Monthly Archives: March 2005

Pope Given Last Rites

He’s coming in second in the DeathRace.

Actually, I liked this Pope.  I attended an Easter Mass in Vatican City in 1983.  He blessed us in, like, a hundred different languages. 

A whole generation is about to learn (and I am about to re-learn) those silly and wonderful rituals about black smoke and white smoke as a new pope is elected selected.  One good thing: at least it will get the media to shut up about Terri Schiavo.

More Rightwing Self-loathing

At Alan Keye’s Renew America site, they aren’t mincing words:

Dear President Bush,

As a lifelong Republican and staunch supporter of you and your policies, I feel compelled to write to you today, during this Easter season of life and liberty from sin and death, where we all come together to experience the transcendent joy which traditionally marks the anniversary of our Lord Jesus Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

However, with great sadness and in stark contrast to the joyous atmosphere which traditionally permeates the collective soul of our nation in springtime, here today we stand together instead to watch one of our own, Terri Schiavo, starve to death at the very hands of the people who claim to be her fellow Americans, indeed, those same individuals who swore oaths to be her protectors and defenders.

"One of our own"?  What does he mean by that?  Are all wingers brain dead?  Or on a feeding tube?  Or what?

Well, it goes on like that for a while, but it soon gets incredibly shrill.

You had all of our support. Our loyalty was boundless. Our hopes and expectations in your leadership were limitless — until now. Support, loyalty, hope, expectation — these now lie in shattered pieces on the ground. Do you realize what you have done? Can you comprehend the magnitude of destruction? How many more will follow Terri to the grave before God is ready to receive them now that the gates of hell have been unleashed?

Fuck me!  The gates of hell have been unleashed?  Excuse me.  I just soiled myself.  I am soooooo not prepared for this.  I thought it might happen, but — you know — I thought it might be because of wars or whatever.  Not hospices.

You had the opportunity to become a truly great president. This opportunity rested in the palm of your hand. Yet, you chose to throw it away, for it was inseparably linked to the precious life of Terri Schiavo. Your greatness, along with the respect that we had for you, now lies in the grave with her.

History will not place your marble bust along side those of Washington and Lincoln, who heroically and by demonstrable faith led our nation through very dark and dangerous times into safety and prosperity to become "one nation under God." Such an honor is not befitting men in authority who betray oath, trust and loyalty as you and others have done.

"One nation under God" was put into the Pledge of Allegience in the mid-1950’s — a while after Washington and Lincoln — but I get your point.

No Mr. President, your bust will be placed next to that of Pontius Pilate where, like him, you, too, will be provided a marble wash basin to forever rest in front of your image.

I recall that Pilate "washed his hands" of Jesus (that’s where that phrase comes from, in fact) using a basin.  I just don’t recall that Pilate was forced to look at a sink for the rest of his life.

Mr. President, history will record that at the moment of Terri Schiavo’s death, you did not eliminate Saddam Hussein — you became him.

Paul Rasavage

Sounds like Paul is unhappy.  Of course, I have a clue as to why, and it may have nothing to do with Terri Schiavo, or the president.  The clue rests in his bio:

Paul is also founder of the Serenellians, a Catholic apostolate that ministers to individuals who desire to break free of their addiction to pornography . . .

Paul, a life without porn is a life without pictures and movies of naked people having sex with each other.  Yeah, I mean — everything in moderation — but . . . you know.  Get real.

Harvard Political Review on Jon Stewart

Inciteful comments on The Daily Show from the Harvard Political Review:

People are listening to Jon Stewart. With his recent best-seller America (The Book) and his hit fake news show on Comedy Central, The Daily Show, it seems clear that his message is being heard: for instance, over 1.5 million people tuned in to watch Stewart interview John Kerry. Still, his message and role are not so clear, depending in large part on who is listening.

Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly characterized Stewart’s audience as "stoned slackers" and "dopey kids," when Stewart appeared on The O’Reilly Factor last September. Regardless of the veracity of those statements, O’Reilly hit closer to home when he added, "You know what’s really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true."

Tough Crowd
O’Reilly’s description of Stewart’s fans is a bit off the mark. According to the National Annenberg Election Survey from the University of Pennsylvania, Daily Show viewers are 78 percent more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education. If these are the "stoned slackers" to whom O’Reilly referred, it is interesting to consider who watches his program: the survey found that O’Reilly’s audience was only 24 percent more likely than average to have this same level of education.

With such an educated audience comes a certain set of expectations for Stewart. His popularity among educated young Americans might be due to a desire for a more critical (or satirical) approach to the news. When the same Annenberg survey also found that Daily Show viewers know more about election issues than people who get their news from traditional media outlets, this is not because Stewart better informs his viewers-the viewers themselves tune in to his program already informed of the issues.

March 29, 2015

Goat March 29, 2015 is the day that, according to that mental giant Bill O’Reilly, we will all be able to marry goats, "mark his words":

O’REILLY: The judges in Massachusetts knew they weren’t going to be impeached when they said to the state legislature, "Gay marriage is now legal in Massachusetts because we say it is. We the judges" — they knew they weren’t gonna be impeached. They knew the legislature didn’t care. You get the government you deserve. In California, the prevailing wisdom is marijuana is no big deal, let’s legalize it. And since we can’t get that through the legislature, we’ll do it this way. And they did it! You see?

And 10 years, this is gonna be a totally different country than it is right now. Laws that you think are in stone — they’re gonna evaporate, man. You’ll be able to marry a goat — you mark my words!

I think O’Reilly has gone off the deep end.  Yesterday, he said — in all apparent seriousness — that the ACLU is a greater threat than al Qaeda.

O’REILLY: All right, this hour’s devoted to the most intense threat to your freedom in the world. It’s not Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is not the most intense threat to your freedom — it’s the American Civil Liberties Union. And I will back up what I say.

Let’s just think about that for a second — who would you rather be trapped in an elevator with:


or . . . .


Now That Terri’s Dead . . .

Amy Sullivan asks the one question that I would like answered:

A cradle Baptist, I was taught in the church that while we were not to hasten death, neither were we to postpone or fear it. The ending of a life was sad for those who remained, but a joyous event for the one who died. As one of my friends put it this week, If all of these folks believe Terri Schiavo was a Christian, shouldn’t they want her to slip from this life to be embraced by the arms of God? I understand that this is a particular kind of religious belief, not shared by all, but it is a belief to which most of the leaders you’ve seen on tv over the past few weeks subscribe. And yet the implication of their fight has been that death is something to be held at bay using all available means, that any quality of life is better than what may come next.

The Man Who Saved The World

Incredible(!) story from The Moscow News about something that happened in 1983 that you didn’t know about, because you were sleeping soundly in your bed.  I reprint it here in full:

PetroveThe Man Who Saved the World Finally Recognized

Sirens blaring, warning lights flashing, computer screens showing nuclear missiles on their way, one man in charge of a red button labeled “START” – that’s start a retaliatory strike — and a roomful of people at their terminals and switchboards waiting for him to push it. Sound like a typical Hollywood Cold War cliffhanger?

It was indeed just like in the movies, says the man who was poised over the red button over twenty years ago, except “in the movies, Hollywood specialists and directors can stretch a little situation into half an hour. In our case, from the time I made the decision to when it was all over, it was five minutes max.”

Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet army officer monitoring the satellite system for signs of a U.S. attack, the year was 1983, and his instructions, if he detected missiles targeting the Soviet Union, were to push the button and launch a counter-offensive.

He didn’t. Minutes later, no missiles came; months later, the frightening data across his monitor was determined to have been a system glitch. Today, the Association of World Citizens is calling him “the forgotten hero of our time,” a title befitting the man whose responsibility had been to start World War III.

On the Spot

Half an hour past midnight on September 26, 1983, he saw the first apparent launch on his computer monitor in a glass-walled room on the top floor of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) command and control post.

“I was supposed to supervise the combat crew. When the first launch happened, everyone was stupefied. After the first launch, I started giving orders, because in the room below, where there were five switchboards, and all the operators jumped out of their seats to see what my reaction was. I can only imagine what went on at the other posts.”

The warning system was by now showing five missile launches in the U.S., headed toward the Soviet Union. The “START” command Petrov was expected to give would have started an irreversible chain reaction in a system geared to launch a counter-strike without human interference.

“The main computer wouldn’t ask me [what to do] — it was made so that it wouldn’t even ask. It was specially constructed in such a way that no one could affect the system’s operations.” All that was up to Petrov was analyzing the available information and either saying the alarm was false or giving the computer the go-ahead, as per the directive he himself wrote.

Why Didn’t He Do It?

All the data checked out, to all appearances, the system was right on target — or rather, the missiles it reported were. A couple of thoughts flashed past Petrov’s mind.

“I just couldn’t believe that just like that, all of a sudden, someone would hurl five missiles at us. Five missiles wouldn’t wipe us out. The U.S. had not five, but a thousand missiles in battle readiness.” It just didn’t seem like any scenario considered by military intelligence before.

The second thought on Petrov’s mind every time he was on duty was this:

“I imagined if I’d assume the responsibility for unleashing the third World War — and I said, no, I wouldn’t.”

The tension must have been overwhelming — did he really have the time to consider the global context of his actions?

“I always thought of it. Whenever I came on duty, I always refreshed it in my memory. At that moment, there was no time to think, I had to work, work, work.”

Petrov reported the alarm to his superiors and declared it false. Had he been mistaken, the mistake would have become obvious in minutes: the post’s detection system had a 15-minute advantage over the ground radars. No missiles rained on Soviet Union in a quarter hour; rather, in an hour, high command descended on the command post.

What Happened?

“It was a false alarm started aboard a satellite,” says retired General Yuri Votintsev, then the Commander of the Soviet Missile and Space Establishment. Votintsev raced to the command post and was the first to hear Petrov’s story after the incident.

“I noted Lieutenant Colonel Petrov’s correct actions, given the situation. Literally within a minute he informed all the command posts that the information about the launch of space vehicles is false. His actions were duly noted.”

Petrov himself tells a different story — although at first he was praised for his actions, he found himself slighted and picked on after the warning system was meticulously dissected and many bugs were found.

