Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri's Lessons

Now that Terri has been taken home, it's time we learn some lessons from this tragedy. This was an avoidable tragedy, hastened mainly because Michael Schiavo didn't give serious consideration to Terri's parents.
Here's some of the lessons that I believe we need to learn from this:
1. Living wills, health directives & D.N.R. orders should be the first directive to health care providers.
2. In the absense of any such legal documents, the spouse should have an overwhelming burden of proof to end life.
3. The U.S. Congress should pass & President Bush should sign into law, legislation to mandate an MRI or PET scan to determine whether a person is truly in a persistent vegitative state. Also included in this legislation is that radiologists should read the MRI or PET scan, not the neurologist. It's my understanding that radiologists are the experts in this facet of the diagnosis.
The truth is that this issue won't die just because Terri's passed away. The next big event in this drama is when the autopsy is released. If that autopsy shows something unusual or unexpected, then this explodes again.

Terry Schiavo Loses Death Struggle

Schiavo Dies 13 Days After Tube Removed
By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman whose 15 years connected to a feeding tube sparked an epic legal battle that went all the way to the White House & Congress, died Thursday, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41.
Schiavo died at the Pinellas Park hospice where she lay for years while her husband & her parents fought over her fate in the nation's most bitter, & most heavily litigated, right-to-die dispute.
The feud between the parents, Bob & Mary Schindler, & their son-in-law continued even after her death: Brother Paul O'Donnell, an adviser to the Schindlers, said they & their two other children "were denied access at the moment of her death. They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there & they were denied access by Michael Schiavo. They’re in there now, praying at her bedside."
Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 after her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance that was believed to have been brought on an eating disorder. Court-appointed doctors ruled she was in a persistent vegitative state, with no real consciousness or chance of recovery.
The feeding tube was removed with a judge's approval March 18 after Michael Schiavo argued that his wife told him long ago she wouldn’t want to be kept alive artificially. His in-laws disputed that & argued that she could get better with treatment. They said she laughed, cried, responded to them & tried to talk.
During the seven-year legal battle, Florida lawmakers, Congress & President Bush tried intervening on behalf of her parents, but state & federal courts at all levels repeatedly ruled in favor of her husband. The case focused national attention on living wills, since Schiavo left no written instructions in case she became disabled. After the tube that supplied a nutrient solution was disconnected, protesters streamed into Pinellas Park to keep vigil outside her hospice, with many arrested as they tried to bring her food & water. The Vatican likened the removal of her feeding tube to capital punishment for an innocent woman. The Schindlers pleaded for their daughter's life, calling the removal of the tube "judicial homicide."
Dawn Kozsey, 47, a musician who was among those outside Schiavo's hospice, wept when she learned of the woman's death. "Words can’t express the rage I feel," she said. "Is my heart broken for this? Yes."
Although several right-to-die cases have been fought in the courts across the nation in recent years, none had been this public, drawn-out & bitter. Six times, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. Schiavo's fate was debated on the floor of Congress & by President Bush, who signed an extraordinary bill March 21 that let federal judges review her case. "In extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life," the president said. But federal courts refused again & again to overturn the central ruling by Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer, who said Michael Schiavo had convinced him that Terri Schiavo wouldn’t have wanted to be kept alive by extraordinary means.
Described by her family as a shy woman who loved animals, music & basketball, Terri Schindler grew up in Pennsylvania & battled a weight problem in her youth. "And then when she lost all the weight, she really became quite beautiful on the outside as well. What was inside she allowed to shine out at that point," a friend, Diane Meyer, said in 2003.
She met Michael Schiavo, pronounced SHY-voh, at Bucks County Community College near Philadelphia in 1982. They wed two years later. After they moved to Florida, she worked in an insurance agency. But recurring battles with weight led to the eating disorder that was blamed for her collapse at age 26. Doctors said she suffered severe brain damage when her heart stopped beating because of a potassium imbalance. Her brain was deprived of oxygen for 10 minutes before she was revived, doctors estimated.
Because Terri Schiavo didn’t leave written wishes on her care, Florida law gave preference to Michael Schiavo over her parents. But the law also recognizes parents as having crucial opinions in the care of an incapacitated person. A court-appointed physician testified her brain damage was so severe that there was no hope she’d ever have any cognitive abilities. Still, her parents, who visited her nearly every day, reported their daughter responded to their voices. Video showing the dark-haired woman appearing to interact with her family was televised nationally. But the court-appointed doctor said the noises & facial expressions were reflexes. Both sides accused each other of being motivated by greed over a $1 million medical malpractice award from doctors who failed to diagnose the chemical imbalance. However, that money, which Michael Schiavo received in 1993, has all but evaporated, spent on his wife's care & the court fight. Just $40,000 to $50,000 remained as of mid-March.
Michael Schiavo's lawyers suggested the Schindlers wanted to get some of the money. And the Schindlers questioned their son-in-law's sincerity, saying he never mentioned his wife's wishes until winning the malpractice case. The parents tried to have Michael Schiavo removed as his wife's guardian because he lives with another woman & has two children with her. Michael Schiavo refused to divorce his wife, saying he feared the Schindlers would ignore her desire to die. Schiavo lived in her brain-damaged state longer than two other young women whose cases brought right-to-die issues to the forefront of public attention.
Karen Quinlan lived for more than a decade in a vegetative state, brought on by alcohol & drugs in 1975 when she was 21, until New Jersey courts finally let her parents take her off a respirator. Nancy Cruzan, who was 25 when a 1983 car crash placed her in a vegetative state, lived nearly eight years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that her parents could withdraw her feeding tube.
Schiavo's feeding tube was briefly removed in 2001. It was reinserted after two days when a court intervened. In October 2003, the tube was removed again, but Gov. Jeb Bush rushed "Terri's Law" through the Legislature, allowing the state to have the feeding tube reinserted after six days. The Florida Supreme Court later ruled that law was an unconstitutional interference in the judicial system.
On March 18, the tube was removed for a third & final time.
It's a sad day for me. Terri died needlessly. I know that she likely wasn't going to regain consciousness but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have been kept alive. Once we get into the quality of life debate, we all lose. Once that door is opened just a little, lots of things can be rationalized & it will.
When the Roe v. Wade ruling was handed down, a number of Christians said that the next thing to be rationalized would be euthanasia. So-called experts called these Christians alarmists & paranoid. Now we're drawing ever closer to this happening here in the U.S. It's already legal in the Netherlands, where the Gronigen Protocol holds sway.
For me, the bright line is that I don't have a problem with disconnecting a person being kept alive by a respirator or other mechanical device. I don't have a major problem with a person requesting not to receive certain types of treatment when they're in the final stages of a battle with cancer or other terminal illness.
What I have a serious problem with is when a feeding tube is removed from a person who can still live for an indefinite period of time, especially when there's people willing to care for the patient at their own expense.

Sen. Dayton on Social Security Reform

I recently e-mailed Sen. Mark Dayton on the subject of Social Security reform, specifically asking about the Social Security Calculator that each Democratic senator has on their website.
I asked him why each senator's 'calculator' showed that I'd lose money using the combination of guaranteed benefits & PRA's as opposed to traditional Social Security. (If I recall correctly, the mis-calculator said I'd have approximately $1,200 less annually under the blend of PRA's & traditional Social Security. This was based on a $25,000 annual salary & 35 yrs. in the workforce.)
Yesterday, I got Sen. Dayton's e-mail response. Here's the text of his response:
Dear Mr. Gross:
Thank you for contacting me regarding Social Security. Like many Americans, I watched the President's State of the Union Address, anticipating that he would provide more details on his proposal for changing the current Social Security system. Although he did discuss Social Security at length, I was disappointed that he chose to omit many details on how he intended to change the system & solidify its strength for future retirees.
The President also neglected to mention two critical elements regarding what we do know about his plan: the enormous up-front cost of financing a new system (estimated to be nearly $2 trillion), which would saddle future generations with additional debt; & the fact that his plan would require a reduction of future benefits for people currently younger than age 55.
Social Security is confronted with a long-term problem, but it isn’t in "crisis," as the President misleadingly asserts, nor is it threatened with "bankruptcy," or in danger of going "flat broke." Without doing a single thing to change the current system, Social Security will be able to meet all of its obligations to beneficiaries until 2042, according to the Trustees who oversee the system, or until 2052, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Subsequently, depending on which analysis you rely on, beneficiaries are projected to receive between 70 percent & 80 percent of promised benefits, again, without a single change to the current system.
The words the President has chosen to use in describing the Social Security system evoke fear, mislead, & neglect to help fashion a bipartisan solution. Social Security's long-term problem requires careful consideration, but it doesn’t require what I consider to be anideologically impulsive push for privatization of the current system.
Any proposal to change Social Security's present system should have to pass three tests. First, it must not reduce the amount of future revenues or their security. Second, it must be likely to increase future retirement incomes. Third, it cannot damage the rest of the federalgovernment's financial foundation. President Bush's proposal to allow workers to shift almost one-third of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts fails on all three.
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about Social Security. I will keep them in mind as the debate on this important issue continues.
My best regards.

