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March 31, 2005

President Bush statement on Terri Schiavo

Today millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schiavo. Laura and I extend or condolences to Terri Schiavo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in favor of life.

—President George W. Bush, March 31, 2005

Terri Schindler Schiavo, RIP

Terri died today. May she rest in peace, and may God have mercy on those who killed her.

March 30, 2005

Stop the presses! Study finds academia to be infested with liberals!

From the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, March 29:
College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.

"What's most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field," said Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study. "There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. It's a very homogenous environment, not just in the places you'd expect to be dominated by liberals."
When asked about the findings, Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, said, "The question is how this translates into what happens within the academic community on such issues as curriculum, admission of students, evaluation of students, evaluation of faculty for salary and promotion." Knight said he isn't aware of "any good evidence" that personal views are having an impact on campus policies.

"It's hard to see that these liberal views cut very deeply into the education of students. In fact, a number of studies show the core values that students bring into the university are not very much altered by being in college."
As Glenn Reynolds might say: Heh.

Sorry, no Jodi

To the countless people arriving at this blog because you're looking for photos of Jodi Centonze (the other love of Michael Schiavo's life), sorry. Her role in this drama is not worth any more bandwidth than I've already expended on her behalf.

UPDATE: Salena Moffat has a picture.

New economy runs afoul of tax-sucking leviathan

New York's highest court has ruled that people who work for NY employers but telecommute from out of state can be taxed by NY on 100% of the income paid by that employer (apparently regardless of whether or not the income is also taxed by the telecommuter's home state). This is not surprising, given that New York is already a regulatory nightmare, but this is definitely a bad precedent that is sure to be followed by other states. Savvy NY employers are sure to try to find ways around this by coming up with new and creative ways to compensate out-of-staters.

March 26, 2005

The science of the crucifixion

MSNBC reports on a show called "Quest for Truth: The Crucifixion", premiering Easter Sunday on the National Geographic channel. In the show, Biblical archaeologist Jonathan Reed attempts to reconstruct the mechanics of crucifixion as practiced by the Romans at the time of Jesus.

His conclusions, while affirming the details reported in the gospel texts, call into question some of the conventional wisdom about this method of execution. For example, Reed now believes that crucifixion was done on a T-shaped cross, rather than the "Latin" cross of tradition. Reed also challenges the recent consensus that Jesus' arms were nailed through the wrists. There was no need for those nails to support the weight of the body — the nail through the feet would accomplish that. Rather, he thinks it quite likely that the nails were actually driven through the palms of the hands (as was commonly assumed prior to the 20th century), since the cruel Romans would have known that the pain inflicted would be much greater there.

March 20, 2005

Out and about

I'm away from home on a business trip, so I don't anticipate any new posts until Thursday at the earliest.

Feel free to comment on existing posts, though -- I'll be checking for new submissions!

March 18, 2005

A question to those who consider the killing of Terri Schiavo an act of mercy

To Michael Schiavo, George Felos, Judge Greer and their fellow travelers:

If all you're looking for is 'an end to her suffering'...

Why not just put a bullet in her head?

Why not let it end quickly? Why are you supporting one of the most prolonged and cruel killing methods known to mankind? Why not just shoot her?

Judge Greer defies subpoena; orders the slo-mo murder of Terri to commence

At about 4pm Eastern time, Terri Schiavo began a death process at the hand of others that is so inhumane that no civilized society would dream of using it even on condemned mass murderers.

The gambit by the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent this court-ordered killing failed as Judge Greer refused to allow the House subpoena to be served; all that was accomplished was a slight delay in the removal of the feeding tube.

Without a trace of irony, Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos (whose mission in life appears to be to make such killings so commonplace that we'll yawn the next time it happens) called the legal maneuvering "shameful".

Terri's parents were ordered out, and can get no closer to their daughter than the crowds of protesters nearby.

Jodi Centonze, with whom devoted husband Michael Schiavo has lived several years, and by whom Michael has fathered children, tells reporters that Michael is "distraught".

I'm going to keep following this, but I don't know whether or not I'll post more. Go to ProLife Blogs to get more up to the minute—and sometimes exclusive—information.

We didn't get to this point overnight. This is the logical end of a long chain of choices our culture has made in recent decades. May God have mercy on us.

U.S. House members outmaneuver Michael Schiavo & Judge Greer?

