Carol Platt Liebau: March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005

God rest Terri's soul

So Terri Schiavo has died. It's a sad day for America -- which, frankly, didn't (some couldn't) act in accordance with its finest ideals. The whole sorry affair is part of history now -- and the position of those who supported keeping Terri alive (or at least wanted to slow the process to make sure that it was her wish to die) will age much better than the pro-death side.

This is especially true as the public begins to hear the full story, and witnesses the Pope struggling for life, being nourished through a feeding tube in his nose. And it will become even more true as normal, good hearted Americans get the opportunity to compare and contrast the agendas and style of the pro-life advocates (protectors of the weak and vulnerable) and the pro-death crew (who will determine whose life has "value" and act with ghoulish tenacity to eliminate those it deems too worthless to keep alive).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No More Posting 'til Thursday Night

I'll be away from my computer for the next 57 or so hours . . . in the meantime, check out LaShawn Barber, Michelle Malkin, or, of course, Hugh Hewitt (as if you don't already!).

Jesse Jackson -- Right Wing Religious Wacko

Someone alert the media! It looks like Jesse Jackson has become part of the "religious right" all of a sudden -- he opposes the slow starvation and dehydration of Terri Schiavo. Better break the news gently to Jeff Jarvis, Andrew Sullivan and Paul Krugman.

Welcome to the ranks of the "religious extremists," Mr. Jackson. Or maybe I should say "welcome back" -- remember the days when you (and Richard Gephardt) were pro-life?

Why the Strange "Boston Globe" profile?

Hugh Hewitt is asking about this Boston Globe story: "For Family, Religion Shapes Politics: Heartlanders Convert Others to Live Daily by 'the Word of God.'" Why, Hugh wants to know, is The Globe publishing this fairly straightforward profile of an evangelical Christian family?

There are three theories that make sense here:

(1) The reporter went to do the usual MSM hatchet job on Evangelical Christians, but this family seemed so generally normal -- and their lives so wholesome -- that he found it unexpectedly difficult to lampoon them. So he settled for throwing in the fact that the father doesn't believe that Ghandi (or gays) can enter Heaven (that'll give 'em a frisson down in Harvard Square) and called it a day.

(2) This is a piece about the "exotic flora and fauna" of North America -- specifically, the "Jesusland" State of Ohio. A piece on a par with "One-Eyed Frog Still Has the Best Vision (and Fastest Tongue) in the Jungle" or something like that. Something to help all the Globe's readers understand (if not appreciate) all the "diversity" of "this great land."

(3) It's a subtle message to Democrats: Here's what you're up against. And here's the bad news for Howard Dean: as the story says, "in the Wilkersons' four-bedroom home, nestled between a creek and a cul-de-sac, a political conversion seems unlikely at best." In other words, Democrats needn't waste their time "rethink[ing] the party's message on religion and abortion, and how to reach out to voters for whom religion plays a critical, determining role."

It would be wonderful to think that #1's the answer -- that the reporter simply didn't have the heart to really chop this family apart. (Not that the family would necessarily care; one of the beautiful things about evangelicals is that they care more about what God thinks than what the MSM thinks -- an inspiring trait). My sense, however, is that it's #3; the reporter's interest in the faith of the Wilkerson family is only incidental to his interest in the fortunes of the Democrats. Even so, it's good to see at least a somewhat respectful treatment of evangelical Christians in a paper like The Boston Globe.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Here's a sad little story about an Easter convention of atheists. Read through it and see what you think of the challenges they pose to the notion that God exists.

For my part, I can't help but think of a speech delivered by Ronald Reagan, titled "Remarks to Soviet Dissidents at Spaso House in Moscow," on May 30, 1988. He said:

Sometimes, when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner one could ever serve, and, when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook.

More on Schiavo & the "Religious Right"

Here, Ronald Brownstein of The Los Angeles Times writes on the Schiavo matter.

Like most of the mainstream media, he emphasizes the "split" in Republican ranks over "'Culture of Life' Issues." (To quote a line from the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, "Perhaps the wish is father to the thought").

Of course, this would be a perfect opportunity to explain that so many of the polls show opposition to the course taken by Congress and the President because of the misleading and inappropriate ways that the poll questions were asked (read more about it from Michelle Malkin here).

But that, although important, isn't the point here, either. The point is that many people didn't have time to get the facts -- and to the quick observer, it does look like a travesty for the federal government to be intervening in a tragic, personal, life and death case. Especially when people may not have had the time to find out that Terri wasn't on life support / her husband had a new common law wife and two children / 40% of the money he sued for was spent on his legal fees to bring about Terri's death, and assorted other matters. What the American people did was to think about how terrible they'd feel if the government intervened in a case dividing their family -- without having had the time, perhaps, to understand the many, many factors that make this case unique.

In fact, Republicans need to explain that they took the measures they did to make sure that the plug won't be pulled on YOU -- or you, or you -- unless those are really your wishes. Congress didn't decree that Terri be kept alive no matter what; they told a federal court to take one more look at a very tough case to make sure that a vulnerable, disabled woman wasn't going to be starved to death against her will. (Too bad the court ignored the mandate). Democrats supposedly used to be the defenders of the defenseless; looks like that mantle has passed to the Republicans -- now, the Dems are the defenders of the mighty and unaccountable judiciary.

There's one other thing. It's become tiresome to hear the wrong and routine villification of "The Religious Right" -- often used as a catch-all phrase to stigmatize anyone with conservative or religiously-informed social views. Why does the stigmatization work? Because people who are not themselves religious don't even understand the terms of the debate -- and ignorance leads to fear leads to dislike. People of faith need to do more to explain their views in straightforward, layman's terms that even those who disagree with them -- or those who are not well-schooled in religion -- can understand. And that's the topic of my weekly column.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

As the sun sets on this Easter day, please continue to pray for Terri Schiavo, who nears death, and her grieving family.

Of course, the point of Easter is that all of us have the hope of spending eternity with an all-loving, all-forgiving God, and that is joyful news indeed. But there is no doubt that here, on the human plane, there are some very heavy hearts tonight -- and not only in Florida -- as we come to terms with the fact that Terri is going to die, and that she will have done so without all the protections (or even the comfort) provided to animals or convicted killers.

Even so, some good is bound to emerge even from this most tragic and heartwrenching situation -- that, too, is the message of Easter: That good will always, and ultimately, triumph. As for the good in this situation, let us be sure to look for it -- and do out part to bring it about.

LA Times Opinion Piece

If you have a moment, check out my piece in the op/ed section of The L.A. Times today. It's about why California conservatives should set aside some of their principled concerns about the use of the initiative process.

From time to time, I've been quite critical of The L.A. Times, but in fairness, I must say that it was a pleasure to work with Deputy Sunday Opinion editor Gary Spiecker.

Happy Easter!

To all those celebrating today, a very joyous and blessed Easter.

Incidentally, here's a happy note for a happy day: Apparently, the Brits prefer the classic hymns to what they call the "happy-clappy" religious songs of modern times. Me, too. Three of the songs that made the Brits' "Top 20" -- "Love Divine," "Jerusalem," and "Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven" -- were played at my wedding.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Get a load of this. In Indiana, legislation requiring voters to show either a state-issued or federal government ID is being debated. But:

Legislative Democrats, led by black leaders, have protested the bill like almost none other in recent years. They've called the measure to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID a blatant attempt to suppress turnout among black Hoosiers.

Really? Why would that be? Because black voters don't have birth certificates, or drivers' licenses, or military ID's? Or are they saying that -- despite the fact that many of the black voters were doubtless involved in the courageous civil rights movement -- that black voters are so easily intimidated that they won't go to the polls if they have to show the same ID there as they do to board a plane or cash a check?

