The Terri Schiavo Saga has been a gut-wrenching experience. Terri passed on to the Great Beyond today, but her story and its implications are still with us, and will be for a long time to come.
And that is a good thing. The issues raised over these last weeks and months need to be talked about.
There are some pertinent points to be made:
· Even if Terri was in a persistent vegetative state, she was not terminally ill.
· Medical professionals disagreed on the severity of her condition.
· It cannot be conclusively proven that she would have preferred to die rather than to live, and that point is the subject of heated debate.
· Her husband should have been relieved of his guardianship responsibilities when he abandoned Terri as his wife and began a relationship with another woman. Her parents or a neutral party should have been appointed to guard her welfare.
· Even though the Congress is not normally involved in individual cases, it is not improper for the Congress to pass laws that address situations such as this one, and in fact that is a proper role for the Congress.
· It seems stupid that when facts are in dispute, such as Terri’s actual medical condition, or when material circumstances change, such as Michael Schiavo’s abandonment of their marriage, that the legal system prevents the admission of new evidence or the ability of interested parties to present information in cases of life and death. Such a situation is not tolerated for convicted murderers, and it is unconscionable for it to have been so in Terri Schiavo’s case.
· There are three co-equal parts of our government. The judiciary is not superior to the others. An Imperial Judiciary is an abomination.
· It makes no sense to condemn someone like Terri Schiavo, who is not suffering, to a death by starvation and dehydration, yet her legal guardian, the legal system of the United States and the state of Florida, did that.
Terri Schiavo is dead. We will never know whether that is what she wanted. All we know is that after several years in her brain damaged condition, after winning malpractice awards of more than $2 million, and after finding another woman to bear his children, her husband and legal guardian ended her therapy, went to court and convinced a state circuit judge that she would rather die than live that way, and then fought and eventually succeeded in ending her life, despite the pleadings of her parents, and thousands of others who believed that it was morally and ethically wrong. The legal system through the judge protected the guardian’s decision from any challenge without determining if there was justifiable cause to re-examine the circumstances of the case, as if the guardian’s decision were somehow inviolable.
If any good comes from this sad failure of our legal system to protect the weakest among us, it will be that perhaps we will be moved to repair that legal system so that it values the life of a disabled person more than it values itself. We will examine the rights of legal guardians, and institute protections that actually work to protect people from the actions of a guardian with a conflict of interest, and we will establish firmly that living imperfectly is a better option than dying miserably.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Trying to find the right thing to say after Terri Schiavo died has been difficult. Here is what someone else has said about her death:
And so at long last, Terri suffers no more. No, not from being in a “persistent vegetative state” since 1990 but instead from being starved to death over a period of thirteen days.
No matter where you stand on this “issue”, whether a conservative, liberal, Republican, or Democrat, no matter if you believe the law was upheld or that the legal system does not work, everyone should be able to agree about one thing: the death Terri Schiavo died was a horrible one.
Read the rest here.
Here is another good piece, and here is an excerpt from it:
Terri died today, may God receive her soul and hold her close; give her the peace she deserved.Here is the rest of this piece.
This story has been one of the most talked about because it became so public. It became public because the two sides (her family versus her husband) couldn't come to terms - this type of situation is handled hundreds of times a day by families all over the world; however, in most cases either everyone is on the same page or there isn't a 'control' issue, which is what I believe this finally came down to.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Whoever said that life is stranger than fiction must have had things like the following in mind:
Item 1. - Convicted sex offenders are accused of killing two young girls in recent weeks. One of them has confessed to his crime. Because these vermin are considered extremely dangerous to society they are expected to register with law enforcement authorities after being released. Why are they are they released from prison in the first place?
Item 2. - Why is it that murderers condemned to death have numerous opportunities for judicial review of their cases on the chance that a mistake was made, but Terri Schiavo, who has never been convicted of a crime or hurt a soul, cannot have her case reviewed?
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
by The Windjammer
Most people in the work force who are above the age of forty rely heavily upon Social Security to be at least a paving block in their road to retirement. Some believe it to be the whole road.
A lot of dust has hit the air intake since President Bush in a near-echo of President Clinton’s words said that Social Security was racing down a country road toward a crisis. Those weren’t his exact words, but you’ll just have to put up with them for now and lay the misquote to my poor memory.
Somewhere along the way, several people who should have known better were trying to detour the electorate, telling us that if we would just ignore the problem for the time being, it would go away. Or at least be postponed until we can get some more nimble minds who still know how to add two and two to get four.
I have a bad habit of talking too much, but when I sort of nudged the conversations toward SS reform and then shut my mouth so my ears would stay open, I found that I learned a whole lot more. You wouldn’t believe how many ordinary folk believe that their Social Security tax is a mere 7 ½% of their paychecks. Only two of the employed included the matching funds which the employer has to chip in to cover the cost. Those who were self-employed understood the added costs perfectly, probably because the extra amount is a deductible expense. What most folks do not realize is that the employer, perhaps not on paper but certainly in his philosophy, considers the extra contribution as part of his labor cost and a part of your wages.
Social Security actually began going in the hole the day Congress passed the legislation allowing the surplus to become a part of the general funds. That was a far piece back, not something which happened during this administration, but to hear some people, you would be tempted to believe that it is all the Third George’s fault. PS: that cognomen is not meant to compare the Third George to George the Third. It just means that he is the third president in our history to be called George.
The government started grabbing money by the fistful and before you could yell "Crooks,!" the surplus had been replaced with something like one-point-seven trillion of government paper which is itself unfunded. That debt can only be paid by taxpayers somewhere down the road, or, heaven forbid, by borrowing some of the money we have sent to the foreign countries whose economies were faltering. Some of those recipients were really better off financially than the U.S. (if you include in your consideration the National Debt, which is not the same thing as the National Deficit), but we helped them anyway.