Drudge headline right now:
**Exclusive Fri Mar 18 2005 00:50:07 ET** The Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) has requested Terri Schiavo to testify before his congressional committee, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. In so doing it triggers legal or statutory protections for the witness, among those protections is that nothing can be done to cause harm or death to this individual.

Members of Congress went to the U.S. Attorney in DC to ask for a temporary restraining order to be issued by a judge, which protects Terri Schiavo from having her life support, including her feeding and hydration tubes, removed... Developing...
UPDATE: The gambit failed; Judge Greer would not allow the subpoena to be served. More here.

March 17, 2005

Taxpayers' friends and foes on Capitol Hill

The National Taxpayer Union has issued its 2004 ratings of House and Senate members. Each member is rated 0% (worst)–100% (best), measuring the degree to which he or she supports the reduction of spending and regulation and opposes higher taxes. Instead of cherry-picking a dozen or so issues, NTU examines every bill that "significantly affects taxes, spending, debt and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers" during the year in question. The percentage rating is then assigned a letter grade, with "A" being taxpayer-friendly and "F" being taxpayer-hostile.

My senators each earned a respectable B+. Due to redistricting, however, this year we exchanged a congressman with a B/69% for a congressman with an F/16%. Our metro area is now represented by a Democrat for the first time in almost a quarter century. Sigh.

John Bolton tells it like it is

Incoming UN Ambassador John Bolton on the issues, as related by the incomparable Mark Steyn:
If you're going to play the oldest established permanent floating transnational crap game for laughs, you might as well pick an act with plenty of material. What I love about John Bolton, America's new ambassador to the UN, is the sheer volume of 'damaging' material. Usually, the Democrats and media have to riffle through decades of dreary platitudes to come up with one potentially exploitable infelicitous soundbite. But with Bolton the damaging quotes are hanging off the trees and dropping straight into your bucket. Five minutes' casual mooching through the back catalogue and your cup runneth over:

The UN?

'There is no such thing as the United Nations.'

The UN building?

'If you lost ten storeys, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'

Reform of the Security Council?

'If I were redoing the Security Council, I'd have one permanent member ...the United States.'

The International Criminal Court?

'Fuzzy-minded romanticism ...not just naive but dangerous.'

International law in general?

'It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law.'

Offering incentives to rogue states?

'I don't do carrots.'
Steyn also makes short work of the 'stunned' reaction to the appointment:
I can see why the international community might be minded to throw its hands up and shriek, 'Quelle horreur!' It's not just the rest of the world. Most of the American media are equally stunned. The New York Times wondered what Mr Bush's next appointment would be:

'Donald Rumsfeld to negotiate a new set of Geneva conventions? Martha Stewart to run the Securities and Exchange Commission?'

Okay, I get the hang of this game. Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam's Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man UN operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else. All of which happened without the UN fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the UN's expense?
And later:
Yet the assumption behind much of the criticism of Bolton from the likes of John Kerry is that, regardless of his government's foreign policy, a UN ambassador has to be at some level a UN booster. Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration's ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who'd just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. 'No,' Schultz would say, 'this is your country' - and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a US ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. And, given that in a unipolar world the most plausible challenger to the US is transnationalism, these days the Schultz test is even more pertinent for the UN ambassador: his country is the United States, not the ersatz jurisdiction of Kofi Annan's embryo world government.

Senate Democrats embrace the fundamentalist Left

Byron York reports on a rally held recently in Washington by our friends at (WeWon'tEver)MoveOn.org. The rally, organized at the suggestion of Sen. Robert Byrd's office, was more like a parody of a religious tent meeting complete with (and we're not kidding here) Sen. Byrd shouting Praise God! and Hallelujah! Other Senate Dems joined in the revival as well (Boxer, Durbin, Kennedy, Clinton).

What has them so stirred up that they're having apocalyptic visions? Nothing less than the GOP's insistence that Senate Dems respect the Constitution and over 200 years of tradition regarding the confirmation of judicial nominees.

After the Dems' resounding loss last November, countless words were expended speculating what adjustments the party would/should make in order to be more palatable to more of the electorate. It seems clear that—at least in the Senate, and possibly in the party as a whole (given the presence of likely 2008 candidate HRC)—the Dems have concluded that they must move even further to the left.

If only we could get the MSM to report this stuff, the GOP's majority would be assured for years to come.

March 15, 2005

First they came for the potlucks...