“When a lot of garbage was found in the way the system worked, it was uncomfortable for them to praise me — like they’re all horrible and I’m the only one who’s any good.”

Twenty-One Years Later

Several months later, Petrov retired from the army, exhausted by the stress. Twenty-one years later, Petrov, surviving on a tiny army pension in a small town outside of Moscow, is being honored for his decision by the San Francisco-based Association of World Citizens. On May 21, 2004 Colonel Petrov has joined the ranks of World Citizens and receive a financial award AWC raised for him through its website.

The director of Memorial, Russia’s historical heritage and human rights organization, Arseny Roginsky, congratulated Petrov on behalf of AWC in an awards ceremony that took place at Moscow News’ office. The only regret AWC had, he said, was that they hadn’t acknowledged Petrov’s heroic action years ago. “They believe, you see, that in this world, people who are capable of actions like that can be counted up on one hand.”

Schiavo’s Body Is Dead

RIP, finally.

UPDATE:  The response from the right-wing blogosphere — full of death poems and scripture, not to mention wailing and gnashing of teeth — was a little TOO predictable, don’t you think?

UPDATE #2:  I take that back.  I was just home for lunch and caught about 20 minutes of the cable news networks.  Man, do they want this story to live.  They won’t give it up.  The typical broadcast went like this:

"Well, Terri Schiavo died this morning, but the controversy is sure to rage for days and weeks.  The fallout is political, legal, religious, and medical.  And we’ll be talking with the experts for days and weeks and months to come.  We LOVE this story!  Not even her death can stop us!  Bwaaaa-haha-haha!  We’ll continue to suck at this cow’s teat until there’s nothing left to suck!!!!"

UPDATE #3:  No, I take that take-back back.  The MOST fucked response isn’t from the media, but from the right-wing, as I originally said.  Huge wingnuttery this time in the form of Tom Delay, who took the opportunity to make threats against judges, doctors, and private citizens like Michael Schiavo:

Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo’s friends in this time of deep sorrow.

Runner-up in wingnuttery response goes to James Dobson who, according to Atrios:

is on CNN bitching about the courts going against "the will of the people" (ignoring the fact that, in this situation, the courts are clearly with the people). And, after his basic culture of life whine, he brought up the example of how people are overwhelmingly in support of "executing minors" and those dastardly courts won’t let it happen.

Now THIS is a Living Will

Slightly altered from Robert Friedman’s brilliant column:

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn’t be long enough for me.

* I want my spouse and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my spouse to ruin the rest of his/her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I’d be really jealous if he/she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want those crackpots to spread vicious lies about my spouse.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want the people who attach themselves to my case because of their deep devotion to the sanctity of life to make death threats against any judges, elected officials or health care professionals who disagree with them.

* I want the medical geniuses and philosopher kings who populate the Florida Legislature to ignore me for more than a decade and then turn my case into a forum for weeks of politically calculated bloviation.

* I want total strangers – oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on – to start calling me by my first name, i.e., "Bobby," as if they had known me since childhood.

* I’m not insisting on this as part of my directive, but it would be nice if Congress passed a "Bobby’s Law" that applied only to me and ignored the medical needs of tens of millions of other Americans without adequate health coverage.

* Even if the "Bobby’s Law" idea doesn’t work out, I want Congress – especially all those self-described conservatives who claim to believe in "less government and more freedom" – to trample on the decisions of doctors, judges and other experts who actually know something about my case. And I want members of Congress to launch into an extended debate that gives them another excuse to avoid pesky issues such as national security and the economy.

* In particular, I want House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to use my case as an opportunity to divert the country’s attention from the mounting political and legal troubles stemming from his slimy misbehavior.

* And I want Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to make a mockery of his Harvard medical degree by misrepresenting the details of my case in ways that might give a boost to his 2008 presidential campaign.

* I want Frist and the rest of the world to judge my medical condition on the basis of a snippet of dated and demeaning videotape that should have remained private.

* Because I think I would retain my sense of humor even in a persistent vegetative state, I’d want President Bush – the same guy who publicly mocked Karla Faye Tucker when signing off on her death warrant as governor of Texas – to claim he was intervening in my case because it is always best "to err on the side of life."

* I want the state Department of Children and Families to step in at the last moment to take responsibility for my well-being, because nothing bad could ever happen to anyone under DCF’s care.

* And because Gov. Jeb Bush is the smartest and most righteous human being on the face of the Earth, I want any and all of the aforementioned directives to be disregarded if the governor happens to disagree with them. If he says he knows what’s best for me, I won’t be in any position to argue.

Those Evil, Terrorist Loving “Libruls”



Liberal Position

Osama bin Laden Position

NeoConservative Position





Prayer in School




Separation of Church & State








Pre-emptive Attacks




Interpretation of Religious Scripture

Not Literal



Women’s Rights




Death with Dignity




Theory of Evolution




Invasion of Iraq




Interest on Loans

Supports Fair Interest Rates

Opposes All Interest

Opposes Any Limits on Interest

United Nations




Gay Rights








Sex Education




Severe Penalties for Drug Use




Corporal Punishment




Thinks There is Only One TRUE God




Dissent = Disloyalty








Death Penalty




Execution of Mentally Ill and Children




Detention Without Trial




Technology – A Pain In The Arse

Howtouse1927Having trouble getting your cable modem to recognize your network router?  Yeah.  Bummer.  Remember the good old days when the hardest thing to do — technologically speaking — was programming your VCR clock?

Of course, nothing beats this — a seven minute instructional (silent) film from 1927 called "How To Use The Dial Phone".  We may laugh now, but it probably was difficult for people to understand back then.

Religious Right Represents One Small Part of Spectrum

Barbara O’Brien has a must-read over at The American Street.  To quote the best parts is an injustice to the whole thing, but I reluctantly will selectively quote and summarize anyhow:

Right now Michael Schiavo and his supporters are hoping an autopsy of Terri Schiavo’s brain will eventually settle the matter of her persistent vegetative state beyond a shadow of a doubt. It would, in a rational world. But we know what’s really going to happen, don’t we? Release of the autopsy results will just touch off a new round of conspiracy theories. The coronor might as well not bother.

2004_dd_religiousright Barbara then takes on the false premise of Edward Feser, who wrote the following into his essay "How to Mix Religion and Politics": The question is whether religious arguments should have the same standing in public life as secular arguments, and the answer is that there is no good reason they should not.

This is a dishonest framing of the debate, Barbara argues, adding:

[T]he implication is that liberals want religion to be kept so entirely private it is never seen in public, and that opinions influenced by religion may not be considered in debates on public policy. And this is a lie.

However, I am not inclined to have my religious practices enshrined in law so that everyone in America is forced to practice them, nor do I think decisions such as the disposition of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube be made based on my understanding of life and death. I don’t feel an urge to march around demanding that everyone in America accept my religious beliefs as the only legitmate religious beliefs.

Exactly.  And then she delivers the coup de grace:

I have no problem at all with religious people, members of the clergy, even, coming forward to advocate changes in law and public policy. But their arguments have to stand or fall on their own merits. If their argument consists of waving a Bible in my face and yelling about what God wants, I am not persuaded. I respect any rational, factually based arguments about public policy, including religious ones. The problem is that these days religious people in the public sphere rarely make rational, factually based arguments. Too often they’re not even making good theologically based arguments.

The emphasis in the last paragraph is mine.

It’s an excellant post, especially for those in the Religious Right who want to understand, rather than beat down, those who feel and believe differently than them.  And there are many many many.  As Barbara says:

There are many sects and denominations in this nation whose doctrines and practices differ a great deal from that of the Religious Right. Unitarians, Quakers, Reformed Jews, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. all have long and deep roots in American history, yet they are often out of agreement with the Religious Right. And I am personally aquainted with politically liberal evangelicals. However, these days liberal evangelicals are keeping their heads down and not speaking out much, lest they draw the tender concern of their politically conservative brethren, which is getting dangerous these days.

It’s time for the Religious Right to let go of their stranglehold on Jesus, and it’s time for these other religions, and people who adhere to them, to stop being bullied.

Maybe now that Falwell’s voice will be silenced soon….

We So Crazy

57 per cent of Australians think US foreign policy to be as great a threat as that of Islamic fundamentalism.

Nagasakibomb Can’t imagine why.  Unless you think about it.

I mean, of ALL the nations on this planet, which one has been involved in more wars and had more of its troops in other sovereign lands? 

Which nation invokes "pre-emption" as its preferred foreign policy (no, Nazi Germany doesn’t count, since it no longer exists)? 

Which country is the only one to resolve a war through weapons of mass destruction? 

And which country directly mocks and ignores the sole international body created and designed to promote peace and dialogue among disagreeing nations?

Hint: it ain’t Canada.

It doesn’t assuage my concerns when I read stuff like this:

The White House says the F-16s are a reward to Islamabad for its help in disrupting terrorism networks, despite a decade of Pakistan’s strong support of Al Qaeda and the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Yet Pakistan’s ruling generals could be excused for believing that Washington is not seriously concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. How else to explain invading a country — Iraq — that didn’t possess nukes, didn’t sell nuclear technology to unstable nations and didn’t maintain an unholy alliance with Al Qaeda — and then turning around and giving the plum prizes of U.S. military ingenuity to the country that did?

Oy vey.

Baghdad’s Grassy Knoll?

Body and Soul has the low-down on the killing of Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent who American soldiers shot and killed early this month as he was transporting an Italian kidnap victim to safety.

The U.S. government story has always been that the American soldiers, located on the most dangerous road in Baghdad, got a little jumpy and fired upon the vehicle when it approached a security checkpoint.

Only that story is fast falling apart.  For one thing, it is beginning to look like the vehicle was shot at from behindRead the whole thing.

Sweet Charity Coming To Broadway After All

Sweetchar From Playbill:

It was on. Then it was off. Now it’s back on again. Broadway will see Sweet Charity at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 11 with Charlotte d’Amboise in the lead, and Christina Applegate joining the show on April 18, producer Barry Weissler told

Opening night will be May 4.

