Thursday, March 31, 2005
There Will Be No Peace
The attempt of some to portray her husband in a positive light has come to naught. His lawyer is stealing his money because the attempt is not possible.
But the American legal system, which insists that justice has been done, has its defenders. That is, if you refuse to face the fact that Terri Schiavo was killed by a combination of dehydrations and starvation while police stood guard to insure that no one gave her food or water. That is a level of barbarity unseen in a civilized country since World War II. As her will to live neared its end, authorities shoved a morphine suppository into her body to reduce her struggles. Had she raped, killed and eaten her neighbors she would have been treated with more compassion and dignity. She would certainly have been eligible for ACLU protection. As it was, the ACLU offered a brief for her judicial killing.
There are few things that divide a society more than issues of morality. Thanks to the slow motion killing of Terri Schiavo, America is going to have a debate about the ethics of judges. We are going to have to address the issue of whether this country will allow something that is so morally repellent – something for which people were executed after the Nuremburg trials - to make it’s home here.
The Sacramento Union’s editorial writer said it well when he wrote:
This is, for all those who cherish life and all the bravery required to keep it, a grim and bitter day. Terri Schiavo’s death, coming at the behest of an unfaithful spouse and an unmoved judicial system, leaves a colossal milestone in our nation’s history—a history whose framework, until now, favored life and liberty. The framework failed this profoundly disabled woman. It failed us all.
This past fortnight, in which Terri clung to life without nourishment, brought a keen sense of desolation and helplessness. How intensely appalling that those who loved her were denied an opportunity to feed her. How colossally tyrannical—the right word—that an unaccountable judicial system, at every level, sought to preserve its superiority over the other two branches of government by ordering her death. How galling that our mainstream media misrepresented the Constitution by supporting the judges’ claim to final authority.
How deeply disappointing that so much of the public, according to falsely constructed polls, seemed to go along with the orchestrated execution of this perfectly innocent woman. It is not without reason that men and women of traditional faith compare their compatriots’ sensibilities with those of the rabble who pressed for the death of Christ. Indeed, the torturous denials from state to federal courts seemed too reminiscent of Pontius Pilate washing his hands of his decision.
Those are hard words to write as acceptable analysis. But they are inescapable. They burst from our own understanding of the faith and the history that inform our government. The courts could have considered the case de novo, dropping their creaky proceduralism and considering all the facts of the case. They could have done that with all the presumption for life they accord death row inmates. They did not—clearly piqued by the perception their power was being attacked by the legislative and executive branches. They did that by conveniently forgetting Article Three of the Constitution, not to mention the Fourteenth Amendment, which respectively grant the people’s representatives final direction of the courts and permit federal intervention on behalf of individual rights.
Terri Schiavo’s right to counsel? Denied. Her dignity? Denied. Her life? Denied.
Because liberty itself is bound up in the right to life, the gavel came down on that, too. Repeatedly. And ultimately on the liberty of us all, none of us secured fates different from hers.
If Terri Schiavo is to be redeemed, it will mean that more Americans—like Edmund Burke at the sight of the ghastly French Revolution—are “alarmed into reflection.” And that, absorbing the full meaning of their existence, faithful Americans will redouble their efforts to take back the judicial branch of what once was a government formed to protect life and liberty.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
The Banality of Evil - And Family Values
This question before the house is: what are “family values?”
In my humble opinion, family values were a Cleaver family thing: mother and father in a monogamous relationship … a couple of kids. You know - the family unit standing together, passing along from one generation to the next a shared heritage. Meeting brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews at family get-togethers. Sharing family stories; supporting each other even though we may have differences because we are “family.”
By what strange chemistry are family values defined as anything that a spouse does to his or her mate? Is spousal abuse a family value? Is infidelity? Is having serial girlfriends when your wife is disabled a family value? Is having a new family including several children with your long-term “girlfriend” a family value? Is deciding that your wife needs to die by starvation and dehydration – under armed guard so that she cannot receive nourishment – a family value?
Well, I suppose it can be stated that it happens …in families … and that it reflect the values (or lack thereof) of the participants. But to claim that getting a court order to starve your wife to death is a “family value” strikes me as not simply bizarre, but to render the term incomprehensible.
The person I spoke to is a decent man. He is, I think, opposed to starving Terri Schiavo to death. But he has a childlike faith in “the system.” And once the courts have spoken, he will conform. Many younger people do. They are not aware of the ability of “the system” to create a great evil via simple expedients.
Seeing the police in Terri’s hospice actively preventing her from receiving food and drink - enforcing her death via starvation and dehydration – is a chilling example of that Hanna Arend called the Banality of Evil.
Bethania Assy says in her review of Arend’s analysis of Adolf Eichmann:
“Eichmann had always acted according to the restrict limits allowed by the laws and ordinances. Those attitudes resulted in the clouding between virtues and vices of a blind obedience. In fact, it was not only Eichmann, as an isolated person, who was normal, whereas all other bureaucrats were sadist monsters. One was before a bureaucratic compact mass of men who were perfectly normal, but whose acts were monstrous. Behind such terrible normality of the bureaucratic mass, who was able to commit the greatest atrocities that the world has even seen, Arendt addressed the question of the banality of evil.”
