Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hedgehogemony Continues

Doug TenNapel engages in a most enjoyable debate with me (or am I engaging him?) on the rule of law and what that has to do with God. Here's how the exchange has played out:

First, I said this:

Meanwhile, Doug TenNapel (why can't I have a cool surname like that?) has an excellent and fiery post on both Schiavo and judicial moral hegemony generally. I can't tell if Doug agrees with my post below about the rule of law or not. If what he's saying is that thereare just some days when anarchy looks pretty good, then I agree with him. But we must resist that impulse, my brother! So when do we cross the line where we need to resort to Boston Tea Party-type action? Heck , I don't know, but I think we're pretty far from that point right now. I hope so, anyway; God gave us the Constitution; let's use it. Our task is to convince people of the correctness of our positions; if we can't do that we're lost anyway.

Then Doug said this:

I believe he's one of the good ones, but I can't agree that God gave us the Constitution. I'm sure he means it as a turn of phrase or we'd have to add a book to our canon...the book of Constitution. But it would make sense why many of us righties mistakenly hold our law as a First Thing. The law is a Second Thing to God's law which is the presupposed First Thing.

Well, yes, it's really a turn of phrase. I don't think we disagree at all. I do believe the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired, and that's what I meant when I said "God gave" it to us. The Declaration and the Constitution are simply expressing the "unalienable rights" God has given all men and women.

My real point (not as well made as I had hoped) was that if we cannot effectively exercise those God-given rights to persuade others to choose good, we are sunk. No law will save us; neither will any army. An old adage states: "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." In my opinion, we need to sustain, honor, and obey the law of the land so that we can preserve a framework in which we are free to attempt to convince our fellow citizens of that. The law exists to serve goodness and virtue; goodness and virtue do not exist to serve the law.

I'm glad I could clear that up. Or maybe sort of clear it up.

Where Do We Go From Here? Now The Bigger Questions Begin to Be Asked


In "How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo," Eric Cohen is one of many who are beginning to raise the debate to a broader, more philosophical level. I think this is useful and important stage in the debate, and it's a chance for conservative people of faith to win some hearts and minds. I also think it is there-- in hearts and minds-- where we have to win. Only after that can the legislatures (and finally the courts) follow.

Here's a Cohen excerpt:

FOR ALL THE ATTENTION we have paid to the Schiavo case, we have asked many of the wrong questions, living as we do on the playing field of modern liberalism. We have asked whether she is really in a persistent vegetative state, instead of reflecting on what we owe people in a persistent vegetative state. We have asked what she would have wanted as a competent person imagining herself in such a condition, instead of asking what we owe the person who is now with us, a person who can no longer speak for herself, a person entrusted to the care of her family and the protection of her society.

Read the whole thing. We need to have this discussion, whether or not that discussion is pleasant, messy, or bruising. And, as wonderful as discussion is, at some point the debating needs to lead to some conclusions-- and we'll need to fight for them.

The Minutemen

Jackson's Junction has a link to a good interview, yesterday, I believe, between Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin. It's a "must-watch."

LaShawn Barber asked me what I think of the Minutemen. If you read this blog a little you know I've posted quite a bit about the illegal immigration crisis and what I think must be done. I've even gotten sufficiently exercised about the subject to call Hugh Hewitt's show, and Hugh's honored me by linking to my immigration-related posts. Until now, however, I haven't known what to think about the Minutemen. The Malkin-O'Reilly interview helped me crystallize my thoughts.

I understand and support what the Minutemen are trying to do: draw attention to the illegal immigration crisis. That's a noble and important goal and I hope they succeed; but I have some doubts and worries about how they are going about their work.

For one thing, I wish they hadn't decided to call themselves the Minutemen. Do they really want to compare themselves to the real Minutemen-- armed defenders against an armed military invasion? This is hyperbole. As much as we are legitimately worried about the stream of illegals across the southern border, that is not an invasion and the illegals are not warriors.

Also, and unfortunately, white supremacist groups are fond of using Revolutionary War names to identify themselves. Now this well-intentioned group has chosen to do the same thing. All of this simply plays into the hands of the MSM, which loves to give unattractive labels to conservative causes with which it disagrees (but I repeat myself!). President Bush, God bless him, did not help the situation by calling the Minutemen "vigilantes."

So as much as I hope the Minutemen's activities will foster a vigorous and informed debate -- and action!-- on the slow-motion illegal immigration crisis, I am worried that this all might backfire badly. Let us all hope and pray that none of the Minutemen get carried away and end up in a confrontation or other situation in which one or more of the illegals gets hurt. Otherwise we'll never hear the end of it. And I mean never!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Not Dead Yet

No matter where you stand on the Schiavo matter, this Harvard Crimson piece by a Harvard student with cerebral palsy will get you thinking. Maybe thinking hard.

After your brain has rested up a little from all that thinking, try out this piece, "Whose Life Is Worth Living?" by author Orson Scott Card. You'll be tired again, but glad of it.

The Post-Schiavo Future?

Guest blogger Ralph Kostant shares the following:

News Item One May Expect to See in the Los Angeles Times Soon:

Michael Schiavo announced at a press conference this afternoon that he is going to court in Italy to have the feeding tube removed from Pope John Paul II. Schiavo stated that at a private Papal audience some years ago, the Pontiff confided to Schiavo that “he would not want to go on living if he became dependent on a feeding tube for nutrition.”

Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, predicted that “only right-wing religious conservatives in the Vatican will oppose Michael’s effort to vindicate Pope’s right to die.” Medical experts consulted by the Los Angeles Times indicated that the best available scientific evidence suggests that the Pope would not suffer as he dies from starvation, and may indeed experience incidents of religious ecstasy.

Ralph B. Kostant

Ala'a And His Baba

Thanks to By Dawn's Early Light (newly added to my blogroll at left) we have this terrific story from the Atlanta Constitution Journal (free registration required).

Having discovered By Dawn's Early Light reminds me once again just how wonderful the blogosphere is. It enables us to rub cyber-shoulders with all so many smart, compassionate, highly-motivated and interesting people.

Wednesday Morning Ramblings


(Can "rambling" be a noun?)

The Delicate Center-Right Balance

Hugh has a nice post today responding to an op-ed by former Senator Danforth. I think my blogfather strikes just the right note. On the one hand, as a center-right and deeply religious conservative, I get nervous when people like Randall Terry and absolutists on immigration and right-to-life issues get too closely associated with the GOP on major issues. As William Penn said, "Truth often suffers more from the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers."

On the other hand, I also get nervous when the Danforths and McCains and George H.W. Bushes of the world want to take the gentlemanly route: Too often they start negotiating too early with lefties who have no interest in compromise, and their opening demand asks for less than even half the loaf. I agree with Hugh:

[P]erhaps the senator ought to have focused on the fact that the courts and the left are setting the agenda, and the center-right coalition, which includes many people for whom faith informs a world view, has decided that the demands of the radicals are not going to be agreed to without a political fight. It is messy stuff, but it is also unavoidable.

And-- I am with Jim of Stones Cry Out on this. If going to church once or twice a year is the mark of being "reasonably religious," then I must be hanging out with a lot of unreasonable religious nuts-- and I must be one myself! Just imagine how horrible things in this country would be if everyone worshipped in a church or synagogue weekly!