Mark Dayton
United States Senator
First of all, I truly appreciate Sen. Dayton's response. At least he passes that test.
What I find troubling, though, is his assertion, veiled though it is, that retirement income would shrink with PRA's. According to Mort Kondracke's calculations, where he used a government staffer, there isn't any 15 year period in American history where private investments didn't outperform the current Social Security system. That's including all of the recessions & the Great Depression.
When Sen. Dayton says "Third, it cannot damage the rest of the federal government's financial foundation," what he's really saying is that PRA's would put those monies off-limits to politicians of both parties who pile up IOU after IOU in the Social Security trust funds.
They can only borrow against it because it's still the government's money until it's spent in the form of benefits paid out. They can't borrow against PRA's because the money isn't their property.
If the federal government can't raid this trust fund, spending habits will have to change & that's something they'd rather avoid.
Sen. Dayton chose not to address why the calculator always shows an 8% loss in benefits with PRA's when I use the Social Security 'mis-calculator'. According to multiple TV clips, Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dusty Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer & other ultra-liberals, they say that we'd have a 46% reduction in benefits under the dreaded PRA's.
My Minnesota math tells me that a 46% benefit cut is the same as an 8% benefit cut. Maybe it's different in your state but that's what it seems like to me.
Also, being the skeptic that I am, it seems that I should hold out longer After all, these senate liberals started warning of a 46% benefit cut. Now they've lowered it to an 8% benefit cut. Give it another 3 months at that rate & I'll actually be gaining. But that's just skeptical me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Doubts Raised On Schiavo Memo

Doubts Raised On Schiavo Memo
Web Critics Question Authenticity Of 'Talking Points' Aimed at GOP
By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Staff Writer
March 30, 2005
Bloggers are swarming around a new target: the Terri Schiavo "talking points." Fresh from declaring victory over CBS News & its discredited National Guard memos about President Bush, some of the same bloggers are raising questions about a strategy memo, first reported by ABC News & The Washington Post, that cast the Schiavo right-to-die case as a partisan opportunity for Republicans to stick it to Democrats.
"Fake but Accurate Again?" says the Weekly Standard headline on an article by John Hinderaker, an attorney & conservative blogger who had challenged the CBS documents. While there is no hard evidence that the memo is fake, there are several strange things about it, including the basic fact that no one seems to know who wrote it & that the noncontroversial part of it is lifted from a Republican senator's press release.
ABC & The Post say their reports on the Schiavo memo were accurate & carefully worded. The document caused a stir because it described the Schiavo controversy as "a great political issue" that would excite "the pro-life base" & be "a tough issue for Democrats," singling out Florida's Sen. Bill Nelson.
Two days after the memo was reported, the Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill, signed by Bush, to transfer jurisdiction of Schiavo's case from Florida courts to the federal judiciary in an effort to restore the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube.
Isn't it interesting that the memo was circulated the Thursday before Congress took its Easter recess but didn't make its way into reporters' hands until the bill was being debated & eventually passed? If the tactics were so disgraceful, why weren't they immediately denounced?

"There's nothing on the face of the document to identify a source, not only is it unsigned, there's no letterhead, no nothing," Hinderaker said yesterday. "This is literally a piece of paper with stuff typed on it that could’ve been written by anyone." The controversy erupted March 18 when veteran correspondent Linda Douglass reported on "World News Tonight": "ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators, explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case."

The fact that nothing about this talking points memo bears any resemblance to previous talking points memos should be a red flag. The fact that it wasn't printed on stationery with the Republican letterhead should be another red flag. That it wasn't signed by the Senate leadership should've raised tons of red flags.

Two days later, a Post article by Mike Allen & Manuel Roig-Franzia said: "An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters." Neither report said Republicans had written the memo, although they may have left that impression, & they included no comment on the memo from party leaders. ABC's Web site went further than Douglass's on-air report with the headline: "GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo."

Failing to clarify this point at the start of the report is suspicious at best. That it wasn't clarified during the report or after the report is alarming, too.

Also, the fact that ABC's website titled it as "GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo" raises questions whether this was a deliberate attempt to ridicule Senate Republicans.

In the flood of commentary after the reports, some bloggers even speculated that the memo could have been a Democratic dirty trick. "ABC News had very reliable, multiple sources who indicated the memo was distributed to Republicans on the floor of the Senate, & that’s what we reported," network spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said yesterday. "We have no doubt it was distributed to Republicans. The fact that people are trying to make it about something else isn’t surprising. It's what we deal with every day from all sides." Referring to Douglass, who is out of the country, he said critics were trying "to go after a good reporter doing good reporting."
The Post's Allen said "the blog interest has been stoked by secondhand accounts" that the paper's story referred to Republican talking points. "We simply reported that the sheet of paper was distributed to Republican senators & told our readers explicitly that the document was unsigned, making clear it was unofficial," he said.
"We stuck to what we knew to be true & didn’t call them talking points or a Republican memo. The document was provided by an official who has a long record of trustworthiness, & this official gave a precise account of the document's provenance, satisfying us that it was authentic & that it’d been used in an attempt to influence Republican senators." Allen said that under the journalistic ground rules, he couldn’t say whether the source was a Democrat or a Republican.
A Democratic Senate official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the party isn’t publicly discussing the memo's origin, said: "It's ridiculous to suggest that these are some talking points concocted by a Democratic staffer. The fact is, these talking points were given to a Democratic member by a Republican senator." Democratic aides, in turn, gave the memo to reporters, as the New York Times reported last week. Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who championed the Schiavo bill, said of the so-called talking points: "No one in our office saw them." The Tennessee Republican has said in a statement that he condemned the memo & didn’t authorize it. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has asked the Rules Committee for an investigation.

Well that certainly clarifies everything. It was "distributed to Republican senators" (None are mentioned by name.) It was "provided by an official" (another unnamed source). Finally, a "Democratic Senate Official, who spoke on condition of anonymity," said "It's ridiculous to suggest these are some talking points" concocted by a Democratic staffer.

That assembly of statements goes back & forth so many times, a guy could get whiplash following it.

I'd give the Washington Post & ABC F's for the reporting they didn't do. By that I mean,

  • they didn't find out the origin of the memo.
  • they didn't find out which Republican senators received the memo.
  • didn't question Democratic staffers where they got their copies from.
  • didn't ask Sen. Frist or any member of the Senate Republican leadership if they'd authorized it.
  • they weren't the least bit curious why it wasn't printed on Senate Rupublican stationery.

Despite its unknown author, the memo has been used against Republicans. On ABC's March 19 "Good Morning America," Kate Snow cited the document in asking House Majority Leader Tom Delay, "Is this just pure politics, Mr. DeLay?" DeLay responded that he didn't know where the talking points came from, "& I think they're disgusting."

That certainly seems fair. A questionable document shows up on Capitol Hill with tons of red flags so it's assumed that Republicans are behind it. Then a reporter pointedly asks the Dems' favorite whipping boy, Tom Delay, on the content of the questionable memo for using a purely political memo.

