Wednesday, March 30, 2005

NYT BS Watch

I don't know much about AIDS and I'm not an expert in disease but I know what words mean. Here's a quote from Nicholas Kristof's column today, When Marriage Kills.

"The stark reality is that what kills young women here is often not promiscuity, but marriage." He then goes on to relate the all-too-familiar tale of the woman who married a man who found a job in another city. "She suspected that he had a girlfriend there, but he would return to the village every couple of months to visit her." He died of AIDS and she "worries that she and her beautiful 2-year-old daughter have H.I.V. as well."

To review, Kristof claims that it is "often not promiscuity, but marriage" that kills young women. But it is the promiscuity of their husbands that kills them, not the fact that they are married per se. The women may not be promiscuous but it is promiscuity that kills them none the less.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for supporting the use of condoms but there is no need to obscure the truth about the lethality of promiscuous sex.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Leftists for Schiavo

Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder, a must-read piece in The Village Voice of all places. The author, Nat Hentoff is quite critical of the media's role in this sad tale, referring to the coverage of NYT, WaPo and the LA Times as "misinformation." He found Nightline to be "appallingly one-sided" and "distorted." He also quotes liberal darling Ralph Nader on the topic. And keep in mind from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith report:
"The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."
Add to this the sudden appearence of Jesse Jackson outside the hospice to pray with the Schindlers and the fact that nearly half the Congressional Black Caucus voted with the Republicans on the Schiavo bill. It's a strange brew indeed. No wonder The New Republic warned that this "is a no-win issue for Democrats, and their best course of action is to lie low and wait for the media storm to pass."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Last Rites

In all the sound and fury over the Schiavo story I missed this bizarre episode until now.
After remarks by Randall Terry -- an activist against abortion rights who has been acting as a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's family, the Schindlers -- members of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigades seized control of the microphones and blasted Terry as a "Christian fascist thug"
trying to interfere in "the most intimate affairs of life and death."
Self-proclaimed Communists screaming about fascism. Tense crowds. Numerous arrests. A Florida town is like Central Europe in the Thirties.

Meanwhile Shiavo has recieved Last Rites. As sad as this is, I hope it is over soon. If this lasts much longer things could get out of hand.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Citizens to Patrol Arizona-Mexico Border

On earlier posts I have warned that if governments are seen as unwilling or unable to enforce the law and keep order then concerned citizens will do so themselves as they see fit. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.

I was specifically speaking about European governments' ineptitude or impotentence regarding Islamists. Now a similar thing is happening here. A group of volunteers will mass on the US-Mexico border in April to draw attention to the invasion of illegal aliens from the South. Their idea is to demonstrate that the border could be secured through use of greater man power. More boots on the ground, so to speak. They will not confront the illegal aliens. They only plan to document and report the illegal crossings.

I find it remarkable that this gets so little attention. The feds had better do something about this sooner rather than later. Eventually people like these volunteers will do more than document and report and the government will have to step in. A stitch in time saves nine my grandmother used to say.

Swedish Chaos Watch

Fjordman writes about Malmo Sweden, where nearly a third of the population is Muslim. "Malmö is descending into general chaos." Schools are being burned. (Nationwide 139 schools were set fire in 2003.) Three schools in Malmo were burned in one night. Fights are breaking out in movie theaters. Immigrants continue to arrive and native Swedes continue to leave.

Now there's a proposal to teach preschool in Arabic only. So the Swedish state paying for educating Swedish citizens on Swedish ground in Arabic is somehow supposed to increase integration.

Meanwhile a group calling itself Global Jihad has set fire to vehicle at the Russian embassy to "protest against Russia's imperialistic war in Chechnya." The group has committed similar acts in Norway and Denmark.

More Than a Private Concern

An excellent article on the Schiavo situation in today's Slate. The author, Harriet McBryde Johnson is a disability-rights lawyer who suffers from "a congenital neuromuscular disease" and has trouble swallowing.

I know a tube is in my future. So, possibly, is speechlessness. ... My emotional response is powerful, but at bottom it's not important. It's no more important than anyone else's, not what matters. The things that ought to matter have become obscured in our communal clash of gut reactions.

I hope whoever is appointed to speak for me will be subject to legal constraints. Even if my guardian thinks I'd be better off dead—even if I think so myself—I hope to live and die in a world that recognizes that killing, even of people with the most severe disabilities, is a matter of more than private concern.

More than worth your time. Please read it and think about what she says.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Is Polygamy the Next Big Thing?