Good news, if you happen to like the show.  Well . . . BREAK A LEG, Charlotte!

Um . . . sorry, no.

The Dirty Scoutmaster

Douglas Smith, Jr. in September 2004, talking about the character of the Boy Scouts and why it is important that the Scouts exclude gays:

Some intolerant elements in our society want to force scouting to abandon its values and to become fundamentally different. They want scouting to forego its constitutional rights, affirmed in 2000 by the Supreme Court in BSA v. Dale, and adopt fundamentally different values from the ones that helped shape the character of Mr. Collins and 106 million other young men over the past 94 years.

Douglas Smith, Jr. today:

A former top official of the Boy Scouts of America faces federal Internet child pornography charges and is expected to plead guilty Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Douglas S. Smith Jr. faces a single count of receiving and distributing child pornography — a charge resulting from a federal investigation conducted with German authorities.

Gays?  No.  Child porn?  Yes.  Some moral compass we’re establishing there.

United States Government Debunks Bush

Even as Bush is going out trying to sell gullible midwesterners about how grrrrreat it would be if Social Security were nothing but private accounts, the United States government’s social security website clearly indicates how ill-advised Bush’s scheme is:

Q: I think I could do better if you let me invest the Social Security I pay into an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) or some other investment plan. What do you think?

A: Maybe you could, but then again, maybe your investments wouldn’t work out. Remember these facts:

-Your Social Security taxes pay for potential disability and survivors benefits as well as for retirement benefits;

-Social Security incorporates social goals – such as giving more protection to families and to low income workers – that are not part of private pension plans; and

-Social Security benefits are adjusted yearly for increases in the cost-of-living – a feature not present in many private plans.

Archaic Backwater Law Used To Discriminate Against Woman

Unbelievable.  But then again, it’s Wilmington.

Woman Sues Over N.C. Anti-Cohabitation Law

By Associated Press March 29, 2005, 7:58 PM EST

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A former sheriff’s dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina’s law against cohabitation.

Debora Hobbs said she was told to get married, move out, or find another job after her boss found out about her living situation. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

The lawsuit seeks to abolish the nearly 200-year-old — and rarely enforced — law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law.

Convicted offenders face a fine and up to 60 days in jail.

"The government has no business meddling in the private relationships of consenting adults," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation.

Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn’t want to marry; Hobbs quit last May rather than be fired.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs’ employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn’t send out deputies to enforce the law.

Hobbs declined to comment Monday. Rudinger said she is employed and still lives with her boyfriend.

Neither the sheriff nor Pender County Attorney Trey Thurman would comment.

Pat Sajak – C_ns_rv_t_v_ D_ck?

Pat Sajak has a blog.  It has many pictures of him putting his hand on his chin in a thoughtful pose.  Or sitting on a tall stool, putting his hand on his chin, in a thoughtful pose.  In Pat’s blog, he writes:

Arguing with Liberals, and Why I’ve Stopped

Every time I argue with a Liberal, I’m reminded of quarrels I used to have with my parents. The battles never seemed fair because my folks decided what the rules were and what was out of bounds. In addition, because they were parents, they could threaten me in ways I couldn’t threaten them, and they could say things I could never say.

Yes, that whole "honor thy parents" thing is a drag.  Poor little Pat often stormed to his room, and dreamed of the day he turned 18, so he could go to Van Nuys and watch people win wonderful cash and prizes by playing a glitzy version of "Hangman".

Recently, for example, I was discussing the United Sates Supreme Court…

That’s "States", Pat.  With a "t".

…with on of my many Liberal friends out in Los Angeles…

"One" is spelled with an "e" on the end, Pat.  Man, how DID you get your job?

…when she said, without any discernable embarrassment, that Justice Anton Scalia was “worse than Hitler”.

Actually, it’s Antonin Scal — oh, fuck it.  Never mind.

Realizing she wasn’t alive during World War II and perhaps she may have been absent on those days when her schoolmates were studying Nazism, I reminded her of some of Hitler’s more egregious crimes against humanity, suggesting she may have overstated the case.

Pat, by the way, was born on October 26, 1946, during the height of World War II and Nazism, so he oughta know.

She had not; Scalia was worse. As I often did when my parents threatened to send me to my room, I let the conversation die.

That’s right.  Pat let the conversation die when his parents threatened to send him to his room.  Even then, Pat was in control of the situation, not bowing to anybody, goddammit. 

Aside from being rhetorically hysterical—and demeaning to the memory of those who suffered so terribly as a result of Hitler and the Nazis—it served to remind me of how difficult it is to have serious discussions about politics or social issues with committed members of the Left. They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers. And they do this while completely missing the irony.

The committed members of the Left also engage in gross stereotypes.  All of them do that.  Every single one.

The moral superiority they bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side.

Yes.  Shame on us for having thinking about the greater good.

If a Conservative—one of the bad guys—complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality.

Well, Pat, if you are merely complaining about the content of music, films or TV aimed at children, then you are not censoring.  But when you want to change — for yourself and others — what that content is, then — yes, I confess — you are being a censor determined to legislate morality.  (I’m inclined at this point to talk about Nazi censorship — you know "for the children" — but I think Pat’s head might explode.)

If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they—being the good guys—will decide exactly what that is.)

What laws against certain kinds of speech is Pat talking about??  Mmmmmm.  I’ll take "Strawman Arguments" for $600, Pat.  Er — I mean, Alex.

When Liberals want to legislate what you’re allowed to drive or what you should eat or how much support you can give to a political candidate or what you can or can’t say, they are doing it for altruistic reasons.

Realizing that Pat may not have been following politics that closely, I reminded him that there are no such laws regarding what you drive or eat, and that McCain-Feingold was passed by such "Liberals" like, well, John McCain (and found constitutional by all those "Liberals" on the Supreme Court), suggesting he may have overstated the case.  He was not.

The excesses of the Left are to be excused because these folks operate from the higher moral ground and the benefit of the greater wisdom and intelligence gained from that perspective.

Whereas people like Pat, a former desk clerk at a hotel, operate from the moral ground of watching other people spin wheels and turning over letters of the alphabet.

In a different West Coast conversation, I complained to another Liberal friend about some of the Left’s tone concerning the 2004 elections. I thought it insulting to hear those “red state” voters caricatured as red-necked rubes.

Hey, Pat.  That’s what they proudly call themselves!

My friend asked, “Well, don’t you think that people who live in large urban areas, who travel and read and speak other languages are better able to make informed choices?” It turns out it is superiority, not familiarity, which breeds contempt.

One can understand why Pat Sajak, longtime host of the most banal show on television, champions inferiority.  No fan of higher education, he.

On the other hand, he sure know his vowels dern good.

The rhetoric has become so super-heated that, sadly, I find myself having fewer and fewer political discussions these days.

Pat Sajak’s voice is silenced.  A world mourns.

And while I miss the spirited give-and-take, when Supreme Court Justices become worse than Hitler and when those who vote a certain way do so because they’re idiots, it’s time to talk about the weather.

I think Pat’s feelings got hurt.

Laura K. Pahl Is A Plagiarist

Laura K. Pahl, a student on the Dean’s list at Lewis University, is going to discover — probably within the next 24 hours (if not already) — that she got severely taken for a ride.

A little mean?  No, not in my opinion.  Back in the pre-Internet days, if we had a paper due the next morning, we pulled an all-nighter.  None of this instant messaging some stranger to write it for us crap.


Perhaps you have read (here for instance) about pharmacists not filling birth control prescriptions to single women because it goes against their (the pharmacists’) religious beliefs.  Which is fine, if it doesn’t ultimately hurt the customer:

The American Pharmacists Association recently reaffirmed its policy that pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions as long as they make sure customers can get their medications some other way.

“We don’t have a profession of robots. We have a profession of humans. We have to acknowledge that individual pharmacists have individual beliefs,” said Susan C. Winckler, the association’s vice president for policy and communications. “What we suggest is that they identify those situations ahead of time and have an alternative system set up so the patient has access to their therapy.”

The alternative system can include making sure another pharmacist is on duty who can take over or making sure there is another pharmacy nearby willing to fill the prescription, Winckler said. “The key is that it should be seamless and avoids a conflict between the pharmacist’s right to step away and the patient’s right to obtain their medication,” she said.”

But this apparently isn’t good enough for some:

Brauer, of Pharmacists for Life, defends the right of pharmacists not only to decline to fill prescriptions themselves but also to refuse to refer customers elsewhere or transfer prescriptions. “That’s like saying, ‘I don’t kill people myself but let me tell you about the guy down the street who does.’ What’s that saying? ‘I will not off your husband, but I know a buddy who will?’ It’s the same thing,” said Brauer, who now works at a hospital pharmacy.

May I suggest, Mr. Brauer, that you get into another line of work, because here’s what the pharmacists’ Code of Ethics says:

I. A pharmacist respects the covenantal relationship between the patient and pharmacist.
…a pharmacist promises to help individuals achieve optimum benefit from their medications, to be committed to their welfare, and to maintain their trust.

These things apply even to people on a first name basis with God (Hat tip: Riggsveda).  So do your freakin’ job, will ya’?

II. A pharmacist promotes the good of every patient in a caring, compassionate, and confidential manner.
…A pharmacist is dedicated to protecting the dignity of the patient. With a caring attitude and a compassionate spirit, a pharmacist focuses on serving the patient in a private and confidential manner.

III. A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient.
…In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.

VI. A pharmacist respects the values and abilities of colleagues and other health professionals.
When appropriate, a pharmacist…refers the patient. A pharmacist acknowledges that colleagues and other health professionals may differ in the beliefs and values they apply to the care of the patient.

VIII. A pharmacist seeks justice in the distribution of health resources.
When health resources are allocated, a pharmacist is fair and equitable, balancing the needs of patients and society.

Onward Christian Soldiers (Torturers, Rapists…)

Billmon has the goods on one of them:

The legal battle over the life of Terri Schiavo may have ended, but a thick, fervent crowd remains in the makeshift encampment outside the Woodside Hospice House here . . .