In the spate of blog attacks on the media, critics have featured such headlines as "GOP Slimed by Another Fake Memo?," as a site called Evan's Journal put it.
Several paragraphs in the memo, containing standard arguments for the pending legislation on Schiavo, were lifted verbatim from a press release by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who has disavowed the controversial political language that someone added & said he never saw the memo. The Traditional Values Coalition had posted Martinez's release on its Web site.
In his Weekly Standard article, Hinderaker, who writes for the blog Powerline, pointed out some of the memo's other oddities. It contained several typographical errors, such as misspelling Schiavo's first name as "Teri," & identified the Senate measure by the wrong bill number. The typos somehow vanished in a copy of the memo leaked to the liberal Web site Raw Story, whose editor said he posted the version obtained by the site. "The content of the memo tells me it wasn't prepared to benefit the Republican Party, it was prepared to benefit the Democratic Party," Hinderaker said.
Fred Barnes, the Standard's executive editor, who also wrote about the controversy, said the initial reporting was "unfair...I couldn't discover anybody showing any evidence that this memo was distributed to Republican senators." Barnes said that "the press is much tougher on Republicans" because both Democrats & reporters "tend to be liberals."

March 24, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) released a copy of a referral letter to the Department of Justice. The letter accompanied a copy of the Ohio Election Report submitted to the House Administration Committee on Monday. ACVR will be releasing similar reports on election activity in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & other states in coming weeks.
March 21, 2005
R. Alexander Acosta
Assistant Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Main
Washington, DC 2053
Re: Referral of Report Describing Potential Federal Criminal Activity During the 2004 Presidential General Election
Dear Mr. Acosta:
I’m writing as general counsel for The American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), a not-for-profit entity, which has conducted an investigation into allegations of vote fraud & election irregularities that occurred in Ohio during the 2004 presidential general election campaign. The ACVR, working with almost a dozen Ohio attorneys involved in the November election, reviewed the facts surrounding the November general election & found substantial evidence to suggest potential criminal wrongdoing by organizations such as Americans Coming Together ("ACT"), ACORN, & the NAACP Project Vote.
We understand that local Ohio law enforcement authorities are pursuing criminal prosecution against some of the individuals involved in this activity, which activities included paying crack cocaine for fraudulent voter registration forms. However, we believe that the role of the organizations (not just the individuals who carried out the scheme) merits investigation. Please find attached the report containing the ACVR's preliminary findings of voter registration fraud, voter intimidation & other misconduct for your review.
As you’ll see in the report, third party organizations, especially ACT, ACORN & the NAACP Project Vote, were engaged in a coordinated “Get Out the Vote” effort. A significant component of this effort appears to be registering individuals who’d cast ballots for the candidate supported by these organizations. This voter registration effort wasn’t limited to the registration of legal voters but, criminal investigations & news reports suggest, that the voter registration effort also involved the registration of thousands of fictional voters such as the now infamous Jive F. Turkey, Sr., Dick Tracy & Mary Poppins. Those individuals registering these fictional voters were reportedly paid not just money to do so but were, in at least one instance, paid in crack cocaine.

That no one bothered checking these new voter registrations when they were keyed into the governing body's data base is shameful & downright dangerous.

Clearly, the conduct outlined in the preliminary report suggests a serious violation of federal law in pursuit of a scheme to illegally influence the outcome of a national election for President. I’m confident that you’ll find the ACVR's report both informative & helpful. Please let me know if I can be of assistance or provide additional information regarding the ACVR's findings.
As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, “It must be remembered that ‘the right of suffrage can be denied by debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.’” Bush v. Gore, 121 S.Ct. 525, 530 (2000), citing, Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964). No Ohio citizens should be disenfranchised by an illegally cast ballot &, we believe, an apparently coordinated effort to do so merits your investigation.

Put differently, whether a person is intimidated into not voting or whether a legitimate vote is effectively zeroed out by another person voting illegally, the effect is the same. Neither situation should be tolerated.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II
cc: Gregory A. White, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio
Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio

Improving With Room For Improvement

Positive reports on Iraqi security forces have been coming more with greater regularity. regularly. The Christian Science Monitor gives us another such report. They give critics the opportunity to talk about the negatives, to be sure, but they include solid signs that the situation is improving. The final paragraph of the story is quite telling.

Enough progress has apparently been made that U.S. officials are becoming more explicit about when American troops might start coming home. On Sunday, the top US military commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey, predicted on CNN's "Late Edition" that the U.S. should be able to make a "very substantial reduction" in the number of forces within a year.

President Bush has made it clear that he won't abandon the courageous Iraqi people so it seems apparent that the situation is improving.
The funniest line in the story comes from Dennis Kucinich:
"This is like fantasyland. This is as fictive as the WMD."
Rep. Kucinich's comments on fantasyland should be taken seriously, though, because he's an expert, & a frequent visitor, of fantasylands.

Spring Has Sprung

I'm looking out the window as I type this post. It's obvious that spring has indeed sprung. We've had back to back days with high temps in the upper 60's. Now I'm listening to the sound of thunder as we get our first thundershowers of the year. In a few days, I'm joining a few friends in attending the event that officially ushers in spring for me, namely the Northwest Sports Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
What makes this sports show special is that the watercraft section of the show is bigger than the entire shows in cities like St. Cloud. The RV/SUV section is as big as the watercraft section. In between, there's every toy a sportsman could ever want. Typically, the show ends on Easter Sunday & is often thought of as the last indoor outdoorsman event before we return to fishing the lakes, streams & rivers en force.

State of Fear

Michael Crichton has written a new book, titled "State of Fear", that I'm hoping to buy & read soon. Since it was written with the intent of tearing down the 'Gospel of Global Warming', Mr. Crichton expected to get attacked. His expectations have been met, if not surpassed. John Stossel offers his opinions in his latest column.
Here's a few things worth reviewing:
Global warming, of course, isn’t a faith that brings comfort. We interviewed people who seemed almost hysterical about it. One said, "Greenland is melting!" Another warned that "places like Los Angeles & New York will be underwater!" One person went even further off, should I say it?, the deep end: "I'm thinking it's like the end of the world."
Has anyone noticed global warming activists who aren't off the deep end? I'm sure there are sane GWA's but I surely haven't noticed any. Rants like these aren't uncommon.
Crichton himself used to worry about global warming. But then he spent three years researching it. He concluded it's just another foolish media-hyped scare. Many climate scientists agree with him, saying the effect of man & greenhouse gases is minor.
To his credit, Mr. Crichton researched the related issues & based his opinions on facts instead of accepting the 'Gospel of Global Warming' without thinking. That scares the activists & the scientists, as it should.
Crichton says, "Environmental organizations are fomenting false fears in order to promote agendas & raise money." He points out that the even the scientists who study global warming have an incentive to exaggerate the problem. If you say, "there isn't a big problem," you're less likely to get grant money.
There you have it. "If you say, 'there isn't a big problem,' you're less likely to get grant money." If nothing makes sense, follow the money trail.

Jesse on the Right Side

Rev. Jesse Jackson Joins Schiavo Fray
By John-Thor Dahl burg & Mary Curtius
March 29, 2005
DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed today with the parents of Terri Schiavo, & he called the struggle over her feeding tube "a moral issue that transcends politics."Terri Schiavo today entered the 12th day since her feeding tube was removed. On Monday, her father described her as weak & emaciated but "fighting like hell to live." Bob Schindler said it wasn’t too late to save his daughter.
Joining conservatives who’ve rallied to the Schindlers' cause, the liberal Jackson said he’d call state senators who opposed legislation that would’ve reinserted Schiavo's feeding tube & ask them to reconsider. "I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," Jackson said. "This is a moral issue & it transcends politics & family disputes."
Lord knows that I've disagreed with Jesse but he's on the right side of this issue. I also appreciate annyone who's willing to bring hope & encouragement to people going through the worst in life.
"I wanted the Reverend Jackson here for moral support," said Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo's mother. "I feel good with him here. Very strong. He gives me strength."
Anyone who makes Mary Schindler feel better is ok with me.

A day earlier, the lawyer for Schiavo's husband, Michael, said an autopsy would be performed as a way to offer definitive proof about the extent of Terri Schiavo's brain injuries. "This is something that we’ve contemplated for a few days," lawyer George J. Felos said. "We didn't feel it was appropriate to talk about an autopsy prior to Mrs. Schiavo's death," Felos said. But persistent rumors that Michael Schiavo was trying to hide something by planning to have his wife cremated led him to make the announcement, Felos said. Some of those fighting to keep Schiavo alive have alleged that her husband wanted to destroy evidence of abuse, including broken bones.
This isn't being done out of the goodness of their hearts. It's mandatory under Florida law if cremation is done.