Yet more evidence of the fading twilight of Western civilization. Elizabeth Emens, a professor at the University of Chicago, has written a scholarly defense of polyamory or group-marriage titled "Monogamy's Law: Compulsory Monogamy and Polyamorous Existence."

The article argues that although monogamy is a sound choice for many, polyamory is a sound choice for others. Building on this premise, the article considers some ways that information-forcing principles of contract law might be used to help encourage people to make active, reflective choices about monogamy.

A Reasonable Post

I am perfectly willing to believe that both the husband and the parents are sincere and faithful to their beliefs. I am also willing to believe the opposite, that both are acting out of their own emotional needs with no real regard for the human life at stake.

I know this is (or should be) a gut-wrenching decision for anyone with a family. What disturbs me is that the court is ordering this to take place. I realize that families make similar decision about their loved ones all the time. Even now other, less infamous individuals, are in identical circumstances. But these families reach a consensus in private, among themselves, in line with their beliefs. They don't use the power of the state to settle their disagreements. This seems like a situation where law, emotion, morality, and medicine clash and that all possible outcomes are bad. But that a judge has ordered this outcome repulses me.

I think the Congress should not be involved in a state matter, at least as I understand the current law. But both parties are wallowing in hypocrisy. If choosing to end a life is a state matter then so is abortion. How can there be a Constitutional 'right to choose' when ending a pregnancy but not when ending an adult life? If anything it should be the reverse. The adult is a citizen, recognized by the federal government. Is it unreasonable to suggest that the federal government should have some role in the way its citizens end their lives?

Moreover I foresee future cases that make this one look easy. Imagine a divorced couple where one parent has custody of a 12-year old. The child is in an accident and suffers brain damage. One parent wants to stop feeding and the other doesn't. Only one parent is the legal guardian, empowered to make life and death decisions. The child could not possibly have made a 'living will'. What are we to do? Does legal guardianship grant the power of life and death? Does the non-custodial parent have no say in the matter?

I realize that the feeding tube she was on is an artificial means of sustaining her life. But what about the next case where the patient can swallow but not chew? Can chew and swallow but not feed herself? Aren't quadriplegics kept alive by artificial means? Stroke victims? The seriously insane?

Since Western civilization is now more or less post-Christian these issues are confused and subject to raw political concerns. That is one reason that both parties are so mired in contradiction. The right is anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia and pro-capital punishment. The left is pro-choice for abortion and euthanasia and anti-capital punishment.

The court can order an citizen killed in some circumstances but not others but no one really know why. In the death penalty and in 'allowed to die' cases a legal decision results in the end of a human life. The Left says that a criminal might not have actually committed the crime he was convicted of so the state has no right to execute him. The Right says that the patient might not actually have declared her intention to be starved, or may have changed her mind. Does no one else see a contradiction here? In both cases there is a truth that we can never know with absolute certainty (whether the criminal committed the crime or whether the patient want to die). In both cases a court has made a determination regarding the legal status of that truth. So it's right to refuse this woman food but wrong to execute a murderer?

Our society needs to have a lengthy conversation about human life. What is life? What does it mean to be human? What is 'quality of life' and who gets to measure that when the individual cannot express herself? Does human life have some intrinsic, metaphysical value or should it be subject to arguments based on other (emotional, economic) criteria? When can life be ended and how? These are tough questions and deserve serious thought. I fear that if we leave this to the whims of our emotions, and the maneuvering of politicians and judges the outcomes will only be worse for everyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Easter Week, two days after Palm Sunday - an unelected judge has sided with a rather morbid man in his determined effort to execute his wife, a woman whose only crime is her existence.

This is not euthanasia. She is not terminal. The case is simple: a man wants the court to forcibly starve his wife, an incapacitated woman who cannot fend for herself. Follow that logic. Who's next? Brain damaged children. The insane. The enfeebled elderly. The inconveniently ill. Those who stubbornly refuse to die. The Dead Kennedys had it right in 1987, "Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death." (I urge everyone to read Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe's novel "A Personal Matter", a fictionalized account of the birth of his brain-damaged son. The protagonist considers the doctor's offer to euthanize his son but ..., well, it's a good novel that deserves a wide audience.)

