Nat Hentoff on Terri Schiavo, 2003

Nat Hentoff: Lying About Terri Schiavo
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice | November 10, 2003

I have covered highly visible, dramatic "right to die" cases—including those of Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan—for more than 25 years. Each time, most of the media, mirroring one another, have been shoddy and inaccurate.

The reporting on the fierce battle for the life of 39-year-old Terri Schiavo has been the worst case of this kind of journalistic malpractice I've seen.

On October 15, Terri's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, ordered the removal of her feeding tube. As she was dying, the Florida legislature and Governor Jeb Bush overruled her husband on October 21, and the gastric feeding tube has been reinserted pending further recourse to the court.

So intent is Michael Schiavo on having his wife die of starvation that one of his lawyers, after the governor's order to reconnect the feeding tube, faxed doctors in the county where the life-saving procedure was about to take place, threatening to sue any physician who reinserted a feeding tube. The husband had immediately gone to court to get a judge to revoke what the legislature and the governor had done.

The husband claims that he is honoring his marriage vows by carrying out the wishes of his wife that she not be kept alive by "artificial means." As I shall show, this hearsay "evidence" by the husband has been contradicted. The purportedly devoted husband, moreover, has been living with another woman since 1995. They have a child, with another on the way. Was that part of his marital vows?

For 13 years, Terri Schiavo has not been able to speak for herself. But she is not brain-dead, not in a comatose state, not terminal, and not connected to a respirator. If the feeding tube is removed, she will starve to death. Whatever she may or may not have said, did she consider food and water "artificial means?"

The media continually report that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, and a number of neurologists and bioethicists have more than implied to the press that "persistent" is actually synonymous with "permanent." This is not true, as I shall factually demonstrate in upcoming columns. I will also provide statements from neurologists who say that if Terri were given the proper therapy—denied to her by her husband and guardian after he decided therapy was becoming too expensive despite $750,000 from a malpractice suit—she could learn to eat by herself and become more responsive. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

Terri Schiavo, 1963-2005

She died today.

May she rest in peace.

This is not over.


Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder

The well-known right-wing Christian fundamentalist Nat Hentoff has this latest piece on Terri Schiavo:
For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history.

She is not brain-dead or comatose, and breathes naturally on her own. Although brain-damaged, she is not in a persistent vegetative state, according to an increasing number of radiologists and neurologists.

Among many other violations of her due process rights, Terri Schiavo has never been allowed by the primary judge in her case—Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, whose conclusions have been robotically upheld by all the courts above him—to have her own lawyer represent her.

Greer has declared Terri Schiavo to be in a persistent vegetative state, but he has never gone to see her. His eyesight is very poor, but surely he could have visited her along with another member of his staff. Unlike people in a persistent vegetative state, Terri Schiavo is indeed responsive beyond mere reflexes.

While lawyers and judges have engaged in a minuet of death, the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be passionately criticizing state court decisions and demanding due process if Terri were a convict on death row, has shamefully served as co-counsel for her husband, Michael Schiavo, in his insistent desire to have her die. ...


Terri Schiavo

How much is a human life worth? That's the question posed by this article by a Harvard student with cerebral palsy:
“Misery can only be removed from the world by painless extermination of the miserable.”

—a Nazi writer quoted by Robert J. Lifton in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide

The case of Terri Schiavo has been framed by the media as the battle between the “right to die” and pro-life groups, with the latter often referred to as “right-wing Christians.” Little attention has been paid to the more than twenty major disability rights organizations firmly supporting Schiavo’s right to nutrition and hydration. Terri Schindler-Schiavo, a severely disabled woman, is being starved and dehydrated to death in the name of supposed “dignity.” Polls show that most Americans believe that her death is a private matter and that her removal from a feeding tube—a low-tech, simple and inexpensive device used to feed many sick and disabled people—is a reasonable solution to the conflict between her husband and her parents over her right to life.

The reason for this public support of removal from ordinary sustenance, I believe, is not that most people understand or care about Terri Schiavo. Like many others with disabilities, I believe that the American public, to one degree or another, holds that disabled people are better off dead. To put it in a simpler way, many Americans are bigots. A close examination of the facts of the Schiavo case reveals not a case of difficult decisions but a basic test of this country’s decency. ...

Read the whole article at Discarded Lies.

Also read Victory Soap to find out what this is not about:
Here is a review, in case people need a refresher, of the many side issues that have nothing to do with Terri Schiavo's case:

Your aged and terminally ill relative who voluntarily refused food and nutrition and so died "peacefully" a couple of days later has nothing to do with the Schaivo situation. People dying of terminal diseases reach a point where they can no longer take in nutrition; in fact, it becomes a torment to them. Terri Schiavo was not dying from a terminal disease.

Your dying relative/friend/patient who was hooked up to a heart/lung machine but who showed no signs of brain activity after extensive tests, and who therefore had their "plug pulled" because they were not going to recover, have nothing to do with the Terri Schiavo case. Terri Schiavo's heart and lungs worked just fine.

The many people talking about how awful it would be to live "like that." Since none of these people really have any way of knowing exactly how awful life without much of a brain would be, this sort of speculation comes down on the side of "idle notions" and we should not be basing life and death actions on such twaddle. ...

Read the whole thing at the link. Also please read this post which takes up Victory Soap's last point on "idle notions".

The Peace Movement

"So beautiful, so at peace." American Digest comments on the creepy "she's going to be at peace" meme.

American Digest has this:
Once it became clear that there would be no reprieve for this woman, but that the sentence of death-by-starvation-for-her-own good was set in stone, the entire country was condemned to be tainted by the unfolding spectacle.

If I had any doubts about this, they were swept away yesterday when watching one of the "reporters" on the scene tell us yet again that Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos -- the now superstar of Right-to-Die lawyers -- said, yet again, that he'd "never seen Terri look so beautiful, so at peace." Within a few minutes, the same or another reporter (it really doesn't matter, does it?) felt compelled, utterly compelled, to tell us that Mrs. Schiavo was receiving morphine, a substance well known for putting the recipient 'at peace.'

(And if you are wondering how the patient, forbidden all food and drink, was able to ingest the morphine, read the post at the link.)

AD responds to the killing of Terri Schiavo with a very simple question - and a simple and inescapable answer. Myself, I am wondering: what, exactly, is this "peace" that reporters seem so eager for? It is the peace of death, clearly more desirable than life.

Terri Schiavo

What are radiologists saying about Terri's brain scans? Not neurologists, but radiologists - the people who look at brain scans for a living. To find out, take a look at Code Blue Blog.

Disabled Queers In Action (DQIA) released the following statement:
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled early this morning that Terri has no right to eat, thus no right to live. Although our justice system presumes innocence until proven guilty, Terri has been tried and convicted without any charges against her -- for the capital offense of being disabled. Society and the courts have deemed her "better off dead than disabled". America was built upon presumed checks and balances, yet for people with disabilities like Terri, those balances failed again and again.

Today is one of the darkest hours in disability history for three reasons: ...

Read the whole thing at the link. Hat tip: Straight Up With Sherri

Judith has excellent coverage at Kesher Talk. Via Judith, Wittingshire quotes John West on the tendency to presume in favor of PVS diagnoses.

The Changer and the Changed

"Political change is different. I think it tends to happen against one's will, often very much against one's will." This important observation sets the tone for a very enlightening series at Neo-Neocon.

Agents of change. "Therapists are change-agents by definition, and it helps if a therapist actually believes that people can change. But every therapist knows a bitter truth, and that is that true and fundamental change is both difficult and rare, and that it is often exceedingly painful for the person who changes, and for everyone around him/her."
- Part 1

Mechanisms of change. "Different schools of therapy approach clients through different parts of this troika of cognition, feeling, and behavior. For example, (surprise, surprise!) cognitive therapists work on changing thought patterns, many psychotherapists work on feelings, and behavioral therapists work on--well, behavior. But a therapist can also work eclectically and choose to approach on any of these dimensions, and that's the method that made most sense to me, choosing the point of intervention based on the particular presenting problem. Intervening to change one dimension could end up changing another, and ultimately changing them all. The idea was that lasting change could start anywhere, but would then (at least, ideally) cause a ripple effect ... "
- Part 2

Roots of identity. "So, what did I learn in my childhood about politics? I learned to affiliate with my family's beliefs on an emotional level, but I learned very little except generalities about the reasoning and factual basis behind those positions. I learned that politics could be a very contentious subject, but that people still liked to discuss it. I learned that some people were fanatics and didn't listen to reason or argument, and I knew I never wanted to be like them. And I knew the world was a dangerous place, and that (at least in my mind) there was an excellent chance I wouldn't live to grow up, because a nuclear conflagration would stop me. There was fear involved in politics, but it seemed important--perhaps a matter of life or death."
- Part 3

Go check it out.

