Thursday, March 31, 2005

From soxblog:
It’s a tragedy that countless lives have been lost to date because society has yet to entirely come around regarding life’s intrinsic value. But such is the sweep of history. Generations of African Americans were enslaved, often by the greatest men of their eras like Washington and Jefferson, because the insight that slavery was wrong had not yet pervaded American society. Sadly, these things take time, time measured in decades not weeks.

So our fight continues. Terri Schiavo, rest in peace.
I spent part of yesterday at the headquarters of Vibration & Sound Solutions Limited (VSSL), located on an unasssuming block in Alexandria, Va. It is, however, one of the foremost facilities for magnetic levitation and vibration technology research. The applications for such technology are boundless. Think mag-lev for ships and subs, safety seats aboard boats that make you feel like you're floating, even hydraulic knee braces for our troops in the mountains of Afghanistan. In other words, exoskeletons. The Office of Naval Research is funding the R&D for VSSL, though some of the technologies can't get to our soldiers soon enough.

But what if, in the midst of all the heady research, one of the scientists finds himself dangerously imbued with magnetic powers?

It could happen.

(For more on the fascinating work of VSSL and the manipulation of magnetic fields, stay tuned for my piece in The Daily Standard later next week.)

It Is Finished

Mark Steyn on the public execution of Terri Schiavo; William Anderson on how the justice system failed us. Both are stunning rebukes to Reynolds, Hertzberg, Sullivan, et al.

Sullivan, Reynolds, and Guilt by Association

In the Village Voice Nat Hentoff now defends Terri Schiavo and calls the legal charade in Florida for what it is. Noting that Terri swallows her own saliva and might be able to take orally administered fluids, he seconds Wesley Smith's realization "that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."

This is Nat Hentoff we're talking about. Ralph Nader stands with him. As does Jesse Jackson. And Mary Johnson. And Harriet McBryde Johnson. And a host of other disability rights activists who championed this case long before most people had ever heard Terri Schiavo's name. (Not to mention other liberal stalwarts such as Mickey Kaus and Marshall Wittmann.)

Still, those who want Terri dead--people like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds--dishonestly insist that the debate is between sensible, law-abiding people on one side and "theocons," the "religious right," and "Christianists" on the other. (This last term has been donated to the discussion by Rik Hertzberg, who agrees wholeheartedly with Reynolds and Sullivan.)

Eager to reinforce his point, Sullivan (who promised weeks ago to stop blogging) recently posted an email purporting to be from a someone who has one of these Christer-zealots in the family. Describing this nutty sibling, Sullivan's emailer writes, "My sister-in-law is a devout Catholic, a Republican, and she watches Pat Robertson's 700 Club almost religiously." Get it? All the cues are there. "Devout" Catholic. "Republican." "Pat Robertson." "700 Club." Just one question: How many Catholics do you know who watch the 700 Club? Me neither.

Reynolds, in his continuing, if understated, campaign for Terri Schiavo's death, has tried to distract attention from the facts of the case by pointing to the involvement of self-promoter/hack Randall Terry. "If you don't want to be confused with a movement led by theocrats," Reynolds says, "don't let actual theocrats be seen as your spokesmen." Thanks for the tip. And how, exactly, is one to supposed to shut Randall Terry up?

Sighing at the burden of it all, Reynolds now tells us that "this is one of those episodes that seems to bring out the worst in people. That's why I didn't really want to weigh in to begin with--I knew that I was unlikely to persuade anyone, because very few people seem to care about the facts, or about arguments."

How droll. Like Sullivan and Hertzberg and the rest of the crew eager to get Terri Schiavo in the ground, it is Reynolds who assiduously avoided the facts at every turn--choosing instead to condemn the poor woman by association because of (some of) the people who have rallied to her cause. As Hugh Hewitt observes, this is demagoguery, pure and simple.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Our Robed Masters

Contemplating Justice Stanley Birch's ruling, Ed Morrissey writes:
Not only did the Eleventh Circuit openly disregard the law written by Congress, this justice arrogantly tells the other equal branches that the only branch guaranteeing a free people is the one not accountable to the will of the electorate. Bear in mind that none of the courts that reviewed this case after the passage of the emergency legislation found it unconstitutional; that at least would have put the court on record. Instead, the judiciary simply and contemptuously disregarded a law which to this moment remains legal and valid.

If Birch thinks that this law constitutes such a serious threat to the Republic, then the court should have ruled it unconstitutional. However, that would have meant a hearing on its merits, which the 11th Circuit cravenly refused to provide. Birch instead reacted in keeping with the hyperinflated notion of the judiciary in modern times as a superlegislature with veto power over actions taken by the other two branches without any due process whatsoever.

Birch's comment demonstrates that this out-of-control judiciary constitutes the main threat to the Founding Fathers' blueprint. They have set themselves up as a star chamber, an unelected group of secular mullahs determining which laws they choose to observe and which they choose to ignore.

Michael Bay Blog, Day 3

From the Michael Bay Blog:
I suspect we'll do their numbers, peter out around 80, I don't think we'll hit a hundred domestic (neither did TCM), but with DVD sales, I'll be expanding Casa De Bay. We'll definitely play better to Urban audiences than Ring 2 did, so maybe we'll hit the nine digits. My films always play well to the Urban audience because I think Urban, and I'm not talking outfitters.

Terri Schiavo's Last Communion

From the Washington Post:
Schiavo's religion--she is a Roman Catholic--has always been a significant aspect of the seven-year legal battle between her parents and her husband, on such issues as whether her feeding tube should be reinserted and her husband's plans to have her remains cremated. Her faith was so entwined in the legal fight that a judge issued an order dictating the exact number of times--once--that she could receive Holy Communion after her feeding tube was removed March 18.

But Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, who gave Schiavo her last authorized Holy Communion on Easter, announced Tuesday that he had tried to defy the order during an afternoon visit to her hospice room. Bobby Schindler, Schiavo's brother, said the three police officers in the room warned Malanowski that he would be arrested if he followed through on plans to place a drop of consecrated wine on Schiavo's lips.

Let's read that again: a judge issued an order dictating the exact number of times--once--that she could receive Holy Communion after her feeding tube was removed March 18.
But of course this is all about respecting her wishes and freedoms.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


No, that is not a reference to Monty Burns of Springfield. Rather, that line comes to you courtesy of Batman villain Egghead (played by Vincent Price, who else?).

But I say this in regard to an eggceptional story in today's CNN Money about the new Enormous Omelet Sandwich at Burger King. The sandwich, consisting of a mere two eggs, a sausage patty, two cheese slices, and three strips of bacon, packs in 730 calories and 47 grams of fat--more than a Whopper. As you might eggspect, critics are making a beef about this Caligulan feast. The good folks at Burger King, however, have maintained a steady line for some time now: It is all about choice. They aren't eggsactly saying you should eat three of these a day, but, as one spokesman told CNN Money, "It's designed for people who like to start the day with a hearty breakfast."

Recently seen ordering the sandwich were Paul Bunyan, Apache Chief, and Grape Ape.

(Thanks to Galley friend S.L. for sending me this link. Mmmmm... links...)

Bracketology IV

I have begun my fall down our pool rankings, but Vic Matus should win the whole thing is L'ville beats Illinois. Much more hoops roundup at ACC BasketBlog.
Peter Byrnes wonders why Terri Schiavo is being given morphine? Good question.

Part 2: Why Do They Hate Terri?

Reihan notes Rik Hertzberg's writing on Terri Schiavo. You'll recall that the question is whether the left wants Terri dead because Christians want her alive, or because they see saving her life as a blow to abortion rights.

Judging by Hertzberg, it's a little of both.

But let's pose this hypothetical: Had the movement to save Terri been identified primarily with disability rights groups (as it was in the early years of the case), and not with Christian pro-lifers, would the left have reacted so strongly in favor of her death?

Michael Bay Blog, Day 2

If you foolishly ignored me yesterday, go to the Michael Bay Blog right now. From his summer movie report card:
TROY: Wolfgang Petersen is the guy who you hire if I’m too busy. Hell, he may be the guy you hire if Simon West is too busy. That said, A PERFECT STORM made Warner Brothers a lot of money, and with the LOTR films making bank this sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately it was mostly boring, and I fell asleep through a lot of it. If I want to read a history book, I’ll go to the library. And the leads all looked really gay to me. I half expected Brad Pitt and Eric Bana to start making out at some point, while Orlando Bloom watched and touched himself.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Worthy Danish Initiative

Copenhagen has a new opera house that—before you fall asleep—has been compared to the grill on a 1955 Pontiac. Fact check! I think the naysayers at WeekendAdvisen meant a 1955 Chevy. Anyway, the new "Operean" is rather captivating. And the grill effect seems rather a positive. It lends shape to what might have appeared to be a large glass bulb.

Rainbow Six

Did you know the Washington, D.C., police operates a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit?

Here is just an excerpt from today's Washington Post:

"When [Sgt.] Parson teaches police officers at the police academy how to deal with the gay community, he starts with Gay 101. They are blue-collar, white-collar, French collar and no collar. They may withhold the whole truth from you because their lives often are shrouded in necessary fictions. They might be uncomfortable dealing with you because they have been humilated by you in the past...."