We picture the prison guards in the gulag or the concentration camps as a special case … sadistic brutes who relished their role. Suppose they were like the police keeping Terri Schiavo from receiving food or water: just doing their assigned jobs; following their orders and intent on keeping their jobs until retirement? They have the force of law, the entire majesty of the justice system on their side. All the I’s have been dotted and the T’s have been crossed. The legal system has spoken and Terri (or the Jews, the Gypsies, the Christians or the Kulaks) must die. Her husband has said that it is her wish. The judges concur. The people want “the vegetable” to die so that they can get this incessant whining off their TV screens.
Let’s get on to something entertaining: March Madness.
If you ever wondered how it could happen there, pay attention … it’s happening here. In the US, it’s done in the name of family values.
Monday, March 28, 2005
—a Nazi writer quoted by Robert J. Lifton in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
The case of Terri Schiavo has been framed by the media as the battle between the “right to die” and pro-life groups, with the latter often referred to as “right-wing Christians.” Little attention has been paid to the more than twenty major disability rights organizations firmly supporting Schiavo’s right to nutrition and hydration. Terri Schindler-Schiavo, a severely disabled woman, is being starved and dehydrated to death in the name of supposed “dignity.” Polls show that most Americans believe that her death is a private matter and that her removal from a feeding tube—a low-tech, simple and inexpensive device used to feed many sick and disabled people—is a reasonable solution to the conflict between her husband and her parents over her right to life.
The reason for this public support of removal from ordinary sustenance, I believe, is not that most people understand or care about Terri Schiavo. Like many others with disabilities, I believe that the American public, to one degree or another, holds that disabled people are better off dead. To put it in a simpler way, many Americans are bigots. A close examination of the facts of the Schiavo case reveals not a case of difficult decisions but a basic test of this country’s decency.
Our country has learned that we cannot judge people on the basis of minority status, but for some reason we have not erased our prejudice against disability...
Read the whole thing.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Africa has been a troubled region for some time. Unstable politics, genocide, aids outbreaks, mass starvation - we do what we can to help, we send money to Sally Struthers, but do we really think Africa is going to get better and be a fully functional continent again? Sure, we can keep things patched together, but each day Africa exists is just another day of suffering. It's time we face up to reality and give Africa the peace it needs in a natural end.
It's time we starve everyone in Africa to death.
Read the whole thing.
…But the law, while scrupulous, has been merciless, and its conclusion very troubling morally. We ended up having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other.
There is no good outcome to this case. Except perhaps if Florida and the other states were to amend their laws and resolve conflicts among loved ones differently -- by granting authority not necessarily to the spouse but to whatever first-degree relative (even if in the minority) chooses life and is committed to support it. Call it Terri's law. It would help prevent our having to choose in the future between travesty and tragedy.
But in the meantime, we have cheerleaders for killing a human being by depriving her of food and water. And I do mean cheerleaders, not just people who see this as a tragic end. People who want her to die, because “I would not want to live like that” as if their personal preferences were the end of the story; and as they live their perfectly normal, healthy active lives, having no idea what they would want if they were severely disabled.
I have been on a brief vacation on a Caribbean island for the past week with no TV, radio or newspapers. On my return, one young man commented that he hoped “the vegetable” would die so that he would not have endure the wall-to-wall media coverage.
Mark Steyn expresses my feelings when he says:
I'm neither a Floridian nor a lawyer, and, for all I know, it may be legal under Florida law for the state to order her to be starved to death. But it is still wrong.
This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ''plaintiffs'' and ''petitions'' and ''en banc review'' and ''de novo'' and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now -- and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo -- something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of -- would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ''put her out of her misery'' after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who's exhausted her appeals is simply vile.
There seems to be a genuine dispute about her condition -- between those on her husband's side, who say she has ''no consciousness,'' and those on her parents' side, who say she is capable of basic, childlike reactions. If the latter are correct, ending her life is an act of murder. If the former are correct, what difference does it make? If she feels nothing -- if there's no there there -- she has no misery to be put out of. That being so, why not err in favor of the non-irreversible option?
As to arguments about ''Congressional overreaching'' and ''states' rights,'' which is more likely? That Congress will use this precedent to pass bills keeping you -- yes, you, Joe Schmoe of 37 Elm Street -- alive till your 118th birthday. Or that the various third parties who intrude between patient and doctor in the American system -- next of kin, HMOs, insurers -- will see the Schiavo case as an important benchmark in what's already a drift toward a culture of convenience euthanasia. Here's a thought: Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?
James Lileks remarks on one disabled person:
…Then we went to Target to get the chairs for the gazebo. I paged a Sales Associate, or whatever they’re called, and up wheeled Dale. He’s there every time I visit the store. I don’t know what his disability is. He’s the go-to guy at Target. Minor speech impairment; some muscular inabilities. But he has a walkie-talkie and a datapad tied into the Target mainframe and a gun that reads SKUs with a laser, so he can tell you whether the item’s in stock, order it up, and send a team of guys to drag it to your car. All with his one good hand. We are the Borg. Or will be, eventually; I can imagine a device that would fit on his head and let him do all these things with brainwaves and blinking. Thirty years ago he would have been in a Home making wallets, wheeled out into the sun once a day, kept from sight. Now he rules this store.
One hundred years ago, Terri Schiavo would have died of her injuries. Fifteen years ago her life was spared. She lives without the use of respirators, heart-lung machines of any other “artificial” life support. She is fed and hydrated via a tube, as are tens of thousands of other people who lead otherwise normal lives.
But today she may die of dehydration and lack of food, innocent of a crime, because she has finally become too much of an inconvenience. So that Michael Schiavo can get on with his life, marry the mother of his two children, and cash in on the book and movie contracts.
