Saturday, December 22, 2007
More to come.
I repeat: Should the entire American Left fall over dead tomorrow, I would rejoice, and order pizza to celebrate. They are not my countrymen; they are animals who happen to walk upright and make noises that approximate speech. They are below human. I look forward to seeing each and every one in Hell.
To those conservatives who couldn't wait to find wrongdoing where none existed: Gee, funny you didn't get all hyped up about this with Bob Bork. Or Sam Alito. I guess maybe your common sense detector -- or decency reserve -- only kicks in when it gets you something you want?
You're all dead to me, as well. Too bad: One lady in particular was a favorite writer of mine. Ah, well.
To the Republican Party:
I have been a Republican since 1980. I was 4.
Seriously. I’ll never forget the moment that I realized that the guy with the big, warm smile and the ready laugh was a better guy than the dopey looking guy debating him. (Says something that even a four year old could pick up on that.) Obviously, I couldn’t vote that year, but if I could have, the vote would have been easy.
I am a Republican because I am a conservative. I am a Republican because the Republican Party is the best modern vehicle for conservative ideas and values. I am, first and foremost, a Republican because the Republican Party holds, as one of its most elementary tenets, that human life deserves protection from the earliest stages. The Democrats do not believe this. They cannot, and will not, have my vote, so long as they deny the essential humanity and predicate rights of any group of humans. Period.
I am a Republican because ours is the only Party that remembered the value of human freedom when the Loyal Opposition and so much of the world were ready to consign billions to slavery.
I am also a Republican because the Republican Party is the Party of prudence; of understanding that there is a moral value inherent in caution; of understanding the limits of human endeavors; of spending only within our means; of easing the burden of government on Americans; and of knowing the danger of the words, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
A few noble exceptions to the side, there is a general consensus that we’ve forgotten that third set. We’ve forgotten that government as crutch is just as often government as shackle. We’ve forgotten that every time we dole out another million here, another billion there, we shackle men to the government’s yoke as surely as night follows day. We’ve forgotten that there is a moral good attached to spending only as much as we take in, and doing our damnedest to spend even less than that.
But because the Party still, nominally, holds to the first two points, you have me.
But because of the nomination of Harriet Miers, I must now add: Conditionally.
At one time, we took as self-evident that every dollar we give is another hook in some man's flesh -- indeed, it is a hook in many men's flesh, for it comes from taxpayers, and goes to taxpayers. It is a chain made pretty by a gloss of common humanity, but beneath that warm exterior is cold steel, and the chain's third end always, always leads back to the State. And so we have bled for Medicare, and for hurricane relief, and most of all, for the thousands of Congressional projects that tie men’s livelihood and wellbeing to the beneficence of the State. And that bleeding has latched the hook more deeply into the men and women on the second end of the chain, deeper into their flesh, promising blood in the future.
And at some point, the RSC notwithstanding, we stopped caring.
And I can accept that. That's one of the legs down, but I can accept that.
Oh, not happily. But I can accept it because I thought I understood what I was getting in trade: The end of Roe. For that, I would trade a lot -- I have traded a lot. I've made peace with the fact that Republican politicians like to get re-elected as much as Democrats do, which means that the budget goes Up Up Up! I've accepted the fact that no one has the spine to push even Bush's half-hearted Social Security proposals. I've accepted the fact that this White House sees money as power to be applied, not something to value for its own, or for prudence's sake, and the Congresscritters agree. I can accept that, as long as it means that the power is being used to achieve other ends.
I've eaten my own bile, and made peace with the fact that Arlen Specter is part of the caucus, for the same reason.
All pro-lifers have asked, lo these thirty years of blood, is for a chance to persuade. Before the Supreme Court invented a right to terminate unborn children, this issue, as with most contentious issues, was resolved through appeal and compromise and resignation on all sides. And that small, simple thing is what we have been promised all these years by the Republican Party, and it is a vital part of one of the legs of my support for this Party.
And yet, now, I see that leg bending, near the breaking point. And that's a problem, because you see, there are three reasons why I'm a Republican. Two can suffice. One is not enough. And as it happens, you, collectively, are systematically destroying the thickest leg of all.
The President has nominated Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court. We have no indication that she will overturn Roe, no indication that she has a single jurisprudential principle at all. Let us not put too fine a point on it: We have been betrayed. We must now hope and pray -- on scant evidence -- that Miers is a truly stealth Scalia, a woman who will overturn the edifice of Roe, a woman who will rise up with righteous fury at the mere mention of the words "an historic voyage of interpretation," when used in the same sentence with the word "Constitution."
