Thursday, March 31, 2005

John Paul II is ill

The pope's condition appears grave.

"CNN reports the rights [sic] have been given and say it indicates the situation is serious. . . .Earlier today, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Pope's health had worsened. 'The Holy Father has been struck during the day by a high fever caused by an infection of the urinary tract,' he said."

Let's keep praying for him.

The knives are sharpened again

This notion (I don't do "memes") is getting a lot of play in the media: that the Pope has left a de facto "living will." What they really mean is that he has said unequivocally that deliberate starvation is different from, say, declining dialysis or respiration when death is imminent.

If anyone can find a clear statement of the "more flexible earlier position," please post it here. I couldn't find it in Evangelium Vitae, but maybe I'm hermeneutically impaired. If so, please don't pull my food and water.

Terri Schiavo is dead

She passed away around 10:30 this morning.

Vermont, the next euthanasia front

The New York Times says that the Green Mountain State is considering legislation modeled on Oregon's. Last line of article calls euthanasia "a civil rights movement." Someone forgot to send Jesse the memo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Senator Clinton "Moves to the Middle" -- of What?

This story, in the New York Newsday, recounts Sen. Clinton's "repositioning" on issues such as abortion and the involvement of faith and morals in the life of the family. This might be the middle ground between, say, Barbara Boxer and Joe Lieberman, but hardly represents the middle between abortionists and pro-life (a.k.a., civil rights) advocates.

Here’s the highlight of the article:

"Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of those are terminated," Clinton said. "Making contraception more accessible and affordable is critical to reducing the number of unintended pregnancies."

Clinton, who strongly favors abortion rights, went on to call her proposal a place "where people on both sides of the abortion debate can come together to reach common ground."

I don’t doubt Ms. Clinton is very bright and understands that the most unswerving pro-lifers aren't looking to contraception to avoid "unintended pregnancies." On the contrary; her language represents a broken, upside-down view of the role of sexuality and its blessings. Many pro-lifers understand that sexual union between a husband and wife is a reflection of the triune communion of God and our chance to participate in God's gift to us through sacramental marriage and the distinctly conjugal expression of love. When a child is the result of this love, it is as joyous and profound as the universe itself is recreated at the creation of another new body and soul. I'm sure there are other pro-lifers who take other views, such as the equal protection of every person (regardless of physiology or mortally-dependent relationships) under the Constitution. The pro-life movement is rich in understanding the significance of life and its creation. Until eschaton, fallen man will engage in extra-martial sex, it is naive to suggest otherwise. Dispensing jimmy caps isn’t a true or “mid-way” remedy. It's an encouragement to dissolution of the integrity of being; it's a trajectory in the wrong direction.

So then, in a faint echo of Kerry’s attempt to legitimize a Catholic schism in the American Church, is the real goal the splintering the pro-life movement? As we’ve seen in the past, only the abortionists and the mainstream media buy this "new again, old again" position. Remember Jocelyn Elders’ "Every child a wanted child?" Remember which crowd bought that nonsense?

Long Past Time to Act in Sudan

ABC News: Report: Darfur Death Toll Nears 300,000: "The death toll in Darfur has been underestimated and is likely to be near 300,000, British lawmakers said Wednesday, calling the international response to the human tragedy 'scandalously ineffective.'"

No, It's Not About Terri Schiavo Anymore

James Taranto, at Best of the Web, points to this brilliant piece by Mary Johnson, editor of Ragged Edge, a disability-rights magazine:
No; it's not about Terri Schiavo. And it hasn't been for quite awhile.

It's about us.

It's about each of us who thinks "I wouldn't want to live if I were a vegetable." It's about each one of us who thinks, as one blogger wrote, that Michael Schiavo has been "chained to a drooling sh--bag for 15 years."

But it's also about those of us who are those vegetables, those drooling sh--bags. Those of us who want to live but know we're a burden to our families. Those of us who fear "do not resuscitate" orders. Those of us who use ventilators, and who use feeding tubes. And those of us who can communicate with clarity only through artificial means. . . .

There isn't a single disability rights activist I've heard from who is happy that things ended up at such a sorry pass, and who isn't afraid that this will make liberals hate them even more than they now do.

Recurring in the conversations I've held with friends and loved ones on this topic is the notion, "I wouldn't want to be such a burden. . ." Those of us who wish to bob our heads in pleasant agreement may continue to do so but the implications of our tepid acquiescing strikes deeper than most care to think. Who volunteers to become a burden, outside of pathology? I vaguely recall the taboo suicide once held, too.


The posts this morning have me thinking about the insidious methods of corruption. Evil is not content in merely being evil -- it seeks to remove all legitimacy from others as well, to drag others into guilt, and through shared guilt, eliminate the possibility of reprisal or contrary action. I am reminded of this passage from Plato's Apology in which Socrates says that maintaining his moral integrity is far more important than maintaining his own life (my emphasis added):

Let me tell you a passage of my own life, which will prove to you that I should never have yielded to injustice from any fear of death, and that if I had not yielded I should have died at once. I will tell you a story - tasteless, perhaps, and commonplace, but nevertheless true. The only office of state which I ever held, O men of Athens, was that of senator; the tribe Antiochis, which is my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the generals who had not taken up the bodies of the slain after the battle of Arginusae; and you proposed to try them all together, which was illegal, as you all thought afterwards; but at the time I was the only one of the Prytanes who was opposed to the illegality, and I gave my vote against you; and when the orators threatened to impeach and arrest me, and have me taken away, and you called and shouted, I made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law and justice with me, rather than take part in your injustice because I feared imprisonment and death. This happened in the days of the democracy. But when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, as they wanted to execute him. This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were always giving with the view of implicating as many as possible in their crimes; and then I showed, not in words only, but in deed, that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a straw for death, and that my only fear was the fear of doing an unrighteous or unholy thing. For the strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into doing wrong; and when we came out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end. And to this many will witness.

I remember a similar story on the History Channel of an early purge of Saddam Hussein's in which he gathered the Baath Party members for a meeting, announced there were traitors in their midst, and had the party members begin denouncing each other. Then he demanded that those not found guilty of disloyalty execute those who had been, making murderers of the survivors and binding them to him in their now shared criminality.

These questions we face make moral demands upon us all. We cannot simply reply, "this is a private matter for someone else" when we, our government, our courts are implicated in these actions, when our police stand ready to bar water from a dying woman by force of arms. I fear a similar dynamic at work in living wills: we have made our wishes known! If you haven't (or can't), then I'm sorry, but we've all been good citizens who've graciously and conscientiously scripted our exits and promised not to poop on anyone on the way out. We gradually, collectively, get used to denying life to the non-compliant. At that point, the reality of our collective guilt makes changing the evil policy much more difficult.

Insidious, as I said. Thank you, Plato, for remembering.

Triumph of the Will

This op-ed deals with the unspoken assumptions of so-called "living wills":

The [Euthanasia] Society [of America] moved into full gear in the late 60's and 70's with its introduction of the seemingly innocuous living-will documents. Eileen Doyle, R. N. writes, "All of the living-will type of legislation is geared to blur the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary care. The long-term purpose of right-to-die or living-will legislation is the great propaganda value in conditioning people, state by state, to accept that they have a right-to die. In some cases such conditioning may result in a duty to die."