How dare these "black leaders" stigmatize fellow African-Americans this way? What a bunch of bigots.

Friday, March 25, 2005

There is little to add to Hugh Hewitt's discussion of judicial abstention in the Terri Schiavo case. Actually, what's been done is much worse than judicial abstention -- it's been a dazzling display of judicial arrogance. How else can a federal court's refusal to grant de novo review and interlocutory relief in the case, despite the explicit legislative injunction for the former and the clear legislative intent for the latter, be characterized? Indeed, as interpreted by the federal court (and then upheld by the appeals court and the Supreme Court), the legislation passed by Congress last weekend would be meaningless -- and courts are not supposed to interpret laws in such a way as to make them meaningless.

What the courts have done is profoundly wrong, infuriating, even heartbreaking, as Terri Schiavo slowly dies of hunger and thirst. But we live in a nation of laws. Extralegal activity is never the answer. Some (like Alan Keyes and Michael Savage) are arguing that Governor Jeb Bush should simply take custody of Terri. What misguided thinking -- and how sad it influences some to go too far (like the man soliciting a hit man for Michael Schiavo and others over the internet, as reported here). People who are behaving that way are very, very wrong. And although they don't represent 99% of people of faith, they nonetheless sully the reputations of all.

In America, when we don't believe in the law as passed or interpreted, we take steps to change it -- we don't defy it. That's a recipe for civil war.

Taking the law into our own hands in any but the most extreme and threatening circumstances is not only morally wrong. It is a betrayal of the trust of the Founding Fathers, who produced for us a system that provides for the peaceful reform of arrogant or unaccountable government. And even on the crassest, most practical level, it would be a dumb tactical move for conservatives and people of faith, for it would legitimize tactics that the secular left -- heedless of the restraint and guidance generally inculcated by religious faith and much more effective, frankly, at producing anarchy and chaos -- would not hesitate to adopt.
The week has passed without my having commented on the death of the great Bobby Short.

I have been a fan of Cole Porter's for almost as long as I can remember -- one of my favorite songs in the world is "You're the Top!". Bobby Short loved Cole Porter's work, too, and it's been reported that once, Cole Porter himself even crossed the room to congratulate Short on the quality of his performance (no small tribute, that; Porter was so notoriously particular that he stormed out of a Sinatra performance one evening).

I never saw Bobby Short play at Club Carlyle, much to my regret. But last September, I did see him do an evening of Cole Porter at the Kennedy Center. Although he seemed very aged, and his voice had changed considerably, it was a treat -- and it was clear that he was having fun, as well. Afterwards, outside the Kennedy Center, we saw Dr. Condoleezza Rice also departing with friends -- as a lover of music, she had to have been a fan of Bobby Short's.

He was a great performer, who played an important role in keeping the beautiful American songbook alive. May he rest in peace.
It's been hard to write about anything other than Terri Schiavo this week. Our prayers remains with her, and there will be commentary on any other new developments. Here is a piece by John Podhoretz that's well worth reading. And blessed Good Friday.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's finished.

It looks like the fight to save Terri Schiavo has failed. Now there is nothing else to do but pray -- and we know that the Holy Spirit is there at Terri's bedside.

We can also reflect upon what went wrong. Theologically, we are duty bound to oppose the wrong with all our might, and perhaps that isn't most effectively done once a crisis arises, but before. There's some serious thinking that must transpire.

God bless Terri Schiavo and the Schindlers -- yes, and Michael Schiavo. If he has in good conscience tried to do what he believes to be best, he is deserving of our sympathy, as he has suffered a lot, too. If he has not acted in accordance with the dictates of conscience, then he needs our prayers even more than before.
Well said, Michelle Malkin. And the inimitable Bob Novak points out that the Schiavo debate transcends normal political boundaries.
Judge Robert Bork, speaking on Fox News, just said that there are many in America who are routinely starved to death -- specifically, he mentioned Down's syndrome children and children who survive abortions.

Can this be true?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Here is the affidavit of Dr. William Cheshire, opining that Terri is NOT in a persistent vegetative state, but instead in a state of minimal consciousness -- which means that she can experience pain. (HT: Hugh Hewitt and National Review).

With such evidence, it only increases the stakes, suggesting that the woman being dehydrated and starved to death may well be aware of what's happening -- or at the least the discomfort of it.

Thinking it through

There is a lot of strong negative opinion (see here, here and even some of the comments here), out there about the actions of the U.S. Congress and the motives of those who are not content to let Terri Schiavo die without further hearings.

I can't answer for everyone else, but I can explain why I -- someone who does not necessarily think that it's always wrong to let someone die in all circumstances -- am so appalled by what's going on here.

(1) Religious issues.

As a believing Christian, I know that life is a precious gift, given by God alone. As a gift from God, and something which -- once taken -- can't be returned, life isn't something to be glossed over or thrown away lightly. As a child of God, Terri Schiavo -- brain damaged or not -- is as precious to Him as the most ethical, brilliant Nobel prize winner or the most influential theologian. Should she be allowed to die if she wants to? Of course -- that's an issue between her and God, a matter of free will (and certainly, for those capable of it, a decision that is benefited by some pretty intensive pastoral counseling before it is made). If she were capable of making the decision, would she want to die? Those who know her best disagree. And if that's the case, we shouldn't be letting Terri die without another full airing of the matter, especially given:

(2) The facts.

(a) Personal. Many who are profoundly troubled by what's going on could rest easier if Terri's interests were not being represented by her husband -- if, say, a guardian ad litem had been appointed. Perhaps it would be different if Michael Schiavo had stayed with Terri Schiavo as Dana Reeve, for example, stayed with Christopher. No one's blaming him for moving on -- it has been fifteen years, after all. But is someone who's become a husband in name only really the best choice to represent Terri? After failing to "reveal" for seven or eight years that she supposedly "wanted" to die? (If he knew and didn't tell, he's not a fit representative; if he didn't know, he's making it up now, and that's certainly not right). No one's confidence can be bolstered by the fact that Michael Schiavo has prevented Terri from receiving any kind of rehabilitation over the past several years (even if he believed she would "want" to die, as someone who loved her and presumably hoped for her full recovery, wouldn't he want her to engage in activities that would increase the odds that a miracle could happen?).

(b) Medical. What are Terri's capabilities? Medical reports conflict. Some say that she is in a persistent vegetative state, completely unaware of the world around her. Some -- like a nurse that has attended her at the hospice, speaking on Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday -- argue that she is aware of her surroundings, and can respond to others. Of course, I don't know. If she is in a persistent vegetative state, notwithstanding the slim chance that she could recover, I could live with the decision to let her die (though I think the method is barbaric -- more on that later). But if she's not in a persistent vegetative state, then we are condemning an innocent, sentient albeit brain damaged human being to a dreadful death. For those on the left, think of Christopher Reeve had he been impaired mentally as well as physically -- being deprived of food and water because he lacks the physical (or mental) capacity to make his wishes known. That prospect should be morally repugnant to everyone -- although I fear it isn't.

(3) Common humanity.

It's one thing to turn off a ventilator (where a machine is breathing artificially for a person) -- in that case, death results in a matter of minutes. It's quite another to let a woman hunger and thirst to death over a period of weeks -- a woman who otherwise would be able, most likely, to live for some years. If the "right to die" people -- including Michael Schiavo -- are so convinced that they are acting in accordance with Terri's wishes, why should they object to making her death more humane, say, by giving her some morphine (note: this is theoretical -- and only after all appeals are exhausted; please, let's give Terri the same rights as convicted killers)? It seems like the basest hypocrisy to argue that you're not "killing" someone by refusing to give a disabled person food and water (again, think of Christopher Reeve sitting in his wheelchair, staring at a table full of food, but powerless to feed himself). At this point, the line between "letting" someone die and "helping" (or forcing them to) die is almost meaningless, anyway. As I've asked before -- under this reasoning, can we say we've "abolished" the death penalty, and simply lock death row convicts away without food and water? After all, like in the Schiavo case, we wouldn't be "killing" them. We'd just be "letting them die."