No, we’re not going to go home," said Bill Tierney, a young daughter at his side. "Terri is not dead until she’s dead" . . .

Mr. Tierney, a former military intelligence officer in Iraq who works as a translator and investigator for private companies, cried as he talked about watching the Schiavo spectacle on television and feeling the utter need to be at the hospice.

New York Times
Protesters With Hearts on Sleeves and Anger on Signs
March 28, 2005

Bill Tierney . . . had just returned from eight months working as an interrogator for US forces in Baghdad, and had come to talk, on the record, about torture.

”The Brits came up with an expression – wog,” Tierney said. ”That stands for Wily Oriental Gentleman. There’s a lot of wiliness in that part of the world.”. . .

After explaining his various psychological tactics to the audience, interrogator Bill Tierney (a private contractor working with the Army) said, ”I tried to be nuanced and culturally aware. But the suspects didn’t break.”

Suddenly Tierney’s temper rose. ”They did not break!” he shouted. ”I’m here to win. I’m here so our civilization beats theirs! Now what are you willing to do to win?” he asked, pointing to a woman in the front row. ”You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word ‘torture’. You immediately think, ‘That’s not me.’ But are we litigating this war or fighting it?” . . .

Asked about Abu Ghraib, Tierney said that for an interrogator, ”sadism is always right over the hill. You have to admit it. Don’t fool yourself – there is a part of you that will say, ‘This is fun.’

Boston Globe
Spy world
February 13, 2005

And the Kos folks have the goods on another one (via Pandagon):

Yes, it turns out that good Christian hero Scott Heldreth who let his 10-year-old get arrested at the Terri Schiavo protests is a registered sex offender in Florida, as thoughtcriminal at DailyKos has discovered.

Heldreth claims his conversion to Jeebus happened after he was tossed in jail for raping a minor. Now he thinks globally, not locally–instead of taking away a woman’s right to choose on a one by one basis, he’s working to take it away from us all.

Schiavo’s Parents Sell Donor List — Conservatives Will Get More Spam

"The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups," the New York Times reports.

"Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish."

So, your daughter is being "killied" and what do you do?  Sell donor lists to private companies so that they can spam the people who contributed to saving your daughter’s life.

Ghoulish indeed.

Meanwhile, I thought I would throw a blurry graphic at you:


Earthquakes – the Krazy Kristian Kook Perspective

World O’ Crap gives us the latest from Pastor Swank, who reminds us that God Speaks Through Earthquakes:

God speaks through earthquakes. God made the Earth. The Earth will answer to God.

This Christ ushered in the Church Age. This Christ will take out the Church Age.

Remember when Christ told his apostles, "Listen, I brought you into this world, and I can take you out"? 

No, wait, that wasn’t Christ, that was St. Bill Cosby, wasn’t it?

Earthquakes now are messages from God for human beings to repent of their sins, find salvation in the coming Christ, and live the holy life.

Those who do not will answer to the "fierce wrath" of the divine. God is not only everlasting love. He is also everlasting anger. Both are in perfect eternal balance. There is not one without the other in the person of God.

So, God is bi-polar.  That explains a lot.

Speaking of Krazy Kristian Kooks, get a load of this quote.  Someone actually said this with respect to a "teaching evolution" debate going on in Pennsylvania:

"We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board’s declaration is just a first step.

I like it when unintelligent, uneducated people tacitly admit that their shortcomings by pointing fingers at the "intelligent educated" people on the other side of the issue.  But here’s the question: if we’re talking about — you know — education here, do we really want decisions made by people who are admittedly unintelligent and uneducated?

Little Lulu: Dishonest or Stupid?

Here’s Michelle Malkin in her latest crybaby post:

Update: Some bioethicists are now arguing that Terri is not a human being:

Wesley Smith: Bill, do you think Terri is a person?

Bill Allen [a bioethicist]: No, I do not. I think having awareness is an essential criterion for personhood. Even minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood, but I don’t think complete absence of awareness does.

Michelle, even Christians recognize that there is a difference between a "human being" — which is a biological bag of bones, flesh, nerves, and muscle — and a "person" — which is a human being plus that intangible extra something which many of us call a soul.  Or do you not believe in a soul?  Do you not understand the difference between a person and the carton in which that person is carried?

Besides, read up on your Descartes.  You know, "I think therefore I am".  That’s all that the bioethicist is saying.  Someone who cannot think does not exist as a person, although they biologically exist.  Do you get that?

Foreign Affairs News

From Reuters:
Ousted Kyrgyz Leader Says Not Resigning

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s ousted President Askar Akayev, in exile in Russia following last week’s coup in the Central Asian state, said on Tuesday that he would not resign.

"So far I have not resigned as president. That’s why I consider myself the one and only legitimate and elected president. At the moment I see no reason to resign," Akayev told Ekho Moskvy radio in an interview.

He said he was staying near Moscow.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing for the Kyrgyz people.  All I know is that whoever is in charge . . . needs to buy more vowels.  This country needs ’em.

Scientific American Gives Up

The editorial at the beginning of the April issue of Scientific American is startling.  You can read it here:

There’s no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don’t mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there’s no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that’s a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can’t work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars and imperil national security, you won’t hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration’s antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that’s not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools’ Day.

Wonderful.  Simply wonderful.

Wolcott’s Suggestion

It’s a good one, too . . .

Here’s something the cable news outfits could do that would rilly rilly rilly be useful, given that they got all those cameras down there in Florida and all.

Just for the kooky hell of it, why don’t they provide us with one wide shot or overview of the protestors and vigil-holders in Pinellas Park just so we can see how big the gathering is? Is it a big, swelling group, or is it like the jubilant Iraqis surrounding Hussein’s razed statue, a seeming mass revealed in long wideout as a motley get-together? And what is the ratio of Schiavo deathwatchers to media deathwatchers? Are there as many reporters there as sign-holders, or what?

Ten bucks says I already know the answers, which are (in order) "A motley get-together", "Roughly four-to-one", and "Depends on the time of day, but there are more onlookers and reporters than actual protesters".

How To Make A Schiavo Protester’s Head Explode

Wait until they start to complaining about all the judges out there who (supposedly) are conspiring to "kill" Terri, nod your head in strong agreement, and then pull out your Bible.  Open to Deuteronomy 1:16 and read:

Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, "Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him.

"You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s."

Then watch their jaws drop and heads explode.

A Terri Schiavo FAQ


Confused about the differing stories in the Schiavo case? Wondering about who to believe? Here’s some answers to common questions. I strongly recommend Abstract Appeal’s Terry Schiavo’s Information Page as an unbiased source of information from a Florida lawyer who has been blogging the case since mid-2003.

Why should anyone be allowed to kill Terri Schiavo?

If Terri Schiavo is "killed" by the removal of feeding tubes, then Florida law and many other state laws allow "killing", and people are "killed" by the state every day. Many people do believe that removal of nutrition is murder, which is a perfectly legitimate belief. But Terri Schiavo’s case is no different from numerous other cases of patients who are removed from artificial nutrition every year–many times at the request of guardians who stand to benefit financially from the patient’s death.

Why will Terri Schiavo be allowed to die by dehydration?

It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s Florida law.

In 1999, in response to a Florida Supreme Court ruling, the Florida legislature updated its "end of life" statutes, which were first put into place in 1990. The House and Senate voted unanimously in support of a number of changes to the text. One of those changes added to the list of "life-prolonging procedure": including artificially provided sustenance and hydration, which sustains, restores, or supplants a spontaneous vital function. (Cite in Florida Supreme Court ruling, 1999 changes here.)

Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill in June of that year.

So in 1999, the entire Florida legislative and executive branch voted for a law that authorized the withdrawal of sustenance to a PVS patient at the request of an appointed guardian or a licensed social worker, in the event that no interested relative was available.

The 1999 bill wasn’t unusual in any way and is consistent with many other states–in fact, it is considered a model for state law. Withdrawing sustenance is standard procedure for PVS and comatose patients, even though they can’t speak for themselves. The St. Petersburg Times covered a few local cases that occurred in March alone.

Shouldn’t Terri Schiavo be entitled to due process?

Terri Schiavo has received far more due process than any other PVS patient in history.

Her guardian’s performance has been reviewed three times. A full trial was held to determine her end-of-life wishes, and the ruling upheld by the appellate court. A full trial was held on whether or not she was in a persistent vegetative state, and whether or not any treatment would improve her condition; the judge ruled that she was in a persistent vegetative state and that no treatment held out a reasonable hope of recovery. The appellate court reviewed all the evidence (viewing all the video footage) and stated that if it held a de novo trial it would come to the same conclusion, and upheld the ruling. The Florida Supreme Court has denied review on both trials.

The federal courts have been petitioned since 2004, and have consistently refused involvement, up to and including the Supreme Court.

Why is Michael Schiavo allowed to order the removal of his wife’s feeding tube?

Michael Schiavo didn’t order the removal of his wife’s feeding tube. From the Second District Court of Appeals decision:

In this case, however, Michael Schiavo has not been allowed to make a decision to disconnect life-support. The Schindlers have not been allowed to make a decision to maintain life-support. Each party in this case, absent their disagreement, might have been a suitable surrogate decision-maker for Theresa. Because Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers could not agree on the proper decision and the inheritance issue created the appearance of conflict, Michael Schiavo, as the guardian of Theresa, invoked the trial court’s jurisdiction to allow the trial court to serve as the surrogate decision-maker.

Judge Greer’s February 22 decision ordered Michael Schiavo to cause his wife’s feeding tube to be removed.

Michael Schiavo certainly set this process in motion by asking the court to decide what Terri would have wanted and testifying that she told him she wouldn’t want to live in these circumstances. But he is not the one making the decision. (See Abstract Appeal for another take.)

Doesn’t Michael Schiavo have a financial interest in his wife’s death?

At the time of the petition, a little over $700,000 remained in Terri Schiavo’s trust. Reports from both sides vary on the amount left, but everyone agrees that the amount is minimal, most of it spent on authorized legal expenses. Michael Schiavo had no control over the trust fund.

