Saturday, April 30, 2005
The Personal Nuclear Option
Read the rest and the list of some of the affected nominees.
With a showdown looming over the filibuster of judicial nominees, now is the time to point out another abuse of the Senate's "advise and consent" power. It's called the "hold," whereby an individual Senator can delay indefinitely a Presidential nomination, and it is seriously interfering with the operation of the executive branch.
Call it every Senator's personal "nuclear option." If he doesn't like a nominee or, more likely, doesn't like a policy of the agency to which the nominee is headed, all he has to do is inform his party leader that he is placing a hold on the nomination. Oh--and he can do so secretly, without releasing his name or a reason.
Like the filibuster, the hold appears nowhere in the Constitution but has evolved as Senators accrete more power to themselves. Senate rules say nothing about holds, which started out as a courtesy for Members who couldn't be present at votes. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden has said holds are "a lot like the seventh-inning stretch in baseball. There is no official rule or regulation that talks about it, but it has been observed for so long that it has become a tradition."
Also like the filibuster--which was never intended to block judicial nominees from getting a floor vote--the hold is being abused by a willful minority of Senators. This being a Republican Administration, Democrats in particular are using it now to hamstring or stop its ability to govern.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Prior Timorousness and Imbecility
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As conscientious followers of politics are doubtless aware, the better sort of American liberal is troubled by the unprecedented vituperation that has stolen into the public discourse. The Clintons refer to it as "The Politics of Personal Destruction" -- well said, Bill and Hillary. They, and concerned citizens like them, recognize that this inflammatory rhetoric comes, in the main, from the right -- or as they put it, "the extreme right."
Dr. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, likewise is alarmed by the abusiveness from the right or more generally from Republicans whom he has recently identified as being "evil," "corrupt" and "brain-dead." Well, I would expect nothing better from such people, and it is helpful to the commonweal for Dr. Dean to direct the public's attention to these troubling developments. Allow me to point out that "the right" not only indulges in jarring invective but it also has adopted polemical techniques that are very disturbing. For several years its writers have engaged in discrediting their opponents by quoting them. Yes, they simply hurl back into a person's face things the person has said, without any regard as to how this cruel quoting coarsens our society.
Actually, I quite inadvertently found myself accused of this cheap trick back in the middle 1990s. A year after I was scorned for publishing stories revealing that Bill Clinton has an eye for the ladies (and other parts of his anatomy for the ladies as well), it became apparent that I was right. Other writers such as David Maraniss had just published the same findings. The Wall Street Journal's David Brooks asked me if I would like to "gloat" about this subsequent vindication.
Alas, I committed an egregious journalistic excess. I quoted the writers who a year before had insisted on Clinton's near virginal condition and on the "dishonesty" of those of us arguing otherwise. "Dishonesty" was the word Michael Kinsley leveled at us. Joe Klein, now of Time, was equally critical. And after my Journal piece appeared, he told me to my face that I had dealt him "a low blow." My innocent response was something to the effect, "But, Joe, all I did was quote you."
Today I realize how treacherous it is for writers to remind others of their prior timorousness or imbecility. Kinsley explained how unfair it is sometime ago when he noted that liberals were having their foolish statements thrown back at them because of the advent of so many search engines on the Internet. Search engines make it easy to retrieve a public person's errors.
Perhaps the foremost villain on the "extreme right" known for discrediting people by quoting them is OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto. Just the other day, he indulged in arrant character assassination against one of those brave souls now opposing the nomination of John Bolton as our United Nations ambassador. Lynne Finney, a former employee of the federal government, has written an affecting letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer notifying her of enormities committed by Bolton against her person in "late 1982 or early 1983." Allegedly Bolton "screamed that I was fired," Finney writes. She has since become a "motivational speaker," and Taranto has published contents of her website, merely to reveal her as a fool.
On the site she confides that we live in a time of "rapid evolution and intense transformation." "New discoveries in quantum physics, psychology, and spirituality" reveal "wonderful new realities. It's estimated that more than 14 million people have already become enlightened or Self-realized … Each time someone reaches Self-realization, it affects the collective Mind. Things are heating up. Like popcorn, we are all popping faster and are reaching enlightenment at a rapid rate." From elsewhere on the Web, Taranto quotes sources claiming that Finney now engages in "recovering memories" after her own painful youth. She lives in "a world of miracles."