Facts about Schiavo

InstaPundit links to this very informative set of FAQ's about the Shiavo case. It appears calm and balanced. I find the Shiavo affair to be astonishingly multi-facted. Surely several writers are already at work on books about it. I hope some of those are serious efforts, not propaganda.

Meanwhile, Doug TenNapel (why can't I have a cool surname like that?) has an excellent and fiery post on both Schiavo and judicial moral hegemony generally. I can't tell if Doug agrees with my post below about the rule of law or not. If what he's saying is that there are just some days when anarchy looks pretty good, then I agree with him. But we must resist that impulse, my brother! So when do we cross the line where we need to resort to Boston Tea Party-type action? Heck , I don't know, but I think we're pretty far from that point right now. I hope so, anyway; God gave us the Constitution; let's use it. Our task is to convince people of the correctness of our positions; if we can't do that we're lost anyway.

Wow, that thought went on longer than I thought it would.

Kofi and Whine

Don't miss Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles, dissecting Kofi Annan's press conference statements on the oil-for-food scandal. Not much left of old Kofi when Laer is through with him.

The Blogosphere Generally

Good general reading about the new media here at rConversation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Good, Interesting, Sensible Center-Right Blog

Check out TigerHawk. It's an impressive site, one I am going to try to emulate soon. (The Hedgehog Blog is moving to a new hosting arrangement as soon as I get a weekend to devote to the change. We'll change the look of the blog and add some bells and whistles. I'm also going to do a better job of blogrolling, because there are so many great blogs out there that I have a hard time supporting without knowing how to do that.)

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Cautionary Note: The Rule of Law, Or of "Higher" Law?

While driving to an appointment today I was listening to the Hannity show on my car radio. An articulate caller was discussing the Terri Schiavo case with Hannity. The caller conceded that the legal processes had been followed and exhausted. In response, however, to the host's suggestion that it was time to accept the outcome, he argued, "There is a higher law that is more important to follow," or words to that effect.

This is very dangerous thinking, to the extent it becomes prevalent on the right. The caller's statements brought to mind some famous dialogue in A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt. In Act One, Thomas More is arguing with his son in-law, Will Roper, about the rule of law. More's wife Alice is upset that More has just allowed Richard Rich, whose treachery will soon be More's undoing, to escape:

ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after Rich:) While you talk, he's gone!
MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him.) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-- man's laws, not God's-- and if you cut them down-- and you're just the man to do it-- d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Consider: What if certain Christian members of American society were to decide that they feel so strongly about a moral or religious principle that they also believe the same principle is more important than the law. What happens to the rule of law then? What happens when the Christians are outnumbered by secularists who feel strongly, but differently, about another principle? Will the law continue protect the Christians then?

Conservatives need to think through and discuss the rule of law with a little more clarity and soberness. The law is the friend of all freedom-loving Americans. We need to obey it, honor it, sustain it. Otherwise we may well lead this country into the kind of trouble we cannot even imagine now.

UPDATE: For more on an important aspect of this subject, see John Bevan's thoughts at RealClearPolitics.

An Amazing L.A. Times Cheap Shot at Tom DeLay

Yesterday being Easter and all, I was more interested in getting to the last choir practice before our Easter performance than I was in looking at the Sunday L.A. Times. (My approach to the Sunday Times is based on experience. I usually start with the sports section, then move on to the comics. Then I dig up the Opinion section to see if any of the signed editorials look interesting. I never read the unsigned ones, since they seem more like internal memos in a liberal think tank than editorials seriously exploring an issue.)

I did notice this article about the end-of-life decision Tom DeLay's family had to make about DeLay's father, but did not take the time to read it until today, when I heard a talk radio show report that the Washington Post had picked up the story and that NBC's Norah O'Donnell had essentially re-read the story on the air. (Apart from the Times, I can find the story only on MSNBC.)

DeLay's father, according to the story (which is quite long) was injured in a freak accident, but Mr. DeLay's family unanimously decided not to take heroic steps to keep him alive. The clear intent of the story is to make DeLay out as a hypocrite:

DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping [Terri Schiavo], who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube. . . . In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.
I am no fan of DeLay's polarizing style or his apparent ethical myopia (detailed in this Wall Street Journal editorial appearing today). Nor am I often surprised by any story in the L.A. Times attacking conservative Republicans. Still, I find it this story amazingly outrageous. It is about as cheap as a shot can get.

Why? Because the DeLay family's experience is totally unremarkable in the medico-legal-ethical world. My siblings and I chose the same course for our mother several years ago, in very similar circumstances. I don't advise clients about such cases because they are not legally, medically, or ethically difficult; Hospitals never even call me in cases like these, which are so straightforward that it would not occur to anyone to call the hospital lawyer.

The combination of ignorance and malice here is truly stunning. Consider: In the DeLay case the family (starting with his wife) all agreed about Mr. DeLay's wishes. His demise was imminent, absent life-support measures, and his injuries were such that he could not be restored to independent life without those measures. His kidneys had failed. Consequently, he had on his medical chart what is called a "do not resuscitate" ("DNR") order.

Folks, this happens all the time. There is no story here. And it bears no significant resemblance to the Schiavo case. Terri Schiavo's family certainly does not agree that her wishes are clear; her demise is not imminent; and none of her life-sustaining organs have failed. The only similarity is that both Mrs. Schiavo and Mr. DeLay sustained serious and apparently irreversible brain damage.

Giving further evidence of its real intentions, the Times piece goes on to criticize Tom DeLay for his family's decision to sue the company they felt was responsible for the accident that caused their father's death. Apparently the Times writer find this hypocritical because DeLay strongly favors tort reform.

Whether you like Tom DeLay or not (and truthfully, I don't) , a hit piece is a hit piece is a hit piece. I can't remember the last time I saw one this blatant in the Times. The extent to which the news media here (the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, and NBC) have combined ignorance about hospitals and medical care with malice toward conservatives with whom they disagree is truly stunning and outrageous. The resulting article gives new meaning to the term "trumped-up."

Hugh Hewitt might ask why I have not cancelled my L.A. Times subscription. Well, I can’'t; I have to take the Times for professional reasons. Besides, we have a pet guinea pig, and the Times makes an excellent lining for his cage.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

On Saturday, The Day before Easter

Easter Music

Thanks to Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles for bringing to mind my all-time favorite hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It's the one I'd be pleased to have sung at my funeral:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
This biographical summary tells us a little about the author, Robert Robinson. The music is a beautiful traditional tune named “"Nettleton," about which you can find more in Wyeth’s Re­po­si­to­ry of Sac­red Mu­sic, Part Se­cond, by John Wy­eth. I've heard several hymns set to the same tune. As a congregational hymn "Come Thou Fount" is a little on the difficult side but most church choirs can handle it easily.

Easter Thought

This is another favorite, from the late Neal A. Maxwell, of whom Hugh Hewitt is a great admirer. It's full of quotable nuggets:

The gift of immortality to all is so choice a gift that our rejoicing in these two great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

Even those who see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.

Christ’s victory over death routs the rationale that there is a general and irreversible human predicament; there are only personal predicaments, but even from these we can also be rescued by following the pathway of Him who rescued us from general extinction.