(4) Legal.

As I've written below, I'm incredulous: How could one district judge and two appeals court judges ignore with such impunity the clear intent of Congress as expressed in a statute and also thereafter? You can agree or disagree with what Congress did, but as long as there's legislation on the matter -- and that legislation is constitutional -- then the courts must honor Congress' will and intent.

I know there are many people out there of good conscience who disagree with me. They deeply believe that Terri Schiavo should simply die because that's what she wanted. And maybe they're right. But no one can be utterly sure what Terri would have wanted in this particular circumstance -- and when there's uncertainty, shouldn't we err (if err we must) on the side of life, at lest while some of the most troubling issues are addressed?

Complete Contempt

I can scarcely believe that this is America. You have a young woman -- brain damaged but alive, able to breath on her own -- being dehydrated and starved to death. Congress passes legislation clearly intended to require Terri to be kept alive, while the courts (hopefully) considered a host of troublesome issues.

The refusal to grant injunctive relief is most egregious. In refusing to restore nutrition and hydration while the case is considered, the court is ignoring the clear intent of Congress, expressed by Tom DeLay after the legislation was passed: "We are confident this compromise addresses everyone's concerns, we are confident it will provide Mrs. Schiavo a clear and appropriate avenue for appeal in federal court, and most importantly, we are confident this compromise will restore nutrition and hydration to Mrs. Schiavo as long as that appeal endures." (emphasis mine)

How can the courts justify their contempt for a written law? Perhaps it can be argued that the legislation was inartfully drafted -- but that's the case any time that the courts are called upon to "interpret" legislation. And the intent of Congress is the dispositive factor.

Courts have had the right to hold laws unconstitutional since the days of Marbury v. Madison. They don't have the right simply to ignore a law's plain meaning. "Our robed masters," indeed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hugh Hewitt has pointed out that both (1) the young shooter who killed himself and others in MN yesterday and (2) the flora and fauna protected by the Endangered Species Act are legally entitled to more protection than Terri Schiavo, at this point. Sobering.
Reader Dennis notes the hypocrisy: Liberals are terribly worried about the lives of the caribou in the Alaskan National Wildlife Preserve . . . considerably less worried about the life of Terri Schiavo.

Over at Highwindow, there's an excellent point: If Terri Schiavo were a killer, the President could commute her death sentence. But he's helpless to save the life of an innocent.

Utter Contempt - for Law, Ethics and Congress

Something is quite amiss with the district court judge who refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. What this judge is doing is akin to starving a convict on death row, even as his appeals are being litigated.

Here is the law passed by Congress over the weekend. Note the fact that it calls for DE NOVO review by the District Court. "De novo review" allows review of the entire record, facts and law (one isn't bound by the usual appeals court standards, that is, of reviewing only for legal error except in extraordinary circumstances, for example).

Even if the judge HAD looked at everything "de novo" as he was supposed to -- and ruled against Terri Schiavo -- it's hard to believe that the judge wouldn't order the feeding tube reinserted, pending appeal. After all, there's always time for Terri to die. The big problem would be letting her die, and then a higher court determining that she should have been able to live.

Courts grant injunctions if there will be irreparable harm should the relief not be granted, especially in cases like this one, where a life hangs in the balance. Here, permitting someone to go without food and water for some indefinite period of time is certainly irreparable harm.

It's hard for me to see how anyone could think the district court judge ruled in accordance with the law with respect to either (1) the standard of review (de novo) or (2) injunctive relief.

What's more, the judge ignored the clearly expressed wishes of the Congress that Terri Schiavo receive food and water while her case is relitigated in federal court.

It is an awful, bankrupt opinion . . . legally and ethically.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Here is a must-read piece by James Q. Wilson on the ethical difficulties surrounding the "right to die."
Here is a piece by Linda Stasi in The New York Post. It's the story of her experience with a mother who was disconnected from "tubes" (whether for breathing or for eating/drinking isn't clear).

The piece concludes with Stasi writing:

"I know one thing now. The government has no business in our homes or in our lives or in our deaths. Death is a family matter. Congress needs to stay in its own house on this one."

And that's a sentiment with which, in many cases, I would agree. Especially in one like Stasi's -- where her mother's wishes were known to the entire family, where there was a living will, where death was inevitable and reasonably imminent.

Sadly, the Schiavo case is much different. No one but her husband (yes, the husband who is now off living with another woman and his two children by her) ever reports having heard Terri's wish not to have any measures taken to keep her alive. There is no living will. And so Terri's family doesn't have at least the grim satisfaction of Stasi's -- knowing for certain that they're acting in accordance with someone's wishes to let her die.

There's one more wrinkle to this entire issue. I don't understand why it's so important to allow people who are condemned to death to rot away from hunger and thirst. We don't allow animals or serial killers, even, to die that way. Someone please explain why it's so much worse to give an innocent a shot of morphine to ease suffering than it is to stand back and watch a helpless, incapacitated person hunger and thirst to death.

Finally -- all the liberals who support the "right to die" but not the death penalty: Would it make it better if we didn't "execute" prisoners -- just locked them in a cell with no food and no water?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Thank Heaven. The House has acted on behalf of Terri Schiavo.
So the stresses of battle affect women more than men, according to this story. Alert the media -- men and women are different!

And someone run for the smelling salts -- MIT feminist/biologist Nancy Hopkins is going to faint again.
Why would House Democrats want to block GOP efforts to make sure that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube isn't being wrongfully removed? A life is the one thing that, once taken, can't be given back. Given all that seems amiss in the way the case has been handled and the grave doubts expressed by neurologists, let's ask the Democrats (including Hillary Clinton) -- what's the big rush?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Good news. It looks like Congress has reached a deal that will allow the Schiavo case to go to a federal judge -- which will mean that her feeding tube will be restored. Let's make it quick.
Feminists for Life spokesman Patricia Heaton is pleading for Terri Schiavo's life. She notes, "Feminists have always challenged the idea that married women have no rights of their own. A husband should not be granted absolute control over his wife's fate, especially a disaffected husband with dubious motives."

There should be no one more trustworthy than one's husband -- and for many of us, that's blessedly the case. For Terri Schiavo, it isn't (as the link above notes).

Defying credulity is this ghoulish piece, insisting that death through starvation and dehydration is actually very "peaceful." Perhaps those who feel that way would care to try it?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Dr. James Dobson was just on Hugh Hewitt's show. Dr. Bill Frist (Majority Leader of the Senate) has asserted that the evidence and circumstances around Terri Schiavo's death order are most troubling.

Here is a link to help you get in touch with House members and members of the Florida Senate -- who may be instrumental in staying the court-ordered death sentence of Terri Schiavo.
Pray for Terri Schiavo. It's impossible to know the true motives of her erstwhile husband. We can only hope that for his soul's sake, he has acted in good faith in denying her parents the ability to care for her and seeking so long and so vigorously to have her life ended -- in a deeply cruel and barbaric way.
On Monday, I posted

Just a final word on the outcome of the Brian Nichols saga. Today on Sean Hannity's radio show, I heard the woman whom Nichols took hostage, and who eventually him to turn himself in. Apparently, she spoke with him about God and Jesus, and read the religious book "The Purpose-Driven Life" to him. No one can divine the mind of God, of course, and cynics will scoff -- but could it be that this story serves as a needed reminder of the transformative power of God's love? And not just for Nichols?

But Peggy Noonan says it even better, of course.