A betrayal this surely is, for you have taken the single thing from us that we have worked all these years to achieve, and used it as a mere bauble to gather our votes, knowing that when the time came to meet your part of our pact, you would decline, promising us that it would be just a little longer. You have made us guess, and hope, and pray, that Miers is at least a shadow of the "judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas" that we were promised. And Miers's nomination is merely the topper on a long line of smaller betrayals.
People of good faith can believe that this is a good nomination, or that the Party has earned enough credibility to take a leap of faith here. I do not. Let me be clear about something: I care precisely nothing about Miers's "qualifications." Everyone fighting over this, put your hands down, go to the back of the classroom, and wait to be called on. I don't care what school she went to, whether she was the Editor in Chief of Law Review (or any other publication), whether she was the Student Bar Association President, or whether she even has experience as judge. We're not discussing high energy particle physics here, folks. We are talking about determining how the laws of the United States are applied to discrete fact situations and, in rare instances, whether a law or legal act comports with the Constitution. Ms. Miers has a pulse, graduated from law school, and has written, on her very own, briefs longer than three pages. She was a partner in a very good firm with a very good litigation practice. I suspect she can IRAC with minimal effort. She'll do fine on the technicalities.
I care, however, that we know nothing about her – or at least, nothing that matters. The single most fundamental question is this: Does she have a coherent, concrete philosophy? If not, she will surely be a return to the bad old days of Sandy O’Connor, and we have no guarantee that she will not be buffeted by the egos around her, some of whom actually have theories of jurisprudence. (Justices Souter, Kennedy, and Stevens are therefore no danger to her, except insofar as they hang out at the nerd table in the cafeteria together.)
I have a friend who was a summer associate at Locke Liddell & Sapp right after the merger. His opinion of her -- concededly after only six weeks infrequently around her -- is that she was (and presumably is) a bright, personable, extremely capable litigator, more or less conservative, fairly Republican, and utterly uninterested in any of the landmarks that are now features of the Kulturkampf of the last forty years. If you listen carefully to what most folks in the Dallas and Texas Bars say about her, you'll get the same idea.
So I don't care that she's "right on life." John F'ing Kerry is "right on life." What I care about is whether Harriet Miers has a well-grounded judicial philosophy consistent with the proper interpretation of the Constitution; if she does, then Roe and the even more bizarre Casey will soon be relics of a darker time. There is, however, precious little to suggest that Miers will do more than bleat about how she's personally nauseated by abortion, but will uphold the "central holding" of Roe, and once again call the lumpen Volk to a glorious future of following. In other words, there must be a bulwark against the natural tendency of human beings to accrete power to themselves, a bulwark O'Connor and Kennedy sorely lack, and a bulwark that, to all appearances, Miers lacks.
So let us not forget the prime mover here: It was Bush who chanced breaking the base when the chance to change the Court for decades was finally at stake. But everyone aiming their spleen at Bush these days has forgotten something very important: He is the head of the Party, but he is not the Party. He is the President, not the President and Congress. He is not the group of Republicans pushing involuntary human experimentation, for expedience or moral deficiency or profit. He is a President who would like to have another Supreme Court Justice to his credit.
I certainly blame Bush for this. But I blame Rick Santorum, for loyally getting behind Arlen Specter and dooming us to one more RINO in the Senate, a limiting force on the President's ability to ever put Roe in jeopardy. I blame Bill Frist, who could not hold his caucus together well enough to put in place the structural conditions needed to fulfill the Party's promise to pro-lifers. I blame John McCain, and every Republican who was determined to hold their blessed extra-Constitutional privileges above all else when the filibuster was at issue, because you gotta know Bush took a look at the numbers when he made this pick.
Because you see, despite the apologia for the Deal, the truth was apparent from the start: The decision to keep the filibuster in place -- to preserve a privilege for the blowhards in the upper chamber -- was the death of our chance to break Roe. Oh, sure, they've now given their imprimatur to Miers. Wonderful. John McCain's ego must be cooing. And the pro-life movement is now suffering for it.
As I said at the time:
Mark me on this: We were just sold down the river. Because now, when a Supreme Court nominee who will demolish Roe, who will replace Sandy Windvane O'Connor, comes before the Senate, and Ted "Catholic for One Hour on Sundays Only" Kennedy begins his enactment of this much-hallowed, all-be-freaking-praised tradition, this group of losers will not say, "Well, the Democrats are in their right to filibuster here, because this nominee opposes Roe." Heavens no. That'll lose the stupid sheep who vote in the national primaries and upon whom they rely for millions of $20 and $30 donations. No, they'll say, "The Democrats are in their right here because this guy believes in natural law, and that's outside the mainstream," or "This lady opposes affirmative action, and that's outside the mainstream," or "She once wrote a law review article indicating that Congress's Interstate Commerce power is limited where four-trailer trucks are concerned," or somesuch nonsense. ...Let us be clear on something here: Pro-lifers will not be to the GOP what Blacks inexplicably are to the Democrat Party. If the difference between you and the Democrat Party is the difference between being functionally pro-choice and being assertedly pro-choice; if you have, finally, abandoned even the pretense of believing in Reagan's principles; then voting for you is only slightly less than material cooperation with evil.