Christianity Today reports that states tightening their food safety laws are inadvertently catching church potluck socials in their nets. There's a lively debate about this over at Free Republic. So far, my favorite comment comes from "Diana in Wisconsin":
When a state like Wisconsin turns on Norwegian Lutherans, something is seriously not right with the world.

Pro-euthanasia movies not a new thing

Found at Papa Familias:

A movie about a pretty young woman who becomes permanently disabled and begs her male caretaker to pull her plug opens to rave reviews and becomes a box office smash.

No this isn't "Million Dollar Baby" in America, 2005; it's a Nazi propaganda film from Germany, 1939.

My how far we've come!

The movie's name is Ich Klage An. IMDB (link above) has a review from someone who liked the movie, despite admitting that it was used as part of Hitler's plan to soften the German population on the idea of euthanasia:
This is one of the best films made in the third reich with a credible storyline and very credible actors. On the other hand it is one of the most dangerous films containing poison that did not weaken in the 6 decades since its production. This film was intended as a preparation and secret promotion for hitler's euthanasia program. The plot(official, therefore no spoiler): A brilliant doctor's young wife falls ill to multiple sclerosis and urges him to kill her before the agony begins. Unable to find a cure he fulfills her wish and is accused of murder.This sounds like a dime novel but is based on real cases and presented in a very credible way(and I am allergic to sentimental films normally). This credibility and the fact that it is difficult to identify this as a nazi film by simple watching (a few seconds of cutting would remove all evidence) makes this film dangerous even today. The film asks the viewer for his judgement on the topic and even supplies him with possible objections but the answer is inevitable 'pro reo'. So this film could be used as ammunition in todays discussion about assisted suicide and its extensions (e.g. against the patients will if his resistance is considered as irrational by an authority as discussed in at least 2 western countrys). Therefore it (the film)is still banned in Germany except for scientific study. It's a pity, for it IS a very good film but I can't object the reasons.

Lebanese independence rally photos

Looks like somebody is wise to the ways of the media....

You can see this and many more photos of the March 14 rally in the Lebanon Daily Star's photo galleries, here and here.

'Human rights' groups yawn at Terri Schiavo's plight

NewsMax, March 12:
Rights Groups Mum on Schiavo's Torture

Court-approved plans to starve a brain-damaged Florida woman to death later this month have prompted no outrage from human rights groups - even though, under international law, forced starvation is considered a form of torture.

A Lexis Nexis search on the case of Terri Schiavo, whose starvation-execution will begin when her feeding tube is removed on March 18, failed to turn up a single reference to complaints by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Aidan, MichNews, March 14:

As to whether or not the court-sanctioned murder of Terri will make America "look bad", that will depend on who you ask. One thing seems certain: our "betters" in Europe will see it as a step in the right direction.

UPDATE: Hyscience contacted Amnesty, and was told that the organization is really only interested in death row cases. So... if Amnesty doesn't consider a person being put to death on the order of an official of the federal government to be the moral equivalent of a death penalty case, then they need to reexamine their values. Further, how can they claim to champion the cause of human rights if they don't even raise an eyebrow when told of a government ordering the death of a truly innocent person?

DISCLAIMER: I probably need to clarify my own position here. In the paragraph above, I list two reasons why organizations like Amnesty International ought to be interested in the Schiavo case. Of the two, I personally agree with the second reason—namely, that the government is ordering the death of an innocent person. I do not believe that the death penalty—judiciously applied with appropriate safeguards against misuse—is cruel and unusual punishment.

March 14, 2005

The Founders dis the modern view of 'general welfare'

"General welfare"? There's that phrase again. I do not think it means what you think it means."

—I. Montoya, noted political philosopher (paraphrased)

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution begins thus (emphasis added):
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States...
Today, the conventional wisdom among the political elite is that this clause expands Congressional power to the point where it is essentially limitless—that this clause gives Congress a blank check for meddling in every domain of state and local governments and of the people. But that is not the view of those who wrote the Constitution. James Madison considered this interpretation to be so absurd that he could not help but mock it:
If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. ... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.
Years later, Thomas Jefferson (who was in Paris at the time of the convention but who remained in close contact with Madison and other key players) explained what was the clear understanding of those who composed the "general welfare" clause:

You will have learned that an act for internal improvement, after passing both Houses, was negatived by the President. The act was founded, avowedly, on the principle that the phrase in the Constitution which authorizes Congress 'to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare,' was an extension of the powers specifically enumerated to whatever would promote the general welfare; and this, you know, was the Federal doctrine. Whereas our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark which now divides the Federalists and the Republicans, that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but was restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have meant that they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation on the purposes for which they may raise money.

—Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817

Thus, providing for "the general welfare" was not in itself a power granted to Congress, but rather was a goal that would be realized through the exercise of the enumerated powers listed thereafter (this is also the plain meaning of the use of "general welfare" in the Preamble of the Constitution). With this understanding, it is clear that the federal government's taxing and spending authority was limited to the amount needed to properly exercise those enumerated powers. Levying taxes for any other purpose was—and is—illegitimate and unconstitutional.

But, just for the sake of argument let's suppose that my argument above is merely Radical Rightwing Revisionism, and that through the "general welfare" clause Congress has never had any meaningful boundary on its power. Jefferson came under a lot of criticism for so vehemently opposing the consolidation of government power that was already underway in the first quarter of the 19th century. Here's how he answered his critics (emphasis added):
I have been blamed for saying that a prevalence of the doctrine of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution. I answer by asking if a single State of the Union would have agreed to the Constitution had it given all powers to the General Government? If the whole opposition to it did not proceed from the jealousy and fear of every State of being subjected to the other States in matters merely its own? And if there is any reason to believe the States more disposed now than then to acquiesce in this general surrender of all their rights and powers to a consolidated government, one and undivided?
This is one of the most clear and convincing refutations of the modern interpretation of the "general welfare" clause—if it really means what the political elite insists it means, the Constitution would not have received a single ratification. End. Of. Argument.

Credits: The quotes above (save the first one) were found in Chapter 12 of Undermining the Constitution: A History of Lawless Government, by Thomas James Norton (1950). I've read only this chapter so far; it appears to be a worthwhile read. Thanks also to The Federalist Patriot for publishing the Madision quote that inspired this post.

March 10, 2005

Million-dollar offer to Michael Schiavo: Just walk away, and the money is yours

From WorldNetDaily:

A California businessman has offered $1 million to the husband of a brain-damaged Florida woman if he will give up guardianship of her – a move that would save her from court-ordered starvation set to begin next Friday.

Those caring for Terri Schiavo are scheduled to remove her feeding tube March 18 – for the third time in the last few years – unless a court-approved alternative is found. Estranged husband Michael Schiavo won a court order in 2000 to have her feeding tube removed, claiming she had said she wouldn't want to live in such a condition. Parents Robert and Mary Schindler, however, insist she has demonstrated a strong will to live, and they have filed a flurry of motions to prevent the tube's removal – to no avail.

Enter Robert Herring Sr., the founder of electronics firm HERCO Technology and founder of WEALTHTV. Herring has secured the services of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who today held a press conference to announce the million-dollar offer.

"[Terri's] situation has deeply moved and distressed our client Mr. Herring who has been observing the case in the media, as millions of others have, for about a year," Allred told reporters.

"He recognizes that unless something is done immediately, Terri Schiavo is not likely to survive very long after March 18. Knowing that time is of the essence and realizing that he is fortunate enough to be able to help, he has decided to take action."

Continued Allred: "He contacted me and retained my law firm to convey the following offer to Terri's husband. If Mike Schiavo agrees to transfer the legal right to decide all of Terri's current and future medical decisions to Terri's parents, then Mr. Herring will pay Mr. Schiavo the amount of $1 million (subject to court approval of Terri's parents as her conservators or guardians)."

The money was deposited in Allred's law firm's client trust account. She says Schiavo has until 4 p.m. Monday to accept the offer.

I can think of two possible reasons that Schiavo would reject this offer:

(1) He really, really loves his wife (despite the fact that he's been living with another woman for several years, by whom he has fathered children), and no amount of money will prevent him from carrying out her stated desire (to which he was the only witness) to be euthanized;

(2) There are reasons he doesn't want Terri to regain her ability to speak.

Any others?

Living and dying on Route Irish

Austin Bay gives some much-needed perspective in the controversy surrounding the Baghdad checkpoint incident in which an Italian secret service agent was killed, and two others were injured.

Route Irish's approach to BIAP [Baghdad International Airport] is clearly marked with signs. Heavy trucks await inspection by troops. Concrete barriers divide the lanes.

The man driving the car carrying communist writer and newly released terrorist hostage Guiliana Sgrena didn't slow down as he approached a roadblock on the way to the airport. Perhaps he was afraid and fear led to speed, or perhaps he was laughing. Sgrena wrote that her car "kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad ..."

