Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, March 31, 2005

It's All About Money At The U.N.

On Tuesday, Kofi answered four questions after the second interim Volcker report supposedly cleared him of wrongdoing in the oil-for-food scandal. Two were about his son, one was about whether he'd quit, and one was about Section 2.2 funds.

I glossed over that last one when I posted earlier, but it's been stuck in my craw (wherever that is) ever since. What it boils down to is this: The U.N. took money that was supposed to be used for humanitarian relief for Iraqi civilians under the heel of Saddam, and gave it to the familes of U.N. employees who were killed while on duty in Iraq.

The UN calls itself a humanitarian agency, but, to paraphrase the famous annonymous radio reporter on the scene when the Hindenberg burned and a little old lady who used to talk about Wendy's hamburgers, where's the humanity? What did the poor malnourished Iraqis do to deserve the reallocation of funds away from them? Was there no fat cat fund anywhere in the entire UN purse that could have tapped for the relatives of the dead UN employees? Or was it just easier and more greed-fulfilling to take oil-for-food money?

This episode is a good slice of what's wrong with the UN, laid out on a sterile plate for all to see. And it's not too appetizing.

Painted Ladies

Painted Lady Butterfly
(actual size)

The beautiful, cool breezy Southern California skies are full of them. (And so, unfortunately, are the windshields and grilles of our cars.)

Boosted by the year's incredible rains, a bumper crop of Painted Ladies is moving across the landscape, flittering, fluttering, being buffetted by even gentle breezes, yet, incredibly, they travel about 100 miles a day! They are moving in a northwesterly direction from Southern California's deserts; the Santa Ana winds would fling them due west, but they battle against those strong gusts and move irrepressibly to the northwest.

Once they reach the coast, they will turn north, not stopping until the reach the lush rainforests of the Oregon coast. All along the way, they're laying eggs, so in about a month, we'll get another Painted Lady-burst.

I'm glad I'm not an evolutionist, attributing this wonderous fluttering to the mere chance of molecules and goo. How much better it is to thank God for this miracle of insane complexity in a simple life form. -- especially on a day like today, when the insane complexity of our legal system snuffed a simple life.

The Least Of These My Sisters

CSM reader David Bixby attached a comment to one of my earlier Terri Schiavo posts that has particular poignancy now that Terri has slipped away:
Here is something else Jesus said that I believe speaks to the Terri Schiavo situation:

"For I was hungry and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison and you didn't visit me."

Then they will reply, "Lord when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?" And he will answer, "I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.

Matthew 25: 41-46

Judge Birch A Hero?

Not surprisingly, CBS disagrees with my view of Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., who "dispassionately" dispensed justice on the innocent Terri Schiavo, and blasted Bush and Congress for medling in the courts' business. From Andrew Cohen at CBS News Courts Watch:
Forget Michael Schiavo and Bob Schindler. Forget the earnest protestors and the solemn hospice workers. Forget the dopey politicians and the greasy media consultants. Forget the angry preachers and the smug doctors. In the end, in my opinion, the only true unvarnished hero in the recent "legal" phase of the Terri Schiavo saga is 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. He is truly a profile in courage.
Cohen throws a lot of "those of us who believe" phrases into the piece -- believers in non-partisanship, staying "above cheap politics," non-ideological decision-making. Not once did Cohen state that he believes a philandering husband who stands to reap money and fame from his wife's death should not speak for her. Not once did he say that he believes that dry procedure sometimes needs to be set aside and cases re-opened, especially given that the Schindlers were originally poorly represented, while Schiavo had the Death Lobby on his side.

Not once did Cohen say that he believed that if this was an execution of the usual sort, he'd be making exactly the same arguments the Schindlers made, and Judge Birch ignored.

Terri Is Gone. God Rest Her Soul.

Just a few minutes ago, Terri Schiavo gave up her battle to live -- it was a battle, you just know someone who wanted to die would not have held on as she had! -- and slipped softly into the comforting arms of eternity, where there are no more tears for her.

Never have the words "God rest her soul" been more meaningful and resonant.

The Schindlers were denied access to their daughter as she died. Once Michael was sure she was gone, he let the people who loved Terri into her room to pray over her now dead body. Could there be a better illustration of how a little sin, a little lack of compassion, grows darker and crueler, unless it is confessed and repented?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Again, Where's the Bourguet Trial?

On a longshot, I just searched the Paris Match Web site for UN pedophile Didier Bourguet, who's supposed to be on trial in France for amassing a huge collection of photos of himself having sex with underaged girls in Congo. Here's what came up:
Votre recherche "Didier Bourguet" a renvoyé :
0 couvertures(s)
0 article(s)
I'm no French whiz, but it's pretty clear that France's leading newspaper has no coverage and no stories about what would no doubt be a sensational trial ... if indeed there is to be a trial.

Update -- I'm just a blogger in my pajamas, so it didn't occur to me until this morning when I was all dressed up and ready for work, feeling much more professional and journalistic, to also search Le Monde for his name occurring anywhere in the paper in the last month. Same results, "aucun," or "no."
Aucun article publié "depuis un mois" avec le(s) mot(s) ou expression(s) "Didier et Bourguet" dans "tout l'élément" et classé par "pertinence".
So France's two largest papers have nothing to report on the UN's most heinous child exploiting Peacekeeper. It makes the promises of reform seem hollow indeed.

Constance Felos: Whoa!

We are told that attorneys and judges are better equipped to make the tough decisions than we are, and that an attorney convincing a judge to take a certain action is more likely to lead to good governance than would 535 elected representatives working to represent their constituents.

One attorney who has recently been involved in establishing important precedence is Constance Felos of Felos & Felos, the second fiddle on Michael Schiavo's lead lawfirm. What are her credentials to be smarter than you? What makes her a better judge than you of who should live and who should die?

Beats me.

I just read this article from the Tampa Bay New Times authored by the female Felos and it did not encourage me regarding the counsel she might provide in life and death matters. It involves her father, who died of infections after gangrene formed following colon cancer surgery:
If one looks for the metaphysical cause of colon cancer one finds the following mental equivalents: carrying of past hatreds; deep, secret, long-standing resentment eating away at the self; inability to digest and move prior 'toxic' experiences out of the body. And the cause of a gangrenous condition is: mental morbidity, the drowning of joy with poisonous thoughts. [I'm glad she's a lawyer, not a doctor!] So, what really killed my father was his deep, secret resentment and hatred, his inability to forgive, and release his attachment to the belief that life is disappointing, shameful and unloving. He searched and searched for another 'grandfather' in the form of a doctor to save him. But, it could never happen because the only way to 'save' ourselves is to eliminate the real cause of the problem. That process occurs within the self, not in some outside source. [The "look within" set don't seem to get it. They say all are problems can be fixed by looking within -- but what's within? All the problems we're trying to fix! I much prefer looking outside, but she says:] No matter how long and hard we search for something outside of ourselves to heal us, we will always come up empty handed.
To her, the only way for Terri to be healed is to eliminate the cause of the problem. Since she is the cause of Constance's client's problem, she has to be eliminated. And since Terri apparently does not have the mental accuity to run through Connie's convoluted, inward-looking thinking here, letting her die would obviously not be a problem for femFelos.

God save us from New Wavers.

Schiavo Case As Tradition Vs. New Age

The second Felos in the moniker of Michael Schiavo's death-seeking lawfirm is Constance Felos, a New Age lawyer who's pretty darn goofy. Fortunately, Alan Sullivan, who blogs at Fresh Bilge, doesn't just expose her; he ponders over her:
This culture clash has been represented as sectarian versus secular. If one looks at the principal characters, however, one finds two religions at war. There is nothing secular about 'Kryon channeling' and the other nonsensical beliefs of Ms. Felos. The very traditional Schindler family and its allies have lost their court battle against the New Age elite that dominates many of the nation's institutions, including the Democratic Party. That elite has supported Michael Schiavo. This schism between families aligns with the greater schism in the nation.
There are so many things about this tragedy that encapsulate the current state of the nation. That is, I truly believe, Terri's purpose. She has made millions think deep, created revealing dialogs around the world, underscored the differences and let strange bedfellows cheer each other ("Bush Voters for Jesse"), and has been a clarion call for change.

It seems like that alone would be reason enough to save her.

Good and Bad on the 11th Circuit

The 12 judges on the 11th Circuit didn't disclose what the vote count was today on its decision to let Terri Schiavo die, but the split in the judges' opinions was evident in their comments, as reported by MSNBC.

Speaking for the side that was unfortunately the majority, Judge Stanley Birch Jr. wrote that "the time had come for the dispassionate discharge of duty."