We play a mug's game every time we utter the words "choice" and "privacy." By elevating the desires of the autonomous will to the sole determinant of all public policy, by accepting the premise that we can only locate the basis for any morality that hopes to be publicly binding in the whims of the individual autonomous will, we invariably are driven to allow the stronger will to prevail over the weaker -- we've removed any other criteria by which we might make judgment. Every argument we make against euthanasia that shares these premises, unexamined and unmodified, can only succeed partially, as a kind of technicality on which one specific person might humbly be permitted to continue her (otherwise morally unjustifed) existence. In the long run, this is a losing situation. Yes, we certainly should grant that people should not be forced to accept medical treatment they refuse, but we speak of legal and philosophic fictions when we speak of a right to choose manner and timing of death granted to us by the Goddess Privacy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

So I guess we're someplace in the middle of that slippery ol' slope...

You know how people have been saying, "If anything good comes out of the Terri Schiavo case it's that people will take the time to sign a living will" (or something to that effect)...? Well, this article made me wonder if maybe we shouldn't rush out and start signing our lives away...

Death on the March -- More From Netherlands/Netherworld

"The Dutch Health Ministry will soon issue its opinion on a proposal to expand the country's euthanasia policy to cover infants, the mentally handicapped and the demented, a spokesman said Tuesday."


Meanwhile, democratic struggles continue in Zimbabwe: "Police vowed on Tuesday to crackdown hard to prevent violence in Zimbabwe's election and international observers said they had intervened several times to diffuse mounting tensions ahead of Thursday's vote."

Freedom has been slow coming to Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe has used torture and famine as tools for maintaining his political power. Here's hoping and praying that Zimbabwe catches the wave of democratization and throws out the scoundrel.

John Leo on the Bright Line We Just Dimmed

The Rev. Richard Neuhaus ... wrote, "Thousands of ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable, until it is finally established as the unexceptional." The Schiavo case is a breakthrough for persuading the public to lower the bar on moral constraints. Once we had a bright line between pulling the plug on patients kept alive by life-support systems and killing people like Terri Schiavo who are not on life support but merely being fed through a tube. Requiring clear evidence of consent is no longer required.

See the rest here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Killing Joe Ford With Kindness

Joe Ford, a Harvard undergraduate with cerebral palsy, writes in the Harvard Crimson on what the Schiavo case shows about American culture today.

"The reason for this public support of removal from ordinary sustenance, I believe, is not that most people understand or care about Terri Schiavo. Like many others with disabilities, I believe that the American public, to one degree or another, holds that disabled people are better off dead. To put it in a simpler way, many Americans are bigots. A close examination of the facts of the Schiavo case reveals not a case of difficult decisions but a basic test of this country’s decency."

And this bracing passage:

"Besides being disabled, Schiavo and I have something important in common, that is, someone attempted to terminate my life by removing my endotracheal tube during resuscitation in my first hour of life. This was a quality-of-life decision: I was simply taking too long to breathe on my own, and the person who pulled the tube believed I would be severely disabled if I lived, since lack of oxygen causes cerebral palsy. (I was saved by my family doctor inserting another tube as quickly as possible.) The point of this is not that I ended up at Harvard and Schiavo did not, as some people would undoubtedly conclude. The point is that society already believes to some degree that it is acceptable to murder disabled people."

Read it all.

Privacy Kills

Time's lead on the Schiavo story:

"The way Terri Schiavo's private tragedy has become a political issue in the U.S. estranges many people in Europe."

Boy, let's parse that one: first, the Schiavo case, where a woman has been the subject of countless public court cases, held at various public facilities (hospices, hospitals) and commented on by untold third-parties, was somehow "private," presumably until Congress "politicized" it. George Felos's association with the Hemlock Society, Dr. Cranford's advocacy of euthanasia for Alzheimer's patients -- those somehow shouldn't be taken as indicative of political or ideological axes to grind. Second, of course those Europeans are so much more sophisticated than we Bible-thumping naifs here Stateside.

I do recommend the article -- there's a quote from Rocco Buttiglione applauding the efforts of Congress.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

David Brooks in Torment

David Brooks is such a noble soul, but sometimes he seems new to these "social conservative" arguments, and he doesn't quite get them. When Robbie George says "Always to care, never to kill," I don't think he's equating "care" with extraordinary means of prolonging life. Care can include food, comfort, hygiene, and respect; it doesn't require machines. Nor do I think the Terri Schiavo case necessarily involved extraordinary means. There are sworn affidavits on file that say she still has her swallowing reflex. If that's true, she should have been spoon-fed when they pulled the tube. It would have been time-consuming, but "ordinary." Feeding someone who can swallow food is never an extraordinary means; nor is it "prolonging" life. It's basic decency; it's sustaining life, and we do it for our small children, elderly parents, and other dependents in need. No one's advocating greater use of machines that go bing -- except the people who make those machines. Brooks says he has been "agonized" over this case. I believe him. But he doesn't need to be agonized. This is not a hard case. And George's argument is not saying what Brooks says it says.

Misdiagnosis of the vegetative state: retrospective study in a rehabilitation unit

The British Medical Journal had a study on false diagnosis of PVS in 1996: "The vegetative state needs considerable skill to diagnose, requiring assessment over a period of time; diagnosis cannot be made, even by the most experienced clinician, from a bedside assessment. Accurate diagnosis is possible but requires the skills of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the management of people with complex disabilities. Recognition of awareness is essential if an optimal quality of life is to be achieved and to avoid inappropriate approaches to the courts for a declaration for withdrawal of tube feeding. "

Dr. Cranford came to his PVS diagnosis after a single 45-minute examination session.

Friday, March 25, 2005

How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo

In How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo at The Weekly Standard, Eric Cohen locates the crux of the Schiavo tragedy in a misplaced emphasis on autonomy: "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.'"

Well worth reading.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Welcome, Treefrog

Thumos now has a second contributor. Thanks for giving in to my begging and joining, treefrog.

The Joy of Starving

I'm amazed that all good forces seem impotent in this Schiavo affair. This isn't a hard case, by any stretch. And her dh is incapable of eliciting any real sympathy from anyone. Yet here we are. Today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about how it's not so bad to starve to death, after all ( How could a satirist even begin to treat this material? Can it really be just what the sound-byte feminists say it is -- all about abortion? Is abortion-on-demand the fundamental value from which we derive all other policy and principle?

ABC News: More News They Refuse

ABC News has another story on the Schindler family's setbacks. We call your attention to this passage on page 2:

"Jeb Bush and the state's social services agency filed a petition in state court to take custody of Schiavo and, presumably, reconnect her feeding tube. It cites new allegations of neglect and challenges Schiavo's diagnosis as being in a persistent vegetative state. The request is based on the opinion of a neurologist working for the state who observed Schiavo at her bedside but did not conduct an examination of her.

The neurologist, William Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, is a bioethicist who is also an active member in Christian organizations, including two whose leaders have spoken out against the tube's removal.

Ronald Cranford of the University of Minnesota, a neurologist who was among those who made a previous diagnosis of Schiavo, said 'there isn't a reputable, credible neurologist in the world who won't find her in a vegetative state.'"

Hmm. William Cheshire is obviously working out his "Christian thing," expressing his narrow, parrochial biases, right? After all, this unbiased Cranford doctor says that every unbiased expert would agree with him. Perhaps ABC can report that Cranford is the author of this, a passionate plea for removing feeding tubes from not only PVS patients, but also Alzheimer's patients.