Felos said Dr. John Thogmartin, chief medical examiner of Pinellas County, would perform the autopsy shortly after Schiavo's death, & that her body would be returned to her husband. "It's my understanding that the...results will be public," Felos said.
In Washington, supporters of the Schindlers carried their fight once again to the White House & Congress. The 41-year-old woman's feeding tube was disconnected by order of a state judge, who agreed with Michael Schiavo that his wife didn’t wish to be kept alive through artificial means. She can breathe on her own but can’t eat or drink. Doctors have testified that she’s in a persistent vegetative state, with catastrophic brain injuries & no chance for improvement.
Bob & Mary Schindler contend that their daughter could get better with therapy. When he hugged & kissed Schiavo on Monday, Bob Schindler said during a news conference outside the hospice in Pinellas Park. Fla., where she’s being cared for, she responded with facial expressions. "Don't give up on her," Schindler said. "We haven't given up on her & she hasn't given up on us."
Felos also addressed concerns raised by Bob Schindler about the effects of the morphine Schiavo had been given. "I have a great concern that they will expedite the process to kill her with an overdose of morphine," Schindler said. Felos said hospice records showed that Schiavo had been given low doses of the narcotic twice, on March 19 & Saturday & that she wasn’t on a continuous morphine drip. When he visited Schiavo on Monday, Felos said, he found her eyes more sunken & her breathing more rapid than when he saw her two days earlier. "Mrs. Schiavo's appearance to me was very calm, very relaxed, very peaceful," Felos said. "I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever."
Her room had been decorated with flowers, soothing music was playing & someone had placed a stuffed animal, a tabby cat, under Schiavo's arm, Felos said. Physicians have said Schiavo, who suffered brain damage after a 1990 heart attack caused by an eating disorder, could live 10 days to two weeks without food or water. "It's possible Mrs. Schiavo could die momentarily from cardiac arrest," Felos said Monday. "On the other hand, her breathing isn’t labored, her skin tone is doesn't appear that her death is imminent."
In Washington, about 30 protesters urged the federal government to act to keep Schiavo alive. The Schindlers' supporters began their visit outside the White House, where some carried signs reading "Let Her Live" & "Starve Michael Not Terri." The group then went to Capitol Hill, where the low-key reception they received was in marked contrast to the extraordinary legislative measures their appeals had generated more than a week ago. Then, Congress interrupted its spring recess to speed through a bill aimed at shifting the Schiavo case to the federal courts, & President Bush rushed back to Washington from his Texas ranch to sign it into law.
But the mid-level staffers they met with Monday "were pretty direct & candid," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, head of the evangelical Christian Defense Coalition. "They made a compelling point that they did all within their power to make sure that the feeding tube remained inside Terri Schiavo & all within their power to reinsert it once it was removed." Other activists said they already were focusing on the broader issues of the role of the federal courts in end-of-life issues, accepting that no more could be done to forestall Schiavo's death.
Advocates for the disabled said they believed the case would help them win support in Congress for laws limiting the powers of guardians to determine life-and-death issues for disabled people who can’t express their own wishes.
Dahlburg reported from Dunedin & Curtius from Washington. Times staff writer Elise Castelli in Washington & the AP contributed to this report.

Federal Appeals Court OKs Schiavo Review

Federal Appeals Court OKs Schiavo Review
By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA - A federal appeals court early Wednesday agreed to consider a petition by Terri Schiavo's parents for a new hearing on whether to reconnect their severely brain-damaged daughter's feeding tube. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled without comment on Schiavo's 12th day without nourishment. Last week, the same court twice ruled against Schiavo's parents, Bob & Mary Schindler, who are trying to keep her alive.

In seeking a new hearing late Tuesday, attorneys for Schiavo's parents argued that the District Court "committed plain error when it reviewed only the state court case & outcome history." Now, the court will consider the request for a new hearing based on the facts of the case, rather than whether previous Florida court rulings have met legal standards under state law.

Finally, the Schindlers win a case. hopefully, this court will take a serious look at the evidence rather than ruling on the process.

There was no time frame for the court to consider the motion, but the Schindler's attorneys asked to have the tube reinserted immediately "in light of the magnitude of what is at stake and the urgency of the action required." The ruling was a rare legal victory for the Schindlers, whose appeals have been repeatedly rejected in state & federal courts. Anita Fanshaw, 43, one of about 10 protesters outside Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., praised the court's latest decision. "God has a way of making things work," she said.
Christine Marriott, 43, who heard of the court order on TV & rushed from her Seminole home back the hospice, said the ruling gave her hope. "There's a chance for a miracle," Marriott said. "Anything positive is a breath of life." Attorneys for the Schindlers & Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, didn't immediately return phone messages early Wednesday. Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed March 18 on a court order sought by her husband, who contends she wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially.
Doctors have said Terri Schiavo, 41, would probably die within a week or two of the tube being removed. She suffered catastrophic brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped for several minutes because of a chemical imbalance apparently brought on by an eating disorder. Robert Schindler described his daughter as "failing" following his visit Tuesday.
"She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances," Schindler said. "You can see the impact of no food & water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her." Federal courts were given jurisdiction to review Schiavo's case after Republicans in Congress pushed through unprecedented emergency legislation aimed at prolonging Schiavo's life. But federal courts at two levels rebuffed the family.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed with the Schindlers & joined conservatives in calling for state lawmakers to order her feeding tube reinserted. The former Democratic presidential candidate was invited by Schiavo's parents to meet with activists outside Schiavo's hospice. His arrival was greeted by some applause & cries of "This is about civil rights!" "I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," he said. "This is a moral issue & it transcends politics & family disputes."
Mary Schindler later made a terse, emotional appeal to Michael Schiavo: "Michael & Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me." Michael Schiavo & fiancée Jodi Centonze have two children, born long after Terri Schiavo's collapse. Although supporters of the Schindlers have claimed the dehydrated woman is being denied comfort measures such as ice chips for her dry mouth or balm for chapped lips, George Felos, the husband's attorney, defended how Schiavo is being cared for.
"Obviously, the parents & the siblings are desperate. Desperation may lead to different perceptions," Felos told CNN. "I can only tell you what I've seen & Terri is dying a very peaceful, cared-for death." Jackson said he asked Michael Schiavo for permission to see the brain-damaged woman but was denied. He also telephoned black legislators in a last-ditch effort to bring back a bill that’d prohibit severely brain-damaged patients from being denied food & water if they didn't express their wishes in writing. Lawmakers rejected the legislation earlier this month and appeared unlikely to reconsider it. One of those contacted by Jackson, Democratic state Sen. Gary Siplin, said he told Jackson the issue had been "thoroughly discussed." Senate Democratic leader Les Miller added, "I’ve voted. It's time to move on."
First lady Laura Bush also commented on the case Tuesday, saying the government was right to have intervened on behalf of Schiavo. "It’s a life issue that really does require government to be involved," Bush said aboard a plane bound for Afghanistan, where she was to promote education & women's rights. During Jackson's visit, a man was tackled to the ground by officers when he tried to storm into the hospice, police said. He became the 47th protester arrested since the feeding tube was removed March 18. The man had two bottles of water with him but did not reach the hospice door, police said. The Schindlers had lost a round in the courts Tuesday when an appeals court upheld a previous ruling by Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer that blocked the Department of Children & Families from intervening in the case.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Paul Krugman- The Voice of Paranoia

Much has been written, on this blog & others, about Paul Krugman's paranoia. Today's rant rates high on the paranoia scale.
Here's some of the lowlights:
In the Netherlands, for example, a culture of tolerance led the nation to ignore the growing influence of Islamic extremists until they turned murderous. But it's also true of the U.S., where dangerous extremists belong to the majority religion & the majority ethnic group, & wield great political influence.
"Dangerous extremists" belonging to the majority religion? Might I suggest that Mr. Krugman is the extremist? It's hard imagining a democracy being a country of extremists.
But the big step by extremists will be an attempt to eliminate the filibuster, so that the courts can be packed with judges less committed to upholding the law than Mr. Greer.
My God, no!!! Imagine the tyranny of letting democracy work!!! How horrible!!!
The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister & everyone realizes that Ariel Sharon is at risk. America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, & even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.
Krugman's worried that we might turn into a nation given to terroristic tactics? That's what it sounds like. That's definitely the insinuation. Thank God that anti-God extremists like Prof. Krugman don't wield more influence than he already does.

