that Terri Schiavo's court-ordered execution is scheduled to begin. Judge George Greer ordered three weeks ago that the removal of her feeding tube shall begin at 1pm tommorrow.

There are some developments in the case however. A little while ago, the Florida House passed a bill that would prolong Terri's life. But there's still disagreement between the House and Senate on an acceptable bill. A similar dispute exists as the United States Congress debates similar bills.

The Christian Law Association, which is representing Terri's parents, filed a stay with the United States Supreme Court this morning, and have another one planned for tommorrow if that fails. I participated earlier this afternoon in a radio interview with Barbara Weller, one of the CLA's attorneys on the case, and she expressed optimism that Terri's feeding tube would not be removed tommorrow. She put the chances at 9-1 that the tube would stay in, which was encouraging.

Meanwhile, the pastor of Judge Greer's erstwhile church, Calvary Baptist in Clearwater, Florida (which Greer left in a snit over its stance on the Schiavo case), condemns Greer's decision to remove the feeding tube, writing:
Some have wondered about the commitment of our church to the sanctity of human life. There is no need to wonder. Our convictions have been clear and consistent. In this cultural battleground our church arrived early, has fought hard and stayed faithful. For over 30 years, Calvary has sounded a clear trumpet about the sanctity of human life.

...That stand, articulated in many ways – one of which is our enthusiastic support of this publication – has become one of the reasons that Judge Greer has disassociated himself from Calvary and has publicly criticized us in the St. Petersburg Times.

Like evangelicals across the world, we are horrified at the thought that a handicapped woman could be, in effect, starved to death before a watching world.
Greer evidently stopped attending the church because of its support of the Florida Baptist Witness newspaper, which has taken a strong pro-Terri stance. According to that aforementioned profile in the St. Petersburg Times:
Greer is a Southern Baptist who attended Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. But his attendance faltered after a Baptist publication the church supported became highly critical of him, he said.

Greer, who said he had other unrelated problems with the church, said he explained to a deacon, "If I don't like what the St. Pete Times writes about me, my only recourse is to cancel my subscription." So he stopped his donations to the church, though he is still a member.
One can be glad that there are still churches in which Greer would feel uncomfortable. But the church ought not stop at mere uncomfortability.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Sword That Cuts Both Ways

The New Republic, to its credit, actually makes the liberal case against the recent, disasterous Supreme Court ruling on juvenille executions. Justice Antonin Scalia has been mocked by many on the Left for his scathing attacks on the Court's recent propensity to appeal to foreign law in its decision making, but TNR's legal affairs editor Jeffery Rosen points out that Scalia is mainly correct--and liberals have just as much to lose as conservatives on this one:
Conservatives are right to fear the internationalization of the culture wars--that is, the danger that American traditions will be struck down in the name of international values. But liberals should fear this development as well. Kenneth Anderson of the Washington College of Law predicts that, in the wake of Roper, citations to international authorities "will spread throughout the U.S. judicial system like an Internet virus--because both sides will have to assume in any litigation that it now matters." We may soon see shaky claims about a purported international consensus invoked in cases ranging from corporate litigation to free speech. And liberal values will hardly be reliable winners. As Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School suggests, the U.S. constitutional tradition tends to be much more libertarian and protective of rights than the European one in cases involving hate speech, defamation, abortion, and criminal procedure. If the German Constitutional Court's vision of abortion or free speech were imposed on the United States, for example, liberals would protest in the streets.
Rosen also gives Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the Roper decision, a deserved scathing, including this suprising bit of behind-the-scenes insight:
The morning after the Supreme Court struck down the juvenile death penalty as a form of cruel and unusual punishment in Roper v. Simmons, the reaction in the Supreme Court press room was unusually scathing. A liberal journalist lamented that, ever since Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the 5-4 opinion for the Court, styled himself as a judicial statesman, he has become insufferable, out of control, and "deserves to be slapped." A conservative journalist chimed in that the decision was embarrassing, because the justices had imposed their own moral preferences on the country without attempting to convince those who disagreed.
(Hat tip to Joshua Claybourn at In the Agora for the article)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

We're Not Making This Up

On the all-news station here in South Florida this morning the three anchors, the news producer, and the sports guy were playing "Stump the Anchor" (or something like that), where the group tries to answer trivia questions.

The master of ceremonies asked the question "What 1980's television prime-time soap opera was set in the city of Denver?"

The news-ette who co-anchors the program thought for a moment, and then answered "Dallas."

Monday, March 14, 2005

I'm Just Wild About Saffron

I recently made the mistake of reading an Anna Quindlen column, an activity I gave up long ago after realizing it regularly wasted four minutes of my life I'd never again be able to recover. Somehow I momentarily forgot this when paging through a recent Newsweek and stumbling upon her work again. The thing with Anna is that it's not so much that I disagree with her thinking; it's that I usually can't find her thinking.