George Felos Reviewed on NRO

Eric Pfeiffer reviews "Litigation as Spiritual Practice", the book by Michael Schiavo's lawyer George Felos, here at National Review Online.

The Writing on the Wall

Mohammed is reminded of the novel In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this post. Read it to find out what "open secret" Mohammed would like to expose.

"An Object of Beauty and Envy"

Syria's foremost heretic meditates on the role of individualism and creativity in this post. As America's civil rights leaders observed, "the personal is political" and vice versa. Be sure to read Amarji's poem (linked in the post). I was reminded of the Terry Gilliam movie "Brazil", in which the young man's struggles for identity and individuality are thwarted by the oedipal mother-state. Take some time with Amarji's writing, and think about the risks he is being forced to take, just for the privilege of trying to be human.


On Terri Schiavo

NOTE: I'm re-posting this earlier piece on Schiavo, which I had temporarily pulled in the hopes of putting together something a little better. At the moment, I'm unable to devote the attention to the matter that it deserves, due to various personal factors including a serious illness in the family. I believe the issue is important and needs to be discussed freely and intelligently. My own position has not changed; however, please see Kai Jones' and Joshua Gibson's responses in the Comments section. I look forward to rejoining the Schiavo discussion at a later date.

I don't have time to write a full piece on Terri Schiavo at the moment, but I do feel I need to say a few words on the case - and to say why I am convinced that Terri's life must be preserved.

I am not a right-to-life absolutist. Nor does one need to be, to see many gravely troubling aspects to the Terri Schiavo case. In fact, I would argue that those who do believe in "death with dignity" should look at this as an example of all that can go wrong without proper safeguards.

Terri Schiavo left no "living will". A "living will" is a document spelling out instructions for the family as to what to do - or, in particular, what not to do - in the event that an individual becomes permanently incapacitated or comatose. My mother took great care to draw up a living will in the last months of her life; she explained its provisions to me, asked me to repeat the instructions back to her, and showed me where the document was kept. (Another copy was on file with her lawyer.) But if a living will is to have any meaning at all, surely its absence, too, must mean something.

I'm worried by what I've read about Michael Schiavo's financial interests, allegations of his abuse and neglect of Terri, and indications of a premeditated killing.

I used to think the Terri Schiavo case was "some kind of right-wing cause". I'm no longer thinking of it in these terms. (Andrew Sullivan, for example, sees the case as a sign of the demise of conservatism.)

The following blogs have information on the Terri Schiavo case:
Straight Up With Sherri
Discarded Lies

UPDATE: Reader Kai Jones has contributed some very enlightening links on the other side of the debate.

Respectful of Otters - "A court has determined, based on the testimony of several witnesses, that Schiavo's wish would have been to remain unviolated by a feeding tube if she had no hope of recovering. That ruling has been affirmed and re-affirmed. It is our best estimate, our only estimate, of what Terri Schiavo would have wanted. If we want our own rights to bodily integrity preserved, we have no choice but to uphold hers." Rivka notes that she is " strongly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide."

Obsidian Wings -
In 1990, Terri Schiavo suffered cardiac arrest, probably as a result of bulimia. (If any of you have been wondering why a woman in her twenties had cardiac arrest, that seems to be the answer. The underreporting of this aspect of the case is a real missed opportunity to educate people about the consequences of serious eating disorders.) As a result of the cardiac arrest, her brain was deprived of oxygen, which caused severe brain damage.

Eight years later, after various attempts at therapy and a successful malpractice suit (based on the doctors' failure to diagnose Terri's eating disorder), Michael Schiavo petitioned the court to determine whether her feeding tube should be removed. Many press reports talk as though he just decided that it should be removed; in fact, he left that decision to the court. He and others testified that Terri Schiavo had said that she would not want to be kept alive in a condition like the one she was in; her family of origin testified that she had said that she would. The judge found (pdf) that there was 'clear and convincing evidence' that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to receive life-prolonging care in her current condition, and ordered that the feeding tube could be removed. (If you are wondering how the judge could have found 'clear and convincing evidence' given conflicting testimony, I urge you to read the pdf, which explains why the judge did not find her parents' testimony credible. In one case, for instance, they testified that she had made a remark supporting their position when she was an adult, but it turned out that she had said it when she was 11 or 12.)

I'll take some time to read through the materials on both sides, and will post again when I get the chance.

Liberal Hawks Meet-Up

The Portland meet-up was a resounding success, attended by no fewer than three people! We met at a local pub and schmoozed over beer and dinner. It was great to meet other similarly-minded folks in person. Conversation was warm, interesting, and pleasant. (I had promised myself in advance that I wouldn't talk about Terri Schiavo, and I didn't.)

Thanks to the others who attended - all two of you - and also (especially) to those who said they would like to come but weren't able to make it. Hopefully we'll be able to get another one together before too long. I'll be looking forward to it.

Readers, there's a lesson here for all of us! You may think you are alone, but you're probably not. Judith got a group together in New York; I figured we'd never be able to get anything together in Portland, but I'm pleased to say I was wrong. Just goes to show.

Best Anti-Feeding-Tube Post So Far

You already know I'm on the "Save Terri" side. But just so you know I'm keeping an open mind, I'm posting this Terri Schiavo FAQ page presented by the always sensible Ocean Guy. It addresses many of the questions raised by the "Save Terri" people. Who's right? I honestly can't say for sure. But why couldn't more of the "pull the feeding tube" folks have started with this?

I didn't start following the Schiavo case with any preconceptions or sympathies. As I've said before, I'm not a pro-life absolutist. But some serious questions were being raised about the Schiavo case, and they deserved serious answers. How hard could it have been for the other side to say, "Look, we understand your concerns, but it's not what you think. Here's why ... "

Ocean Guy doesn't spend a lot of time pontificating, he just says, "Go read this - you'll learn something." That's what I appreciate, and would have liked to see more of. Meanwhile, I'll be interested to see what the "Save Terri" side says in response to this.

Still More on Terri Schiavo

As you may have already figured out, I'm declining all those kind invitations to shut up.

I'm glad that MJ at Friday Fishwrap finds this amusing. I don't. In fact I think it's disgusting. Jon Stewart (consistently referring to "Terri Shyvo") thinks it's cute to comment on how many people are calling Terri by her first name, and wonders what all those people would call her if they actually knew her. Well, I don't know, but I bet they'd at least pronounce her f*cking name correctly. Moron.

Cox & Forkum disappoint as well.

On the bright side, Peggy Noonan has a splendid column about the culture of death. I really want to talk about this more (it'll get its own post), because I think it's critical for all of us liberals to understand the danger posed by those destructive demons that live at the heart of the far left. To want to reform society because you have a vision of a better world is one thing; to try to throw civilization into the abyss is something else. Here's Peggy Noonan:
I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. What is driving their engagement? Is it because they are compassionate, and their hearts bleed at the thought that Mrs. Schiavo suffers? But throughout this case no one has testified that she is in persistent pain, as those with terminal cancer are.

If they care so much about her pain, why are they unconcerned at the suffering caused her by the denial of food and water? And why do those who argue for Mrs. Schiavo's death employ language and imagery that is so violent and aggressive? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee calls Republicans "brain dead." Michael Schiavo, the husband, calls House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "a slithering snake."

Everyone who has written in defense of Mrs. Schiavo's right to live has received e-mail blasts full of attacks that appear to have been dictated by the unstable and typed by the unhinged. On Democratic Underground they crowed about having "kicked the sh-- out of the fascists." On Tuesday James Carville's face was swept with a sneer so convulsive you could see his gums as he damned the Republicans trying to help Mrs. Schiavo. It would have seemed demonic if he weren't a buffoon.

Why are they so committed to this woman's death?

They seem to have fallen half in love with death.

Please go read the whole thing at the link.

And that's all I have on Terri Schiavo.

For now.


Terri Schiavo and Persons with Disabilities

From someone who knows a thing or two about disabilities, there is this:
Healthy people have a horror of disability. I feel this horror myself, and I am the parent of two children with autism. When my first son was diagnosed, my immediate reaction—this is intimate, but I have published one article revealing this—was that I needed to kill him and kill myself.

The thought that ran through my head, over and over again, was: “He has no life, and neither do I.”

I was in a clinical depression. By the next morning I was still in a clinical depression, but at least my mind had cleared on the rationality of two people needing to die because one small boy had been diagnosed with a developmental disability.

My psychiatrist talked me through.

“Why would you assume that your son will have an unhappy life?” she asked me.