Michael Bay Blog

Galley Friend M.R. sends along a link to a blog penned by Michael Bay. His manifesto:
Hey readers, admirers, hangers-ons (including you Jerry O'Connell... just kidding), and hot women, I've decided to compile some of my thoughts from past interviews and discussions. Also, when I'm not too busy putting the finishing touches on my latest film, THE ISLAND (7/22/05) or scoring with some hot chicks, I'll post my thoughts about the business and life.

I think I know who's behind the Michael Bay Blog, but I don't want to spoil the fun. Worth your valuable time. Another choice sample:
"Dating Fez" has become a euphamism at Casa De Bay; it means you're stretched out. This kid is a Scott Biao for the 21st century. I'm happy for him (I'm no hater), but I'm also happy to be on the Pre-Fez line of some of his conquests.

Get your Bay Blog before it's too late.

Friday, March 25, 2005

"Evolving Standards of Decency"

Bill Kristol has a sobering assessment of our robed masters:
Last month the Supreme Court saved Simmons's life. The citizens, legislators, and governor of Missouri (and those of 19 other states) had, it turned out, fallen grievously and unconstitutionally behind "the evolving standards of decency that mark a maturing society." Five justices decided that the Constitution prevented anyone under the age of 18 from being sentenced to death. So Christopher Simmons will live.

It appears, at this writing, that Terri Schiavo will not. . . .

. . . it would be wrong to suggest, as some conservatives have, that our judicial elite is systematically biased against "life." After all, they have saved the life of Christopher Simmons. It would be wrong to argue, as some critics have, that our judges systematically give too much weight to the husband's wishes in situations like Terri Schiavo's. After all, our judges have for three decades given husbands (or fathers) no standing at all to participate in the decision whether to kill their unborn children. It would be wrong to claim that our judges don't take seriously legislation passed by the elected representatives of the people. After all, our judges are committed to upholding the "rule of law"--though not, perhaps, the rule of actual laws passed by actual lawmakers.

How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo

Eric Cohen's article on How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo is outstanding. First, he recalls the basic facts on the ground:
In February 1990, a sudden loss of oxygen to the brain left Theresa Marie Schiavo in a coma and eventually in a profoundly incapacitated state. Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, took care of her, working alongside Terri's parents. He took her to numerous doctors; he pursued experimental treatments; he sought at least some modest restoration of her self-awareness. In November 1992, he testified at a malpractice hearing that he would care for Terri for the rest of her life, that he "wouldn't trade her for the world," that he was going to nursing school to become a better caregiver. He explicitly reaffirmed his marriage vow, "through sickness, in health."

But the lonely husband eventually began seeing other women. His frustration with his wife's lack of improvement
seemed to grow. When Terri suffered a urinary tract infection in the summer of 1993, he decided to cease all treatment, believing that her time to die had come, that this was what Terri would have wanted. But Terri's caregivers refused to let her die, and Michael Schiavo relented--for the time being. Not all Terri's doctors, however, saw their medical obligation in the same way; one physician declared that Terri had basically been dead for years, and told Michael that he should remove her feeding tube. Michael responded that he "couldn't do that to Terri," that he could never leave his wife to die of dehydration. But at some point, his heart changed. He decided that it was time for her final exit and his new beginning. He decided that his own wishes--for children, for a new family, for new love unclouded by old obligations--were also her wishes. He decided that she had a right to die and that he had a right to let her die.

Cohen then isolates the two primary questions in the case:
First, what would Terri Schiavo have wanted? Would she want to die rather than live in a profoundly incapacitated condition? Was Michael Schiavo's decision to remove her feeding tube an act of fidelity to his wife's prior wishes or an act of betrayal of the woman entrusted to his care? Second, what was Terri Schiavo's precise medical condition?

Read it all.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Glenn Reynolds on Schiavo

Just so we all remember where Glenn Reynolds stood:
Yes, I think Hugh's argument boils down to saying that the State of Florida has a bad law, and Terri Schiavo made a bad marriage, and that therefore somehow it's Congress' business to step in and override the Florida law, and make up for the fact that Terri Schiavo apparently married the wrong guy, at least in Hugh's opinion. I don't think we know that. If these caregivers want to take care of Terri Schiavo, what's left out of it is Terri Schiavo's desires. That's what the State of Florida has tried to determine. If Terri Schiavo's desire is to die, then in fact, you're making her into a non-person by not following it. You may not know whether the procedures are adequate. They may not be, but we normally say it's up to state law to decide what procedures are adequate. And I really don't see a federal role in this.

End of a Season, Rebirth of a Team

Yes, it would have been nice to see the Georgetown men's basketball team in the midst of March Madness, fighting through the brackets to make it to St. Louis. Unfortunately they didn't get a bid but accepted one for the National Invitational Tournament, aka Not In Tournament. The Hoyas faced the South Carolina Gamecocks tonight and lost, at Columbia, 69-66.

This brings the Hoyas' season finally to an end. (And for many of our readers, I'm sure this couldn't come sooner.) But looking back on last year's horrendous performance, in which Georgetown dropped 13 of 15 games, lost some 9 in a row, and failed to make any postseason for the first time in 30 years, this current season was a miracle. The team got a new coach, learned an entirely new offense, and grounded out 19 wins. Not bad for a team the rest of the Big East picked to finish second to last.

Courage in Clearwater

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Judge George Greer's pastor, William Rice, has asked Greer to leave his church. In a letter, Rice tells Greer, "it might be easier for all of us" if he were to leave the Calvalry Baptist Church in Clearwater.

It's a good start.

Slaves to the Law

We have already seen that officers of the court in general, and Judge Greer in particular, can be wrong in their assessments of fact. Still, some persist in arguing that it is the findings of a court--not evidence or truth--which constitute fact.

Galley Friend C.L. sens in this quote from Lincoln, during his first debate with Stephen Douglas, on the subject of Douglas's easy acceptance of Dredd Scott:
This man [Douglas] sticks to a decision which forbids the people of a Territory from excluding slavery, and he does so not because he says it is right in itself,--he does not give any opinion on that,--but because it has been decided by the court; and being decided by the court, he is, and you are, bound to take it in your political action as law, not that he judges at all of its merits, but because a decision of the court is to him a "Thus saith the Lord." He places it on that ground alone; and you will bear in mind that thus committing himself unreservedly to this decision, commits him to the next one just as firmly as to this. He did not commit himself on account of the merit or demerit of the decision, but it is a "Thus saith the Lord." The next decision, as much as this, will be a "Thus saith the Lord." There is nothing that can divert or turn him away from this decision.

When a judge perverts facts, evidence, and the cause of justice as Judge George Greer has done--time and again--it is our duty to challenge him.

Judge George Greer: Willful and Capricious

Ed Morrissey has yet another example of Judge Greer's willful and capricious behavior in his dismissal of testimony simply because he lables it "incredible"--despite the fact that witnesses corroborate each other's accounts.
Hugh Hewitt has a good piece on our runaway judiciary. And Dr. William Anderson makes a compelling case for orally administering liquids to Terri Schiavo.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Judge Greer's Mistakes, part II

A commenter points to this Ann Coulter column from 2003:

"Judge Greer's finding on Terri's wishes may be immune from legal review, but it's not immune from criticism. He's a finder of fact; he's not God. A few years ago, Judge Greer found that Helene Ball McGee did not have reasonable cause to believe domestic violence was imminent and denied her an order of protection. Two weeks later, Mrs. McGee was stabbed to death by her husband. So judges can make mistakes."

Paging Dr. Woodruff

No doubt Judy Woodruff was unhappy to be at the CNN news desk last Sunday night. Congress decided to return for a midnight session to deal with the Terri Schiavo ruling and Woodruff was determined to get to the bottom of it. Below is an edited (for length) transcript of her interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta:

WOODRUFF: I want to bring you back in, Sanjay, because I keep coming back to the dispute between the doctors, who the courts have depended on to make these decisions over the years, who have said Terri Schiavo's in a persistent vegetative state, and then the comments by her father and her brother that she is not. Why is it so difficult to make a determination once and for all of what her medical condition is?

GUPTA: For the most part, this is a clinical diagnosis. That's what makes it difficult. There's no single blood test, there's no signel scan of the brain that's going to tell you for sure that she is in a persistent vegetative state versus a coma versus something else.... What also makes it difficult, I think, is just the emotions that are sort of attached to someone who can be in a persistent vegetative state. And what I mean by that, a lot of people describe this as a state of wakeful unawareness.... It means someone might open their eyes, they might even look at you, they may close their eyes when it's time to sleep. They have the state of sleep/wake sort of cycle. They have some responsiveness to touch, perhaps, they can grimace, they can make noise. All of the stuff suggestive that the lower part of the brain, the brain stem if you will, Judy, does appear to be functioning.
The problem is that ... any of the higher brain functions ... are all gone. This is a difficult concept even for doctors to get their arms around....

WOODRUFF: But, but Sanjay, as we understand it, the doctors who have examined Terri Schiavo--and we just heard the professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School saying it's her understanding that the CAT scans have shown no higher brain activity. That the part of the brain that thinks, that senses being, is not there.