ABC mentions that an expert who says Terri is not in a PVS is a member of "Christian groups" (cue scary music), but hides the fact that the most damning witness for Robert Schiavo is a doctor who is an outspoken advocate for starving the demented.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hollywood Pro-lifers (Both of Them) Come Out for Terri

Mel Gibson, Patricia Heaton Get Fired Up Over Euthanasia Battle

More Bad News

Schiavo Bill Fails in Fla. Senate

Florida Gov't Bureau Seeks Food and Water for Terri

Florida Department of Children and Families is seeking to keep Terri alive by presenting new medical testimony that she is not in a PVS. The appeal goes to . . . . Judge George Greer.

ABC Poll

Here are the details on the poll that ABC used to say Americans overwhelmingly want Schiavo's tube removed. It's practically a textbook case of poll bias. Here's the first question:

"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 husband and her parents disagree about whether she would have wanted to be kept alive. Florida courts have sided with the husband and her feeding tube was removed on Friday.

What’s your opinion on this case - do you support or oppose the decision to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube? Do you support/oppose it strongly or somewhat?"

  1. Terri was not on "life support," she was being given food and water.
  2. Some doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Many others disagree on both points. Many also claim she has medically neglected.

More of the same. ABC has been disgraceful on this story.

The LA Times is Also Using the Schiavo Case to Start the Pope Death Watch

More glee at the eventual death of the pope.

Jeb Bush Urges Legislature to Take Action Again

Gov. Jeb Bush is working the Florida legislature again.

To borrow Michael Ledeen's phrase:

Faster, please.

Blogging the CT Scan of Terri's Brain

Props to K-Lo on The Corner for finding this excellent blog: a medical blog which analyzes Terri's case. The writer is a radiologist. His analysis of the CT scan from 1996 is worth-reading. All of which begs the question: where's the MRI? Why rely on technology that is over 30 years old, when imaging has made such strides since then?

Terri's Case Goes to Supreme Court

It looks pretty grim. The appellate court just denied the Schindler's pleas. Terri's only chance is the Supreme Court. It's a long shot.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Material Girl

We hope the "material" isn't C4: Bin Laden's niece plans pop career

Favorite quote: "Everyone has a black sheep in the family." Yeah, Cousin Tommy grows orchids!

Oh, yeah, and Uncle Osama killed thousands of people from all over the world.

Will No One Rid Me of this Turbulent Priest?

The Schiavo case is unleashing a lot of spirits of widely differing qualities and alignments. To witness the less seemly spirits in action, we present CNN on the Pope and the Terri Schiavo case:
Nobody at the Vatican is drawing parallels between Schiavo's condition and that of the ailing pope.
Apparently, though, CNN is comfortable doing so. Read on:
Still, the debate over Schiavo's fate has once more raised questions no one inside the Vatican can answer: What would happen should the pope become incapacitated? Should he one day require artificial means to breathe, eat and drink, how long should these machines be used? And, who would make the decision to pull the plug?
Is it just us, or do we detect a faint note of longing? This is the sound of an editorial team longing to give two plugs a tug, and one of them is only hypothetical and hasn't even been hooked up yet.

Schiavo's Parents File New Federal Appeal

ABC News: "TAMPA, Fla. Mar 22, 2005 -- Contending that Terri Schiavo is 'fading quickly,' her parents urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to order the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube reinserted and provide enough time for them to pursue claims that her rights are being violated. "

L'Osservatore Romano says Schiavo condemned to 'an atrocious death'

L'Osservatore Romano says Schiavo condemned to 'an atrocious death': "Terri Schindler Schiavo has been condemned to die 'an atrocious death' in a society that is 'incapable of appreciating and defending the gift of life,' said the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano."

NPR : Petra Haden Takes on Standards, and the Who

NPR : Petra Haden Takes on Standards, and the Who

Been listening to Petra Haden's new recording: "Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out." It's an acapella cover of the classic Who album. It's pretty cool. Check it out.

Judge Whittemore Refuses to Intervene in Schiavo Case "The judge said the 41-year-old woman's parents had not established a 'substantial likelihood of success' at trial on the merits of their arguments. Rex Sparklin, an attorney with the law firm representing Terri Schiavo's parents, said lawyers were immediately appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to 'save Terri's life.'"

Note the use of scare quotes at the end.

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Not the Correct Set of Jurisdictional Rules, But a Decent Set of Moral Imperatives"

Kathryn Lopez, who has been admirably and dogged pursuing the Schiavo story on the Corner, puts a link there to an excellent piece by the insightful James Q. Wilson at the American Enterprise Institute:

This is a tragedy. Congress has responded by rushing to pass a law that will allow her case, but only her case, to be heard in federal court. But there is no guarantee that, if it is heard there, a federal judge will do any better than the Florida one. What is lacking in this matter is not the correct set of jurisdictional rules but a decent set of moral imperatives.

That moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future. To do otherwise makes us recall Nazi Germany where retarded people and those with serious disabilities were 'euthanized' (that is, killed). We hear around the country echoes of this view in the demands that doctors be allowed to participate, as they do in Oregon, in physician-assisted suicide, whereby doctors can end the life of patients who request death and have less than six months to live. This policy endorses the right of a person to end his or her life with medical help. It is justified by the alleged success of this policy in the Netherlands.

But it has not been a success in the Netherlands. In that country there have been well over 1,000 doctor-induced deaths among patients who had not requested death, and in a large fraction of those cases the patients were sufficiently competent to have made the request had they wished.

Not Good

Judge makes no immediate ruling in Schiavo case: "Armed with a new law rushed through Congress over the weekend, the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents pleaded with a judge Monday to order the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube reinserted.
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore did not immediately make a ruling after the two-hour hearing, and he gave no indication on when he might act on the request."

The Definition of Chutzpah

You may have heard the following definition of chutzpah: a boy kills both his parents in cold blood. Arrested and brought before the judge, he throws himself on the mercy of the court -- as an orphan.

James Taranto at Opinion Journal's "Best of the Web" reminds us of that old joke with an excellent deconstruction of the "marital rights" argument:

Till Death Do Them Part?

. . . According to news reports, Mr. Schiavo lives with a woman named Jodi Centonze, and they have two children together. Surely any court would consider this prima facie evidence of adultery. And this is no mere fling; a sympathetic 2003 profile in the Orlando Sentinel described Centonze as Mr. Schiavo's "fiancée." Mr. Schiavo, in other words, has virtually remarried. Short of outright bigamy, his relationship with Centonze is as thoroughgoing a violation of his marriage vows as it is possible to imagine.

The point here is not to castigate Mr. Schiavo for behaving badly. It would require a heroic degree of self-sacrifice for a man to forgo love and sex in order to remain faithful to an incapacitated wife, and it would be unreasonable to hold an ordinary man to a heroic standard.

But it is equally unreasonable to let Mr. Schiavo have it both ways. If he wishes to assert his marital authority to do his wife in, the least society can expect in return is that he refrain from making a mockery of his marital obligations. The grimmest irony in this tragic case is that those who want Terri Schiavo dead are resting their argument on the fiction that her marriage is still alive.

George F. Kennan, R.I.P.

Missed this obit of George Kennan, the architect of American post-war/Cold War foreign policy.