I have no idea how much a billion dollars is, but someone once told me that according to the way we compute in this country, a trillion is equal to a thousand of the small change. Figures vary on how many of the latter will be required to pay for Social Security (in today’s dollars--inflation could turn the figure into something too big to print), but the trustees have recently projected a long-tem figure of 11.1 trillion of those little green things which you use to buy diapers for the younguns.
President Bush understands that something must be done if Social Security is to be available to many of those who are paying for it now. So did Bill Clinton. So does everybody else in Congress and in the bureaucracy who has anything to do with it. Politics may make a few strange bedfellows, but it also makes some who try to steal all the blankets.
I am living on borrowed time and on other peoples’ money. I hope my grandkids can do the same when they become old and feeble.
I hope yours can too.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Here’s an explanation for how Michael Schiavo was able to get Florida courts to accept the notion that Terri would not want to live with a feeding tube, and why efforts by the Schindlers have failed to get state and federal courts to listen to them.
Inside Story on Schiavo Case
A Florida lawyer writes:
I have been following the case for years. Something that interests me about the Terri Schiavo case, and that doesn't seem to have gotten much media attention: The whole case rests on the fact that the Schindlers (Terri's parents) were totally outlawyered by the husband (Michael Schiavo) at the trial court level.
This happened because, in addition to getting a $750K judgment for Terri's medical care, Michael Schiavo individually got a $300K award of damages for loss of consortium, which gave him the money to hire a top-notch lawyer to represent him on the right-to-die claim. He hired George Felos, who specializes in this area and litigated one of the landmark right-to-die cases in Florida in the early 90s.
By contrast, the Schindlers had trouble even finding a lawyer who would take their case since there was no money in it. Finally they found an inexperienced lawyer who agreed to take it partly out of sympathy for them, but she had almost no resources to work with and no experience in this area of the law. She didn't even depose Michael Schiavo's siblings, who were key witnesses at the trial that decided whether Terri would have wanted to be kept alive. Not surprisingly, Felos steamrollered her.
The parents obviously had no idea what they were up against until it was too late. It was only after the trial that they started going around to religious and right-to-life groups to tell their story. These organizations were very supportive, but by that point their options were already limited because the trial judge had entered a judgment finding that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to live.
This fact is of crucial importance -- and it's one often not fully appreciated by the media, who like to focus on the drama of cases going to the big, powerful appeals courts: Once a trial court enters a judgment into the record, that judgment's findings become THE FACTS of the case, and can only be overturned if the fact finder (in this case, the judge) acted capriciously (i.e., reached a conclusion that had essentially no basis in fact).
In this case, the trial judge simply chose to believe Michael Schiavo's version of the facts over the Schindlers'. Since there was evidence to support his conclusion (in the form of testimony from Michael Schiavo's siblings), it became nearly impossible for the Schindlers to overturn it. The judges who considered the case after the trial-level proceeding could make decisions only on narrow questions of law. They had no room to ask, "Hey, wait a minute, would she really want to die?" That "fact" had already been decided.
In essence, the finding that Terri Schiavo would want to die came down to the subjective opinion of one overworked trial judge who was confronted by a very sharp, experienced right-to-die attorney on one side and a young, quasi-pro bono lawyer on the other.
Nothing unusual about this, of course. It's the kind of thing that happens all the time. But it's an interesting point to keep in mind when you read that the Schiavo case has been litigated for years and has been reviewed by dozens of judges . . . yadda yadda yadda.
By the way, I'm guessing that George Felos is probably quite happy to work the Schiavo case for free at this point since it's making him one of the most famous right-to-kill -- I mean right-to-die -- lawyers in the country. His BlackBerry has probably melted down by now, what with all the messages from the hurry-up-and-die adult children you've been blogging about.
There are interesting comments following this post at this link.
Columnist Thomas Sowell applies the hard gaze of reason on the judicial abortion that is the Terri Schiavo travesty in a piece in The Washington Times from which the following excerpts are taken:
Liberals have repeatedly used the talking point of how many judges have heard the case of Terri Schiavo. But that is as misleading as most of the rest of what they and the mainstream media have said.
There is no way federal District Judge James Whittemore could have examined this complex case, with its contending legal arguments and conflicting experts, from scratch in a couple of days, even working round the clock without eating or sleeping.
Judge Whittemore ignored the clear meaning of the law passed by Congress and rubberstamped the decision to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
As dissenting Judge Charles Wilson of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said, the "entire purpose of the statute" is to let federal courts look at the case "with a fresh pair of eyes." But, by the Circuit Court decision, "we virtually guarantee" the merits of the case "will never be litigated in a federal court" because Terri Schiavo will be dead. Never -- regardless of how many judges are counted as talking points.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
by The Windjammer
The rulings of the various courts involved in the Teri Schiavo case in Pinellas Park, FL have already opened a can of worms. We as a society may soon find ourselves in a situation similar to the position of the smart-mouthed detainee who was told by the southern sheriff, "You’re in a heap o’ trouble, Son."
The decision by a judge and upheld by various courts to remove the feeding tube was, to put it quite bluntly, sheer murder. Not murder which would result in immediate death, but murder by starvation. Given the record of many of the courts in the last few decades, that should not be surprising to anyone.
We aren’t headed toward oligarchy. We are already there and becoming more deeply embedded.
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to leave this life on my own terms. One of my early names, given to me by the son of a Greek restaurateur who was kind enough to help me through school by feeding me and slipping me a little pocket money every now and again in exchange for washing a few dishes, was "Wolf." That name wasn’t given because I was shaggy-haired. It was given to me because when my mouth was open (about half the time, the other half was when I closed it to chomp), I was always stuffing food of some kind into it. I was the only person there who could eat anything he wanted, including T-bones and ice cream. I am now 83 and I haven’t recovered from that bad habit. I would never voluntarily choose starvation as the means to my end. I want to go with my belly full.