Paul Krugman- The Voice of Paranoia

Much has been written, on this blog & others, about Paul Krugman's paranoia. Today's rant rates high on the paranoia scale.
Here's some of the lowlights:
In the Netherlands, for example, a culture of tolerance led the nation to ignore the growing influence of Islamic extremists until they turned murderous. But it's also true of the U.S., where dangerous extremists belong to the majority religion & the majority ethnic group, & wield great political influence.
"Dangerous extremists" belonging to the majority religion? Might I suggest that Mr. Krugman is the extremist? It's hard imagining a democracy being a country of extremists.
But the big step by extremists will be an attempt to eliminate the filibuster, so that the courts can be packed with judges less committed to upholding the law than Mr. Greer.
My God, no!!! Imagine the tyranny of letting democracy work!!! How horrible!!!
The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister & everyone realizes that Ariel Sharon is at risk. America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, & even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.
Krugman's worried that we might turn into a nation given to terroristic tactics? That's what it sounds like. That's definitely the insinuation. Thank God that anti-God extremists like Prof. Krugman don't wield more influence than he already does.

King Karl

Mr. Heilemann writes an interesting column on the Rove touch in Washington. It's well worth the read.
King Karl
By John Heilemann
Along the spectrum of public-policy concerns, it’s hard to imagine two issues farther apart than Terri Schiavo & Social Security: The first is visceral, emotional, prone to craven & witless grandstanding; the second, so arid & bloodless it’s prone to inducing narcolepsy. But as political matters, the Schiavo imbroglio & Social Security share two things in common. On both, the distinctive mark of Karl Rove is scrawled with a flourish in Day-Glo. And on both, in the realm of public opinion, the Republican Party is getting its ass kicked from here to Sunday.
The numbers are pretty striking. On Social Security, polls show support for George W. Bush’s position mired at under 40 percent, with 58 percent of Americans saying that the more they learn about his plan the less they like it. Meanwhile, an ABC poll last week reported that, by a 63 to 28 percent margin, the public favors the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube, & that even Evangelicals are split down the middle on the question.
Not surprisingly, the Democratic reaction has been unalloyed glee, not the least at the implication that Bush’s strategic supremo & deputy chief of staff may be fallible after all. Democrats in Congress charge that the Rove-ified Republicans’ Schiavo intervention unmasks the GOP as the party of big & intrusive government, while liberal strategists claim that the parade of blunders on Social Security suggests that the administration’s balding boy wonder has lost his populist touch. As New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg said to me the other day, “This is one of those times when you have to conclude that Rove isn’t as smart as people say.”
The Democrats’ jubilation is understandable & even justified. But I also suspect it may turn out to be premature. Both Schiavo & Social Security are, for Rove, parts of a bigger puzzle: how to cement the fractious Republican coalition into a stable governing majority, one that advances the cause of a historic partisan realignment. Solving that puzzle inevitably poses knotty political challenges. But let’s remember, they’re the sort of challenges Democrats can only wish they had.
Not long ago, I had a chance to see Rove speak to an audience of conservative activists down in Washington. The speech was as revealing for what it left out as for what it included. Not once did Rove proclaim the importance of reducing the size & sphere of Washington’s purview. Not once did he echo Ronald Reagan’s famous line, which codified a fundamental verity of modern Republicanism, that “government isn’t the solution to our problems; government is our problem.” Instead, Rove rejected the party’s “reactionary” & “pessimistic” past, in which it stood idly by while “liberals were setting the pace of change & had the visionary goals.” Now, he went on, the GOP has seized the “mantle of idealism,” dedicating itself to “putting government on the side of progress & reform, modernization & greater freedom.”
Here in Blue America, Rove is typically caricatured as an ideologue, a hard-right-winger of the Cheney-Ashcroft genre. But as those who’ve closely followed his career will tell you, he is in fact a pragmatist, an apostle of patronage with a keen sense of factional politics & the spoils system. In his formative years, he was, a direct-mail marketer. His strategy is to cast Republicans as the party of the future, or, as the Clinton campaign once expressed it, of “change versus more of the same”, while dispensing largesse to reward core constituencies & buy off marginal ones.
Examples of Rove’s Tip O’Neill–esque tactics during Bush’s first term are abundant. Together they compose the administration’s embrace of big-government conservatism: tax cuts for the rich; subsidies for farmers, tariffs for the steel, shrimp, & lumber industries; the gargantuan Medicare prescription-drug entitlement for the drug companies & the elderly.
Given the zero-sum dynamics of Social Security, Rove’s encouragement of Bush to focus on it this year seems mystifying at first. Certainly it hasn’t worked out too well so far. “The discussion didn’t get off to a good start for them,” the Republican pollster Frank Luntz told me, “& there’s no indication it’s going to get better anytime soon.” Free Enterprise Fund head Stephen Moore added, “We thought the stars were in alignment, but it’s looking like we may have got our astronomy wrong.”
Yet as ugly as the Social Security debate has been for Bush & the GOP, it’s served, perhaps intentionally, one salutary purpose: distracting Democrats while Republicans legislate, with ungodly brio, the rest of their agenda. Class-action reform, the bankruptcy bill, drilling for oil in the Alaskan wilderness: Republicans are teeing up pet legislation & knocking it down the fairway like Tiger Woods with a brisk wind at his back. “Without Social Security,” Grover Norquist, a Rove confidant & head of Americans for Tax Reform, told me, “this other stuff would’ve been the front line of battle. Instead, Democrats are holding us up on Social Security, while we get everything else we want done.”
Like Moore, Norquist concedes that Social Security reform (at least any version featuring private accounts) is unlikely to be passed this year. But this, he contends, would hardly be catastrophic for Republicans, & he has a point. “On Social Security, we’re playing on our field,” Norquist says. “What would a Democratic win be? The status quo! Not exactly exciting for the party of progressivism.”
More important, although Democrats, in my view, have been right as a matter both of principle & politics to fight Bush on Social Security, their stance leaves them open to attack. “Democrats did something really stupid by saying there isn’t a problem,” argues Luntz. “They damaged their credibility & made themselves the party of No.” Or, as Rove put it in his speech, “they’re attempting to block reform,” he said. “The risk is that they’ll appear to be obstructionist, oppositional, & wedded to the past instead of the future, & that isn’t a good place to be in American politics.”
To Rove’s constituency-centric way of thinking, Social Security reform is a way of satisfying the party’s laissez-faire purists. It’s also a way of reaching out to young voters, especially in the West. And while failure would be a setback for Bush, the damage, I think, would be less dramatic than people now assume. As long as the economy is humming & foreign policy ticking along, the main threat to Bush, lame-duckism, will be minimized by the desire of congressional Republicans, especially those planning a presidential run, to stay on his good side, & also on Rove’s. Indeed, that Rove has left open the possibility of his involvement in 2008 benefits Bush mightily. “The Rove primary,” one Hill Republican says, “is very much under way up here.”
The truth of that should be blindingly obvious to anyone who caught a nauseating glimpse of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s performance in the Schiavo affair. In Washington, Frist is universally seen as a wholly owned subsidiary of Rove’s White House operation. In the Schiavo controversy, both men saw an opportunity to score points with the religious right, causing Frist, a licensed physician, mind you, to diagnose Schiavo by a videotape, a detour into telemedicine that would’ve been funny if it weren’t so sad, & Rove to advise Bush to fly back to Washington to play his role in the theatre macabre.
For Rove, the need to throw a bone to Christian conservatives has been apparent since January, when he got a letter from a clutch of A-list Evangelicals (James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, etc.) complaining about the energy Bush was devoting to...Social Security. “Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage?” the letter asked pointedly.
Compared with gay marriage, the Schiavo affair offered Rove a fairly simple means of showing fealty to the religious right. It also fit snugly into a larger political schema. That the courts (bound by, you know, the rule of law) would refuse to restore Schiavo’s feeding tube was all but inevitable. And that, in turn, was bound to feed the ire of the right toward “liberal judges,” thus stoking the flames in the looming battle in the Senate over the so-called nuclear option to stop Democratic judicial filibusters, which Rove badly wants to detonate.
The alleged risks to Republicans of cozying up excessively to the Christian right are so well rehearsed it hurts my head to list them here: the alienation of swing voters, intra-party fratricide between social conservatives & libertarians, blah blah blah. The problem with this analysis can be simply stated: the 2004 election, in which swing voters all but disappeared, & Evangelicals, though far from delivering the White House to Bush, surely didn’t do him any harm.
For more than a decade, wishful liberals have forecast the impending collapse of the Republican coalition thanks to its internal conflicts. (I myself once wrote a long piece titled, ahem, “The GOP Big Tent Is Full of Holes.”) What all of us seem to forget is that tensions & strains are an inevitable feature within any majority political party. We forget that, for several decades, Democrats somehow found room to accommodate ideologies ranging from northern quasi-socialist to southern segregationist. The accommodation wasn’t always pretty, but neither was it terminally unstable.
In keeping the various breeds of elephant inside the Republican tent, Rove has his hands full. But while he may not qualify as a political Einstein, his tactics often crude (& even thuggish), his strategies susceptible to overreach, there’s no gainsaying his achievements or overstating his ambitions. Today Rove (whom Bush has dubbed “The Architect”) wields more power than any party operative since his hero Mark Hanna a century ago. If the GOP gains further ground in 2006, Rove’s influence will only grow. And if a Rove-guided Republican takes the White House in 2008...well, maybe we better not go there. The Rove primary is unsettling enough; a Grand Rove Party would border on terrifying.