A disciple’s “brightness of hope,” therefore, means that at funerals his tears are not because of termination, but because of interruption and separation. Though just as wet, his tears are not of despair, but of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door that will later be flung open.

It is the Garden Tomb, not life, that is empty!

Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, pp. 132-3

"Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness."

I love that. Happy Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2005

GUEST POST: Hollywood Conservative Proudly Proclaims: There Are More Than Three of Us . . . Really!


[Cheryl Felicia Rhoads, pictured above, posted the following comment deep down in this earlier post. I thought it deserved a little more prominence than it is getting way down there, so here it is. Ms. Rhoads is an actress and writer in Hollywood.]

By Cheryl Felicia Rhoads
Posted Mar 25, 2005

For 20 years I have been an actress and writer in Hollywood. I wrote guest columns, worked phone banks and walked precincts for the re-election of President Bush. I eagerly traveled to Washington for his second Inauguration. Then, at various festivities, upon informing fellow conservatives that I was from Hollywood, I was often greeted with, "A conservative in Hollywood? There must be only three of you." (Or six, but this bemused assertion never reached double digits.)

This presumption is just not true, however. Like other minority groups, conservatives in show business have steadily been coming out of the closet. But let's be honest, a million men won't march down Sunset Boulevard chanting, "Down with Michael Moore, we say out loud . . . we voted for George W. Bush, and we are proud!" The latter, however, isn't really necessary or even desirable. It is not that we need to indulge in a left vs. right war as artists. The point is that we have sought to be truly honest craftsmen, while also being allowed to enjoy a diversity of opinion without retribution.

Yet it is still important for those in the conservative movement itself to understand and appreciate that many in Hollywood share their revulsion for the ranting of Cameron Diaz, Whoopie Goldberg and Chevy Chase. And now, for a variety of reasons, not only conservatives, but also libertarians and non-leftists in the entertainment industry are broadening the artistic spectrum in Hollywood.

There are celebrities like Kelsey Grammar of television's "Frasier" who hosted an inaugural salute to the troops in Washington. Gary Sinise of television's "CSI: NY" and the hit movie Apollo 13 participated as well. (Sinise has also been active in building schools for Iraqi children.) Former "Law & Order" star Angie Harmon spoke at the Republican National Convention, while comedian Dennis Miller has aggressively supported Bush to the dismay of some fans of the former "Saturday Night Live" star.

The list goes on. Behind the cameras there are those like writer and director Lionel Chetwynd, who countered Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 with the more factually accurate Celsius 41.11. Political pundit Dick Morris presented yet another film disputing Moore's theories with Farenhype 9/11. The latter was co-produced by celebrity Ron Silver, who is not strictly a conservative or even a Republican. But the actor describes himself as a lifelong Democrat of the Truman mold. Silver broke with Democrats over the War on Terrorism and made a passionate speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention. On a lighter note, David Zucker, director of Airplane, produced an anti-Kerry, pro-Bush commercial during election season.

Some celebrities are open about their "otherness" by Hollywood's political standards. But there are groups and events that encourage those emerging writers and actors who don't yet have the safety of stardom or prestigious credits to share their conservative ideology.

Conceived the morning after the 1992 elections, activist David Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club (WMC) blazed the trail. Horowitz brought a variety of authoritative speakers, mostly conservative, to the Beverly Hills gatherings. Horowitz's group provided a needed balance to those who had been bombarded by the pontificating of those in the Barbara Streisand crowd. The WMC has long been a solo port in the Hollywood storm, an oasis that provided intellectual diversity. Now other outlets also serve as a healing balm to conservatives on the left coast.

The grassroots Hollywood Congress of Republicans (HCR) and a chapter of the California Congress of Republicans formed in 2001. HCR is a welcome haven to many actors, writers and others affiliated with the entertainment industry. It also has guest speakers who discuss their common goals.

Radio hosts Dennis Prager and Larry Elder both promoted a revue of comedians billed as The Right Stuff. This group was the brainchild of Eric Peterofsky, a former staff writer on "Murphy Brown." I went to a local comedy club to see Peterofsky's show. Surrounded by conservative patrons enjoying hilarious conservative comedians was really a revelation for someone like me. The very existence of this show signaled the stars in heaven were mystically coming into alignment, even if some stars in Hollywood like Sean Penn may have felt a disturbance in "the Force."

Euphoria really set in the first weekend in October, however. I participated in the Liberty Film Festival in Beverly Hills, founded by director Jason Apuzzo and his wife, actress Govindini Murty. About 18 conservative films were showcased. We attended panels featuring people like actress Morgan Brittany, film critic Michael Medved, Hollywood, Interrupted author Andrew Breitbart and director David Zucker. The festival was preceded in Dallas by the American Film Renaissance Festival, founded by the husband and wife team of Jim and Ellen Hubbard. As a member of four entertainment unions that openly promoted activities, like those of, I was thrilled to be with a multitude of like-minded artists in Hollywood. Many of us felt we had come home.

Conservatives should know about this political "counter culture." More importantly, as artists, it is simply a good idea to broaden the dialogue. And it has been happening, slowly but surely over the years.

Contrary to many conservatives' beliefs, Hollywood is not a political monolith. Many refuse to be intimidated by the "politically correct" in their industry anymore. It is essential, in order to be the artists we set out to be. Winston Churchill said, "Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time." His admonition is being heeded in the nick of time, not only for the sake of American culture, but also--due to Hollywood's influence--that of the world.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Schiavo: One More Comment from A Health Lawyer's Perspective

I saw Hugh Hewitt's reference this morning to Dr. William Cheshire. Dr. Cheshire has recently attracted attention by raising troubling medical questions about Terri Schiavo's diagnosis, suggesting that Terri is not really in a persistent vegetative state. Hugh notes:

The New York Times sought out Dr. Ronald Cranford, the University of Minnesota neurologist who examined Terri Schiavo for Judge Greer, and who apparently did not order a MRI or a PET scan of Teri Schiavo as part of his diagnosis --a gap that has stunned other neurologists who have commented on the case. Rather than respond to Dr. Chesire's affidavit, Dr. Cranford lashes out in the predictable fashion of a man of the left: "I have no idea who this Cheshire is," and added: "He has to be bogus, a pro-life fanatic. You'll not find any credible neurologist or neurosurgeon to get involved at this point and say she's not vegetative."

In response, I can say that if Dr. Cranford is quoted accurately here, by making that statement he raises serious concern about his reliability as an expert. For 20 years as a lawyer assisting hospitals in complex medical quality peer review matters involving outside experts, I have worked with some of the finest medical expert reviewers in the world. None of them has ever attacked another expert in the manner Dr. Cranford attacks Dr. Cheshire. Instead, a truly professional expert sticks to the medical facts of a given patient's case. It's what is in the patient's chart that matters. Period.

I am not offended on Dr. Cheshire's behalf; I am simply saying that if I engaged an expert and he responded the way Dr. Cranford has, I'd be thinking about getting another expert because Cranford's credibility would be shot-- at least with me. He is not behaving the way a top-notch expert reviewer does.

I have a Boy Scout camping trip today so blogging will be not only light today, but impossible after a few more minutes. I hope this works out with some semblance of decency and humanity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other."