To be dispassionate about this case is outside of my comprehension. Is his statement an indication of detached secular amorality, or is it just the process of creating a professional force field to protect him as he does a task he feels he is obligated to do, but really doesn't want to? Whatever it is, it didn't stop him from chiding Bush and the GOP congress:
“In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people — our Constitution.”
The Founding Fathers obviously thought that some day the courts might get full of themselves and begin to take the governance of the nation into their own hands, and they provided powers to the Executive and Legislative to reduce that risk. Judge Birch apparently does not want to be so constrained -- and indication that this is exactly the rigth time for extreme checks and balances

Those who wrote dissenting opinions sound much more human and humane than Birch. Judges Gerald Tjoflat and Charles R. Wilson, who also dissented the last time the Schiavo case came before the court, wrote:

“The relevant question here is whether a rational factfinder could have found by clear and convincing evidence that Mrs. Schiavo would have wanted nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn under these circumstances. The plaintiffs carry a heavy burden, but I do not believe that this question can be determined in this expedited fashion without a hearing on the merits.”
These judges see the case clearly: It is an exceptional case that is not entirely about the record before the court and the process that is normally followed. They see that the questions that are left hanging are too numerous and too troubling to be left unanswered just because they are coming into the process later than what is normally accepted.

Judges like Birch, attorneys like Felos, the heartless and cruel reaction by many liberals, the alliance with death forged by the Democrats -- all this sinks my hope for America like nothing else in recent years. Oddly, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has restored some of that lost hope by separating himself from so many who have stood beside him and declaring that this slow death of a helpless woman is an outrage.

The Great Kids At Vanguard

I spoke to a PR class at Vanguard University tonight about crisis communications, and just wanted to share with you that they were a great bunch of young students -- earnest, attentive and engaged. And they all laughed when I made a Democrat joke!

Maybe it's just Christian politeness (Vanguard is an Assemblies of God university), but this group was the nicest class of students I've ever spoken to.

WaPo Circulation Tumbling

Circulation at the Washington Post is continuing to slide and slide and slide. Remedies proposed: a brighter front page, shorter stories, more photos, localized editions. Remedies not proposed: untilting the bias.

American Journalism Review reports:
During the six-month period ending September 30, the Post's daily paid circulation dropped 2.9 percent from the previous year, to 699,929. Sunday circulation fell 1.8 percent, to 1,007,487. Over the past two years, sales slid 5.2 percent daily and 3.9 percent on Sunday. ...

The Post's paid circulation has been falling intermittently since sales peaked on Sunday in 1992 at 1,158,329 and daily in 1993 at 832,232.
Not mentioned anywhere in AJR's lengthy article is any mention of reactions against the bias on WaPo's news and editorial pages. And, astonishingly, although the article mentioned two local WaPo competitors and refered to the NYTimes as a rival, it never metioned the Washington Times, or its possible impact on WaPo circulation.

Even though the WashTimes is notoriously close-fisted about its circulation, to not even mention it shows bias in the AJR story. (h/t Media Bistro.)

Harper's Eats Crow

In one of the more shameful journalistic foibles of recent months (and it's such a long list!) Harper's ran a photo of everyday good, loyal, patriotic Marine recruits on the cover of its magazine, illustrating a story on deserters. The recruits didn't like that much.

Rule of thumb: Don't tick off someone who has a gun.

Harper's is going to run a correction (here). Says the spokesperson:
``We're going to print a clarification in our next issue,'' said Giulia Melucci, a vice president at New York-based Harper's. ``We feel it needs to be clarified that these are respectable soldiers defending our country honorably. We regret any confusion it may have caused.''
She might have added, "We also regret that we're a bunch of biased, anti-American idiots."

Feminism's Contribution Women-Hating

At one level, the Terri Schiavo case is a case about the degraded value of women in today's society. It's not the most prominent theme, but seeing the power to kill given to a husband, and seeing that power unchallenged by the feminists and pro-feminist Democrats underscores a simple fact:

Nearly four decades after the birth of the feminist movement, we live in a society that holds women in less esteem than ever.

Last night on Hannity and Combs, two young women protesting for Terri Schiavo's death had been so twisted by the culture of death that they stood by Michael Schiavo in this highly questionable "he said/she said" life-and-death drama. Why? Why weren't they ardently for the woman, not the man who abandoned the woman? (h/t Laura Ingraham)

Here in OC, we just lived through the second trial of three young men accused of drugging and gang-raping a 16-year-old girl. In today's OC Register, the victim is quoted for the first time (because she's filing a civil lawsuit, natch) about viewing the videotape the boys shot of the event. Caution: This contains a brief graphic description of the acts they perpetrated:

She said that the biggest difference for her between the first trial and the second was that she saw the videotape of the episode for the first time before the second trial.

But as the second trial approached, "I felt strong enough to see it," she said. "I wanted to know exactly what they did to me."

What she saw disgusted her, Jane Doe said: Two of the young men having sex with her, and then inserting objects - a bottle, a can, a cigarette and a pool cue - inside her.

She was particularly appalled at what the boys said as she slipped into unconsciousness on the videotape.

"I heard [defendant] Nachreiner say, "OK, she's good now. Let's go,'" Jane Doe said.

Nachreiner grew up in the feminist years, the tolerance years, and all that sensitivity training simply led to "OK, she's good now. Let's go." That is about as strong an "objectification" statement one will ever read.

Meanwhile, on television the buffoon husband of a few years ago has been eclipsed by images of violence and easy sexual exploitation of women. And no, it's not just on MTV. Here's a portion of an e-mail I received this morning urging the boycotting of hamburger chain Carl's Jr.:

Have you seen this ad on TV?

A young man, who is clearly white although he speaks and gestures with ethnic/street slang, kicks and punches a pregnant woman. He yells at her for eating something spicy and threatens her with escalated violence, even miscarriage and bleeding to death if she doesn't stop. He smiles!

This is the ad for Carl's Jr. Spicy Jalapeno burger. the 'young man' is the CGI baby we are 'viewing' as through an ultrasound. He yanks violently on the umbilical cord, kicks and punches repeatedly and threatens to "bust out of here early and take a little something with him" as he grabs a handful of the uterus. In the radio spot he threatens to come out 'butt first' and "make her walk funny for a week".

I have verified that the email represents an accurate description of the commercials. The e-mail concludes:

Let them know how you feel by calling them toll-free at: (877) 799-7827 or by filling out this form: (select advertising/marketing from the menu and say anything you like in the comments section)

Carl's Jr. runs ads that are designed to appeal strongly to the brand's target market: 18- to 24-year-old men. Ad executives armed with bushels of market research apparently determined that this message would be effective in getting these young men to buy more spicy jalapeno burgers.

What does that say about the market they're researching? That young American men have sensitively taken the feminist message as their own? Or that the feminists' abandonment of core moral values and their shreeking push for a twisted agenda has left young men twisted and without morals?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Christians Raping the Earth Again!

Remember Bill Moyers' near-insane op/ed about fundamentalists not caring about the environment because Christ's return was upon us, and a little enviro-destruction might just hurry Him along? If not, I posted on it here, here and here (I was a bit riled). Moyers to later retracted the part of it in which he said former Interior Secretary James Watt was that sort of fundamentalist earth-raper.

Well, the Lefties didn't learn anything from Moyers' embarassment. No Left Turns (h/t Greenie Watch) reports the same sort of shenanigans in Jared Diamond’s new best-seller Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed:
“Civilization as we know it would be impossible without oil, farm food, wood, or books, but oil executives, farmers, loggers, and book publishers nevertheless don’t cling to that quasi-religious fundamentalism of mine executives: ‘God put those metals there for the benefit of mankind, to be mined.’”

The “mine executive” who supposedly said this is not identified, nor the name of her company. (There are no footnotes or source notes for this quote, or any other in the book.) It is not clear from Diamond’s prose whether this is meant to be a verbatim quotation, or a stylized characterization, The doubt about the authenticity of this quote is deepened by the immediate sequel:

"The CEO and most officers of one of the major American mining companies are members of a church that teaches that God will soon arrive on Earth, hence if we can just postpone land reclamation for another 5 or 10 years it will then be irrelevant anyway."

Again, Diamond identifies neither the mining company nor the denomination in question here. These things matter. Precisely because Diamond is a bestselling author of considerable reputation, his distortion or invention of ridiculous quotations threatens to inject them into wider circulation. In fact, it has already started.