How stange and how wonderful that all this should come to pass. But as C.S. Lewis pointed out in Mere Christianity, it's the strange and unexpected stuff that just usually happens to be true.

Gavin Newsom is a Jerk

It's hardly a news-flash, is it? Even so, it's remarkable that Gavin Newsom refuses to honor the Iraq war dead by lowering flags to half staff in San Francisco tomorrow. Even the supervisors wanted to do it, in memory of people "of all nationalities" who have died in the war (and that I have no problem with, as long as they mean allies or "the innocent" of all nationalities . . . I'm certainly not honoring the terrorist cowards who are threatening to blow up women and children to stop the spread of democracy).

But to refuse to pay tribute to the people who have died to protect America and free Iraq is one of the most breathtaking examples of arrogant anti-Americanism I've ever seen.

The next time that Democrats assure us that they "support the troops," let's ask them about Gavin Newsom.
Daniel Henninger writes a rather poignant column about the end of the era of the anchorman-philosopher-king. Today, as he properly points out, it's the news that's the star. By the way, isn't that the phrase that Ted Turner came up with to brand CNN? Funny that a left-liberal like Turner paved the way for the democratization of news -- which, by itself, has done as much as anything to end the hegemonic rule of liberalism in America.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

In this piece, Clinton advisor Ann Lewis argues that John Kerry ran an inconsistent campaign.

Why would Ms. Lewis open her mouth? It doesn't make sense for Hillary. As quoted in the story, vetern Democratic operative Hank Sheinkopf notes that such comments will "create more internecine warfare among Democrats, and those who want to take shots at Hillary, who are Kerry loyalists, are now going to do that more than they would have before."

But there's another, subtler reason that it's bad politics. To the extent that John Kerry is "out there," that's good for Hillary. He continues to suck press coverage and attention away from Hillary's other, more formidable but less-known competitors for the Democratic nomination (like Evan Bayh, for example)-- but as a relatively weak candidate, she can dispatch Kerry easily when it finally suits her purposes. All that works to Hillary's advantage.

Perhaps Ann Lewis just became overly garrulous. Or perhaps she's trying to offer a rationale for the Democrats (many of whom believe that Hillary, like Kerry, is just too "blue state" to win nationwide) to believe that a Hillary campaign wouldn't have the same fatal flaws as the Kerry one did.

One thing's certain: If she spoke out of turn, we won't be hearing from Ann Lewis again for a long, long while.
Andrew McCarthy is completely correct -- what does it say about the American left that it agonizes over the alleged torture of terrorist fanatics, but is totally content to see a feeding tube removed from a woman who is alive, and periodically alert? The kind of death contemplated for Terri Schiavo is so inhumane that we wouldn't visit it on an animal.

To put it in terms that the left can understand, it's the equivalent of simply locking a convicted terrorist in a cell and permitting him to rot away from hunger and thirst. Trust me, lethal injection sounds like a much more appealing option. But that's apparently reserved for people like Scott Peterson -- who will also, most likely, enjoy a longer appeals process than Terri Schiavo has had.

The Schiavo case is not just an assault on humanity; it's an assault on the institution of marriage. When there is a "husband" who has gone off with another woman and produced two children, there is no "marriage" in any sense but the most technical -- and pretending that there's a primacy in that marital relationship that must be honored makes the entire concept of marriage a joke.

Better that the court issue a divorce decree and turn Terri's interests over to a guardian ad litem. There would be less chance that ignoble motives would interfere in the decisionmaking. In any case, it defies credulity that so many people would be such staunch advocates of an agonizing death for a living -- and quite possibly sentient -- human being.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Candian columnist Barbara Kay skewers the "feminist victimocracy pundits" in a beautifully written and insightful column right here.

Readers respond

Some readers and correspondents have offered their thoughts on my earlier post about the dearth of female bloggers. I've tried to post a fairly representative sample.

Here's an excerpt from what Norm wrote:

I suggest that female bloggers spend far too much time talking only to themselves. Where are your links to other sites so that bloggers may visit you through reciprocal surfing?Where are your comments on other issues with links? Send posts to other sites as comments and mix it up with some of the mutual conversations, puzzles, opinion solicitations, etc. I find very few female bloggers doing this . . ..

I think some other female bloggers do do this -- LaShawn Barber and Michelle Malkin among others. But it's a weakness of mine -- I'll work on it, Norm.

My fabulous correspondent Ruth Anne -- formerly the only female attorney at the 82nd Airborne JAG shop -- subscribes to the "who needs the hassle?" theory I set forth in the post immediately below. Eventually she transferred from the 82nd across post to a different division.

She writes, in part:

I thought that being a good lawyer for the soldiers and command was more important than whether I had 12 jumps this quarter [only 1 was required to stay current]. All that to say, "Yes! Why bother?".

Dennis writes, in part:

I also enjoy knowing that you actually do read your email--you are responsive to readers. This is not a female trait.

I don't know about the latter, Dennis, but thanks for the kind words (here and elsewhere in your note to me!). I enjoy hearing from all my readers, and I read all my mail -- after all, if you can take the time to contact me, I can certainly take the time to consider your comments!

Want to get in touch? Email me HERE.

On female bloggers & pundits

A debate about the relative dearth of female bloggers -- and female op/ed columnists -- rolls on. Howard Kurtz writes about it this morning, and despite his assertion that he doesn't intend to generalize, I predict the feminists will be all over him for the following:

I've been surfing a number of blogs by women and (attention: this is not a generalization) and have found a fair number in diary form that deal with families, literature, cooking and other personal reflections--engaging stuff, to be sure, but sometimes out of the echo-chamber warfare over media and politics that gets the most attention.

For those who care about the views of a truly thoughtful and interesting female columnist (and yes, someone for whom being a female is only incidental!), here's an excellent piece by The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum. Key passage:

This is a storm in the media teacup, but it has echoes in universities, corporations and beyond. I am told, for example, that there is pressure at Harvard Law School, and at other law schools, to ensure that at least half the students chosen for the law review are women. Quite frankly, it's hard to think of anything that would do more damage to aspiring female lawyers. Neither they nor their prospective employers will ever know whether they got there as part of a quota or on their own merits.

Anne Applebaum is absolutely right! Any kind of "gender specific consideration" would be terrible for female writers/pundits. How can I be so convinced? It's my experience with the issue of affirmative action on The Harvard Law Review.

The murmurs about instituting affirmative action for women on The Harvard Law Review, at least, have been circulating for over a decade -- since, in fact, the year I got on. That year (summer of 1990), 39 people were accepted for the Review (from a class of 500). Of that 39, only 9 were women. And the politically correct people went crazy.

There are several experiences relevant to this discussion. First, I recall having a recruitment dinner (the only female Review member present, with about five guys) with attorneys from a very well known Chicago firm. In the middle of the meal, one of the attorneys asked me -- straight out -- "Is there affirmative action for women?" I was very relieved to be able to affirm that there was NOT, that my gender didn't explain my presence. And it sensitized me to how crippling it could be to carry the stigma of being an affirmative action pick. (Liberals - don't start with arguing that the attorney shouldn't have been allowed to ask the question! Better that he ask than just to assume that any female/minority is the product of affirmative action.)

Second, somehow I had the nerve to run for President of the Review (and lose), and also Managing Editor (and win). Had there been affirmative action for women, I would never have believed I had the merit and the right to seek either position.

Finally, a note to conclude this too-long post. I knew a lot of female students (many of whom were probably smarter than I!) who didn't even enter the writing competition for the Review. To their way of thinking, they didn't need the hassle. They were already at Harvard Law School, and good grades would assure them a job at the firm of their choice. They weren't gunning for Supreme Court clerkships, and they weren't interested in the long hours and the fairly substantial workload (and limited social life) that Review membership would entail, and so they just didn't try out. It was, in some ways, a rational decision . . . and might help to explain the low numbers of women in similar situations without resorting to the feminist catch-all rationale of invidious discrimination.