That's what Charles Krauthammer makes of the current status of the Schiavo case. I tend to agree with him. I still do not excuse the federal judiciary for the manner in which it has approached this matter.

Meanwhile, Tony Blankley offers perhaps the simplest, most articulate expression I have seen of the moral and legal dimensions of Terri's (and our) predicament.

And Jonathan Turley writes of the Constitutional issues while also movingly describing a personal trial very close to the one my siblings and I underwent four years ago.

The 11th Circuit And The Schiavo Case

A surprising and depressing day. It appears that two members of the three-judge Court of Appeals panel considered the Schiavo case as if were simply another garden-variety injunction matter. To me, that means those two are either cowards, or had decided in advance on the result they wanted, or both.

So Congress gathered from the four corners of the nation and met at midnight on a Sunday, and President Bush flew to D.C. from Texas and signed the bill after 1:00 a.m., so that the judiciary could say, "ho-hum," and dispose of this as if it were a routine matter?

Words fail me.

I'm busy with court matters of my own so may be able to blog only lightly, if at all, on the 11th Circuit decision. For now, Hugh tells you a lot here. Deacon of Power Line has some very helpful links as well, including an excerpt from the lone dissenting judge's opinion that says just about all that needs to be said about why the decision is so wrong. The intent of Congress, Judge Wilson wrote,

is to maintain the status quo by keeping Theresa Schiavo alive until the federal courts have a new and adequate opportunity to consider the constitutional issues raised by Plaintiffs. The entire purpose of the statute was to give the federal courts an opportunity to consider the merits of Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims with a fresh set of eyes. Denial of Plaintiffs’ petition cuts sharply against that intent, which is evident to me from the language of the statute, as well as the swift and unprecedented manner of its enactment. Theresa Schiavo’s death, which is imminent, effectively ends the litigation without a fair opportunity to fully consider the merits of Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims.
It must be noted that reportedly, the two judges voting against further action are Clinton appointees, and Judge Wilson is a Bush appointee. Tells you a lot, doesn't it? [Update: I had bad information. As commenter Ralph points out, Judge Wilson is a Clinton appointee.]

Andrew McCarthy points out:

The case now proceeds on two probable tracks: an appeal to the entire Eleventh Circuit sitting en banc, and an application to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (the Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit) for an emergency stay with a reinsertion of the feeding tube. Judge Wilson has given them a compass.
Heaven save us from arrogant judges.

TRUE NORTH by Sonja Eddings Brown

One Woman's View of The Terri Schiavo Case

The lesson
to be learned from Terri Schiavo's life dilemma is that every American, probably at the age of 18, should be required to prepare a durable power of attorney for healthcare in the event a life or death decision becomes necessary and they cannot decide for themselves. The durable power of attorney should include the signer’s wishes about such decisions. People could be allowed to update the document with every renewal of their driver's licenses. Whether optional or mandatory, this opportunity would serve families, caregivers, and the individual well.

Just as 18-year olds are invited into adulthood by being given the right to vote, the responsibility to register with the selective service, the opportunity to designate themselves as organ donors, and a variety of other privileges under the law, 18-year olds should also be allowed to state their personal wishes in the event they are incapacitated.

There is so much passion encircling the issues of the Terry Schiavo case that my own husband and I find it hard to agree on some aspects of the matter. Women, however, are often not as divided on the issue of Terri Schiavo's destiny. In recent days I conducted my own informal poll on the subject by tapping the opinions of women I pass daily in my work as a media consultant, on Los Angeles school yards, at the grocery store, the car wash, church gatherings, and dental offices. These are the corridors where, I find, the real pulse of the country can be taken. Not surprisingly, women think alike. The heartfelt reactions to Terri Schiavo's predicament were mostly uncomplicated and similar to my own . Each woman, whether a mother, an intensive care nurse, a lawyer, a clerk, or a grandmother, placed a very high value on life. Even so, not one desired to be kept alive, with all quality of life stripped away, with loved ones left burdened with responsibility, uncertainty, and paralyzing legal handcuffs. Not one woman felt that Terry Schiavo would choose this destiny for herself either.

In this particular instance, I believe that whether you live in Greenville, Ohio or in a metropolis like Los Angeles, a family crisis like this is viewed much the same. The Schiavo tragedy should have been resolved as a private and sacred family matter, not determined by courts, and not congress, and certainly not by the checkbooks of special interest groups.

Terri Schiavo would have been able to decide her own destiny, and could have rescued her own family from this desperate dispute, had the law required her at 18 to determine power of attorney and clearly state her preferences. Some observers sympathize with her devoted and relentless parents; others agonize with her obviously frustrated and worn out husband, all of whom have endured almost 15 years of scrutiny in this case. Their suffering should be a lesson to us all. With the extraordinary intervention tools available to medical professionals today, society must demand that medical professionals use them thoughtfully and with measured responsibility, not out of habit. The rights and the wishes of individuals can be legally considered and respected without ignoring the sacred value of human life in the process.

Terri Schiavo makes headlines today because her life-sustaining food tube has been withdrawn. Where were the television cameras when her doctors truly determined her fate by connecting her to a ventilator-- and then removing her from it? This case is making news today because at the crucial points in her survival, the wishes of her legally-responsible husband were challenged by conflicted parents and there was no sure humane, ethical, established pathway for her family to follow. The Orange County Register reported this past weekend that there are some 35,000 families today facing similar tragic decisions in hospitals and hospices all around the country.

Hospitals and physicians in America today are trained to act instantly and aggressively to save a life. The problem with that philosophy is that doctors and hospitals sometimes behave as if they are powerless when families are faced with the consequences of such acute intervention, and patients are permanently tethered to machinery . . . for life.

Several dozen judges have now reviewed the Schiavo case and have ruled in favor of the rights of her husband as principal guardian. Whether we side with her husband or not, we must not fail to recognize his rights and more importantly his responsibilities under the law. In the future, the government should act to spare families, friends, medical professionals and other caregivers from vague customary practices and place the responsibility for life or death decisions on the individual and his or her trusted representative. The destinies of our loved ones should be decided by each of us and by our families, not by doctors, hospitals, lawyers and judges, who have survival instincts of their own.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Judge James D. Whittemore And The Schiavo Case: A Health Lawyer's View

This morning's Federal District Court ruling is on the books now and is already the subject of much commentary. You can read the ruling here. Hugh Hewitt offers excellent legal commentary here and here.

The interesting thing about judges is that they are human beings, subject to all the human biases and frailties. The notion that they are impartial pillars of objectivity and fairness is silly.

In other words, often judges write opinions to get to the result they want. This should not be shocking to anyone; every lawyer certainly knows it's true.

What About Judge Whittemore?

Take this judge as an example. According to Judges of The United States, Judge Whittmore is
53 years old, a South Carolina native, and was nominated to the federal bench William J. Clinton on October 20, 1999.

Point: Federal judges are politically active people. You can bet Judge Whittemore is a Democrat activist.

In fact, he began his legal career as an assistant federal public defender, in the Office of Federal Public Defender, where he worked for three years.

Point: Judge Whittemore is politically liberal. I have never known a public defender who wasn't.