Moreover, guardians are usually close relatives, and often stand to benefit from the death of their ward. Judge Greer addressed this fact in his original decision, pointing out that the Schindlers had the same financial interest in removing him as ward, since the $700,000 would then come to them. They would be under no obligation to keep Terri alive once they had control. So either one of the parties could have been acting out of financial motives. Or, as is more likely the case, neither are.

Michael Schiavo offered to give the $700,000 to charity to assure the parents that he wasn’t acting out of financial motives. The parents turned it down. He has also turned down at least one offer of $1 million to turn over guardianship to Terri Schiavo’s parents (his lawyers put other offers as high as $10 million). Any suggestion that Michael Schiavo is acting out of greed seems unlikely in light of these facts. (See Abstract Appeal for another take.)

Why is Michael Schiavo denying his wife care?

Three guardians ad litem, Richard Pearse, Jay Wolfson and John Pecarek, have reported on Terri Schiavo’s care. (Pecarek’s report is not available online; Pearse’s report; Wolfson’s report)

Pecarek reviewed Michael Schiavo’s guardianship in 1994 when the Schindlers attempted to remove Terri from Schiavo’s care. Pecarek found no reason to do so. Wolfson on Pecarek’s report:

"His report, issued 1 March 1994, found no inappropriate actions and indicated that Michael had been very attentive to Theresa."

Wolfson on the guardian hearing in general:

"Proceedings concluded that there was no basis for the removal of Michael Schiavo. Further, it was determined that he had been very aggressive and attentive in the care of Theresa. His demanding concern for her well-being and meticulous care by the nursing home earned him the characterization by the administrator as ‘a nursing home administrator’s nightmare’. It is notable that through more than thirteen years after Theresa’s collapse, she has never had a bedsore."

In 1998, Pearse confirmed that Terri Schiavo was well cared for, also mentioning that she "received regular therapy."

What about Michael Schiavo’s failure to treat Terri’s urinary tract infection?

From Jay Wolfson’s report:

"…Michael, in consultation with Theresa’s treating physician, elected not to treat the infection and simultaneously imposed a ‘do not resuscitate’ order should Theresa experience cardiac arrest. When the nursing facility initiated an intervention to challenge this decision, Michael cancelled the orders. Following the incident involving the infection, Theresa was transferred to another skilled nursing facility."

"Michael’s decision not to treat was based on discussions and consultation with Theresa’s doctor, and was predicated on his reasoned believe that there was no longer any hope for Theresa’s recovery."

Recall that Michael Schiavo’s guardianship was reviewed three times after this decision not to treat, and all three reviews concluded that his care was exemplary.

Shouldn’t an MRI be done to confirm the diagnosis?

Five physicians, including one independent expert and two physicians selected by the Schindlers, examined Terri Schiavo in 2002. If an MRI had been necessary, the two Schindler physicians could have ordered one. An MRI was only requested in one of the last appeals, basing it on a new Neurology article, fMRI reveals large-scale network activation in minimally conscious patients and the 17 doctor affidavits (see below).

Judge Greer’s response categorically lists all the problems with the request. To summarize, the Neurology article involves "minimally conscious" patients, whereas Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, the 17 doctors based their opinion on the video shorts (see below), and Terri Schiavo has implants that would have to be removed by brain surgery before an MRI could be performed.

In reading the 17 affidavits (before they were taken offline at Terri’s Fight), I noted that those who recommended an MRI said only that it "might" be helpful. Not one expressed surprise that an MRI had not been performed or asserted that this was standard medical practice.

Is there some doubt as to her diagnosis?

Her two guardians ad litem, Richard Pearse and Jay Wolfson, have said unequivocally, after hours of evaluation and discussion with medical experts, that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state.

In 2002, the Schindlers had their chance to prove in court that Terri was not in a persistent vegetative state. While the appellate court had only ordered Judge Greer to determine if new treatment methods would work, he also chose to reaffirm the PVS diagnosis. The Schindlers chose two doctors; Michael Schiavo chose two. The judge appointed a fifth.

The independent doctor agreed with Schiavo’s two doctors that Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. The Schindler doctors asserted that she was not. They based this finding on Terri Schiavo’s interaction with her mother, her ability to track a balloon, and so on. Judge Greer’s opinion indicates that he "carefully viewed" all the videotapes. He counted up the times that Dr. Hammesfahr (one of the Schindler doctors) gave Terri Schiavo a command (105), asked her a question (61), how many times her mother gave her a command (6), or asked a question (11). In all these cases, he observed: "The court saw few actions that could be considered responsive to either those commands or those questions. " The appellate court confirmed this by viewing the tapes again.

The two Schindler doctors proposed their own therapeutic treatment that could possibly improve Terri’s chances. They could point to no case studies documenting their success, and they agreed that current science didn’t offer much hope. In both cases, their suggested treatment plans were, to put it kindly, experimental.

In other words, when the Schindlers had their best shot to challenge Terri Schiavo’s diagnosis and rehabilitation, they offered two unproven, experimental therapies. Either they couldn’t get any better, or they wasted an important opportunity.

What about the videotape?

The videotape segments that stirred up so much attention, the ones that are on TV all the time, show Terri Schiavo talking to her mother and apparently responding. These clips were culled and edited from four hours of videotaped footage of Terri Schiavo. The judge and the appellate court viewed all the footage; see the question above for the results.

No one has challenged the statement that the clips were edited from a much longer tape, and no one has challenged Judge Greer’s assessment of the longer tape.

What about the 17 doctors who say she should be retested?

The doctors who wrote affidavits, by their own admission, have not examined Terri Schiavo and base their opinion on the short videotape. Most of them have not examined her records. Some of them are plugging their own new therapy; at least two are plugging the same therapy that the two Schindler physicians suggested and that the judge rejected as insufficient.

What about the nurse who says that Michael Schiavo tried to kill her with insulin, neglected her, and denied her all care?

Carla Iyer’s affidavit states that Terri Schiavo spoke regularly, laughed and expressed pain, that her chart comments to this effect were whited out by other staff members, that she called the Schindlers to give them progress reports that Michael forbade, that Michael Schiavo was eager for his wife to die and poisoned her with insulin, that a nurse at the facility was complicit in Schiavo’s abuse, and that she reported this activity to the police and was fired for her pains.

She came forward to report this in late 2003; the Schindlers tried to get a new trial based in part on her affidavit. Judge Greer’s response to her charges:

"Ms. Iyer details what amounts to a 15-month cover-up which would include the staff of [the] Convalescent Center, the Guardian of the Person, the Guardian ad Litem, the medical professionals, the police and, believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Schindler. Her affidavit clearly states that she would ‘call them (Mr. and Mrs. Schindler) anyway because I thought they should know about their daughter’…..Neither in the testimony nor in the medical records is there support for these affidavits as they purport to detail activities and responses of Terri Schiavo. It is impossible to believe that Mr. and Mrs. Schindler would not have subpoenaed Ms. Iyer for the January 2000 evidentiary hearing had she contacted them as she alleges."

How can the judge take Michael Schiavo’s word for Terri Schiavo’s wishes?

He didn’t just take Michael Schiavo’s word for it. Judge Greer accepted Richard Pearse’s GAL recommendation that Michael Schiavo’s unsupported word would not be enough to establish clear and convincing evidence. He accepted two other witnesses (both Schiavo siblings) who recalled Terri Schiavo’s comments on the Nancy Cruzan case. Two of Terri Schiavo’s friends reported Terri’s opinion about Karen Quinlan, but the judge rejected one as not credible (testimony changed between deposition and trial) and both as irrelevant, as Terri made the observations when she was a teenager.

Judges accept a spouse’s word in these situations all the time, often with no other support.

Why did Judge Greer dismiss the GALs?

Richard Pearse, the first GAL, determined that Michael Schiavo’s "credibility is adversely affected by the obvious financial benefit to him of being the ward’s sole heir at law in the event of her death while still married to him".

Michael Schiavo asked that Pearse be dismissed for bias because he failed to mention that Schiavo had committed to donate all his inheritance to charity, or observe that the Schindlers had a similar financial bias. Jay Wolfson’s report noted that it was a "well-pleaded case for bias".

The judge discharged Mr. Pearse but did not disregard his findings. Judge Greer does mention that "Mr. Pearse readily agreed that he has feelings and viewpoints regarding the withdrawal of feeding and hydration tubes and that he did not so advise the court prior to his appointment", which suggests that Pearse had other conflicts.

He dismissed Jay Wolfson, according to Wolfson himself, because " once the Florida Supreme Court struck down Terri’s Law his efforts were moot. "

Why is Michael Schiavo still allowed to make decisions for his wife when he abused her/hasn’t been faithful to her?

Judge Greer ruled that the abuse issue was irrelevant, and there’s no definitive ruling on whether or not Michael Schiavo abused his wife. As to whether or the abuse caused Terri Schiavo’s condition, most experts think it most likely that she had a heart attack brought on by her bulimia. Matt at Abstract Appeal reminds everyone of the malpractice lawsuit:

"The significance of the medical malpractice lawsuit can be seen in a few ways. A jury agreed that bulimia caused Terri’s collapse. The defendants were her doctors — one might think that they, of all people, would have been able to show that Terri had been beaten or strangled if that was what had occurred."

Michael Schiavo has had relationships with other women, and is engaged to a woman with whom he had two children. However, all the investigators have uniformly praised Michael Schiavo’s care of his wife. From Judge Greer’s original opinion ruling that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube must be removed:

"It is also interesting to note that Mr. Chiavo continues to be the most regular visitor to his wife even though he is criticized for wanting to remove her life support. Dr. Gambone even noted that close attention to detail has resulted in her excellent physical condition and that Petitioner is very involved."

So you’re on Michael Schiavo’s side?

I’m on the side of the law. The law defines a procedure. Michael Schiavo, the Schindlers, and the courts all followed that procedure. I don’t support intervention because the Schindlers and others didn’t get the outcome they wanted. I wouldn’t support Michael Schiavo if the positions were reversed.