To Hell with the war, the debt, the dollar, the deficit, hallowed Senate tradition, and everything else. Legalized abortion on demand just got another ten years of life. Ten million more dead for a Senate "tradition." Mark me on this.
As a wiser Editor than I put it, we are in this pickle because you have played as much a role as the Democrats in allowing the consent of the governed to be supplanted by the dictates of nine unelected lawyers. Great issues are now fought through proxies on the Supreme Court, and you appear to have no desire to place even a passable knight on the field for us. You have sown the wind, ladies and gentlemen; now reap the whirlwind.
Therefore, here is where I stand, and where, I suggest, most pro-lifers and believers in Federalism will stand soon enough: We gave you a governing majority. We supported idiots over slightly more qualified idiots, we targeted decent politicians for defeat, we gave our time, talent, and treasure (I gave treasure I didn't have to Martinez's, Thune's, DeMint's, and Coburn's campaigns, for this very day), to hold that governing majority. From this side of things, it looks like you just spat in our eyes, patted us on the head, and went about business as usual.
No more. Not one more dime from me; not one more vote for a Republican who says great things about a culture of life but protects the culture of death, all the while spending like a Democrat; not one more knock on a door for a get-out-the-vote effort; not one more inch. Not until Harriet Miers joins John Roberts in overturning Roe. Oh, certainly, John McCain's primary run will be even more painful, if I have my way; but if he clears the primaries, precisely why should I vote for him? Or for any other Republican? Where is the material difference?
The answer, at this moment, appears to be There is none. And there is no reason to support them.
Prove me wrong, or lose any thoughts of my loyalty, and of any consistency in my voting.
Sen. Rick Santorum
Rep. Dennis Hastert
Sen. Tom Coburn
Sen. Jim DeMint
Sen. John Thune
Sen. Mel Martinez
One of the giants of the twentieth century is dead.
Karol Wojtyla was a man of salt and light, who took the Gospel message throughout the world, even to nations that opposed his very existence. He fought against the culture of death as an eloquent spokesman for the unique value of every human life. He was a suffering servant for Mankind, with his eyes always on heaven and earth at the same time.
I will speak as a Catholic first, as a conservative second.
He embodied the faith. That might sound grandiose, but it is not. He spoke of the things of heaven and earth interchangeably and yet in their proper spheres. He stood time and again for the weakest among us, and reminded us that we have duties to them beyond mere lip service. He called evil by its right name, but reminded us that evil is parasitic on good; that evil is merely separation from God, and that all that will right itself through the power of Christ in the end.
While never giving in to a distortion of the Gospel, he reminded us that Christianity carries with it a radical preference for the poor. No fan of communism, and never enthralled by socialism, yet never opposed to capitalism, he nevertheless reminded us that capitalism is not inherently good, and frequently produces unjust results. He reminded us that our portion in this world is charity.
He fought the willful slaughter of millions of defenseless children as surely as he fought the murder of the aged and infirm. He was called tyrant, murderer, oppressor, theocrat, and words a thousand times worse, but he never once yielded to anger in their face. He was called a reactionary by those opposed to him, even as he built and expanded on the infallible theology of Vatican II. He was accused of misunderstanding human sexuality while he developed the most fluent theological doctrine on the matter in the history of the Church. For his contributions to the Faith alone, he should be canonized as a Doctor.
So great has been his leadership that the dream of a united Church is now no longer merely a dream.
I speak now as a conservative. He fought the Soviet Union, undeniably one of the most evil things Men have ever wrought, not with arms, but with faith and words and moral clarity. There is a reason the KGB wished him dead in the 1980s: He was one of the greatest threats they ever faced, merely for demanding that the words of a 2,000 year dead carpenter be taken seriously.
He reminded the world that there is strength in tradition, and there is value in every human life. He gave those of us on the Right moral strength to continue in the harshest of times, while nevertheless reminding us of our own failings.
We lose a suffering servant of God and Man today. We are poorer for it. He is infinitely richer.