ABC News: Poll: No Role for Government in Schiavo Case

ABC News reports on a poll that indicates the American public strongly supports Michael Schiavo, wants Terri's feeding to end, and thinks Congress shouldn't intervene. We'll see. Color us dubious: if there's one thing Congressmen and Senators can do, it's count. If this were a real vote loser, we wouldn't have a near-unanimous passage in the Senate and an overwhelming majority in the House.

Judge George Greer and Wife-Beating Cases

For background on George Greer, the Florida judge who has repeatedly denied the Schindlers the permission to care for their daughter, Terri Schiavo, this article in The Empire Journal is worth reading:

When Helene Ball McGee if Dunedin, Fla., turned to Greer for protection against her abusive husband, Bobby Lane McGee in March, 1998, Greer rebuked her plea for help, saying that he wasn't "convinced that her life was in imminent danger."

In asking for the court order, she told Greer that her husband forced himself on her sexually, burned her belongings and said she was possessed by the devil. Greer ruled that she didn't have "enough proof" that her husband was violent because she said he had not been physically violent----yet.

Two weeks later, Helene McGee was dead, stabbed to death.
There's much more. Please read the complete article. Where is NOW on this?

Keeping Things in Perspective

While the Florida courts attempt to starve a woman, it's good to have activists try to limit euthanasia among pets. From Boulder, CO: "But 15 percent of the 7,600 animals the Boulder Humane Society takes in each year will be euthanized. That's not bad compared to the national euthanization rate of about 63 percent, local officials say. In some shelters, as many as 75 percent are killed.
Still, some activists and former volunteers say the numbers don't jibe with the shelter's motto that it finds homes for 100 percent of adoptable animals. They think that claim misleads the public into thinking the shelter is a no-kill facility. They say what's 'adoptable' is subjective and question how the shelter draws the line. "

Here's an idea: let's see if Terri is "adoptable" before we starve her. There is a family in St. Petersburg that would make an excellent candidate.

Free Speech is Great (in Theory)

The BBC cites a pro-abortion advocate who disdains debate:

"Abortion Rights said politicians should remember abortion was legalised to save lives and warned making it an election issue could spark a US-style debate.
. . . "

God forbid that anyone should have a "US-style debate" about abortion.

Congress and President Pass Emergency Legislation; Schiavo's Fate in Hands of Federal Judge

AP reports:

The parents of Terri Schiavo asked a judge to reinsert the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube Monday, following an extraordinary political fight that consumed both chambers of Congress andprompted the president to rush back to the White House. An attorney for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, arrived at federal district court in Tampa and filed a request for an emergency injunction to keep their daughter fed.

When the attorney, David Gibbs II, was asked if he had any indication when the judge would rule on the request, he said: "I have no way to know, just that it's in the hands of the court."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Schultz, Wexler, Frank

As most in Congress try to save a woman's life, make a mental note of Representatives Schultz, Wexler, and Frank:

"Some Democrats questioned whether Congress should be trying to decide whether to keep Schiavo alive. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has fought in court to have the feeding tubes removed while her parents have pushed to keep their daughter alive by artificial means.

'It is particularly hypocritical when you have people who say they advocate on behalf of the Defense of Marriage Act who now insert themselves between a husband and his wife,' Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said.

'It's not the place of Congress, in the 11th hour and in the most abusive fashion, to undermine the Florida court system,' said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., added, 'We are seeing, sadly, the manifestation of a constitutional crisis. You will have hundreds of members of Congress making a medical decision about which we know nothing.'"

Please note that Congress is doing nothing of the kind, it is making no medical decision. Rather, it is determining (as per the Article I, Section 8, Clauses 9 and 18, and Article III of the Constitution) the jurisdiction of federal courts to review the legal process used to deprive a woman of her life. We have a copy of the Constitution, in case Congressman Frank's is illegible.

baldilocks: Schiavo Two Cents

baldilocks: From Baldilocks' Blog:
I haven’t done any posting on Terry Schiavo except to make glancing comments. There’s a reason.

My grandmother's (step dad’s mom) youngest was born with multiple birth defects. Basically, she was born the way Terry Schiavo became—probably with far less cognitive ability than Ms. Schiavo.

My aunt couldn’t walk or talk or feed herself. She could, however, laugh, cry and recognize familiar people. When she was born, doctors said that she wouldn’t live past one year and suggested that my grandmother institutionalize her. That, however, was out of the question, so she lived at home—for thirty-eight years. My aunt died only a few months after my grandmother did—probably from grief.

(When my aunt was alive, I knew that there would always someone else at home when I called Grandma’s house. Aunt was never left alone.)

What’s being done to Terry Schiavo is barbaric, criminal and evil. Plain and simple. All the talk is just that.

TBO Asks Us Not to Believe Our Eyes

Although video like that shown on Terri's Fight shows Terri Schiavo to have apparent responses to her surroundings, Tampa Bay Online asks us to ignore this in light of other video:
Less widely known are four hours of images, taped in summer 2002, of Schiavo's inert stare from her hospice bed. They more accurately show the Pinellas Park woman, argue some doctors and Michael Schiavo, who says his wife is brain-dead and should die in dignity after 15 years in what doctors term a persistent vegetative state.

George Greer, a Pasco-Pinellas circuit judge, ruled the tapes fail to prove Terri Schiavo's brain still works.

"She clearly does not consistently respond to her mother," the judge wrote in 2002 after hearing from five doctors with divided opinions. "The court finds that based on the credible evidence, cognitive function would manifest itself in a constant response to stimuli."
Re-read that passage above. Notice that the burden of evidence is to prove that a patient has sufficient brain function to justify contined existence, not sufficient damage to warrant slow starvation. TBO doesn't feel the need to ask why a brief period of unresponsiveness is more compelling than a briefer period of interaction. Applying this logic, if your aged, declining mother has dementia or decreased function, you should look to her condition on her worst day, rather than her best, when trying to decide whether to have her euthanized. TBO could even publish tips for would-be mercy killers, such as "seek her out after exhausting physical therapy. If she is unresponsive in her fatigue, begin videotaping, and present results to sympathetic judge."

Schadenfreude in Decline at the Times

The The New York Times concedes that "The Tide May Be Turning" in Iraq:
In the first 18 months of the fighting, the insurgents mostly outmaneuvered the Americans along Haifa Street, showing they could carry the war to the capital's core with something approaching impunity.

But American officers say there have been signs that the tide may be shifting. Despite some notable exceptions, insurgents are attacking in smaller numbers, and with less intensity; mortar attacks into the Green Zone have diminished sharply; major raids have uncovered large weapons caches; and some rebel leaders have been arrested or killed.

American military engineers, frustrated elsewhere by insurgent attacks, are moving ahead along Haifa Street with a $20 million program to improve electricity, sewer and other utilities. So far, none of the work sites have been attacked, although a local Shiite leader who vocally supported the American projects was assassinated on his doorstep in January.

But the change American commanders see as more promising than any other here is the deployment of large numbers of Iraqi troops. American commanders are eager to shift the fighting in Iraq to the country's own troops, allowing American units to pull back from the cities and, eventually, to begin drawing down their 150,000 troops. Haifa Street has become an early test of that strategy.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

ABC News: Congress Announces Deal in Schiavo Case

ABC News: Congress Announces Deal in Schiavo Case: "Congressional leaders said Saturday they reached a compromise that would call on federal courts to decide Terri Schiavo's fate, as emotions swelled outside the hospice where the brain-damaged woman spent her second day without a feeding tube."