My psychiatrist told me that there had been a fair amount of research done with disabled & mentally ill people—she had done some of it herself—and they all have the same level of well-being anyone else does. (People with clinical depression, she said, are the one exception. Extremely low ‘quality of life’ is almost the definition of depression.)

Since then I’ve followed this research, and it’s true of suddenly-disabled adults as well. After they adjust to their injuries, which seems to take two years’ time, they are as happy as anyone else. A healthy person will say that he would rather die than live life as a quadriplegic. But in life, people who become quadriplegics are like Christopher Reeve, not like the character in MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

The mistake we make is to experience our horror of disability, which I share, and our concern and care for their condition, which motivates those who wish to see Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube removed, as the emotion felt by the disabled person himself.

But ‘quality of life,’ like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The fact that we are horrified by the sight of Christopher Reeve does not mean that Christopher Reeve is horrified by the sight of Christopher Reeve. And it is Christopher Reeve’s opinion that counts.

The same can be said of my own life, as a matter of fact. When people realize I have two children with autism they react with horror. I would, too, in their shoes! But I myself am not horrified. I’m as happy as anyone I know, and happier than some. This strange life I lead, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone else, is normal to me.

This is from Catherine Johnson's guest post at Kesher Talk. I immediately thought of this post when I read Charles Krauthammer's column this morning. Even more interesting is something Catherine says elsewhere - and I hope she won't mind my paraphrasing it here: That even severely disabled people, after that two-year adjustment period, consider themselves fortunate by comparison with people even more gravely incapacitated. Now think about that and read the quadriplegic Krauthammer's opening sentence in his column:
If I were in Terri Schiavo's condition, I would not want a feeding tube.

Krauthammer makes this assertion with absolute confidence - as many of us would - because, like almost all of us, he shares this wonderful basic trait of human nature. He has the ability to see his life as blessed. And so, with almost no use of his arms and legs, he can look on Terri Schiavo and say: "Wow ... she's really got it bad! I wouldn't want to live her life!"

But Krauthammer possesses two other beautiful human traits as well: humility and compassion. He knows that he is not Terri Schiavo, and he wants her to have what is best for her. And so he immediately continues:
... But Terri Schiavo does not have the means to make her intentions known. We do not know what she would have wanted. We have nothing to go on. No living will, no advance directives, no durable power of attorney.

And if you haven't yet, go read his full column.

What Charles Krauthammer and Catherine Johnson both understand is that, no matter how unbearable another person's life may look to us, it is only the person living that life who actually knows.

Kesher Talk
Charles Krauthammer

President Bush Appoints Goli Ameri to UN Human Rights Commission


Hot off the e-mail: Iranian-American businesswoman Goli Ameri, who ran last year as the Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives (representing my district, 1st Oregon) has been appointed as a delegate to the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Goli Ameri Appointed by President Bush as one of Three Public Delegates
to the UN Human Rights Commission

March 23, 2005
Office: (503) 968-8437

Goli Ameri has been appointed by President George W. Bush as one of
three public delegates to the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights. The 2005 meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights will
take place March 14 through April 22 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The US delegation is headed by former Senator Rudy Boschwitz who has
been nominated by the White House for the position of Ambassador to
the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). Senator Boschwitz served in
the US Senate from 1978-1991. Former Ambassadors to the UNCHR include
Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick who served in the Geneva post in 2003.

"The United States wants the Commission to better fulfill its mandate
to strengthen human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world.
I am honored to have been appointed by the president and to represent
the United States on the Commission," said Goli Ameri former
Republican nominee for Congress in Oregon's first district. "I look
forward to actively participating in the upcoming session."

The Commission's annual meeting is an opportunity to focus attention on
countries where there are significant human rights problems. The US
delegation is also committed to promoting democracy worldwide. In
this regard, the United States plans to work with other countries to
encourage discussion of ways that the Commission can foster reform in
nations that are determined to advance democracy and human rights.

Go to this link to read the Full Text of Goli Ameri's Speech.

An Army of One

Happy belated blogiversary to Jane Novak, Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of Liberation. Jane is a native New Yorker who took 9/11 personally, and vowed to bring the fight to the enemy by challenging Osama bin Laden on his own ground. She is a passionate and eloquent advocate for democracy in the Middle East. Her philosophy is: "Okay, Osama, you come to my hometown and knock stuff down, I'll go to your hometown and build stuff up." She has published numberous articles and essays in English-language print journals in the Middle East (she has a particular obsession with OBL's native Yemen) and recently played a leading role in the campaign to free Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani and other imprisoned Yemeni journalists. Jane has also played a key role in keeping Sudan on our maps. (And for whatever it's worth, she also inspired yours truly to stake out this humble corner of the blogosphere that you're reading right now.) And she's done all this in just her first year of blogging.

Happy blogiversary, Jane! Readers, be sure to add Armies of Liberation to your browser favorites.

Krauthammer on Schiavo

Charles Krauthammer, who is himself a quadriplegic, has this to say:
Let's be clear about her condition. She is not dead. If she were brain-dead, we would be talking about harvesting her organs. She is a living, breathing human being. Some people have called her a vegetable. Apart from the term being disgusting, how do they know? How can we be sure of the complete absence of any consciousness, any awareness, any anything ``inside'' this person?

     The crucial issue in deciding whether or not one would want to intervene to keep her alive is whether there is, as one bioethicist put it to me, ``anyone home.'' Her parents, who see her often, believe that there is. The husband maintains there is no one home. (But then again he has another home, making his judgment somewhat suspect.)

     The husband has not allowed a lot of medical testing in the last few years. I have tried to find out what her neurological condition actually is. But the evidence is sketchy, old and conflicting. The Florida court found that most of her cerebral cortex is gone. But ``most'' does not mean all. There might be some cortex functioning. The very severely retarded or brain-damaged can have some consciousness. And we do not go around euthanizing the minimally conscious in the back wards of the mental hospitals on the grounds that their lives are not worth living.

     Given our lack of certainty, given that there are loved ones prepared to keep her alive and care for her, how can you allow the husband to end her life on his say-so?

Krauthammer makes it very clear that he's not happy with Washington's attempts to circumvent due process; it is, he says, a no-win choice between a legal travesty and a moral tragedy. Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Neo-Neocon.

More on Terri Schiavo

Okay, so I changed my mind

The MSM is beginning to realize that not all the "Save Terri" people are Christian conservatives:
Conservative Christian groups have called for mass vigils outside the hospice caring for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo but many of the few dozen who have shown up said they were drawn for personal reasons unrelated to organized religion.

Eleanor Smith of Decatur, Georgia, sat on Tuesday in a motorized wheelchair in front of the hospice, baking in the sun, with a sign on her lap reading, "This agnostic liberal says 'Feed Terri."'

Her background was a far cry from the evangelical right wing more generally seen as the lobbying force behind the U.S. Congress' scramble over the weekend to draw up a special law to try to prolong Schiavo's life, and President Bush's decision to cut short a Texas vacation to sign it.

Smith, 65, had polio as a child and described herself as a lesbian and a liberal who had demonstrated before in support of the disabled and causes supported by the conservative establishment's archfoe, the American Civil Liberties Union.

"What drew me here is the horror of the idea of starving someone to death who's vulnerable and who has not asked that to happen," Smith said.

She said she thought that people who left written instructions to withhold medical treatment should have those wishes honored but that withholding water and nutrition from Terri Schiavo, who left no such written instructions, was tantamount to murder.

"At this point I would rather have a right-wing Christian decide my fate than an ACLU member," Smith said.

Hat tip (again): The Corner.

Iraqi Patriots Get Some

Iraqi citizens told the terrorist thugs, "Bring it on!", after a group of masked gunmen carrying grenades threatened a carpenter in Baghdad. The New York Times reports:
Ordinary Iraqis rarely strike back at the insurgents who terrorize their country. But just before noon on Tuesday, a carpenter named Dhia saw a troop of masked gunmen with grenades coming toward his shop here and decided he had had enough.

As the gunmen emerged from their cars, Dhia and his young relatives shouldered their Kalashnikov rifles and opened fire, the police and witnesses said. In the fierce gun battle that followed, three of the insurgents were killed, and the rest fled just after the police arrived. Two of Dhia's nephews and a bystander were wounded, the police said.

"We attacked them before they attacked us," said Dhia, 35, his face still contorted with rage and excitement, as he stood barefoot outside his home a few hours after the battle, a 9-millimeter pistol in his hand. He would not give his last name.

"We killed three of those who call themselves the mujahedeen," he said. "I am waiting for the rest of them to come, and we will show them."

Go read the whole thing. Hat tip: Rich Lowry at The Corner.