Reviewing Collapse in Science magazine, Tim Flannery writes of “the CEO of an American mining company who believes that ‘God will soon arrive on Earth, hence if we can just postpone land reclamation for another 5 or 10 years it will then be irrelevant anyway.’” Suddenly we’ve gone from executives who attend an unidentified congregation that believes this to an unnamed CEO who “believes” this. The next short step will be directly attributing this non-quotation to the unnamed CEO.

... and then to a named CEO. Who cares about the truth when you've got God on your side? Ooops. Get me rewrite, Madge! Who cares about truth when you've got Secularism on your side?

Kofi On Oil-For-Food

So, Kofi's staff was shredding papers from his son Kojo's Cotecna years. We'll be reading more about that, I imagine, and it will probably paint a different picture than Kofi tried to paint at his brief press conference on the Volcker oil-for-food scandal interim report released today. As you read them, it's helpful to think, "Does the mythical beast of exoneration by a big-name commission of inquiry equal a vote of confidence?"

First, from Kofi's introductory statement:

I was well aware that among the most serious allegations was the insinuation that I myself might have improperly influenced the procurement process in favour of Cotecna Inspection Services, because that company employed my son. But I knew that to be untrue, and I was therefore absolutely confident that a thorough inquiry would clear me of any wrongdoing.

The Committee has now done so. After an exhaustive 12-month investigation, the report states clearly that “there is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the Secretary-General in the bidding or selection process”. After so many distressing and untrue allegations have been made against me, this exoneration by the Independent Inquiry obviously comes as a great relief. ...

For reasons that parents everywhere will understand, the most difficult and painful moments for me personally, throughout this past year, have been those when it appeared that my son, Kojo, might have acted inappropriately, or might not have told me the full truth about his actions. The Inquiry has now rendered its judgment on those issues. I love my son, and I have always expected the highest standards of integrity from him. I am deeply saddened by the evidence to the contrary that has emerged, and particularly by the fact that my son had failed to cooperate fully with the Inquiry. I had urged him to cooperate and I urge him to reconsider his position and cooperate.

On to the Q&A. The first is a follow-up to the obvious question: What did you say to your son, and what did he say to you?

Q: What did he tell you?

SG: He is reconsi- -- I have asked him to reconsider. He couldn't -- he didn't give me an answer by immediately by the phone, on the phone.

That's pretty sad. You can feel Kofi's heart urging his son to do the right thing, but he has to withdraw his words and admit that Kojo's not there yet.

Q: Are you the man to continue to lead this Organization? Critics, not just in Washington but in this very building – some on your own staff – point to Benon Sevan, the man who ran the oil-for-food programme; Dilip Nair, mentioned in the report; Ruud Lubbers, sex harassment; Congo: sex, peacekeeping, you were the former peacekeeping director; your former Chief of Staff shredding documents; plus the decision by senior management on sending people back into Iraq. Do you feel it's time, for the good of the Organization, to step down?

SG: Hell, no. But let me say that, on the issues you have raised, I think that I have indicated that we are going to look into some of the complex issues which have been raised. But I think it is also unfortunate that you keep bringing back issues which have been resolved. The Lubbers issue was resolved. A thorough investigation was made. He went through due process, and he was not found guilty. But you keep bringing his name up each time we deal with these issues. I don't think it's fair to him, nor to UNHCR, nor to the system. That issue is settled. Please leave Lubbers alone.

On the other issues you raised, from the sexual exploitation in Congo and others, we are looking into it very energetically. We are setting up systems to ensure that this doesn't happen, not only not in Congo, but in any of our operations around the world. And it is not unusual that institutions this size, whether it's government in this country or elsewhere or companies, that problems do arise. You deal with the problem and draw the lessons and move on. I have lots of work to do, and I'm going to go ahead and do it. And I think you know the agenda ahead of me.

That's even sadder. It doesn't matter if a sexual harasser has been dealt with or not; it happened on your watch. It doesn't matter if you're supposedly dealing with pedophilia by your troops, because something so outrageous shouldn't be occuring under anyone's watch -- especially since it kept on occurring even after the Congo sex scandal story broke.

He should have admitted his culpability as General Secretary with a "buck stops here" statement, then said there is more to be gained by staying on than by leaving. Instead he whined about media coverage and hid behind bureaucratic processes and diplomatic pablum.

Kofi answered just four questions in all. (I didn't copy in the one about using "2.2 account" funding from oil-for-food to compensate families of UN fatalities in Iraq.) Mark Malloch Brown, his chief of staff answered another dozen or so; available at the same link.

The UN press corps, like many, does not seem to be accepting the Volcker report's exoneration of Kofi at face value. The questions to Malloch Brown after Kofi left the room included this:

[We] discovered today for the first time that the day after the Security Council approved the investigation, the Secretary-General's Chief of Staff started shredding documents from the relevant years, 1997 to 1999, precisely those years when Kofi Annan's son was involved with Cotecna.
And this

There's a context of secret payments, meetings, stunted internal investigation. How would the UN - since you speak for the UN now - publicly, declaratively and definitively say that the Secretary-General was not involved in what he was alleged to be involved with in a manner beyond simply saying that the Volcker Committee has cleared him?
And this:

The fact that you say there's no evidence – it was reported today in a newspaper that evidence, some documents, I should say, were shredded.
And this:

Whether or not the Secretary-General allowed himself to be used might have been addressed today partially satisfactorily. But why was there not more concern about the appearance of conflict of interest?
And this:

Since you keep raising the he's-no-crook defense, let me ask you about management. By now, the guy that he handpicked to run oil-for-food was found totally discredited; his Chief of Staff was cited in this latest report for doing something that the report finds not credible – his explanation is not credible; the head of OIOS was found to be lacking in his investigation of oil-for-food; his son was found to be lacking; and his relatives were found to be lacking. Is the circle closing, and is it time – is Mr. Annan indeed, as Richard asked, the man to lead this huge undertaking of reform at the UN?
Do you get the feeling the Volcker report will do very little to take the heat of Kofi? It's beginning to stink that same stink that wafted out of CBS when a certain other independent investigation of a certain other quasi-emporer came out.

Air America's Birth Pains on HBO

How about this for an inside look at the creation of the Left's pallid answer to conservative talk radio:
In another scene, [Air America co-founder Evan] Cohen is seen exaggerating the network's revenue. When the New York Times calls with a question about ad sales, he asks an associate for the gross sales figure and is told, "Right around $639,000 — pushing $650,000." Cohen immediately calls the newspaper back and says, "We're $1 million in sold advertising as of today. That's a fact, a documentable fact."

Later, after being told of a $6,000 sale of advertising to Hewlett Packard, Cohen tells someone on the other end of his cellphone: "The good news is that we just sold a Hewlett Packard contract today for April — $16,000."
That's from the documentary "Left of the Dial" that will air Thursday night on HBO (8 p.m. PST), as reported in today's LATimes Calendar section. LAT sets up the show:
New York filmmakers Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan wound up telling a gripping tale of incompetence, betrayal and perseverance as their subjects struggled to keep one of the most overhyped media launches from crumbling around them.
Will the documentary be all that hard-hitting, or will it be a fawning hero-worship of Air America, with Cohen cast as the sole bad guy in an cast of otherwise stellar characters? I'm betting on the latter, given Farrelly's creditials as a producer for Michael Moore's "TV Nation."

It does sound like the film will confirm a Conservative perception of the Left as idealistic to a fault and unconcerned about the value of money, especially other people's money. If the LAT preview is close to accurate, it will be fun to watch the mishaps of a group that's long on passion and short on any real radio experience, reflecting the old hippy values of letting it be, then murmering "Far out" as the implosion occurs.

Is Jeff Gannon Crazy?

Jeff Gannon (nee James Guckert) has agreed to sit on a panel at a National Press Club event, reports Editor and Publisher. (h/t Media Bistro) The panel will discuss blogging and on-line reporting.

Even though their career requires no professional certification and no licensing, reporters who see themselves as "legitimate" are fiercely protective of their credentials:
"The idea was talking about these issues and who should be allowed to set up shop [as a legitimate journalist]," Madden told E&P. "It is not intended to be a forum for [Gannon] to present his side unchallenged. It is going to be moderated and there will be others on the panel."

When asked if giving Gannon a spot on the panel wrongly legitimizes him as a journalist, Madden disagreed. "It depends on how you look at it," he said. "He is there because the panel is presumably going to talk mostly about his case. He was, in large part, the central figure in the case that got us interested in the topic."
Gannon's going to be in for some nasty questioning at this event, but he should hold his head high. Blogging and on-line journalism are becoming mainstays of the way the world gets its news. We may have our problems, but so do the established media. Gannon's seat in the White House press room was more legit than many, less legit than some, but MSM reporters need to recognize that from here on out, they'll be rubbing shoulders with bloggers.