Something similar may be going on with the dearth of female pundits & op/ed writers. Punditizing/writing involves a fair amount of, frankly, rejection -- and my experience has been that women tend to personalize this rejection to a much greater extent than men do. They sometimes tend to feel that it wasn't their writing that was rejected; they were. And then, it becomes a little like the Review writing competition -- who needs the hassle?

Not all women are this way, of course, and there are many men with very sensitive feelings. But even in my work with women on the Review and beyond, it seemed that the women personalized criticism of their work much more than the men did. And to the extent that's a sex-based trait, it makes it more difficult to get into the arena and compete -- and keep going despite the inevitable onslaught of rejections that any writer/pundit encounters.

But that's not something affirmative action (or its equivalent) will solve! Special consideration for women will only unfairly stigmatize those who can make it on their own, and make everyone (including, sometimes, the women themselves) doubt their own merit. Women who want to be pundits will keep at it, without special privileges. Those whose temperament and interests lead them elsewhere -- well, that's fine, too.

And as some women prepare to gang tackle the "white-hegemonic-phallocentric-male-oppressors," let's not forget that there are those who help and promote female pundits most generously -- and not just because they're women . . . Chief among them is Hugh Hewitt. He has allowed me to serve as guest host of his radio show and urged me to begin blogging; his weekly radio guests include Claudia Rosett of The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (and OpinionJournal and The New York Sun), as well as Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online. In the blogosphere, he's promoted the brilliant Michelle Malkin (also a nationally syndicated columnist, mind you!) and the outstanding LaShawn Barber.

We want equality of opportunity and fair treatment -- but no bean counting. We want to succeed because -- and only because -- we're good. Not because we're women.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

So the majority of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences succeeded in its childish ambition to humiliate President Lawrence Summers by passing a lack of confidence vote.

In one sense, big deal. The vote has no binding authority -- it's the academic equivalent of a temper tantrum. Unless you've gone to Harvard, it's difficult to overestimate how seriously both its students and faculty take themselves . . . many of them think this really matters to the entire world. Needless to say, it doesn't.

To the extent that it has any lasting significance, the vote has probably achieved its desired effect -- that is, to curb Summers' zeal to implement much needed reforms of Harvard's curriculum and to demand greater excellence from its scholars. Now, of ocurse, Summers has been hamstrung, so he'll probably back off. Just what a generally arrogant, largely unaccountable and increasingly politically correct & mediocre faculty would hope for.
I do NOT feel sorry for Maureen Dowd -- even though she clearly wants me to.

Are we to believe that a woman who is bright enough to write in the pages of The Grey Lady really can't figure out why she's called "mean"? She's called "mean" . . . (drum roll) . . . because she is mean. Her pieces are snide, snarky, petulant and personal. They're not "tough" -- "tough" pieces take people on about the issues. "Mean" pieces focus primarily on personalities, traits, eccentricities, appearances. They bestow "clever" little cutting nicknames (like "Rummy" or "The Boy Emperor"). They don't seem above taking a cheap shot when it'll make for a delicious insult or a beautifully worded sentence.

Mona Charen is a "tough" columnist. She takes no prisoners, and she tells it like it is. But one gets the sense that she's in it because she actually cares about the policy -- not because she wants to be the Queen Bee of the Beltway High School (to borrow a Dowdian metaphor).

Maureen Dowd bemoans the dearth of female opinion columnists throughout the country -- a sad thing, I do agree. But maybe it would be an easier problem to remedy if the preeminent female columnist -- and sad to say, that's Dowd -- stopped behaving like a precious little "Mean Girl" and started writing (and acting!) like someone who cares more about the issues than the trend (both pop-cultural and ideological) currently in vogue.
This is definitely a piece worth reading. Richard Vigilante points out that there is a chance that Hillary Clinton could peel off the 2% she needs to win simply by mouthing "family values" talk -- without doing anything (a luxury secured for her in party by left-wing judges). Especially if Republicans keep shrinking from a conservative social agenda.
According to this piece, Ward Churchill's cushy tenured job appears to be safe.

If I were a professor, I'd be screaming bloody murder. Here is a man -- setting his anti-American hate speech aside -- has been credibly accused of academic plagiarism, artistic plagiarism and lying (about his background and his career). But he is still good enough to be designated a "tenured professor"?

Wow. Doesn't say much for the standards in "higher education" or the professional pride of a lot of academics.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Just a final word on the outcome of the Brian Nichols saga. Today on Sean Hannity's radio show, I heard the woman whom Nichols took hostage, and who eventually him to turn himself in. Apparently, she spoke with him about God and Jesus, and read the religious book "The Purpose-Driven Life" to him. No one can divine the mind of God, of course, and cynics will scoff -- but could it be that this story serves as a needed reminder of the transformative power of God's love? And not just for Nichols?
This piece is well worth reading. It's unfairly harsh in its characterization of Tom Johnson (formerly of CNN), but otherwise, it's dead on.
The imperial judiciary strikes again. "No rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," according to the judge. So reserving special protection for the optimal climate for having and raising children is "irrational"? Please. Certainly gays need certain legal protections, and always respectful treatment, but an activist judiciary forcing change on an unwilling public is hardly the way to effect even necessary reforms.
Here's hoping that my alma mater, Princeton, won't succumb to political correctness by refusing to tenure well-regarded Middle Eastern Studies scholar Michael Doran. Yes, he may be more of a traditionalist than many of the politicized scholars in this field. But if Princeton can hire the execrable Peter Singer, and defend it on the grounds of "diversity," shouldn't there be room for a Professor Doran, too?

Shameless Self Promotion Moment

My weeky column is posted here, at the OneRepublic. It's called "When Girl Power Goes Bad: The Deadly Danger of Mindless Political Correctness." Check it out!
Good luck to the left wing bloggers who scheduled a conference call with reporters in an effort to "build bridges." Some attribute the liberals' competitive disadvantage to the fact that conservative bloggers have "social networks" with conservative news outlets, while liberals don't.

But here's the real problem for the libs: The MSM, made up predominantly of liberals (see post below) is already covering the stories that liberal bloggers think are important -- there's less to "discover" on liberal web sites because they're already singing out of the same hymnal (at least until the lib bloggers take a sharp left turn into the fever swamps where the MSM won't follow).

The beauty of the blogosphere for conservatives is that it allows a conduit for news that otherwise might well NOT be reported by the MSM -- e.g. Swift Boat vets, Memogate, etc. That's why the blogosphere matters more for conservatives and why they are more influential within it.
Well, here's a newsflash. Reuters informs us that the press was harder on President Bush than on John Kerry during election season last year -- 36% of the stories about the President were negative, compared to only 12% for Kerry.

This is news, to anyone? Even so, it's nice to have some quantification, I guess.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This piece on political symbols raises a good question: Why is wearing the hammer-and-sickle considered to be nothing more than post-Communist chic, while wearing the swastika is (quite correctly) deemed unacceptable? It can't be just a matter of numbers: The Nazis killed about 6 million; the Communists murdered 20 million.

Fascism and all its permutations are repugnant. But so is Communism. Could the gentler treatment of the latter have any relation to the fact that so many well-known "intellectuals" and others were Communist sympathizers, once upon a time?
Well, well. Finally, a man -- a Democrat! -- helps to dispel the myth (and it is a myth) that women are paid less than men only because of residual sexism or a "glass ceiling."

Here's the piece, and it tells it like it is.

