Wednesday, March 30, 2005
I haven't really been following the Terri Schiavo story, but I see the headlines and am generally aware of the basic facts. Frankly I still don't get it. I don't know what the issue is around which it is suddenly so important that I have an opinion, and it is even less obvious to me why my opinion will label me as good or evil, moral or indecent, left or right.
I'm still unclear what exactly the controversy is. Is the dispute over the dignity of life? the rule of law? checks and balances between governmental branches? Is the dispute because she is being slowly (and maybe horribly and maybe not so horribly) starved to death rather than, say, taking her off a respirator, where death would be quicker? Is it because the husband may or may not have surrendered his legal right to speak on his wife's behalf when he took up with another woman? Seriously, I don't get what this story is about.
Another thing I don't get... I know there are lots of protestors out there on Terri's side. Has anyone been out there making the argument in favor of starving her to death? What is that argument? Simply that she said she would want it that way -- and if she didn't say that, then should have? Is the argument that, by implication, anyone in her condition would want taken out?
Why is this issue generally divided along party lines?
Maybe my confusion is because I do have a living will, and in it I state that if I should become incapacitated, then my wife can decide to authorize or refuse care in whatever ways she thinks is best. And if she is dead or likewise incapacitated, then my pastor makes the call. I figure in that condition, I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, and probably am in no position to judge. Am I now to conclude that my thinking is somehow missing the mark? Am I supposed to rethink the hypotheticals? Why? How? And why is this more important today than it was yesterday?
Is this a real story with lasting implications, or just this month's Big Story?
Seriously, help a fella out.
Walter Williams offers a different take on "General Welfare."
I regularly bike for fun, cardiovascular fitness and, hopefully, for a longer, healthier life. In my opinion, that's a good idea. That being the case, would you deem it proper for Congress to enact legislation requiring Americans to bike regularly or perform some other cardiovascular fitness exercise?
What if Congress didn't act on this good idea? Would you deem it proper and acceptable if five out of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, in the name of "evolving standards" and promoting the general welfare, decreed that we all participate in some fitness exercise?
Suppose biking advocates saw no hope in getting Congress to enact legislation mandating regular biking and saw the U.S. Supreme Court as a means to accomplish their ends. Tell me your preference. Would you prefer the justices to rule along the lines they did in the recent Roper v. Simmons case, finding the execution of teenagers unconstitutional because, as Justice Anthony Kennedy speaking for the 5-4 majority said, "It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty"? Modified to fit my biking example, Justice Kennedy might say, "We acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion that regular biking is a good idea."
Or, would you prefer the justices to say, "We're guided by the U.S. Constitution, and we find no constitutional authority to rule that Americans must regularly bike, despite your nonsense argument about the 'promoting the general welfare' clause; get out of our court"?
Whether "evolving standards," the "weight of international opinion" and good ideas should determine court decisions underlies much of the ongoing conflict over President Bush's federal court appointees. A federal court appointee who'd say his decisions are guided by the letter and spirit of our Constitution would be tagged by Democrat senators and a few Republican senators, such as Arlen Specter, as an extremist. They'd prefer justices who share former Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes' vision that, "We live under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is." Translated, that means we don't live under the Constitution; we live under tyrannical judges.
Race warlords in Georgia are screaming. They are mightily upset. "Governor Perdue, don't sign this bill!!!!" Oh the humanity. This hideous and horrible bill is being cast by race pimps as "a disaster for race relations in the State of Georgia." One black legislator said that this new bill was "spitting on the grave of Martin Luther King, Jr." This bill is so bad that black lawmakers staged a walkout when the measure was debated earlier this month. They said that it could turn back the clock on civil rights. "It's an attack on the rights of minorities."
So, what's going on? Well, it seems that both the Georgia House and Senate have passed bills requiring all voters to show some kind of picture ID before they can cast a vote. Any one of six different types of picture ID will do. A Driver's license will work, even if it is expired. The law provides for free state-issued picture IDs for anyone who wants one. Still, the race pimps aren't satisfied.