There have been serious questions raised about the husband’s motivation in wanting her out of the way. The first question the judges should have asked themselves and the husband was, "Who says?" In this state, and I suspect in many others, the simple statement that you don’t want to be kept on life support when all hope for recovery is gone is simply not acceptable. Even if you put it in writing. Such a statement requires that two people witness it. And those CAN NOT be family members.
My own question is not about his philandering and fathering. I wrote a while back that the gendarmes should cherchez l’ argent, seek the money, rather than spend so much effort on the other woman. Human nature is difficult to combat. So is human greed. Both have become powerful motivation for crime.
Regardless of the circumstances resulting in those decisions, my serious question is, "If the justices can justify murder by starvation to terminate the life of a defenseless person who doesn’t really want to go (no one has proven conclusively that she did or didn’t), then how can they justify the conviction of Dr. Jack Kevorkian who assisted people who were apparently terminally ill and suffering in taking the easy way out?" What Dr. Jack did was reported to be fast and painless and solicited by his clients.
Euthanasia has been called a "slippery slope." It is somewhat more than that. It is a bottomless abyss.
Euthanasia is not a way of life, it is a way of death, even in those societies which accept and condone it. Given the character which seems prevalent in government circles, including the judiciary, I certainly do not want my demise left up to strangers.
I would like it to be between me and GOD.
With a little help from my wife and kids.
Friday, March 25, 2005
This case continues to perplex me for many different reasons. However, with the Easter weekend upon us, company coming for a visit this afternoon, and other factors, I just am unable to address much on the site today.
However, the following issues are begging for thought and discussion, so I throw them out for your perusal, and will deal with them as soon as I can.
Guardianship – No person ought to have as their legal guardian a person who is not thoroughly committed to their wellbeing. We would not want that situation to exist in the case of children, and we should no allow it to exist in the case of someone like Terri Schiavo.
Her condition – Terri’s condition appears to be that she is severly brain damaged, although I saw no concrete evidence of that until Friday, March 25, 2005. There still is conflicting opinion on her condition previous to her treatment being stopped by her legal guardian in 1992 and 1993.
Judge Greer, et al – It is not at all clear that this judge did not act improperly by ignoring information that should have changed important elements of Terri Schiavo’s case, in terms of her condition, whether Michael Schiavo disqualified himself as a proper guardian by his obvious abandonment of Terri, and other such issues.
Legal versus Legislative – It is a sad state of affairs when judges, most of whom are not elected, have the final say in a case like Terri Schiavo’s where her guardian wants her to die and her mother, father and other family members do not, and are further willing and eager to take care of her.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
As this horrible situation continues, more and more information about Terri Schiavo’s husband, Michael, is revealed.
The following timeline shows the early events following Terri’s medical emergency.
Feb - Terri Collapses in her home
May - Terri discharged from Humana Hospital in St Petersburg, Florida.
Dec - Terri taken to California for experimental implant
Feb - Terri moved to home with husband.
Jan - Terri moved to Bradenton Mediplex Rehabilitation Center.
Apr - Terri's condition is assessed as improving.
To this point, Michael Schiavo appears to be acting as the husband and legal guardian ought to. These events are an effort to give Terri the therapy needed to improve her condition, and they were producing positive results. However, later in April, he was advised to move her to Gainesville Rehabilitation Center to receive advanced therapy to continue her recovery, but instead decided to move her to a nursing home, rather than the rehab center where her improvement could continue.
In 1992, court actions in August and November produce damage awards totaling $2.25 million, $1 million of which was reportedly placed in a trust fund for Terri’s treatment. The following events then occurred:
Feb - Michael Schiavo denies recommended rehabilitation treatment.
Feb - Schiavo and Terri's parents have falling out regarding lack of therapy for Terri.
Feb - Schiavo withholds medical information from Terri's parents.
Feb - Schiavo posts Do Not Resuscitate order in Terri's medical chart.
Jun - Schiavo threatens Schindler family with lawsuit.
Aug - Schiavo orders medical staff not to treat Terri for potentially fatal infection.
Sep - Bob and Mary Schindler petition courts to remove Schiavo as Terri's guardian.
Nov - Schiavo admits in deposition that he knew withholding treatment of infection could result in Terri's death.
Suddenly, Michael Schiavo’s attitude toward his wife’s rehabilitation changed. What could possibly cause a loving, devoted husband to stop successful therapy for his wife, and helping her to recover? To paraphrase The Church Lady: “Could it be … MONEY?” As her husband, he would be the heir to her estate, including the trust fund.
Something changed in Michael Schiavo. He no longer was acting to help Terri recover from her medical condition, which had improved under therapeutic treatment. In fact, he was acting contrary to Terri’s best interests, by ending therapy that was helping her, and worse, prohibiting medical staff from acting to save her life, and ultimately ordering that she be starved to death. At this point, Michael Schiavo was no longer qualified to be responsible for Terri’s care. He was trying to kill her.
In July 1997, Michael Schiavo becomes engaged to Jodi Centonze. At this point, there can be no doubt that he was no longer Terri’s husband in any but a strictly technical sense. He had abandoned her completely.
Despite these developments, Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer repeatedly refused to protect Terri from her “husband” and legal guardian, to remove Michael Schiavo as legal guardian for Terri. The good judge repeatedly denied requests for various medical tests or to restart therapy, and at one point moved forward the projected date to remove her feeding tube. One wonders just how the law can force such behavior from a judge who in such cases ought to have the best interest of Terri Schiavo as a consideration.