In the Netherlands, doctors are already euthanizing the elderly sick and imperfect babies. There is no doubt that there is a culture of death. After 9/11 we were distracted and imagined that it existed only among the more fanatical sects of Islam. But the culture exists deep within us. For us it does not come from deep religious conviction, but from the exact opposite end of the belief spectrum: the belief that there is nothing greater than us, our perfect bodies and our brilliant minds. That without these, we are worthless, human debris to be swept away.
Rest in Peace, Terri Schiavo.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
The goo-goos are crooks. That’s the conclusion I have come to after finding that John McCain’s top three election staff members are being paid by the Reform Institute. This organization takes in massive contributions from corporations and foundations who are either trying to get favorable treatment from Senator McCain, or who agree with him that we have too much free speech in this country about politics.
Ryan Sager is blowing the lid off the so-called “campaign reform” lobby in a series of articles, the latest on Tech Central Station.
Here’s a quote:
...You read that right: The disclosure crowd is made up of hypocrites who won't disclose where their own money comes from.
Now, as non-profits, they're not required to do this. But if they're going to work to repeal the First Amendment on the premise that money dictates motives, well, they better show us theirs.
For example, who are the donors to the Reform Institute, and what did they want (and/or get) for their money? The Reform Institute, you might remember, is the bogus think tank that serves as a shadow McCain 2008 office. It's supposedly a not-for-profit "education organization," but mostly it just educates the public about how totally awesome John McCain is. What's more, at least three high-ranking McCain 2000 staffers are cooling their heels there until McCain 2008.
Richard Davis, the McCain 2000 campaign manager, takes home a $110,000 a year "consulting fee" as the fake-tank's president. Trevor Potter, general counsel to McCain 2000, is -- fittingly enough -- general counsel to the Reform Institute. And Carla Eudy, national finance director of McCain 2000, is -- you may have guessed it -- the Institute's director of finance.
An Associated Press investigation earlier this month already found that Cablevision gave the Institute $100,000 right after its CEO, Charles Dolan, testified before McCain's Commerce Committee in 2003. Another $100,000 check from Cablevision came into the Institute in August of 2004, 12 days before McCain wrote to Dolan about a pending pricing issue, urging him to "feel free to contact me and discuss these issues further."
What other companies made donations to his think tank -- donations, by the way, that would be illegal many times over under McCain-Feingold because of their size if made to a political party or campaign?
Most importantly, when will the cleanies come clean? Show us the money!
We want to see who is funding these groups and who is working behind the scenes to prevent John McCain and others from having to answer attack ads within 60 days of elections. McCain has a famously thin skin and an equally famous temper. He may very well have cost Kerry the election by blowing up at the Swiftboat Vets when Kerry was busily trying to ignore them (with the avid assistance of the mainstream media).
Mc Cain, Feingold and the others who want to limit political speech need to be reminded that they are not Gods; they are not beyond criticism. And if they continue in their beliefs, their presence in political life becomes a threat to democracy.
But for now: show us the money!
Here’s a brief excerpt, read the whole thing:
...Grok's dramatic commitment to western technology-free living has inspired others in the academic community. One convert is Eegah, chairperson of the department of gender studies at the University of Michigan, who now lives in a creek bed outside Ann Arbor.
"There is something very liberating, very empowering about abandoning phallocentric culture," says Eegah, who was until recently known as Katherine Robinson. "Cave dwelling authenticates our visceral experience, releasing us from the bond of western patriarchal oppression."
As an example, Eegah notes that she is no longer dependent on money. "I have adopted the traditional barter system of non-western, matriarchal societies. I get all the furs and meat I need by having sex with hobos."
(2005-03-19) -- The National Organization for Women (NOW) today held a jubilant news conference to celebrate the latest advance in women's rights -- the right to have your estranged husband choose to end your life.
"First, it was women's suffrage -- the right to vote -- then abortion, the right to privacy," said an unnamed NOW spokesman. "Finally, a man has led the way in freeing us from the antiquated bigotry that has kept our former husbands from choosing a slow, painful death for us."
The NOW source said the court-ordered removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, based on the testimony of Michael Schiavo alone has "opened a world of opportunities for women to freely die at the hands of the men they love."
"The next time you tell your husband 'I'd rather die than go to that party,' you can rest assured that your words have legal weight and, if the occasion arises, your wishes will be respected," said the NOW source. "What's more, you're free from the worry that your man will be prosecuted for your murder."
And of course there's this:
Schiavo Hailed as Anti-Obesity Champion
by Scott Ott
(2005-03-18) -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today praised Michael Schiavo for leading the fight against the obesity epidemic by removing the feeding tube from his wife, Terri, who has led a largely-sedentary life since taking to her bed some 15 years ago.
Read the rest...
The World Turned Upside Down?
"Women, you can have it all - a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. To my men, open your mind, open your eyes to new ideas. Be open."
Why? Because this is an example of "Heteronormative" speech; treating heterosexuality as the norm.
It’s also the party of those who see a Hitler under every bed. Who claim that Bush is Hitler; who shout out that the dark night of Nazism is descending on America.
From Victor David Hansen:
The final irony? The president who is most slandered as Hitler will probably prove to be the most zealous advocate of democratic government abroad, the staunchest friend of beleaguered Israel, and the greatest promoter of global individual freedom in our recent memory. In turn, too many of the Left who used to talk about idealism and morality have so often shown themselves mean-spirited, cynical, and without faith in the spiritual power of democracy.