For the record, I’m agnostic on the right to die. My public policy position is that many people clearly want the option, and the states should ensure that they have that right, while still protecting those who can’t speak for themselves. My personal position is that my family can make whatever decision they think best, should I not be able to decide for myself. I don’t know that I could ever withdraw nutrition from a loved one, and can’t imagine promising to do so.

To determine your position, I offer up a few hypotheticals:

  1. Assume all facts are the same, but Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers agree that the feeding tube should be removed.
  2. Assume all facts are the same, the Schindlers oppose the feeding tube removal, but Terri Schiavo left a detailed living will that specified she would want the feeding tube removed if she were in a persistent vegetative state.
  3. Assume that Michael Schiavo has remained completely faithful to his wife all these years, but still testifies that she told him she would want to die in these circumstances, and the Schindlers still oppose him.

If your opinion switches from opposition to support in these hypotheticals, then your opposition is based on the circumstances in this case. So ask yourself: do you really think that you know more about the case from the media coverage and court documents than the judges who actually reviewed all the evidence? It’s one thing to acknowledge that the judicial system has the occasional flaw; it’s quite another to say that over a dozen judges have actively ignored evidence that proves Michael Schiavo wants to end his wife’s life on a whim.

If you still oppose the removal of the feeding tube in these hypotheticals, then you presumably oppose all decisions of this nature. However, the courts have applied the law as it is currently written. Why not work to change the laws, rather than believe, despite all the review, that Terri Schiavo has been denied due process or is the victim of activist pro-death judges?

Congress has chosen to spend a huge amount of time intervening in one case, thus implicitly devaluing every other person who has died in these identical circumstances, and for no other reason than they don’t like the Florida court’s decision.

Michelle Malkin – Beyond Stupid

MalkinHardly a day goes by when Michelle "Little Lulu" Malkin doesn’t write something incredibly duplicitious or illogical.  Yesterday was no exception:

One of the pro-abortion Left’s favorite attacks on people of faith is that we only care about children before they’re born and not afterwards.

Hint to Malkin: linking to a Google search (search=anti-abortion+only+care+about+children+before+they+are+born) is pretty lame to begin with, but if you must, then make sure the results reflect what you claim.  I could claim, for example, that Republicans fart all day long, and google a search that Republicans fart all day long as "evidence" of this.  But the fact that I get tens of thousands of "hits" means nothing since, upon inspection, very few of them actually make a statement to that effect.

Perhaps this is why the mainstream media has ignored the amazing stories of pro-life activists who have been keeping vigil outside Terri Schiavo’s hospice–people like Steve and Tony Sakac, the Withey family, and the Anderson sisters who won’t ever appear on the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post.

Michelle would like it if the New York Times and the Washington Post put a headline informing people that disabled people exist.  This was apparently "news" to Michelle.

And it explains why the MSM has ignored the humanitarian work of the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the life-affirming of evangelical groups such as Joni and Friends, which advocates for the disabled.

That’s what pisses Michelle off.  The fact that the media isn’t turning the Schiavo matter into free advertising for comparatively small advocacy groups.  Oh, and Michelle?  I noticed this at the Joni and Friends website: "Joni also has been interviewed by the New York Times regarding the Terri Schiavo case. The article will appear in the Religion section in the Wednesday, March 23rd edition, by Lorie Goldstein, the Religion Editor."

Instead, we get pieces like this Associated Press report–which treats pro-life activists as freaks and editorializes disapprovingly that demonstrators have brought children "some too young to truly understand why they are there."

Pray tell — which of the pro-life activists is a "freak", according to the article?  Heck, even I don’t think that!

For millions of Americans of faith of all ages, standing up for the sanctity of life is not just an empty slogan–but a deeply-held principle put into action daily. The MSM had ample opportunity to tell the stories of some of the inspiring people who have stood vigil outside Terri Schiavo’s hospice. Instead, as they have done throughout this ordeal, they looked the other way.

Yes, the MSM "looked the other way" by not reporting on Schiavo protesters, except for the article you mentioned as well as all of these articles.

Michelle, you are just one big lying baby whose knickers are perpetually in a twist — aren’t you honey?

A Rant Against Idiocy

PZ Myers has had it up to here with the morons on the religious right who continue to — well, lie — about evolution out of either (a) intentional ignorance or (b) cognitive dissonence:

I know what some people are thinking: just don’t call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. The earth is billions of years old, species are all related to one another, and there has been a complex and ongoing pattern of change over the course of all of that time. All of that has been supported by multiple interlocking lines of evidence uncovered by the work of thousands of people, rechecked and verified by thousands more. That’s just not going to be seriously challenged by anyone sensible, let alone some ranting guy who took a general science course in high school.

The big picture is done. The ships have sailed, they’ve discovered the coastline of the New World, they’ve established a few thriving colonies—and there’s a huge, exciting continent to explore. Meanwhile, we have a few lunatics in the Old World who have clamped their eyelids shut and are screaming that they can’t see it.

So what’s the argument about? Not science, that’s for sure. The opponents of evolution don’t know any. They are effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously. They have been relying on their opponent’s hesitation or aloofness to escape criticism of their competence or ignorance. They shout with authority when they possess none.

You know what? It’s time to stop that.

When someone lies, and tells you that increasing numbers of scientists are opposing the evolutionary ‘paradigm’, shoot them down, but also be blunt: call ’em a liar. Don’t let them get away with pretending this is an honest debate between sincere opponents. It’s an argument with a shameless liar.

When they parade their ignorance and try to claim that scientists have never discovered any transitional fossils, hand them a list, and make it clear to everyone that they are stupid. They are ignorant. Don’t let them skip over it and move on to yet another issue that they will misrepresent: stop everything cold at that point and hammer on the fact that this person is not competent, is not informed, is unaware of the basic facts that he is railing against.

Seriously. If you went to a doctor, and he didn’t know which end of the stethoscope to stick in his ears, would you let him go on to do open-heart surgery on you? Would you continue to call him "doctor", or should you leave the quack’s office and look for someone who knows what they are doing? Why do we allow pseudoscientists and creationists to babble on, moving on from one lie to one distortion to one outright crazy assertion to another?

Slap ’em down. Anyone who tries to tell you that the world is 6000 years old or that evolutionary biology is a failure is an idiot. They don’t deserve your patience.

He’s right. 

Look, there is nothing wrong, and many things right, with the Bible or religion or faith.  But to place EVERY religious tenet — no matter how silly — higher than the mantle of repeatedly verified scientific fact (which some would argue is God-given ability of man) is simply backwater bullshit.  One can believe in God and religion and have faith AND be intelligent.  And that’s what people should strive for.  But stupidity and ignorance should not be allowed to flourish behind the skirts of piety.

“Why wasn’t letting Schiavo die a Christian option, too?”

It’s a damn fine question, asked by (among many others) the Rev. Frederick Schmidt, an Episcopal priest and theologian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, according to this wonderful article in the St. Petersburg Times:

"I think the religious right is captive to a medical, scientific description of life that equates merely to survival," said Schmidt, director of spiritual life and formation at SMU’s Perkins Graduate School of Theology.

"But Christians can say no, life is broader than that . . . and to let someone go under these circumstances is perfectly appropriate."

He and other scholars say the religious, moral argument in the Schiavo case was largely one-sided. Though polls show a strong majority of mainline Protestants disapproved of Congress’ actions, they and their religious leaders allowed conservative Christians to carry the debate, as they’ve done with embryonic stem cell research and gay marriage.

It’s more than academic. Just as conservatives realized 20 years ago they could not afford to sequester themselves from public affairs, moderates risk becoming culturally and politically irrelevant if they withdraw.

Evangelical Christians "have become the moral edge in the country, because there’s no one else articulating a moral religious view," said Dr. Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University.

"Something has happened to the moderate, mainstream Protestant church. They should be arguing this is a moral issue, and there is another side."

The dispute over Schiavo has been cast in terms of the religious versus the secular. But that’s an artificial line, "because most Americans want some sort of moral religious perspective in their lives," he said.

The moral judgments that help us decide when life begins help us decide when life ends. The Catholic church teaches that life begins at conception; it used to teach that life began at quickening, some 40 days into pregnancy. Are we dead when our brain no longer functions? Or only when our heart stops?

"Science can never adjudicate the boundary between life and death," said Dr. Barbara Koenig, a medical anthropologist and former head of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. "That is fundamentally a social assessment."

It doesn’t help that many of the terms – brain death, coma, persistent vegetative state – are largely subjective. "People think these are real states that exist in nature, and we can somehow magically measure them using machines," Koenig said. "No, no, no. It’s extremely difficult."

So let’s celebrate the end of Terri’s tortured life this Easter, as we should celebrate the end of ALL torture.

For Easter . . .

Peeps A bunch of Peeps links . . . and some info courtesy of the Washington Post:

  • In the past three years, Peeps consumption has surged by more than 100 million a year; Americans eat an average of 2.3 Peeps apiece each spring.
  • Certainly Peeps are eaten in a variety of ways: fresh, stale, warm, microwaved, frozen, fricasseed, roasted and sometimes even as a pizza topping, says [Peeps spokes woman Milena] DeLuca. Many fans say Peeps are tastiest after they have hardened for two to three weeks. Others find them most satisfying when they bite their heads off first.
  • The newest Peeps craze is Peeps jousting, according to DeLuca. To see two Peeps joust, insert a toothpick into the chest of each, place them 1-1/2 toothpicks apart in a microwave, and nuke them for no more than 10 seconds

AND, as an added bonus, The Catholic Herald gives us the low-down on those annual nagging Easter questions:

What about the Easter bunny? The actual word Easter is derived from the word Eoster (also spelled Eastre), the name of the Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and Spring, and the annual sacrifices associated with her. (Keep in mind that while the Romance languages used the root word for Passover to denote "Easter," as mentioned previously, the German and English languages "baptized" the word Eoster.) Spring is a season of fertility, life, and abundance. In Teutonic mythology, Eoster’s pet bird laid eggs in baskets and hid them. On a whim, Eoster transformed her pet bird into a rabbit, who continued to lay eggs. 