GUPTA: I heard that as well.... Again, there is no specific scan that's going to tell you for sure that someone is in a persistent vegetative state.... None of her brain was getting enough blood flow for awhile. So parts of her brain did die. And that is something that would be evident on a CAT scan. But exactly how profound an impact that's going to have on somebody is something that can only be told clinically, meaning you actually have to examine the patient. I should point out I've never examined Terri Schiavo nor have I looked at her scans. But everything that I'm hearing from the doctors that have say that she fits the clinical diagnosis of a persistant vegetative state....

WOODRUFF: And Sanjay, do you know of any instance where someone with that clinical diagnosis returned to normal, or reversed that condition?

GUPTA: No.... To be even more clear on this, once it passes beyond one year in terms of someone without any recovery from a persistent vegetative state, the appropriate term at that point is permanent vegetative state.... It is called permanent vegetative state because there have been no known cases for someone to return to having any function.

WOODRUFF: If it's that clear then, again, Sanjay, I'm sorry to be repeating the question, why is there such a dispute here?

GUPTA: Well, I think, again, because there is no absolute blood test or brain scan that's going to gell you for sure, it sounds to me--and I've been following this case along--that a few of the doctors have disagreed, at least a little bit.... It is a difficult problem even for doctors to try and get their arms around. You see someone opening their eyes, you see someone maybe even looking at you, responding like if you were to clap your hands really loud on their right of their head they might turn their head toward you. All of those things to the lay person mean, hey, that person is awake and aware. But as we probe deeper, as we look to see what is reflex and what is real, we find that in fact these are all just reflexes, that there is nothing there above just the basic human reflexes.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Sanjay Gupta telling us that in fact after one year of a condition like what it is believed Terri Schiavo has been in, it is a permanent vegetative state.
Sanjay, thank you very much.

And yet here is Dr. Sanjay Gupta this morning on CNN:

GUPTA: As part of this review, Senator Frist in this bill talks about actually getting a new panel of doctors, independently chosen, to come in and try and settle this in a more definitive manner, to really give her a diagnosis and to give a more objective sense, is she in a persistent vegetative state or not? I mean it's amazing, we still don't know that answer for sure and, more importantly, how would she do with or without a feeding tube.

Santorum and the Death Penalty

Rick Santorum is reexamining his stance on the death penalty. This is good news.

Santorum seems to be moving pretty tentatively, saying only that he wants it limited and that he doesn't think that it is fundamentally wrong. But he says that he agrees with Pope John Paul II. If he follows this line of thought, hopefully he'll come to side with Avery Dulles and realize that in modern America should never be applied.

Freudian Slip?

Peter Byrnes catches an interesting MSNBC headline: "85 Iraqi militants killed Worst death toll for rebels in months as U.S., Iraqi forces raid suspected training camp."

Cal Lanier and the Law

A nice (guy? gal?) named Cal Lanier has been leaving comments this morning. Lanier seems pretty smart. Who is Cal? One of the three people who run the blog Football Fans for Truth. Surely you remember them.

Cal Lanier wants Terri Schiavo dead. Go read Lanier's comprehensive Terri Schiavo FAQ. Oh sure, Lanier demurs at the end, saying that he's not "on Michael Schiavo's side." No, no, he's "on the side of the law." Boy, is he.

Lanier's lock-step support of the legal system is so great that he treats nearly every issuance of Judge George Greer as gospel truth. His entire case for killing Terri Schiavo--that is, being on the side of "the law"--is built around the assumption that Greer and legal system are infallible. Lanier writes:
I offer up a few hypotheticals:

1. Assume all facts are the same, but Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers agree that the feeding tube should be removed.

2. Assume all facts are the same, the Schindlers oppose the feeding tube removal, but Terri Schiavo left a detailed living will that specified she would want the feeding tube removed if she were in a persistent vegetative state.

3. Assume that Michael Schiavo has remained completely faithful to his wife all these years, but still testifies that she told him she would want to die in these circumstances, and the Schindlers still oppose him.

If your opinion switches from opposition to support in these hypotheticals, then your opposition is based on the circumstances in this case. So ask yourself: do you really think that you know more about the case from the media coverage and court documents than the judges who actually reviewed all the evidence?

This, of course, is the chicken-hawk argument. How dare a president who has not served in the military order our soldiers around. How dare a person who has never directed a movie write a film review. How dare a bunch of geeks in pajamas question 60 Minutes reporters who have been immersed in the intricacies of George W. Bush's national guard service. Get it?

And upon close examination, this is the entire substance of Lanier's argument for killing Schiavo.

Is Michael Schiavo denying his wife care? No, Lanier says: Ignore the facts of her neglect--the bed sores, the extracted teeth, the lack of physical therapy, the contorted body--because the court says Schiavo isn't denying her care; so it must be true. Should an MRI be done on Terri? No, Lanier says: Ignore the calls from board-certified neurologists, because Judge Greer says an MRI is unnecessary; so it must be true. Is there a doubt about the PVS diagnosis? No, Lanier says: Ignore the doubts expressed by medical experts, because the court has found that she is in PVS; so it must be true.

Lanier's devotion to the rule of law is admirable, if blinkered. As a friend recently said to me, "blind obedience to the law is just as enslaving as contempt for the rule of law." We need laws. But our rule of law is an imperfect system implemented by imperfect men. When miscarriages of justice happen from time to time, we need to be willing to step in and correct them.

Cal Lanier's siding with the law is simply tyranny by other means.

Update, 1:07 p.m.: A commenter tells me Cal Lanier is a gal, not a guy. If so, apologies to Cal for the mix up--but this is what you get for not having a picture posted with your site and having a name made famous by a Hall of Fame shortstop.


Jay Homnick has invented a new literary form, the Fessay. He takes news items and crafts little fictional stories. Interesting concept.

By Duty Bound

You'll notice an ad up for Ezell Ware and Joel Engel's new book, By Duty Bound. I just wanted to say, again, what a great book this is and what an amazing writer Engel is. Don't miss it.

Venona Project

Thomas Joscelyn's excellent blog, Venona Project, has just added another blogger, Omar Choudhry. Expect great things from these two, particularly if Omar's first post, on foreign-policy earthquakes, is any indication.
The Bull Moose makes a courageous stand for life.

Judge Greer's Mistakes

Patterico catches Judge Greer in small, but consequential, mistake. Greer's "clear and convincing evidence" ruling on Terri Schiavo's "wish to be dehydrated to death" was based in part on excluding the testimony of Diane Meyer, a witness who contradicted Michaelf Schiavo's new-found realization that his wife wanted him to have her killed. (Remember, in 1992, when he was testifying in a medical malpractice suit on Terri's behalf, he didn't think Terri wanted to die--that came after the court awarded him $1.3 million dollars, $750,000 of which was tied up in a trust for Terri's care, and therefore available to him only after her death.)

But back to Greer. The judge's tortured reasoning for excluding Meyer's testimony is that he thought she was making her story up since in her account, she and Terri were making a joke about Karen Ann Quinlan in 1982, but were using present tense verbs to describe Quinlan. Greer dismisses Meyer with a Perry Mason moment:
The court is mystified as to how those present tense verbs would have been used some six years after the death of Karen Ann Quinlin. [sic]

But, as Patterico notes, Quinlan died in 1985, not 1976 or 1977 (as Greer clearly thinks). The verb tenses in Meyer's story are appropriate and her testimony should not have been excluded. This is simply one more instance of willful and capricious behavior on the part of Judge Greer.

For even more instances of Greer's willful and capricious behavior, see this Wesley Smith article on "the rule of Terri's case." (Note to readers: If you're interested in finding Wesley Smith's affiliations, please follow the links I provide to his pieces and then look at his byline. Really, it's not that hard.)

For instance: Florida law requires Terri's guardian (Michael Schiavo) to "file mandatory annual guardianship plans to establish a ward's approved plan of care for the coming year" (that's Smith's paraphrase, follow the link to get the actual letter of the law). Michael Schiavo refused to file these plans of care and was granted six extensions by Judge Greer--meaning that Schiavo went at least three years without filing plan for care of Terri, as is required by Florida law, and that Greer actively helped him skirt this law designed to protect his ward.

At nearly every step in the Schiavo case, Judge George Greer has acted with prejudice and disregard for the truth, the evidence, the rule of law, and the cause of justice. When this ordeal is over, the people of Florida should examine Judge Greer's actions in detail and take whatever recourse is allowed them under state law.

Update, 10:56 a.m.: As commenter Cal notes, Patterico is not the first person on earth to note Judge Greer's mistake, but he is the first person in the blogosphere (that I've seen, anyway), to call attention to it. The fact that Patterico says this himself in his post which I linked to--and then addresses Greer's because-I-say-so response--would, I thought, have made this obvious to readers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Forty Minutes of Hell

My best friend recently attended the Syracuse-Vermont first round NCAA match-up that ultimately ended in the Catamounts crushing the Orange, thereby busting a whole lot of brackets. It was a sellout crowd at the DCU Center in "Woostah" Mass., which, according to my friend, made going to the bathroom a traumatic experience. But why? Does DCU use the "trough" (as is the case at Wrigley Field)? Did they run out of paper towels?