What an eerie — and depressing — age we live in.
FOR THE LOVE of heaven, won't somebody just call this thing what it is?
It's racism, pure and simple. And it comes from those folks at the Justice Policy Institute, who apparently believe that more than half of the black men in Baltimore between the ages of 20 and 30 have no control over their actions and shouldn't be held accountable for them.
That was, for decades that stretched into centuries, the justification for slavery and Jim Crow, wasn't it? Black folks were simple-minded, childlike creatures who were unable to control their emotions and needed only the civilizing influences of slavery and segregation to bring them to heel. ….
Is Terri Schiavo brain-dead? That is, is remedy, healing, physiologically impossible?
No. Oddly enough anyone who sees the film and tape of her can see that her brain tells her lungs to breathe, that she can open her eyes, that she seems to respond at times and to some degree to her family. She can laugh. (I heard it this morning on the news. It's a childlike chuckle.) In the language of computers she appears not to be a broken hard drive but a computer in deep hibernation. She looks like one of those coma cases that wind up in the news because the patient, for no clear reason, snaps to and returns to life and says, "Is it 1983? Is there still McDonald's? Can I have a burger?"
Again, life is mysterious. Medicine is full of happenings and events that leave brilliant doctors scratching their heads.
But in the end, it comes down to this: Why kill her? What is gained? What is good about it? Ronald Reagan used to say, in the early days of the abortion debate, when people would argue that the fetus may not really be a person, he'd say, "Well, if you come across a paper bag in the gutter and it seems something's in it and you don't know if it's alive, you don't kick it, do you?" No, you don't.
And what of the husband?
On the other side of this debate, one would assume there is an equally well organized and passionate group of organizations deeply committed to removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. But that's not true. There's just about no one on the other side. Or rather there is one person, a disaffected husband who insists Terri once told him she didn't want to be kept alive by extraordinary measures.
He has fought the battle to kill her with a determination that at this point seems not single-minded or passionate but strange. His former wife's parents and family are eager to care for her and do care for her, every day. He doesn't have to do a thing. His wife is not kept alive by extraordinary measures--she breathes on her own, is not on a respirator. All she needs to continue existing--and to continue being alive so that life can produce whatever miracle it may produce--is a feeding tube.
Friday, March 18, 2005
How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists? Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage. Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room — who undoubtedly has an eating disorder and would appreciate a little support vis-a-vis her negative body image.
The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security ("Budgets Can Affect Safety Inside Many Courthouses"). Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother.
Atlanta court officials dispensed with any spending issues the next time Nichols entered the courtroom when he was escorted by 17 guards and two police helicopters. He looked like P. Diddy showing up for a casual dinner party.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Amendment 1, US Constitution
How is it possible to get Congress to pass a law restricting the people from speaking freely about political candidates around election time? Well, if you have $140 million dollars, you can do just that.
It turns out that The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy , the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros' Open Society Institute, the Jerome Kohlberg Trust, the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation came up with almost all of this sum.
The leader of this cabal was one Sean Treglia who explained the strategy:
Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform.
"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says — 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot — that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."
Why were our elected representatives ready to go along with this charade? Well, as one of the Senate leaders of this movement, Senator John McCain explained, he really, really dislikes attack ads aimed at him. It makes it so much easier to get re-elected if your opponents are prevented from revealing unpleasant things about you around election time.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
It’s always a treat reading O’Rourke.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
As an admirer of Horowitz, I wanted to track down the evidence for this accusation. Keeping in mind that everyone is fallible, it is certainly possible that Horowitz, in his desire to make his point that Universities are hotbeds of liberalism – of a fairly totalitarian type – has used examples that, on closer examination, turn out not to be true.
Since blogs use links to original sources, I went to the links provided in the. The first is to Media Matters. There is no dispute that Media Matters (David Brock’s website) is pretty much a website devoted to criticizing conservatives. Nevertheless, it is true that we are rarely the subject of opposition research by our friends; it takes our enemies to expose our failures. Reading the article, we can state unequivocally that Media Matters has failed to find proof of the veracity of Horowitz’ statement. However, that is scarcely proof that Horowitz is repeating – or creating – an urban legend.
A second link in the Cliopatria story was to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which is a virtual verbatim repeat of the Media Matters story. In fact the Plain Dealer story by Mano Singham makes up a large part of the Media Matters story.
Yet a third link brings us to Butterfliesandwheels. The authors of this blog also have an ax to grind with Horowitz. In fact, the following explanation of their position regarding the selection of professors is revealing:
There are two motivations for setting up the web site. The first is the common one having to do with the thought that truth is important, and that to tell the truth about the world it is necessary to put aside whatever preconceptions (ideological, political, moral, etc.) one brings to the endeavour. The second has to do with the tendency of the political Left (which both editors of this site consider themselves to be part of) to subjugate the rational assessment of truth-claims to the demands of a variety of pre-existing political and moral frameworks.
Here we have it: since they (the professors) have determined the good and the right we must subjugate our search for truth to those truths that fit within our moral framework. And that means that conservatives are out of luck when it comes to being hired.
They cite a statement by Horowitz regarding vetting of his proposal for an academic bill of rights that appears to be contradicted by the people who mentioned. I would like to see the quotation by Horowitz in context since it seems improbable that Horowitz would ask people who he should have known would be opposed to his proposal to vet it and expect them to approve it.