Meanwhile, Iraqi and US forces wiped out 85 terrorists in an attack on a base north of Baghdad:
After a two-hour firefight, Iraqi forces and U.S. helicopters captured an insurgent base north of Baghdad, killing 85 rebels, U.S. and Iraqi military officials said Wednesday.

"A previous safe haven for planning attacks has been removed," a U.S. military official said of Tuesday's battle.

Morning Report: March 23, 2005

Al-Khaiwani to be freed. Jane at Armies of Liberation reports that imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani is to be released, by order of President Salah. This comes about after a massive campaign led by Jane Novak and other freedom activists. Good work, Jane! (Armies of Liberation)

EU unlikely to block Wolfowitz nomination. CNN reports: 'European leaders say they will not oppose the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank, despite initial misgivings about his role in the Iraq war. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, speaking at a news conference Wednesday in Brussels, said Wolfowitz's bid to lead the global development-funding group "will not fail because of Germany." "And I have the impression that it will not fail due to the other countries in Europe," he said at the conclusion of a two-day European Union summit.' (CNN)

Europe may support Iranian democracy, Hadley says. According to the latest post at Regime Change Iran, US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has said that Europe may be ready to refer the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council if the current round of negotiations fail; he also suggested that the Europeans may be moving toward support for democracy and human rights in Iran: "The cause of freedom for the Iranian people has been advanced by the understandings we've reached with the Europeans." (RCI)


Separated at Birth?

With all due respect to Roger Simon:

Nancy Pelosi and
Michael Jackson.

Eyeball bleach recommended.

Terri Schiavo

This will be my one and only post on the Terri Schiavo case.

(B'li neder!)

[UPDATE: B'li neder is a Hebrew expression, which in this context translates as, "Not!!!"]

I don't want to get too deeplly involved in the debate, only because I'm coming to it very late and I'm playing catch-up. I do believe this is an important issue and I don't feel I have anything worthwhile to contribute. So I'll just point you to some sites that have been following the case.

Cards on table: My own views on the issue are still evolving as I learn more. As I write this, I find myself leaning toward the pro-life side. I am not a pro-life absolutist, and I can envision any number of nightmare scenarios in which I would not wish to be kept alive, nor wish that for someone else. But I'm not convinced that this applies to Terri. And in general I've found the pro-life arguments more persuasive in this debate.

I should also point out that my views have been partly shaped by the debate on an e-mail group I belong to. (Thanks, Judith!)

And that's all I'm going to say on this. Here are some links to sites, pro and con, that I've found the most informative:

Kesher Talk - "Save Terri" from a liberal Jewish perspective
Straight Up with Sherri - "Save Terri" from a conservative Christian perspective
Discarded Lies

Respectful of Otters
Obsidian Wings
Thanks to reader Kai Jones for these links.

Ongoing debate:
The Corner

On federalism:
Ann Althouse

Also please see:
Code Blue - A radiologist analyzes Terri Schiavo's brain scan. Please read the comment thread as well.
Victory Soap enters the fray.


Google News Carries Nazi Propaganda

No, I'm not kidding. Try this right now: go to Google News and do a search on "National Vanguard". See what you get. I found out about Karl Rove's homosexual orgies and the persecution of poor, innocent Holocaust denier Pedro Varela. You see, the white-supremacist, neo-Nazi site is considered a legitimate source of "news" by Google. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

UPDATE: Google has dropped NV from its news index.

LGF: Google Drops National Vanguard

Morning Report: March 21, 2005

Federal judge to review Schiavo case. In an unusual move, the US Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill that would prolong the life of Terri Schiavo pending review of her case by a federal judge in Florida. MSNBC reports: Taking the Senate’s lead, the House early Monday passed a bill to let the woman’s parents ask a federal judge to prolong Schiavo’s life by reinserting her feeding tube. President Bush signed the measure less than an hour later, at 1:11 a.m. ET. A White House source said he was woken from his sleep for the signing. Until now, federal courts have turned the case back to state courts. The law gives the U.S. District Court in Tampa jurisdiction on a case that has been taken up by Republican leaders and galvanized activists on both sides of the emotional end-of-life issue. An attorney for her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, went to the federal district court in Tampa at 3 a.m. ET, filing a request for an emergency injunction to keep their daughter fed. It was not known when the judge, James Whittemore, would make a ruling.' Full details are available at Straight Up With Sherri. (MSNBC, Straight Up with Sherri)

Rice: "Other options" on North Korea. Speaking in Beijing, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cited "other options" if North Korea continues to refuse to cooperate with the US and other nations on halting its nuclear weapons program. Rice said her conversations with Chinese leaders stressed how the United States and China, "but especially China", could persuade Pyongyang to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. This could be seen as a reference to economic sanctions, as the North Korean economy depends heavily on trade with China. Rice also discussed Taiwan relations, noting that the mainland regime's new anti-secsssion law had "raised tensions". (MSNBC)

Pakistan: Staging ground against Iran? Citing NetIndia, a recent itema at Regime Change Iran claims that Pakistan may agree to serve as a staging ground for US military action against Iran. 'According to a online report of Asia Times, Islamabad may have agreed to host US troops and intelligence assets near Pakistan's border with Iran in preparation for a possible attack on Iran and probably agreed to train American forces in Karachi in return for some kind of commitment on F-16 deliveries.' (NetIndia via RCI)


Posting Break

I may as well just make it official rather than spend countless, fruitless, frustrating hours in front of the screen trying to post. As you probably know, Blogger is having some issues these days, so I'm going to give the blog - and myself - a rest for a little bit. Please feel free to explore my sidebar and my "best of" posts. See you some time next week.

UPDATE: As of Sunday morning, it looks like the folks at Blogger are making a lot of progress on fixing this problem. I expect to take the rest of Sunday off and return to regular posting Monday. See you then.

Morning Report: March 18, 2005

Ukraine sold missiles to Iran. Debka reports: 'Iran has at least 12 Kh-55 strategic cruise missiles with 3,000km range capable of carrying 200 kiloton nuclear warheads. Ukrainian prosecutor-General Piskun admitted in Kiev that this “missile technology” from former Soviet nuclear arsenal had “leaked” to Iran in 2001 – albeit without nuclear warheads. He could not explain how sales occurred. Six missiles also reached China. Read more about this in the News Box below Headlines. DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources add: Ukrainian shipment to Iran included radioactive materials for making “dirty bombs.” US embassy in Kiev is “closely monitoring” investigation and demands findings be made public.' (Debka)

Bush nominates Wolfowitz to head World Bank. President Bush has nominated Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Joe Gandelman has some thoughts and a round-up of reaction. Judith's is, perhaps, in a class by itself. (Command Post, Kesher Talk)

Iraq the model. Al-Sabah reports (March 17): 'Washington stressed its procedures imposed on Syria , demanding it implicitly  through several letters to stop backing terrorism from Syrian lands as these terrorist  activities hinder political process in Iraq, despite US administration welcome over  steps of Syrian forces quick withdrawal from Lebanese lands. Syrian affairs political analysts said that these economic and political procedures consider as a gesture for Syrian government to follow in step Iraqi democratic example and stop freedoms' suppressions inside Syria . Notably, demonstrations took to Syrian streets demanded dissolving Baath party there. Moreover, US Congress referred new more stressed proposal against Syria to its committees to be discussed as an initiation for liberating Syria .' (Sabah)

Subpoena to save Terri Schiavo's life. In a last-ditch bid to give Terri Schiavo a new lease on life, House leaders issued a subpoena to prevent Florida doctors from removing the feeding tube that is keeping brain-damaged patient Terri Schiavo alive. 'n a last-ditch attempt to stop the court-ordered removal, a House committee on Capitol Hill here decided early Friday morning to start an investigation into Schiavo's case and issue subpoenas ordering doctors and hospice administrators not to remove her feeding tubes and to keep her alive until that investigation was complete.' (AP via Fox)

UN to report on rapist peacekeepers. The United Nations will issue a report on how to hold accountable peacekeepers accused of crimes against women and children in war-torn areas. 'The report's release later this month is the culmination of months of investigative work by Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein of Jordan. Its release is supposed to help the United Nations regain an even keel after being rocked by reports of the rape of women and children by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peacekeepers have also been linked in the past to sex crimes in East Timor and prostitution in Cambodia and Kosovo. The allegations are not the only problem facing the United Nations. They come as several investigations probe what happened to the U.N. Oil-for-Food program, a multi-billion dollar scandal that has led some to question the very legitimacy of the organization.' (Fox)


No, it isn't green.

But I did tweak the blog template just a little bit; I suppose I was overcome with the festive spirit of St. Paddy's day. I had fun with those lavender links. (You like?)