Apparently she was quite enamored of "The Gates," the silly, $20 million, saffron-colored car wash flap display in New York's Central park recently. And the reason she was enamored was because of the pure brainlessness of it (which, come to think of it, is also the primary reason people are enamored of Anna Quindlen columns):
When pressed about what "The Gates" meant, the creators said it meant whatever you thought it meant, which was a relief after all the highhanded symbolic tyranny that passes for meaning nowadays. For lots of people, the installation made them happy for no reason, the way a spring day does. The spring days are coming soon, the yellow forsythia and daffodils rising as the orange stanchions disappear.
Does a spring day really make you happy for no reason? It seems odd that she immediately then cites two evident reasons she likes spring days--yellow forsythia and daffodils. Some people like a spring day because the plant life blooms again, some because it means that the cold winter is over, some because it means school will soon be out and summer on the way. But Anna can't figure out the reason why she likes it. Evidently it's an inexplicable reflexive response, like hiccupping.

Well, I've been thinking about what "The Gates" meant to me. It meant that no matter how stupid an artistic project is, even if it's $20 million worth of orange bedsheets, there'll always be someone like Anna Quindlen who's just vacuous enough to think it's good.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Around The Horn

Max Goss has launched a new conservative philosophy blog called Right Reason, which will be worth making regular visits to.

Max and his wife Liz have also launched another important project, their new baby daughter. Congrats!

Discoshaman's term is up in Kiev, and he'll be taking a blogging break while he and the Dutchess prepare to return to the states for a spell.

Geoff examines the motives of a New York Times reviewer who can't help seeing her political agenda go up in smoke when we see the reality of a baby being born.

And finally, a review by my old friend Bud of a recent production of "Grease" he attended at Bass Hall in Ft. Worth, Texas a few weeks ago. It's appropos of nothing, but I love it:
It's a nice place, the tickets were sort of pricey, Frankie Avalon was in it. I figured this would be great. Well, it [stunk]. And when Frankie Avalon comes out for his "Beauty School Drop Out" song, he looks and sings like Lee Corso. It's embarrassing. He's 70 and still playing the same part he did thirty years ago, and pining for the surf movies he did 50 years ago.

So finally the show is over, all the characters come out on stage one at a time or in pairs for the appropriate applause. Then Danny and Olivia-Newton John's character. Polite applause, this is almost over. Then Frankie comes on stage, he's changed out of his all-white angel garb into black slacks. He really looks like Lee Corso. Everyone stands, I mean, he's old, so I stand too. Then he motions for everyone to sit. The cast of "Grease" is still on the stage standing behind him--then it happens.

He goes into a comedy routine. It is as predictable and cheesy as you can imagine. Then he started singing hit songs talking about the good old days. Man was it awkward. Everybody had fake-smile on their face, sort of like "what's this guy doing, should I just leave now or be polite?" The cast was SOOO uncomfortable, clapping along to Venus behind him. Have you heard Venus? Wow. Seriously, probably shouldn't have made the charts...but he continued for 15 minutes.

When it finally ended, he wouldn't leave the stage. No one knew really what to do, but as soon as the first person hit the aisle it was a mad dash to get away from I'm-holding-on-way-too-tight-to-the-past-Frankie Avalon.
(Editor's note: the following photographs are presented for comparison purposes only):
Lee Corso
Frankie Avalon

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Murder, He Wrote

Maybe you can help me figure something out.

As you probably know, tommorrow will be Dan Rather's final day behind the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News after 24 years. Now, CBS News has been kidded forever about virtually creaking with old age. The Nielson ratings show that CBS News ranks dead last out of the three evening newscasts--and they're even further behind in the crucial 25-54 demographic.

So when Network-Methuselah Dan Rather finally decided to step down in ignominy after making up one story too many, CBS decided to replace him with....Bob Schieffer? The one guy at CBS besides Andy Rooney who actually looks older than Rather?

I mean, I know it's only interim, but at Schieffer's age, pretty much everything is interim. Was this Plan B after the exhumation of Harry Reasoner failed?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Let The Mediocrity Continue

As fate would have it, today is my second blogiversary. And yes, I am as amazed as anyone that I've managed to stretch out perhaps three days worth of actual material over an entire two-year period.

As I enter my third year of this, I've decided that I want to change the name of the blog. I've never particularly cared for it--alliteration annoys me. I chose the name on about two seconds of thought (appropriately enough, since that's roughly the amount I've given to each subsequent posting), and I've regretted it ever since.