Update [2005-4-1 22:30:27 by Thomas]: I want to add something I neglected to add before, for which I thank God too infrequently. While there are those who play up (and in some cases misattribute) the less than perfect treatment the Church has accorded our spiritual forebears, there is no way to deny that grievous things have been done to Jews throughout the years since Christ was put on the Cross, with Christian apathy, support, or outright act. Vatican II began the process of atonement and reconciliation. This Pope, while not completing the process, has reminded us that we Christians would not be but for our Older Brothers, and that God doesn't make promises he goes on to break. It would be easy to say that his prayer at the Wailing Wall, racked with pain every step of the way, was a way of atoning for the sins of Christians against Jews throughout the centuries; but it is more than that. It was a reminder that all Christians owe that pilgrimage, at some level, for those we wounded, and for ourselves.
As a Catholic, as a conservative, and as a human being, I tell you this: Be thankful for this, if nothing else.
REQUIESCAT IN PACE
Update [2005-4-1 13:50:54 by trevino]:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness...." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Pope John Paul II has passed, but his legacies of faith and freedom remain in the world. In this time of sorrow and reflection, it falls upon us to honor the fallen and the principles which guided him.
In that spirit, the editors of RedState honor the life of Karol Wojtyła by encouraging our readers to take a moment today to support the work of two
organizations that carry on the Holy Father's legacy.
Priests for Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted with a mission directly informed by the late Pope's devotion to the culture of life:
"[To assist] clergy and laity to fight the culture of death ... to unite and encourage all in the Church to give special emphasis to the
life issues in their ministry ... and to help them take a more vocal and active role in the pro-life movement!"
They carry on his passion for the defense of the defenseless through the hands, feet, and hearts of his Church -- and its allies of all faiths. You can make your donation here.
In remembrance of the Pope's extraordinary efforts to secure freedom for all the nations of the world, we also encourage you to support the Victims of Communism Memorial.
"The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization, was established by an Act of Congress to build a memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate the more than 100 million victims of communism; to honor those who successfully resisted communist tyranny; to educate current and future generations about communism's crimes against humanity; and to pay tribute to those who helped win the Cold
You can support their work here.
Please note that this represents our desire to memorialize the life and work of a great man. Neither organization has asked us to do this, and neither should be construed as willfully profiting from this tragedy.
Bless you for your generosity -- and don't forget to add your $0.02.
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers - and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerc - and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution - and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.Today is Good Friday. The majority of this country celebrates today as the day that the Son of Man allowed himself to suffer and die for humanity's sins, so that Death would no longer prevail.
--Attributed, probably erroneously, to Alexis de Tocqueville
Today, a woman lies in a bed, dying fastest from dehydration (though starvation is doubtless carrying a toll). Her body is unable to flush wastes from her system, slowly poisoning her. Her skin is flaking. Her tissue is starting to lose consistency. She is dying a death of which any sane man would be terrified.
She dies because courts in one of the Several States ordered her feeding and hydration tubes removed, following one law passed by a legislature, ignoring another. When given the opportunity to intervene, the government of the United States did so only slightly, and hesitatingly.
She will die.
And so I now want to talk to you about federalism.
I have seen the word "federalism" much bandied about the last several weeks, largely as a proxy for the ideas that either (1) states have rights; (2) the Federal government lacks certain powers; (3) the Federal government should not intervene in certain areas of "personal concern"; and/or (4) it is "illegal" for the Federal government to attempt to overturn or interfere with the decision of a judge sitting in one of the several States, preferably but not exclusively with the State's legislature on his side.
This is completely and utterly wrong.
It was the peculiar genius of the Founders of this nation that they conceived of one of the most paradoxically brilliant ideas in the history of political philosophy: That more government would preserve the rights and lives of men than would less; or, more accurately, that more governments would produce this result.
To effect this, the Founders built on the strength of the States existing at the time of the Founding, and added a Federal government of enumerated powers supreme in certain areas of the law. But the idea of federalism would not be if it had been left at that; rather, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments notwithstanding, necessarily, the Federal government had to be a competing, coequal sovereign, actively trying to legislate where the States did.
This was not hard to conceive. It was an essential element of the Founders' conception of the world that the sovereign's duties at the very least reached into life, liberty, and the protection of property. The Founders also knew that men would never be angels, and so the Federal government would invariably try to expand its power into the realms of the States. They counted on muscular states asserting their powers in that conflict, and as a result, we the people wouldn't be terribly bothered. This is why they wrote:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.(Emphasis added.)
Of course, much of this no longer matters. We, the people, gutted the strength of the several States when we ratified the Seventeenth Amendment and, consequently, let the Federal Government decide that the Fourteenth Amendment gave it a crowbar into the states' affairs. Blame the progressives. I do.