South Dakota Governor OKs Abortion Limits

The Los Angeles Times runs an AP story of South Dakota attempting to restrict abortion and reclaim the states' rightful prerogative to legislate on abortion matters without interference from the federal Supreme Court.

"Wrongful Life"

Kathryn Jean Lopez of The Corner alerts us to this one: a successful "wrongful life" suit in the Netherlands (where else?).

"Wrongful Life." The words should catch in our throats.

Friday, March 18, 2005

US Senate Rejects So-Called "Democratic Abortion Amendment"

Check out this article on how those nasty Republicans are really not interested in reducing abortions.

Apparently, Senators Clinton and Reid introduced something Reuters variously terms an "abortion amendment" and a "pregnancy prevention measure" which Republican senators refused to support.

The reader has to get through seven paragraphs to find an actual description of the measure:

"The measure, offered as an amendment in the Senate budget debate, included more funding for family planning, teen pregnancy programs and education about emergency contraception. It also would have expanded health insurance coverage of prescription birth control."

Hmmm. Pro-life (anti-abortion) senators are opposed to funding "emergency contraceptives which work as . . . . abortifacients? And they aren't adding funding to promote contraception, which study after study show do nothing to curb abortion rates?

Wow, they're so . . . . consistent.

Terri's Feeding Tube Has Been Removed

Story Here.

Let God Sort 'Em Out -- Or Maybe ONLY Kill Good People

Congress intervenes in Schiavo case:
Apparently, Congressmen will subpoena Terri to force her to be kept on life-support.

Meanwhile, the Florida Senate again rejected a bill that would have prevented tubes from being removed from people unless they had left clear instructions on end-of-life care. A novel bit of moral theology came from one of the opposing Florida senators:

"Sen. Nancy Argenziano, a Dunnellon Republican who voted against the Senate measure on Thursday, wiped away tears as she explained her position. She said she had received threatening phone calls and been called 'some very nasty names.'
'Please respect my fundamental belief, it is a true belief,' she said, pausing as she cried. 'I don't want to stop anyone from getting to heaven.'
Argenziano and other senators said they were convinced from the court testimony that Schiavo would not have wanted to be kept alive by artificial means.
'just ask people to understand there is another point of view,' she said. 'I believe keeping someone from getting to heaven is the wrong thing to do.'"

Yes, starving someone to death so they can go to heaven is another point of view, as is a belief that Hale-Bopp is coming to bring us to a higher state, once we "dump the containers" and off ourselves.

Making a Federal Issue out of it - House to issue subpoenas to keep Terry Schiavo alive

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rev. Robert Johansen on Terri Schiavo on National Review Online

Rev. Robert Johansen on Terri Schiavo on National Review Online provides interesting details, among them:

  1. Terri has not had an MRI or PET scan -- standard, non-invasive tests for determining actual damage. Remarks such as "Terri's cerebral cortex tissues have deteriorated entirely and are replaced by fluid" are suppositions, not measurables.

  2. Fifteen board-certified neurologists called for additional testing in the appeal that Judge Greer just dismissed.

  3. The star expert witness for Michael Schiavo and George Felos, Dr. Ronald Cranford, is an activist in the "right-to-die"/physician-assisted suicide movement, one who is on record for advocating the starvation of Alzheimer’s patients. He previously surfaced in the Nancy Cruzan case, advocating that she, too, be starved (in Cruzan's case, he advocated withholding spoon-feeding).

Please keep praying, emailing, writing.

Mixed Signals from the Great Beyond

Interesting editorial on the New Age practices and beliefs of George Felos, as detailed in his writings, particularly a book entitled Litigation as Spiritual Practice. No, we're not making this up. All good reading, and revelatory for his connections with neo-gnosticism. But one part has us confused. "Felos clearly believes in reincarnation and even discusses a conversation with his yet-to-be-conceived, unborn son, who told Felos, 'I'm ready to be born. . . will you stop this fooling around!'"

We always thought "fooling around" was a necessary prerequisite.

Let Live or Make Die?

William Luce writes in Touchstone on Terri Schiavo, making some connections with the case of the late Christopher Reeve. A good read.

A Brief History of British Abortion Law

The Independent has a summary of the history of abortion legislation in the U.K. We note that it repeats a fallacious history of a "Catholic Doctrine of Passive Conception" and omits mention of the fact that abortion was always considered wrong and sinful in Catholic tradition. Still, it useful to see the different contours of the debate in a country where such matters can still be legislated.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sinn Fein Barred from U.S. Fundraising

Reuters cites the London Times: "Sinn Fein, the political ally of the IRA has been banned from fundraising in the United States, The Times has reported, citing diplomatic sources.
It said the order, passed to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams via U.S. State Department channels, followed White House anger over accusations the IRA was continuing criminal activity."

Reuters also reports that President Bush will not meet with Gerry Adams on St. Patrick's Day. Bush is evidently in a mood to press terrorists around the world, and not just the Islamic ones.

The Myth of St. Allende

Had a brief but emotional exchange with colleagues at work regarding "the U.S. evil history." (It ended with one of our interlocutors actually saying, "We're NOT good!") The topic: longstanding U.S. backing for Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern dictators like Somoza, Marcos, Pinochet, and the Shah. It often goes unremarked that, the United States eventually turned against each of these regimes and worked to remove them from power. In Chile and the Phillipines, the result was democratic government. Nicaragua and Iran were less successful. The Sandinistas, who suspended civil liberties and established a Marxist-style dictatorship, followed Somoza, and the Ayatollah Khomeini was a bigger disaster for the Iranian people than the Shah.

We'd also challenge the notion that Allende (from whom Pinochet seized power in 1973 with at least tacit U.S. approval) was a democrat with no threat of turning Chile into a Soviet satellite. He was a life-long Marxist. Marxism views a dictatorship of the proletariat, as directed by the international communist party, as the highest form of human good. While he may have claimed to having no intention to abolish democracy, he openly espoused a belief that Chile would, as a matter of principle, be better off without democracy.

Having won election by a razor-thin plurality, he proceeded to nationalize private industries, including banking and copper. He implemented confiscatory taxes and centralized wage and price controls. He established diplomatic relations with Castro. Under the guise of "agrarian reform," his government seized private farms and redistributed to the proletariat, leading to a massive shortage of basic foodstuffs. This is exactly the sort of pattern we saw time and time again in the Soviet Union. (Granted, a lot of this was exacerbated by anti-Allende policies in the U.S.)

Chile's economy was in the shitter at the time of the coup (radical drop in production of basic goods, rampant inflation), and Allende was increasingly autocratic in the face of ongoing civil unrest and violence. Support of Pinochet may not have been warranted, and Pinochet was certainly a repressive, violent dictator who didn't necessarily make life better, but from the vantage point of 1973, the correct course of action was far from easy to see.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Great Slogan From the Anti-Syria Demo in Lebanon

So, Madonna is good for something, after all. (Courtesy of The Corner)

China Threatens Taiwan With Possible Military Action

Chinese military given right to attack Taiwan: "China's parliament yesterday passed a law giving its military the legal basis to attack Taiwan if the island moves towards independence, drawing an angry retort from Taipei, which said it was an authorisation for war."

This is Huge

On the tail of last week's discouraging counter-demonstration by Hezbollah, this story is picking up our spirits. Hezbollah is the biggest threat to peace and justice in Lebanon. If they can be neutralized and kept from intimidating the Lebanese people, democracy can grow there, and in Syria, and in Iran.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lebanese people tonight.