Because the only thing I can really think of is to simply have the blog be eponymous (as in "John Rabe"), I figured I'd also give you, my five faithful visitors, the opportunity to contribute to this momentous decision. Feel free to share your ideas for renaming my blog in the comments below. If I chose your suggested name, you will be the lucky recipient of....a warm feeling at having contributed to the betterment of Western Civilization. Good luck, and drive safely.

(P.S. Yes, smart-aleck, I'm aware that this is a blog post about blog posting, and yes, I'm aware that I'm on record as having declared such postings positively boring, tedious, and narcissistic. Hey, if you took away boring, tedious, and narcissistic, I'd have no blog. So get over it. And if I post on that subject again for the rest of this year--other than this post and the one choosing the new name--you have my consent to track me down and flay me with a paring knife.)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Nixon's Hatchet Man

I got to briefly speak with Chuck Colson at a prayer breakfast he appeared at here this morning, sponsored by the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale. He's an amazing man whose prison ministry has been one of the greatest society-changing Christian stories in recent history. Here's a guy who had an office next to the President of the United States and yet only really began his lasting work well into his 40's, after falling from grace and going to prison.

But it was also cool from a much geekier angle. I've always been fascinated by all things Watergate, and I study it and read lots about it. For me, meeting someone who actually did time for Watergate is like meeting one of the Beatles.

Incidentally, Colson will also be appearing on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather later today. With Rather's anchor career wrapping up, they're taking a retrospective look at some of the huge stories he's covered. Tonight they'll look at Watergate, and Colson will also have the opportunity to talk about the profound post-Watergate change he underwent, and Who caused it.

(Update: A print account of The CBS Evening News piece and streaming video of the segment itself are now available online at the CBS News site.)

What Happens In Vegas....

From the Las Vegas Sun, on my former home's chronically eccentric mayor:
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman told a group of fourth graders on Monday that if he was marooned on a desert island the one thing he would want to have with him is a bottle of gin.

And when a student quizzed Goodman about his hobbies he replied that "drinking" was one of them, said Mackey Elementary School Principal Kamala Washington, who was present for the mayor's visit.

Goodman was unapologetic for his comments that came during his visit to the elementary school in North Las Vegas.

"I'm the George Washington of mayors. I can't tell a lie. If they didn't want the answer the kid shouldn't have asked the question," Goodman said. "It's me, what can I do?"
Before being elected mayor, Goodman was a mob attorney.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Feed Me, Seymour

After nearly two years, I believe I finally have an Atom-formatted XML site feed working.

I don't really know what that even means, but somebody told me I should have it. And since I don't actually know what it is, I have no way to be absolutely sure it's working. I'm also told that Atom is vastly inferior to some other format at doing whatever it is they supposedly do. So I also now have a site feed in something called Feedburner, which is supposed to cover the other formats.

So, enjoy!....if you have any idea what the hell any of this is.

El Nino

More brilliance from the Scalia dissent in yesterday's Roper v. Simmons death penalty case, as he eviscerates the Court's disingenuous reliance on foreign law to justify its decision. Scalia is the only person in America who writes enjoyable legal briefs. I've taken the liberty of removing most of the distracting citations, years, annotations, etc. Where there are quote marks, Scalia is citing a source:
The Court has been oblivious to the views of other countries when deciding how to interpret our Constitution's requirement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion... ." Most other countries--including those committed to religious neutrality--do not insist on the degree of separation between church and state that this Court requires. For example, whereas "we have recognized special Establishment Clause dangers where the government makes direct money payments to sectarian institutions," countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia allow direct government funding of religious schools on the ground that "the state can only be truly neutral between secular and religious perspectives if it does not dominate the provision of so key a service as education, and makes it possible for people to exercise their right of religious expression within the context of public funding." England permits the teaching of religion in state schools. Even in France, which is considered "America's only rival in strictness of church-state separation," "[t]he practice of contracting for educational services provided by Catholic schools is very widespread."

And let us not forget the Court's abortion jurisprudence, which makes us one of only six countries that allow abortion on demand until the point of viability. Though the Government and amici in cases following Roe v. Wade urged the Court to follow the international community's lead, these arguments fell on deaf ears.
Scalia points out (as he did in his televised debate with Justice Stephen Breyer last month) that "foreign law" is nothing more than a wax nose that the Court molds to justify its own desired results when those results can't be justified based on the Constitution it is supposedly interpreting. They use it when it advances their predetermined conclusion, and ignore it when it doesn't:
The Court should either profess its willingness to reconsider all these matters in light of the views of foreigners, or else it should cease putting forth foreigners' views as part of the reasoned basis of its decisions. To invoke alien law when it agrees with one's own thinking, and ignore it otherwise, is not reasoned decisionmaking, but sophistry.

