Friday, April 01, 2005

Farewell, John Paul

The pope is near death. I believe that the modern Catholic Church is not the same church organized by Christ's apostles. Its organization and doctrines have been altered, and its spread through government establishment by Emperor Constantine is a good indicator that it was no longer led by revelation as it was under Peter, James and John and their fellow apostles. I believe that celibacy, emphasis on a nearly divine role for Mary, Jesus' mother, and its adoption of baptism by sprinkling are non-biblical and not from God.

That being said, I have always believed that Pope John Paul was a Christlike man, who tried to follow Jesus' teachings and principles, and that he was, though not a true apostle, was guided by the light of Christ. He became so by years of service and love for those who trusted him for spiritual leadership. The Lord moves in a mysterious way, and influences all of us for good if we truly seek to obey our consciences. He was not a prophet in the sense that Peter and the other apostles were, yet he eschewed the imperial Papacy of the Dark Ages, when his forebears behaved more like earthly rulers than spiritual men. He led with love, patience and example, and did not give in to the calls for changes in the church's doctrines on issues like gay marriage, abortion, woman priests and other basic principles that have survived from the true church. Now the pomp and discussion of Vatican politics will take center stage. We'll see the grandeur and worldly glory adopted by the church as it apostatized on full display, reminding us of the reasons for the Protestant revolt, which was also inspired by the light of Christ, even without a restoration of the authority of the early apostles.

Pope John Paul is receiving tribute and accolades well deserved. His kind and humble service to the Lord reflects the love of God that is poured out upon all who seek him. His influence in the collapse of the Soviet Bloc was to me an example of the arm of God bringing about change that we never thought was possible. I believe that he will be greeted with love by the Savior of us all.

We need an Un-U.N.

Instapundit links to this piece by Austin Bay asking:
Why should such an organization continue to suck dollars and dither?

Such an organization shouldn't � that's why it needs massive reform.
I don't believe that you can reform something so corrupt and inept as this. Nobody so far has made the case for remaining in the U.N. It has long been a forum for denouncing the U.S. and, as we saw with Iraq, obstructing what really needs doing. Worse, it has become in the minds of many a supergovernment, a new world order with more legitimacy than national governments. We have no need for such a mud bog to hamper foreign policy. And we certainly don't need to continue to support it financially.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Avert your eyes!

It sounds mean-spirited, but Jim Pinkerton has some good comments about the cost to taxpayers of keeping Terri Schiavo alive. This is the first I've seen that her hospice care was born by Medicaid. I thought that her parents wanted to assume the costs. This makes Judge Greer's decision much more understandable.

The End

Terri Schiavo is dead. James Taranto has a good wrap-up.

I saw Felos on Fox this morning trying to portray his client as Mr. Compassion. Radio Blogger dubs Felos "Renfield." Good comparison.

Last night on Brit Hume made the point that the courts were not "letting her die" but "killing her." I'm not sure, considering these photos of her CAT scan and that of a normal brain.

There's a good analysis at The Weekly Standard which pretty well sums up my concerns, but I don't think that anybody could honestly say that the court's finding of PVS is absolutely wrong.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Endangered Species?

Have you ever noticed the irony in the names so many leftists give their organizations? The American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, (which couldn't seem to move on from the WMD question), etc. They seem to need to include propaganda in the very names of their groups. Now, the name Democrat is being added to the category. There's a new one, Save the Filibuster dot Org. It leans heavily on Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and James Stewart's dramatic filibuster at the end of that movie. There may be valid reasons to filibuster, but I'm not sure that preventing judicial nominees from getting a vote by the whole Senate is one of them. What this is about is trying to stave off the results of having lost elections. Kind of an odd cause for people who call themselves "democrats," isn't it?

I read Profiles in Courage when I was in high school and I understand that there are times when you have to stand up against the majority, but this is also fodder for a lot of demagoguery, as cynical pols wrap themselves in the Constitution and the Flag as they attempt to save their waning power. This is hardly the sort of issue that Jeff Smith would have been moved to filibuster over.

Christians vs. Christians

John Danforth:
During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.
I think that a lot of people in this country are concerned about the way the courts are taking control away from elected representatives. I certainly am, but it's not motivated by my religious beliefs. It's because I believe in democracy, that we should have a voice in determining what kind of society we live in, short of actually oppressing entire groups. And denying men the right to marry other men is not oppression. This "religion has no place in politics" meme is just another sophistry, intended to disenfranchise large groups of people whose political views are informed by their religions. What it basically boils down to is that the left and libertarians should be free to attack religion and morality and the religious shouldn't be allowed to defend it.
Religious people have not tried to impose sectarian views on society. Most of our traditions and laws dealing with morality were originally the consensus, shared by humanists and religionists alike.
It was not the religious who brought their views into politics, but the anti-religious who have used the courts to attack long-held rules.