Actually the treacherous quoting of innocent liberals has become a staple of the American right. Rush Limbaugh does it every weekday and so does Sean Hannity. Every year the Media Research Center holds a huge dinner in Washington devoted to ridiculing members of the media for things they have said over the past year -- and the Media Research Center uses video tape . MRC spends the year taping network news and then plays select tapes back during its dinner. It gives awards for the stupidest quotations. Naturally, this year Dan Rather won.
Hundreds of conservatives turn out for the MRC awards dinner every year and have a very jolly time. I must admit I went this year and enjoyed myself immensely. Ann Coulter was on the program as well as Hannity. Midge Decter was the heart of suave hilaritas. But Boone Pickens and Zell Miller stole the show, along with Swift Boat hero John O'Neill, who was superb. All in all, it is a very amusing -- if treacherous -- evening. Curiously, never is it ever reported on by major media. Maybe major media is waiting for Al Franken to put together an amusing dinner. It will be a long wait.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
There is no reason to compromise.
The Democrats use of the "legislative" filibuster is not even constitutional. Here is an excerpt from a piece by Charles Colson with an originalist view of the subject:
A survey found that two-thirds of the public would like to leave things as they are, but they are mixing up the constitutionally allowed filibuster from the recently conjured "legislative" filibuster which does not even require those conducting the filibuster to hold the floor, or to put some elbow greese into such an effort. So it basically boils down to a minority veto, which was in no way an intention of the founders. If people understood that, i.e., if the survey was conducted properly, the survey results would be inverted.
Democratic senators have for months been filibustering judges chosen by President Bush to serve on the federal courts. If the full Senate were allowed to vote on these fine judges, they would easily be confirmed. But a hostile minority is using the filibuster tactic to prevent such a vote—purely for ideological reasons.
In so doing, they are behaving as if the Senate is supposed to have equal say with the president in deciding who sits on the court. That is nonsense.
The Constitution could not be clearer. The nomination is made by the president alone. The Senate is to give its advice and consent—not demand ideological purity. Alexander Hamilton explained the intent in his essay number 76. “It is not likely,” he wrote, “that [the Senate’s] sanction would often be refused where there were not special and strong reasons for the refusal.”
The advice and consent clause, continued, was intended to provide a check upon a president who would, say, appoint his brother, or engage in favoritism, or reward family connections or personal benefactors—nothing more.
And yet, today a Senate minority is using the filibuster to prevent a vote on highly qualified judges, like Bill Pryor or Miguel Estrada, an able Hispanic lawyer who was nominated and had to be withdrawn, and Janice Brown, an African-American judge from California. And the grounds for opposition is not what the constitutional framers intended; it’s ideological. They just do not like what these judges believe.
This filibuster should offend us for another reason. The founders, informed by their Christian understanding of the Fall, provided for a system of checks and balances so that no one branch of government would have power over the other. But today a minority in the Congress is holding hostage judges named to the court. This is a fundamental assault on an independent judiciary and, thus, a violation of the balance of powers.
Since the Democrats have been unruly and unreasonable about the appointment of judges; since there is a fear that Republicans will place judges with originalist views on the court, and are taking every opportunity to obstruct that, such as nominees like John Bolton, then it's time, high time, to shut them down.
No compromise. As the Nike ad says: just do it. Hit the nuclear button.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Joltin' John Bolton
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger comes out strongly in favor of John Bolton: Blunt but Effective.
From Power Line:
President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has generated a bad case of dyspepsia among a number of senators, who keep putting off a confirmation vote. That hesitation is now portrayed as a consequence of Bolton’s purported “mistreatment” of several State Department intelligence analysts. But this is a smoke screen. The real reasons Bolton’s opponents want to derail his nomination are his oft-repeated criticism of the United Nations and other international organizations, his rejection of the arguments of those who ignore or excuse the inexcusable (i.e., the election of Sudan to the U.N. Human Rights Commission) and his willingness to express himself with the bark off.
As to the charge that Bolton has been tough on subordinates, I can say only that in more than a decade of association with him in the State Department I never saw or heard anything to support such a charge. Nor do I see anything wrong with challenging intelligence analysts on their findings. They can, as recent history demonstrates, make mistakes. And they must be prepared to defend their findings under intense questioning. If John pushed too hard or dressed down subordinates, he deserves criticism, but it hardly merits a vote against confirmation when balanced against his many accomplishments.