Glenn Reynolds is a university professor with a vested interest in this issue. Prior to the Churchill fiasco, this argument would be contained within the academic community. Thanks to the faux Indian, it has spilled out of the gown and into the town.
UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. Unfortunately Glenn Reynolds misinterpreted my comments regarding him and Ward Churchill. I would certainly not classify him as a Churchill shill and am puzzled by his interpretation of what I said. I am a big fan of his and his web site.
Glenn is a university professor and all members of the academy have a vested interest in how that community is perceived. The “issue” in question is that of academic intolerance and general Left wing bias best exemplified by Churchill. Thanks to Churchill (the faux Indian) the general public is becoming more vocal and angry. The arguments are spilling out into the streets and are no longer contained within the halls of academe.
I’m sorry that Glenn misunderstood my comment as either an attack on him or as any way to equate him to Churchill.
UPDATE 2: Some commentators have accused me of both misidentifying and misinterpreting Butterfliesandwheels. I am embarrassed to say that both accusations are true. The bloggers are not professors and I misinterpreted their position on the superimposition of ideology over truth. However, despite their protestations, they have little respect for either truth or dissenting opinions. They are vociferous about their hatred of Horowitz’ Academic Bill of Rights, in effect calling him a liar. They then refer to respected pollster Frank Luntz as “notoriously mendacious,” using as proof of their claim a 1997 AAPOR rebuke of an ethics code. It is only in the last line of the AAPOR press release that we find that Luntz is not a member of this organization.
Toward the end of their screed they posit this possible outcome of the creation of an Academic Bill of Rights:
"The real difficulty, of course, is that if you create rights, you also have to have remedies. And at some point even the genuinely dumb conservatives will notice that the Horowitz proposal will create causes of action for Marxist economists who can't be hired by economics departments, for postmodernists who can't get hired by philosophy departments, and on and on."
On reading that I nearly fell out of my chair with laughter. Can one get hired as an economics professor today unless one is a Marxist, or a philosopher unless postmodernist? Can one get to be the chair of the UC Department of Ethnic Studies unless one is a fake Indian with a penchant for fake art, plagiarism and a tendency to compare the victims of 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann? I suppose it's possible, it just hasn't been tried.
For some the “quagmire” has disappeared, the “resistance” has morphed into “terrorists” and the self-evident “failure” of the invasion of Iraq has turned into a success that everyone knew would happen. Like the collapse of Communism in the USSR, the inevitable was pre-ordained and statements to the contrary are even now being flushed down the “memory hole.”
It is odd, and a little frightening, to see a repeat of Orwell’s 1984 replayed right in front of our eyes.
Victor David Hansen has been right about the big picture for so long, it is only right and fitting that he should do a victory lap in an essay entitled “ A Look Back, Turning point since September 11.”
Without much appreciation that error is the stuff of war, that by any historical benchmark the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein was nothing short of miraculous, that our ongoing assessments of success and failure changed hourly within the fluid 24-hour newscycle, or that acrimonious hindsight was often used to save face about earlier wrongheaded pronouncements, we continued to tally up the "I told you so's."
Lapses were, of course, numerous and easy to spot from our armchairs in America the morning after — laxity in securing borders and arms depots and reforming the Iraqi army, a too-prominent televised American profile from the Green Zone, tardiness in elections, too large and plodding an interim American bureaucracy, slowness in dispersing allotted aid, the April pullback from Fallujah, and so on. Add in Abu Ghraib, plus Syria's and Iran's agents and subsidies, and the reconstruction proved more difficult than the three-week victory might otherwise have presaged.
Many erstwhile supporters from the boomer generation — one that is more utopian and therapeutic than practical and tragic — simply bailed on the entire enterprise. They would not return until the successful elections on January 30 and the amazing aftershocks throughout the Middle East convinced them that their continued hypercriticism might leave them on the very wrong side of history.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Here is an article from Arab News, which bills itself as the Middle East’s leading English language daily. The article, headlined: They Shoot Reporters, Don’t They? Begins:
The killing of Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari by US troops in Iraq is another twist in the diabolical tactics employed by members of the occupation forces in manipulating the veracity of their adventurism in this immoral crusade.
It may be unpopular to say, but the Press Lords helped defeat the US in Viet Nam and it is only thanks to the Internet that they have not managed to do the same in this war.
On Thursday, March 10, the "philosopher" in question, a Mr. Jason Gatliff, returned to Boise State University, his alma mater, to give a speech on just this topic. The speech was paid for by the Boise State University Philosophy Department - and BSU, like BGSU, is a public institution. This fact, it must be noted, imbues the following account of his argument with an irony that is infinite, sweet, and rich.
IN A SENSE, Canada is the perfect place for American quitters, as it evidences self-loathing masquerading as self-congratulation. This I learn over dinner in Vancouver. A delightful realtor named Elizabeth McQueen has enticed me with a promise any American boy likes to hear--that we'd be dining with "two very attractive lesbians." She didn't lie. One of them could make a killing as a Courteney Cox celebrity impersonator. Besides, they're psychotherapists from San Francisco. They ask me to change their names to Cocoa and Satchi since their patients don't yet know they're leaving America.
They've come to Vancouver to look for real estate, having gotten married on an earlier trip to Canada. They were politically active back home. They wrote letters to the editor for every cause: "Save the whales, save the trees, save the lesbians," says Cocoa. They hate the war and the Patriot Act and the results of the gay-marriage resolutions. They hate the conservative agenda and fundamentalist crackers and all the other usual suspects. They hate it that Karl Rove, in Cocoa's words, helped to elect "an alcoholic butthead who can't put two sentences together, cocaine addict, married to a frigid drunk-driver-murderer-Martha-Stewart wannabe."