Perhaps this will serve as some reinforcement for the feisty Independent Women's Forum -- which, with books like "Women's Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women in America" -- has been trying to debunk this old feminist canard for years.
There is an ugly scandal brewing in Washington -- and with it, there are those who are salivating with excitement at the prospect of using it as a way to tarnish the Religious Right.

Here is the story from today's Washington Post. Note that it seems to draw a connection between the lobbyist being investigated by the Justice Department (and who does seem less than ethical, judging from this disturbing piece in The Weekly Standard) and Dr. James Dobson, an icon of the religious right.

Here are the passages, right at the top of the Post story:

Jack Abramoff, one of Washington's most prominent Republican lobbyists, tapped into the gambling riches of a rival tribe to orchestrate a far-reaching campaign against the Jena Band of Choctaws -- calling on senior U.S. senators and congressmen, the deputy secretary of the interior and evangelical leaders James Dobson and Ralph Reed.
. . .
Abramoff arranged for Dobson and Reed to pressure federal officials to reject the Jenas' bid on anti-gambling grounds.

Sounds like Dr. Dobson hopped into bed, as it were, with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, doesn't it? But wait! Lower -- much lower -- in the story, is this revealing passage:

There is no evidence that Dobson's group knew of Abramoff's connection to Reed.

In other words, it seems that Abramoff worked with Ralph Reed -- who in turn contacted Dr. Dobson, not with regard to pursuing an Indian tribe's parochial economic interests, but with regard to Dr. Dobson's consistent and public anti-gambling agenda. (Ralph Reed involved Phyllis Schlafly, as well -- also a staunch gambling opponent).

I've always liked Ralph Reed, but it sounds like he may have used his friendship and history of shared politics with Dr. Dobson and Mrs. Schlafly to manipulate them. In this case, Dr. Dobson's and Mrs. Schlafly's opposition to gambling would serve Abramoff, Reed and the client Indian tribes who didn't want the Jena tribe to get permission to operate casinos.

If that's what happened, it's a pretty serious breach of trust within the Christian Right. Dr. Dobson and Mrs. Schlafly may well have merely been contacted by an old ally, Ralph Reed, and encouraged to campaign against an extension of gambling -- and through that, they unwittingly helped Abramoff/Reed's client. That, of course, is a very different matter than their knowingly assisting a lobbying campaign designed to benefit one gambling interest over another.

And Dr. Dobson and Mrs. Schlafly would be well advised to make sure that the public understands the difference -- and that they had no clue about Reed's connection to Abramoff. Because the way the story's being reported right now, it's clear that the press isn't going to do it for them.

Don't get me wrong. Anyone who's behaved improperly should be exposed and (if appropriate) punished. But the press should refrain from suggesting that Dr. Dobson and/or Mrs. Schlafly were knowingly advancing Abramoff's client's interests -- if all they were doing was continuing their anti-gambling campaigns in complete ignorance of any Abramoff connection to Reed.

You can like them or not -- but I've never known either Dr. Dobson or Mrs. Schlafly to be sell-outs.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Eleanor Clift extols Hillary's mainstream wonderful-ness -- arguing (approvingly) that she is thwarting the Republican attack machine just by being the mainstream gal that she is. Clift notes (again, approvingly), that Hillary hangs around with John McCain, Sam Brownback, etc.

Come on. This doesn't fool anyone. Everyone knows who Hillary really is -- even Eleanor Clift. After all, when's the last time Clift praised anyone for hanging around with Sam Brownback? But it's OK for Hillary to do it, because Clift knows why she's doing it -- and that there's no real danger to the liberal agenda.

Friends like Clift may be one of the most troublesome factors Hillary faces. She will never be opposed by anyone from the left, and that -- in turn -- tips off the middle that she hasn't really changed her spots, in a fundamental way, from the days when she tried to nationalize one-seventh of the economy. Besides, to convince the country that she's gone "mainstream," Hillary would have to explain the evolution in her thinking, and admit that she was wrong to be so liberal -- and as all of us have seen, admitting imperfection isn't something that comes easy for Senator Clinton.

Could she still win? Of course. But not in a one-on-one race. She would need a third party candidate -- maybe someone anti-immigration -- to help split the Republican vote in the Sunbelt, so that she could slide into The White House with a 43% plurality like her husband did.
Good Lord. P.J. O'Rourke does it again, commenting on a recent talk by erstwhile presidential candidate John F. Kerry. "American free speech needs to be submitted to arbitration because Americans aren't smart enough to have a First Amendment, and you can tell this is so, because Americans weren't smart enough to vote for John Kerry." And he's kidding, but not really.

Once again, thank you, 51% who supported the President!

Friday, March 11, 2005

I am very, very proud of my friend Paul. Hard to believe that I used to play practical jokes on the soon-to-be Solicitor General of the United States.

Any and all senators -- especially those on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- should note that lefty law prof Erwin Chemerinsky (who has argued against Paul numerous times, including once before the 9th Circuit here in Pasadena) complimented Paul's advocacy skills last Wednesday on the Hugh Hewitt show.

He deserves a speedy confirmation, and America deserves a Solicitor General of the caliber of Paul Clement.
Yet more facts ermge that indicate "Professor" Ward Churchill is a plagiarist, as well as a huge jerk. If UC can't fire him, given all the "problems" in his past, then no university can fire anyone.
Larry Kudlow weighs in on the Ten Commandments cases argued last week before the Supreme Court (in part by my law school classmate and friend, Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement).

Back in 1983, in a case called March v. Chambers, the Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for Nebraska's state legislature to have chaplain, and to begin each session with a prayer. If prayer -- to God, mind you -- in the legislative chamber is OK, what's the problem with the Ten Commandments, especially if they're part of a display of "law-giving" texts, as they are in the case from Kentucky that was argued before the Supreme Court last week?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

When I tried to post this morning, "Blogger" wasn't working . . . so it's taken all day to get my thoughts on the Dan Rather special up here!

It took 53 minutes -- yes, almost the entire hour -- before last night's Rather retrospective managed to mention the Memogate scandal that caused Dan's exodus from the anchor chair. Not surprisingly, the retrospective was pretty much a puff piece . . . but amusingly, it reminded me of a job interview where an interviewer asks, "What's your worst fault?" And then the job seeker replies, "Well, I work too hard."

Dan's fault? He's got too much "passion" for the truth. Yeah, that's the ticket. That's why he's gone after Republican presidents. He "reports" without "fear or favor." Really? Should have heard the softball lovefest between him and Saddam Hussein, if you believe that one!

Whatever. Gone is gone, and not a moment too soon. I'm sure the people at "60 Minutes" can't wait to get this too-"passionate" "reporter" on their turf.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

It was an honor and a pleasure to have the chance to sit in for Hugh Hewitt today, while Hugh's hobnobbing with the powerful in Washington, D.C.

Thanks to Adam, Austin and Moses -- and most of all to irreplaceable Generalissimo Duane (a/k/a Radioblogger), who advised, assisted, presented fantastic clips and bumps, and generally made smooth my path. I'm grateful to all of them -- and to Hugh (he even pronounced my name correctly on the introductory promo!).
Just a brief perusal of today's Los Angeles Times reveals the kind of bias that is poisoning the mainstream media.

Take, for example, this story on the bankruptcy bill. Here's the first sentence: "A sweeping overhaul of bankruptcy rules long sought by credit card companies and banks seemed poised to become law after two key Senate votes Tuesday." Get it?? The evil GOP is doing the bidding of the likewise-evil forces of corporate oppression. This despite the fact (if you're willing to read pretty far into the story) that the legislation has a means test -- and those who make less than their state's median income will be absolved of all obligation to repay any part of their debts.