In other words, the religious leaders of the day "borrowed" (i.e., stole) secular traditions and incorporated them into religious celebration, making the whole religious thing more palatable to the heathen masses.  Like the Christmas tree, which obviously had nothing to do with Christ’s birth (a lot of fir trees in Bethlehem, were there?). 

Hey, I have no problem with P.R. and making religion more accessible to the masses.  I just think people oughta know the truth, is all.

Terri and the GOP

Finally finally finally it looks like Terri Schiavo is going to slip quietly into the great beyond, as she wished.  As I would wish for myself.  As most would wish for themselves.  By refusing to give the Schindlers yet another bite at yet another apple, repeating the same arguments already heard, the “little Eichmans” (as wackos on the Christian right are calling Terri supporters these days) of the United States Supreme Court have followed in the shoes of the “little Eichmans” of the Eleventh Circuit, and the “little Eichman” of the Florida federal district court, not to mention the “little Eichmans” of the Florida state judicial system, not to mention the newly-minted “little Eichmans” of the Florida legislature who refused to pass a law giving Jeb Bush (no little Eichman, he) power to take Terri Schiavo into custody.

Meanwhile, some on the right of the political spectrum are taking a rare and introspective look at their party.  Instapundit openly wonders about a “conservative crackup” in light of its “fair-weather federalism”, and another conservative blogger of note, John Cole, blatently proclaims the death of modern conservatism

Seeing this political cannibalism coming from the right (rather than the left) warms me.  And I am reminded of days many many years ago when, at the age of ten (as I was becoming poltically aware), I watched a Republican party self-implode with disgust at President Nixon and Watergate. 

Seems like it was only weeks ago when Bush was boasting of his mandate, doesn’t it?  Kind of hard to make that statement now, when his approval is at an all-time low, and approval of Republicans in Congress is at its lowest since they seized congressional power.

Whether any or all of this sticks remains to be seen, so . . . no victory dances.  But this certainly has played well for the left — even in the short term — who really can’t take much credit in bringing the downfall about.  As we have always said, the Republicans want power and control of your bedroom, not to mention your soul, and will do everything and anything to get it.  We weren’t lying, folks.  And the GOP politicians, by stepping on the principles which the Republican party was rebuilt, have proven themselves to be more blatently power-hungry and freedom-of-choice-disrespecting than most Republicans can stomach.

Dr. Cheshire Cat

Jeb Bush has found a neurologist who claims that Terri Schiavo’s diagnosis ha been wrong all these years.  He claims that Terri, rather than being in a "persistent vegetative state", is actually in what the medical profession calls a "minimal conscious state".

That doctor’s name is Dr. Cheshire.  Let’s take a look at him, shall we?

Perhaps one place to look is a poem he wrote entitled Exit Ramp.  It appears in a magazine called Ethics & Medicine.  And what is Ethics & Medicine magazine?  Why, it bills itself as a magazine for "guidance to a perplexed world from the Judeo-Christian worldview". 

Uh-oh.  I see there this is going. 

Anyway, here is an excerpt from Dr. Cheshire’s "Exit Ramp":

And if a noble benefit
Is gained by choking respiration
Then why withhold from those unfit
To voice their fatal last petition?

Such killing fast degenerates,
Despite concern for patients’ best,
Into a plot that terminates
Without explicit prerequest.

And exercise of “right to die,”
If done with regularity,
Would drive the expectation high
That suicide is one’s duty.

The notion of a right to die
In reason finds approval nil,
From such a harsh judicial lie
Would obligate doctors to kill.

Okay.  So it is pretty clear that we know this Dr. Cheshire’s bias even before looking at his evidence.  But what is his evidence that Terri is in a "minimally conscious state"?

Let’s look closely at the key quote from Dr. Cheshire’s affidavit:

"Although Terri did not demonstrate during our 90-minute visit compelling evidence of verbalization, conscious awareness or volitional behavior," he wrote, "yet the visitor has the distinct sense of the presence of a living human being who seems at some level to be aware of some things around her."


That’s medical evidence?  Gee, there are no compelling evidence of conscious awareness, but he gets the distinct sense that she is aware of things around her?

You know what? I get the distinct sense that Dr. Cheshire is letting his personal bias interfere with his medical objectivity.  Perhaps he sees dead people, too.  In any event, well-meaning as he might be, he clearly cannot be taken seriously when his "medical" evidence is nothing more than a sixth sense, goosebumps, hairs on the back of his neck, gut feelings, and intuition.

UPDATE:  Seems Dr. Cheshire isn’t very well respected, or known, in the medical community.  Read this from Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, founder of the American Council on Science and Health (and a lifelong Republican):

While we at American Council on Science and Health have been determined to remain on the sidelines of the raging national debate about the fate of Terri Schiavo (this is largely a legal and ethical issue, not a scientific one), we cannot remain silent about the outrageous misrepresentation of scientific facts about this case that has been occurring in the past ten days.

The medical reality of Ms. Schiavo’s case is this: She has been in what is medically referred to as a "permanent vegetative state" for the past 15 years, ever since her heart temporarily stopped (probably due to the severe effects of an eating disorder), depriving her brain of oxygen. Brain scans indicate that her cerebral cortex ceased functioning — probably just after she experienced cardiac arrest in 1990. Ms. Schiavo’s CAT scan shows massive shrinking of the brain, and her EEG is flat. Physicians confirm that there is no electrical activity coming from her brain. While the family video repeatedly shown on television suggests otherwise, her non-functioning cortex precludes cognition, including any ability to interact or communicate with people or show any signs of awareness. Dozens of experts over the years who have examined Ms. Schiavo agree that there is no hope of her recovering — even though her body, face and eyes (if she is given food and hydration) might continue to move for decades to come.

Those are the harsh facts.

Yesterday, there was another public challenge to Ms. Schiavo’s well-established diagnosis: Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that a "very renowned neurologist," Dr. William Cheshire, had concluded that Terri had been misdiagnosed and that she was really only in a state of "minimal consciousness" rather than a persistent vegetative state. He used this "new diagnosis" to argue that "this new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action."

As it turns out, Dr. Cheshire is not "renowned" as a neurologist — his limited publications focus on areas including headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research. Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo, nor did he do neurological tests. Dr. Cheshire is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by "more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists." Everyone is free to be guided by a personal agenda — and it is clear that Dr. Cheshire has his.

Let’s call tripe when tripe is served. All of us are entitled to our own personal views on the Schiavo case, what her fate should be, and who should make decisions for her. But all of us should be united in rejecting politically-generated junk science.


Thoughts Of A Dreamer

Here is the blog of Jeff Weise, the 16-year-old Minnesota high school gunman who killed nine people before committing suicide.

And if you really want to look into his disturbed mind, visit The Smoking Gun to view Weise’s self-made Flash animation.  Screen captures from that animation are below:


Moblogging A Rainbow

So I was driving to rehearsal last night and there was a tornado warning but instead of a tornado, there was this amazing rainbow, so I took my cell phone and took a picture of it (through the windshield and rain while driving) and sent it to this blog.

Technology is cool, but nature is cooler.

Full Eleventh Circuit To Terri’s Parents: No

Another victory for Terri in a 24 hour span.  The vote was 10-2.  And this is a conservative appellate court.

I feel bad for the parents, but hopefully all these NEW courts going against them will help them to come to grips with reality.

UPDATE:  It’s not clear from the press reports whether the full appellate court affirmed the appellate panel’s decision, or merely refused to open the case up to the full appellate court.  I THINK it is the latter.  Although truthfully, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.  The next stop is the Supreme Court either way.

Speaking of which, this is what Scalia wrote in his Cruzan concurrence (Cruzan was the 1990 right-to-die case involving another young woman on life-supporting machinery, and whether or not to pull the plug, so to speak):

While I agree with the Court’s analysis today, and therefore join in its opinion, I would have preferred that we announce, clearly and promptly, that the federal courts have no business in this field; that American law has always accorded the State the power to prevent, by force if necessary, suicide – including suicide by refusing to take appropriate measures necessary to preserve one’s life; that the point at which life becomes “worthless,” and the point at which the means necessary to preserve it become “extraordinary” or “inappropriate,” are neither set forth in the Constitution nor known to the nine Justices of this Court any better than they are known to nine people picked at random from the Kansas City telephone directory. . . .

That doesn’t bode well for Schiavo’s parents.

What Would Jesus Do?

Beautifully put by Heriod at The American Street

Dateline Jerusalem, 29 a.d. — The ongoing controversy surrounding whether or not Jesus of Nazareth has the right to voluntarily die on the cross, took a dramatic turn yesterday.

Roman Senator, Billius Fristus Felinocidicus announced that in a late night, weekend session, the Senate had passed an imperial edict, signed by Emperor Tiberius W. Caesar, declaring that Jesus of Nazareth did not have the right to voluntarily relinquish his life, and that the decision is up to his parents. Caesar quickly returned from his summer retreat at Capri to affix his seal to the document. Upon sealing it, Tiberius, who is widely credited with the assasination of all his major rivals for the throne, declared that he would always “err on the side of life.”

Jesus’ legal representative, Saul of Tarses, expressed outrage at Rome’s intrusion into his client’s personal decision. “Jesus ben Joseph has a job to do. He believes he is fulfilling God’s plan to redeem the souls of man by dying on the cross. This is his right and his mission. This unprecedented interference by Roman politicians is nothing but grandstanding.” Fristus is believed a candidate to be Ceaser’s handpicked successor.

When reached for comment at his jail cell in Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth replied in a short statement “forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

Jesus’ mother, Mary, expressed relief. “I don’t care what Jesus says now,” she said in a statement. “Once, when he was 11 years old, he said he wanted to be a carpenter, not the messiah. I’m just glad that Senator Fristus and Praetor Tomarius Delayulous Pecuniarius see this for what it is.”

Leading juridical scholars agreed that the law was unprecedented. “Usually, Rome condemns people to die as traitors to the state or in wars. Actually passing a law that says you can’t voluntarily relinquish your life has never been done before,” said Rabbi Alanus Dershaiaphus.

Religious fundamentalists praised the decision. “We are absolutely thrilled by this decision,” said the Teacher of Righteousness, the leader of the radical Essene Jewish sect. “It reinforces that when people think of the Roman Empire, they think “culture of life.”