Mel Gibson Speaks Out on Terri's Fight

Terri's Fight: "In a personal telephone conversation on March 11, between Terri Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler, and actor/director Mel Gibson, Mr. Gibson encouraged the Schindler family to 'never give up and continue to pray.' Shortly after the telephone conversation Mr. Gibson sent a fax to the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation with the following statement to be read at a March 12 rally for Terri:
'I fully support the efforts of Mr. & Mrs. Schindler to save their daughter, Terri Schiavo, from a cruel starvation. Terri's husband should sign the care of his wife over to her parents so she can be properly cared for.' -- Mel Gibson"

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Anti-abortion Movement in U.K.

The Telegraph on a movement to greater restrictions on abortion: "For the first time in many years, the ethics of abortion are back in the headlines. There is renewed pressure for a tightening of the current British law, which allows the termination of a pregnancy up to 24 weeks. But it is coming from an unexpected direction: politicians and public figures who still support, with reservations, what the pro-abortion lobby calls 'a woman's right to choose'.

In an interview published today, Michael Howard calls for the legal limit to be cut to 20 weeks; he used to support a limit of 22 weeks. The difference, though small in terms of time, would substantially reduce the number of abortions in this country."

Lebanon: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

WorldNetDaily cites Jack Wheeler on the war on terror, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah. He's got some serious misgivings about the likelihood of bringing democracy to Lebanon easily. Hezbollah, more than Syrian military and intel, does seem to be the means by which the thugs intend to halt the democracy movement, and Hezbollah is directly responsive to the mullahs in Iran:

"[according to Wheeler,] Hezbollah's chief of military operations, who has over 20 years in the terror business, is set to start a civil war in Lebanon. . . . [H]e writes, 'this could turn out really ugly. Dispatch after dispatch, story after story, and all you read about is Syria's getting its troops and spies out of its colony. Congressmen like Darryl Issa, R-Calif., write newspaper op-eds entitled "Lebanon: Democracy's Next Stop." All without a word about Hezbollah. All without a word about Iran.' . . . .

Syria, Wheeler states, is not the chief problem for Lebanon – it's Iran.

Writes the analyst: 'Bashar al-Assad is a puppet of the Mullacracy in Tehran. The people who give the orders to the Syrian troops in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley are Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 among Lebanon's Shia Muslims with money and weapons from Iran. It is run by the world's worst terrorist, who is most decidedly not Osama bin Laden.

'Osama is a Hollywood terrorist . . . . The most important and dangerous terrorist in the world is a man most everybody has never heard of. His name is Imad Mugniyeh. He is the true King of Terror.'

Wheeler then lists Mugniyeh's terror rap sheet, everything from organizing the 1983 killing of 242 U.S. Marines in Lebanon to involvement in the 2000 USS Cole attack. Besides countless acts of terror, Mugniyeh, Wheeler says, was involved in shuttling Saddam's WMDs into Hezbollah's care before the Iraq war.

Predicts Wheeler: 'Imad Mugniyeh and the Hezbollah, at the direction of Iran, will ignite another civil war in Lebanon, destroying that country's chances for democracy and freedom from Syrian colonial control – and halting thereby George Bush's Middle East Freedom March right in its tracks.'

Wheeler's solution for Bush? 'Regime change in Iran.'"

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Condi, the "Mildly Pro-Choice" Secretary of State.

Hat tip to Mike Aquilina, who points out this early take in the Washington Timeson the possibility of a 2008 Rice GOP candidacy. She putting as much nuance as possible into her spin:

"Other Republicans have questioned whether evangelical Christians, a crucial component of the Republican base, would turn out to vote for a pro-choice candidate. Miss Rice, a Presbyterian's preacher's daughter who twice in the interview spoke of her 'deep religious faith,' suggested it's a moot point. 'I'm not trying to be elected.' Miss Rice said abortion should be 'as rare a circumstance as possible,' although without excessive government intervention. 'We should not have the federal government in a position where it is forcing its views on one side or the other. 'So, for instance, I've tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund it.' Describing pro-lifers as 'the other side' is one of the ways Miss Rice articulates her position as a 'mildly pro-choice' Republican. She explained that she is 'in effect kind of libertarian on this issue,' adding: 'I have been concerned about a government role. 'I am a strong proponent of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be. 'We ought to have a culture that says, 'Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or a sibling go through something like that?'� ' Miss Rice described abortion as an 'extremely difficult moral issue' which she approaches as 'a deeply religious person.' 'My faith is a part of everything that I do,' she said. 'It's not something that I can set outside of anything that I do, because it's so integral to who I am. 'And prayer is very important to me and a belief that if you ask for it, you will be guided. Now, that doesn't mean that I think that God will tell me what to do on, you know, the Iran nuclear problem. 'That's not how I see it. But I do believe very strongly that if you are a prayerful and faithful person, that that is a help in guiding us, as imperfect beings, to have to deal with extremely difficult and consequential matters.'"

Personally, we'd be happy if the states could freely legislate on abortion, as opposed to the federal government (after, homicide codes are specified at the state level, not the federal level). Still, this sounds like a woman considering options and not wanting to close doors to any constituency, pro or anti abortion. Is she running? We'll go out on a limb and say she's more likely to be running than Hillary.

Shutting Down the Power

"And then they shut down the power all along the line/
We got stuck in the tunnel where no lights shine . . .
We were waiting for the end of the world" -- Elvis Costello, "Waiting for the End of the World"

That pop song came to mind when we saw that there's a Texas man that hospital in Houston is looking to cut off someone's lifeline: - Court grants injunction for man on life support: "A Texas appellate court stopped St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital from removing life support Saturday for a 68-year-old man in a chronic vegetative state.

A three-justice panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to grant a temporary injunction to the family of Spiro Nikolouzos three hours before St. Luke's planned to turn off his ventilator and feeding tube. The panel set a hearing for Tuesday."

Italy Ends Policy of Rewarding Kidnappers

The Independent reports that Italy's policy of negotiating with kidnappers in Iraq has ended. Three cheers.

"Any Italians rash enough to go walkabout in Iraq are now on their own, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi told the Senate yesterday, in his first official pronouncement on the killing of Nicola Calipari last Friday.

'The Italian government is in a position to guarantee the security only of those...who operate in close co-operation and under the protection of our military contingent,' he said. 'It is not possible to do so for those who venture, even for the most noble and sincere reasons, in other regions of Iraq where the presence of terrorists is still high and where the risk of attacks and abductions is greater.'

It was a guarded statement, but it signalled a clear change of policy. Since the abduction of four Italian security guards last year, one of whom was murdered but three of whom were later released unharmed, Italy has pursued the bold and lonely strategy of negotiating with hostages and paying them huge ransoms."

"bold and lonely"? Try "short-sighted and self-defeating."

Leonard Nimoy, "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"

Leonard Nimoy's "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"

Nimoy will not be upstaged. Attention must be paid.

Update: This link has both channels audio (but the video is lower res)

Cognitive Exam For Personhood

Matt Conigliaro has a Web site called Abstract Appeal with a section on the Schiavo case. He tries to be unbiased (his interests are primarily in Florida law), but ultimately he tends to be sympathetic to "the process," and since "the process" right now has indicated Terri must die, all in all it's hard not to see him favoring that outcome. One passage on this site sums up the fallacy that will keep giving momentum to the euthanasia movement:

"[Terri's parents] believe Terri would not want, and does not want, her feeding tube removed, and that some cognitive function could be restored through new therapies. . . . You're left with a public that is much confused. Some see video clips of Terri moving, appearing to make eye contact, and making sounds, and they assume such are the product of conscious thought -- that Terri's 'in there.'"