Frankly, responsible people of all economic stripes should welcome the new bill. When debtors are able to abuse the system by promiscuous invocation of bankruptcy, the lenders have to recover their money somehow -- most likely in the form of higher interest rates and more difficult provisions for those who do live up to their responsibilities to repay. Of course, terrible things can happen to anyone . . . but the bill is designed so that those with crippling medical bills will not be hurt. And this issue deserved a better treatment than the LA Time's agenda journalism gave it.

Once you've absorbed the Times' bankruptcy spin, take a peek at this piece on Ward Churchill. It's titled "One Issue Triggers Firestorm of Doubt About Professor," essentially claiming that one disgraceful statement (Churchill's calling 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns") has been his undoing. Well, the Times is wrong -- it's not "One Issue" that's raising doubts about Churchill. The 9/11 remarks just drew attention to him: Then it began to appear that he had (1) fraudulently claimed to be an Indian when he wasn't; (2) fundamentally distorted facts to justify a ludicrous charge that Americans deliberately tried to infect Indians with smallpox (read here for one of many recaps); and (3) has even allegedly engaged in artistic plagiarism (check out this on Michelle Malkin's site). Doesn't sound like "one issue" to me . . . and if the University of Colorado can't fire him with all this, then there's no hope for our university system anywhere.

But even with the leftward reporting of the LA Times, it's a good day . . . as we bid a fond farewell to "Gunga" Dan Rather. With his time in the anchor chair so short, we're learning all kinds of interesting tidbits about Dan. Check out this piece in The Weekly Standard -- which indicates that the foundations of Rather's glorious career were shakier than many of us knew.

Rather's early retirement from the anchor desk is a tribute to the new media. Without the blogs, Dan would be broadcasting tonight, as arrogant and self-referential as ever. The collective expertise of the blogosphere caught the fraud being perpetrated on the American people by Mary Mapes and Dan Rather and then forced the story into the MSM.

May the blogosphere's targets always be so richly deserving of exposure . . . and may the blogosphere's collective wisdom and insight always be so well-deployed and on target.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

According to this Washington Post piece about Harry Stonecipher's departure from Boeing, it appears that Boeing has higher standards for its CEO than the U.S. Senate, circa 1999, did for the President of the United States.
Please tune in! Tomorrow, I will be serving as guest host on the Hugh Hewitt show. To see if you get Hugh's show locally, check here. Otherwise, you can listen online by going here.

Needless to say, I'm very grateful to Hugh for the opportunity.
Please tune in! Tomorrow, I will be serving as guest host on the Hugh Hewitt show. To see if you get Hugh's show locally, check here. Otherwise, you can listen online by going here.

Needless to say, I'm very grateful to Hugh for the opportunity.
Human Events has run my piece about the Supreme Court -- and its elitist willingness to look abroad for guidance -- here.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Indeed, the Founders saw the cultivation of religious sentiment as the ultimate safeguard of American liberty. They knew that liberty could only prosper among moral citizens, whose practice of self-government in their private lives was a necessary prerequisite for its exercise in public. They believed that even if it were possible for certain individuals to behave morally without believing in God, on the whole an entire citizenry could not long keep its moral bearings without the guidance of religious faith.

This is from a wonderful National Review piece by Christopher Levenick and Templeton Prize winner Michael Novak, which eviscerates a miserable article in The Nation titled "Our Godless Constitution."

At the time of our nation's founding, the American people were people of faith. They still are, today, as this piece by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington makes abundantly clear.

And our greatest political leaders have been men of faith. Don't believe it? Check out God & Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life, which explores how Reagan's religious faith played a key part in his (and our!) ultimately victorious battle over communism.
It is a shame that anyone was killed as part of the recovery of communist journalist Giuliana Sgrena. But we must always recognize that those who are anti-American -- as Sgrena is -- will always attempt to portray Americans, especially in the military, as in the wrong. As this Washington Times article makes clear, there are plenty of Italians who are prepared to try to make hay of the tragic circumstances.

Just from a realistic point of view, Sgrena's story is ridiculous. She needs to get over herself -- why in the world would Americans waste time targeting her? She argues that Americans are opposed to paying off terrorists . . . which is true. But if anyone can point to any instance where that policy opposition culminated in a deliberate murder of a hostage released by those means, I'd be interested to see it.

Italy has been a good ally, and is likely to remain one. That displeases some, like Sgrena -- who have been on the wrong side of history all along.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

There are some liberals -- including one of whom I'm very fond -- who are insisting that the shooting of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena somehow validates Eason Jordan's claim that the US military is "targeting" journalists.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Jordan's former employee, CNN notes (quoting from the multinational forces' statement), "U.S. troops 'attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block, which stopped the vehicle.'"

This is not "targeting" -- the term Jordan used -- which implies an element of intent. The forces did not "target" an Italian journalist -- rather, they shot at a car that refused to slow down as it approached a military checkpoint, in violation of orders. What, exactly, were the soldiers supposed to do?

Are journalists killed in war time? Of course -- as it has ever been, and tragically so. But there's a world of different between killed accidentally -- or as "collateral damage" -- and being "targeted."

This time, of course, no journalist was killed, although one of the Italian security guys, sadly, was. The rescued Italian journalist, taking a page from the Eason Jordan playbook, is suggesting that perhaps she was targeted because of the US's disapproval of the policy of negotiating with hostages (although it's not quite the US way wantonly to kill innocents, even if we disapprove of the circumstances of their release). As even the Reuters piece linked directly above notes, there is "no evidence" for her claim.

All of us are entitled to a theory. That being said, it's important to know where she's coming from -- and as a self-declared communist, Giuliana Sgrena isn't likely to want to extend any benefit of the doubt to the United States or to any military.

One thing does seem pretty certain to me, though: If she'd really been "targeted," she'd be dead.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Newsflash! Hey, guess what? Those right wing Christians are pretending to be normal -- at least according to this account, by turns ignorant and condescending, in The Washington Post. The scary evangelicals "may believe everything they believed before, but they've learned to speak in ways that are more measured and cautious and designed not to attract attention."

The piece is an effort, at least, to "cover" the Christian right -- the "Christian ghetto," as it's termed in the piece. The tone is respectful and smarmy by turn . . .
George Will lets Anthony Kennedy have it -- and rightfully so -- for his ridiculous opinion deeming the death penalty unconstitutional for those under 18. Justice Kennedy needs to spend more time worrying about what the U.S. Constitution says -- and less time worrying about The New York Times.
For the first time ever, pop culture queen Oprah Winfrey has announced her willingness to stump for a candidate: Barack Obama. This is huge -- although I never watch Oprah, many of my friends do, and religiously. Oprah's support is an unparalleled boost for any candidate -- especially one who wants soccer/security moms.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stunning hypocrisy. Robert Byrd has a problem with the "nuclear option" being forced on the Senate by the Democrats' intransigence and unprecedented use of the filibuster against judicial nominees.

Not surprisingly, Senator Byrd isn't honest. He writes:

Senators must apply their best judgment to each [judicial] selection. If a senator believes a nominee should not be confirmed, he has a duty not to consent to confirmation. Yet for the temporary goal of confirming a handful of objectionable judicial nomineees, those pushing the nuclear option would callously trample on freedom of speech and debate.

Senator Byrd's piece shows an ignorance or a disingenuousness that -- whichever it is -- is truly frightening. No one is forcing a senator to "consent" to anything against his will. Instead, those supporting the rules change are requiring senators to state whether they support or oppose a particular nominee by requiring an up or down vote. And no one's free speech rights are being trampled -- there will be ample time to debate any nomination a senator wishes to discuss. The difference is that debate cannot be eternal. Finally, at some point, senators will be required either to oppose or support a nomination -- which, after all, is their job. That is, to vote on the nominations before them . . . not just allow a minority push them off for neverending "debate."