There's a very helpful book called "Publishing a Blog with Blogger" by Elizabeth Castro that tells you all kinds of stuff about the Blogger template. She also has books on HTML and other internet-related stuff.

Changing the color scheme really isn't rocket science. Colors are represented by a 6-digit hexcode (a base-16 number) giving the RGB brightness: the first two digits represent red, the next two green, and the last two blue. Just in case you weren't one of those total geeks who learned base 16 (or hexadecimal) numbers in third grade, it's a system that goes in cycles of 16 instead of ten. The "units" column represents values from zero to 15 (written with the letters a-f for 10 thru 15), and the next column represents groups of 16 (instead of ten like with normal numbers). So 00 represents the lowest value and FF the highest (255) for a two-character hex number. In RGB code, black is 000000 (no colors at all) and white is FFFFFF. Pure red would be 110000, or 880000, or FF0000, depending on how bright you want it. Elizabeth Castro's HTML book gives examples of some common colors.

Normal blogging wlll resume tomorrow. Have a great St. Patrick's Day, and party safely.



This Thursday is the day of my Physics final; it's also Saint Patrick's Day, and I'm hoping for a little of the "luck of the Irish". However, my Scottish side says it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to study.

So, little or no posting until Thursday afternoon. Morning Report will be on administrative leave. For those who contacted me about the Portland-area liberal hawks group, I will be getting back to you soon, hopefully tonight before I turn in.

In an unrelated development, a big meteor passed over the Northwest Saturday night. I saw it out of the corner of my eye on the way to the Blue Moon. Michael Totten saw it too, and has a post on it here.

Don't miss these great recent posts: Ali on terrorism and Wahhabism (these are some of Ali's best writing ever, and that's saying a lot); Bear Left on the media's reluctance to use the T word; Regime Change Iran for the latest on the revolution; Auntie Cracker for some homegrown insights and observations (be sure to scroll down for her thoughts on the Boy Scouts!); Straight Up With Sherri for the latest on the fight to save Terri Schiavo; all those who love small government will find a home in Fagistan.

And finally, please welcome Neo-Neocon to our humble blogroll. Enjoy!

Morning Report: March 14, 2005

Debka: Washington's grand design. Israeli-based analysis site Debka offers its report on US plans for the Middle East. Debka sees parallels between the Bush Administration's uncompromising stance on Syria and its firm demands on Israel: 'Administration leaders seem to be treating Israel’s pull-back from the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the same spirit as their insistence on complete Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon. It is possible to conjure up a grand design charted by the Bush administration to simultaneously squeeze Israel and Syria into sharply constricted molds sized by its perception of the two nations’ true dimensions.' The report details a quiet, multilateral agreement among the US, UK, Egypt, and Jordan to jointly administer the West Bank (US/Jordan) and Gaza Stip (UK/Egypt). It also explores the ramifications of Bush's "Road Map" plan, which demands the removal of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, and which much of the Israeli Right - including Debka's editors - have adamently opposed. Read the full article at the link. (Debka)

Debka: Washington vs. Iran regime. Also at Debka, a report on US actions against the IRI regime in Iran. The report (also posted at Regime Change Iran) indicates that joint US/Israeli missile-defense exercises - a biennial operation codenamed Juniper Cobra - will, this year, reflect a perception of 'possibility of an Iranian Shehab-3 missile reaching Israel in the near future armed with a nuclear warhead.' Debka notes that the US actions are not only defensive, concluding: 'The United States, according to our military sources, is pressing ahead with its development of infrastructure for an Iranian underground opposition. A Revolutionary Guard unit in Hur al-Azim, near the Iraqi border, recently captured a band smuggling thousands of handguns into Iran. In recent months, thousands of rifles and masses of ammunition have got through to Iranian tribes near the Iraqi frontier. These tribes have a long history of rebellion against central government in Tehran and are practiced in guerrilla tactics.' (Debka via RCI)

Talks between United Iraqi Coalition and Kurdish Alliance collapse. Iraq the Model reports that negotiations between the Kurdish Alliance and the United Iraqi Coalition have collapsed, with UIC leader Ahmed Chalabi finding KA's demands "unrealistic". (ITM)



Many thanks to Michael J. Totten for some stimulating conversation, and for the link. Thanks also to Judith at Kesher Talk for the encouragement and the linkage! And thanks especially to the many visitors from these two major bloggers, as well as to my regular readers. I hope my site does not diappoint.

Readers who contacted me in my comments section, in Michael's, and via e-mail: I'll start putting together an e-mail list for "liberal hawks" in the Portland, Oregon area. I've been very encouraged by the response on this, and I think it might be fun to meet in person for dining, movies, and political and/or non-political chat.

My schedule this week will be dominated by studying for my physics final, but I do expect to find time to post (as well as starting the aforementioned e-mail list).

Next Tuesday evening, I'll be attending a talk by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi ("Reb Zalman" to his followers), who is generally regarded as the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement (along with the late Shlomo Carlebach, the charismatic cantor). Special thanks to Gila for notifying me about this event! For those not familiar with it, Jewish Renewal is a loosely affiliated group of individuals and organizations pursuing a semi-traditional approach to Jewish spirituality and mysticism. The movement also includes Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Rabbi David Zaslow, and Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine. I'm not affiliated with JR, but I have greatly admired Kushner's books and Zaslow's essays. I'll post my impressions of the Reb Zalman talk next week.


"Armies of Liberation" Marches On

Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani has some friends. And, thanks to Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation, the imprisoned Yemeni journalist knows it. If you've been following this blog, you've already read al-Khaiwani's letters (and, I hope, signed the petition at the bottom). Jane's words of encouragement to Mr. al-Khaiwani have now been published on the front page of Sout-Alshoura (not the banned Al-shoura) in Arabic. Instapundit has also picked up the story. So, if you haven't yet, read it and sign. And thanks, Jane, for all you're doing.

And to al-Khaiwani, I'll add my voice to Jane's: Good luck, dude.

Meeting Michael Totten

I met Michael Totten this afternoon - for the first, and, I hope, not the last time. Judith at Kesher Talk had invited me to join the NYC LiberalHawks mailing list, and (with disarming naivete) suggested I start a similar group here in Portland, perhaps beginning with MJT. I promised her I would see what I could do, not having the heart to inform her that Portland is not quite, exactly, precisely, New York City.

Michael was kind enough to respond to my invitation, saying that he didn't know of anyone else besides himself and his friend Sean LaFreniere, but would I like to get together for coffee some time? So we met this afternoon, for some two and a half hours, at World Cup Coffee on 18th and Glisan.

Michael is an energetic, articulate speaker. He talked about his awakening to the sickness of leftism in the wake of 9/11 - "it took me one week". Recalling the thrill of his college protest days, he grinned - "I was a moonbat!" We talked about how intoxicating the college experience or the youth counterculture can be for a young person escaping the confines of an upbringing in small-town Oregon, suburban Connecticut, or anyplace else. He pointed out how important it is for young adults to have that kind of intellectual and cultural stimulation.

Both of us share a certain sense of social alienation in being pro-Bush liberals in an anti-Bush environment. I guess I'm fortunate here because I've only been living in Portland five years and I don't have a lifetime of ties to the Northwest; so it's a little easier for me to decide I can do as I damn well please. (In a particularly defiant period last fall, I took to wearing my BUSH/CHENEY '04 sweatshirt to places like Whole Foods and Powell's Books.) And after comparing experiences, we found that the reactions from our friends to our "coming out" as Bush supporters were generally much less hostile than the worries conjured up by our imaginations would have had us believe. (Now, you have to understand that Michael is no lightweight.) To this day, the only overtly hostile reaction I've gotten was from the woman (an anthropology professor, no less!) who walked out on a date, flinging twenty dollars on the table and proclaiming, "I don't eat with people who vote for Bush!"

The internet is great, but it's no subsitute for meeting people in real life and having face-to-face conversations. I think it's especially important for pro-freedom folks to be assertive about their beliefs in social circles whenever possible - remember, whatever inconveniences you or I might face, it's nothing compared to what the brave dissidents in the Middle East are risking by speaking out. And, as I said to Michael, we base a lot of our judgments on the cues we pick up in face-to-face interaction; so expressing our views in person is often more effective than writing them electronically. And as the protesters in Lebanon have shown, there's power in numbers. So I'm looking forward to that meeting with Portland's pro-freedom, pro-Bush liberals.

All three of us.


Blogger has been slow today - that is, even more than usual - and I wasn't able to post at all for most of the day. However, I wasn't lost for stimulating conversation, because I did get to meet Michael Totten this afternoon - an event that deserves, and will get, its own post.