So I restate my previous opinion that Michael Schiavo, the person upon whom Terri Schiavo depended for her well-being, the person who was legally responsible for her welfare, and who was instead working to end her life in complete and total contradiction to the intent of the responsibility of a legal guardian, is criminally negligent, and should be charged and tried in a court of law.
Monday, March 21, 2005
This is also true, he said, because government spending is often economically destructive. The many reasons for the negative relationship between the size of government and economic growth include:
- The extraction cost. Government spending requires costly financing choices.
- The displacement cost. Government spending displaces private-sector activity.
- The negative multiplier cost. Government spending finances harmful intervention.
- The behavioral subsidy cost. Government spending encourages destructive choices.
- The behavioral penalty cost. Government spending discourages productive choices.
- The market distortion cost. Government spending hinders resource allocation.
- The inefficiency cost. Government spending is a less effective way to deliver services.
- The stagnation cost. Government spending inhibits innovation.
The common-sense notion that government spending retards economic performance is bolstered by cross-country comparisons and academic research. International comparisons are especially useful. Government spending consumes almost half of Europe’s economic output—a full one-third higher than the burden of government in the U.S. This excessive government is associated with sub-par economic performance:
- Per capita economic output in the U.S. in 2003 was $37,600—more than 40 percent higher than the $26,600 average for EU–15 nations.
- Real economic growth in the U.S. over the past 10 years (3.2 percent average annual growth) has been more than 50 percent faster than EU–15 growth during the same period (2.1 percent).
- Job creation is much stronger in the U.S., and the U.S. unemployment rate is significantly lower than the EU–15’s unemployment rate.
- Living standards in the EU are equivalent to living standards in the poorest American states—roughly equal to Arkansas and Montana and only slightly ahead of West Virginia and Mississippi, the two poorest states.
An International Monetary Fund study confirmed “Average growth for the preceding 5-year period…was higher in countries with small governments in both periods.”
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, “Taxes and government expenditures affect growth both directly and indirectly through investment. An increase of about one percentage point in the tax pressure— e.g. two-thirds of what was observed over the past decade in the OECD sample— could be associated with a direct reduction of about 0.3 per cent in output per capita. If the investment effect is taken into account, the overall reduction would be about 0.6–0.7 per cent.”
Saturday, March 19, 2005
"The Consititution does not constitute us as 'Platonic Guardians' nor does it vest in this Court the authority to strike down laws because they do not meet our standards of desirable social policy, 'wisdom,' or 'common sense.' ... We trespass on the assigned fundtion of the political branches under our structure of limited and separated powers when we assume a policymaking role."
Chief Justice Warren Burger, 1982
Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 242 (1982)
I hope that my friend's columns will be frequent, and I invite everyone to read and comment on his thoughtful commentaries, which are often peppered with wry wit, and always contain a good dose of common sense.
Terri Schiavo’s parents have been begging to be given legal responsibility for their daughter so that they can care for her, and now are begging for that responsibility so that they can prevent her from being starved to death by virtue of a decision from Terri’s husband Michael.
Terri Schiavo is not on life support, breathes on her own, and is able to maintain proper blood pressure without assistance. She need assistance eating, and is fed through a tube.
There are many ugly accusations about Michael Schiavo’s behavior toward Terri’s treatment since her medical event 15 hears ago, some or perhaps all may be true. For example, Terri was undergoing therapy and making progress. She could walk a little, and talk a little. Then, Michael moved her from the hospital setting where she was receiving therapy to a hospice where people go to die.
Michael has been trying for all he’s worth, and that’s not much, for the last five years to have Terri’s feeding tube removed and starve her to death.
Michael became involved with another woman who now lives with him and who has borne him two children.
So whose husband is Michael Schiavo? The woman he is raising a family with, or his legal wife whom he is trying to starve to death? Michael stopped being Terri’s husband in all but the most strict legal sense years ago, wants her to die, yet will not divorce her, and he will not surrender custody rights to her parents. Why? Clearly, he has no interest in Terri beyond hastening her death.
Michael asserts that Terri told him she didn’t want to be on life support, but her parents dispute that claim. There is no written document to back up his claim. And of no little consequence in this matter, she is not on life support.
Watching videos of Terri show clearly that she is severely affected from the event in 1990. But she is not in a coma, and does respond to stimulus. She has a loving family that wants desperately for her to live and to take care of her.
Terri belongs under the care of her parents, who unlike Michael will get her some help that may improve her life. All Michael wants to do is to keep her from getting help, and to starve her to death. A good case can be made that Michael Schiavo is guilty of criminal neglect, perhaps even worse.He belongs in jail.
Whoever said that life is stranger than fiction must have had things like the following in mind:
Item 1 - John Evander Couey, the registered sex offender, pervert and lowlife who confessed to murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, is under a suicide watch in a Georgia jail.
Item 2 - Terri Schiavo, the woman who has lived in a brain-damaged state for 15 years, but who is not on life support, and who shows signs of cognitive activity, and whose parents are begging to be given legal custody for her, is being killed by starvation by her “husband,” with the complete support of the Florida legal system.
Item 3 – Scott Peterson, the cold-blooded killer of his wife and unborn son, has been recently sentenced to death and transferred to death row at San Quentin, has already had proposals of marriage from two desperate women.
Friday, March 18, 2005
The story of Terri Schiavo is a true conundrum. Without going into too much detail, here is the situation:
Terri has been in what is termed a “persistent vegetative state” for 15 years.
She can breathe on her own, but is unable to feed herself, and has a feeding tube.
Her husband Michael has legal medical responsibility for her.
He says she expressed an unwillingness to be on life support, and he wanted to remove the feeding tube that has been supplying her sustenance for all these years. Friday the feeding tube was removed.