You know what's going on here, don't you? Voter fraud is a reality, and across this country most of the votes that are illegally cast are cast for Democrats. It is Democrats who are driving the demands that non-citizens be allowed to vote in local elections. It is Democrats who are even insisting that illegal aliens be permitted to vote in some areas. It is Democrats who have opposed each and every move, no matter where, to attempt to clean up the election process by making sure that people who vote are actually legally qualified to vote. It is Democrats who want felons to vote! They know that felons will, by and large, vote for Democrats.
I'll say it again. Most illegally cast votes are cast for Democrats. Democrats have been at the forefront of every move to loosen voting restrictions and to counter any attempt to combat voter fraud.
Now .. if you really want to hear Democrats howl ... make it easier for military personnel to vote. Military personnel, you see, usually vote Republican.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
There's a perfectly good argument going around about how a Husband has the obligation and the authority to make life and death situations for his wife. Another perfectly reasonable argument is that most of us wouldn't want to survive in the situation that Terrie Shiavo is presently in. The polls ask these two questions and the American public agrees with the decision made by Michael Shaivo and the judge. The controversy arises out of whether things are as they appear.
The reason we have judges is to weigh the context in which these laws are applied. The law by itself is a blunt instrument. A judge is the only figure that can see the human element. Why isn't this judge suspicious of Michael's motives?
If Michael is living with another woman and reproducing why hasn't he divorced his wife? Can he mentally peform the functions of a husband when he first answers to a different woman?
His loyalties are to his new family. That being the case, the court can't fully trust his word or judgment. A life and death situation doesn't need a protagonist with divided loyalties. While it may be interesting to have a bunch of doctors diagnose Terrie, it might be equally interesting to have a psychologist examine Michael's state of mind. Can a man be the head of two households? If he knows a dead Terrie provides money for the family he now supports, wouldn't it be awful hard not to wish her death a bit sooner?
We can argue that he beat her or that these were her wishes. We can argue whether or not she is a vegetable or cognizant. We can argue how this hurts or strengthens abortion law. I've heard a bunch of people on TV arguing all of these points. What we should be arguing is whether Michael's actions post accident make him a good objective candidate for guardianship. If we can't be sure of his objectivity, we should give custodial rights to someone else.
I don't know what the judge has in mind here. Maybe he thinks this case will create a precedent for a lot of other people who are suffering and need relief. Maybe his interest lies in getting rich by writing a book about this famous case. What he isn't doing is judging the credibility of the star witness. Michael Shiavo may have the best of intentions, but he has too much baggage to be the last word.
You can't always default to the husband here just like you can't always give custody of the kids to the wife after a divorce. You not only have to believe that Michael is being objective but her parents are so selfish that they want her suffering to continue. Is it possible to look at this case and think her parents are more likely to have divided loyalties?
Context is the key to the situation and the polls. The pollster didn't tell respondents that Michael has another wife and kids. The pollster didn't tell the respondents that Terrie isn't in pain. When it’s simply about whether a husband has the right to let his wife pass comfortably into the beyond, then yes he does have the right. It's a national event because it’s being presented as a simple "husband doing the best for his wife" case when it's much more complicated than that.
The same people who always criticize rightwing thinking as being simple minded, or black and white are perfectly willing to simplify things here. Elian Gonzalez was a good example from 2000. Sure a child should be with his father, but would we have sent Anne Frank back to the concentration camp to be with her father?
We always hear catchy phrases like "living constitution" and "social justice" when academics and the learned culture want to force laws that have no popular appeal down our throats. When it comes to individuals, the same learned monster's hands are tied by the letter of the law.
This case has become a circus of politicians throwing blame at one another, but that's a sideshow compared to the runaway judiciary that answers to no one. For this case to have been solved correctly you have to believe that Terrie's parents want to selfishly extend her painful life while her cheating husband only wants the best for her. That's a tough one for me to swallow.