On Dec. 16, 1991, I spoke to the U.N. General Assembly on behalf of the United States, calling on the member states to repeal the odious Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. As I said then, the resolution “labeled as racist the national aspirations of the one people more victimized by racism than any other.” That we were successful in obtaining repeal was largely due to John Bolton, who was then assistant secretary of state for international organizations. His moral outrage was clearly evident as he brilliantly led and managed the successful U.S. campaign to obtain sufficient votes for repeal. The final vote, 111 to 25, speaks volumes for the success of his “direct” style.
Colin Powell's tenure as Secretary of State did not produce much of a legacy. Credit for the major foreign policy related accomplishments of President Bush's first four years -- the overthrow of two rogue, terrorist-supporting regimes; their replacement by essentially democratic systems; the devastation of al Qaeda; the spread of hope for democracy in the Middle East -- eludes Powell. The best that can be said of the former Secretary is that he reluctantly went along with Bush's policies, except when he tried to undermine or back away from them through the art of leaking.
Stategic leaking, in fact, represents the true Powell legacy. And, the editors of National Review show it's an ongoing one, as Powell attempts to undermine John Bolton's nomination:
Since he has no strong philosophical moorings himself, Powell quickly became the servant of the permanent State Department establishment, for whom Bush's post-9/11 reorienting of U.S. foreign policy was discomfiting at best. Bolton was not just a believer in Bush's foreign policy, but regarded it as his professional duty to represent it in a building where he knew it wouldn't make him popular. Yes, this occasionally meant clashes with bureaucratic underlings. This was sometimes necessary — it is President Bush's appointees who are supposed to be setting the direction of the U.S. government, not bureaucrats with their own agendas. But it mostly meant that Bolton was routinely disagreeing with Powell and Armitage, who are now bent on exacting their revenge in a campaign marked by Powell's trademark underhanded style.
How should the administration respond? Here's the editors' answer:
It is time for Bush to stop making general complaints about “politics” playing a role in the nomination fight and instead call Democrats on what is their real objection to Bolton: that he will be too aggressive in representing the U.S. at the United Nations and in challenging the corrupt and ineffectual status quo at the world body. That will create a debate that Bolton's defenders can win. Bolton was a Bush loyalist; now Bush must be a Bolton loyalist.From me:
Oh what is poor Linc Chafee to do? Will he waver? He has stated repeatedly that he'd give this one to the President, but will he tough it out in the face of the other Republican critics?? We shall see. My guess? He will crumble like a shortbread cookie on Christmas Eve.
Friday, April 22, 2005
They call him Flipper
Why is this silly? Well, for one thing, there is nobody out there to hear them. You see, the whale songs will go out to some 3.5 light years into deep space before they are likely to be too faint to detect and the nearest star is 4.3 light years away (18.6% short of the distance needed).
Michael Hyson is the research director for the Sirius Institute. He says that dolphins and whales are the oldest sentient race on the planet, and its about time they shared their songs with the universe.
Leaving aside all the mawkish sentimentality of that statement, I ask a critical question: Isn't it an invasion of the whales' privacy to broadcast their "songs" all over local space? Mr. Hyson better be prepared for a lawsuit even if the whales haven't yet made a fuss over the surreptitious recordings made of their conversations. Enough is enough already. If they wanted to blab to everybody, surely they would have built the technology needed to do so considering how much time they've had as a "sentient race".
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
A Cultural Revolution
The shuttlecock, if one may borrow Dr. [Samuel] Johnson's phrase, is now struck at both ends of the room. The blogosphere is filled with energetic conservative voices, many of them testing the claims of the mainstream media with deadly precision--think of Dan Rather's travails. (Mr. [Brian] Anderson [of television's "South Park"]calls James Taranto's "Best of the Web," a feature on Dow Jones's OpinionJournal site, "an incisive guide to and commentary on the day's top Internet stories.") Right-of-center newspapers and magazines can be found on a host of college campuses, even Berkeley's. Fox News has ended the cozy conformity of TV news coverage and comment. And talk radio has long since noisily advanced ideas that go unexpressed in the corridors of The New Yorker--or of Cosmopolitan, for that matter.
Read the whole thing.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
I Missed This
It's About TIME
Ward of the State
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Hard Boiled Platoon Have Insurgents Running Scared
Read the rest here.
MOSUL, Iraq -- From inside a vacant building, Sgt. 1st Class Domingo Ruiz watched through a rifle scope as three cars stopped on the other side of the road. A man carrying a machine gun got out and began to transfer weapons into the trunk of one of the cars.
"Take him down," Ruiz told a sniper.