The presumption here is that personhood is determined by some "cognitive function" emanating from an unseen entity who's "in there." As long as this is our operating principle, we will lose the euthanasia argument, and the door will have been opened for trampling the rights of those who can't measure up cognitively and are presumptively less "in there" than "normal" people.

Medicare Fraud Alleged Against Schiavo Lawyer

Schiavo Attorney Felos No Stranger To Medicare Fraud

"Fraud in the court and fraud in the hospice.

Five years ago this month, Florida's most vulnerable adult was transferred without court order and without the proper written certification to the Hospice of Florida Suncoast at Woodside in Pinellas County.

According to records obtained by The Empire Journal , it appears that not only is there indication of a scripted plan for premeditated murder but insurance fraud in the Terri Schiavo case.

In March, 2000, Michael Schiavo and his attorney, George Felos, secretively relocated Terri Schindler-Schiavo from the Palm Gardens Nursing Home to the hospice without court order and without notifying her parents.

George Felos also conveniently forgot to give notice to the court and her parents, Mary and Robert Schindler Sr. that he was chairman of the board of directors at the Hospice at the time and had been since at least Jan. 31, 1997 and perhaps earlier."

Vatican Bioethicist Says Removing Schiavo's Tube 'Direct Euthanasia'

CNS reports: "Removing the feeding tube from Terri Schindler Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, or other patients in a similar condition amounts to 'direct euthanasia,' a 'cruel way of killing someone,' said the Vatican's top bioethicist.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the academy usually does not comment on specific cases before courts, but 'silence in this case could be interpreted as approval.'"

Friday, March 11, 2005

John Eliot Gardiner and Ozzy Osbourne, Please Call Your Office

Received this in an email:

"Rondellus has released an album of Black Sabbath covers played on Medieval instruments and sung in Latin. There are 12 mp3 track-samples (1 minute or so apiece). If you've never heard them do War Pig, dude, you ain't been living. Check it out"

The sample links were broken when we last checked, but we're dying to check it out.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fatwa issued against bin Laden

Fatwa issued against bin Laden: "Madrid - Spain's Islamic Commission, grouping the nation's Muslim community, issued a fatwa against al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the name of whose network last year's Madrid train bombings were claimed.
The five-page fatwa declared bin Laden 'outside Islam' on Thursday, adding that 'bin Laden, al-Qaeda and all those who try to justify terrorism by basing it on the holy Qu'ran, are outside Islam'. "

The Groningen Protocol

Doctors Eduard Verhagen and Pieter Sauer of the University Medical Center in Groningen, in an essay in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, this article in The International Herald Tribune. "Babies born into what is certain to be a brief life of grievous suffering should have their lives ended by physicians under strict guidelines . . . ."

We have moved from easing of abortion restrictions, to unlimited abortion license in the U.S., to assisted suicide, to protocols calling on doctors to end lives.

Russell Crowe Marked for Abduction

The Guardian reports that Bin Laden may have been targeting Russell Crowe for kidnapping. In the last Australian edition of GQ, Crowe claims that the FBI warned him and provided protection starting in 2001.

Obscure, indeed, are the ways of these terrorists.

When The Going Gets Weird . . .

. . . the survivors party with the corpse. Ain't that peculiar!?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005 -- What You Can Do

Important Action Items

March 7, 2005 – As you may already know, Terri’s case has reached a critical point. Judge George W. Greer has ordered that her nutrition and hydration be removed on March 18, 2005. This will begin a long and painful death process for Terri if his order is carried out.

There are still some things that can spare Terri, and disabled people like her, from this type of forced death. Some of them require your help.

1. Florida’s House and Senate are considering a dehydration and starvation protection act that would require stronger evidence of informed consent prior to removing assisted food and fluids from an incapacitated patient. If you are a Floridian, a disability advocate or an elder care advocate, you can let Florida’s lawmakers know that you want them to consider such an act.

Contact Florida’s Lawmakers here. – Senate - House

2. The US Congress will consider a bill titled the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act on Tuesday, March 8, 2005. This bill, if signed into law, would entitle incapacitated persons to the federal review of their rights (known as habeas corpus) and would help ensure that they have been fairly represented. You can encourage your representative to give favorable consideration of this act. Habeas corpus protections are currently available to the worst convicted criminals; this new law would make it clear that disabled Americans are entitled to at least as much legal protection.

Contact your representative here. - US House of Representatives - US Congress

3. Seventeen doctors – neurologists, physicians and pathologists, have signed statements in Terri Schiavo’s guardianship proceedings to support new neurological testing protocols for her. This is important because of recent findings that may support the position that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state and can be trained to communicate in spite of her limitations. Disability advocates across North America are calling for an immediate moratorium on deprivation deaths for disabled people like Terri until these new protocols can be enacted as an updated avenue of testing. We ask that you contact your state representatives and ask that they consider such a moratorium.

Contact your state house and senate. - US House of Representatives - US Congress

4. The Justice Coalition has petitioned the Governor of the State of Florida to invoke statutory protections for Terri Schiavo pending an investigation into abuse, neglect and exploitation against her.

Sign the petition here.

5. Terri’s family have filed a number of motions and petitions to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco Counties and continue to process several different appeals in the Florida courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the latest here.

6. National press and media continue to misreport and misrepresent Terri’s situation. Such reporting does a tremendous disservice to vulnerable people and elderly and disabled persons throughout the United States. You can help by contacting the editors of your local newspapers and letting the truth be known.

Download the talking point list here.

7. Over 200 internet bloggers have joined forces to support Terri Schiavo by publishing articles, commentary and information about her situation and legal case. You can join their ranks, read their updates and pass the information along to your friends.

Check out the blog sites here.

Finally, on behalf of the family and legal team working hard to protect Terri Schiavo and vulnerable citizens like her, we thank you for your time and compassion and we hope that you will contact us with links, suggestions and your personal stories. Your continued support is beyond value.

Contact Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation here.

Let's Dump Annan

Let's accept Hezbollah: Annan- The Times of India

Better Idea:
Let's Dump Annan: Thumos

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ward Churchill/Bill Maher Lovefest Podcast on BuzzMachine

Jeff Jarvis has a podcast of the recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher featuring Ward Churchill. Worth a listen for the sheer volume of America-hatred. Jarvis's commentary is appropriately and witheringly acerbic.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Brooke Allen, "Our Godless Constitution"

Also on Air America's Al Franken Show, just after Dahlia Lithwick, was Brooke Allen, promoting this piece on The Nation. Ms. Allen is urging that the Republic's founding had nothing whatsoever to do with "Christian principles".

Good luck. Fortunately for Allen, few in America read John Locke, Thomas Aquinas, or the Declaration of Independence, all of whom locate the source of human rights and dignity as the Divine.

Killing Terri Schiavo

Here's a good summary of the Terri Schiavo case from Crisis Magazine a little over a year ago. We learned a bit from this article, like the connection of Michael Schiavo's attorney with the Hemlock Society and the infamous Cruzan case.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

With Malice Toward None, Especially Dahlia

We have to go to confession now. We insulted dear Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's Supreme Court reporter in a email message to a good left-leaning friend. He curtly replied that given our feelings, we should simply stop reading her. No one is forced to read Slate.