He was in private practice in Florida from 1981-1990, and probably did criminal defense work. (I don't know.) Then he served as a judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court, Florida, from 1990-2000. I assume he was appointed to that seat by Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, who was governor of Florida in 1990.

Point: This was not a judge from which we could expect a courageous or even a thoughtful ruling. The people he probably goes to dinner parties with would never stand for that.

The Decision

I have read Judge Whittemoore's decision and am underwhelmed. What we have here is a judge who got to the result he wanted. In that regard, I find two "cop-outs" and one inexplicable failure, any one of which a different judge would have avoided.

Cop-out 1 is at footnote 3 of the opinion:

Plaintiffs have submitted affidavits of health care professionals regarding Theresa's medical status, treatment techniques and therapies which are available and their opinions regarding how and whether these treatments might improve Theresa's condition. Plaintiffs have not, however, discussed these affidavits in their papers and how they relate to the claimed constitutional deprivations.
This falls into the "see no evil" category. In other words, he's saying, "Hey, this information is in front of me and it's terribly important, but you haven't told me what to do with it so I am conveniently going to ignore it. " He could have asked the plaintiffs (Terry's family) to do more with that information. Judges make such requests all the time. He chose not to do so. Why? The answer probably has something to do with the result he wanted. (See the discussion of his likely biases above.)

Cop-out 2 is at the end of Section B of the opinion, in which the judge rejects the claim by Terry's family that she should have been represented by an independent attorney:

. . . this court concludes that Theresa Schiavo's life and liberty interests were adequately protected by the extensive process provided in the state courts. Defendant Michael Schiavo and [Terry's faily] , assisted by counsel, thoroughly advocated their competing perspectives on Theresa Schiavo's wishes. Another lawyer appointed by the court could not have offered more protection of Theresa Schiavo's interests. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on Count II.
Well. Frankly, that is a defensible conclusion. It was not, however, one that the judge had to reach after reviewing a handful of affadavits. He chose to do so, even though he could have requested additional briefing from the parties on the issue. Judges do that all the time, too. Why didn't this judge? Again, see the section above about Judge Whittemore's probable political leanings.

The inexplicable failure. The judge, as Hugh notes, could have ordered the resumption of the feeding tube pending an appeal. For that matter, he could have ordered the resumption of feeding and hydration pending the parties' submission to him of additional argument on the two "cop-out" issues noted above. Again, judges do that all the time. Why didn't Judge Whittemore? See above.

The real source of our frustration. The problem here is that courts are terrible places to resolve these issues. Believe me, I've been there more than a few times on similar matters for my hospital clients. The real battle for our society to is decide what the "moral imperative" will be in right-to-die cases. I agree with what James Q. Wilson said yesterday:

[T]he moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future.
Those of us who feel this way need to persuade a fellow citizens that Wilson is right, and the courtroom's not the place for that battle. In fact, this whole Schiavo situation is a mess; for example, the Congressional decision to create a special right of appeal for Terry may well have been unconstitutional.

The silver lining, however this all works out, may be the attention it has focused on serious moral issues like euthanasia (called "physician-assisted suicide" by those who want to see it become a reality). We've got hearts and minds (and votes) to win, folks. We can't depend on judges to get our society to the place it needs to be. We have to do the hard work of convincing people that there does need to be a moral imperative and what it should be. It won't be easy but it will be worth whatever effort we give to it.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Terry Schiavo: Too Bad She's Not A Convicted Killer

I was fortunate to get 15 seconds on Hugh Hewitt's show today (yes, I was concentrating hard as I spat out 60 seconds' worth of thoughts in 1/4 that time). Foolishly, I promised Hugh I'd blog a little more about the Schiavo case. Well, what I have said already about the case is here and here; it's now really late at night and my powers of expression are flagging.

Fortunately, frequent Hedgehog Blog contributor (and Hewitt show caller) Ralph Kostant comes to the rescue with another dandy set of thoughts, this time in the form of a letter to the editor of the L.A. Times:

Editor, The Los Angeles Times:

It is unfortunate for Terry Schiavo that she is not a convicted killer. Had she committed a heinous murder, and a Florida judge had ordered that she be deprived of food and water until she died, would there be any doubt that a Federal District Court would have jurisdiction to intervene on a petition in habeus corpus, on the basis of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment? And would there be any doubt that the Los Angeles Times would applaud that intervention, even though it would involve Federal Court review of the State of Florida’s laws and judicial procedures? Sadly, Terry Schiavo is not a condemned murderer. Her only crime is insufficient quality of life, in the opinion of her husband, and therefore a Florida judge may sentence her to death by dehydration and starvation, with the editorial approval of the Los Angeles Times.

Ralph B. Kostant

Indeed. Remember when writing a letter to the editor and hoping it would be published was the only means of expressing oneself about public issues? It was not all that long ago, friends.

One Additional Schiavo Thought

There's an old saying among lawyers that "hard cases make bad law." We rarely see a case like the Schiavo mess, and when we do it seems to bring out the worst in everyone involved-- judges, lawyers, journalists, commentators.

Honestly, this is a terribly hard case. No one really knows what Terry Schiavo would want. But if she is killed, what precedent does that set? Once it's settled that others can decide for Terry what quality of life she would want (or the quality of life society finds acceptable for her) just how slippery does that slope become? What other lives will we decide are not worth preserving, and how will we draw the line?

Pro-euthanasia types will shake their heads and say those are questions only an alarmist would ask.

I respond: Answer the questions.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan offers her usual thoughtful views. So does James Q. Wilson (link requires subscription). Here is an excerpt from Wilson's piece:

[The] moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future. To do otherwise makes us recall Nazi Germany where retarded people and those with serious disabilities were "euthanized" (that is, killed). We hear around the country echoes of this view in the demands that doctors be allowed to participate, as they do in Oregon, in physician-assisted suicide, whereby doctors can end the life of patients who request death and have less than six months to live. This policy endorses the right of a person to end his or her life with medical help. It is justified by the alleged success of this policy in the Netherlands.

But it has not been a success in the Netherlands. In that country there have been well over 1,000 doctor-induced deaths among patients who had not requested death, and in a large fraction of those cases the patients were sufficiently competent to have made the request had they wished.

This is not a matter of crazy religious zealots refusing to see reality. There are real issues here.

Now Here's My Kind of Blog

If you are like me, and you visit, you're going to want to spend some time there. Movie reviews, comic book art (by the blogger himself), political and cultural commentary--it's all there in one place. The blogger, Doug TenNapel, is a self-described "conservative Christian who creates content for Hollywood." He comes at all those subjects from a center-right perspective, and does so gently and with good humor. I'll be back often (I grew up on comic books and still managed to become a normal adult, in my wife's opinion), and you'll see on my blogroll.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I AGREE WITH SENATOR BYRD! (Well, not really . . . .)

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia

The following guest post is submitted by The Hedgehog's former law partner and friend Ralph B. Kostant of
Los Angeles:


As Lowell already has noted in THE HEDGEHOG BLOG, this past Wednesday, sponsored an old time tent revival, to rally the faithful against the nefarious plot of the Republican Senate Majority to end the Democrats’ filibuster of the President’s judicial nominees. The Republicans are threatening to apply the so-called “Constitutional Option” of terminating debate and actually submitting the judicial nominees to a “Yea” or “Nay” vote. Among the featured speakers at the conference was Senator Robert Byrd, who intoned:

An ill wind is blowing across this country. That wind sows the seeds of destruction. Our Constitution is under attack. We must speak out. We must kill this dangerous effort to rewrite our precious Constitution.