But beneath all her gracious sentiments is something else: a loss of faith. When describing how she feels traveling abroad, Cocoa sounds like the old joke about how Canadians apologize when you step on their shoes: "I felt ashamed as I was going everywhere with my American passport. It was just like 'I'm so sorry.' . . . After the last election, I kind of lost faith in what we Americans are doing in our country."
Read the whole thing. It’s long but thought provoking. Here is a great quote:
The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to September 11 is to say, “Let’s get off our dependency on foreign oil, and then we won’t have to deal with those people.” The most naïve assumption underlying that dream is that reducing what little connectivity the Gap has with the Core will render it less dangerous to us over the long haul. Turning the Middle East into Central Africa will not build a better world for my kids. We cannot simply will those people away.
The Right Coast has some interesting thoughts on Singer:
You may recall the name Peter Singer from a while back when he published an article on the internet allowing that it was OK to have sex animals. Not only do a lot of people do it, according to Professor Singer, but there's no reason they shouldn't.
How did this movement got started and who paid for it is the subject of this revealing essay at TechCentralStation.
Here are some revealing facts:
Consider a report just out from the folks over at Political Money Line, "Campaign Finance Reform Lobby: 1994 to 2004." Ignored by the media to date, it details how the supposedly grass-roots campaign-finance reform movement has been funded over the last decade to the tune of $140 million. Of that $140 million, the vast majority ($123 million) came not from retirees scraping together their last nickels for the cause of democracy, nor from schoolchildren collecting deposits on cans plucked from dilapidated playgrounds.
No, the money came from just eight ultra-liberal foundations (including the Ford Foundation and George Soros' Open Society Institute), the same folks who fund: the Earth Action Network, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Naderite Public Citizen Foundation and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Yet, by maintaining the fiction of independence from one and other, they appear to much of the press to be a pack of scrappy underdogs sinking their teeth into the ankles of the big-money men.
Well, it's a sham. It's a charade. It's a lie. They are the big-money men. And, with the release of the Political Money Line report, it's time the media started treating them as such. The billionaires and liberal foundations constantly calling for more restrictions on the freedom of ordinary Americans to assemble and speak are not a movement -- they are a lobby.
And the first lobbyist who should be called out is none other than the Reformer-in-Chief, Sen. John McCain. The senator has been caught with his pants down this week, accepting what are essentially campaign contributions to a phony think tank called the Reform Institute.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
A soldier describes the actions of a group of people trying to escape the Worker's Paradise otherwise known as Cuba.
A MUST read.
Two years ago, Colin Powell took Jordan's King Abdullah to one side and told him, modifying a Rumsfeldian paradigm, that America saw him as part of "the new Middle East". The Sauds, Mubarak and Gaddafi are not entirely on board with this "new Middle East" thing, but since January 30 they've been doing their best to pretend they are - and the easiest way to do that is to stick some loser with the label of "old Middle East". Syria's prestige, such as it is, rests on its subordination of Lebanon. Abandoning that on a time frame demanded by Bush and the Beirut babes doesn't exactly communicate strength. The Iranians are still officially Assad's pals, but the word is that even they wouldn't be averse to a palace coup.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Bringing Disrepute on the House
In response, I have written to a member of the House Ethics Committee:
The following is the first rule of the House:
A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.
Members Conyers, Slaughter, Waxman, Rangel and Bennie Thompson have acted in a manner that brings discredit on the House. To wit, they have made the House look ridiculous in the case of Mr. Guckert. In a public statement they have engaged in misrepresentation of fact (Mr. Guckert, a right-wing activist with no press credentials), have accused another branch of the government of nefarious acts based on bizarre conspiracy theories without a shred of proof (Mr. Guckert's efforts as a propaganda machine for the White House), and have recklessly and demagogically implied that a majority of the American people (Mr. Guckert and his ultra-conservative organization) are outside what they perceive to be the mainstream. In so doing, they have not only exposed their personal prejudices but by their actions have made the House of Representatives a subject of self-parody and ridicule.
At a time when each American citizen finally has the power to speak out, via the Internet, and be his or her own reporter, editor, publisher and/or broadcaster it appears that the aforementioned members wish to create new barriers to the vigorous public debate of vital national interest by creating a "credentialed" priesthood of the press. They will not succeed. But in their efforts to reduce access to members of government, including not only the President, but also members of congress and other public officials; those who would try to impose a new, government "press guild," bring discredit on the House.
I am asking for a formal investigation of their actions and a vigorous condemnation of these actions. I want to know if they are acting in concert with powerful members of the commercial press, or other shadowy groups who have a vested interest in suppressing the free expression of ideas.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
-Fidel Castro has brought prosperity to Cubans despite the U.S.'s toothless embargo--an embargo that the U.S. must end in order to feed the starving Cubans.
-The winter of 2003-2004 was the coldest on record, a direct result of global warming.
-There are no WMD in Iraq and we must not put our children in harm's way there because Saddam will use WMD on them.
The willingness of the Bush team to think outside the box makes this the most refreshing administration since the late great Ronald Reagan. Reagan got us out of the box of “containing” Communism, asking the question: “why not win?” Bush got us out of the box of supporting and nursing the status quo in the Middle East which was creating the most deadly political and religious toxin since Communism fell in the USSR and retreated to the campuses.