Unexpected Wash. Post Compliments

E.J. Dionne, who's written some truly frustrating pieces in WaPo, has a very readable column today tracking the premise that neither the left nor the right is as cohesive, or as disjointed, as the other side fears:

The right is widely assumed to have more coherence and discipline than it does. That means its dominance in our politics is exaggerated while its intellectual energy is insufficiently appreciated. Few outside its ranks acknowledge how many philosophical streams feed the conservative movement.

The left is widely assumed to be in a state of a perpetual disarray, inspired mostly by knee-jerk responses such as "political correctness" or "radical secularism."

Speaking in over-hyped terms about a perceived split in conservative ranks over the Schiavo matter -- a state's rights/right to life split that will disappear as soon as the matter reaches its sad conclusion -- is tucked away a pretty neat sentence:

Even Bush, the most skilled mediator among conservative factions since Ronald Reagan, has been unable to keep peace on the right in this instance.

And, an editorial in the same edition contains this sentence:

The Bush administration has rightly urged Mr. Bakiyev to work closely with the OSCE, which is dispatching a team to Kyrgyzstan.

Has the "dumb Bush" completely disappeared from MSM commentary? Have they finally seen the light, as his policies begin to turn out well because they are well thought out by an intelligent man?

Monday, March 28, 2005

UN Press Digging Into Oil For Food

On the eve of the unveiling of the second Volcker interim report on the Oil-for-Food scandal, this from the UN press corp:
Question: I would protest that there would be no photo opportunity of the report being handed over since this is a Security Council-authorized report very similar to Peter Fitzgerald’s and others. It is obviously a unique photo opportunity: a man given a job by the Secretary-General and the report is on the Secretary-General. We’re not even asking to ask questions, but using United Nations TV or still photos seems like some sort of cover-up.
Yes indeed-y, getting a photo of the hand-off ensures that there won't be any covering up going on at UN HQ on this one!

Has the MSM Reported This?

I recall hearing last week on some news broadcast that opium production is increasing in Afghanistan, becoming a bigger problem since we liberated the country from the Taliban. Contrast this, from today's UN press briefing:
Afghan farmers are growing fewer opium poppies this year than they did in 2004, according to a survey released yesterday by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This is expected to result in a drop in the country’s opium output for the first time since 2001.

UN Hariri Conclusion: Let's Study More

It's so sad the UN is such an easy target. The slowness of its pace in getting its investigation into the Hariri assassination in Beirut up and running was a Keystone Kops routine. (here, here and here)

Now the long, long-awaited report of that investigation is out! From today's UN press briefing:
Late Thursday, the Secretary-General transmitted to the Security Council the report of the Mission of Inquiry, headed by Peter Fitzgerald, on the circumstances, causes and consequences of the February 14 bombing in Beirut.

That report, the Secretary-General noted, raises some very serious and troubling allegations. The Mission concludes that an independent, international investigation is needed, and the Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council, endorsed that recommendation.
That's right. Six weeks after the bombing -- that's a pace that must have sweat flying throughout the UN -- the esteemed international organization has concluded that more study is needed. And unlike the report just filed by the independent, international organization's independent investigative unit made up of several nationalities, the new study should be independent and international.

Another UN project nicely wrapped up!

Slate-Spin On Matalin Hire

Slate's biz writer, Daniel Gross, looks at the announcement by mainstream, Viacom-owned book publisher Simon & Schuster that it is starting a conservative publishing house with Mary Matalin at the helm and analyzes it only as Slate can:
Given their triumph in last November's elections (and their behavior since), the Republicans have nowhere to go but down.
That's right. We're doomed. Gross likens the S&S announcement as akin to Time Warner selling to AOL at the peak of the Internet bubble, or Fortune putting Krispy Kreme on its cover just as the brand's sugar-coated slide started.

That there is a strong market for conservative books can't possibly mean there's a big market of conservatives; oh no, it must mean that S&S made a bad business decision.

The silliness of his thesis aside, I particularly liked the snide, effete, snobbishness that Gross displayed, working hard to prove that being from a blue state must mean you're a blueblood:
In 2003 Penguin Group (USA) started conservative imprint Sentinel, which churns out mind-candy for the National Review crowd. Random House has started Crown Forum, whose Web site contains handy links to the right-wing echo chamber.

All Simon & Schuster's bosses and editors seem to know about conservatives is that they buy books that pander to them and conform to their worldview.
Al Franken and Michael Moore do not, of course, produce mind-candy for the The Nation crowd or play to an echo chamber that reverberates with "No Blood For Oil!" chants. And Liberals are famous for their wide-ranging reading preferences, because they are so ... what's that word again? ... tolerant.

The Pedestal-izing of Sojourners

Desperate to find a way to deal with the new and growing amorality of the Democratic Party in the face of "morality vote" politics, the DNC, the Left and the MSM are finding a haven in Rev. Jim Wallis and Sojourners.

Wallis has a rap that sounds highly moral, just high enough to sound good to the gullible amorals looking for a way to communicate a DNC message to an increasingly evangelical nation. And as such, he's getting big promotion for his new book with high-profile profiles in Dem mouthpieces like the LATimes, which published a major, glowing profile this morning. The LAT hails him as "a possible bridge between left and right," exactly what Wallis sees himself as ... someone must have leaked the LAT his talking points.

Do a Google search on Wallis and Sojourners, and you'll find NPR, liberal church and liberal media hits galore. Say what you will, Wallis is successfully filling a vacuum. The trouble with Wallis, though, is that he mischaracterizes evangelicals and offers no solutions, which may be why he's so appealing to the Dems. Just look at what he preaches:
  • On abortion, Wallace opposes criminalization, but supports "financial and emotional safety nets for pregnant women," and parental notification. Great, but how can you be anti-abortion and not be anti-abortionist? It plays with the Dems, but not with conservative Christians.

  • He says it is always better to err on the side of life, but won't speak out on the Terri Schiavo case because he doesn't know enough about the case to discuss it. Mouthpiecing for the MSM, he criticizes conservatives for politicizing the case, but doesn't criticize the "right to die" people who have funding Michael Schiavo for doing the same. It plays with the Dems, but not with conservative Christians.

  • On marriage, he says he's for traditional marriage, but he opposes a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, and supports civil unions for gay couples. He may be for traditional marriage, but he's not willing to fight for it. It plays with the Dems, but not with conservative Christians.

  • According to the LAT, "Wallis cites the prophet Isaiah's vision of a good life — enough housing, food and work for all — to argue for more government spending for the needy," and therefore criticizes Bush's "tax cuts as skewing toward the wealthy." Anyone who's reading anything besides Dem talking points -- and apparently Wallis isn't -- knows that the Bush tax cuts benefitted just about everyone, and that the "skew" towards the wealthy is more accurately termed a "slight correction of a massive over-skew the other way." He's talking politics, not theology, and it plays with the Dems, but not with conservative Christians.

  • He is an opponent of the war in Iraq, but also of war, selectively quoting Scripture ("beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks"), and ignoring the many, many verses when God called on the Hebrews to rise up against those who oppose his Word and his people. Wallis thinks we should have removed Saddam Hussein through international legal processes, an opinion that, given the history of the UN and Iraq, is laughably naive, as is his thinking that economic development and humanitarian aid will change politics in the Near East. Aid is good, but after decades and billions, it has merely helped people; it has not change politics. It plays with the Dems, but not with conservative Christians.

Still, having a Rev. Wallis around isn't a bad thing. Christian conservatives need to remember that Christ is Christ and the GOP is the GOP, and they are not the same. While it's unlikely we'll curry much to Wallis, we must acknowledge that we learn more through criticism than through praise.

The danger of a Wallis is that the DNC will use him and others to try to craft a "moral" language to cover their amorality and Socialism, and they will succeed in duping many fence-sitting voters with that language. If and when that occurs, Rev. Wallis will have on his back the deaths of more aborted children, the poor appropriation of funds away from the Bush Doctrine and into the black hole of feel-good foreign aid, and the continuing growth of moral ambiguity in our nation.

Attack on "Culture of Life"

As Terri Schiavo's life ebbs, the LATimes trumpeted GOP divisiveness and the impending failure of the "morality vote."