Sen. Coleman: Kofi Must Go

Sen. Norm Coleman, (R-MN), chairman of the Permanent Subcomittee on Investigations, issued this press release following the release of Paul Volcker's interim report on the Oil For Food scandal:
Statement regarding Volcker report of March 29, 2005- “The Oil-for-Food scandal has now, through the U.N.’s own process of investigation, reached the highest levels of the U.N. The report of Paul Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee has revealed what I concluded many months ago through the initial investigation of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Kofi Annan is responsible for the failed management that resulted in the fraud & abuse of the Oil-for-Food Program. His lack of leadership, combined with conflicts of interest & a lack of responsibility & accountability point to one, & only one, outcome: His resignation. The Volcker Report will show that Kojo Annan lied. He lied to investigators. He lied to the public. And, worse, he lied to his father. While Kofi Annan may not be responsible for the acts of his son, he’s responsible for failing to reveal a serious conflict of interest.
Specifically, he permitted the U.N. to give massive contracts to the company that employed his son. This egregious conflict of interest is simply inexcusable & further damages the credibility of the organization he leads.
In addition, the revelation that the U.N. has agreed to pay the legal fees of Benon Sevan is beyond comprehension. That the U.N. would pay for his defense, & finance it through the very institution he abused, is immoral & unethical. In my opinion, there’s probable cause to criminally charge Mr. Sevan for his actions. The fact that the U.N. is reimbursing Mr. Sevan with money that rightfully belongs to the Iraqi people is outrageous.
The U.N. is in dire need of reform. That reform, which ranges from the structure of the Security Council to the internal auditing systems, will take strong leadership to make it happen. Mr. Annan is incapable of providing that leadership. His credibility has been seriously undermined by his conflicts of interests & poor management of the Oil for Food program. While Mr. Annan’s reform recommendations made in the last several days are admirable, & an appropriate starting point for discussion, there’s no possible way he can be the person responsible for leading the debate over the improvement & implementation of any U.N. reforms. The arrow that’s been shot at the heart of his leadership didn’t come from the quiver of Congress, but his own U.N. investigators.
I firmly believe in the role of a strong & vibrant U.N. in the world. I’ve been hopeful that Mr. Annan would put the interests of the U.N. ahead of his personal interest. To date, he’s failed to do so. My hope is that the latest findings from Paul Volcker will hasten Mr. Annan’s departure.”

Hillary in 08

Yes, I know that everyone that pays the least bit of attention to national politics has read a headline similar to that but I doubt anyone's read an article with this analysis. Peter Brown offers a unique perspective.
Hillary's Friends are Setting Her Up
By Peter A. Brown
March 29, 2005
Hillary Clinton is being set up by her political friends & news-media allies. Some Washington pundits are rethinking their conventional wisdom. The result is an emerging belief inside the Beltway that she’s successfully moderated her political image. In their view, Clinton has convinced bumpkins in The Great Beyond that she's no longer a loony liberal, but has remade herself into a centrist Democrat. History, however, isn’t rife with politicians who successfully remade an ideological image already firmly engrained in the American psyche.
Just because she appears to get along with her Senate Republican colleagues doesn’t mean that, in the public's eye, she’s become a moderate with a serious chance to win the White House in 2008.
The Hillary-as-centrist crowd believes that because: She’s adopted the technique pioneered by her husband of making a show of understanding the other side's point of view without changing hers, in this case on abortion, she can get the votes of social conservatives.

It's hard to believe that Hillary could win over enough southern state voters to win the presidency. The most likely path to the White House for Hillary is to win back Iowa, then hope she can win Missouri. That'd give the Republican candidate 268 electoral votes. For her to win, though, she'd have to hope the Republican candidate doesn't win New Hampshire, which would hand Hillary an electoral college lose.

She’s visiting Iraq & Afghanistan with GOP senators & recently has been relatively quiet in criticizing President George W. Bush's conduct of the war on terrorism, she can plausibly argue she’s commander-in-chief material.
Methinks Hillary lovers are again letting their hearts get in the way of their heads. Let's be clear here: If Hillary Clinton wants the Democratic nomination in 2008, it’s pretty much hers for the asking. Among the few things that Republican leaders & the left wing of the Democratic Party agree on these days is their desire for her to run. The lefties, who understand that Clinton is changing her marketing strategy but not her views, see her as a vehicle to control their own party first.

They believe it isn’t Democratic ideas that’ve failed in recent elections but their candidates' ability to articulate those views. And they see her as the best vehicle to persuade voters (but actually they’re mostly talking about women) who’ve gone Republican to realize the error of their ways. The GOP believes the Democrats' fundamental problem is their message & would be overjoyed to have her as the messenger, make that target, to campaign against. All this isn’t new. What is, however, is the view of some in the media that she’s redefined herself in the eyes of the American people.

I doubt that the R's "would be overjoyed" running against her. I also doubt that she'd cure the Dems' ills. The party is still too split at this time. Moderate Dems like Evan Bayh & Joe Lieberman are currently being disparaged by the crowd. As long as that's the case, she faces an uphill battle.

Maybe in the District of Columbia, where politics is a 24/7 sport. But it's the off-season in the rest of the country. And in red-state America, where Democrats must break through to retake the White House, when people begin thinking about such things, Hillary will be a very tough sell.
The best evidence of how out of touch the folks in D.C. are with most of the rest of the country is a survey MSNBC's Chris Matthews did of the rotating pundits he has on his show. Nine of 12 said they thought Hillary would do better in the states Bush carried last year than did John Kerry. Don't believe a word of it.

That Chris Matthews' panelists would have a clue on what happens in Red State America is laughable.

Kerry, for all his political liabilities, could plausibly argue that his military record & Senate foreign-affairs experience qualified him to be commander in chief. Any woman, unless she served in the military, which Clinton didn’t, faces a daunting challenge to meet the threshold needed for most Americans seriously to consider them for the Oval Office.
Condoleezza Rice, a national-security expert, might pull it off. Clinton, whose career has been based on promoting social programs & criticizing the Pentagon, would seem to face an even higher standard. Despite the activity on her behalf, maybe Clinton will realize that she couldn't win the November election, that her candidacy would just make it easier for the GOP to keep the White House.
Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, no less of a polarizing figure, opted against running for fear he’d drag his party down to defeat in 1984 against President Ronald Reagan. But, it was easier for Kennedy. He was less of a sure thing for the Democratic nomination then than Clinton would be in 2008, & he would’ve faced a popular incumbent while this time the seat will be open since Bush can't run again. Centrist Democrats, who can count electoral votes & don't believe she can convince Americans she isn't the liberal they had always thought, are crossing their fingers Hillary does the same.
They understand how difficult it’d be for her to win any states that Kerry couldn’t & they realize that, without some states in 2008 that they lost in 2004, the Electoral College will continue to deny any Democrat seeking admission.
Republicans want her to run because they think the centrist Democrats are right. If Hillary were to put her party's future ahead of her ego, she’d listen to her enemies rather than to her friends.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sense of the Senate Resolution