South Determined To Stay Ignorant

This really takes the cake.  Showing of an IMAX volcano film is being denied by IMAX theaters in the South because it suggests that observable similarities occur between the DNA of species

Buzzelli said while the Charleston theater doesn’t rule out showing "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" in the future, she considers people’s religious views when showing films.

The film makes a connection between human DNA and microbes inside undersea volcanoes. Buzzelli said the handling of evolution was considered in her decision.

IMAX theaters in Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas have declined to show the film, said Pietro Serapiglia who handles distribution for Stephen Low, the film’s director and producer who is from Montreal.

"I find it’s only in the South," Serapiglia said.

This is quite sad when educational films are rejected for being, you know, educational and factually correct.

Schiavo Latest

Actually, there is remarkably little to say.  The debate rages on, and the debate about the debate rages on.  Meanwhile, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed the lower court’s decision to replace the feeding tube, and the Schindlers are now appealing to the full panel of the 11th Circuit.  The next stop after that, and probably the last one as fas as the courts are concerned, is the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Most think that SCOTUS will not touch this matter, since they have refused to hear it three times.  I am unsure.  It is a LITTLE different this time because this comes to SCOTUS based on a very unique and unconstututional law passed by Congress only a few days ago — the Terri Schiavo Act.  The U.S. Supreme Court might have something to say about a law made for only one person, as well as some of the issues of federalism — i.e., Congress can’t effectively overturn a state court judgment made pursuant to state laws.

Meanwhile, the political fallout against Republicans in Congress grows:

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states’ rights unless they don’t like what states are doing… There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."

— Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), quoted by the New York Times, on the congressional vote to intervene in the medical care of Terri Schiavo.

Sing it, Christopher, Republican from Connecticut!

Not being a Republican, it’s hard for me to say . . . but I think certain Republicans have hijacked the GOP.  Check this out:

2000 Republican Platform: "Medical decision-making should be in the hands of physicians and their patients."

2004 Republican Platform: "We must attack the root causes of high health care costs by… putting patients and doctors in charge of medical decisions."

Wow.  Talk about a flip-flop.

And here’s another nice bit of hypocrisy: Republican (and heart doctor) Bill Frist (who diagnosed Terri based on a video) wrote a book in 1989 called Transplant where he advocated changing the definition of "brain dead" to include anencephalic babies. Anencephalic babies are in the same state as Terri Schiavo except that she suffered a physical trauma that put her into a vegetative state while the anencephalic babies are born that way. Read more here.

Anyway, there’s a lot of good editorials and commentary out there, but they are all starting to say the same thing.  If there’s one that encapsulates my sentiments, it woud be this one from Molly Ivans.

And the nutjob editorial award goes to Cal Thomas, who argues that we libruls allow Terri Schiavo to be killed, because it is "part of a flow" which ultimately will include killing off the elderly so that Social Security will remain solvent.

And the so-called "Christians" at Renew America are sharpening their knives and looking at Jeb Bush.  Apparently, they expect Jeb to call out the National Guard and force that tube back into Terri’s body, dammit!!

Minnesota Rampage

News organizations are beginning to reveal the name of the high school kid who went on a murder-suicide rampage in Minnesota yesterday, but bloggers have known that his name was Jeff Weise.

This is a link to a Google-cached page (an page on the web which no longer exists, but has been preserved by Google) in which the kid writes a message of interest directed to the American Nazi Party.

It’s chilling, especially this entry from April 19, 2004:

By the way, I’m being blamed for a threat on the school I attend because someone said they were going to shoot up the school on 4/20, Hitlers birthday, and just because I claim being a National Socialist, guess whom they’ve pinned?

And this entry dated May 26, 2004

But the school threat passed and I was cleared as a suspect, I’m glad for that. I don’t much care for jail, I’ve never been there and I don’t plan on it.

Other 293 Million Americans Waiting For Congress To Pass Bills For Them

The success of Congress’s record-breakingly speedy passage of a bill specifically crafted for the parents and brother of persistently-vegetative Terry Shiavo induced a furor this morning as America’s other 293 million inhabitants eagerly awaited their own "personal legislation."

"I can’t wait," said seven-year-old Terry Dooley, who has petitioned Congress to pass legislation ordering Schwinn to give him a new bike.

Americans couldn’t be happier that Congress is finally doing something for them. "Now, this is your government at work," said Piper Cobb, who has asked Congress for a law requiring credit card companies to give him an exceptionally low rate of interest with no late payment fees.

From Tom Burka’s "Opinions You Should Have".

Change of Heart

A nice story out of San Diego:

The head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego apologized Monday to the family of gay nightclub owner John McCusker, less than a week after decreeing that McCusker couldn’t have a Catholic burial because of his "business activities," according to a statement released by McCusker’s family.

In a stunning twist to a controversy that has created an uproar in the San Diego gay and Catholic communities, Bishop Robert Brom also promised to preside at a mass in memory of McCusker at The Immaculata Catholic church on the campus of the University of San Diego….

In a statement released by McCusker’s family Monday night, the bishop was quoted as saying: "I deeply regret that denying a Catholic funeral for John McCusker at the Immaculata has resulted in his unjust condemnation, and I apologize to the family for the anguish this has caused them."

Revoke Frist’s Medical License

Via The Left Coaster:

Liberal Oasis provides today’s action item: help revoke Bill Frist’s medical license for gross dereliction of duty. Remember that Bill Clinton was stripped of his ability to practice law because he lied under oath. Well, Bill Frist has definitely betrayed his medical oath.

Now once again, he has violated his pledge to “be honest in all professional interactions,” “advance scientific knowledge” and “maintain a commitment to medical education” by claiming to make a superior diagnosis than Terri Schiavo’s doctors by watching a few video clips.

…To file an ethics complaint, download the [official Nashville Academy of Medicine grievance form], follow the directions, have it notarized, and return it to the address at the bottom of the form.

Feel free to roll all of Frist’s ethical violations into one comprehensive complaint.

What a great idea. Holding a Republican accountable to his oath.

It’s your turn now.

Kristian Krazies Have a New Target

Late last night (early this morning), Justice James Whittemore denied the Schindlers’ temporary emergency motion to reinsert the feeding tube (his well-reasoned opinion, in PDF format, is here.

From the Miami Herald (subscription required):

Pity James D. Whittemore, next in line for unholy defamation via e-mail, eternal damnation through the Internet and vilification by postcard. Not to mention death threats from those who claim insight into God’s own hit list.


The judge [Greer] has two deputies in tow wherever he goes in public, assigned to keep God’s self-appointed messengers from killing him.

Judge Greer will now cede such fringe benefits to Judge Whittemore, who had the case dumped on his head Monday when Congress decided to federalize the issue. Judge Whittemore, when medical reasoning and legal decisions inevitably clash with religious theology, will also get the crazies as a bonus.

The federal judge will preside over a family tragedy that has been usurped by meanness and confrontation and a showing of the power — the considerable power — of the religious right.


But the outlandish seems to have become incredibly effective when spread through the Internet. Republicans have rallied and Democrats have ducked. And the Schiavo bill flew through Congress as if the cyber campaign were the stuff of a national consensus.


But when the crazies crank up the volume, the voices of a sober majority get lost in the tumult.

I’ll say!

God Detector

Just in time for the high holy days, too.

Detector_hand How many times have we heard it said, "Oh, Lord, give me a sign!" Alas, too often the reply is vague and ambiguous: the phone rings at an opportune time, a feather falls from out of the blue, a water stain appears that resembles a religious image.  We all want to know if God exists; maybe He just needs a reliable method to let us know He’s here.

The Yo-God GOD DETECTOR gives God a way to send a simple, unambiguous message of His presence.

Available here.

Support Our Troops?

The latest fad among our soldiers?

Videotaping the "charred, decapitated and bloody corpses" that they have killed, edit it together against a backdrop of loud headbanging music, and keeping the tapes as entertaining mementos.


Tom Delay Lies

From Tapped:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said this yesterday about Terri Schiavo:

"She talks and she laughs and she expresses likes and discomforts," he said Sunday evening. "It won’t take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that patients require."

For those keeping score at home, that statement is a straight-up, non-fungible, unambiguous, and utterly unconscionable lie.

Iraq Invasion — Two Years Later

Since this is the second anniversary of the Iraq War, let’s look at the numbers:

200: Lowest estimated number in billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars that have been spent on the war in Iraq

152,000: Estimated number of troops currently deployed in Iraq

1,511: U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the invasion

11,285: Americans wounded since the invasion was launched two years ago

21,100 – 39,300: Estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion by violence from war and crime

176: Non-U.S. coalition troops killed in Iraq since the invasion

339: Coalition troops killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

70: Daily average number of insurgent attacks on coalition forces in February 2005

14: Daily average number of insurgent attacks on coalition forces in February 2004

18,000: Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq today

5,000: Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq in June 2003

27/14: Countries remaining in the "coalition of the willing" versus number of former coalition members that have withdrawn all their forces or announced their intention to do so

25,000: Non-U.S. coalition troops still in Iraq

4,500: Troops that Italy and the Netherlands have pledged to withdraw before the end of the year

142,472: Iraqi security troops the Pentagon says it has trained and equipped

40,000: Iraqi troops that General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said are adequately trained and equipped to handle most threats

0: Number of active Army combat units deployed to Iraq that have received the required year-long break from active duty required by Pentagon rules

30: Percent by which the U.S. National Guard missed its recruitment targets in November and December 2004

27: Percent by which the U.S. Army missed its recruitment goals in the past month

15: Percent of military personnel, according to GAO, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

2: Estimated output of Iraqi oil industry in millions of barrels per day

2.8: Estimated output of Iraqi oil industry in millions of barrels per day before the U.S. invasion

8: Average number of hours that Iraqis have electricity per day

28-40: Estimated Iraqi unemployment rate

108: Millions of dollars in Halliburton overcharges hidden from international auditors by the Pentagon

9: Billions of dollars the Coalition Provisional Authority cannot account for of all funds dispensed for Iraq reconstruction