UPDATE: Democrats have been out since late last week trying to make this a partisan issue, although Jesse Jackson seems to have other ideas. I've heard a dozen different liberals argue that it's a state's rights issue. Only a bunch of judge-loving lefties could argue that local and state judges embody the founder's ideas of Federalism. The 10th amendment gives the states the right to decide local through legislative bodies. How are the state's rights protected when judges go unchecked?
The shame of this whole issue is that Terrie will die on the word of a shaky husband and it will result in the kind of legislation that will prolong the lives of people who really do want to die. We're seeing the worst of government from the judge's decision to the circus atmosphere outside her hospice. Thomas Sowell has a good breakdown of how the court system is running amok in this case.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Parents Offer Trade: Terri Schiavo for Scott Peterson
by Scott Ott
(2005-03-22) -- Just minutes after a federal judge denied a request to provide a starving, dehydrating Florida woman with food and water, Terri Schiavo's parents offered to trade their 41-year-old daughter for convicted double-murderer Scott Peterson.
"What we're offering to the state of California is an even-up trade," said Bob Schindler, Mrs. Schiavo's father. "Scott Peterson, who murdered his wife and son, gets to come to this nursing home where he'll die in a week or two. Our daughter goes to death row in San Quentin, where she'll likely live a long life as Peterson's case is appealed."
The Schindlers' desperation offer calls for the names on all legal documents to be exchanged so that Mrs. Schiavo will be treated under law as if she had committed Mr. Peterson's crimes, and he will be treated as a healthy, but brain-damaged woman whose estranged husband controls her future.
George Felos, the attorney for Mrs. Schiavo's husband, Michael, immediately rejected the Schindler's offer with a single word: "Nuts."
A man known as J. J. Jameson became one of Chicago’s prominent anti-war figures and a member of the community of leftist anti-war poets. The author of two books, a congregation leader at a church, and named Chicagopoetry.com's poet of the month in March 2004, Jameson seemed the very model of a modern “enlightened” cultural leader.
He was also living as a fugitive under a phony identity, an escaped con, and a vicious murderer. His real name was Norman A. Porter, Jr. Michael Dukakis commuted one of his life sentences, and unsuccessfully tried to commute a second. According to the Boston Globe,
Porter's criminal history in Massachusetts began with a string of robberies. On Sept. 29, 1960, he robbed a Robert Hall Clothing Store in Saugus, brandishing a sawed-off shotgun. Porter herded customers and employees into a back room and ordered them to give up their valuables, according to the state Department of Correction.
''As a part-time clerk was reaching into his pocket for his cash, Porter, with no known provocation, placed his shotgun's muzzle against the back of the clerk's head and pulled the trigger, killing him 'execution style,' " the department's website states.
Have you ever seen the movie RUNNING ON EMPTY? It gave me an idea for a movie about a guy who hunts down old 60s radicals, much like Simon Weisenthal hunts down old Nazis. Of course, it would be played for laughs. When our hero finds the first radical he makes a comment about the terrible living conditions a fugitive must live in. The radical takes offense. He's not a fugitive. He's living in a commune.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
With apologies to Pat Sajak, whose work I have mildly edited.
Very few people have given credit (or blame) to the man most responsible for the changing nature of today’s television news coverage. I’m talking about O.J. Simpson. As he prowls the nation’s golf courses searching for the real murderers of his ex-wife, let us not forget that it was the Simpson saga that taught TV news directors an important lesson: a Big Story can generate big numbers and big profits. Without a Big Story, ratings take a tumble, so it’s important to have that one dominating story that goes on and on and on.
Some Big Stories are obvious: 9/11 and The War in Iraq. But some Big Stories have to be elevated to that status to keep all the talking heads talking: Gary Condit, Laci Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson. Without a new daily chapter in an ongoing Big Story soap opera, the news is just the news. How the heck do you promote that?
