Monthly Archives: March 2005

Be Concerned

The Hillary watch.

Why we should not underestimate her (from Peggy Noonan):

… it is good to be concerned about Mrs. Clinton, for she is coming down the pike. It is pointless to be afraid, but good to be concerned. Why? Because we live in a more or less 50-50 nation; because Mrs. Clinton is smarter than her husband and has become a better campaigner on the ground; because her warmth and humor seem less oily; because she has struck out a new rhetorically (though not legislatively) moderate course; because you don’t play every card right the way she’s been playing every card right the past five years unless you have real talent; because unlike her husband she has found it possible to grow more emotionally mature; because the presidency is the bright sharp focus of everything she does each day; because she is not going to get seriously dinged in the 2008 primaries but will likely face challengers who make her look even more moderate and stable; and because in 2008 we will have millions of 18- to 24-year-old voters who have no memory of her as the harridan of the East Wing and the nutty professor of HillaryCare.

Che Chic

Hollywood’s love affair with communism.

A Wild and Crazy Guy

Paul Krugman, call your psychiatrist’s office.

President and Prime Minister: The Difference

Mark also compares being president of the US with being prime minister of Britain:

If I were to make a general observation about the differences between the American and British executives, it would be this: a British Prime Minister with a majority in the House of Commons can do what he wants at home – abolish the Upper House of the national legislature and ancient offices of state that predate his; install toytown parliaments of arbitrarily varying powers in his Celtic realms and divide England into meaningless invented “regions” – but overseas he’s far more circumscribed; conversely, a US President can’t abolish the Senate or merge New Hampshire and Vermont into the Metropolitan County of Clwyd, but if he decides to stick it to some genocidal nutter halfway around the world he doesn’t have to worry he’ll be tied up in the UN dictators’ small-claims court for the next decade. On the whole, I prefer a system which gives the head of government limited powers over Mrs Scroggins at 37 Acacia Gardens but a wide degree of latitude when it comes to President Sy Kottik of Hoogivsadam.

Grotesque Judicial Overreaching

Mark Steyn on Terri Schiavo.

Erring on the Side of Self-interest

The motives of the husband and parents of Terri Schiavo are less interesting than the motives of the cultural warriors fighting this battle in the media. To me, it’s all about abortion, not states’ rights or federalism.

The pro-abortion lobby believes that any law or judicial decision claiming a “right to life” will be used by their opponents to bring down Roe vs. Wade and ultimately lead to a ban on abortion. They want Ms. Schiavo dead because they know that lawyers and judges allied with the other side will use any victory for “life” to try to end abortion “rights.”

This is similar to the stance of the NRA which opposes even the mildest gun control measures because they believe that their opponents view any victory as merely a step on the way to their ultimate goal: the banning of all firearms.

And they are right. I know of know activist group who, having achieved their originally stated goals, goes out of business. Of course, the anti-abortion lobby wants to end all abortion (with the possible exception of those performed to save the mother’s life), and of course the anti-gun lobby wants to ban all firearms. And all of these activist groups have the will and resources to deploy scores of ingenious lawyers to further their cause in the legislatures and courts. The “slippery slope” argument is perfectly valid.

So we ought to stop pretending that this case is “about one woman” or states’ rights. The idea that we should “err on the side of life” is terrifying to the pro-choice movement founded on the principle that we should err on the side of self-interest.

The True Bright Line

Excellent analysis of the motives of opposing sides in the Schiavo case by David Brooks.

Confusing Your Wishes With Hers

I was out of the country when the Schiavo story broke, so I’ve been trying to catch up with the arguments. Since I’ve been back, I haven’t read much about the possible motives for Michael Schiavo’s desire to end his wife’s life, so it was edifying to have the always clear- thinking Charles Krauthammer raise the issue:

In this case, the loved ones disagree. The husband wants Terri to die; the parents do not. The Florida court gave the surrogacy to her husband, under the generally useful rule that your spouse is the most reliable diviner of your wishes: You pick your spouse and not your parents, and you have spent most of your recent years with your spouse and not your parents.

The problem is that although your spouse probably knows you best, there is no guarantee that he will not confuse his wishes with yours. Terri’s spouse presents complications. He has a girlfriend, and has two kids with her. He clearly wants to marry again. And a living Terri stands in the way.

If there’s a tendency that defines our era, it’s the tendency to confuse one’s own interests with the interests of another or the interests of a greater good. Is it possible that many of those who want Mrs. Schiavo to die do so because they would want to be rid of a burdensome relative if they were in Mr. Schiavo’s shoes? Is it possible that those who support abortion “rights” do so because they wouldn’t want a sick child limiting their personal freedom?

The other day, NPR’s ever-smug Terry Gross interviewed some author who has written a book about how having kids keeps women from achieving self-actualization. The author lived in France for a while and praised the French for subsidizing lavish child care programs that free women from having to participate much in the raising of their children. The author implied the lack of equally lavish state subsidies in the U.S. is driven by a desire to deny women their freedom.

One thing you can’t say about Terri Schiavo’s parents is that they are unwilling to sacrifice their own lives for their daughter. That ought to count for a lot, but apparently it doesn’t.

Dan Henninger identifies the common sense, as opposed to the legal, approach in today’s Wall Street Journal:

If we lived amid the wisdom of Solomon, Terri Schiavo would be turned over to her loving parents and family. If it is their wish to live out their lives attending the constant needs of their damaged child, so be it. However, we live in an age bereft of the wisdom of Solomon, and so Terri Schiavo is likely to die. That the American legal system is incapable of common sense is very upsetting, but I don’t see why it should be found surprising or shocking.

In Love With Death

Peggy Noonan wonders about the pro-death fanatics.

Dueling Bioethicists

The Terri Schiavo issue has brought us another example of the politicization of science. To the savants at The New York Times, the campaign to prevent Mrs. Schiavo from being starved to death is an example of the evil influence of religion in American life as personified by George Bush.

Thus, William Cheshire, the Mayo Clinic physician Jeb Bush cited in announcing his intention to intervene in the case, is derided as a “neurologist and bioethicist whose life and work have been guided by his religious beliefs.” The Times further impugns Cheshire’s motives by quoting him as “searching for how he should integrate his faith with his medical career.”

But then The Times deploys bioethicists Art Caplan from Penn (who claims to have never heard of Cheshire) and Ronald Cranford from the University of Minnesota who says he has “no idea who this Cheshire is,” and adds: “He has to be a pro-life fanatic. You’ll not find any credible neurologist or neurosurgeon to get involved at this point and says she’s not vegetative.”

Nowhere does The Times question the motives of Caplan and Crawford as they do Cheshire. Is it possible that they are anti-Bush fanatics who equate “pro-life” ethics with the Dark Ages? The Times sees nothing politically significant about combining the words pro-life and fanatic. Would The Times entertain the opinion that Drs. Caplan and Cranford are pro-death fanatics?

Not likely. And The Times doesn’t impute any political motive to them since the phrase pro-life fanatic reflects the prejudices of the prevailing liberal wisdom and is thus “normal.” Those who think otherwise are reflexively considered beyond the pale of respectable opinion.