The sniper fired his powerful M-14 rifle and the man's head exploded, several American soldiers recalled. As he fell, more soldiers opened fire, killing at least one other insurgent. After the ambush, the Americans scooped up a piece of skull and took it back to their base as evidence of the successful mission.
The March 12 attack -- swift and brutally violent -- bore the hallmarks of operations that have made Ruiz, 39, a former Brooklyn gang member, renowned among U.S. troops in Mosul and, in many ways, a symbol of the optimism that has pervaded the military since Iraq's Jan. 30 elections.
Must Be a RI Driver Who Moved to Florida
Another Innocent Killed in Amsterdam by Islamic Extremists
An Iraqi-Kurdish Muslim living in Amsterdam was upset that his sister had fallen away from Islam, and had a baby by a non-Muslim. So, fifteen days after the birth of her child, he allegedly murdered her to protect the family honor.
AMSTERDAM — An Iraqi-Kurdish man, 21, is suspected of murdering his sister, 18,to protect the honour of the family, a court in Arnhem heard on Friday.
During a pre-trial hearing, the presiding judge indicated the court wanted to question the victim’s foster mother and aunt to establish if the killing was ordered by her family in Iraq.
The foster mother is in hiding because she fears the family in Iraq wants to punish her for giving the victim too much freedom.
The court has also ordered that the accused man from Culemborg be examined in the Pieter Baan psychiatric centre in Utrecht to find out if his cultural background played a role in the crime. An expert in ‘honour’ killings will also testify at a later hearing.
The victim was a non-practising Muslim and had a child in 2004 by her non-Muslim boyfriend. She was killed 15 days after the birth of the baby.
Her brother had allegedly regularly threatened the victim, and she had made a complaint to police in November 2004, shortly before her death.
Is That Howard Screaming Again?
Friday, April 15, 2005
Which Newspaper(s) Does the President Read?
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
12. None of these are read by the guy who actually IS running the country.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Who Said This? II
"It's just human nature that when I need something they'll remember this if I stick with them [the Republicans]."
Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey [R]?
Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri [R]?
United States Senator Lincoln Chafee [R?]?
If you guessed Chafee, give yourself a cigar, though it wasn't difficult to determine who might have been the obsequious one of the bunch. Who else would need to ingratiate himself with his own party? And who else would ruminate about it in a public forum? None other than the Linc-man himself.
Am I pleased he's sticking with Bolton?
Indeed. But with Chafee it's a crap shoot. You don't know when he's going to side with conservatives and when he isn't. If someone would have asked me six months ago that if such a nomination was made would Linc Chafee support it, I would have guessed, no, he wouldn't, just as if a conservative Supreme Court justice nominee came along. And no doubt, it will, and indeed, he will (not support, that is).
Ah, what to do. I suppose for now, just take advantage. But a day is coming, and very soon, when something has to be done.
Is he endangered by a Whitehouse or a Brown? Nah! Could he be derailed by a Laffey? Hmm. We'll have to stand by.
Mr. Smith Went to Washington, but Should Have Been Fired
It was stated repeatedly at the hearings that Mr. Bolton and I [Otto Reich] tried to get an intelligence analyst--referred to as "Mr. Smith"--fired, or tried to block his promotion or to get him transferred. I cannot speak for Mr. Bolton (though having known him since 1981, I can attest to his integrity). But I can speak for myself: In 2002, after consulting with many of my interagency colleagues about how to handle the loss of confidence in Smith's judgment, I most certainly did complain to Smith's supervisor about the consistently unacceptable quality of his work. My actions are now being distorted and attributed to Mr. Bolton in order to harm his nomination.The rest here, free online subscription required.
Though my office is a 15-minute cab-ride from the Capitol, and I'd made myself available to offer testimony, I was never summoned. Yet several anti-Bolton former and present officials were asked to testify, in private and in public. Why were some witnesses called but not others? The reason is clear to anyone who has been nominated by a president to a Senate-confirmable position, especially before the Foreign Relations and the Judiciary Committees.
Too often those hearings are used by senators and their staff to pursue an ideological agenda and engage in personal destruction. If they cannot force a nominee to withdraw, hearings can be blocked by only one senator, while he and his staff spread scurrilous rumors about the nominee--who is unable to counter because he is told that "it will hurt your chances" if a hearing ever takes place.
Who's Afraid of John Bolton?
I don't like John Bolton's management style. Nor am I a big fan of his foreign policy views. He doesn't really believe in using U.S. power to end genocide or promote democracy.