The major networks gave the Simpson story extensive coverage, pre-empting a lot of their regular programming to do it, and their payoff was big ratings. However, they also unknowingly began digging the graves of their own news divisions, because it was the cable networks that were better suited to apply the lessons learned from the O.J. coverage.
So you now have Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC and CNN day after day and night after night promoting the current Big Story (usually the same one). Hour upon hour of speculation, discussion and blah blah blah. New developments seem to be reported every hour, even though they are rarely new and frequently not even developments. In this world of the Big Story, we are treated to “Breaking News” that we saw three times last night.
A plus side does exist, because there is a certain comfort in waking up and finding that Michael Jackson is still the Big Story. At least it tells you that nothing horrible has happened in the world that would force them to move on to real news.
Little did we know that O.J.'s white Bronco was driving us into the era of the Big Story. Thanks for nothing, O.J.
This is great political theatre so it’s a shame that this woman is suffering to provide it. This is a good reason for everyone to get a living will.
I can’t imagine Terrie wanting to live if she were up to the choice, but I don’t quite believe Michael’s dinner conversation story either. It took him seven years to remember it. His reasoning that Terrie wanted to die would be more credible if he weren’t shacked up with some other woman producing tots. Does he really care for Terrie’s person or does he want the money he stands to inherit? His personal situation complicates his testimony. He stands to gain the most from her death and while the vibrant Terrie would seem to choose death herself, the current Terrie is seen almost smiling. Maybe she’s in some dreamy state that feels like a constant heroin fix. She doesn’t make it look like hell the way Million Dollar Baby did.
While Michael’s feelings for Terrie are complicated with his new life, her parents truly love her and will do anything not to lose her. While I would choose death for myself, I think the court has error on the side of life. The only witness has too much baggage to trust his objectivity and Terrie doesn't seem to be in torturous pain.
Someone needs to explain to me why an alert Hillary Swank couldn’t just ask the doctor to turn off her respirator?
We’ve been waiting for this one a long time. We know he’s a freak and probably a creap. The stories of wine and porno only re-enforce the idea. I can just see him explain to the kids that the human body is beautiful and drink up your Jesus juice and you’ll go to heaven.
The family may have seen a way to cash in our prejudices. I tend to think he is capable of something like this and yet the testimony from this family seems erratic and contradictory.
He’s probably going to beat the criminal trial (see Robert Blake) but pay a substantial amount in the civil suit.
I didn’t see it, but read that a reporter asked Blake after the verdict “If you didn’t kill Bonnie, who did?” Blake reportedly went nuts.
Any number of people might have wanted to kill her but Blake not only benefited the most, he actually tried to hire the job out. Was someone really tracking the Blake’s at dinner that night and made a move on Bonnie went Robert went back into the restaurant? It seems unlikely, unless Blake set it up with the shooter himself.
What’s funny is that no one saw anybody shoot her. No one saw anyone flee from the scene. Five million people in L.A. and not one person looked up when they heard a gunshot. Blake frequented that restaurant and knew that it was a remote spot for the killing. Someone tracking them independently wouldn’t have been so secure, especially with Blake just a few steps away.
This typical L.A. acquittal should pave the way for Michael Jackson’s.
This is a great find by Opinion Journal.
The "antiwar movement" doesn't seem to be going well. An e-mail list called the Idiot's Delight Digest, inspired by the radio show of the same name, carries a first-person account from one Jordan Hoffman of a rally apparently in New York:I went to the anti-war demonstration today. Anyone else go? Man, it was depressing. It was more of a group mope than a demonstration. People just kinda went to the park, wandered around, looked sad and left. And got harassed for contributions to every organization under the sun. That made me even sadder because I couldn't join a friend going downtown because I only had $2.00 on my metrocard & needed that to get home and I have $0.00 in my wallet until next week. . . .