Drawing on polls that purport to show the vast majority of Americans don't want Congress messing with "end of life" issues, the LAT seeks comfort from sources that confirm its view: the morality vote is just another political vote, and its power won't extend much beyond abortion and stem cell research:
"It is difficult to build a culture of life that covers more than just a handful of issues," said John C. Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron who specializes in religion and politics. "And the more types of issues you try to include under that framework, the more difficult it becomes."
A couple of faults of this analysis are evident:

First, in its quest for evidence of GOP divisiveness over the morality vote and "culture of life," would the LAT have us believe that there is a rock-solid consensus among Democrats for an amorality vote and a culture of death? No, I think the deafening silence of Dem leadership in support of Terri will further turn Dem faithful against thier party.

And second, there is a difference between last-minute, weekend heorics by the GOP to save one life and the routine work of Congress. The recent Schiavo polls tell us nothing about what the public expects of its electeds during the routine bill-writing work of Congress. When the dust settles, the impact of the public seeing this poor woman starve to death will settle in, and the GOP's "culture of life" will -- please, God -- end up the winner, and the DNC, hopelessly casting itself as the "culture of death" will find even less favor.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

"Bush Fertilizer" Now In Egypt?

Fellow Southern California Bloggers' Alliance member Bill from Dawn's Early Light reports that the desire for freedom is simmering in Egypt:
Opposition parties are feeding other opposition parties. How well Mr. Mubarak can control Egypt's fate remains to be seen. While 3,000 protesters is a good start, it is far from the numbers that successful revolutions have produced in the Ukraine and Lebanon.

Where's the Bourguet Trial?

I just did a 90-day Nexis search and an International Herald Tribune newspaper search for Didier Bourguet and got just three hits, with nothing new. Same with Google, according to John at Sheeps Crib.

Bourguet is the French UN employee who is supposedly on trial in France for amassing a vast library of pornographic images of himself having his way with young Congolese girls. ABC obtained some of the photos and showed one in which a tear can be seen rolling down the check of the young victim. Bourguet's lawyer has blamed a lax environment created by the U.N., in which it is considered permissable to have sex with young girls.

As John says, "So much for Frog justice." Maybe yes, maybe no ... time will tell. But Bourguet's case, or lack of it, points up the importance of doing more than creating a new environment among UN Peacekeepers -- we also need an entirely new way to investigate, prosecute and nail these slime. We'll see if the UN can actually implement effectively the reforms that have been proposed.

LATimes: Sinking for 37 Years

In case you missed Russ Stanton's comment to my post on the LATimes' outrageous story on Tom DeLay's father below, it's worth reading:
The LAT reached the bottom 37 years ago when they said Gov Reagan could not be a good Gov because he was an abusive father. The source of their report on what a horrendous father Ronnie was was his #2 son R. P. Reagan. The same hyper progressive (or far left) who 37 years later sitll hates his father and still will say or do anything to destroy what his father loved.

That was really low. The LAT has been in the gutter for almost 4 decades and seems to like it there.

An Easter Wish for Joy

What a beautiful Easter we are having in Southern California! In the low-70s sunny warmth, swarms of butterflies are migrating across our neighborhood -- what a symbol of transformational rebirth!

Here's the hymn that moved me most from this morning's service:

The Wonderful Cross
by Chris Tomlin, Isaac Watts, J.D. Walt & Jesse Reeves

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
All who gather here by grace draw near
And bless Your name

Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!

Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
All who gather here by grace draw near
And bless Your name

The LA Times Sinks Even Lower

The LA Times is up to its usual blind and biased tricks, this time dredging up the old family tragedy in Tom DeLay's past, only to make false and inflammatory comparisons to the plight of Terri Schiavo.

DeLay's father was injured in a freak accident on the family's place in Texas, and the family decided to not pursue heroic measures to prolong his life. The LAT sums up the similarities between the DeLay and Schiavo cases:
There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will.
Of course that's not true. DeLay needed assistance breathing, and would have to be moved to a kidney dialysis machine to survive as his kidneys were failing. Terri just needs food and water.

It's a new low for the LAT, exploiting the sad tragedy now playing to an excruciatingly slow close in Florida to get a barb or two into the Majority Leader. It shows the amorality and lack of boundaries these poor excuses for journalists live by.

Michelle Malkin points out that the DeLay tragedy appears to have not been covered previously, at least recently. That raises an interesting question: How did the LAT get this story? Perhaps another of those famous disgruntled Texas Democrats, the same folks who gave us Rathergate, are to blame. If so, they had no need to worry -- they were certain to find a gung-ho, bias-blinded reporter ready to jump on their story.

She also points out:
Unlike the Schiavo case, there was a family consensus among the DeLays and no dispute over what the father would have wanted. Moreover, DeLay was not the primary decision-maker in the family's choice to withhold heroic treatment. That role fell to his mother and another brother and sister.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

UN Report on Sex Scandal Out

The UN Report on sexual exploitation, pedophelia and rape is out, and it makes two significant recommendations: That an investigative wing be formed, and that courts martial be held in the country where offenses occur.

The report investigated incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo in the early 1990s to Cambodia and Timor-Leste in the early and late 1990s to West Africa in 2002 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2004. This kind of disgusting stuff:
... For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it would appear that sexual exploitation and abuse mostly involves the exchange of sex for money (on average $1-$3 per encounter), for food (for immediate consumption or to barter later) or for jobs (especially affecting daily workers). Some young girls whom I spoke with in the Democratic Republic of the Congo talked of “rape disguised as prostitution”, in which they said they were raped and given money or food afterwards to give the rape the appearance of a consensual transaction. Once young girls are in this situation, a situation of dependency is created which tends to result in a continued downward spiral of further prostitution, with its attendant violence, desperation, disease and further dependency. A consequence of sexual exploitation and abuse is the presence of abandoned “peacekeeper babies”, children fathered and abandoned by peacekeeping personnel.
The report's recommendations begin by saying rules, are required, not the current guidelines that cover unlawful sexual activitiesf:
In legal terms, “guidelines” can be contrasted to “rules”. Guidelines provide a general model that may or may not be followed depending on the circumstances; rules set out norms that must be followed. But codes of conduct, in particular detailed prohibitions against sexual exploitation and abuse, must have the status of binding rules. They cannot be merely guidelines.
The report recommends making sure the rules are printed on handy cards in the languages of the participating countries, and that they agree to make the rules binding. Oh, and this being the UN, that the participating companies agree to paying the cost of printing the cards.

The investigative teams recommended by the report would have access to forensic experts familiar with sexual abuse cases, and armed with appropriate investigative equipment. To save money (of course) the investigative teams will be based regionally, not with actual missions, which seems like it could present problems -- who's going to protect evidence while they get themselves into position?

Representatives of the charged Peacekeeper's country, preferably a military prosecutor, would participate in the investigation, which could help bridge the gap between UN investigators and home-country legal systems, should the in-country courts martial not be possible. If the case does go back to the perp's country:
A decision whether or not to prosecute is an act of sovereignty. However, these provisions will require a troop-contributing country to submit the case to the appropriate authorities, who must decide whether or not to prosecute in the same way as they would for an offence of a similar grave nature under their laws in their own jurisdiction. The suggested provisions would also obligate the troop-contributing country to report the outcome of the case in its jurisdiction.
As for taking care of victims, the UN acknowledges its responsibility, but, "A peacekeeping operation usually has neither the resources nor the mandate to provide comprehensive assistance to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. However, there is much that can be done with a minimum of expenditure." That may be true, given the poverty that exists in many of the areas where Peacekeepers work, but it seems like a pretty lousy way to get something compassionate started.

The report suggests using DNA to track down dads of "peacekeeper babies," and using fines to fund a trust fund for those kids. The UN is putting all the accountability for these kids on the perps, a complete shirking their responsibilty. They design the mission, they approve it, they handle logistics, they are responsible, and yet they're not assuming it.

And their blame-shifting is maxed out, and their minimal compassion is mighty slim:
If paternity were established, the United Nations could, with a small change in its rules, deduct from the salary of that staff member, or from his final emoluments if he had been dismissed for violation of the standards set out in the 2003 bulletin, a specified amount, say the equivalent of one year’s salary of a local employee in the mission area. This would at least provide some child support to the mother. If the identity of the father is unknown, some assistance could be given from the trust fund for victims.
As the report settles in, it nauseates. This international organization, established with such vision, and speaking in such high and noble tones about the good that it does, about its exquisite compassion, all but discards the most damaged victims of its abuse on the trash heap.

More "Bush Fertilizer"

"Bush fertilizer" is spreading to Asia as even the threat of Communist rule has sent a million Tiawanese protestors to the street. See this cool photo, with a h/t to Instapundit. With Hong Kong unsettled, Taiwan ticked off, and freedom movements breaking out in former Soviet puppet states in Central Asia, the Central Committee in Beijing must be getting "nervouser and nervouser.'