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a non-binding 'Sense of the Senate' resolution calling on federal appellate judges to only use U.S. laws & precedents in making determinations on laws. It further states that appellate judges should refrain from citing international laws as justification for rulings.
While this seems like a logical thing to do, it's anything but logical to Justices like Steven Breyer & Anthony Kennedy. Here's a copy of Sen. Cornyn's article in the National Review Online:

Domestic, Not Foreign
By Sen. John Cornyn
March 28, 2005
Our process for selecting federal judges has unfortunately become increasingly controversial & divisive in recent years. That’s largely because courts are departing further & further from our laws & traditions & injecting themselves further & further into our nation's most sensitive social & political issues, where courts simply don't belong. But whatever one's personal views may be with respect to the various controversial rulings that’ve been issued in recent years, surely all Americans can at least agree that U.S. courts must decide U.S. cases on the basis of U.S. law & U.S. precedent, not the positions of foreign governments & foreign courts. Yet that’s precisely what’s happening according to legal scholars, observers, & the justices themselves.
Through a series of recent rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has essentially determined that our criminal laws & criminal policies are informed, not only by our Constitution & the policy decisions of the American people through their elected representatives, but also by the rulings of foreign courts & the practices & laws of foreign governments. Indeed, in a series of recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has actually rejected its own prior precedents in part because foreign governments or courts have expressed disagreement with those precedents.
For example, in Penry v. Lynaugh (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a state may impose the death penalty on convicted criminals regardless of their IQ, if the state so chooses, but in Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Court reversed its earlier ruling in part because the Court was concerned about "the world community" & specifically the views of the EU.
Similarly, in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), the Court held that each state retains the discretion to determine whether certain kinds of conduct, long considered immoral under our longstanding legal traditions, should or shouldn’t remain illegal, but in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the Court again reversed itself, this time in part because it was concerned about the European Court of Human Rights & the European Convention on Human Rights.
Likewise, in Stanford v. Kentucky (1989), the Court concluded that 16 & 17 year-olds may be subject to the death penalty, if a state chooses to do so, but just last month in Roper v. Simmons, the Court reversed itself yet again, in part because of treaties the U.S. has never even ratified, & because of the views of foreign countries not shared by the people of Missouri & numerous other states. Still other opinions from Supreme Court justices have relied upon the legal judgments of foreign courts all across the globe, such as Jamaica & Zimbabwe.
Today the Court considers whether to take yet another step down this path. The case involves the state of Texas, & I’ve filed an amicus brief asking the Court to respect its own precedents & to defer to the people of Texas in their administration of criminal justice consistent with the Constitution. The other side in the case argues in effect, however, that the International Court of Justice can effectively overrule a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court & of the Texas government. In Breard v. Greene (1998), the Court made clear that criminal defendants, like all parties in litigation, may not sit on their rights & then bring up those rights later as a stalling tactic. That basic principle of our legal system, the Court explained, isn’t undermined just because the accused happens to be a foreign national covered by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Yet even this basic principle of American law may be reversed, after today's oral argument in Medellin v. Dretke.
This is, to put it lightly, not how our legal system is supposed to work. To the contrary, our Founding Fathers fought the Revolutionary War precisely in order to stop foreign governments from telling us what our laws say. The Declaration of Independence specifically complains that the American Revolution was justified because King George "has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, & unacknowledged by our laws." It was "We the People of the United States" who ordained & established a Constitution of the U.S., one that includes a mechanism by which only "We the People of the U.S." can change it if necessary. And of course, every federal judge & justice swears an oath to "faithfully & impartially discharge & perform all the duties incumbent upon me...under the Constitution & laws of the United States."
I fear, however, that today some judges may be departing so far from American law, American principles, & American traditions, that the only way they can justify their rulings from the bench is to cite the law of foreign countries, foreign governments & foreign cultures, because there’s nothing in this country left for them to cite for support. What's more, citing foreign law in order to overrule U.S. policy is especially offensive to our constitutional democracy, because foreign lawmaking is in no way accountable to the American people.
Last week, I introduced Senate Resolution 92, similar to a resolution introduced by Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) last month. It expresses the sense of the Senate that judicial determinations regarding the meaning of our Constitution shouldn’t be based on the judgments, laws, or pronouncements of foreign institutions, except where such foreign judgments, laws, or pronouncements inform an understanding of the original meaning of our Constitution.
The issue of judicial confirmations has divided senators & that’s unfortunate. But surely we can all agree that our courts must follow our laws, not the laws of foreign governments & the rulings of foreign courts.
— The Honorable John Cornyn is a U.S. senator from Texas & a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He served previously as Texas attorney general & state supreme court justice.
Here's a copy of his speech on the Senate floor:
Cornyn Introduces Legislation to Keep Foreign Influence Out of U.S. Courts
March 21, 2005
Washington—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced a resolution, S. Res. 92, expressing the sense of the Senate that judicial decisions regarding the U.S. Constitution shouldn’t be influenced by other countries. The resolution states that determinations regarding the meaning of the Constitution of the U.S. shouldn’t be based on judgments, laws, or pronouncements of foreign institutions unless such foreign judgments, laws, or pronouncements inform an understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution of the U.S.
“Step by step, with every case, the American people may be losing their ability to determine what their criminal laws shall be, losing control to foreign courts & foreign governments,” Cornyn said. “And if this can happen with criminal law, it can also spread to other areas of our government & of sovereignty.”
Cornyn filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Jose Medellin murder case arguing that if a criminal is found guilty of a brutal crime in Texas, sentenced under U.S. law, & the procedure is upheld by the Supreme Court, those courts shouldn’t be reversed by an international court. In the brief, filed in late February, Cornyn said U.S. cases should be decided by American law, American courts, & American jurors, & U.S. sovereignty shouldn’t be subverted by international law. On March 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the authority of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to bind U.S. courts, & the Court’s decision in the matter will have major ramifications for previous convictions, as well as future prosecutions of foreign nationals who commit crimes in the U.S. In particular, the court will consider the case of a Mexican national, Jose Medellin, who was convicted of the 1993 rape & murder of two Texas teens and sentenced to death.
For a pdf file of the resolution, S. Res. 92, visit: Following is the complete text of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks that were entered into the Senate Record on Sunday, March 20:
Mr. President, I rise to express concern over a trend that, some legal scholars & observers say, may be developing in our courts, a trend regarding the potential influence of foreign governments & foreign courts in the application & enforcement of U.S. law. If this trend is real, then I fear that, bit by bit, case by case, the American people may be slowly losing control over the meaning of our laws & of our Constitution. If this trend continues, foreign governments may even begin to dictate what our laws & our Constitution mean, & what our policies in America should be.
In a series of cases over the past few years, our courts have begun to tell us that our criminal laws & criminal policies are informed, not only by our Constitution & by the policy preferences & legislative enactments of the American people through their elected representatives, but also by the rulings of foreign courts. It’s hard to believe, but in a series of recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has actually rejected its own prior precedents, in part because a foreign government or court has expressed its disagreement with those precedents. Mr. President, with your indulgence, I’ll offer just a few of the most recent examples.
Until recently, the U.S. Supreme Court had long held that the death penalty may be imposed on individuals regardless of their IQ. The Court traditionally left that issue untouched, as a question for the American people, in each of their states, to decide. That was what the Court said in a case called Penry v. Lynaugh (1989).
Yet because some foreign governments have frowned upon that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has now seen fit to take that issue away from the American people. In 2002, in a case called Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the commonwealth of Virginia could no longer apply its criminal justice system & its death penalty to an individual who’d been duly convicted of abduction, armed robbery, & capital murder, because of testimony that the defendant was “mildly mentally retarded.” The reason given for the complete reversal in the Court’s position? In part because the Court was concerned about “the world community” & the views of the E.U.
Take another example. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that the American people, in each of their states, have the discretion to decide whether certain kinds of conduct that has long been considered immoral under our longstanding legal traditions should or shouldn’t remain illegal.
In Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), the Court held that it’s up to the American people to decide whether criminal laws against sodomy should be continued or abandoned. Yet once again, because some foreign governments have frowned upon that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has seen fit to take that issue away from the American people. In 2003, in a case called Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the state of Texas could no longer decide whether its criminal justice system may fully reflect the moral values of the people of Texas. The reason given for the complete reversal? This time, the Court explained, it was in part because it was concerned about the European Court of Human Rights & the European Convention on Human Rights.