But it is ridiculous to say he doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians who aren't willing to say what the Bolton debate is really about.
The Bolton controversy isn't about whether we believe in the U.N. mission. It's about which U.N. mission we believe in.
Read the rest here, free online subscription required.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Washington State Saga Continues
Sunday, April 10, 2005
If You Print It, I'll Deny It
In one of the more ludicrous diplomatic stories to emerge from the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Iranian president Mohammed Khatami now denies touching Israeli president Moshe Katsav at the services:Iranian President Mohammad Khatami strongly denied shaking hands and chatting with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at Pope John Paul II's funeral, state-run media reported Saturday. ...
“These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with any one from Zionist (Israeli) regime,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami as saying.
Katsav, who was born in the same Iranian region as Khatami, claims that he shook Khatami's hand and spoke about their home town in Farsi, both men's birth tongue. Katsav says the two men shook hands and wished each other peace. Now, for obvious reasons, Khatami wants to assure Iranians that he remains as anti-Semitic as always and wouldn't dream of treating Katsav in a civilized manner. Far better for Khatami to claim that he acted in the purest interests of hatred.
I guess the lessons of John Paul II have been completely lost on Khatami and the Iranians. It makes one wonder why they bothered to attend the funeral.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
There [They] Go Again,...
Patterico, who deserves some sort of medal for the writing he did on the Schiavo case, points us to Fr. Robert Johansen, who is writing on the case of Mae Margourik:UPDATE: Mae has been rescued.85 year-old Mae Margourik of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.
Furthermore, under Georgia law, if there is no power of attorney specifying a health care decisionmaker, such authority is given to the closest living relatives. Mae's brother, A. B. McLeod, and sister, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, are both still alive and capable of making such decisions. They opposed Mae's transfer to hospice, and are fighting to save her life. But in spite of the lack of a power of attorney, and the fact that there are closer living relatives who should be given precedence by Georgia law, Ms. Gaddy sought an emergency appointment as guardian from the local probate court. The probate judge, Donald Boyd (who, I am told, is not an attorney and does not have a law degree), granted Gaddy's request, thereby giving her the power to starve and dehydrate Margourik to death, though such an action is contrary to the provisions of the living will.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
New Zogby Poll Shows Voters Favor Terri's Parents
A poll completed after the controversial death of Terri Schiavo finds that eight-in-ten (80%) likely voters say that a disabled person who is not terminally ill or in a coma, and not being kept alive by life support should not, in the absence of a written directive to the contrary, be denied food and water. By a three-to-one (44% to 14%) margin, likely voters say that, when there is conflicting evidence on the wishes of a patient, elected officials should order that a feeding tube remain in place. The survey, conducted by Zogby International on behalf of the Christian Defense Coalition, was conducted March 30 to April 2, 2005 and has a margin of error of +/-3.2 percentage points.
The same poll also finds a majority (56%) agree that Schiavo’s husband Michael should have turned guardianship for the severely-disabled woman over to her parents based on his decision to have a long-term serious relationship with another woman. By a two-to-one (44% to 24%) margin, with one-in-three (32%) undecided, the survey finds that an incapacitated person should be presumed to want to live in the absence of written instructions such as a “living will.”
Saturday, April 02, 2005
The Sad and Familiar Case of Robert Wendland
Do you remember a fellow called Robert Wendland? No reason why you should. I wrote about him in this space [in The Spectator] in 1998, and had intended to return to the subject but something else always intervened.... Mr Wendland lived in Stockton, California. He was injured in an automobile accident in 1993 and went into a coma. Under state law, he could have been starved to death at any time had his wife requested the removal of his feeding tube. But Rose Wendland was busy with this and that, as one is, and assumed there was no particular urgency.
Then one day, a year later, Robert woke up. He wasn’t exactly his old self, but he could catch and throw a ball and wheel his chair up and down the hospital corridors, and both activities gave him pleasure. Nevertheless Mrs Wendland decided that she now wished to exercise her right to have him dehydrated to death. Her justification was that, while the actual living Robert — the Robert of the mid-1990s — might enjoy a simple life of ball-catching and chair-rolling, the old Robert — the pre-1993 Robert — would have considered it a crashing bore and would have wanted no part of it.