The Court responds that "[i]t does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom"....[T]he Court's statement flatly misdescribes what is going on here. Foreign sources are cited today, not to underscore our "fidelity" to the Constitution, our "pride in its origins," and "our own [American] heritage." To the contrary, they are cited to set aside the centuries-old American practice--a practice still engaged in by a large majority of the relevant States--of letting a jury of 12 citizens decide whether, in the particular case, youth should be the basis for withholding the death penalty. What these foreign sources "affirm," rather than repudiate, is the Justices' own notion of how the world ought to be, and their diktat that it shall be so henceforth in America.
How interesting that this court completely discounts the opinions of American citizens in the various states who are constitutionally charged with actually making the laws, while placing preeminent importance on the opinions of foreign judges.

Long live Antonin Scalia, the century's greatest Supreme Court justice.

Court Of Contradictions

Several cases are being heard before the Supreme Court today involving the public display of the Ten Commandments on government property in Texas and Kentucky. It's the first time the Court has really considered these cases since the movement to purge them from every public place really picked up steam in the mid-90's. Of course, the arguments will be heard in a room which features a carving of Moses carrying those same Ten Commandments.

It will be interesting to see if the logic of yesterday's death penalty decision (which was purportedly based on "the evolving standards of decency" and a supposed consensus that had emerged in the country on the issue) will apply to the Ten Commandments, seeing as though polls show something like 75-80% of Americans believe public display of the Decalogue is perfectly acceptable.

What do you want to bet the Court will suddenly and conveniently forget yesterday's reasoning?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

One Nation, Under Other Nations

The runaway Supreme Court is at it again.

Today, the Court decided (PDF file) that states cannot execute murderers who are younger than 18. Whatever one's views on the propriety of the death penalty for minors, the Supreme Court in this opinion demonstrated once again that they are a renegade body, ruling by fiat as the kings and queens of old did.

Unable to find any reason in the Constitution itself for disallowing states to make their own laws in this matter, Justice Anthony Kennedy resorted instead to what we call "making it up as you go along." Said Kennedy:
The prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments," like other expansive language in the Constitution, must be interpreted according to its text, by considering history, tradition, and precedent, and with due regard for its purpose and function in the constitutional design. To implement this framework we have established the propriety and affirmed the necessity of referring to "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" to determine which punishments are so disproportionate as to be cruel and unusual.
In other words, we the court, and we alone, will decide which "evolving standards" currently apply and are correct. We are the monarchs, and we make the rules.

He then hammers home this fine piece of judicial activism by once again appealing to the laws of other nations in writing his ruling:
It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime.
In other words, using no constitutional reasoning, Justice Kennedy simply saw fit to change a law that he personally disagreed with, and found some foreign judges to validate his opinion. The Supreme Court decided "You, the legislature representing the people, made a decision. But what you've decided offends us. We're bigger than you, so we're forcing you to do it our way." Constitutional reasoning is utterly irrelevent in this process. And the saddest part is, most Americans say "So? What's the problem?"

Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the final remaining voices of sanity in American law, vigorously dissented (joined by Justices Thomas and Rehnquist, in a dissent that should be read by everyone--it's just a beautiful piece of work), though it's doubtful that an ill-informed, under-educated American populace will notice his point and recognize that the Supreme Court is putting us under the sovereignty of foreign nations (italics in original):
What a mockery today's opinion makes of Hamilton's expectation, announcing the Court's conclusion that the meaning of our Constitution has changed over the past 15 years--not, mind you, that this Court's decision 15 years ago was wrong, but that the Constitution has changed. The Court reaches this implausible result by purporting to advert, not to the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment, but to "the evolving standards of decency" of our national society. It then finds, on the flimsiest of grounds, that a national consensus which could not be perceived in our people's laws barely 15 years ago now solidly exists. Worse still, the Court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: "[I]n the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment." The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation’s moral standards—and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor also dissented from the ruling, but refused to join Scalia, instead affirming her own faith in foreign law as an arbiter for correct constitutional jurisprudence:
I disagree with Justice Scalia’s contention…that foreign and international law have no place in our Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. Over the course of nearly half a century, the Court has consistently referred to foreign and international law as relevant to its assessment of evolving standards of decency.
Catch that? According to Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court's job is not to apply the Constitution as written, but rather to be the national arbiter of "evolving standards of decency." Rather than allowing the people to decide what they regard as decent, the unelected Supreme Court will do it for them, thank you very much.

This Supreme Court will allow decisions about our national life to be made either by itself or by foreign courts--but not by We The People. It is long past time that the Congress of the United States assert its constitutionally-delegated power of impeachment against a lawless Court.