Defense Attorneys Dominate MSM

The LATimes has a major story today on the April 9, 2004 insurgent ambush on an Army-escorted, Halliburton-driven oil truck convoy, in which two soldiers died and one is missing, and many Halliburton employees were killed, injured or kidnapped. Of the 43 men on the convoy, 25 were killed or injured.

The story lays out a long, unchallenged recitation of what went wrong. It appears to be a story of mistakes, errors in judgment and bullheadedness that combined to lead to disaster, another example of chaos theory overtaking planning in the field of war.

Or is it? Buried deep in the next-to-the-last paragraph is this:
The family of driver Tony D. Johnson, 47, of Riverside, plans to file a lawsuit in state court Monday accusing Halliburton of negligence in his death. It is the first of several lawsuits expected in connection with the case.
And it comes clear. This is another of the thousands of stories filed every year because criminal defense lawyers leak lawsuits to reporters a day or two before they're filed. The stories gets splashed all over page one and lead the evening news ... but they present just one side of the story. And isn't the media is supposed to be objective?

Lawsuit leaks inevitably lead to biased stories because the defendants can't comment on lawsuits they haven't seen, and lazy reporters just go with the allegations as presented without much, or any, independent investigative reporting.

This story is typical. The allegations against Halliburton and the Defense Department are presented as if they were reportorial investigation; they are not. They were ginned up with an unknown and uncredible amount of work by a legal team seeking big bucks. They were not disclosed as such by reporter T. Christian Miller or his editors, which to my mind is unethical and sloppy.

Miller should have started his allegations by saying, "In a lawsuit filed by attorneys for the family of one of the killed truckers, who are seeking $XX million in damages, it was alleged that...." But he didn't, and his editors didn't make make him.

This sloppiness and bias comes from the same MSM who, in its NYTimes mode, blasts the Bush administration for sending out well-identified video news releases that the media sometimes doesn't attribute well. Whose problem is it? The lawyers'? The Administration's? No. The it's the media's problem, and it hurts the public.

"Bush Fertilizer" Brings Freedom Blooms

We appear to be living in a time as politically dynamic as were the 100 years between 1750 and 1850, another period that will change for the better, in aggregate at least, the way the human race lives.

In a story from Moscow on Kyrgyzstan and the diminishment of the Russian empire, the LATimes reported this morning:
"The only possible explanation for what happened is the gross, systemic miscalculation of the situation…. All of us have erred in believing in the general passiveness of the masses … and that authoritarianism will continue to prevail on the territory of the former USSR, no matter what," said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center.

"The developments in Kyrgyzstan vividly demonstrate how wrong we were. They also demonstrate how rotten, unviable and brittle these regimes are," Malashenko said. "What happened in Bishkek shows that all the post-Soviet regimes are literally colossi with feet of clay — the slightest turmoil in their societies is enough to make these regimes crumble."
There is, of course, another possible explanation, a much better explanation, but note that Malashenko works for one of the Left Eight foundations, Carnegie, so he's probably not allowed to say it. The Kyrgyz people are looking West and seeing freedom begin to bloom, thanks to some "Bush fertilizer," spread through the blood of American hero soldiers, in other "rotten, unviable and brittle" regimes.

Russia needs to watch out. China needs to watch out. And throughout the Middle East and southeast Asia, the Mullahs, despots and Communists had better be preparing to duck and cover. This freedom, this democracy, this crying of the human spirit to be free, is mighty powerful stuff.

Of Evil CEOs and Evil Husbands

There is a point when the grip slips and the fall begins, and Krispy Kreme is there, a greasy, glazen fallen and falling superhero, looking back at the cliff-face, looking down into the abyss, as gravity overcomes all else. Here's how Doug might draw it, but then he has a weird sense of humor:

(Image from TenNapel's Creature Tech)

In an editorial today, the LATimes describes its prescient moment, when the truth about Krispy Kreme hit them like a sugar rush:
When business started to slow down in 2004, then-Chief Executive Scott Livengood blamed the Atkins diet. Never believe a junk-food executive who says his company is suffering because Americans' health habits are changing. Fad diets come and go, but cheating is eternal.

Greed was likely a stronger factor.
I'm not bragging because I admit I know nothing about business, but I do know something about donuts, and I saw this one coming. When KK exploded like a calorie cluster-bomb onto the scene, my PR firm was representing Winchell's, the #2 donut brand in the country, and we went into war mode to try to fight the Southern Tsunami.

Winchells, for all the fatness of its fare, is a lean company. It has to be because the profits are about the only lean thing in the donut business. We all knew intuitively that Krispy Kreme was unsustainable because it wasn't spending like a donut company should. Ditto my experience from helping a bagle chain out of bankruptcy.

But Livengood (a name right up there with Stonecipher as an All Time Great CEO Name) had the hustle, the jet, the Enron-accoutrements, and he milked the brand with greed-powered automatic milking machines, sucking far more money out of Wall Street and Main Street investors than he ever did out of real, sticky-fingered customers.

And, of course, his grip slipped, and the fall has begun as KK has had to restate earnings and admit financial errors and shady deals. The stock is now tumbling.

Livengood wouldn't have been livin' good if he were the only greedy one. Across America, people who's desire to cash in easy outpowered their clarity poured money into the company, lusting for a big bump in earnings they really didn't have to work for.

That's just not what the bible teaches us. Hard work done as if we were doing it for the Lord is what's honored ... and more likely not here, but There.

I can't help but think that the same fuel that fueled Livengood is firing up Michael Schiavo's engines, and that his will to kill isn't about Terri's wishes or establishing precedent, but is all about setting the stage for a big financial score (see American Digest; h/t Michelle Malkin). And unfortunately, it looks like he's going to get what he wants ... here, at least.

O To Grace How Great A Debtor

Here's the hymn that's been hanging around in the Palm Pundit's head for the last week:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Isn't that a beautiful thing to have stuck in your brain? Funny thing ... they played it at Good Friday service tonight!

Update: Lowell at Hedgehog Central has posted the entire hymn and has built on upon it in a lovely Easter message.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Libblogs' Disgusting Terri Comments

A few days ago, I got fairly nauseated scanning Libblogs to see what they were writing about on the Terri Schiavo case. Disgusting as it was, things have gotten much, much worse as their sick emotions appear to be ratcheting up along with our compassionate emotions.

This is from Opinion Journal's Best of the Web, and I can't caution you strongly enough: What's copied below will turn your stomach. If you follow the links, it will get much worse.
The satiric site carries a headline that states: "Saving Terri Schiavo: Presenting Incontrovertible Proof That Every Life Has Worth, President Bush Announces '66 Uses for Persistent Vegetards.' "

Blogger Malachy Joyce rounds up some postings (the original page seems to have disappeared from DU, but this one confirms its authenticity). "[Mrs. Schiavo] and a Chia Pet both have about the same likelihood of swallowing a spoonful of tapioca," writes "GiovanniC," who, in case you didn't get the point, follows up with this:

I said "Terri Schiavo has the same likelihood of swallowing as a Chia Pet." Other things with the same likelihood of swallowing as Terri Schiavo:

- A slab of granite
- A watermelon
- A hubcap from a 1989 Ford Escort
- Play-Doh
- etc.

"Modem Butterfly" adds: "If we can't make fun of the living dead, who can we make fun of?"

What explains the specter of politically correct liberals making ugly and unfunny jokes about an utterly helpless human being? It won't do to say that Terri Schiavo is fair game because she is no longer "really alive"; if you made a similar joke at the expense of someone who'd been murdered in a hate crime, they'd jump all over you (and rightly so).
Note: The "" link worked for me. Unfortunately.

UN Sex Scandal: East Timor

Little Green Footballs has a post on the 2001 version of today's UN sex scandal: The particularly vile actions of the Boys in Baby Blue in East Timor.

This raises questions: If things were this bad four years ago, why was the UN caught flatfooted by the Congo sex scandal? And why weren't the "no contact" regulations that were recently put in place in an attempt to reduce the risk of such heinous behavior not put into effect in 2001?

Simple answer: It's the UN.