This case is bad enough but that it reaches its climax during Holy Week is the final, horrible irony. And politically the symbolism couldn't be worse for the hapless Democrats. They have descended into a bad parody as essentially the Pro-Death Party. While Christians worldwide celebrate the Risen Christ, while children hunt for Easter eggs, while spring brings a profusion of new life, the Democrats and a handful of judges are allowing a man to starve his helpless wife. Happy Easter indeed.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Palestinian Chaos Watch

Fatah "gunmen" attacked a police station in Nablus today. The gunbattle with PA police wounded a policeman and two attackers.
In other incidents this week, militants shot at the house of former cabinet minister Jamil Tarifi in Ramallah while others fired toward a convoy bringing new Interior Minister Nasser Yousef into the city of Jenin for a visit this week.
Earlier in the week in Gaza Fatah supporters tried to lynch the president of Al-Azhar university. Fatah-supporting students
went on the rampage on Monday, destroying furniture and setting fire to several administration offices and classrooms. According to the sources, the rioters then attacked university president Hani Nijem's office while he was inside.
PA police battled with the students for hours. Afterward the university shut down. On Thursday a bomb exploded at Joseph's Tomb, a shrine sacred to Jews and Muslims. An Arab woman and her four children were injured by shrapnel.

Reversing the Revolution

Charles Krauthammer writing about Lebanon's Cedar Revolution in today's Washington Post:
This could all be reversed, of course. Liberal revolutions were suppressed in Europe in 1848, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Tiananmen Square in 1989. Determined and ruthless regimes can extinguish revolutions.
Is Assad as determined and ruthless as his father? It doesn't seem so. Daddy would never have allowed things to get this far. But more than Syria's grip on Lebanon is at stake. David Frum writes
Syria cannot afford to set Lebanon free. Lebanon is by far the wealthiest portion of the Assad family domains, thanks in part to the Syrian-approved drug trade. Possession of Lebanon, which Syrian nationalists regard as a natural part of greater Syria, is also essential ideologically. Finally - and maybe most important - a retreat from Lebanon under American pressure would be interpreted in Syria and throughout the region as a confession of weakness: which is fatal to any dictatorship.
Fatal indeed. If Syria pulls out Bashar al-Assad may find himself on the wrong end of a coup. Even preparing for a withdrawl could very well lead to Assad's arrest and replacement. Or maybe he just wakes up dead and some hard-ass general starts playing by the Hama Rules. Even if the withdrawl is completed the 14,000 troops that leave Lebanon could head right to the capital and overthrow the cowards who "stabbed them in the back." The leadership in Damascus must know that their very lives are at stake here.

The Syrian politburo biggest fear isn't losing Lebanon per se. It's that the withdrawl will embolden the Syrian street. The Lebanese are united and convinced that people power can force the foreigners out without violence. They seem to be following the Czeckoslovakian model from 1990. However, the Syrian people have been oppressed by Syrians. If they rise up like the Lebanese then there are two possible scripts. One is the Romanian Story with Assad playing the role of Ceausescu - a brief battle between loyalists and revolutionaries followed by the execution of the dictator and his family. Bummer, Bashar. The other is the Tiananmen Story with Assad playing Deng Xiao-ping and ordering his troops to massacre Syrians wholesale. Either way, it seems that Syria's future is, like its past, a violent one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Iranian Nuke Sites Off-Limits to UN

Iran continues playing games with the spineless IAEA by denying access to nuclear research and development facilities where they "may be testing high-explosive components for nuclear weapons" . Iran will "block any further probing of possible dual use equipment at the Lavizan-Shian site near Tehran - a move that effectively shut down one area of the agency's inquiry."

How much longer will we let this adolescent bullshit continue? Tick tock.

Scandinavian Crime Epidemic

Norwegian blogger Fjordman is your window into happenings in Scandinavia. For example, here his post on the "Muslim Rape Epidemic in Sweden and Norway." Frightening reading.
The number of rape charges per capita in Malmö is 5 – 6 times that of Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is a larger city, but the percentage of immigrants is much lower. And it’s not just the rape statistics that reveal a scary increase in Malmö or Sweden. Virtually every kind of violent crime is on the rise. Robberies have increased with 50 % in Malmö only during the
fall of 2004. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases have quadrupled between 2000 and 2003.
He goes on to quote some startling statistics for Sweden: 50% unemployement in some Malmo neighborhoods, "68% of all rapes committed this year the perpetrator was from an ethnic minority," and "75 % of Swedes “dislike” Muslims, more than in any other European country surveyed." He provides some similar numbers from Norway, including that 2004 saw the highest number of rape charges ever recorded in Oslo. This goes against all the pleasant images that Scandinavia brings to the American mind. Fjordman ends with this dark quote:
So in the end, the safety of young Scandinavian women is sacrificed in order to keep the glossy image of a multicultural society intact. It is a chilling demonstration of an Eurabian continent that now appears to care more about not upsetting relations with its immigrant population than about protecting its own citizens.
Disturbing to say the least.