My project for the next week is to get a handle on capacitance and inductance (my textbook helpfully explains that they're analogous to the spring and the block, respectively, of an oscillating mechanical system) in time for Thursday's final. After that, the focus shifts to polishing my computer skills and looking for work.

As for this blog, which is now almost a year old, I've been pondering setting up some kind of posting schedule so that I can better balance my time between blogging and ... uh, whatever it is that exists outside of blogging.

New Afghan Blog

Hat tip: Iraq the Model.

Waheed is the name behind Afghan Warrior, "Afghanistan's First Blog". Waheed is a 20-year-old guy who works for the US Army as an interpreter. In his debut post, he talks about the ANA (Afghan National Army) and about how things have changed since the fall of the Taliban. Go check out his blog - and mark it on your browser.

Protestors Surprise Prince Charles

Protests greet Prince Charles in New Zealand. During a recent visit to New Zealand, Prince Charles was confronted by bare-breasted women protesters. According to the article at This Is London, 'Two women launched a topless protest against Prince Charles during a walkabout in New Zealand. They took Royal security by surprise as they removed their tops within view of the prince in Wellington. One woman, 22-year-old HanaPlant, stood on a wall yards from where Charles was meeting the crowds outside the city hall. As he approached. she took her top off and started shouting "Shame on you, death to the monarchy". On her stomach were slogans including "Get your colonial hands off my breasts". Within seconds two uniformed police officers tried to cover her and she was led away in handcuffs. Minutes later a second woman, Holly Emma Goldman, staged a similar protest even closer to the prince.'

Guns don't shoot people. Cats do.

Just your typical cat-shoots-man story.

IKEA's Quandary

Reality trumps satire.
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) - Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

IKEA, which has more than 200 stores in 32 nations, fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds. Its manuals show only men or cartoon figures whose sex is unclear. ...

Read the whole article here. And take a moment to reflect on the wisdom of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's words.


New to Blogroll

Portland's own Sean La Freniere. Thanks to Michael Totten (via e-mail).

John Bolton

Just as it looked like George W. Bush might be nudging toward multilateralism, he goes and appoints John Bolton as his ambassador to the United Nations. There could be no clearer sign that the contempt for the international organization, which was such a prominent feature of Bush's first term, will extend into his second term with still greater force and eloquence.

Thank G-d.

I can't improve on the title of this Slate piece by Fred Kaplan; neither could Our House, to whom the proverbial hat tip. Go read all of John Bolton's qualifications ... and join me, won't you, in hoping that he goes on to p*** off the UN just as much as he has Fred Kaplan.

Wrongly Imprisoned, Free At Last

With ten dollars in his pocket, an innocent man in Louisiana becam a free man after 24 years in the infamous Angola prison. DNA evidence freed him. From the Chicago Tribune, via Yahoo:
In May 1981, when Michael Williams was 16, a jury here rejected his claim of innocence, deliberating for less than an hour before convicting him of the savage beating and sexual assault of his math tutor.

Arrested, tried and convicted in just three months, Williams was sentenced to hard labor for life with no possibility for parole and dispatched to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, one of the nation's most notorious and deadly prisons.

At times the institution lived up to its reputation. In one incident, Williams said, he was stabbed 16 times.

Now, nearly 24 years after his arrest, independent DNA tests by three laboratories, including the Louisiana state crime lab, show what Williams has long contended: He is not the man who committed the crime. ...

Read the whole horrifying story here:
Jailed 24 years, freed by DNA

(Hat tip: Discarded Lies.)

Academic Bias Strikes Again

Don't miss this piece by Joel Mowbray in the Washington Examiner:
In academia today, "academic freedom" protects those who compare the 9/11 victims to Nazi higher ups, but it does not cover a professor with the temerity to challenge the beliefs of Muslim students in a single encounter which constituted, in the words of his boss, an "assault on their dignity."

That's the story of Thomas Klocek, a part-time adjunct professor at DePaul University, who happened to be on the wrong side of the political correctness fence.

With no current income and facing the possibility of losing the health insurance he desperately needs for a serious kidney condition, he has decided to go public with his fight. ...

Read the rest at the link. Hat tip: LiberalHawks.

Random Page Titles

You, too, can create random page titles. (If I can do it, anybody can.) Just follow these simple instructions.

Credits: Melissa Etheridge, The Indigo Girls, Sheryl Crow, Juliet Wyers, Joan Armatrading, Cris Williamson, Kirtana, k.d. lang.



I'm nearing the end of the semester for my Physics class - the final's Thursday of next week. Blogging will be intermittent through then, while I enhance my understanding of capacitance, inductance, and ferromagnetism. (How many angels can dance in the enclosed area of an inducting coil ... ?)

Browser wars. I'm trying really hard to get excited about Firefox. Yup, I know it's got all kinds of advantages from a security standpoint. And I'll probably appreciate it better after I get finished transferring all my 250+ bookmarks over from Safari - as far as I can tell, there's no way to import them en masse. Functionally, I don't know that I see that much difference: I like that all the formatting buttons work in Firefox, but I generally get along fine with a clipboard full of blank tags. Then again, I'm still quite fond of the AOL for Windows browser - every time I blog from my PC, I find myself thinking, "Dang! This is easy!" And I get tired of those messages that say "Safari Can't Find the Server with Both Hands and a Hunting Dog." (I think Mac is a good product, but I've never shared the unreserved admiration for it that Apple cultists possess.) Now if AOL could only add some drop-down toolbar menus like Safari and FF.

Who comes up with those ads for LowerMyBills.com? Do they actually believe they're going to get business that way? The long pig swarming with flies is bad enough. But the gingerbread man giving a sperm sample is really more than I can take.

Phone Records Corroborate Armanious Suspect's Confession

... and hair and fiber samples may substantiate it further, according to this article by Tom Troncone at NorthJersey.com.
Records of a telephone call between the two men charged in the slaying of an Egyptian family corroborate a detailed admission by one of them, authorities said Monday. The confession by Edward McDonald and records of his phone call to former prison buddy Hamilton Sanchez in the hours before the killings were enough for prosecutors to charge Sanchez in the Jan. 11 massacre, authorities said. Prosecutors are still counting on evidence being processed at the FBI forensics lab in Washington to cement their case. Hair and fiber samples taken from inside the home Hossam Armanious shared with his wife and two daughters should place the two alleged killers there, said John Conway, an FBI spokesman. "Confessions are always great," Conway said. "But confessions aren't always enough to get a conviction. We do have physical evidence and a high level of confidence that the physical evidence will help link them together."

Read the whole article at the link for details of how Edward McDonald and Hamilton Sanchez allegedly plotted the robbery to repay a debt owed to an unnamed party in New York.

Dreams Into Lightning will post any further significant developments on the Armanious-Garas murders. At this point, however, it appears unlikely that any new information will change the emerging picture of the crime, which appears to have been a common robbery with an uncommonly horrible ending.


I am reliably informed that Mount Saint Helens has erupted. I'll keep you posted with the latest from Herculaneum.

UPDATE: KIRO-TV News reports: 'A large plume of steam is being emitted this afternoon from the crater of Mount Saint Helens. The plume was accompanied by an earthquake of about 2-point-zero magnitude. ...' Read the story at the link.

UPDATE 2: Photos here. Hat tip: LGF.

Campus Lesbians Fail "Model Minority" Test ...

... according to Gay Patriot.

Sissy on Drum's "Slime Artists"

Sissy Willis discovers another endearing term for bloggers on reading Kevin Drum. I can't add much to what she says, because she says it beautifully, but I'll just point out the partisan focus of Drum's piece. Bloggers "campaigning against the established media" ... well, Sisu is right, that IS shocking. What's interesting to me is that the media (here and elsewhere) almost always identify anti-MSM blogs (or any they don't happen to agree with) as "right-wing" or "conservative". That is, they identify "right-wing" with "anti-media". Is this, then, an implicit admission of their own leftist bias?

Judith Attends Columbia Conference on Anti-Semitism

Judith of Kesher talk attended a conference on anti-Semitism held at Columbia University. She blogs about it here. Check out her links, too.

"The concept of self-help is prevalent in conservative thought."

LaShawn Barber has an excellent post on black conservatives. Well worth your reading time.