Courts at the state, state appellate, and federal level have either approved the right of the husband to make medical decisions for his wife, or have refused to review the case, meaning that the husband is legally able to remove the feeding tube, and commence the process of starvation that will end her life.
Doctors say that this process is not a painful one, and that Terri will lose fluids and enter a coma and will die a quiet, peaceful death.
With the feeding tube removed, she will likely pass on within two weeks.
Other factors, however, enter into this situation that make it so much more than a mere legal matter:
Terri’s husband has a common law wife and two children. It is not being unfair to him to say that he is Terri’s husband only in the legal sense. He does not function in any way as her husband.
Terri’s parents believe that with medical intervention she can progress to where she can eat without the feeding tube, and 30 doctors reportedly have confirmed that.
There is a disagreement as to what medical event put Terri in this current state, and therefore what the chance is for her to improve.
She has never had the assistance of a MRI to help ascertain her exact medical condition.
The parents want to assume legal medical responsibility for her.
A timeline for this case from the original medical problem on the Schindler family’s Web site.
Some opinions and questions:
This should not be a matter for the U.S. Congress.
The most important factor in this matter should be the preservation of life, so long as that life is one of cognizance and awareness, and one which does not involve suffering, if that can be absolutely determined.
Legal issues must not be allowed to bring about an end to a life that has human value, meaning that there is awareness and intellectual functionality in the person.
In cases where it is difficult to determine whether awareness and intellectual capacity exists, we must ALWAYS err on the side of life.
Why won't Michael allow Terri's parents to assume legal medical responsibility for her?
Why hasn't Michael gotten a divorce from Terri?
Is it true that at one point in her therapy that Terri was able to walk with assistance and talk a little bit, but that Michael ended the therapy? If so, why?
Let's give Terri the benefit of the doubt.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The “nuclear option,” a fearsome sounding term referring to the development of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. The more nations that exercise the “nuclear option,” the more dangerous the world becomes. We must act to deny the nuclear option to …
What’s that you say? “Nuclear option” isn’t about nuclear weapons? It’s about changing a rule in the U.S. Senate?
Senate Democrats use this term to denote the potential change in the Senate rules that would prevent them from avoiding voting for or against nominations to the judiciary, including the Supreme Court.
Any such change would mark "an unprecedented abuse of power," Sen. Harry Reid D-Nev., wrote Majority Leader Bill Frist R-Tenn. "The power to confirm judges includes the right to use well-established Senate rules to reject nominees." Translation: “We demand to be able to continue to avoid our responsibility to approve or reject nominations by the Bush administration, and to do so for purely political reasons, inasmuch as the administration intends to appoint judges who will merely interpret the Constitution’s plain language and who will refuse to make law from the bench. We prefer rather than simply voting ‘no’ on those individuals whom we deem unfit by virtue of their unreasonable adherence to the Constitution’s original intent, that we may delay a vote on those individuals until Hell freezes over, at which time there would be no need for anyone to hold that position, thus rendering a vote moot.”
Republicans rebutted swiftly, Sen. Frist in the lead. "To shut down the Senate would be irresponsible and partisan. The solution is simple: Return to 200 years of tradition and allow up or down votes on judges," he said in a written statement.
What Sen. Frist refers to is that judicial nominees are confirmed by a simple majority of votes, which in the Senate is 51 votes. Because Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate, and because most Republican senators will support the administration’s nominees, the Democrats can only block nominations by finding some back-door scheme that requires more votes than the Republicans can muster. By initiating the filibuster rule on a given nomination, the nomination is effectively stalled because it takes 60 votes to end the filibuster.
If a filibuster is invoked, and the Republicans can muster only 55 of the 60 votes needed to end it, the nominee who should only need 51 votes to be confirmed will have gotten effectively 55 votes, but still will not be confirmed. This is just wrong.
What Sen. Reid expects Sen. Frist to do is to nullify filibuster as a means to block up or down votes on the nominees. However, Sen. Frist has made no statement to that effect.
In his statement, Frist said: "I am committed to getting the work of the American people done in the Senate, which includes advice and consent on the president's judicial nominations as outlined in the Constitution. Never before in the history of the Senate has a nominee with clear majority support been denied an up or down vote on the Senate floor because of a filibuster."
"The Democrats have it backwards," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "They broke with a long-standing tradition of giving judicial nominations that reach the Senate floor an up or down vote, and we simply want to restore that tradition."
The Democrats/liberals/progressives depend upon having judges appointed to the judiciary who will make laws from the bench, because the American people do not support their initiatives in big enough numbers to have them made into law properly through the legislative process. They understand that if Mr. Bush’s nominees are approved, there will be more judges who will not short-circuit the democratic process of lawmaking, and they will be unable to have their unpopular, and often extra-constitutional, ideas “enacted” into law by judges.And so they indulge in this unseemly and un-American scheme to change the rules when the rules get in the way of their agenda.
The House of Representatives passed legislation late Wednesday intended to delay the removal of the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive. The brain-damaged woman’s husband has been given permission by a state court to remove the feeding tube and allow her to die.
"What's going on in Florida regarding Terri Schiavo is nothing short of inhumane," said House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who introduced the bill with Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla. But some House members criticized the bill, which Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called "a dangerously reckless way to deal with some serious issues." Both are correct. This is not the best way to address this issue, but under the circumstances, it may be the only way to save Schiavo’s life while the details of her case are being sorted out.
For years her husband has battled her parents over his efforts to allow her to die, which he contends she would prefer rather than live in a vegetative state. Her parents want her to live.
Here’s a question: What’s the hurry?