I am, frankly, surprised at how brittle these dictatorships are. How quickly they can be destabilized and how eager the “Arab street” is for individual freedom. It point out how out of touch the chattering classes are with ordinary people. They imagine that after meeting the leaders, the hangers-on and the beneficiaries of the ruling classes they have met “the people.” God bless these self deluded fools because it makes their discomfiture all the more obvious. Gloating is a sin, but, Lord, just one more sin … for old time’s sake.
… we need to move quickly so baby boomer retirees can deal with the fact that Social Security benefits will have to be cut, and taxes raised. Those are the solutions for Social Security’s problems that the president has assiduously avoided mentioning….
There you have it, Baby Boomers, your social security benefits have to be cut and taxes raised.
We tried to get the editorial writer on the phone but were not entirely successful. Had they agreed to talk, the conversation may have gone something like this:
Virginian (V): Read your editorial about cutting Baby Boomer benefits and raising taxes. Baby Boomers are going to be retiring in about 5 years and are counting on their benefits. That’s not a long time to change the plans of a lifetime. Do you think that’s playing fair?
Virginian Pilot editors (VPE): Look, we have no choice. The Boomers are just going to have to suck it up.
V: If we raise taxes, will that solve the problem?
VPE: Sure. The added taxes will go into the Social Security Trust Fund and that will be used to pay benefits.
V: I’m a little hazy on the Social Security trust fund, can you help me out?
VPE: Sure. After all, we are the fount of wisdom here in downtown Norfolk. Ask away.
V: Well, tell me about this trust fund, and is that the same thing as a lockbox?
VPE: I see you have a lot to learn. The lockbox was the place Al Gore wanted to put the Social Security payments, but Bush (aka smirkingchimphitler) would have none of that. So Social Security payments go into the Social Security trust fund.
V: Ok so there is this big pile of dollar bills in this trust fund, sort of like my savings account at the bank?
VPE: Well, not exactly. The trust fund holds government bonds.
V: Where did the dollar bills go?
VPE: Oh, they were used to pay for current government programs.
V: So, just to be absolutely clear, there is no cash in the trust fund. Just a pile of government bonds?
VPE: Sure. But you know that government bonds are safe, and the government can cash them in to pay for the benefits.
V: OK, but when the government starts to cash the bonds in, where will it get the money? I mean, will the Social Security trust fund turn to the treasury and give it a bond and ask for cash? After all, the government doesn’t have the income it needs now and keeps borrowing money to pay for its programs. According to the Social Security administration “…tax income will begin to fall short of outlays in 2018.” So by 2018 Social Security is going be paying out more money that it’s taking in. Where is the cash that retirees are counting on going to come from?
VPE: Like I told you when I wrote the editorial, we’re going to cut retiree benefits and raise their taxes.
V: That’s your answer? You criticize Bush for trying something new and your answer is to cut benefits and raise taxes? That’s the best you can do?
VPE: Shut up kid, you bother me.
Clinton was later gave an interview to Charlie Rose in which he repeated his admiration and support of the rulers of Iran.
Where is the country that Bill Clinton, a former president of the United States, feels ideologically most at home?
Before you answer, here is the condition that such a country must fulfill: It must hold several consecutive elections that produce 70 percent majorities for “liberals and progressives.”
Well, if you thought of one of the Scandinavian countries or, perhaps, New Zealand or Canada, you are wrong.
Believe it or not, the country Bill Clinton so admires is the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Here is what Clinton said at a meeting on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, just a few weeks ago: “Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.”
Friday, March 04, 2005
WITH THINGS LOOKING UP for a change, this has been a rough patch of time for the Democrats. They have been suffering from Election Shock Treatment; which means the success of the Iraqi elections has shocked them into the realization that they may have to seek treatment, because of the trauma induced by the growing suspicion that President Bush has been right all along: right in the decision to go into Iraq; right in the decision to hang tough in Palestine; right in the belief that Muslims and Arabs may also want freedom; that elections there can be held, and succeed.
But even before this last "bad" (read, good) news, things had turned grim for the quagmire addicts, with the terrible realization that events elsewhere had not taken a turn for the worse. In August 2004, for instance, Australian Prime Minister John Howard was not defeated for his sin of backing Bush in the Iraqi invasion, dealing no blow at all to the Bush coalition. Then the Afghan elections went all too smoothly, despite the fact that the country, three years earlier, had been a perfect model of 13th century governance. Then the Palestinians, after Arafat's death, had the gall to start edging somewhat away from their ideological precipice, suggesting we might face a third non-disaster, a prospect too ghastly to contemplate.
In December, some of the savvier commentators had begun suggesting that Bush's democracy project was showing signs of working, and Martin Gilbert, the biographer of Winston S Churchill, had written
that Bush and his main man Tony Blair might stand some day with Churchill and Roosevelt. Among the in crowd--which had been appalled when Ronald Reagan, the amiable dunce, was declared by serious people the liberator of the people of Communist Europe--the idea that history might repeat itself was too much to bear.
McCain the Censor
Just as the people of this country have broken the chains of the gatekeepers of information (known as the MSM), McCain-Feingold threatens – like a vampire emerging from its crypt – to kill the blogosphere.
For the details, click HERE for Michelle Malkin and links to other sites.