Roadblocks have rules. Coalition and Iraqi troops operate roadblocks with Rules of Engagement (ROE). The ROE can change, based on current intelligence and command judgment.

But one rule never changes at a roadblock: Even escorted military convoys slow down as they approach a roadblock. As for a single civilian auto approaching at high speed? If a driver doesn't hit the brakes, the troops will shoot.

U.S. soldiers fired on Sgrena's speeding car as it approached their roadblock. The fire killed Italian security agent Nicola Calipari. His death is a tragic mistake. President Bush says we'll investigate the incident. I suspect Italian officers serving with multinational forces will help conduct that investigation. We need the facts.

But we also need a fact-based perspective. Though the Iraqi election and the democratic surge in Lebanon demonstrate that this most intricate war we're fighting has the potential for huge payoffs in hope, justice and peace, on Baghdad's streets a Fiat might still be a kamikaze. Or is it a family sedan? As the car rushes forward the soldier -- whose life is on the line -- has a split-second to decide.

Kofi Annan's bold new plan to defeat terrorism

Make it illegal.

March 8, 2005

Can anything be done about the federal judiciary?

Yes, argues Karl Maher: End lifetime tenure.

Check out Karl's blog, Vote for Judges. He makes a good case for ending lifetime tenure, and does a pretty thorough job of outlining various alternatives: retention elections (his favorite); serious use by Congress of its impeachment power to punish errant judges; fixed, nonrenewable terms.

"I'm sure the government has a perfectly good reason..."

Click the image to view the full-sized version

Texas mulls "Twinkie tax", stealth income tax to balance budget

Citizens obsess so much on national politics that state and local governments often sneak outrageous ideas into law before anybody notices something is up.

Texas, to its credit, is trying to provide some property tax relief. However, according to the Austin American-Statesman (registration required), state comptroller Carole Strayhorn says that the resulting revenue shortfall will be $3 billion, and that this must be made up by cutting spending or by finding alternate revenue sources.

Will anybody be surprised to hear that they gave up trying to cut spending? This is not a tax relief bill, it's a tax shift bill.

If the current bill becomes law, property owners will see their property tax bill go down, but they will end up paying more taxes in other ways -- ways that would probably spark a citizen revolt if they were better publicized. Here are three of the more egregious provisions:
  1. A one-point increase in the state sales tax, from 6.25% to 7.25%, which would give Texas the highest sales tax rate in the country.
  2. A 3% sales surtax on snack foods (cookies, chips, candy, soft drinks, etc.), for social-engineering purposes ("to target obesity"). This sets a very bad precedent which I believe would inevitably lead to additional politically-motivated taxes.
  3. An income tax. No, they didn't call it an income tax, but that's what it is. The bill calls for "a payroll tax of 1.15 percent on each employee's salary, up to $90,000 per worker".
Before someone protests that the proposed payroll tax is a tax on the employer, not on the employee, answer this question:
What effect will this tax have on the money available for salaries?
(a) it will have no effect on the money available for salaries
(b) it will decrease the money available for salaries
(c) it will increase the money available for salaries
I threw option (c) in there just for fun. It's obvious that this proposed tax will be based on salary, and that it will affect the take-home pay of the employee. So let's call it what it is: an income tax. (The same applies to the "employer-paid" portion of your Social Security and Medicare taxes)

And don't be so naïve as to think that the tax will remain at 1.15%.

Conservative Republicans once held to the notion that the government can't be all things to all people. It seems like the Republican-controlled government of Texas is going to try anyway.

An abortion ban the left can support?

I have remarked before that the Democratic Party is "a coalition of innumerable special interests whose goals often conflict with one another." It turns out that abortion is one such area.

One of the most powerful constituencies of the left, the feminists, has promoted the philosophy that the right to abortion on demand, for any reason, shall not be infringed. Ever.

But wait! There's another constituency on the left that is steadily growing in influence -- homosexuals. Many in this group insist that homosexuality is genetically determined. If this is true, then a predisposition toward homosexuality could be revealed through genetic screening of preborn children. This, they fear, would lead to the abortion of many of these babies.

Although no such gene has yet been discovered, homosexual activists want to be ready. In Maine, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians is supporting a bill banning the abortion of unborn children who are somehow determined to be "gay".

I am very curious to know how NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW, and other organizations that have never wavered from their commitment to unrestricted abortion, but which in some cases have also championed the cause of "sexual minorities", will react to this proposed ban.