I gotta relax. It is 4:49 AM and I haven't been to sleep. I've been up all night stewing about how much I can't stand the direction the US's policy has taken--I still can't get over the fact that John Kerry lost. It's kinda like a delayed thing. I just can't believe how willfully dumb people are. Or maybe just mean. Mean and nasty. And covering it up, like ketchup on a burnt steak, with their bornagain Christianity.
Agence France-Presse, meanwhile, reports from London:People poured into the capital from across the country, including 29-year-old human rights author Susanna Akono who travelled in a coach from Kent. . . .
Akono from Cambodia, who is married to a British man and is pregnant, said that she planned to go on a hunger strike from April 14 in protest against the continuing war on terror.
"I want to do everything I can to make sure my child has a secure future," she said.
Hat tip: Arthur Chrenkoff. Starve-the-fetus is certainly a novel method of ensuring that your child has a secure future. If Akono has a daughter, maybe she'll grow up and marry Michael Schiavo.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Saturday, March 19, 2005
WINNER - Rob Hollink - 635,000 Euros
2nd - Brandon Schaeffer, 350,000 Euros
3rd - Alex Stevic, 178,000 Euros.
4th - Romain Feriolo, 139,000 Euros
5th - Kevin Seeger, 118,000 Euros
6th - Abdullaziz Abdullaziz, 99,500 Euros.
7th - Ben Grundy, 79,500 Euros
8th, Mikhail Ustinov, 59,500 Euros.
9th, Jani Sointula, 39,300 Euros.
10th, Isabelle Mercier, 23,900 Euros
7 left - Dude looking for Magic
5 and Dude is alive
HUUUUUUGE KEY HAND
Romain is on the button. Alex is in the small blind. Kevin is in the big blind.
Brandon rasies to 30,000, Kevin calls in big clind.
Flop: T64 with two clubs. Kevin checks. Brandon bets 40,000. Kevin moves all in Brandon calls immediately.
Aces hold up and Brandon wins a monster.
Kevin is out in fifth place with €118,000
Congratulations Dude. You played great!
Friday, March 18, 2005
Dude was the chip leader going into today. It looks like he's third with 17 players left. EPT has a running blog to keep up with the details.
15 Left and Dude outlasts Gus Hansen.
You can read Dude Day by Day at Poker Room.
He's made the final table. In the top 8. Dude the TV Star. Action starts tomorrow morning 11am EST.
Friday, March 11, 2005
On this date in history, MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN was published in 1818. Which reminds me that Tom (I think it was Tom) asked me in Orlando what my favorite works of fiction were. I get asked that from time to time, and it always kind of embarrasses me, because although I do a fair amount of reading, I do very little reading of fiction. I read what I like, and I like to learn, so I read nonfiction and opinion almost exclusively, yet I always feel somehow that I *should* be reading fiction, even if just for balance. But the books that catch my interest are generally "serious" books, and I can never quite shake the notion that fiction is a poor use of my time. Just the way I'm wired, I guess. And I'm just talking about *my* time, not yours.
Anyway, I'm trying to think of fiction books that I really liked, and here's my little list.
FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley. I love the way this book was written, back when English prose was majestic, lofty, precise. The Creature in the original is articulate, sensitive, and searching, not the grunting brute he became in the movies. It is really a story about man's relationship with his creator -- a probing, engaging, and moving treatment of that timeless subject.
OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET by C. S. Lewis. A short science fiction tale with a nice message.
TARZAN OF THE APES and its many sequels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I wish I still had all those paperbacks with the classic cover art.
THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck. One of those books I had to read and liked anyway. I have never seen the movie version -- got it for Christmas 2004, will do that soon.
THE PUPPET MASTERS by Robert Heinlein. At the time I read this, I could really relate. Alien beings attach themselves across their victims' shoulders and take over their minds. I was in late drunkenness or early sobriety at the time.
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson. I reread this last year and it was just as good.
THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE was a humorous little book that fit my liberal mindset circa 1994 before I grew up and went conservative. I remember giving it as a gift.
I loved AGATHA CHRISTIE'S HERCULE POIROT mysteries as a kid. Haven't read one since, though, so I'm putting her at the bottom of this list.
It may not be much, but that's all I have to offer. That I am going back to college and high school to compile such a meager lists tells you and me that I'm just not into works of fiction. As Dude laments, I'm always asking what's the point, what's the payoff, what's the practical application. In recent years I've kept a list of the books I've read, and of the 144 entries, I see 3 works of fiction, and even those had a serious bent. Again, not sure why I feel I should apologize, but I do.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
The 11 witnesses are:
Jose Canseco, former Oakland Athletic and Texas Ranger.
Jason Giambi, current New York Yankee and former Oakland Athletic.
Mark McGwire, former Oakland Athletic and St. Louis Cardinal.
Rafael Palmeiro, current Baltimore Oriole and former Texas Ranger.
Curt Schilling, currently of the Boston Red Sox.
Sammy Sosa, current Baltimore Oriole and former Chicago Cub.
Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox.
Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball for Major League Baseball.
Sandy Alderson, former general manager of the Oakland Athletics and current executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball.
Don Fehr, executive director and general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Kevin Towers, general manager and executive vice president of the San Diego Padres.
Is this government meddling or a legitimate concern of the government?
My favorite federal law was the one passed 10-15 years ago that insisted that food companies label their product with nutritional information. The consumer should know what they're getting.
As a consumer of MLB I want to know what I'm getting too. Are the players using substances that are altering the games I am paying for? Am I watching men with their natural ability or comic book characters? MLB obviously likes the comic book characters masked as regular men and they have no intention of unmasking them. Olympic athletes are suspended for two years on their first steroids violation. MLB players have to be caught 4 times to get a mere one-year suspension. Since the tests are random a player could juice up his whole life and never get caught.
These guys have the right to put anything they want into their bodies. I wouldn't prosecute any of them, but Baseball hurts its own integrity by letting them play. Since baseball is going to pretend its not happening, I don't mind Congress getting to the truth. Sure it's grandstanding (ha ha) but sometimes it takes grandstanding to push an issue to the forefront.
Let the consumer decide if he wants to watch Barry Bonds break a record on dope.
Oh, but Congress left Bonds off the list. What will Kevin Towers tell us that is more interesting than what Bonds might have to say?
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Whenever Tom and I would list the sexiest babes of Hollywood history, my mind would always fill with images of Teresa Wright. She was sexy in an offhanded kind of way, as an offshoot of being smart and engaging. I've wanted to marry her ever since first seeing her attend to her ailing husband's collar button when the poor sap was stricken with Lou Gehrig's Disease, or ALS, as it was known then. She always seemed to me sweet enough to fall for, smart enough to talk with, and pretty enough to lay beside for fifty years - some kind of classy babe.
I have never seen acknowledged classics THE LITTLE FOXES (1941) or MRS. MINIVER (1942), but Teresa Wright enjoys three spots on my top 100 movies list:
THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942)
SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The Media Research Center has fun with this "objective" news man.
This bit between Rather and O'Reilly is well-known but priceless.
Bill O’Reilly: “I want to ask you flat out, do you think President Clinton’s an honest man?”
Dan Rather: “Yes, I think he’s an honest man.”
O’Reilly: “Do you, really?”
Rather: “I do.”
O’Reilly: “Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s face about the Lewinsky case?”
Rather: “Who among us has not lied about something?”
O’Reilly: “Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s face on national television. I don’t think you have, have you?”
Rather: “I don’t think I ever have. I hope I never have. But, look, it’s one thing – ”
O’Reilly: “How can you say he’s an honest guy then?”
Rather: “Well, because I think he is. I think at core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”
— Exchange on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor, May 15, 2001.