DA Won't Prosecute Brian Gillis Case

Bad news on the Brian Gillis case. (Previous posts here and here)

Those tracking this will remember that San Luis Obispo County DA Gerald Shea refuses to bring charges in the case of Brian's death. Specifically, he won't charge the young man who had the deadly amount of the drug GHB that Brian drank from a Gatoraid bottle, probably with no knowledge it was a drug. California Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee met with Shea yesterday in an effort to convince him to bring charges. I'll let Brian's mom pick up the story:
Assemblyman Blakeslee called me about 4:30 p.m. He said he did his best, but the DA said in their opinion the case is not prosecutable. He says the witnesses are not very credible. This DA is so full of you know what. He had an excuse for everything. Dan Blackburn told me he was going to be speaking with him tonight and see wht the next plan would be. Blakeslee definitely wants to get some laws changed. We can still appea to the Attorney General, but I don't know.
I am thinking of picketing next week. Maybe your [Assemblyman] Todd [Spitzer] and Blakeslee could get the attorney general to do something. I still want to press this even after the statute runs out. I made a promise to my son just before he was taken away after his funeral in the hearse that I would do everything I could to get the truth out and if there was foul play, have the guilty parties brought to justice.

I feel so terrible. So close to the 3rd annivrsay of his death and I was not able to keep my promise. My legs feel so heavy and I have not been able to get anything done since the call came from Blakeslee.
It is sad and ironic that this woman is struggling against the court system to bring justice to her son who was murdered, just as the Schindlers are struggling to keep their daughter from being killed. In both cases, an arrogant and aloof legal system is ignoring evidence and making bad choices and it seems like we can do nothing about it.

Dr. Cheshire, Dr. Whelan and Many Questions

The attack on the Dr. Cheshire's troubling affidavit in a Tech Central column by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan troubles Hugh, who says:
I doubt very much whether Dr. Whelan is experienced at PVS diagnostics, or in the literature Dr. Chesire cites. I suppose she would likely be as dismissive of the other neurologists who have cast doubt on the PVS diagnosis.
He's right on the first point; she does not have credentials in neurosurgery, as noted on the ACSH Web site:
Dr. Whelan is president and founder of the American Council on Science and Health.

Professional Experience
She is the author or co-author of over two dozen books, including:
  • Panic in the Pantry
  • Preventing Cancer
  • Toxic Terror
  • A Smoking Gun - How the Tobacco Industry Gets Away with Murder
Her bio also states that she is a life-long Republican.

As for his other point, about dismissing other neurologists, possibly, possibly not. As it turns out I like the premise behind ACSH (which Dr. Whelan founded, and still heads) and what it's trying to do most of the time, which is to debunk junk science, especially in the area of chemicals used in food and around the house. What's not to like about someone who can post something like this on the history of the organization she formed?
Sometimes, if reporters complain about our corporate funding, I remind them that they are funded by corporations and advertisers as well. Phil Donahue was stunned into silence when I pointed that out on his show, and Ed Bradley once threw down his microphone and stormed out of an interview with me. The important thing, though, is not the source of your funding but the accuracy of the points you make, and ACSH's scientific advisors and use of peer review keep us honest.
Or this:

And ACSH runs a tight ship. Consider these comparisons:

• it costs ACSH approximately $5,000 a day to operate (based on 260 working days per year divided by ACSH’s annual budget of approximately $1.3 million).

• it costs CSPI, with their campaigns to scare us about the safety of our food, approximately $52,584 a day to operate (based on their annual budget of $13.6 million).

• it costs the NRDC—with its programs to convince us, without scientific data, that "chemicals" in our environment are making us sick—approximately $166,809 a day to operate (based on their annual budget of $43.3 million).

Still, her Tech Central dissection of Dr. Cheshire makes me ask, "Why?" Was it written out of her passion for scientific accuracy, and if it was, why didn't she acknowledge some of the basic faults in the position of the pro-kill-her lobby, such as the lack of any recent MRIs or PETs, or the denial of any rehabilitation programs by her so-called husband?

And why would this champion of scientific knowledge side with those who would rush the death of the subject before the research is completed? Where in the scientific literature does it say that research should end when questions are posed, yet unanswered? Do you dump the petri dish before the culture is complete?

The Ultimate Consumer Protection

Who's the champion of all consumer advocates? Ralph Nader. And what does Ralph think about what's happening to a certain consumer, Terri Schaivo?
Benefits of doubts should be given to life, not hastened death. This case is rife with doubt. Justice demands that Terri be permitted to live.
Does having Ralph on our side make us feel more on the right side or less? It doesn't matter, because it's so clear that the Will to Live must take precedence over the Will to Kill. (h/t Okie on the LAM)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Who's Funding Michael Schiavo?

Here, courtesy of FindLaw, is Michael Schiavo's filing before the U.S. Supreme Court, which succeeded in moving his wife one step closer to being killed by the state. (You can find a wealth of background on the case here, courtesy of Fox News and FindLaw.)

The 54-page brief lists 11 lawyers and three law firms, the American Civil Liberties Union, Felos & Felos, and Jenner & Block (at a pricey DC address). Such a legal team would bill at a cumulative rate approaching $5,000 an hour, and this 54-page hour-eater is just one of hundreds of filings that have been made to further Schiavo's will to kill.

Michael Schiavo obviously isn't paying for this. Who is? The law firms may be able to hide behind their "pro bono" proclamations, but I'm certain the arbortion industry, euthanasia advocates and perhaps some of the Left Eight radical foundations are behind it.

You'll scratch your head over these items from George Felos' bio: In his spare time, he is a guest minister at "several" churches. I suppose in all the world there might be three to five churches that would have him address the congregation. He also has chaired the board of The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, "the largest non-profit Hospice in the world." I know hospices are for dying at, but I still wouldn't want a radical death advocate running the one I choose to send a loved one to.

Students Ignore God: Good!

The Princeton Review college ranking service promises to help students:
How do you know that you'll be comfortable -- and that others will be comfortable with you -- at your chosen college? We dish the dirt about demographic backgrounds, lifestyle attitudes and religion.

Click here so see how they do it.

As Opinion Journal's Best of the Web put it:

We have no quarrel with the first, second and fourth of these criteria, but the third one is quite astonishing. If you "ignore God on a regular basis," you're "diverse," whereas if you "pray on a regular basis," you're "monochromatic"? What if you pray in a black church, or pray for a more diverse campus?

That Confusing Morality Thing

Here's what AP reported Howard Dean said on the fund-raising trail through four southern states:
Democrats can run on moral values as well as Republicans, said Dean, who added that Democrats' programs to provide help for people reflect moral values more than Republican programs do.
"Programs that provide help for people?" Is that why the Dems have not lifted a little finger to help Terri Schiavo? The Dems' attempt to attract the morality vote in defiance of their rampant amorality is transparent and reprehensible.

And the people see it. In January and February, the GOP out-fundraised the DNC by a 2-1 margin, according to the same article.

Cooling on the Global Warming Thing

Greenie Watch has been reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything," and finds some interesting stuff on how far off the Environmental Litigation Lobby is on its presentation of the threat of global warming:
For example, you may think that the ice ages that have afflicted the Earth arrived and departed gradually, over hundreds of thousands of years. But ice cores from Greenland tell a very different, very turbulent story. According to Bryson, "for most of its recent history Earth has been nothing like the stable and tranquil place that civilization has known, but rather has lurched violently between periods of warmth and brutal chill.

"Toward the end of the last big glaciation, some 12,000 years ago, Earth began to warm, and quite rapidly, but then abruptly plunged back into bitter cold for a thousand years or so. ... At the end of this thousand- year onslaught, average temperatures leapt again, by as much as seven degrees in 20 years, which doesn't sound terribly dramatic, but is equivalent to changing the climate of Scandinavia for that of the Mediterranean in just two decades.'

What most alarmed Bryson is that, with all of the current available data, ongoing research and modern technology, scientists have absolutely no idea what natural events could have rattled the planet's "thermometer' so violently.

Contrast this description of the recent history of the Earth's climate with the antics of the global-warming hysterics. They have gone into near-catatonic fits because their dubious computer models predict that the temperature of the Earth's surface will rise between 1 and 3 degrees centigrade over the next century.

More Evidence of the Death Society

Betsy passes this along, more evidence that for many people, the joys that come with life, and the desire to create and nurture it, are diminishing here in the U.S., just as they are in Europe:

The New York Times looks at the trend in cities like Seattle and Portland which are fast becoming childless cities.
After a drop of 10,000 students in the last decade, Portland officials called in March for the closing of six schools, prompting cries of grief from three generations of adults who say that nothing takes the heart out of a neighborhood like a shuttered school.

The pool of school-age children is shrinking so fast that Portland will have to close the equivalent of three or four elementary schools a year over the next decade, according to school district projections.

Rest Soon In Peace, Terri

Two minutes ago, AP moved the story: The Supreme Court will not intervene.