He's completely right, of course. But what's the fun in that, if we stopped reading Lithwick (or Slate)? Besides, the doctor tells us our blood pressure is really low, so we can stand to have it elevated for short periods of time.

Nowadays, we don't even have to read Slate. We were listening to our favorite radio station, Air America, and she came on The Al Franken Show. He gushed effusively over her, of course. Our favorite part was when she claimed that in one of the current 10 Commandments controversy, they weren't even using a universal Decalogue, they were using "the Protestant Version," which was different from the Jewish and Catholic Versions. Even Franken, who had a King James Version out on this special occasion for special effect (viz., reading the Exodus passage with the sound of crashing thunder in the background), knew this wasn't true and gently tried to correct her -- what he was reading in the KJV is an faithful translation of the original Hebrew that he recalled from his youth. But Lithwick stuck with her error, trooper that she is -- after all, she had passed this inaccuracy along in her Slate piece, why admit you're wrong if you've already gotten past your editor at Slate?

On the other hand, having now read her corresponding Slate piece, we like bits of it. She's occasionally silly (the whole opening and closing "Angels on the Head of a Pin" is a meaningless cliche, and it indicates the laziness in her writing), but a lot of it is fun, even when we disagree. And she's dead right about two important things: the current church-state jurisprudence is a mess, and Scalia's the only one there who's honest about it.

And she's pregnant, and we have a soft spot for pregnant women. So mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Republican Media Adviser Found Dead

A friend writes us with this sad story in the Washington Times, comparing it to the Vince Foster story a few years back. A Republican supporter in Hollywood (there are such animals?) was found dead at Carrie Fisher's home. We're at a loss to see the scandal here, but perhaps some of our tinfoil-hat inclined readers can come up with creative, dark, conspiratorial storylines to explain this death. Extra points if you can relate the death to Star Wars, Debbie Reynolds, or Paul Simon.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Da Vinci Hoax

For Catholics who've suffered through the Da Vinci Code, or have friends who have recited factoids from it to them, we recommend Carl Olsen and Sandra Miesel's The Da Vinci Hoax. It's very straightforward, is readable, and at the same time comes close to being a bulleted listing of Dan Brown's errors. Our only wish is that they had spent more time outlining in a positive way the history of Grail legend. Ah, but that is a book for another time.

A Silly Treat: "Rocket Man" by William Shatner

This one is just goofy fun, but indulge us, please: "Rocket Man" by William Shatner, courtesy of iFilm.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Where Have You Gone, Joe Warrilow?

Tony Hendra's Father Joe occasionally has the quality of candy: a joy, a treat, and 20 minutes later . . . . a little disappointment mixed with craving for more. In this memoir of considerable style and charms, Hendra, an accomplished writer and performer who first came to fame as an editor and writer at the satire magazine National Lampoon, explores his relationship with Dom Joseph Warrilow, an English Benedictine priest who served as his mentor and friend, off and on through the years, from Hendra's adolescence in the 50's until Warrilow's death in the late 90's.

First, a couple of jarring notes: there are several outbursts of left-liberal polemic that are misplaced. Father Joe comes across in the memoir as relaxedly apolitical. Perhaps the diatribes merely recount Hendra's attitude at the time. He depicts Father Joe ever so gently taking him to task for a lack of charity and a closing of his heart in his strident attitudes while not contradicting his political leanings. Later, the reader gets the sense that Hendra is defending his current views. It all has little to do with Father Joe and everything to do with Tony Hendra. Given our memories of 1980's events, it's extremely hard for us to take someone seriously who praises "men of peace like . . . Mikhail Gorbachev" for magnanimously and unilaterally ending the Cold War and liberals within "the stubborn populations of Europe - my contemporaries and their parents - who for all their manifest mindlessness and endless tribal squabbles had remained a generation of peace, refusing to buy Reagan's fatuous cartoon of the Russian people or be cowed by his cowardly weapons of mass murder" (p. 237) Perhaps Hendra should consult Russians such as Natan Sharansky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about how the Russian people were treated by the Evil Warmongering President Reagan. An angry aside decrying "the Church's relentless intolerance of different sexual orientations" (p. 269) comes out of the blue without warning.

Given that this is book is a good deal about Hendra, it's telling to see where he focuses. The best of the book is Part One, his description of his childhood encounter with Sin, Monasticism, and Father Joe. He spins a good yarn about family, adultery, and rites of passage that brings many smiles and sighs to the reader. Then suddenly, at the outset of Part Two, 20 years have gone by, and Hendra is removed from England to Southern California, contemplating suicide in a drug-addled state. He gives very little sense of the first ten of those twenty years -- he alludes vaguely to the difficulties of launching his career in America, the details of his first marriage are sketchy, and he never even bothers to name the daughters from that marriage. In part two, Father Joe is absent more than present, and Hendra presents himself schizophrenically -- self-effacingly making light of his talents, yet only detailing the periods in his life when he achieved some amount of worldly success. Thus Father Joe dwells on topics with little relation to Father Joe: National Lampoon, Not the New York Times, Not the Wall Street Journal, Spinal Tap, and Spitting Image. None of this would be news to Hendra. He indicts himself over and over again for self-obsession and self-centeredness. He is a man with a profound sense of sin, struggling to believe in a God of unbounded love.

But let's grant that this book is as much about Hendra as it is about Father Joe. This is an utterly endearing book. Hendra, a gifted writer with a wonderful tone and an excellent ear, conveys the precious quality of presence by reflecting on its opposite, absence. Between the two, by the grace of God, we encounter the Other, our neighbor. Everything in Father Joe's story suggests he had a special grace, a fabulous gift from God, that enabled him to enter into true friendship and community with quite a few people, to truly listen and truly love, making him present even when absent. Hendra navigates between absence and presence in this book, his goal being to make Father Joe alive, both for us and for himself. Still, we worry about Hendra, for whom presence and absence have formed difficult waters throughout his life, sometimes nearly unnavigable -- the book contains a vivid anecdote recalling a chilling early intimation of damnation as a cold eternal absence of God. It's not clear whether or how strongly he sees Father Joe as but one earthly face of the ever-present Christ. Salvation appears here as the unfinished drama in a tragic world, the Eternal Cliffhanger. Hendra emphasizes Father Joe as his connection to the transcendent to such an extent that we wonder whether he will succumb to despair now that Dom Warrilow has left him here on earth.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dana Milbank on Roper v. Simmons

Dana Milbank, writing in the New Republic (subscription required), is concerned that the ruling outlawing the execution of minors will end up curtailing their abortion license. He writes that "Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion could well provide a legal opening to those who want to restrict the rights of minors--particularly in the realm of abortion."

We don't think Mulhauser got the irony intended in Scalia's dissent. Here's the money quote: "It is hard to see . . . [w]hether to obtain an abortion is surely a much more complex decision for a young person than whether to kill an innocent person in cold blood."

We're not too happy about the decision. For one thing, we don't see this court
shifting their pro-abortion stance as a result of it. The justices are completely content to apply their evolving moral standards in any way they see fit -- they won't be bound as much by logical consistency as they will by political fashions and trends among the elites both here and in Europe. Second, the proper place to decide about the death penalty is in the legislature, not in the courts. This just further extends their rule.

Hat tip: Mike Aquilina

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