In fact, my friend reports that the men's rooms at the DCU Center consist of only four urinals and one stall. As I later asked him, "Did you really need to drink that seventh beer?"

Why Do They Hate Terri?

It's an important question. And make no mistake, in certain precincts of the left, people will not be happy until Terri Schiavo is in the ground.

(If there is a silver lining here, it's that mainstream liberalism has not been perverted by the far left on the question of killing Terri Schiavo. Let's hope they continue to resist.)

As I've said before, virtually every American controversy has two valid sides where well-informed people of good faith can disagree. The murder of Terri Schiavo is an exception to this rule. No person of good will could survey the facts of (1) Terri's condition; (2) the lack of evidence of her wishes; (3) Michael's malpractice suit testimony, post-suit behavior, and current compromised standing; (4) the willful and capricious determinations of Judge Greer; and (5) the testimony and availability of Terri's parents and still come to the conclusion that she should be murdered.

Yet here we are. So why do some people on the far-left want Terri dead? There are two workable theories. The first, is that this behavior is the product of simple anti-Christian bigotry. The second, put forth by Mark Steyn, is that what we see now is the wages of abortion:
But once you start weighing the relative values of individual lives, there's no end to it. Much of that derives from the way abortion has redefined life--as a "choice," an option.

In practice, a culture that thinks Terri Schiavo's life in Florida or the cleft-lipped baby's in Herefordshire has no value winds up ascribing no value to life in general.

Update, 3:48 p.m.: Kos himself now says that it's all about abortion.

The Other Shoe

Charles Johnson reports that Mary Mapes has sold her memoir to St. Martin's. It will be published Fall 2005.

To TempurPedic, or Not to TempurPedic?

Disclaimer: The following veers dangerously close to sleep-apnea territory. But I wouldn't do it if I didn't really need your help.

My wife and I have been casually shopping for a new mattress for a couple months. Our old one has springs sticking out of it and is permanently concave. It is unpleasant.

On Saturday night we went out to dinner, had some wine, and then went for a walk through Old Town, Alexandria. We stopped at Joann's Bed and Back Store and, with almost no provocation, bought a TempurPedic mattress, which was supernaturally comfortable.

On Sunday morning I did some post-facto research and went to epinions, where I found that while most people liked TempurPedic's special memory-foam mattresses, about 10 percent of them had the same two complaints: (1) The memory foam begins wearing out after about three years; and (2) When you try to invoke the 20-year warranty from TempurPedic, their customer service is terrible. Ten percent isn't a great many people, but of the 90 percent who liked the TempurPedic, few of them had owned the mattress for more than a year. (This makes sense of course, if you had it for a year, wrote an epinion review, and still liked it five years out, it probably wouldn't occur to you to write another positive review.)

Frightened at having bought this thing on a lark, I called the store and cancelled our order.

Was this a mistake? I'd like to hear from you (or anyone you know) about TempurPedic. Have you ever had one of their mattresses? Did you like it? Hate it? How long did it last? Did the foam form a little valley where you slept after a few years? How was dealing with TempurPedic? What is your recommendation?

In short, I need your help in deciding whether or not I should go through with the TempurPedic purchase, because while I loved the way the mattress felt, it's too much money to spend on something which I'll need to replace in a few years.

Any and all thoughts, experiences, advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Schiavo and the Left

This is an important, defining moment for leftism. The Daily Kos has posted an entry about Terri Schiavo by Hunter. It must be read to be believed:
You know what? Subpoena her. You called it, DeLay, Frist -- unless you're the biggest fucking cowards on Capitol Hill (a pretty safe bet, ain't it?) I want you to haul that soulless body that used to be Terri Schaivo up to Washington, prop her the hell up in front of a microphone, tape a goddamn American Flag to her forehead and ask her your fucking, shit-headed questions.

She won't answer. Guess Why?

Because She. Has. No. Brain. Left. She is brain-dead. She is worse than brain-dead, because her brain died so long ago that there's nothing but fluid-filled holes in much of it. Yeah, you can still dress her up in pretty clothes and coo, if you're a sick fucking bastard. I think you're a fucking necrophile, but that seems to be a central tenet of modern Republicanism, so what the hell?

So subpoena her. Bring. It. The. Fuck. On. You. Goddamn. Constitution-Fucking. Cowards.

This is where America's left has gone. Let us pray they don't take liberalism with them.


The New York Times makes another blunder:

In her article Provocative Snapshots of a Many-Layered Issue in today's New York Times, Virginia Heffernan writes:
William Kristol, the founder of The Weekly Standard, ventured to assert with conviction on Fox News, "She can recover substantially if she gets the proper rehabilitation."

Heffernan is incorrect on two counts. First, the statement on Fox News Sunday was made by Fred Barnes, not William Kristol. Second, Barnes was not, as Heffernan suggests, offering his own judgment. Here is what Barnes said:
And thirdly, Majority Leader Bill Frist did do one thing that was important. He talked to one of the neurologists who has examined her who says she can recover substantially if she gets the proper rehabilitation.

Ross Douthat has a great post on Schiavo and the left.
Many thanks to all those who chimed in to the Canada item on behalf of John Candy. Good points were raised all around, including his strength as a supporting character and his most memorable line (in Swedish) from Splash.

Secondly, I will have to disagree with my colleague David Skinner's assessment of the movie Garden State. David, what about the knight in shining armor who works at Medieval Times?

For more info, here is a link to my review in the Daily Standard.

Schiavo and the Courts

Galley Friend D.B. writes in with this observation:
A word on the whole "courts have ruled" line of thinking: I distinctly recall these people saying something quite different after the Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore, or perhaps I missed Kos saying, "The Court has ruled and its ruling is final. George W. Bush is our president. Now let's all get behind him."

Good point. It's funny how a strain of leftists have now adopted such nuanced views on federalism and states' rights.

But here's what I don't get: The fight for Terri Schiavo's life is completely apolitical. There is no good reason for some lefties to seek her death. Republicans will gain nothing from saving Terri.

The backlash in favor of killing Terri--and let's be clear here, this backlash is coming from a very small subset of the far left; nearly all of the liberals I know are horrified by what's happening in Florida--is a sign of how radicalized a certain portion of the left has become against Christian America.

The movement to save Terri began in the disability rights community. But the disagreement from the left didn't materialize until Schiavo became a rallying point for pro-lifers--meaning Christians.

We have reached a point where the far left rejects anything--anything--which is embraced by Christian America, no matter how apolitical it is. Why the lefty backlash against The Passion of the Christ? Because Christian America supported it. Why are leftists now contorting themselves into wanting Terri Schiavo dead? Because Christians want her alive. One gets the sense that if vanilla-fudge ice cream became a fad in Christian circles, the left would find a way to be opposed to vanilla-fudge.

Hoyas in the Second Round!

The Georgetown men's basketball team beat Boston to a pulp last Wednesday, 64-34, at the MCI Center before a raucous crowd, advancing to the second round of the tournament.

And now for the uncensored version of events:

The Hoyas defeated the Boston University Terriers in last week's first round of the NIT (Not In Tournament) before a crowd of 2,797. (Yes, more people showed up to see Doreen Gentzler at the NBC Health Expo.)

But at the very least, I did enjoy the game from the luxury of the Vertis skybox. It was my first time and I hope not my last. "It's like flying first class," said another guest. "Once you go in, you'll never want to go back." Indeed, while you aren't exactly on the floor, you can enjoy various other amenities such as couches, a private bathroom, beer, and snacks. (Normally at MCI, and this is no joke, two beers and a pretzel cost $18.)

Special thanks to Doug Cox at Vertis and Jordan Gehrke at BMW Direct for their generosity and willingness to put up with my hoots and hollers throughout the 40 minutes of hell.

Bracketology III

As I predicted earlier, today is a small triumph for me in the office pool. After getting 27 of the 32 first-round games, I got 12 of the Sweet 16--leaving me in first place overall in a pool of nearly 150 people.

It'll be nice while it lasts, because of the four Sweet 16 teams I missed, I had three of them (including my eventual winner) in my Final Four. Which leaves me with nearly zero chance of winning the pool. (Unless Michigan State beats Texas Tech in the final.)

In fact, I think there's a mathematical chance that I could finish the tournament dead last. Which is quite a feat. Anyone can win March Madness by simply finishing in first place, but it takes a work of singular genius to design a bracket which will carry you from first to worst.
Soxblog has an essay on the value of life--and how we shift our standards regarding it--which is simply not to be missed.

Keep Your Friends Close...

In case you missed this precious quote from Shaquille O'Neal, with regard to his playing alongside Penny Hardaway, then Kobe Bryant, and now Dwyane Wade:

The difference between those three is The Godfather trilogy. One is Fredo, who was never ready to have it handed over to him. One is Sonny, who will do whatever it takes to be the man, and one is Michael, who, if you watch the trilogy, the Godfather hands it over to Michael. So I have no problem handing it over to Dwyane. I would love to see the ball in my hands, but I'm not the best player or shooter on this team. I don't mind handing it over to Michael Dwyane Corleone.

So Penny is Fredo and Kobe is Sonny? I wonder who else Shaq has in mind for, say, Luca Brasi? Or Moe Greene? Is David Stern really Hyman Roth?