Doctor insists Terri Schiavo can be rehabilitated

From LifeNews.com:
Dr. William Hammesfahr is an internationally recognized expert on cases of brain-injured patients. He has been identified in helping patients with chronic brain injuries from many causes actually leave long term disability, and return to work.

Terri Schiavo's injury, hypoxic encephalopathy, is a type of stroke that he treats every day with success.

"We, and others I know, have treated many patients worse than Terri and have seen them regain independence and dignity," Hammesfahr said.


Last year, he explained that, after examining Terri, he believed that she could eventually eat and drink on her own. He also said he believes Terri would be able to talk and have good use of one arm and one hand should be given proper rehabilitative treatment.

Hammesfahr also said he thought Terri would eventually be able to transfer herself from a wheelchair to a bed.

If the court allows Terri to be murdered later this month, her blood will be on many hands -- Michael Schiavo's most of all, but also on Judge Greer and on a nation that has for the most part watched passively as this drama has played out.

Guiliana Sgrena accuses the U.S. military of monumental incompetence

Countless words have already been written about the strange case of Italian Communist journalist Guiliana Sgrena, held for ransom by Islamist thugs in Iraq. Following payment of the ransom by Italian PM Berlusconi, her dash for freedom was rudely cut short at a U.S. military checkpoint.

As the old saying goes, there is some confusion as to what happened next. All parties involved acknowledge the fact that soldiers opened fire on her speeding vehicle. The controversy regards why they opened fire.

Apart from Sgrena herself, virtually nobody expressing opinions about what happened was actually there, but that fact has done nothing to stem the free flow of said opinions. I'm in a bit of a conformist mood at the moment, so I think I'll jump in to the fray.

Sgrena -- a communist, remember, and emphatic opponent of everything America stands for -- accuses the military of deliberately targeting her. Her ideological background alone should cause reasonable people to have reasonable doubts about her claim, but there is another reason to doubt her.

Simply put: Ms. Sgrena, if our guys had wanted you dead, you'd be dead.

GOP acting like they're still the minority party

I first became aware of George Neumayr, executive editor of The American Spectator, only yesterday, but after reading just two of his recent rants, I think he's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Today he is ripping into congressional Republicans who seem unaware that they are the majority party in both houses, and that they have the right to at least try to implement their agenda. Instead, we get things like this:
Not all Republicans but a distressingly high number of them are colluding with the Democrats in a kind of slow-motion socialism. For example, in the Senate this week Ted Kennedy called for a $2 hike in the minimum wage. What do the Rick Santorums do in response? Instead of showing a little guts and saying that minimum wage bills are demagogic, mindless job-killers, they just split the difference with the Democrats on the wage increase (and, yes, maybe throw in a few "pro-business" provisions of largely rhetorical value).
Just like the good old days when the GOP really was the minority. Back then there was the old joke that the Democrats would introduce a bill calling for Washington, DC to be burned to the ground, and then the Republicans would try to add an amendment to phase in the Dems' plan over 5 years.

Now, the GOP controls both houses of Congress, the GOP controls the White House, and they let the Dems control the agenda and public debate on issue after issue: tax cuts, minimum wage, social security reform, and on and on. Sigh.

March 7, 2005

Supremes undermine own authority by undermining Constitution

Excellent essay by George Neumayr, executive editor of The American Spectator, on the dangerous game the U.S. Supreme Court is playing with its "living Constitution". Here's how it starts:
The Supreme Court's judicial activists are cutting off the branch on which they sit. By rejecting the law and putting their personal opinions in its place, the justices invite the people to imitate them and disregard their decrees with the same willfulness they disregard the Constitution. If Anthony Kennedy isn't bound by the framers' words, why are the people bound by his?

The authority of Supreme Court justices derives from the authority of the Constitution: once they deny its authority, they deny their own.
Good point! Read the whole thing.

Devotion to social justice lowers Penn. legislator's IQ

This one comes from a Pennsylvania legislator (Surprise! A Democrat!), all in the name of social justice. There are so many things wrong with this proposal (including the lame economics-lecture response from a Republican legislator), I think I'll just present it without further comment.
Proposed Pennsylvania Legislation to Ban Self-Serve Gas

PHILADELPHIA -- A state legislator from Philadelphia generated controversy when he introduced a bill that would eliminate self-service at Pennsylvania gas stations, the Delaware County Daily Times reported.