Barring a miracle from Judge Greer's court, Terri Schiavo's remaining days and hours are upon her and her devastated family. The revelations of the last few days make it more apparent that she is feeling pain and perhaps even abandonment at this time. Millions have lifted prayers that she would be comforted, and those prayers are more earnest now, as her time in this life of pain is about to end.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

God bless and comfort you, Terri. Your life has helped us so much; we have learned many things from you, and have been strengthened by you. Even as what has happened to you has crushed our spirit and broken our hearts, it has made us appreciate our creation and our Creator all the more.

Brian Gillis Justice: Some Progress!

If you haven't heard of the Brian Gillis case, read the post below first, then come back to this post. We've received some very exciting news by e-mail from Brian's mom:
Thank you so much. Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee has set
up a meeting with SLO Districy Attorney Gerry Shea for
this Thursday. It was supposed to have been today at
1:00 p.m., but Shea had to go out of town for some
unknown reason.

Blakeslee's office called me and let me know that even
though the assembly is on recess this week, Blakeslee
came in today and has been reading up on the
documentation provided to him so far and wants to try
and help as much as he can. If any of your contacts
want to get in touch with their own assemblyman and
urge him/her to support Blakeslee, that would be
PLEASE send an e-mail RIGHT NOW to Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee's office and thank him for his interest in the case. Ask him to do all he can to convince the DA that it's time for justice for Brian, and more than past time that those who murder by GHB know that they will be prosecuted for their crime.

Click here for the "Contact Sam Blakeslee" page on his Assembly Web site.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

That Confusing Morality Thing

I want to take a long, long, long shower with lots of soap. I've just read the DNC's "Kicking Ass" blog post about the Terri Schiavo case. These people are angry. And more importantly, these people are amoral.

We are obsessing -- rightfully -- on the moral issues raised by the Schiavo case, and the moral lessons to be learned from the actions of the husband, family and courts. We worry about the precedents that might be set, and study the related evils from the past.

They, on the other hand, do not raise moral issues at all. It's politics, all politics. This is the Dems first post-election opportunity to show that they know how to appeal to morality vote voters, and they're not even trying.

Worse, after the election, they tried to counter W's victorious "morality vote" surge by arguing that fighting hunger is a morality vote issue. You don't see that in their little blog today as they lift no finger to fight the hunger Terri's feeling. They said providing health care is a morality vote issue. That's not mentioned as they do nothing to ensure Terri is provided with even the most rudimentary health care. And the party that brings you radical feminism, gay marriage and the deterioration of Holy Matrimony is standing by the husband in this horrific married relationship.

The Dem-Blog

The Kick Ass entry itself is brief: An intro paragraph followed by links to a number of MSM editorials parrotting the missing Dem talking points memo on the Schiavo tragedy. The editorial passages included address only revulsion at political strategies employed by the GOP leadership with no analysis of ethics. The relatively small number of comments that follow it are worse, jibing this way and that from the core issues to fire off potshots at the president and Congress.

Here's the intro:
There can be no doubt that extreme Republicans have used the Terry Schiavo case to score political points. While they parade in front of cameras, millions of Americans are questioning how far Tom DeLay and Bill Frist are willing to go when it comes to interfering in difficult family matters. .. The outrage is palpable and widespread.
And here is a sampling of the 12 (that's all folks!) comments:
why can bush declare a war by limited information by executive order and fail to give the schiavo's family some relief to this tragedy by doing the same? [Declaring war?! On who?]

It's sad that the Repukelicans are making a political issue out of someone's tragedy. Like I said before my heart goes out to Terri Schiavo and her family. Her situation is unfortunate, sad, and tragic. Yet, it disgusts me big time that the Repooplican Party is turning Schiavo's tragedy into a political issue.

From the Terri Schiavo Legislation it would seem that the federal government should intervene when anybody's health is in danger, and assure adequate health care. In that case we should have universal health care. What is good for one should be good for all.

this whole case is shining example of the total lack of repect the Republicans and Religious freaks have for the LAWS of the Unitied States…WE MUST REMEMBER THIER NAMES!!
I feel sickened posting this. My heart is so heavy with the oppressive weight of what is happening to that poor woman, and it is only made heavier by the callousness of these people.

Once again, because Jesus always says it best:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Schiavo Talking Points MEMOS

Power Line is attacking the authenticity of the leaked "Senate" talking points memo on Terri Schiavo, with lots of good fodder but no hard evidence. (here, here)

Here's my question: Where is the Democrat talking points memo, which almost certainly also was written on the matter. Has it been leaked but not played by MSM, or has it not been leaked?

Kofi Koffs Up A Hairball Reform Idea

No one expected much out of Kofi Annan's long-heralded UN reform package that was unveiled yesterday. I've been tracking this for a while, but will defer to the WSJ's Claudia Rosett, who has done an excellent job of seeing the Emporer's new clothes for what they are. (here) Excerpt:
Mr. Annan forges on to propose nothing less than reforming the entire known universe, via the U.N., while he bangs the drum for a budget to match. He wants to expand his own staff, change the world's climate, end organized crime, eliminate all private weapons, and double U.N.-directed development aid to the tune of at least $100 billion a year, "front-loaded," for his detailed plan to end world poverty. This comes from a U.N. that only three months ago was finally strong-armed by Congress into coughing up the secret internal Oil for Food audits confirming that under Mr. Annan's stewardship the U.N. was not even adequately auditing its own staff operations.
(h/t the ever-valuable Real Clear Politics.)

Malkin on ABC Push Poll

One of the most egregious sins of MSM during the Schiavo affair has been ABC's manipulative poll that found uninformed Americans, misinformed them, and trumpeted the results as a true reflection of American opinion. These tricks are so hackneyed and overused by politicians, you'd think other MSM outlets would quickly dispose of the chicanery, but they have simply reported ABC's findings without questioning them.

The truth is out there. Michelle Malkin breaks down the poll and other MSM distortions on the Schiavo case here, for example. But who's reading it?

Unfortunately, one of the rules of public opinion management is that you have to convince the public that the public supports your position. ABC has done this and no one has stepped up to fill the void with the truth. The blogosphere, for all its power, has as yet been unable to save one frail life.

Those in a Rush to Kill Schiavo ...

Here's an excellent column by John O'Sullivan in the Chicago Sun Times (h/t Real Clear Politics) that is one of the more clear presentations of Terri's cases I've read. Two excerpts:
When southern juries failed to convict the plain murderers of black Americans and civil rights workers, the feds intervened to protect the civil rights of the deceased. How much more reasonable it is to protect the civil rights of the still-not deceased Terri Schiavo from the questionable decisions of the judge.

Whatever Nazi theory held about the unfit, the Nazis feared the German people would resist the murder of innocent people with mental illnesses. Even in a society hardened by war and brutalized by Nazi propaganda, they took refuge in euphemisms. The official Nazi form letter sent to relatives included this sentence: "In view of the nature of his serious, incurable ailment, his death, which saved him from a lifelong institutional sojourn, is to be regarded merely as a release." ... There are echoes in those words of the current advocacy of euthanasia and assisted suicide -- and, inevitably, of the Terri Schiavo case.
Note, this is the Chicago Sun Times. It's doubtful you will find such clear-headed writing in the Chicago Tribune, or its sister papers, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday.

A Cruel and Unusual Decision

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Even the Roman soldiers on crucifixion duty -- surely a hardened and heartless lot -- extended a sponge of vinegar to Jesus. Why can't the courts of the United States do the same for Terri Schiavo?

In its 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 11th circuit denied Terri food and water while her parents continued their appeals (here), a cruel and unusual punishment for a woman who is guilty of no crime. The lone dissenter, Judge Charles Wilson, a Clinton appointee, said, "In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube."

There can be none. Even the difficult to understand and hard to forgive Michael Schiavo couldn't argue material harm if another week or two passes before he achieves his cruel victory. But if she were fed, and if her parents were to prevail, then he would lose. So is he arguing that her death is a better result than due process and, possibly, justice? Yes.

Even before the parents' appeal was filed with the 11th Circuit, Michael Schiavo urged the court not to grant an emergency request to restore nutrition.

"That would be a horrific intrusion upon Mrs. Schiavo's personal liberty," said the filing by his attorney, George Felos. He filed a response to the Schindlers' appeal and said he would go to the Supreme Court if the tube were ordered reconnected.

With the Florida Senate unlikely to move as it appears no one there is changing their vote, it's up to the Supremes. The Schiavo's petition will land on Anthony Kennedy's desk first and he could either rule alone or pass it on to the full court.

Terri's options are dwindling, her fate hangs on courts that have not allowed the record to be reopened. As long as they only mull over the inadequate record that is before them, we can expect little from the courts. Pray for Terri, and a decision to reopen the record and reinsert the tube.