Wesley J. Smith Blog

If you want to cut the middle-man, skip Galley Slaves and go right to Wesley J. Smith's blog Secondhand Smoke.
Fred Barnes has a succinct argument as to why Congress was right to get involved on Terri Schiavo's behalf.

Schiavo and the Times

Tom Maguire points us to an article in the New York Times yesterday. The piece, by John Schwartz, contends that "Experts Say Ending Feeding Can Lead to a Gentle Death."

The experts Schwartz speaks to in his article include Dr. Linda Emanuel, a doctor at Northwestern University who specializes in "end-of-life care" and tells us that "From the data that is available, [be dehydrated to death] is not a horrific thing at all." One data point omitted by Dr. Emanuel, Schwartz, and the rest of the staff at the Times is Kate Adamson.

I refer readers, again, to the invaluable work of Wesley J. Smith, who detailed the case of Kate Adamson, a woman who, was diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state (like Terri Schiavo) and had her feeding tube removed (like Terri Schiavo). It turns out that she wasn't in a PVS and, luckily, she lived to tell us exactly what being dehydrated to death feels like.

Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, Adamson was asked if having her feeding tube removed was painful. She replied: "Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. To say that--especially when Michael [Schiavo] on national TV mentioned last week that it's a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed--it is the exact opposite. It was sheer torture."

Here is Smith's account of Adamson's story:
In preparation for this article, I contacted Adamson for more details about the torture she experienced while being dehydrated. She told me about having been operated upon (to remove the bowel obstruction) with inadequate anesthesia when doctors believed she was unconscious:

"The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, 'Feed me. I am alive and a person, don't let me die, for God's Sake! Somebody feed me.'"

Unbelievably, she described being deprived of food and water as "far worse" than experiencing the pain of abdominal surgery. Despite having been on an on an IV saline solution, Adamson still had horrible thirst:

"I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to slack my desperate thirst."

Apologists for dehydrating patients like Terri might respond that Terri is not conscious and locked-in as Adamson was but in a persistent vegetative state and thus would feel nothing. Yet, the PVS diagnosis is often mistaken--as indeed it was in Adamson's case. And while the courts have all ruled that Terri is unconscious based on medical testimony, this is strongly disputed by other medical experts and Terri's family who insist that she is interactive with them. Moreover, it is undisputed that whatever her actual level of awareness, Terri does react to painful stimuli. Intriguingly, her doctor testified he prescribes pain medication for her every month during the course of her menstrual period.

In other words, the Times did a story on what being dehydrated to death feels like, but ignored one of the only people alive with first-hand knowledge of the matter.

A Note on Dr. Linda Emanuel: Let's look at Dr. Emanuel. In the past she has done studies for the Commonwealth Fund and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, groups which work with George Soros's Project on Death in America.

She edited the 1998 book, Regulating How We Die: The Ethical, Medical, and Legal Issues Surrounding Physician-Assisted Suicide. Her own views on physician-assisted suicide are quite moderate. She thinks, for instance, that Dr. Kevorkian was too extreme. In August 1996, she said of Kevorkian, ""This exemplifies the dangers of misuse that motivate our resistance to physician-assisted suicide. His threshold has always been so far below what we consider to be appropriate for professional practice . . ."

Later in life, she took a more mainstream pose, declaring that "'We do not have a right to die, but we do have a right to be free of unwanted intervention."

And what does she think about intervention? She gave this account of how she became interested in "end-of-life care":
Dr. Linda Emanuel was shocked into participation by a chilling experience in an intensive care unit.

Emanuel, vice president for ethics standards at the American Medical Association, recalls joining emergency room doctors and nurses who sprang to the rescue and celebrated when an unconscious dying woman was revived.

"Later, I went to intensive care only to discover the woman was there in a vegetative state," said Emanuel. "We thought it was cut and dry, where success equaled resuscitation. It wasn't. We didn't know if she wanted to be resuscitated. No one talked to the family. No one even thought of it. And that was the standard of care."

So where does Emanuel stand on Terri Schiavo? In October 2003, she issued a statement saying she believed that replacing Schiavo's feeding tube was a mistake.

Update, 9:54 a.m.: I concluded my original post by saying, "Glad the Times was able to find an unbiased expert."

Galley Reader arrScott writes, "By the standards implicit in your statement, only an expert in a field who held no opinions about her field would qualify as 'unbiased.' But such a person would, by definition, not be an expert. If she is biased, then so is every human, and therefore the word, by describing all people at all times, is meaningless."

That's a good point. In retrospect, my complaint against the Times is: (1) They present a woefully incomplete report; and (2) They present Dr. Emanuel as an expert without giving us any indication of her disposition on the issues which lie upstream from Terri Schiavo, and which place her opinion in context. Anyway, my thanks to arrScott and apologies to Emanuel and the Times.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Truth About Michael Schiavo, II

Again I point readers to the previous work of Wesley J. Smith. You'll recall that, in 1992, when he was arguing for more money in his malpractice lawsuit, Michael Schiavo argued that Terri would live a normal life span and that he intended to be a loyal husband to her for the rest of his days. Because of this testimony, Michael Schiavo received $1.3 million, $750,000 of which went into a trust to fund Terri's rehabilitation.

Shortly after receiving this money, Mr. Schiavo suddenly remembered that Terri didn't want to live a normal life span. As Smith reported:
One evening, during the second term of President Ronald Reagan, Terri Schiavo and her husband Michael decided to watch a television movie about Karen Ann Quinlan. . . .

While discussing the movie, Michael claims that Terri stated she would not want to live hooked up to a "machine" (she's not), or be a "burden" (her parents don't consider her a burden and want to care for her). Michael's brother, Scott, backs up his claim, while his sister-in-law, Joan, told the court that Terri had approved of pulling the life support from the dying baby of a mutual friend and said that if she ever wrote a "will" she would say that she didn't want "tubes."

Little did Terri know that these purported statements, uttered under very casual circumstances, would become the justification used by her husband in his six-year drive to remove her feeding tube and end her life. Indeed, based on these casual statements, Judge George Greer of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Clearwater, Florida ruled that Michael had established "by clear and convincing evidence"--the highest evidentiary standard in civil law--that Terri would rather dehydrate to death over a period of 10-14 days than live on food and water supplied by a feeding tube.

That's the full extent of Michael Schiavo's "clear and convincing evidence" that his wife wants him to murder her. Terri's parents, on the other hand, testify that she had no such desire, leaving us with a he said/she said case--at best.

And that's before you examine the rest of the mountain of evidence that Michael Schiavo has a profit-motive for this killing. And that's before you learn that Michael Schiavo has, since Terri became disabled, fathered two children with another woman, to whom he claims to be engaged, which suggests that he has even more motive to be rid of Terri and which, at the very least, suggests that he is sufficiently compromised that there is no moral universe in which he is fit to be her guardian.

Schiavo and Peterson II

In reaction to the Schiavo-Peterson parallels, Galley Friend J.E. asks, "If Terri Schiavo were a condemned prisoner, the would the state be legally allowed to execute her in this condition?" Good question. My guess is, no.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bracketology II

Let me brag: I've had one of the best first-rounds of the NCAA tourney that I've seen in years. I picked 27 of the 32 games (28 if you count the play-in game). And only one of the teams that I picked for the round of 16 has been eliminated.

The teensy-tiny problem is that the round of 16 team I lost was Syracuse, whom I also picked to be the eventual national champion. Oops! (They sure deserved to lose that game, though.)

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Gavin Newsome Option

The Bookworm Room suggests that Jeb Bush should take a page from Gavin Newsome's book and commit civil disobedience.
Peggy Noonan is right:
The supporters of Terri Schiavo's right to continue living have fought for her heroically, through the courts and through the legislatures. They're still fighting. They really mean it. And they have memories.

On the other side of this debate, one would assume there is an equally well organized and passionate group of organizations deeply committed to removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. But that's not true. There's just about no one on the other side. Or rather there is one person, a disaffected husband who insists Terri once told him she didn't want to be kept alive by extraordinary measures.

Noonan is also right that if the Republican party, which controls every important branch of the federal government, can't be moved to save Terri Schiavo, then it will be worth asking why they should be allowed to stay in control.

Schiavo and Peterson

Sorry, but this is important.

Peter Byrnes observes that it's strange that Judge George Greer is refusing to here any evidence or entertain any arguments which might prevent in the killing of Terry Schiavo, yet Scott Peterson is entitled to an automatic appeal to his death sentence. As Byrnes eloquently puts it: "And we find ourselves where we are today. Valuing a murderer's wasted life over those fragile lives which are just begging for the chance to be taken seriously."
So, on Monday the media was abuzz with that New York Times story about the "covert propaganda" of the Bush administration. In all, a neat media story. The Bushies employ (horrors!) PR firms to spread word of federal programs and, well, propaganda, footage of interviews with administration spokesmen and the like telling the Bushies’ side of the story on current events. These videos look and feel like regular news video, complete with "reporters" on screen who are not really journalists. The trouble starts when these videos are run by television news teams who do not even bother to tell viewers what they’re watching.

