Happy Easter

Have a good one. Lot of passion and hot tempers and hyperbole and hyperventilating this week. Remember what is important.








Funniest Film Ever

Why on earth had no one ever told me about this before?

*** Update ***

ROFL. I forgot to give credit to credit to Gary Farber for finally showing me this.

I saw the link at his site yesterday, then went and downloaded it. I did something for a number of hours (maybe watch WVU get beat), came back and watched it, and when I posted this I forgot where I found it in the first place. That is taken care, and my apologies for the breach in blog etiquette.








Gotta Love The UN

I guess we know now why Kofi Annan is rushing to ‘reform’ the UN. Read this and weep.








Damn

The Mountaineers, one of the most exciting and over-achieving teams in NCAA Tournament history, have just come up short against Louisville in overtime.

I sure as hell am proud of them, and they were classy till the end, letting them run out the clock when it was clear the game was over, rather than fouling cheap and possibly hurting someone from Louisville.








WingNut Update

This guy is frightening.

*** Update ***

Unbelievable. There are people defending this guy in the comments.

No they aren’t. They are just accusing me of lumping this guy in with everyone else in the planet who disagrees with me. Cute.

Comments now closed. Ugly.

But if you think I am implying everyone who is religious is like this scummy fruitcake, you are wrong. Don’t put words in my mouth.








A Modest Proposal

This Schiavo mess has been an outrage and a sad mess, and we need to make sure things like this don’t happen again. Well- we need to do what we can to try to make sure thigs like thisdont happen again. Charles Krauthammer had a ham-fisted proposal the other day that would virtually ensure chaos, pitting family member against family member, so here is my proposal:

Every state should make a living will a requirement for couples in order to get their marriage licenses. We already require birth certificates amd HIV tests, a living will should be no large burden. However, the devil is in the details.

1.) Convene a national panel of medical and legal experts, and by experts, I mean people who actually know something, not people you are paying to pretend they know something (See Jeb Bush). This panel would then invesitgate and report back with a proposal to codify the language of medicine and law into a single coherent agreement.

One of the most frustrating things over the past few weeks has been is listening to people babble on about how a feeding tube is not a medical treatment, etc. Bring in the experts- neurologists, end-of-life caregivers, medical ethicists, relgious leaders and bio-ethicists, and lawyers from the appropriate area of specialty.

Then, have them sit down and create a glossary of agreed upon language that can be accepted by the medical comomunity, the legal community, and the relgious community. Create a multi-tiered system of treatment options. Define what is meant by “Do not resuscitate” and “extraordinary measures.” Religious leaders could then lend advice as to which tiers are acceptable for their faith. The National Right to Life folks are already doing something like this with their “Will to Live.”

Let’s not let them dominate the debate, let’s be honest, diligent, and straight-forward, and create language and options that will lead to consensus. When they are done, when someone uses terms such as “extraordinary measures,’ we will not be referring to abstractions and nebulous concepts which can mean different things to different people. We will need agreement on what is meant in all of the cases.

2.) Congress can then adopt those in something that will no doubt be named “Terri’s Law,” and can establish that when these terms are used in legal documents such as living will, they are given the full authority of the federal government.

3.) Marriage falls in the domain of state law, so something needs to be done to get the states to adhere to this law. Not an unfunded mandate, but an incentive to folow. Congresscritters can think of something, I am sure.

4.) Mandate that the legal and religious advice price be provided for a modest fee. There is no reason, once these things are in place, that a lawyer and your religious leader and a medical provider of choice can not sit down with a couple and hash this out in an hour or two for under a few hundred dollars.

5.) Create a national database that can store this living will, so that no matter where you are married, this living will will be accessible. No need to file it with your attorney, no need to file it with your current doctor, no need to bring a copy to a new doctor should you move.

6.) A media campaign explaining the reasoning for this. This is not government intervention or government regulation, this is society making the determination that you know best how you want to be treated, and that this is the best way to make sure that your wishes are carried through.

I am open to suggestions, but this should get the ball rolling. Your input is appreciated.

Contact your member in the House and Senate. Let’s make this hapen, and let’s make something postive happen out of this whole sordid affair.

*** Update ***

And yes, I instinctively am against laws exactly like this- but you just know congress is going to do ‘something.’ They just have to do ‘something.’ They insert themselves in everything. This seems to be less troubling than anything else they could do, in particular the Krauthammer proposal I suggested above.