Here’s yet another example, from just a few weeks ago. Until this month, the U.S. Supreme Court had always held that 16 & 17-year olds, like John Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old who terrorized the Washington area in a sniper spree that left 10 people dead, may be subject to the death penalty, if that’s indeed the will of the people. The Court said as much in a case called Stanford v. Kentucky (1989). Yet because some foreign governments have frowned upon that ruling as well, the U.S. Supreme Court, on March 1 of this year, saw fit yet again to take this issue away from the American people. In Roper v. Simmons, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the state of Missouri could no longer apply its death penalty to 16 & 17-year olds convicted of murder, no matter how brutal & depraved the act, & no matter how unrepentant the criminal. The reason given for this most recent complete reversal? In part because of treaties the U.S. has never even ratified, like the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child & because many foreign countries disagree with the people of Missouri.
The trend may be continuing. Next Monday, March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the question whether foreign nationals duly convicted of the most heinous crimes are nevertheless entitled to a new trial, for reasons that those individuals didn’t even bother to mention at their first trial. As in the previous examples, the Supreme Court has actually already answered this question. In Breard v. Greene (1998), the Court made clear that criminal defendants, like all parties in litigation, may not sit on their rights & then bring up those rights later to stall the imposition of their criminal sentences. That basic principle of our legal system, the Court explained, isn’t undermined just because the accused happens to be a foreign national subject to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Even this basic principle of American law may soon be reversed, however. Many legal experts predict that, in the upcoming case of Medellin v. Dretke, the Court may overturn itself yet again, for no other reason than that the International Court of Justice happens to disagree with our longstanding laws & legal principles. That case involves the state of Texas, & I’ve filed an amicus brief asking the Court to respect its own precedents as well as the authority of the people of Texas to determine its criminal laws & policies consistent with the U.S. Constitution. There is a serious risk, however, that the Court will ignore Texas law, ignore U.S. law, and ignore the U.S. Constitution, and decide in effect that the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court can be overruled by the International Court of Justice.
There’s still other examples, other decisions, where we see Supreme Court justices citing legal opinions from foreign courts across the globe, from India, Jamaica, Zimbabwe & the list goes on. Mr. President, I’m concerned about this trend. Step by step, with every case, the American people may be losing their ability to determine what their criminal laws shall be, losing control to the control of foreign courts & foreign governments. If this can happen with criminal law, it can spread to other areas of government & sovereignty. How about economic policy or foreign policy or decisions about security & military strategy?
I think most Americans would be disturbed if we gave foreign governments the power to tell us what our Constitution means. Our Founding Fathers fought the Revolutionary War precisely to stop foreign governments from telling us what our laws say. In fact, ending foreign control over American law was one the very reasons given for the Revolutionary War. The Declaration of Independence specifically complains that the American Revolution is justified because King George, & I quote, “has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution & unacknowledged by our laws.” After a long & bloody revolution, we earned at last the right to be free of such foreign control. It was “We the People of the United States” who then ordained & established a Constitution of the United States, & our predecessors specifically included a mechanism by which only “We the People of the United States” could change it if necessary. And of course, every federal judge & justice swears an oath to “faithfully & impartially discharge & perform all the duties incumbent upon me...under the Constitution & laws of the United States. So help me God.”
I’m concerned about this trend. I’m concerned that this trend may reflect a growing distrust amongst legal elites, not only a distrust of our constitutional democracy, but a distrust of America itself. First, it reflects distrust of our constitutional democracy.
As every high school civics student learns, the job of a judge is pretty straightforward. Judges are supposed to follow the law, not rewrite it. Judges are supposed to enforce & apply political decisions, not make them. The job of a judge is to read & obey the words contained in our laws & in our judicial precedents, not the laws & precedents of foreign governments, which have no sovereign authority over our nation.
I fear, though, that some judges simply don’t like our laws, & they don’t like the political decisions being made by the American people, through their elected representatives, about what our laws should be. So perhaps they’d rather rewrite the law from the bench. What’s especially disconcerting is that some judges today may be departing so far from American law, from American principles, & American traditions, that the only way they can justify their rulings from the bench is to cite the law of foreign countries, foreign governments, & foreign cultures, because there’s nothing in this country left for them to cite for support.
Moreover, citing foreign law in order to overrule U.S. policy offends democracy, because foreign lawmaking is in no way accountable to the American people. There’s an important role for international law to play in our system here in the U.S., to be sure. But it’s a role that belongs to the American people, through the political branches of the U.S., to the Congress & the President, to decide what role international law shall play in our legal system. It’s emphatically not a role that’s given to our courts. Article I of the Constitution gives Congress, not the courts, the authority to enact laws punishing “Offenses against the Law of Nations.” And Article II of the Constitution gives the President the power to ratify treaties, subject to the advice & consent & the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. Yet our courts are overruling U.S. law by citing foreign law decisions in which the U.S. Congress has had no role, & citing treaties that the U.S. President & the U.S. Senate have refused to approve.
To those who might say there’s nothing wrong with simply trying to bring U.S. law into consistency with other nations, I say this: This isn’t a good faith effort to bring U.S. law into global harmony. I fear that it’s simply an effort to further a particular ideological agenda. The record suggests that this sudden interest in foreign law is political, not legal; it seems selective, not principled.
U.S. courts are following foreign law inconsistently, only when needed to achieve a particular outcome that a judge or justice happens to desire, but that is flatly inconsistent with U.S. law and precedent. Many countries, for example, provide no exclusionary rule to suppress evidence that’s otherwise useful & necessary to convict criminal defendants, yet our courts haven’t abandoned our constitutional rule on that topic. Very few countries provide for abortion on demand, yet our courts haven’t abandoned our nation’s constitutional jurisprudence on that subject. Four justices of the Supreme Court believe that school choice programs to benefit poor urban communities are unconstitutional if parochial schools are eligible, even though many other countries directly fund religious schools.
Even more disconcerting than this distrust of our constitutional democracy is the distrust of America itself. I’d hope that no American would ever believe that the citizens of foreign countries are always right, & that Americans are always wrong. Yet I worry that some judges may become more & more interested in impressing foreign governments, & less & less interested in simply following American law. Indeed, at least one Supreme Court justice has stated publicly that following foreign rulings, rather than U.S. rulings, & I quote, “may create that all important good impression,” & therefore, & I quote, “over time we will rely increasingly...on international & foreign courts in examining domestic issues.”
This attitude is especially disturbing today. The brave men & women of our Armed Forces are putting their lives on the line in order to champion freedom & democracy not just for the American people, but for people all around the world. America today is the world’s leading champion of freedom & democracy. Meanwhile, the U.N. is rife with corruption, & the U.N. Human Rights Commission is chaired by Libya.
Mr. President, I’m disturbed by this trend, & I hope that the American people will have a chance to speak out. I believe that the American people don’t want their courts to make political decisions; they want their courts to follow & apply the law as it’s written. The American people don’t want their courts to follow the precedents of foreign courts; they want their courts to follow U.S. law & the precedents of U.S. courts. The American people don’t want their laws controlled by foreign governments; they want their laws controlled by the American government, which serves the American people. The American people don’t want to see American law & American policy outsourced to foreign governments & foreign courts.
So today, I introduce a sense of the Senate resolution, to give this body the opportunity to state for the record that this trend in our courts is wrong, & that American law should never be reversed or rejected simply because a foreign government or foreign court may disagree with it. This resolution is nearly identical to one that’s been introduced by my colleague in the House of Representatives, Congressman Tom Feeney. I applaud his leadership & his efforts in this area, & I’d hope that both the House & the Senate will come together & follow in the footsteps of our Founding Fathers, to once again defend our right as Americans to dictate the policies of our government, informed, but never dictated, by the preferences of any foreign government or tribunal. And I ask that the text of the resolution be included at the appropriate place in the Record.
I yield the floor.
To average Americans, the points Sen. Cornyn makes would seem routine. Unfortunately, Supreme Court justices have taken to citing international laws as justification to further a political agenda. Often, they ignore the Constitution & substitute foreign treaties and/or laws. What makes it worse is that they apply these foreign rulings selectively.
If something is bad policy, the courts can rule in favor of the Constitution but include in its dissenting remarks their opinion. Judges are supposed to rule on the Constitution, not create new policies.
It's one thing, too, to have a judge make new law if it's based on the Constitution or legal precedent that's rooted in the Constitution. That's the definition of strict constructionism.