The story struck me as funny, because it’s an open secret in the PR and publicity trade that a good press release, for example, will be plagiarized by the actual press. That’s its purpose, to tell a client’s story in so compelling a way that the journalist is defenseless before its sheer rhetorical power and decides not even to adjust the wording.

Michael Crichton, I just learned, does a riff on this in his new enviro thriller, State of Fear:
A weatherman appears on television reading verbatim from a press release from an alarmist anti-global warming organization.
"’That’s how they do it, these days,’ Kenner said. ‘They don’t even bother to change a phrase here and there. They just read the copy outright. And of course, what he’s saying is not true.’"

The difference with the administration's videos is only one of medium. Both sides are playing a credulous and incompetent media to their advantage.

The Truth About Michael Schiavo

From Wesley Smith's Oct. 28, 2003 article:
Why did Schiavo tell a medical malpractice jury in 1992 that Terri would live a normal life span? After Terri's collapse, Schiavo sued for medical malpractice. Under civil law, the longer Terri was expected to live, the larger the verdict would probably be. This fact of legal life could explain why Michael presented evidence to the malpractice jury not only that Terri would likely live a normal life span but also that he intended to be a good and loyal husband and care for her for the rest of his life. . . .

Why did Schiavo have a rehabilitation expert testify in front of the malpractice jury to present a detailed plan of therapy for Terri? Schiavo and his lawyer claimed that Terri is incapable of improving physically, but during the 1992 trial, a rehabilitation plan and its anticipated undertaking provided one of the underpinnings for the jury's $1.3 million award. Of that money, Schiavo received $300,000, lawyers' fees were paid, and about $750,000 was put in trust to pay for Terri's rehabilitation. . . .

Given that the jury awarded $750,000 to be used in part for Terri's therapy, why hasn't Schiavo provided any rehabilitation for her since 1991? . . . The only efforts ever undertaken to improve Terri's condition took place in 1990 and 1991. They had ceased by the time of the malpractice trial in 1992 because her insurance coverage had run out. Indeed, the pressing need to restart therapy was an urgent part of the malpractice case. It could have--and should have--paid to restart the rehabilitation that had been abandoned due to lack of funds.

Once Terri's $750,000 was in the bank, however, Schiavo would not approve a single cent of it to be spent on rehabilitation. Not only that, but once the money was in the bank, Schiavo ordered a "do not resuscitate" order placed on Terri's chart so that if she had a cardiac event, the doctors would not attempt to save her. And within a few months of the money being deposited, Schiavo also refused to permit curative treatments, such as antibiotics for infections. If Terri had died during the early or mid-1990s, as Schiavo's orders were designed, he would have inherited somewhere around $700,000. . . .

Is it true that Terri's money has paid for attorneys to make her dead, instead of therapists to make her better? The answer is, unquestionably, yes. According to court records, George Felos, the dutiful "right to die" attorney who sat at Schiavo's side on King's show, has been paid over $350,000 from Terri's trust fund. Another of Schiavo's attorneys, Debra Bushnell, has received about $90,000. These two lawyers alone have received more than half of Terri's entire trust.

According to court records, when Schiavo began his quest to pull Terri's feeding tube in 1998, she had more than $700,000 in the bank. This was primarily because Schiavo generally refused to authorize payments for any nursing home services on Terri's behalf beyond the basics of room and board. Thus, only about $50,000 was paid on her behalf in the five years following the jury verdict. Since 1998, about $650,000 (not taking into account any earnings from the fund) has gone out--not for therapy, but primarily for lawyers.

This is chilling stuff, and it explains perfectly why Michael Schiavo is so eager to have his wife killed.

Pocket Black Hole

How cool is this?

video kills the television star

Saw Garden State over the weekend, a movie whose soundtrack has been rightly celebrated for its use of everyone from Iron and Wine (doing a Postal Service cover) and Simon and Garfunkel to The Shins. Unfortunately, the movie itself is nowhere the equal of its soundtrack. At first the small romantic comedy starring writer-director Zach Braff of Scrubs fame and Natalie Portman seems merely like a slight precious indy-style vanity project for Braff. Then it shortly becomes clear this is no indy, for-the-love-of-it vanity project, but an old-fashioned sucky vanity project for an actor whose writing and directing would never have merited a shooting budget or a distribution deal were he a mere mortal. Along with serious actors at his disposal (the legendary Ian Holme in a completely muted performance as Braff’s father, the fine Peter Saarsard irritatingly miscast as a small town loser), Braff has any number of serious themes to work with: the medicalization of character, serious illness, a family torn apart by a tragic accident. The result is an overcooked stew that tastes like nothing despite so many expensive, choice ingredients. The script is painfully weak, the story a thin draft of undeveloped themes and tossed-off characters and barely considered sources of conflict. This guys has no idea what he's talking about, I said to myself any number of times. I went in with optimism, thinking maybe this sharp comic actor had a deep side I could root for. I left irritated at the injustice of this movie being made in the first place.

Same weekend I caught a real indy flick, made with all the guts and ingenuity and heart that has made that whole little world romantic and compelling since Stephen Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Open Water, the much discussed little film about a couple on vacation, who while deep-sea diving are left behind by their boat, was every bit as good as its billing. Writer-director Chris Kentis takes a simple premise and freaks you out with it. Simple characters, simple setup, and whooa.

New CulturePulp

You want it. You crave it. You need it. Mike Russell's latest is up, as he journeys to a Duran Duran concert with his 15-year-old stepdaughter.

Tomorrow's Counterintuition Today!

Remember when I asked what the next anti-Pope arguments would be? Galley Friend C.L. is on the case:
The next bit of counterintuitive cleverness regarding the Pope will be that JPII actually prolonged the life of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Only 5% of Poles were in Glasnost; he gave the other 95% a fixed point to rally against; only with the rise of moderate forces within the Soviet Union (read: Gorbachaev) was compromise possible; here are some quotes from former communist flunkies; QED. Watch for it.

Quick, get Kinsley on line one!

Terri Schiavo and the Truth

The fight over Terri Schiavo is one of those cultural conflicts that I simply cannot understand. It is difficult to understand how anyone who has read the detailed facts of the case could be in favor of killing her. On this score, read Fr. Robert Johansen and Wesley Smith.

There simply aren't two sides to this story. So why the culture clash? Because at a high-level of abstraction, the Schiavo case is a useful battleground for euthanasia advocates and leftists who automatically oppose any position the Christian right rallies around. I often wonder if pro-lifers inadvertently did Terri harm by coming to her defense. If not for their support, the left might have let her be.

And what about the media? The media is simply not designed to confront judicial incompetence. If a judge makes a ruling--no matter how absurd--the media treat it as a valid side of an argument. Had Michael Schiavo not drawn a judge unfit for the bench either by intellect, ideology, or temperament, then, too, this fight could have been avoided.

On almost all matters of public import, informed people of good faith can disagree. What has happened to Terri Schiavo is the exception to that rule.

Billy Cerveny and Molly Hatchet

My man Billy Cerveny has a great little diary on the pretentiousness of musical influences and on his own, sordid sources of inspiration.


How did everyone do yesterday? I went 14-2 (I also called the play-in game correctly), missing the LSU implosion and underestimating Nevada.

Mind you, I'm not bragging. Today could be a bloodbath for me. Looking at my bracket this morning I'm wondering why in the world I have NC State and Old Dominion. Also, I have Villanova going to the round of 16, despite the fact that they could get beat by a very strong New Mexico team. Oh, and Georgia Tech in the Final Four--what was I thinking?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

GS: All-Tourney Edition

Just some random thoughts from the best four days of the year.

* Andrew Bogut is as enjoyable to watch as any college player since Kenny Anderson. He has spectacular court vision and passes like Larry Bird. His game reminds me of a young Arvidis Sabonis. Enjoy him while Utah's still dancing.

* Is it me, or does Gonzaga's Adam Morrison look like Dan Dickau on HGH? Has anyone seen them in a room at the same time?

* Pittsnogle is one of the five best names in the history of sports. The announcers clearly agree--you can hear them smiling whenever they call his number.

* One of the smaller joys of the NCAA tournament is getting to hear the non-marquee announcers. Gus Johnson is my favorite. There's no better play-by-play man in the country. I've never understood why CBS doesn't make better use of him.

You also get to hear obscure color commentators, too. Bill Rafferty ("And there it is the little . . . dipsy-do the . . . five-and-dimer") is my personal favorite, though I miss Al Maguire more every year.

* Memo to Seth Stevenson: While your stellar work on Sabine Ehrenfeld was much appreciated in Galley World, there's a more to be done. Who is the Diet Coke Roller Girl? Get on it--America needs you.

* What's the over-under on when a #16 finally beats a #1? I would argue that with the flight of young players to the NBA and the increased reliance on the three-pointer, #16s have never had a better chance. And it's going to happen sooner or later. I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen in the next seven years.

Kemp and Chavez

Thor Halvorssen had a devastating piece in the new Examiner yesterday about the connections between Jack Kemp and Hugo Chavez:
Kemp made high-profile "courtesy" visits and wined and dined with Hugo Chavez and his ministers in 2002. Weeks later, a contract dated Jan. 17, 2003, was circulated between Free Market Petroleum, where Kemp is chairman, and the Chavez government. That Kemp, the GOP's 1996 vice presidential nominee, even would consider doing business with the Chavez government raises troubling ethical and political questions. . . .