*** Update ***

Just because I have a sense of humor, I sent this to the folks at Reason and to the Instapundit. That should be entertaining. Heh.

*** Update ***

Others hate it, although I reject some of their characterizations of the proposal.








Spare Me, K-Lo

K-LO is losing her mind:

SPARING ELK A PAINFUL DEATH [K. J. Lopez]

“Five stranded elk shot; they faced slow starvation”

Posted at 09:01 AM

So we should shoot Terri Schiavo with a high-powered rifle?

“THE COWS SUFFERED TREMENDOUSLY.” [K. J. Lopez]

Vermont farmer prosecuted for starving his cattle to death.

Posted at 01:43 PM

You are comparing Terri Schiavo to farm animals?

*** Edited for the sake of clarity ***








Boortz

Boortz is making sense:

So, there he was … Randall Terry, the anti-abortion zealot, screaming outside of the nursing home housing Terri Schiavo. He was screaming something about “hell to pay” if Terri Schiavo dies. He then went on to rant a bit about all of the work that the anti-abortion movement did to elect these Republicans, and that now is the time for them to deliver and perform.

You know what? This time Randall Terry may just be right. There just may be a political price to pay. But Terry is right for the wrong reasons. Republicans may pay a political price not because they didn’t do enough to prolong the torture of Terri Schiavo, but because they did too much.

Have you seen today’s approval ratings for President Bush? They’re down. Way down. He’s down to 45%. He was at 52% one week ago. This is the lowest point in his presidency. These polls are not because he hasn’t done enough in the Schiavo matter. The downtrend is because he did too much. The largest loss of support was among conservative male church-goers. A majority of the American people were not impressed with the Republican Party’s late night grandstanding this past Sunday, and Bush’s rush back to Washington to sign a bill in the early hours of the morning.

Maybe conservative Republican politicians can learn a lesson from this. They were elected to reduce the size and intrusiveness of the Imperial Federal Government of the United States. They were elected to reduce our tax burden and lower government spending. They were elected to defend us against threats from abroad, specifically the threat of Islamic terrorism … and to do so with preemptive action if necessary. In spite of the delusions of grandeur of the abortocentrist crowd and religious extremists, George Bush was not elected to facilitate a government takeover of the ovaries of every fertile American woman, nor was he elected to establish a theocracy.

Perhaps Republicans will take note. I truly believe that their control of the House of Representatives may be in jeopardy in next year’s elections. Perhaps they’ll learn from this. Maybe they’ll start dancing with who brung them for a change, and pay attention to spending and tax cuts, school choice, national defense and individual liberty.

Some lessons are just learned the hard way.

The leadership in our party has lost their way. If they ever had a way, and weren’t just selling me a bill of goods.








Mountaineers

Great piece onthe Mountaineers in the WaPo. They take on Louisville at 4ish this afternoon for a spot in the Final Four.








Good News in Falluja

From all places, the front page of the NY Times:

All the same, much has improved since residents first returned to a nearly deserted city almost three months ago.

On a tour of the city’s central neighborhoods with an American convoy, civilian cars and taxis could be seen cruising the streets. Customers shopped at fruit and vegetable markets, and a crowd waited outside a new branch of the Rafidain Bank.

At the Palestine School, where classes started again two months ago, the cheerful shrieks of students could be heard in the hallways.

“Things are almost back to normal here,” said the headmaster, Samer Eyd Jawhar, 60, a portly man in a light blue jacket and tie. “We have teachers and books. Things are getting better.”

Everywhere, there are complaints about the strict military control of the city. Najim Abed, the director of an emergency clinic, said its one ambulance often has trouble getting in and out of the city. It is also hard to reach patients at night, because the ambulance must be accompanied by a military patrol, he said.

Read the whole thing- there are problems, but the place is improving.








Perverting Our Systems

When I state repeatedly (and hysterically, as some have commented) that the extremists are taking unprecedented measures to have their way, and that this is destroying our democracy and our system of justice, I am talking about things like this:

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted — but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge’s order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called “a showdown.”

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

”We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in,” said a source with the local police.

”The FDLE called to say they were en route to the scene,” said an official with the city police who requested anonymity. “When the sheriff’s department and our department told them they could not enforce their order, they backed off.”