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas (D-Pa.) said the bill’s intent is to reduce fire and health hazards, prevent discrimination against low-income individuals, discourage higher prices for full-service gas and provide full service for the elderly and the handicapped without an additional surcharge.

Thomas told the Daily Times he plans to amend his proposed legislation to make exceptions for service stations along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and those with adequate security or special arrangements for the disabled.

A section of his Gasoline Station Dispensing Safety Act states that the higher prices usually charged for full-service gasoline in states where self-service is permitted results in discrimination against low-income individuals and that the General Assembly "finds no conclusive evidence that self-service gasoline provides a sustained reduction in gasoline prices charged to customers."

Thomas told the Daily Times his safety concerns are driven by situations in his district where youths hang out at service stations, soliciting to help the elderly pump gas for a tip, and causing vandalism.

"If there was an attendant, that problem would be minimized, if not eliminated," Thomas said, adding that employees at the register are unable to leave their post to assist customers.

There is "no logical explanation for why gas prices are as high as they are" or why they fluctuate so rapidly, Thomas told the Daily Times. "These stations are taking in record profits, so I don’t buy the argument that prices will have to be raised in order to pay for a trained attendant."

State Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Pa.) lambasted the proposal.

"We should let the free market sort this out, not regulations from government," he said, disputing Thomas’s reasons for such legislation.

"I would be really against government mandating that our service stations get involved in this," he said, adding that self-service has been accepted by the motoring public for several decades and full-service stations remain available.

Memo to city planners: you can't close all of the loopholes

Officials in Dunkirk, MD thought they had thwarted Wal-Mart's plans to build a large store. Last year they passed an ordinance limiting retail stores to 75,000 square feet. Wal-Mart, however, was convinced that public demand for their big-box store was there, so they found an ingenious way around the ordinance:

The company now plans to build two stores side-by-side at a site in Calvert County where plans for a single big store were thwarted by a size limit adopted last year.

Wal-Mart officials are calling it one of the first arrangements of its kind in the country.

The store and garden center in Dunkirk will have separate entrances, utilities, and restrooms. And the combined size of the stores will be 30 percent larger than the 75,000 square-foot limit for a single store.

This is yet another example of why the number of laws keeps growing and growing: local governments pass law after law regulating businesses and citizens, and those affected by the laws keep finding ways around them, which leads governments to pass additional laws to close the loopholes, which leads those affected to find additional ways around them....

Wal-Mart likes their idea so much, they are ready to use it wherever needed. How long do you think it'll take for Dunkirk (as well as other likeminded city governments across the fruited plain) to pass an ordinance prohibiting two instances of a retail business from opening within a certain distance of one another?

March 6, 2005

PBS: End it, don't mend it

George Will believes (and I concur, to a point) that one might have been able to justify the existence of a taxpayer-supported television network a quarter-century ago, when a typical market had only two or three other stations available. But, since the advent of cable and satellite television, the network's raison d'être has become increasingly difficult to defend. Will says: dump it.

I'm glad to see that Will was just as annoyed as I was at the supremely arrogant motto they had for a while: If we don't do it, who will? The answer then is even more true now: Oh, just about everyone.

March 4, 2005

Walter Williams on 'social justice'

This outstanding quote is from libertarian/conservative economist Walter E. Williams' book, All it Takes is Guts.
What's just has been debated for centuries, but let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you -- and why?

March 2, 2005

Eminent domain's slippery slope

Tech Central Station's Pejman Yousefzadeh has an essay on the New London case that for the most part reiterates what many others (for example, here!) have been saying about the monster that eminent domain has become. Yousefzadeh, however, brings up a point that I had not considered. Once municipal governments are comfortable with the idea of seizing private property for the "public good", the potential for eminent domain mischief is limited only by the imaginations of government officials and their advisers (emphasis added):
While the public seizure of private real property is scary enough, the power of eminent domain can be abused still further. This article calls for the exercise of eminent domain by local governments to take away the patents drug companies own on their products and give those patents to companies that will agree to sell pharmaceutical products at lower prices. Never mind the already heavy financial burden on pharmaceutical companies to perform the necessary research and development on their products. And never mind that drug companies will be less inclined to engage in research, justly worried that their inventions could be appropriated under this newfangled vision of eminent domain abuse. After all, what incentive is there for drug companies to come out with new products and engage in costly and time-consuming research if their property rights are not respected? Millions of Americans will have their lives negatively impacted by additional barriers against pharmaceutical research, development and distribution.