Kemp has used his political capital to open doors for Chavez. In May of 2003, he tried to charm the staff of The Wall Street Journal editorial page into abandoning its opposition to Chavez's undemocratic behavior. Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez accompanied Kemp on his visit to Journal headquarters.

Alvarez was once the No. 2 man in Venezuela's Energy Ministry -the very agency that discussed business with Kemp - and yet the former Buffalo, congressman conveniently failed to disclose to the Journal his personal stake in the proposed contract between himself and the Chavez government.
Want to become an anti-abortion fanatic? Read this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Go Grizzlies!

You got to hand it to Greg Kampe, coach of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (13-18), who last night beat Alabama A&M in the NCAA's play-in game, 79-69. When asked of his team's future prospects (which includes a first-round game against North Carolina), Kampe quipped: "If we win the national championship, we'll finally get to 19-18."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Canadian Ham

My good friend and Weekly Standard colleague Matt Labash has written a terrific piece entitled "Welcome to Canada: The Great White Waste of Time." Matt journeys to British Columbia in search of Americans who really have left this country because of George W. Bush. But in the midst of some very funny Canadian jokes, he had this to say: "...polls show [Canadians] pride themselves on being much funnier than Americans (don't ask me why, when they're responsible for Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, and Alan Thicke)."

Did he just say John Candy? We've argued about this for days now and there is no use convincing him that John Candy was a great comedian. Matt refers me to his IMDB resume and points out he's had vastly more flops than successes. I don't disagree with this. But at least for me, all it takes is one Planes, Trains, and Automobiles or one Splash to deem him funny. (Others have also mentioned his work on SCTV.)

As Tom Hanks's brother Freddy in Splash, Candy was fantastic. Remember how proud he was to get his letter published in Penthouse under the heading, "A Lesbian No More"?

Revising History at libertas

This is interesting. Jason Apuzzo had previously accused me of saying a bunch of things about Star Wars in the course of his tantrum about conservative movie writing.

As it turns out, Apuzzo had his facts wrong--he misattributed a number of statements to me. I posted an item about Apuzzo's mistakes. Apuzzo has now fixed some of his errors. But there is no acknowledgment that he has appended a correction, that he made a series of mistakes, or that he put words in my mouth which didn't belong to me.

If that's the standard over at the blog libertas, then it doesn't say much for them.

Also, it doesn't help Apuzzo's case as to why people should listen to him. It's one thing to be simply untrustworthy on facts, but it's another to be untrustworthy and dishonest.

Star Wars, again

Someone named Jason Apuzzo has written an attack on me (and Jonah Goldberg and Richard Brookhiser) for what we have written about the various Star Wars movies. Apuzzo quotes me as saying:
From Jonathan Last: “As for the prequels (’The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Attack of the Clones’)–well, I saw them in the theater–and what I saw was crap. Twenty years ago, when it came to liking ‘Star Wars,’ I wasn’t old enough to know better. And … when it comes to George Lucas’s latest films, I do know better. Sorry, George. You had me right until the end.”

The only problem is, I don't think I've ever said, or written, that. It's not in Nexis. I don't think I've ever talked about Star Wars on TV. I guess it's possible that this is from an email conversation with someone, but I doubt it, since the sentiments Apuzzo is attributing to me don't actually match what I think.

Moving on, Apuzzo says that I wrote that the re-released Episodes IV-VI "are a worthless waste of time." Again, I didn't say that and I don't think it.

Moving still onward, Apuzzo links to a piece he attributes to me, but is actually written by Matthew Continetti.

Apuzzo says that conservative film criticism is flawed because conservatives "have been too lazy or disinterested" to look at film in a serious way. One might say the same about Apuzzo.

Top 25 TV Themesongs of All Time

Read. Howl. Discuss.

I will merely say that Wonderfalls deserves space in the top 10 (with Andy Partidge's weird, goofy nerd-rock tune). Also, The Jetsons should be there, too.

Mourning Gregg Easterbrook

Fortunately Ross Douthat has already exposed Gregg Easterbrook's latest bit of counterintuitive cleverness. In the coming weeks, expect lots of other very clever people with close associations to Michael Kinsley to carefully push counterintuitive anti-Pope arguments. Like Easterbrook, they'll be careful because they don't want to go the full New York Press--they just want you know how very smart they are.

Hey Gregg! You're very, very smart!

And this online writing thing has been great for you career. Keep it up!

Monday, March 14, 2005


And since it is just me here posting, let me add that I haven't said one word about the Georgetown Hoyas, who will be making a postseason appearance in the tournament we all know and love, the NIT. Their opponent this Wednesday is Boston University. (Whew!)

As if this is open mike at St. Elizabeth's, let me also add that I recently tried Harry & David's "Moose Munch," a delightful mix of caramel corn, chocolate-covered popcorn, and caramel-and-chocolate-covered almonds. Does it get any better than that? I dare say, Moose Munch is the final step in the evolution of Caramel Corn: In the beginning there was Cracker Jack. (Didn't you just savor those few precious peanuts? And did you ever really get a good prize?) Then came Poppy Cock. (It was a silly name and a guilty pleasure all around. I don't know anyone who ever bought it, but if you saw it at a party, you could forget about the crudités.) And now Moose Munch. The world has become a better place.

Class Trip to the NRA

I just realized that with my colleages Jonathan V. Last and David Skinner out of the office today, it had fallen upon me to post items for our loyal readers. Sadly I too was away--at the National Rifle Association's headquarters in Virginia, where Ashley, Kelly, and Graham were kind enough to host us at the range. Weekly Standard coworker Michael Goldfarb was a pro (and is a regular at local ranges). I've gone shooting before but I would have been better off saying it was my first time. I was a terrible shot with the Glock and not much better with the Sig. But be forewarned, if you come after me, I'm going for the legs.

And so it begins

Georgia Tech, despite a close call with Jarrett Jack's ankle, is expected to make it to the Final Four and maybe further. Everyone else is in love with North Carolina. But Duke seems to have made a go with it with J.J. Redick. How many points will that kid rack up this week? And isn't Wake Forest really in the mood to show the NCAA committee that they were wrong not to seed them as Number One? Finally, let's not forget the Wolfpack and Julius Hodge, who Jonathan V. Last swears has been playing since Jim Valvano was coaching.

If you are from the Washington, D.C., metro area, you will notice coverage of the NCAA tournament is heavily saturated by the ACC. Call it ACC-bias. (To wit, Tony Kornheiser thinks Maryland should have been seeded 11th! If so, why not throw in Clemson?) Perhaps we need a sports equivalent of Brent Bozell? For the rest of our readers not taking part in the Atlantic Coast orgy, I ask you who not from the ACC do you think will make it to the Final Four and beyond?

Friday, March 11, 2005

CNN's Very Own Frank Drebin

Here is a hilarious item from Thursday's "Reliable Source" in the Washington Post regarding an incident reminiscent of The Naked Gun:

Flush we must: Several hundred attendees at the Kaiser Family Foundation's conference yesterday on kids and the media with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton got a surprise earful before she spoke. Drew Altman, the foundation's president and CEO, was making introductory remarks when, suddenly, the unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing could be heard over the loudspeaker system. The culprit: moderator Jeff Greenfield of CNN, who used the facilities while wearing his remote microphone. He e-mailed us yesterday: "After 25 years in the business, you'd think I'd know when to turn a microphone off!"

The Real Vin Makazian

Today's New York Post reports an incredible story of a cop who played a mobster on film but, in reality, was a detective really working for the mob. Louis Eppolito, whose cameo appearance Goodfellas fanatics will remember as "Fat Andy" in the Bamboo Lounge scene, was a hitman for hire for the Lucheses (the family actually represented in Goodfellas). Along with fellow detective Stephen Caracappa, the two are accused of committing some grisly murders and also delivering one Gambino associate to Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. (The worst alleged incident is the detectives' fingering the wrong guy for a hit. The intended target was Gambino crewmember Nick Guido. The unfortunate victim was another Nick Guido who was mildly retarded.)

He might have played a mobster on film, but, as it turns out, Eppolito was living the role of Vin Makazian, the detective who did the dirty work for Tony Soprano.

Kos Watch

The Kos himself has discovered a brand new way to describe Republicans--"Taliban":
Once upon a time, it was easy for the American Right to smear its opponents on the left--they could simply equate them with the nation's communist enemies. It didn't matter that the American "left" (Democrats) had more in common with the Right than international communism, the smear was useful.

Now, however, our international enemy--Islamic radicalism--is actually the polar opposite of what liberals stand for--their actions on women rights are deplorable, they insist on theocracy, they loooveee torture and the death penalty, they demand to control the culture (TV, movies, music), they rail against rampant sexuality, they seek to spread their ideology via force, and they have a well-defined black-and-white sense of truth.

Remind you of a certain American party?

That's why hysterical assertions by the wingers that liberals hate America and want the terrorists to win are so absurd. As absurd as it would've been to claim that Reagan wanted the Communists to win the Cold War. The Taliban/Al Qaida/Hezbollah/Jihadists of the world are the exact embodiment of evil in the liberal mind. They are everything we are against, and against everything we are for.