In his online Weekly Standard column, Hugh Hewitt eviscerates Byrd, and points out that he himself favored analogous rule changes to Senate rules when it benefited his party -- so Byrd's opposition is something less than principled . . . to put it mildly.

One can understand Byrd's unique personal attachment to the filibuster (a former Klansman, he once spoke for 14 hours to prevent cloture on the Civil Rights bill of 1964). Seems he cares more about his own alleged "free speech rights" to unlimited Senate debate than he did about all civil rights for Africian-Americans, but that's another story.

The filibuster's use for judicial nominations is unprecedented. It's time for reform. Outta the way, Bobby Byrd.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

"[A]part from liberating 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining dictatorships throughout the Arab world, spreading freedom and self-determination in the broader Middle East and moving the Palestinians and the Israelis towards a real chance of ending their centuries-long war, what have the Americans ever done for us?”

Great piece. Great Brit.
HT to Hugh Hewitt. Usually I don't get around to looking at the LA Times 'til around noon, but thanks to Hugh's impassioned denunciation, I've already read one of the worst pieces of propaganda ever to appear in The Times' pages -- and that's saying something, believe me.

The entire piece about North Korea is composed of "happy talk" and spin from an anonymous North Korean former diplomat -- was he reluctant to allow his name to appear lest he be identified as a well-known Kim Jung-Il spy or apparatchik? And why would The Times' accede to such a request? It's not like he's criticizing the "Dear Leader," you know.

The piece defies belief. There is no attempt at balance -- no attempt to acquaint people with the very real and serious abuses perpetrated by the evil North Korean regime (and yes, it is evil). Editors at the Times should have checked out pieces like the following ones here (detailing eyewitness accounts of atrocities committed in N.K.'s concentration camps); here (Chuck Coulson recounts how a popular singer was raped and imprisoned merely for singing a South Korean song on television); here (Time mag article: "Evil, Yes; Genius, No") or here (CBS News piece on how "The Diary of Anne Frank" is used to foment hatred of America).

As the snippy newsman once played by David Spade on "Saturday Night Live" might have said, "It's called reporting. Look into it." Instead, the paper settled for printing a line of self-serving garbage from the tyrants in the North Korean government.

It's common knowledge that The Times is politically biased. It's clear that The Times is morally and ethically biased, too -- and not in the right direction.

For shame. When the crude-mouthed puppeteers of "Team America" have a clearer moral sense of what Kim Jung Il's all about than one of America's "premier" daily papers, it's a sad commentary, indeed.
Federal Elections Commission member Bradley Smith here discusses the possibility that the act of linking to an official campaign web site could be considered a "contribution" for purposes of campaign finance law - same for reproducing campaign materials on a blog or forwarding it to a mailing list . . . and it sounds like he's talking about situations where it's done without formal coordation between a blogger and a campaign. The only "exceptions" are for the "press" -- which doesn't include bloggers, of course. You can expect the MSM enthusiastically to embrace this approach.

Is this America? Apparently, the government can't do much to regulate internet porn -- the Supreme Court has already struck down the Child Online Protection Act. But it sounds like the government may well be given the power to monitor bloggers engaged in what should be the most sacred province of the Constitution's free speech guarantee -- the right to engage in political speech.

Conservative media critic Brent Bozell is right. Liberals are panicking over their slipping control of the public agenda.

For more on network news, check out this piece by Peggy Noonan. Quite correctly, she advises CBS news to make the news broadcast the "star" and the ratings will follow -- rather than trying to find a "star" anchor and build from that.

Her advice, intuitively, is sound. Even analogize from the entertainment world (and yes, I believe that television news has more in common with "enterntainment" than anyone would like to admit). Why are Terri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria "stars"? Because they are in a show that Americans want to watch (for better or worse) -- "Desperate Housewives". Why have the guy from Friends (with his own show now) and all the Seinfeld alums struggled when separated from the good shows where they originally came to prominence? Because they had "star" vehicles rather than good shows where the actors became "stars" as a result.

Same holds true for the news.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Here's a worthwhile piece about the pro-abortion propagandizing that takes place on Harvard's campus. As a Harvard student, being pro-life (and therefore drastically outnumbered) is a little like being Scarlett O'Hara at the Confederate bazaar --everyone else seems transfixed by a "cause" whose merit you can't even vaguely understand.

But this author is right -- there are many pro-life "sleepers" in Cambridge.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wasted ink -- a story on Barbara Boxer. Republicans should be so lucky as for her to be the Democrats' '08 nominee. One note for her and her staff: It's "Dr." Rice -- not "Miss" Rice, especially to you.
Here is part of the text from's newest anti-Bush screed. This one is about the controvery over the twenty judges renominated by President Bush -- and, as set forth below, it is an exercise in either ignorant or deliberately deceptive rhetoric.

As we write this, the Senate is debating the nomination of mining and cattle industry lobbyist William Myers III for a lifetime appointment to the Circuit Court of Appeals -- the second highest court in the land. Myers is the first of 20 nominees Bush has re-submitted in his second term. All 20 repeat nominees were rejected last term by Senate Democrats (as compared to 204 judges they accepted) because these nominees consistently sided with corporate special interests over the rights of ordinary Americans.

The Senate has the power to approve or reject judicial nominations because judges -- above all else -- must be trusted by Americans on all sides to rule fairly. So why does Bush refuse to send new nominees both parties can agree on?

Let's overlook the assertion that the "Circuit Court of Appeals" is "the second highest court in the land." Technically, there are 11 Circuit Courts of Appeals . . . and the D.C. Circuit, not the Ninth (which is what Myers has been nominated to) has been considered the "second highest court in the land." But whatever.

I've bolded the most egregious falsehood. The repeat nominees were NOT rejected last term by Senate Democrats -- they weren't, in fact, voted on. The reason that they were filibustered (i.e., their names were even allowed to be voted on by the Senate) is because they would have been accepted by at least enough Senate Democrats to have been confirmed. President Bush hasn't "refuse[d] to send new nominees both parties can agree on" -- he's merely refused to send up candidates that Schumer, Kennedy et al like. Moderates like Lieberman or Bayh CAN agree with the Republicans on these candidates . . . if Teddy and the rest of the gang would let them vote.
Here are excerpts from today's Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for those under 18.

The decision is another illustration -- if any were needed -- about the dangers of an out-of-control judiciary. Whatever you think of the death penalty being applied to juveniles -- and people of good conscience can disagree -- it is wrong for this decision to be made by the Court.

There is very little dispute that the death penalty is constitutional. If that is so, then deciding to whom it applies -- those over 80? those under 18? -- is a purely legislative issue. That's because it has to do with "line drawing" that is dictated by moral and ethical considerations. Such considerations are best weighed and balanced, not by an unelected judiciary sitting as an unaccountable 9-person super-legislature, but by the people's representatives -- the nearest thing to the "voice of the people" (and it is "the people," after all, not a black-robed oligarchy)who are supposed to be calling the shots in a democratic society.

Note also that Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-person majority, invokes international law and norms. In the process, he ignores the 20-odd states that allow execution of juveniles. Since when did international law have more to say about what happens in America than America's own states?

A sad precedent . . . and a frightening one.
Here is a review of Mary Eberstadt's fine book "Home Alone America".

It's an important discussion of the impact of working moms on children, collectively -- and it's an urgent wake-up call.

I interviewed Ms. Eberstadt on KABC back in January. She is careful, thorough, precise, and raises a lot of vital issues that many American adults would rather avoid.
Shocking. According to this piece by Joel Mowbray, Kofi Annan knowingly permitted the atrocious slaughter in Rwanda to take place. Guess it wasn't enough just to be running the organization perpetrating all kinds of horror in the Congo, with members on the take from Saddam.