Well, I quite agree. Now let us exam coolly and objectively who is leading this dangerous effort to rewrite our precious Constitution. According to Senator Byrd, it is the Republican Majority in the Senate, while of the Democrats and, Senator Byrd declaimed:

Our view, your view, of the Constitution is based on the plain words of the framers who wrote that Constitution.
Well, that’s a simple hypothesis to test. One need merely read the United States Constitution. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, as modified by the 17th Amendment, reads:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

While no provision of Article I specifies that an action of the Senate requires a majority vote, that is certainly implied by the following provision, regarding the role of the Vice President of the United States in the Senate:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

In other words, if any vote in the Senate results in a tie, and therefore no decision, the Vice President votes to break the tie. Clearly, then, the Constitution contemplates that only a simple majority vote of the Senate is required for the Senate to act. If all 100 Senators are present, a maximum of 51 votes, is needed for the Senate to act. However, since Article I, Section 5 states that majority of either the Senate or the House of Representatives is a quorum for that legislative house to do business, the Senate might validly act on a vote of as few as 26 votes, if only 51 Senators were present. And that is how the Senate, and the House, for that matter, has always done business.

Now the framers of the Constitution knew how to provide for a super majority where they felt one was warranted. Article 3, Section 2, states of the President:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
So the very provision of the Constitution that requires the “Advice and Consent of the Senate” for an appointment of “Judges of the supreme Court” (and other “Officers of the United States”) states that ratification of treaties requires “the Advice and Consent of the Senate …provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” Once again the implication is clear: “Advice and Consent of the Senate” means a simple majority vote of a quorum of Senators, except in the case of a treaty, where a two thirds vote of the Senators present is required.

Having established “the plain words of the framers who wrote that Constitution,” in the inspiring and immortal words of Senator Byrd, let us see who is calling for a departure from plain meaning. Here is California’s beloved Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, speaking on the subject of the vote of the Senate required for “Advice and Consent” on a judicial nomination:

Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.
Now, I do not wish to be catty regarding Senator Boxer. I will leave that to Senator Feinstein. So I won’t comment on her admirable eloquence, as illustrated by phrases such as “a super important position.”

No, my point is simply this—Senator Boxer favors ignoring “the plain words” of the Constitution and implementing, without a constitutional amendment, a vote of 60 Senators in order to confirm a judicial nomination.

Senator Byrd, help us to repel this odious attack on our precious Constitution!


Isn’t this debate over the “Constitutional Option” really just a microcosmic illustration of the entire fight to appoint judicial nominees who are strict constructionists of the Constitution? For decades, liberal jurists have viewed the United States Constitution and the Constitutions of the several States as documents of astonishing elasticity, in which, wonder of wonders, a liberal jurist can find whatever one wants! Any political objective on the Left’s agenda that fails to merit a majority vote in a legislature nevertheless may be enshrined into law by a liberal court, based on newly discovered Constitutional authority.

Has the State Legislature passed a law banning gay marriage? Never fear, it is unconstitutional, even if the State Constitution is completely silent on the subject. Have the people of the State voted in a referendum to ban gay marriage? Shame on them—but no matter, their action was unconstitutional! Are the laws of a State silent on authorizing gay marriage? No matter, the State Constitution will be found to require it!

Of course, gay marriage is just one of many examples one could cite for this trend. But if a Constitution can mean anything, it really means nothing. Taken to the extreme displayed by Senator Boxer, and frankly advocated by most liberal thinkers, the U.S. Constitution and State Constitutions are rendered into nullities, becoming merely the cited justification for enacting a judge’s personal opinions into law. The guaranty in Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution, that each State shall have a republican form of government, gives way to a dictatorship of an “enlightened” [read, “liberal”] judicial elite.

Those are the stakes of the battle now looming in the Senate.

Ralph B. Kostant

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Saturday Morning Musings


The End of The Anchorman Era

Dan Henninger writes with wonder and a hint of nostalgia about the old days when "everyone watched" Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings "because the Anchormen made it seem important. Back then, they commandeered events in a way that is no longer possible."

March Madness

What a terrific time of year. My own Utah Utes, led by Player of the Year candidate Andrew Bogut, are headed into the Round of 32 today, hoping for a mild upset over the Oklahoma Sooners. This is the 10th NCAA tournament in 11 years for the Utes, so it's quite a tradition in our house. My sons and I will be gathered around the TV, cheering every basket and agonizing over ever turnover. Despite whatever questions one might raise about college athletics, the NCAA Tournament has become a solid cultural tradition. Most of all, it's a heck of a lot of fun. Go Utes!

Andrew Bogut, soon to be an NBA lottery pick

Some Other Good Reads

In case you missed Charles Krauthammer's piece yesterday, here it is.

And Byron York gives us a preview of the coming judicial confirmation battles.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Terry Schiavo

I have been silent on this matter because I try to avoid media circuses. Also, the Schiavo case touches on my work life, in which I regularly advise hospitals and other health care providers about end of life issues. That's why it's a little more complicated for me to give my opinion about Terry Schiavo.

But this morning's reports pushed me over the edge. The last I heard, at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern time (just as I am typing this post) Terry's feeding tube was to be removed.

This is a moral outrage, as many more qualified than I have commented. I am not sure, however, just how well-understood it is that the Schiavo case may well be a medico-legal-ethical outrage as well.

Take it from me: In close cases involving life-or-death decisions for patients whose ability to decide for themselves is compromised, health providers err on the side of life, unless the wishes of the patient are clear or the patient has legally authorized another person to make decisions on his or her behalf.

I'll say it again: In close cases involving life-or-death decisions for people whose ability to decide for themselves is compromised, health providers err on the side of life. That's the custom and practice in the industry. It is simply what is done. Seemingly only lefty bioethicists in think tanks or living in morally challenged Scandinavian countries think otherwise.

In Terry Schiavo's case, it is not even a close call. No one claims she is brain-dead or even close to it; she may be in a persistent vegetative state ("PVS"), but there's substantial debate about that and very little medical information to go on now. There has been no MRI of her brain and no PET scan. Even assuming she is in PVS, the biggest debate seems to be whether there is clear and convincing evidence that she would wish to have her life end under her present circumstances. I don't know the court file in the case, but all I've heard about in news reports is something about a comment she made once while watching television. The only witness to that comment was her "husband" in name only, whose reliability is being questioned. Terri has appointed no one as her surrogate decision maker.

In other words, there are many more questions than answers about this case. In 20 years of advising hospitals about such matters, I have never seen a case with so many open issues get to the point where artificial hydration and nutrition are about to be withdrawn.

I'd love to write more but alas, I can't today. I hope this story has an ending that helps us all learn to handle such cases better.

The Schiavo family's website is linked here. Please visit. Maybe you will be able to help, or at least learn something.

New Iraqi Polling Data; And Another Interesting Blog

Thanks to Roger Simon I found the Seeker Blog, which reports that Iraqi optimism about the country is rising, while American pessimism seems to be dipping downward. The blog shares some graphs that are striking to say the least.