In fact, they are exactly what we see in the Republican Party as the GOP continues to consolidate power--creeping theocracy, moralizing, us versus them, embrace of torture, the need to constantly declare jihad on someone, hysterics over football-game nipples, control over "decency" on the airwaves, lyrics censorship, hostility to women freedoms, curtaling of civil liberties, and so on.

So it's pretty obvious--we don't love terrorists. We don't want them to win. For them to win would be to realize our greatest fears. The muslim terrorist is truly the anti-liberal. Like matter and anti-matter.

Republicans, on the other hand, hate the terrorists because they're Muslim. But aside from that, they've got far more in common than they'll ever admit to themselves.

And it's high time we started to make that connection more forcefully.

Two things to note here: First, Kos claims that the connection between liberals and Communists was a "smear." But he now wants liberals to tar Republicans with a similar charge. He doesn't explicitly say so, but one gets the impression that he thinks the Republican = Taliban line is also a smear. And one gets the impression that he's okay with that.

The other point of interest is that the phrase "Taliban-Republicans" has been floating around since at least December 1998, when it was first trotted out by Democrats attempting to smear Republicans during the Clinton impeachment.

The phrase was then picked up by Tony Snow in 1999; he used it to describe the far-right Bob Smith fringe of the party.

After 9/11 the left picked back up on the phrase--perhaps ironically, you never know--and it came back with a vengeance. This prompted Jay Nordlinger to write in the November 11, 2002 National Review:
Been called "Talibanic" lately? If so, you must be a conservative Republican. That's the new trick: We are "Talibanic," or members of the "Taliban wing" of the Republican party. It's kind of an old trick, too. Back in the early 1980s, when Sam Donaldson discovered Hezbollah (as it was hijacking, kidnapping, murdering, and committing other mayhem), he delighted in referring to "the Hezbollah wing of the Republican party"--that meant all those GOP-ers who supported Reagan. Now the Taliban's "in." When Democrats say "Taliban wing," they smile like they're the first to have thought of it. But we have to ask: Who was it who fought, ruined, and banished the Taliban? Bunch of "Taliban Republicans," really, starting with the President of the United States.

The smear didn't work that time, either.

I realize that out here in the blogosphere 2002 might as well be three years ago, but I thought Kos was savvy enough to remember the immediate past.

But none of this need deter him, of course. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for Kos's "new" smear.

Bunker (Block)buster

Downfall, the German-made film about the last days of Hitler, comes to District theaters today. My review of it can also be found in today's Daily Standard.

Self-Parody Watch

Kinsleyism strikes again at Slate, where a Yale Law School professor argues--with little irony--for an end to gender-specific bathrooms.

Wow, that's so . . . counterintuitive!

And clever!

Help for Iraqi Schoolchildren

Soxblog has a request from one of his readers, who's serving in Iraq. Major J.B. Smith writes:
We are undertaking an effort to improve relations in the local communities in our area by distributing school supplies for use by the Iraqi children. These items will be given out by both US and Iraqi soldiers directly to the school systems and in some instance directly to the children. Items we are looking for would be standard school supplies of lower to moderate grade. Quantity is much more important than quality for this effort. We specifically need:

Paper Products: tablets, leaf paper, multi-colored construction paper

Writing Instruments: pencils, pens, crayons, paints, chalk, markers (bothPerm and Dry Erase)

Loose Leaf Folders/3 ring binders



Pencil Sharpeners

Paper Clips



Binder Clips

All supplies can be sent to the following address:

ATTN School Supplies
APO AE O9334

You can also reach Maj. Smith at

Fool Me Four Times, Shame on Me

Fine. I'll say it. The new trailer for Revenge of the Sith looks gob-smacking good. It looks dark and interesting and full of Old Republic politics. It looks like the movie you and I have been longing for in our hearts.

Two years ago I swore that Lucas wouldn't get my $8.50 this time around. So much for that.

The Real News . . .

. . . isn't that Lindsay Lohan didn't hook up with Bruce Willis--it's that she already got a porn-star "lower back" tattoo.

What's the over-under for a Lohan sex-tape? Two years? 18 months?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Help Amy Welborn get a new computer.
If you haven't followed the third-day story on the New York Press's article mocking Pope John Paul II, Get Religion has a thorough accounting of everything: What happened to the writer, the paper's editor, Mugger--the whole nine.
The R-Dog is so back in the hizzouse.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sin City

For a while now all the cool kids have been fixating on Sin City. Entertainment Weekly put the upcoming Robert Rodriguez movie on its cover a few weeks ago. Ain't It Cool News is practically all-Sin City all the time. Even Kathy Nelson is caught up in the mania. (To my credit/shame, I blogged about Sin City a couple of months back.)

So what's the big deal? Well, check out the two trailers and you'll see. Sin City is adapted from a series of Frank Miller graphic novels and the movie looks unlike anything you've ever seen before. It is, as one observer put it, like seeing a comic book at 24 frames per second.

If the movie lives up to its trailer, Sin City's composition alone will be taught at film schools for a generation. And comic books are hot source material these days as Hollywood is bringing everyone from Spider-Man on down to American Splendor to the big screen. And Frank Miller is the comic-book auteur of the modern era. And the cast is full of pretty people who appear on the cover of magazines like Details and Movieline.

With all of these factors in its favor, the entertainment press is already genuflecting before Miller and declaring Sin City the new Pulp Fiction, full of stylish, noiry goodness.

What I want to know is, has anyone else out there actually read the comic books?

Whatever else the Sin City comics may be, they are utterly unfilmable. They are page after page of murder, mutilation, torture, rape, beheading, cannibalism, and worse. L.A. Confidential is noir. Touch of Evil is noir. Sin City is Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho without the daintiness and restraint. Think Hannibal meets Faces of Death.

I haven't seen Sin City yet, but if the movie is faithful to the comic books, then it's a niche product, at best.

IDF frowns on Dungeons and Dragons

From Galley Brother B.J.: "IDF says players are detached from reality and automatically given a low security clearance." No kidding.

Bubble Bursting

The Big East tournament starts tonight at Madison Square Garden and once again, the Georgetown Hoyas find themselves in a must-win situation against Seton Hall. A month ago, it would have been inconceivable that the team would be struggling to earn an NCAA bid--after defeating West Virginia on February 12, the Hoyas were an astounding 16-6 (8-3). Certainly they could grind out at least two wins, say, against St. John's and Providence, thereby reaching the magic numbers of 18 overall wins and 10 in the conference. Not so. The Hoyas crumbled under late-season pressure, losing every single game since. And so now, critics claim, they will have to most likely win the entire Big East tourney to get into the Big Dance. I think they'll probably need to at least beat UConn in the second round.

Washington Post sportswriter Mike Wise had a tough column on the collapse of area teams, especially Maryland, but at least gives Georgetown "a major pass."

On a lighter note, as per my prediction, Hoya freshman Jeff Green received top honors and was named, along with UConn's Rudy Gay, Big East co-rookie of the year. The last Georgetown player to earn the title was current Sixer and JVL mentor, A.I.

Rather in the Observer

The biggest news in this blockbuster Joe Hagan piece is that Bill Burkett is talking again. Between Burkett, Mapes, and the CBS Three, we haven't heard the last of this story. And that's a good thing, since we still don't know the truth yet.

The Real Million Dollar Baby

Wesley Smith suggested recently that Million Dollar Baby missed an opportunity. Turns out he was right. Today's New York Times has a tough, amazing story about Katie Dallam, a female boxer who was brutalized in the ring, nearly died, and has lost the use of the left side of her brain. An astonishing article.

(Again, say what you will about the political biases of the Times, it's still one of the wonders of the world.)

More on Romney and the Globe

Kathleen Parker notes the Globe's ongoing crusade against Mitt Romney in he Manchester Union Leader:
Actually, it’s worse than that. For his support of the traditional, two-parent, heterosexual family, Romney has been accused of being like President George W. Bush. Now them’s fightin’ words, for sure. In a damning editorial, the Boston Globe criticized Romney for taking “a page from President Bush’s illogic by insisting that every child ‘has a right to a mother and a father,’ implying that two women or two men could not possibly do the job.”

Actually, Romney’s statement implies nothing of the sort. Two men and two women can raise children, just as one woman or one man can raise children. But neither case provides an ideal environment, which is Romney’s point as well as the opinion of a majority of Americans.

Worst Movie Ever, or Best?

Just received a notice about a press screening for the upcoming movie D.E.B.S. I'd never heard of it either. Here's what the flack sheet says:
Recruited by the U.S. government for their unique ability to lie, cheat and fight, Amy, Max, Janet and Dominique . . . join an underground academy of secret agents known only as D.E.B.S. These crime fighting hotties set out to save the world and keep their lipstick perfectly applied while doing so. Now the girls must combine their skills for their most important mission - to capture vexing vixen Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), the deadliest criminal the world has ever known. When D.E.B.S. star player, Amy, falls for Lucy, chaos erupts and her loyalty is put to the test.

Huh? You can see how the pitch must have gone: It's Clueless meets Zoolander meets The L Word! Dyn-O-Mite!

Be that as it may, Galley Friend M.L. is so there. Don't worry, I won't tell.