Chris Hedges, Alleged Khafji Correspondent, Gets a History Lesson

The anti-American New York Times journalist Chris Hedges, who claimed to have been present at the battle of Khafji during Operation Desert Storm, is the subject of this open letter by Benjamin Blatt:
Having just finished War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning; I must say that Chris Hedges provides a good read, if you enjoy fiction. In particular Chris, I found your tale of the Battle of Khafji during Desert Storm on page 23 of your book to be particularly entertaining, seeing as how it is spun of whole cloth. Sadly, although your version of events in 2002 has you standing “on rooftops with young Marine radio operators who called in air strikes” watching the Marines who “were called in to push the Iraqis (out of Khafji),” your story just does not pan out. You see, in 2004 a book that may very well become known as the definitive study of Khafji was published. The author of Storm on the Horizon, David J. Morris, researched the battle extensively and interviewed the Marines (all thirteen of them) who had called in the air strikes. And yet, none of those Marines remembered you, the French photographers who were with you, or circumstances in which the presence of Journalists by their positions wouldn’t have gotten them killed. Did you really think that the story would never come out? That carrying on the grand tradition of those who covered Vietnam from the Caravelle’s bar would drown out the voices of the Marines whose story you have dishonored with your lies? But please, don’t take my word alone, let the evidence speak for itself.

In the past Mr. Hedges, you have crowed loudly about having fled the Pentagon’s Gulf War press pool, choosing instead to cover a shooting war on your own. But even though in Morris’s book there is a brief mention of the presence of “Unilateral” or “Pool breaker” journalists being around the area of Khafji during the battle, these journalists are mentioned as being British and French, and no mention is made of them having interacted with the two trapped and hidden Marine recon teams in Khafji. But I’m sure the presence of these journalists provided you excellent cover when you started to make your claims years later. ...

Read the whole thing at the link. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.

Credit Where Overdue

Or, "A Day Late and a Dollar Short." The following brief mentions will be much shorter than the respective parties deserve, only because they're already so late that I don't want to delay any longer in getting them posted. So, here goes ...

Stefania turns 23. Stefania LaPenna, the brain behind Free Thoughts, celebrated her twenty-third birthday yesterday, March 7. Happy birthday, Stefania! Readers, be sure to check Free Thoughts regularly for updates on Giuliana Sgrena and other Italian hostages - as well as info on freedom movements in Iran, Syria, Cuba, and elsewhere.

Michael J. Totten has returned from Puerto Rico (and before you ask, no, his visa didn't expire) with lots of photos. Back home in sunny Portland, he writes on Syria and disovers a great new Syrian blog by Ammar Abdulhamid (Amarji).

Bear Left is back and blogging again, after a nasty bout of carpal tunnel. Even with those wrist supports, though, he's maintaining a healthy caution about overdosing on the electronic media.

The Redhunter is a frequent visitor and commenter here. Tom has posted on United Nations scandals and Iraqi atrocities. He also has an impressive series on "Just War" theory - the latest installment is here.

Condolences go out to Husayn and to the family of his cousin, who was killed in a recent terrorist attack. Take a moment to hit Husayn's tip jar to help out the family.

Sgrena's car, riddled with 300 to 400 bullets.

Photos at Little Green Footballs.

Sex, Gender, and Restrooms

It gives me no pleasure to take issue with Ann Althouse, who is one of the most intelligent voices in the blogosphere. But I've got to say something in response to her post (and its follow-up) on the issue of public restrooms.

The issue is: What changes in public accommodations should be made to protect transgendered people from violence and harrassment in public lavatories? Ann's answer, so far as I can tell, is: none.

The original post starts off reasonably enough. "I understand the problem transgendered persons sometimes have in finding an acceptable public bathroom," she begins, "but I consider the solution of abolishing separate mens' and womens' restrooms quite intolerable." And so do I, and I think most people feel the same way. Women have every right to be concerned about "safety and privacy issues" in a public, multi-user restroom. And I'll even add that some women may not be comfortable sharing a restroom with a transgendered person. This concern deserves to be taken into account.

What's the solution? "I have no problem with the sort of bathrooms that accommodate only one person at a time being made available to anyone," she says, but then reverses herself: "Well, now that you mention it, maybe I should take back my statement that I have "no problem" with the single-user unisex bathroom. The truth is I do. ... The simple reason is that a bathroom used by men is dirtier." So the single-seater is out. Not for reasons of safety or of privacy, but because "a bathroom used by men is dirtier." A reader who's cleaned public restrooms writes in to dispute this finding. And from there on, the post digresses into the details of bathroom dirt, the original issue long forgotten. Althouse concludes with the revelation: "Oh, my friends: there is a divide between men and women!"

Well, no kidding. Ann Althouse defiantly refuses to use the word "gender" - no silly political correctness for her. You know, if Ann woke up tomorrow morning with a beard and a bass voice, and people expected her to start using the men's room, I'm betting the word "gender" would enter her vocabulary pretty quick.

So, no all-gender single-seaters either. How about separate private stalls designated for men and women? I've seen those. Perhaps that would be to Ann's liking? Oh no, that won't do either: it's the one and only point on which she can agree with Ian Ayres, in her follow-up post: "Like Ayres, however, I do think there isn't so much point to limiting single-user bathrooms to one sex or the other."

It seems there is no solution that will satisfy Ann Althouse - nor does she appear particularly eager to find one, as neither of her posts on the subject expresses any real concern for the safety of transgendered people who need to go.

I wrote of my early experience with public (school) restrooms in this post, one of my first at Dreams Into Lightning. I've also written about the confusion about gender and sexuality to which both feminists and social conservatives have contributed. I've blogged on transsexuals in the Middle East here and here. Right now I will simply say this: Nobody wants men to stop being men or women to stop being women; nobody, at least, outside of a few fringe radicals. But there are a great many transsexual, transgendered, and differently-gendered persons out there who ask nothing of the world except the opportunity to live with some measure of safety and dignity.

In recent years, there have been enormous strides towards better understanding of transgendered and transsexual people, both in the general population and among the formerly hostile lesbian/feminist community. Flims like "The Crying Game" and "Boys Don't Cry" presented a nuanced and sympathetic (if tragic) picture of trans people. The popular lesbian magazines Curve and Girlfriends have reflected a progressive understanding of gender; and the popular Showtime series "The L Word" included a female cross-dresser named "Ivan" (and, for a few episodes, even a male lesbian) in its debut season.

Ann Althouse proudly proclaims herself "pro-gay rights". That's great! I look forward to learning what she plans to do to protect transgendered people like Riki Dennis.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse has a very good post on a restroom discrimination case (Hispanic Aids Forum v. Estate of Joseph Bruno) here: Is This Sex Discrimination?


Two of my favorite bloggers got some long-overdue recogntion this past week:

Jane at Armies of Liberation got a write-up in Day By Day. Great work, Jane!

Sherri Reese at Straight Up With Sherri was interviewed on radio on the Andrea Shea-King Show last Sunday night, March 6. Sherri has been doing tremendous work to raise public awareness on the fight to save Terri Schiavo. Go visit Sherri's site and learn about the Terri Schiavo case.

Morning Report: March 8, 2005

Bush stands firm on democracy. President Bush reiterated his support for democracy at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, saying "We are confident that the desire for freedom, even when repressed for generations, is present in every human heart, and that desire can emerge with sudden power to change the course of history." A full transcript of the President's speech may be found here. Bush specifically mentioned the regimes in Iran and Syria. (CNN)

Pakistani women demonstrate against tribal rape. 'Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers. The victim, Mukhtar Mai, also attended the rally in Multan, a major city in the eastern province of Punjab,' according to this AP story by Khalid Tanveer. 'In June 2002, Mai said she was raped by four men on the orders of a village council that wanted to punish her family. Mai's brother was accused of having sex with a woman from a more prominent family, though Mai's family says the allegations were fabricated to cover up a sexual assault against the boy by several men. Mai, a 33-year-old school teacher, went public about her ordeal, drawing international media attention to widespread crimes against women in ultraconservative Pakistan. The government also pledged to track down her attackers. A court later sentenced six men to death for Mai's rape. An appeals court overturned the convictions of five of the men last week, citing lack of evidence, and reduced the other man's sentence to life in prison.' Read the full story at the link. (AP/Yahoo via LGF)

Questions surround McCain, Cablevision. CNN reports: 'A senator promotes a government policy sought by a corporation while a tax-exempt group closely tied to him solicits and gets $200,000 from the same company. Campaign finance watchdogs say that creates the appearance of a conflict of interest. To their surprise, the senator is Arizona Republican John McCain, whom they usually praise for advocating campaign finance restrictions. McCain's help to Cablevision Systems Corp. included letting its CEO testify before his Senate committee, writing a letter of support to the Federal Communication Commission and asking other cable companies to support so-called a la carte pricing.' Kent Cooper of Political Money Line said: "Senator McCain derives a clear benefit by using The Reform Institute to help the debate on campaign finance reform. His McCain-Feingold bill helped break the connection between members of Congress and large contributions. Here is an example of a large contribution going to the foundation connected with a member of Congress. I don't see a difference." (CNN)


Giuliana Sgrena

I don't have anything to contribute yet on the Italian hostage who was injured, with one of her bodyguards killed, by US gunfire while crossing a checkpoint. Suffice it to say I have a healthy amount of skepticism for this woman's story; but I'll wait till a few more facts are in before weighing in with an opinion of my own.