The incident,known only to a few and related to The Herald by three different sources involved in Thursday’s events, underscores the intense emotion and murky legal terrain that the Schiavo case has created. It also shows that agencies answering directly to Gov. Jeb Bush had planned to use a wrinkle in Florida law that would have allowed them to legally get around the judge’s order. The exception in the law allows public agencies to freeze a judge’s order whenever an agency appeals it.

Read the whole thing. Then, an exercise. Ask yourself who should have the authority to be making the decisions regarding Terri Schiavo.

The Florida Circuit Courts?
The Appeals Courts?
The Florida Supreme Court?
The United States Supreme Court?
Governor Bush?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement?
The Department of Children and Families?
The National Right to Life group?
The US House of Representatives?
Randall Terry?
Tom DeLay?
Bill Frist?
The United States Senate?
Sean Hannity?

If you answered anything other than Michael Schiavo, you are part of the problem.








And The Violence Starts

And the violence and calls for violence from the lunatic followers of scum like Brian Mahoney and Randall Terry, just as I predicted, begins.

A man arrested in Buncombe County Friday was charged with threatening the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman at the center of the right-to-die case gripping the country.

Richard Alan Meywes was arrested in Fairview by the FBI and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI said in a prepared statement.

Meywes is accused of sending an e-mail putting a $250,000 bounty “on the head of Michael Schiavo” and another $50,000 to eliminate a judge who denied a request to intervene in the Schiavo case, the FBI said. The FBI did not immediately identify the judge.

“The e-mail also made reference to the recent death of a judge in Atlanta and the death of (a) judge’s family members in Illinois,” the FBI said.

Meywes faces federal charges of murder for hire and transmission of interstate threatening communications.

Sane Republicans better start to come to grips with what we have created.








The Triumph of Stupid over Science

I agree with Sidney Blumenthal:

The politics of piety were transparently masked by Republicans in their attempt to make capital over the fate of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who has been locked in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years and whose feeding tube was ordered removed by a Florida state judge at the request of her husband. At last, the case that had been considered by 19 judges in seven courts and appealed to the Supreme Court three times, which refused to hear it, seemed resolved. But Republican congressional leaders and President Bush seized upon the court ruling as the moment for “a great political issue,” as a memo circulated among Senate Republicans put it. The Democrats, it declared, would find it “tough,” and the conservative “pro-life base will be excited.” The president, who had hesitated for three days before making a statement on the tsunami last December, rushed from his Crawford, Texas, ranch back to the White House to sign the legislation…

Terri Schiavo cannot speak or gesture, but to true believers, she is making sounds only they can hear. They see what they want in order to believe and they believe in order to see. For the first time, public policy in the United States is being made on the basis of pitting invisible signs vs. science.

As in some tribal cultures, a confederacy of shamans — Bush, Frist and DeLay — have appeared to conduct rites of necrophiliac spiritualism. Only the shamans can interpret for the dying and control their spirits hovering between heaven and earth. Public opinion polls show overwhelming disapproval of the Republican position. But these polls are just so much social science. In this operation, for the tribe, there is no way of proving failure.

I feel sick. And if you want more on the anti-science front, read the Mystery Pollster, who is in a real snit about the charges that the network polls about Schiavo were biased, and he unloads on the hucksters deluded into thinking pretending lying asserting that these were “push polls”:

First, a plea for reporters, editors and bloggers of all ideologies: Can we please stop using the term “push poll” to describe every survey we consider objectionable? Yes, complain about bias when you see it, but the phrase push poll belongs to a higher order offense. To summarize the definitions posted online by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), The National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) and the Council for Marketing & Opinion Research (CMOR): A push poll is not a poll at all but rather a form of fraud – an effort to spread an untrue or salacious rumor under the guise of legitimate research. “Push pollsters” are not pollsters at all. They do not care about collecting data or measuring opinions (even in a “bogus” way). They only care about calling as many people as possible to spread a false or malicious rumor without revealing their true intent. Whatever complaint one might have about the wording or reporting of the ABC poll, it was certainly not a “push poll.”

End rant.

For additional clarification, an example of a push poll might be if a certain group of people supporting a certain candidate in the Republican primaries in South Carolina in 2000, facing strong opposition from another candidate, were to obtain a list of undecided voters, call them, and saysomething along the line of:

Would it change your opinion of [Candidate X] if you knew that he had adopted a black baby?

Would you be more or less likely to support [Candidate X] if you knew that he was gay?