She nearly got her way. But someone at the hospital tipped off Mr Wendland’s mother and set off a protracted legal struggle in which — despite all the obstacles the California system could throw in her path — the elderly Florence Wendland was eventually successful in preventing her son being put down. He has since died of pneumonia, which is sad: the disabled often fall victim to some opportunist illness they’d have shrugged off in earlier times, as Christopher Reeve did. But that’s still a better fate than to be starved to death by order of the state.
Six and a half years later, the Terri Schiavo case is almost identical to Robert Wendland’s — ...
Read the whole thing here. Free online registration required.
A Terrible Dignity
Terri Schiavo has now died, but of course the controversy surrounding her last days will persist indefinitely. Most of the issues raised as she was dying were legal and moral; but at the margins of the storm, questions of a more "metaphysical" nature were occasionally raised in public. For instance, I heard three people on the radio last week speculating on the whereabouts of her "soul."The "living soul" of Scripture is the whole corporeal and spiritual totality of a person whom the breath of God has wakened to life. Thomas Aquinas, interpreting centuries of Christian and pagan metaphysics, defined the immortal soul as the "form of the body," the vital power animating, pervading, shaping an individual from the moment of conception, drawing all the energies of life into a unity.
The fourth-century theologian Gregory of Nyssa calls the soul a "living mirror" in which all things shine, so immense in its capacity that it can, when turned toward the light of God, grow eternally in an ever greater embrace of divine beauty. For the seventh-century theologian Maximus the Confessor, the human soul is the "boundary" between material and spiritual reality--heaven and earth--and so constitutes a microcosm that joins together, in itself, all the spheres of being.
Whether one is willing to speak of a "rational soul" or not, there is obviously an irreducible mystery here, one that commands our reverence.
Granted, it is easiest to sense this mystery when gazing at the Sistine Chapel's ceiling or listening to Bach. But it should be evident--for Christians at least--even when everything glorious and prodigious in our nature has been stripped away and all that remains is frailty, brokenness and dependency, or when a person we love has been largely lost to us in the labyrinth of a damaged brain. Even among such ravages--for those with the eyes to see it--a terrible dignity still shines out.
I do not understand exactly why those who wanted Terri Schiavo to die had become so resolute in their purposes by the end. If she was as "vegetative" as they believed, what harm would it have done, I wonder, to surrender her to the charity (however fruitless) of her parents? Of this I am certain, though: Christians who understand their faith are obliged to believe that she was, to the last, a living soul. It is true that, in some real sense, it was her soul that those who loved her could no longer reach, but it was also her soul that they touched with their hands and spoke to and grieved over and adored. And this also means that it was a living soul that we as a society chose to abandon to starvation and thirst--which should, at the very least, give us cause to consider what else we may have abandoned along the way.
Pope John Paul II - RIP
But, as Power Line has noticed, the New York Times is simply having a terrible time saying something nice about Pope John Paul II:
Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life.
need some quote from supporter
John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.
"The situation in the Catholic church is serious," Hans Kung, the eminent Swiss theologian, who was barred by from teaching in Catholic schools because of his liberal views, wrote last week. "The pope is gravely ill and deserves every compassion. But the Church has to live. ...
In my opinion, he is not the greatest pope but the most contradictory of the 20th century. A pope of many, great gifts, and of many bad decisions!"
Among liberal Catholics, he was criticized for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception, as well as the ordination of women and married men. Though he was never known as a strong administrator of the dense Vatican bureaucracy, he kept a centralizing hand on the selection of bishops around the world and enforced a rigid adherence to many basic church teachings among the clergy and Catholic theologians.
Power Line noted in an update that they managed to have captured a screen grab of the second page of the Times article, just before they changed it to delete the "need some quote from supporter:" Rather pathetic.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Appreciating Terri Schiavo's Death
On Thursday, March 24, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida sent an e- mail to advocates for the abortion operation telling them how to "express your appreciation" to Florida Republican senators who split with the GOP leadership by voting against a bill intended to save Terri Schiavo. The message listed the names and contact information for the six senators....Now you can see why the President, rightfully, said we should favor life, because we live among a culture of death.
...[A] Planned Parenthood executive admitted to sending the e-mail and said, "We just felt that it was pretty courageous of them (the six senators) to do what they did, and it's always a good idea to thank legislators when they do something you like."
When asked ... about the specifics of the measure, the abortion clinic employee admitted, "I really am not sure exactly what the legislation said," but explained that she sent out the e-mail because, "I think probably the majority of our supporters feel that there should not be government intrusion, that the court should be the ones handling this issue, as it has, and so that's why I did it."
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