This is a question of life and death, and it is a question of how to confront such complicated moral issues. There is a party that opposes allowing her to die, and willing to take over responsibility for her care.
Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube can be removed any time, but once it has been removed, that is likely the end for her.
What’s the hurry?
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Biological weapons: A different view
by The Windjammer
I am not an expert on biological weapons or warfare, but some of my ancestors were. They were on the receiving end. I have Native American ancestry and, believe you me, biological warfare destroyed more of our people than all the firesticks, swords and sharp hatchets combined.
When Columbus landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas (names which hadn’t been coined at the time), he found a relatively peaceful people who were a part of the Arawak linguistic group. Those people were called Tainos (pronounced tie-nose). They soon became extinct.
The Spanish brought with them not only a lust for curry powder and turmeric. The sailors had other things on their minds. They also brought syphilis, syphiloid diseases and smallpox. Those were the real gifts of the "civilized" Europeans who made "first" contact.
When Hernando Cortes finally made contact with the neo-Mayans in Mexico and later with the Aztecs, the "white death" and the "easy death" almost wiped out those populations. Reliable estimates (there is another name for that which I won’t use) placed the Aztec population alone at well more than eleven million. I believe those estimates are well-based. The Spanish would not have had enough of those little wooden boats to carry enough Conquistadores and weaponry to these faraway shores to accomplish that effect with military might.
That biological warfare may have been entirely accidental, although I doubt it. Not all of what followed after the British arrived falls into that category.
The "Americans" (before there was a United States) spread disease against which the natives had no natural immunity among the eastern nations.
The Americans (after there was a United States), particularly the military, deliberately spread disease among our people to expedite military successes.
Reliable estimates which I believe to be quite accurate have placed the population of the North American continent at roughly seventy-five million.
I am now an elder and have been for quite a few years. I have passed the information to as many of my progeny and that of others to as many as will listen. I heard that information from my elders and from others who were furnished the information by their elders of the devastation caused by the biological weaponry. And that is exactly what it was.
It will be impossible for anyone who has no concept of the disastrous effect of biotoxins or chemical agents to convince me that those are not weapons of mass destruction.
They can be delivered with relative ease. Some of those which destroyed so many of my people came disguised as free blankets.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Here on the Virginia/West Virginia border the outcry against President Bush’s budget is loud and abundant.
The federal government cannot, much to the consternation of the socialists and other Democrats, pay for everything. Furthermore, the government should not pay for some things. The idea that the country depends upon Congress approving a budget that would take care of every conceivable problem may be an exaggeration of reality, but it is not an exaggeration of what a fair segment of our citizenry wants. Socialism is alive and well in the United States, although fortunately it is still looked down upon by a significant majority of Americans.
One example getting local attention is funding for three airports in the region. The program that funds the nearest airport will be cut under the President’s proposed budget to the extent that the local airport would have to raise nearly $250,000 to qualify for matching funds. This was not the case last year. So, guess what? A segment of the populace is outraged that Mr. Bush, who carried West Virginia in November, would “turn his back” on the state in this fashion.
The truth is that the airport is a definite asset to the area. However, when people travel, they don’t travel out of this airport, because the cost of getting to a connecting hub is exorbitant. Plus, it’s not that inconvenient to drive a couple of hours and save hundreds of dollars. Thus, passenger traffic at the airport is not high.
But passenger traffic is not the only service the airport provides. It allows convenient access to the area for businesses, and allows area business persons to easily go other places in private aircraft housed at the airport.
I don’t want to see the airport suffer and perhaps close, but what will it cost to keep it going, and is it realistic to expect U.S. taxpayers to fund it? Does it make sense in the larger scheme of things to pour money into this facility when there doesn’t seem to be a broad public need?
When you boil this issue down to its basics, it comes down to the ever-present conflict between what is proper and necessary for the federal government to do versus what people who don’t care about what is proper want the federal government to do. Mr. Bush’s critics scream bloody murder over the high deficit. Now that he’s doing something about it, they are screaming even louder. Brother! You just can’t please some people.
But you should never forget that it was never intended for the federal government to take so much money in taxes from the citizens, and then dole out that money to pay for things like local airports and buildings named after politicians.
It seems to me that if the area wants the airport, and needs it badly enough, the local money to qualify for matching federal money will be found, if officials are willing to go out and get it. After all, what’s wrong with asking localities to help fund their own airport?
This same principle ought to be applied all across the nation for all manner of things that people want. We have to start taking responsibility for our own fortunes, and quit depending upon the federal government to solve our problems for us.
Mr. Bush, through these budget reductions and program cancellations, is helping us do what we ought to already be doing.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Where did all the weapons go? That is the question. Opponents of the Iraq war, opponents of the United States, and the haters of George Bush cling to the notion that Iraq did not have WMD, and that the U.S. and Britain were mistaken in attacking Saddam. Some even suggest that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair both knew that there were no WMD in Iraq, but lied to the world so as to justify the war. Objective people recognize that that opinion has no basis in fact. But I won't go into that here.
A couple of weeks ago, radio host Charles R. Smith filed a column titled, Russia Moved Iraqi WMD on the NewsMax Web site, claiming that Moscow moved the weapons to Syria and Lebanon, and that the CIA satellites and NSA listening posts failed to detect it.
Is this column authoritative? Is it correct? I confess that I don't know. But I think it's worth your reading and forming your own opinion. Here are a couple of excerpts:
"I am absolutely sure that Russian Spetsnatz units moved WMD out of Iraq before the war," stated John Shaw, the former deputy undersecretary for international technology security.
According to Shaw, Russian units hid Saddam's arsenal inside Syria and in Lebanon's Bekka valley.
"While in Iraq I uncovered detailed information that Spetsnatz units shredded records and moved all WMD and specified advanced munitions out of Iraq to Syria and Lebanon," stated Shaw during an exclusive interview.