Would it change your opinion of [Candidate X] if you knew that he cheats on his wife?

Would you be more or less likely to vote for [Candidate X] if you knew that he is a crook a liar?

How would you feel about[Candidate X] if you knew that he and was a coward and traitor who renounced the United States during his captivity in Vietnam?

That, folks, is a push poll. In the past, I have chosen to believe the people I have supported would have nothing to do with this sort of thing. I am not so sure anymore. But to assert that wording in a poll you disagree with makes it a “push poll” is absurd. I can excuse basic ignorance of polling and statistics and the methods of data collection, most of the people in my stats classes and reserach methods classes didn’t understand most stats either, but calling the network polls “push polls” is a new breed of stupid. I might add that the new Democratic reliance on the Mystery Pollster is pretty funny, considering they hated him/her when he/she was debunking all the nonsense about the statistical anomolies in Ohio in 2004.

And while I am venting my spleen, let’s discuss Joe Scarborough, someone who I think is normally pretty sane, and his hideous performance last night on Scarborough Country:

FIEGER: But the problem is, theyre the only ones who do.

SCARBOROUGH: Listen, you and I are both attorneys. You certainly have practiced a lot more than I have, but you and I both know, you can go out and buy an expert to say whatever you want. The state can go out and appoint an expert to say whatever they want.

FIEGER: They didnt buy it.

SCARBOROUGH: A judgehold on. A judge can go out and get an expert to say whatever the judge wants. You and I both know there is evidence on both sides of this case.

FIEGER: No, there wasnt.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, there is.

FIEGER: There was not a singleJoe, there was not a single neurologist who examined her who ever said that this poor patient wasnt in a permanent, notirreversible vegetative state.

Whoever said that her EEG had any electrical activity, whoever said that her brain wasnt massively shrunk, whoever she had noany indicia as of individuality as we understand human existence to be? Not one, except, lately, where they found some Christian doctor who never examined her, who that is the doctor that you are talking about.

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no, no. Actually, Governor Jeb Bush also has somebody.

FIEGER: No, he doesnt.

SCARBOROUGH: That he has had from the statecome down for the state of Florida. Yes, I read the affidavit earlier tonight saying that he looked at her and saw that he did not believe she was in a permanent vegetative state.

There it is in all its gory glory- the new relativism on the right regarding the truth, science and expertise. Like I have said repeatedly in the last few days, my party has become a renegade band of unprincipled nihilists who believe nothing but what they believe. Expertise, even in serious matters such as this, is nothing more than subjective reality. Facts are weighed not on their merits, but in bulk- the number of people repeating something objectively and verifiably false magically confers truth and all the benefits of fact- if it is repeated often enough.

Here is the rundown on Jeb Bush’s ‘expert,’ btw, that Scarborough was talking about:

Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that a “very renowned neurologist,” Dr. William Cheshire, had concluded that Terri had been misdiagnosed and that she was really only in a state of “minimal consciousness” rather than a persistent vegetative state. He used this “new diagnosis” to argue that “this new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action.”

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

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

How far will these guys sink into this fantasyland? Far enough, I am afraid, that my new policy regarding the Republican leadership is Reagan’s creed regarding the Communists, who had their own problems with the truth: Trust, but verify.

And if you have any doubts about Blumenthal’s quip that “they see what they want in order to believe and they believe in order to see,” check out the latest new ‘evidence’ being offered by Randall Terry and company:

Terri Schiavo’s parents have filed what they say could be their last legal motion in the case to prevent the starvation death of their daughter. This motion covers a situation on Friday where Terri tried to tell an attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler that she wanted to live.

Just before representatives of her estranged husband Michael removed her feeding tube Friday afternoon, Terri Schiavo reportedly told an attorney for her parents that she wanted to live.

Barbara Weller, one of the attorneys for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, told reporters about her visit with Terri on Friday.

“Terri, if you would just say, ‘I want to live,’ all of this will be over,” she told the disabled woman.

Weller said Terri desperately tried to repeat Weller’s words.

“‘I waaaaannt …,’ Schiavo allegedly said. Weller described it as a prolonged yell that was loud enough that police stationed nearby entered the hospice room.

“She just started yelling, ‘I waaaannt, I waaaannt,'” Weller explained.

These people are sick. Right now on Hannity and Colmes, accusations of abuse from the sister and a friend on the part of Michael Schiavo, including this gem of a quote:

“She never told me about any abuse, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any.”