UPDATE: Powerline explains why the internet is being targeted. It is based on a judicial ruling that that the internet, unlike the MSM, is not exempt from restictions on political speech.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The agency man, who was perhaps the same age as my KGB contact, had a studied nondescript appearance. Before his present assignment, to a unit debriefing Americans who had had contact with foreigners of interest to the government, he had been stationed in Rome for two years; he could not, he told me, say anything more about what he had been doing there. After a few minutes of such talk, we opened our menus. As he perused the choices, a question sprang from his lips that, when its implications sank in, shocked me to the core: "What's prosciutto?"
Read the whole thing.
“Look, we’ve made mistakes in the past. Somebody wrote in the paper the other day that I was, quote, ‘boneheaded.’ Well, of course, it’s a matter of record I’m boneheaded, said, ‘well, this is bizarre.’ Well, of course I’m bizarre, you know, we’ve known that for a long time...Somebody, I don’t know if he put it exactly this way, but he said, ‘well, you know, it’s a dumb-ass thing he’s doing.’ Well, you know, I’ve been a dumb-ass all my life.”
However, the second case on the high court docket this week asks a thornier question: 'Is God's knowledge of the private lives, and even thoughts, of all Americans an unconstitutional invasion of privacy."
The case involves a Texas man, identified in court documents simply as 'Jonah A.', who alleges that God has been "stalking" him for years, and seems to know things about his personal life that happened even when he was alone.
"Just because the Lord is omniscient and omnipresent, that doesn't mean he should be allowed to know everything and be everywhere," said Jonah. "The court needs to protect citizens from Divine intrusion."
The plaintiff's case rests on the foundation of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling which found that the long-lost constitutional right to privacy protects women who want to abort their children.
Justice Kennedy relied on international law and practice to "confirm" his view that the juvenile death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. He also cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. signed only subject to the reservation of its right to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
In my view, the reliance of foreign law and practice is a symptom of the Court's problem, not the problem itself. The Court has appropriated from the American people the role of social arbiter. Thus, it strikes down longstanding policies and practices adopted through the democratic process on the grounds that five or more Justices personally don't approve. This creates a question of legitimacy which causes the Justices to scrounge for support. Since the Justices preferences often don't correspond to the preferences of majorities here, they naturally look to Europe. They lack the political savvy to realize that doing so only makes their work seem even less legitimate.
Or perhaps I'm completely wrong. Maybe the offending Justices don't really care about whether the Court is perceived as legitimate, and just refer to international stuff because they are trained to cite things.
Such nuance! Persuasive fellows, Misters Dean and Byrd.
Big thinkers. The Middle East is poised to remake itself and repudiate all the tired tropes about Arabs and democracy, and Byrd trots out Adolph’s bones to complain about Senate rules, and Dean jumps up and down in Kansas about the perfidy of personal ownership of a tiny percentage of your Social Security money. Big picture men.
Free Speech for Terrorists
Blind, diabetic, and beset by other maladies, Sheik Omar never fired a shot in the war against the “enemies of God.” He never mixed an explosive compound, never beheaded a single infidel or apostate. As a renowned Quranic scholar, his weapon was merely words. But those words were backed by his prestige in a movement that insists on authoritative words to license deadly deeds. So it was that, upon being sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996, Sheik Omar issued a decree, declaring of Americans that “Muslims everywhere [should] dismember their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, . . . shoot down their planes, [and] kill them on land, at sea, and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them.”
One student who heard well was the wealthy Saudi upstart Osama bin Laden, eventually the leader of an international terror network, al Qaeda, whose size and efficacy dwarfed even Sheik Omar’s ambitious hopes. Over the next years, bin Laden would issue his own declarations against America, and follow them regularly with murderous deeds. Only days after 9/11, with fires still raging from the finally destroyed twin towers, and the murder toll rising, bin Laden jubilantly explained to the international media that his war on America was fully justified under the authority of the Islamic fatwa issued from prison by the blind sheik.
Read the whole thing at Commentary
Osama & Zarqawi
That particular message could mean anything. But in general it would be surprising if the enemy were content to simply watch events unfold. The problem is that democratization creates a whole new species of "cool". At the risk of oversimplifying things, in the past young people had the piss-poor choice of being a mustachioed Mukhabarat thug or a fiery Jihadi; that is to say between embracing the autocratic status quo and signing on the 72 virgins in Paradise. But now there's the prospect of going into the future on local terms; not as a 'stooge' but in a way that suits the culture of the area. In a word recent events have created a new 'scene' and it's a scene that OBL can't afford to take over his little crafted tableau.
Bottom line. If he's got any juice left, now's the time to let it rip.
More Speech Codes
Let us have more speech codes on college campuses -- many more. Let us have more detailed, carefully wrought Indices of Forbidden Opinions. Every institution of higher learning in the United States should present its incoming students with a list of all the beliefs that will lead to official disfavor.
It's not a matter of free speech. It's a matter of transparency.
The Larry Summers fiasco has taught us that, at Harvard University, faculty members are not permitted to believe in differences of intellectual capacity between the sexes. Do you suppose Larry Summers might have wanted to know that fact before presenting his now-infamous remarks? Similarly, it seems that comparing 9/11 victims to "little Eichmanns" is not the path to career success at the University of Colorado. But no one told Ward Churchill until it was too late. And for Ward Churchill, the criticism is especially cruel. Oh, how thin a line separates the good anti-American moon-battery that gets you a tenured sinecure from the bad anti-American moon-battery that gets you sacked!
Big academia promulgates the illusion of free speech while quietly enforcing the de facto reality of opinion censorship. It's the worst of both worlds.
Read the rest/