The Seeker's self-description suggests it will be very much worth visiting:

This is mostly an "off road blog" in that we generally only will post on "off road sources". Since everyone can read the New York Times, Guardian, or Sydney Morning Herald we don’t need to waste bandwidth highlighting their content. We’ll be looking mainly at academic sources, think-tanks, less-read sources such as Atlantic Monthly or Commentary, plus a selection of New Media sources that we have come to respect.
How can you not love the blogosphere?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Radio Blogger: A Daily Must-Visit

From Radio Blogger's home page; I think Duane's the man behind the curtain.

Radio Blogger is becoming a must-visit site-- for bloggers as well as readers of blogs. The site is run by Generalissimo Duane, who is Hugh Hewitt's radio show producer. Radio Blogger specializes in selecting verbatim transcripts of lefty politicians and commentators and putting them on the Web for all to see. It's a fertile field, believe me.

Here's an example, in which Duane quotes Barbara Boxer making one of her dumber statements. Go to the main site too, and browse.

Hugh asks the question certain pols should ponder:

Do you think Democrats ever bother to pause and ask themselves why center-right radio hosts and bloggers play and post their speeches --often in their entirety?
Yup. Great stuff.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Just When You Thought The Immigration Debate Here Was Quieting Down for A While

Toward the end of our rip-roaring debate on illegal immigration a few days ago, I received this e-mail from a reader who posts using the whimsical moniker "Mr. Grumpy" and who demands answers. Because I actually had professional work to do, I was unable to respond until now. My responses to Mr. Grumpy are in italics below:



I found your blog via H. Hewitt's non-discussion of immigration on Monday past. I asked 2 questions of you via the comments section of your carrot and stick entry that remain unanswered.

In the event that you simply have not yet read the comments to your own blog, I will re-ask them:

First, how is normalization different from amnesty?

According to, "amnesty" is "an act of clemency by an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individuals." That's what President Reagan did in 1986 (and it must not be repeated, in my view). It is not what President Bush is suggesting, nor is it what Hugh and I are talking about. No one's talking about any act of clemency. "Normalization," as Hugh uses the word to describe what Bush proposes, means that those illegal immigrants who now simply inhabit the country would be allowed to apply for legal status as guest workers, provided they meet certain requirements. Bush bases this approach on these three principles:

  • "New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job."
  • "We should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully or hope to do so."
  • "New laws should provide incentives for temporary foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."

Do you see the difference? Instead of saying, "All is forgiven, you're welcome to stay here and apply for citizenship," as amnesty did, Bush would match workers with jobs, and in any subsequent citizenship application process would not allow those who came here illegally to benefit from having done so. The guest worker arrangement would explicitly be temporary.

Second, do you agree with Mr. Hewitt's irrational claim that, on one hand, expelling illegal aliens will destroy California's economy -- but his later intimation that the whole discussion is equal in importance to the Michael Jackson trial?

I don't know what you mean. Expelling illegals from California would have a profound impact on life here, and only one of the effects would be economic. In my opinion, anyone who suggests that approach simply can't be taken seriously. As for Michael Jackson, I don't know that Hugh has ever suggested any equivalence between the enormously important immigration issue and the Jackson trial. The very idea is absurd.

I look forward to your response.


Mr. Grumpy

I hope this was helpful, and that you decide to cheer up!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Remember The SwiftVets?

This post at Power Line and the links therein are a good reminder. It also provides some interesting new information.

Ward Churchill: Perpetrator of "The Long Con"

I try not to pay attention to the Ward Churchill story because I think Churchill is such a joke, but it has become fascinating to see how others in left-wing academia (but I repeat myself!) have responded. Take a look at this editorial by Paul Campos, a law professor at Colorado (where Churchill holds a position). Notably, Campos is a self-described Hispanic Democrat.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Immigration, Carrots, Sticks, and Fences: Let's Talk Solutions


Hugh Hewitt, blogfather to so many of us, links here to this Economist article, "Dreaming of The Other Side of The Wire," and urges comment and analysis. Here we go.

First, read the article. It accurately summarizes the debate as one that

runs a spectrum from the libertarian advocacy of open borders to the isolationist instinct to fence them off. Common ground, however, is that the present system of legal immigration does not work.

Granted, the system is broken. President Bush has proposed a comprehensive approach. Many of my conservative brethren have reacted with vehement opposition. Candidates up for re-election seem to fear upsetting those who oppose the Bush approach (many of whom know nothing about it other than what they have heard on talk radio shows).

So, I continue to ask, what is to be done? Many of the responses to my posts below were very interesting and quite encouraging because they reflected some good thinking and creative approaches to actually solving the problem in a way that honors the key principles at stake:

  • The rule of law
  • National security
  • National cohesion
  • Preservation of traditional values

As he is wont to do, Hugh has helped organize, aggregate, and synthesize the thinking on the issue and offers his idea, soon to be known everywhere as the "carrots and fences" approach; Hugh "favors both President Bush's plan for normalization of the 8 to 12 million illegals already here plus the construction of a border-length fence and highway to patrol it."

Now we're talking. Here's how I see this all fitting together.

Rule of Law And National Security: The Carrot

The Bush plan calls for using the guest worker concept - the carrot- to get a handle on the undocumented aliens here now. The idea is to know who they are and account for their presence. This is critical to the national security principle: It would be much harder for shadowy evildoers to slip into the USA. The plan is also crucial to restoring the rule of law: No more flouting the immigration laws, no more winking and nodding about hiring "illegals," no more underground undocumented immigrant economy. Also, those who were here illegally already when the plan is implemented would not benefit from that; they'd go to the back of the line for permanent resident status.

National Cohesion and Preservation of Traditional Values: The Stick

The Bush plan offers the carrot. But the missing piece is the "stick" Hugh proposes: A fence like the one on the California-Mexico border already, running the length of the border; and a highway, also running the length of the border, to allow Homeland Security to patrol it.

The fence/highway adds the missing piece to the Bush plan: The ability to show everyone-- American voters, Congress, foreign governments, and terrorists-- that the USA is really serious about maintaining border security.

Why is that so important? For one thing, there is considerable concern that the Bush guest worker program will morph into just another amnesty program. I share that concern. The 1986 amnesty did nothing to stem the unregulated tide of immigrants, and probably worsened it, giving hope to those who think that if they just stay here long enough, another amnesty will be granted. If voters and immigrants belief that will happen, any reform effort is doomed. A dramatic step like the fence and highway is necessary to put that belief to rest.

The article makes clear the extent to which the national attitude is both deeply concerned and somewhat ambivalent about the overall issue:

[M]ost Americans instinctively follow the view of Franklin Roosevelt that “all of us are descended from immigrants”. The consequence is a kind of general ambivalence. In a Washington Post poll carried out in January, 61% of the sample said illegal immigrants should be able to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. On the other hand, few Americans favour greater inflows: Gallup in January found that 7% want more immigration; 39% are happy with the current level; and 52% want less.

It's that 52% who want less immigration who won't support the carrot reform without a good stick to go with it. With such a stick, however, we can hold the conservative majority in the country together on this divisive issue (along with a substantial chunk of the center-left).