I am pulling my hair out.

*** Update ***

More here on Jeb Bush’s expert:

William P. Cheshire Jr., the Florida doctor cited by Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday in his announcement that he would intervene again in the case of Terri Schiavo, is a neurologist and bioethicist whose life and work have been guided by his religious beliefs.

Dr. Cheshire directs a laboratory at the Mayo Clinic branch in Jacksonville dealing with unconscious reflexes like digestion, and he is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by “more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists,” in the words of its Web site…

Yesterday, in an affidavit supporting a petition by the Florida Department of Children and Families in the case, Dr. Cheshire said it was more likely that Ms. Schiavo was in a “minimally conscious state.”

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

Mr. Bush called Dr. Cheshire a “renowned neurologist,” but he is not widely known in the neurology or bioethics fields. Asked about him, Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, replied, “Who?”

Read the whole thing.

More disregard for the truth can be found here and more about Hammesfahr, the only neurologist to diagnose Terri and disagree about her being in a persistent vegetative state, here.

But then again, as is explained in the comments, we don’t have degrees in neurology, so we can’t possibly understand these reports.








Some Good News

Last month, I noted the rapid decline in the loss of American lives in Iraq following the January elections. As previously stated:

This month, there have been 18 coalition casualties, meaning that the Coalition of the Willing has suffered an average of 1.38 casualties a day. This is the lowest average since March of last year, and dramatically lower than the casualty rate from the previous six month. For some perspective, last month we lost an average of 4.1 soldiers per day, in December 2004 we lost 2.48, and in November we were averaging 4.7 fatalities per day.

This does not tell the entire story, as the casualty rate was inflated in several of those months by deaths from non-hostile fire. For example, the numbers last month were wildly inflated due to tragic helicopter crashes. Again, those soldiers and sailors and Marines are just as dead, but if we are going to judge this, we have to be honest with ourselves, and there is a significant difference between hostile and non-hostile deaths.

At any rate, take it for what it is- a hopeful sign, but one that could literally blow up over night. I would advise people to be cautiously optimistic.

In the month of January, before the elections, the loss rate was 4.1 soldiers per day. Immediately after the election, in February, the rate dipped to 2.1 per day.

Currently, we are losing an average 1.2 soldiers per day to hostile and non-hostile casualties. The number of wounded appears to be declining as well.

Still too many, but a reason for cautious optimism. And while you are at it, you should be aware of this tribute to our fallen heroes.








Yes and No

I agree and disagree. The Instapundit:

I APPRECIATE Andrew Sullivan’s quoting me, but he’s wrong: Unlike Andrew, I don’t think that America is in danger of being taken over by religious Zealots, constituting an American Taliban and bent on establishing theocracy. I think that — despite their occasionally abusive emails (and most aren’t abusive, just upset) — the people that Mickey Kaus is calling “pro-tubists” are well-meaning, sincere, and possessed of an earnest desire to do good. I don’t think that they’re nascent Mullah Omars, and I think that calling them that just makes the problem worse. This is a tragedy, and it’s become a circus. Name-calling just makes you one of the clowns.

But I do think that process, and the Constitution, matter. Trampling the Constitution in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it’s the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I’m not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn’t. But respecting their role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don’t like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. As I say, I thought conservatives knew this.

He is right, for the most part- most of the deeply religious people I know and most of the people who really want Terri Schiavo to stay alive and are motivated religion are, as I have stated repeatedly, “well-meaning, sincere, and possessed of an earnest desire to do good.” They are decent, honest, hard-working, good Americans- people you would be proud to live next door to, people you would gladly call your friend, people you would rely upon in a crisis, people you would trust with your children, and people you wouldn’t mind having as in-laws. For goodness sakes, check my blogroll- you will find a number of committed, decent, deeply religious individuals.

Where he is wrong is misdiagnosing the pernicious threat posed by the fringe elements within the Conservative Christian movement- the Randall Terry’s, the people flooding the airwaves calling Michael Schiavo a terrible husband, the people allowing their ten year old children to be arrested outside terri Schiavo’s hospice, the people who think they own the Republican Congress and can get them to ‘trample the Constitution’ at will- they are a threat and they do want a theocracy.

What more proof do you need than the fact that the bill passed Congress and they had enough power to drag Bush back to the White House to sign it. This is a problem, and there is going to be violence when Terri Schiavo dies.