An Italian blogger who does have something to say - and who's always worth listening to - is Stefania Lapenna of Free Thoughts. If you're reading this as a current post, go to her main page at the link and scroll through her blog for coverage of the Sgrena story; in any event, don't miss this post on Sgrena.

Armanious - Garas Killings: Suspects Caught

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the murders of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their daughters; the motive appears to have been robbery. The Star-Ledger reports:
In the days after an Egyptian immigrant couple and their two daughters were stabbed to death in their Jersey City home, the two ex-convicts now charged with their murders went on with the routine of their lives.

Edward McDonald, 25, along with his wife and two young daughters, spent three nights sleeping in the apartment directly upstairs from the rooms where the four bodies lay. Over the next seven weeks, he dutifully showed up at his job paving parking lots.

Hamilton Sanchez, 30, continued commuting between the Newark halfway house where he was finishing a federal sentence and his job cutting hair at Sweets barbershop, a hangout for artists and rappers in downtown Jersey City.

But there was one difference.

Once a day or so, starting on Jan. 12, prosecutors say one of the suspects or someone connected with them would visit a Bank of America branch and withdraw a few hundred dollars -- using an ATM card belonging to Hossam Armanious, who had been stabbed to death along with his wife and children on Jan. 11. ...

Read the full article at the link. There are just a couple of things I want to comment on:
"There were so many different theories put on the table early on, some by law enforcement and some by the public," said Joseph Billy, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Newark office. "There was hate written all over this crime, in terms of violence and magnitude. But at the same time, there was nothing coming on to the investigators' table that suggested this was done by any kind of extremism, beyond the violence of it."

The violence of it -- the fact that Armanious, 47, his wife Amal Garas, 37, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, all had been bound, gagged and stabbed to death -- led the victims' relatives and friends to believe simple robbery could not have been the motive.

But prosecutors say the killings were committed to cover up a robbery after Monica recognized one of the masked intruders as McDonald, the tenant from the apartment upstairs.

As Special Agent Joseph Billy's word suggest, it was reasonable for law officers - and the public - to consider that this might have been a hate crime. But it now seems clear that the killing was not, in fact, a hate crime, but rather an egregiously horrific robbery without any religious motivation.
DeFazio said his investigators were looking into financial motives from the start. But he also said rumors that Armanious, a devout Coptic Christian, had received death threats from Muslims in a religious chat room proved a "hindrance" to the investigation.

"It had to be looked into, we had no choice," he said. "But certainly there were resources dedicated to that which maybe could have been used for other purposes."

Read the whole article at the link.

Meanwhile, Maria Sliwa at Chronwatch has an interesting update on the New Jersey Coptic Christian murders, which includes an interview with Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio. Apparently written shortly before the arrest of McDonald and Sanchez, Sliwa's article portrays a defensive prosecutor who refuses to discuss a possible religious motive in the killings. Sliwa confronts DeFazio with the allegation that Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org, provided DeFazio's office with detailed information on possible suspects, which the Prosecutor ignored:
Spencer says he obtained information, from sources close to the murders, that the Halal butcher [whose daughter Sylvia Armanious had encouraged to convert to Christianity] had planned the killings for months and that several of his accomplices are still in the country. Spencer says police are investigating.  But when DeFazio was asked about the information his office was provided, he said: “None of that was given any credence by any law enforcement agencies. Our office has not received any names.”   But Spencer gave the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office very detailed information, (names, locations and phone numbers) of the alleged murderers and their accomplices.  When reminded of this, DeFazio then said that he did receive this information, but he appeared uncertain if all those named were questioned before this avenue of investigation was closed. 

DeFazio is certain about one thing. All talk of religious extremism is off limits. “This case has nothing to do with religious extremism,” he said.  “And if you keep asking these questions, I won’t continue with the interview.” 

Sliwa's article may also be found at FrontPage.

More on this as it develops.


Fred Durst, Paris Hilton, Jeff Gannon

Romanian folk dance artist Gary Brolsma, a fifteen-year-old female student at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts, Martha Stewart, Oliver Willis, Wonkette and Washingtonienne, beheadings of various farm animals, the sex life of the fruit fly, and anything related to thongs cannot be found at this link.

Have a great weekend!


Guardian Columnist Gets the Picture

Jonathan Freedland, writing in today's Guardian, shows courage and clear thinking on the Middle East:
Tony Blair is not gloating. He could - but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called "the ripple of change" now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq.

He could have said yes, insisting that events had therefore proved him right and the opponents of the 2003 war badly wrong. But he did not. ...

Freedland understands that "it cannot be escaped: the US-led invasion of Iraq has changed the calculus in the region," and that "this leaves opponents of the Iraq war in a tricky position". He offers some sobering advice for the Left, and warns against "opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it." Read the whole thing at the link. Hat tip: The Corner.

Sudan Report

US Senators call for action. AllAfrica.com reports that a group of US Senators has called on the Bush administration to take immediate action on Sudan, introducing the Darfur Accountability Act: 'A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is calling for immediate action by the administration of President George W. Bush and the U.N. Security Council to stop the violence in Darfur. Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback, who led the successful effort last summer to enact a resolution finding that Khartoum and Arab militias, called Janjaweed, in Darfur were committing "genocide" against the African population in the region, introduced the Darfur Acountability Act (DAA) Wednesday, along with six other Republican and Democratic senators. The Act, which is non-binding, calls for a new U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against the Sudanese government; the extension of an arms embargo against unofficial groups in Darfur to Khartoum itself; a freeze of assets and the denial of visas to those responsible for the killings; enhanced support for an African Union observer mission in the region; the appointment of a presidential envoy for Sudan; and the imposition of a no-fly zone over Darfur.' The article goes on to cite differences over the proper venue for future human-rights trials (the International Criminal Court or an African court). The article also notes criticism of the Bush administration, which 'has not yet applied all of the bilateral sanctions against the government that Congress authorised last fall. In particular, it has failed so far to publish a list of individuals in the government and the Janjaweed whose assets Congress asked to be frozen. In addition, the administration has not asked the Security Council to modify the AU force's mandate to include protection of civilians.' Read the full article at the link. (AllAfrica.com)

Kristof: Eyewitness to genocide. Nick Kristof writes this harrowing account in the International Herald Tribune: 'American soldiers are trained to shoot at the enemy. They're prepared to be shot at. But what young men like Brian Steidle are not equipped for is witnessing a genocide but being unable to protect the civilians pleading for help. If President George W. Bush wants to figure out whether the United States should stand more firmly against the genocide in Darfur, I suggest that he invite Steidle to the White House to give a briefing. Steidle, 28, a former Marine captain, was one of just three U.S. military advisers for the African Union monitoring team in Darfur - and he is bursting with frustration. "Every single day you go out to see another burned village, and more dead bodies," he said. "And the children - you see 6-month-old babies that have been shot, and 3-year-old kids with their faces smashed in with rifle butts. And you just have to stand there and write your reports." ... ' (IHT)

Janjaweed leader: Sudan regime ordered killings. Meera Selva of The Independent (UK) quotes warlord Musa Hilal as saying that the Sudanese regime in Khartoum asked him to provide killers: 'A powerful Sudanese sheikh, widely regarded as a senior leader of the Janjaweed militia, has said that the Sudanese government in Khartoum asked him to supply fighters to attack civilians in Darfur. Musa Hilal, described the by the US State Department as a Janjaweed co-ordinator, said the government had asked him to mobilise the 300,000 tribesmen he claims to be responsible for. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, he said: "The government has told us to mobilise people. We've gone to the people to tell them to join the PDF [militia] and defend your country, defend the land, defend the country's most important things, and that you have to fight for your survival and the country's stability." The Sudanese government has always said the violence in Darfur was caused by ancient tribal rivalries, and that it had never encouraged or supported one side over the other. It has also promised repeatedly to disarm the militias in Darfur and blamed the continuing violence in the region on its inability to bring the groups under control. But Mr Hilal said the government had the ability to disarm the PDF - a paramilitary group that is part of the Janjaweed - if it chose to do so. He said: "They [The government] are the ones that gave the PDF guns. They're the ones that recruited the PDF; they're the ones that pay their salaries; they give them their ID cards. They can disarm them or they can leave them alone ... ' (The Independent)