The filibuster being used by Democrats right now is a last-gasp attempt to protect their hegemony over the judicial system, which has been so pliant to arguments that every previously immoral act is now a Constitutional right. Danforth pays lip service to allowing courts to interpret the law, but if he doesn't recognize the danger of the trends in jurisprudence, he's out of touch with his old political base. The Schiavo case isn't about religion, it's about decency, respect and due process.

Update: Hugh Hewitt's answer is right on:
[Referring to the quote above] I do not know any prominent and influential Christian conservative who disagrees with this agenda, and in fact know many who have worked ceaselessly to enact it. But they also have an agenda that seeks to reduce the number of abortions, to empower parents in the lives of their children, to preserve marriage as it has always been, and to assure that schools are not the preserves of left-wing ideology. It is simple arrogance to assert that these goals are not consistent with the historic traditions of the party of Lincoln, which began as a party of moral certainty that slavery was wrong. In demanding that morality not play a part in the party's council's, Danforth is the one arguing for an abandonment of the GOP's history.
In a piece on the same subject Hewitt writes:
The speed with which issues that excite the passions of people of faith have arrived at the center of American politics is not surprising given the forced march that the courts have put those issues on. It was not the "religious right" that pushed gay marriage to the center of the public debate; it was courts in Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It wasn't the "religious right" that ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed; it was a Florida Supreme Court that struck down a law passed by the Florida legislature and signed by Governor Jeb Bush which would have allowed Terri Schiavo to live. And it isn't the "religious right" that forced the United States Supreme Court to repeatedly issue rulings on areas of law that would have been better left to legislatures.
That about nails it.

More thoughts on Schiavo

Christopher Hitchens has a piece on Terri Schiavo:
I think it is obscene that she is held in absentia to exert power from beyond the grave. As for the idea that this assumed power can be arrogantly ventriloquized by clerical demagogues and self-appointed witch doctors, one quivers at the sheer indecency of the thing. The end of the brain, or the replacement of the brain by a liquefied and shrunken void, is (to return to my earlier point) if not the absolute end of "life," the unarguable conclusion of human life. It disqualifies the victim from any further say in human affairs. Tragic, perhaps, unless you believe in a better life to come (as, oddly enough, the parents of this now non-human entity claim that they do).
I would agree with him if I were as certain as he is that her brain had been replaced by a " liquefied and shrunken void." One of the maddening things about this is that I don't know whom to trust. I don't trust Mr. Schiavo or his lawyer. I'm not sure what to think about Judge Greer, but I tend to think that so many judges have reviewed the case that their findings are likely to be correct. There have been qualified experts on both sides of the question of her sentiency, and, of course, lawyers all over the lot. I wish someone in the media had given us a FAQ like this. Here's another good discussion on the PVS issue including her CAT scan.

I don't hold Congress and the President in contempt for their efforts to resolve questions that remain, although I generally disagree with such federal interventions. It's not as though there hasn't been plenty of precedent for government inserting itself into issues beyond its competency, and I credit their motives in trying to defend life.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Democracy is a high wire act.

But it's also a universal human yearning, as the demonstrations and marches around the world recently illustrate. There will always be people ready to exploit any lapse by the people, however. You can't set a political system and forget it. There will always be judges, some in the judicial system, who think their views of what society should be outweighs what the majority decides. Our founders gave it a good shot, but no complex operation can endure without constant attention. Once the majority chooses a course away from responsibility and discipline, it's very difficult to get back.

Tenure: what leeches and ticks have

Max Boot calls for abolishing tenure:
The primary practical effect of tenure is to make universities almost ungovernable. The people ostensibly in charge � presidents and trustees � come and go; the faculty remains, serene and untouchable. This helps to explain some of the dysfunctions that mar big-time universities, such as the overemphasis on publishing unintelligible articles and the under-emphasis on teaching undergraduates. Armies of junior faculty and graduate-student drudges have been enlisted to assume the bulk of the teaching load because most of the tenured grandees think that instructing budding stockbrokers and middle managers is beneath them. And there is almost nothing that administrators can do about it because mere laziness is no grounds for removing someone with a lifetime employment guarantee.
It seems to me that the only legitimate argument for tenure is to protect freedom of speech and thought, but that end could be reached with more narrowly tailored rules. It's really a basic law of human nature that sinecures make for less productivity and quality.

If I ever have money to donate, it won't go to a university with the likes of Ward Churchill on its faculty. The fact that this bozo was allowed to rise to the level of department head tells me that there was no judgment in management.