There is one apparent discrepancy that concerns me. Or, perhaps, I just missed something. But in one place he says "Shaw's assertions match the information provided by U.S. military forces that satellite surveillance showed extensive large-vehicle traffic crossing the Syrian border prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom." But later he said "[t]he Russians were able to move hundreds of tons of chemical, biological and nuclear materials without being discovered by CIA satellites or NSA radio listening posts."
Shaw's information also backs allegations by a wide variety of sources of Russia's direct involvement in Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. One U.N. bioterrorism expert announced that Russia has been Iraq's "main supplier of the materials and know-how to weaponize anthrax, botulism and smallpox."
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Robert Goldberg cited former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Spertzel, who stated that Moscow supplied Baghdad with fermentation equipment to produce biotoxins.
According to Spertzel, the Russians on the U.N. inspection team in Iraq were "paranoid" about his efforts to uncover smallpox production.
Hopefully, many of my visitors will read this column, and a delightful discussion will ensue.
I hate to kick people when they are down, but when you think how lax the security was at the Atlanta courthouse, you just have to criticize them.
What were they thinking? The only person escorting this 6’ 1”, 210 pound man, an accused rapist who had been caught with crudely fashioned weapons in his shoes only a day or two before, was a 5’ 2”, 52 year-old female deputy. With a gun, no less.
This defies understanding.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Wesley Pruden wrote in his inimitable way in his column in The Washington Times, “The New York Times, still in recovery from a full swoon, can't imagine a real American standing up straight, looking the nation's enemies in the eye and telling them to stuff it. The editorial page of the old gray lady is particularly upset that Mr. Bolton is skeptical of the International Criminal Court, a transparent creation of the vest-pocket nations of the world with names that sound like an entree in a fish restaurant in Lower Volta ("Burkina Faso is served on a bed of shredded cucumber with a reduction of arugula over toasted risotto"), which would enable the envious and churlish of the world to put American soldiers and maybe even commanders in chief in the dock as war criminals just for doing their assigned jobs.”
Full text here.
Friday, March 11, 2005
While blog surfing this evening I discovered the following, and "borrowed" it, from Buffalo's Path, who had borrowed it from Michele's Hangout.
Here's how it works:
- Grab the nearest book.
- Open the book to page 123.
- Find the fifth sentence.
- Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
- Don’t you dare dig for the “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
"They would diminish the prestige of our commanders, not only with enemies but with wavering neutrals. It would be difficult to devise more effective fettering of a field commander than to allow the very enemies he is ordered to reduce to submission to call him to account in his own civil courts and divert his efforts and attention from the military offensive abroad to the legal defensive at home. Nor is it unlikely that the result of such enemy litigiousness would be [a] conflict between judicial and military opinion highly comforting to enemies of the Unites States."
Okay, now it's your turn.
I think Michael Jackson is as talented as anyone on the pop/rock music scene, and more talented than most.
His music is good, he sang well, he was a terrific dancer, and his performances -- like "Thriller" -- were electric.
He had the best musicians on his recordings, and when he and Quincy Jones linked up, they were unbeatable
As the years went by, he got a little stranger, year by year. He was a good looking kid, as a black kid. But that wasn't good enough.
So he began having plastic surgery to make himself look "better."
He started doing unusual things. In this photo to the right, he uses a tiny magnifying glass to read something.
Most of us would wear glasses if our eyesight was poor. But Michael chooses a magnifying glass. A small, odd looking glass.
Then he started getting really weird.
Here, he wears a mask to keep from breathing impurities in the air. A black mask. Not a more common white mask, or even a green surgical mask.He looks like Zorro.
In this photo, one of his staff holds an umbrella over him, not to keep off the rain, but to keep off the sun. Is he Dracula?
He thinks it's normal to sleep with young boys. Whether or not he is guilty of pedophilia and molesting his house guests, this is obviously abberant behavior.
He apparently believes he is excused from following procedures the rest of us readily accept.
Like showing up for trial on time.
And not getting fully dressed before going to the courthouse.
I don't know if Michael Jackson is guilty as charged or not. But I've just had it with all the crazy stuff he does.Michael, enough already!
Thursday, March 10, 2005
by The Windjammer
I continue to be amazed at the ongoing arguments about global warming.
I have read numerous articles written by those who claim we are in the middle of a warming trend and that the warming is caused by industrial pollution. I have read several articles which claim that global warming does not exist or that it is so slight and gradual that it can hardly be noticed.
I have noticed that most of the articles which declare flat-footed that global warming is caused by industrial pollution miss or choose to ignore what should be the most important factor in any environmental study. Man. Or to be a bit more specific, mankind. I wrote a book nearly fifteen years ago in which I said that any environmental program which does not include man is doomed to failure. Man is an integral part of the environment and his welfare must be considered in the implementation of any program which either attempts to preserve the ecology in a pristine state, one which uses the environment for his benefit or one which destroys portions of the planet. Man will some day become extinct, but he is here now.
In the first place, there is no such thing today as "a pristine state of the environment" and hasn’t been since before the dinosaurs left their footprints on the sands of time. We may attempt to set aside areas which are off-limits to development, use and travel and call them "pristine areas," but those can only be islands of nature preserves or some such. They can exist, not because of the whims of man, but because of the "whims" of nature. The recent activity of Mt. St. Helens is ample proof of that. Some of that activity took place only yesterday and again proved to man how little control he actually has over nature. We are still being affected by the eruption which took place several years back, and that one didn’t come close to making the record books.