So the solution on the table right now: carrots and fences.

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but we should welcome as immigrants only people who want to come here and become Americans as soon as possible-- full-blown, English-speaking, 4th of July-celebrating, PTA-joining, contributing Americans. Others may come, but should be allowed to do so only with our permission and knowledge, subject to terms America has set. "Carrots and fences" is the best idea of seen yet that will make that happen. And yes, that approach will be expensive, but unless we demonstrate the national will to take that approach-- or something very much like it-- the USA in 25 years will be a much different kind of society than I believe the majority of Americans want it to be.


Jonathan Max Wilson has written a clear-eyed analysis of (1) the serious threat of continued unregulated illegal immigration and (2) the manner in which the Bush principles provide the solution. Read Jonathan's piece here at the GOPUSA site, or on Jonathan's own blog.

Also, Alan Caruba has a must-read reality check for anyone who really wants to know what's at stake in this debate and why we have to get the resolution right. If you've ever read Alan Caruba you know he is about as far from a bleeding heart liberal as anyone can get. His sobering and realistic piece is here.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Some Responses to Comments (So Far) on Illegal Immigration


The sheer number of comments to my post below on illegal immigration and to my follow-up post linking Tamar Jacoby's piece makes it impractical, if not impossible, to respond to all of them. I'll offer a few general thoughts of my own and single out some of the most interesting comments to my earlier post.

1. It is not surprising, but quite alarming, to see how divided conservatives are on this issue. That's why we need to have a thorough discussion about it in the blogosphere.

2. The most disturbing phenomenon is the seemingly reflexive name-calling and pigeon-holing that is going on among conservatives. I have never in my life been called "squishy" or "a moderate." Wow! But both sides of the argument do this. Having felt the sting of such epithets, I hereby renounce the use of the term "nativist" to describe people who disagree. (My pledge could break down if someone calls me "wobbly" on this issue when I am in a bad mood.)

3. People who disagree strongly with President Bush's approach to this issue need to recognize that it is possible to be appalled and alarmed about illegal immigration and still think the guest worker plan is tough-minded and the best way to get on top of the problem. Glenlyon's comment below is an excellent example of this type of thinking. I'm also in that category. (By the way, there is no Bush immigration "bill" in existence, no legislation, just an outline of principles Bush believes should guide the debate.)

4. I liked Gringo Salado's comments very much, except for the part about "quit bitching and learn Spanish." I think it's a good idea to learn Spanish, but the immigrants need to learn to communicate in English. The prospect of a Quebec-style language division here in the USA is a serious concern. I don't think it will get that bad here but unless we get a handle on the problem we will end up with a permanent underclass, stuck in poverty because they are not fluent in either English or Spanish.

5. There were some very interesting ideas advanced in the comments (apart from the commenters who simply vented and think the problem is a simple matter of "non-appeasement"). I hope some staffer to Congressman Sensenbrenner picks up the threads here and on Wizbang and Polipundit, as well as Glenn Reynolds' MSNBC piece. A person can support the Bush approach generally and still support these very tough and creative ideas. Some examples:

MrsPatriot may have the most important comment of all, referring to the Tamar Jacoby piece I linked below:

Ms Jacoby's article is the first I have seen that explains President Bush's plan so clearly. The White House needs to present their case more in these terms. The reason for so much opposition is that the American public doesn't really understand the proposal.

Steve White has a list of eight good, tough ideas, too long to quote here. I like them all. An abbreviated summary:
1) Control the border.

2) Institute a true guest worker program. Protect the workers from the avarice of employers who would otherwise mistreat them. Match workers and employers. Provide an ID card. Individuals outside the USA who want to come have to match up with an employer who needs them. Illegals currently in the USA have to do the same or risk deportation. The goal is no illegals: you are here legally or you are not here. . . . If a household employs an illegal as a gardener or a nanny, they can darned well come clean and start paying the appropriate taxes.

3) The guest worker program has time limits . . . .

4) The guest worker program has a safety valve -- if you're here, keep your nose clean, learn English, etc., you can enter a program that eventually leads to permanent residency and citizenship. . . .

5) Children of guest workers would have the right to be in American schools. Children belong in schools, not on the streets. Since the guest workers have jobs and thus are paying taxes, they have the right the send their kids to school. The Federal govt would subsidize school districts that have a high percentage of children of guest workers. Along the way, the kids learn English.

6) Guest workers get the same minimum wage and legal protections as any American citizen.

7) Children of guest workers who are born in the U.S. are not automatically American citizens. Redefine the citizenship law accordingly.

8) No amnesty. If you're an illegal now, you get matched up or risk deportation. As a practical matter, there will be relatively few deportations, as under any scheme it's tough to deport any large number of people. But any law needs a hammer, and this is the hammer.


If we establish a meaningful system of guest workers for Mexicans to enter the US, this can change. The economic border crossers will enter legally, and we can actually isolate and scrutinize the others trying to enter in a manner compatible with the norms of our civil republic.

. . .

I will agree that a series of companion measures to the Bush plan are needed to clarify what being a guest worker means in terms of welfare, public benefits of other kinds, taxes, eligibility for residency and citizenship, etc. Some work there could assure people that the system will be orderly and fair.

. . .

I would also suggest that this issue could be used to strengthen NAFTA. Make the guest worker provisions specific to the treaty members, perhaps through a series of bilateral side treaties. Something like this has already happened in Europe, to great advantage in their internal immigration affairs.

Let's make the penalty for hiring an illegal alien $25,000... then make the reward for turning in an illegal alien's employer, oh, say, $25,000... and immediate permanent resident status if the turner-in happens to be that very illegal alien.
Well, it probably has practical drawbacks, but an interesting and appealing concept. Congress, are you listening?


"If you go to Milwaukee or Fargo or Council Bluffs, you'll likely see American citizens cleaning your hotel room or serving you your Big Mac or your burrito supreme from Taco Bell."

I don't know about Fargo or Council Bluffs, Lee but you have obviously never been to Milwaukee.
I travel an awful lot, and mishu is absolutely right. The phenomenon appears in such places as Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Boise.

T.L. Cobb:

. . . I would like to see a system where every illegal alien who is apprehended gets his fingerprints checked/included on a database. If its your second time being found in the USA illegally, you get to spend 60 days at hard labor. Penalties would increase for additional illegal entries. Anyone who was found to have entered the country illegally would be forever barred from residing in or entering the US again.
Okay, let's get that on the table too.

Texas Tommy:

One angle I haven't heard much about is mainstreaming immigrants so that they become productive, patriotic citizens. I certainly believe in proper border integrity and immigration law enforcement. Yet, there are 10-12M illegal immigrants in the US now and mass deportation is problematic. Providing an integration path with the help of faith-based/community-based organizations and visionary businesses could help alleviate the problems associated with illegal immigration. Check out my recent blog on this topic for more info.
I recommend Texas Tommy's blog. I especially loved the quote from Leviticus. Good thoughts!

An appeal: Let's flood the blogs with ideas like those above. Surely there are more out there. The right resolution of this issue is vital to the nation's future and to the GOP's future, and we can contribute greatly to the debate.

UPDATE: Ric James at HoodaThunk has a long and thoughtful post about all this.