Global warming exists. It has been around since before mankind came into being. So has global cooling. If you doubt that statement, think a minute about only the last ice age which we call the Wisconsin Glaciation. I am writing a brief story about that one in my new book (now in process) about my ancestors. Some of those who were the progenitors of the Seneca and the Cherokee (and countless others) waded the icy water which resulted from the melting. I am surprised that anyone could get past the first year in high school without learning that there is a latent heat of freezing and a latent heat of melting. We measure those today in BTU’s. I can solid guarantee you that it took several hundred BTU’s from some constant reliable source to melt the glaciers which left evidence of their passing in such places as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other places in Yankeeland and Siberia. I will admit that I went to high school more than 70 years ago, but some laws can’t be changed at the discretion or indiscretion of an activist judge.
I have read that there were at least seven such freeze-ups over the past 200,000 years or so, according to scientific core drilling. The conclusion reached by those scientists, based on the core sample readings, was that each of those was preceded by a period of strong warming. I suspect that they are correct. According to the time schedule determined by those, we are on the verge of entering another such period. "Verge" does not mean this week, but it may mean within the next millennium.
Measurements taken in recent years in the antarctic indicate that atmospheric temperatures there are NOT increasing, but decreasing. Atmospheric temperatures are a bit more accurate than ground temperatures because of a variety of influences. A great deal of the misinformation about the arctic is just that.
There will continue to be some degree of global warming for quite a long period. I doubt that any of us alive today will see the end of it. Most of that increase will be by natural causes. There may be some small additional increase from man-made pollutants, but no one to my knowledge has accurately determined that amount or even if it will occur.
Meanwhile, let’s remember the real problem for which I coined the term "Popollution,". We are projecting more than nine billion people a short way down the road. That is a lot of neighbors. The pollution they create will not be only from hot breaths.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The Groningen Protocol: A system/process for euthanizing seriously ill newborns. My blogger friend Marlin Huston (A Time For Choosing) posted on this subject in December.
The Protocol has the appeal of ending the suffering of seriously ill newborns, as the story excerpted below relates, but it also opens the door to more widespread euthanasia of seriously ill people of any age, and even people just because they are old, perhaps. Already in the Netherlands the procedure may be used on children up to 12 years of age.
It is a good time to examine the furthest extreme to which this process may eventually reach, and to ask how long it will be before committees of physicians will be able to decide who lives and who dies, and under what circumstances.
Euthanizing terminally ill newborns, while still very rare, is more common in the Netherlands than was believed when the startling practice was reported a few months ago -- and experts say it also occurs, quietly, in other countries.
Dutch doctors estimate that at least five newborn mercy killings occur for every one reported in that country, which has allowed euthanasia for competent adults since 1985.
In 2002, doctors at University Medical Center Groningen helped create the so-called Groningen protocol, a list of standards for performing and reporting euthanasia of newborns with serious, incurable deformities. The aim was to encourage more reporting and discussion.
The Groningen protocol requires being sure that the newborn is suffering greatly with no hope of improvement, that the prognosis is certain and confirmed by at least one independent doctor, and that both parents give informed consent.
Two pediatricians at the hospital, Drs. Pieter J.J. Sauer and Eduard Verhagen, report in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine that 22 mercy killings of newborns who otherwise would have lingered in intensive care for years were reported to authorities from 1997 to 2004, about three each year. But national surveys of Dutch doctors have found 15 to 20 such cases a year, out of about 200,000 births.
Verhagen, who supports such euthanasia, said in an interview the doctors were allowed to review district attorneys' records on the 22 reported cases. None was prosecuted.
"These were all very clear and very extreme cases," he said, where the newborns were suffering from severe, untreatable spina bifida, with major brain and spinal cord deformities and sometimes other birth defects. "Do we have them continue life in suffering or do we end the life and end the suffering?"
Euthanasia opponents and others have been highly critical of that viewpoint.
"During the past few months, the international press has been full of blood-chilling accounts and misunderstandings concerning this protocol," the doctors wrote in the journal.
Details of the newborn's condition and the euthanasia procedure, usually an infusion of lethal drugs, must be reported to local district attorneys under the protocol, so they can assess each case without interrogating physicians.
"We believe that all cases must be reported if the country is to prevent uncontrolled and unjustified euthanasia," the doctors wrote.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Patrick J. Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, has written a piece appearing in The Washington Times that takes what I think is a balanced view of environmental science. Here are the first two paragraphs:
Want to raise the blood pressure of an entire region? If you're within a few hundred miles of Washington D.C., just say "snow" into a TV camera. But if you're more interested in planetary hypertension, simply substitute "global warming."
It turns out the forecasting methods for both snow and global warming are quite similar. And what happened with the Feb. 28 Mid-Atlantic snowstorm tells us much about the climate of the next 100 years.
Read the column here.
Monday, March 07, 2005
It’s not nice to suspect someone is up to no good just because of the way they look. We have had it jammed down our throats for years that profiling is wrong, despite logic to the contrary.
Yet a story today indicates that political correctness may have had a hand in allowing two of the 9-11 terrorists to board an airliner that morning.
A former U.S. Airways ticket agent who issued boarding passes to the terrorists who later hijacked a plane out of Boston on Sept. 11, 2001, says he felt guilty afterward.
Michael Tuohey, of Scarborough [Maine], said he was suspicious of Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari when they rushed to make their flight out of Portland International Jetport early that morning.
Atta's demeanor, his angry-looking eyes and the pair's first-class, one-way tickets to Los Angeles made Tuohey think twice.
"I said to myself, 'If this guy doesn't look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.' Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it's not nice to say things like this," Tuohey told the Maine Sunday Telegram. "You've checked in hundreds of Arabs and Hindus and Sikhs, and you've never done that. I felt kind of embarrassed."
A few hours later, Tuohey was blaming himself as he watched news reports of the attacks on the World Trade Center.