The point of all this, however, is that federalism is a mere means to an end. A cleverly crafted means, to be sure, but it is not an end in itself.
It is not a religious faith to be invoked when difficult questions are presented. It is not an aspirational goal. It does not answer the big questions; it provides the framework in which one answers them.
It assuredly does not mean that the states may make decisions without expecting the Federal government to poke its eye in.
In one of the few intelligent points I've ever made, I once asked this: Suppose the Thirteenth Amendment (and, for the sake of argument, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth) were revoked tomorrow. This would return the question of slavery to status quo ante, which is to say, it would be a matter in the province of the several States. Suppose Iowa reinstituted chattel slavery. I'm a citizen of the State of Florida, which does not, in this analysis, legalize slavery. Would it then be ok for me to oppose slavery? To try to Federalize the question again, and have it outlawed? Because I'd really like to.
I was a Federalist in 1994. I was in the Federalist Society in law school. I'd be in it again if I could remember to pay my dues. Federalism has few bigger fans than I. But it is, as I said, merely a means to an end. And it is not, no matter what you might say, an absolute bar on the Federal government's attempts to save the lives of her citizens; rather, it encourages it.
For the idea that one of our governments should no longer try with all its might to meet its duty to protect the life of one of its citizens means that we are no longer living in the shadow of our ancestors. It means we've forgotten why Federalism exists, and instead that we worship its misbegotten child, the descendant of all the strife of the hundred years following the Civil War, the shadow called states' rights.
It means we are no longer great.
Well, the old, sorry codger is dead. No, I don't mean Bob Byrd, Fritz Hollings, or Hillary Clinton's right ankle. I mean Yasser Arafat.
Blessed with Yakov Smirnov's good looks, Mike Dukakis's charm, Pee Wee Herman's physical stature, and Adolf Hitler's easygoing love of peace (and Jews), Arafat had the good fortune of being an unrepentant racist with a penchant for incredible violence and a willingness to engage in unremitting slaughter at a time when news organizations could write things like this with a straight face (from the link above):
Yasser Arafat, who triumphantly forced his people's plight into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for Palestinian statehood, died Thursday at age 75.Instead of, you know:
Yasser "Push Them Into the Sea" Arafat, an Egyptian engineer who rode varying waves of Arab Nationalism, Islamist terror, and the latter-day development of Palestinian national identity to absurd heights of international acclaim, including numerous visits to the Clinton White House, finally went to Hell Thursday, forty-odd years too late.But he doesn't matter anymore.
Others will say more, and better, about how this might change the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict; doubtless, others will eulogize the vicious little lunatic in all sorts of ways (I prefer "Nothing so became him in life as his leaving it," but that's me).
But what I find truly remarkable is that this is the first time in two years that the little snot has mattered, and he had to die to do it. (This is called a "mixed blessing.") Wanna know why? Well, having Ariel Sharon hole him up like the rat he is in a single building certainly helped. But I, personally, credit President Bush with this master stroke:
It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself.And just like that, no American legitimacy, no excuses for blowing up Jewish kids in pizza parlors, and no need for Yasser Arafat any more.
In the situation the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable. My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence. ...
Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command.
It took Bush all of a week after winning re-election to sell out conservatives again. But let us remember why we supported him so: He has moral clarity. And that clarity can yield impressive results.
So, we bid a fond adieu to the murdering little psychopath with the carefully arranged keffiyeh; wish him well in Asmodeus's torture chamber; wonder if the rumors were true; and have a slightly brighter hope for tomorrow, because we finally have a President who knows that inviting terrorists over for dinner at the White House does not discourage their basest tendencies.
"It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."There are many good reasons to be a Republican, and that unflowery, bold, idealistic statement in the best tradition of Ronald Reagan is one of them.
-Inaugural Address, President George Walker Bush, January 20, 2005
But it's not why I'm a Republican.
The reason I signed up for all of the junk the Republican National Committee and every subpart thereof sends; the reason why I voted Republican down to the freaking Water District Manager; the reason why, should I ever be stupid enough to actually contemplate a run for elective office, I would unhesitatingly file the appropriate papers for a Republican primary, is this: Abortion. Beginning, end, total. Everything else is nice. I like lower taxes, and think it is good to keep them low as a policy matter. I believe in a robust national defense. I believe in human liberty. I think the aggrandizement of the State is one of the greatest moral and intellectual errors in human history. I like elephants.
But when it comes down to it, the reason I'm a Republican is this: One party's platform reflects a fundamental belief that men are inherently possessed of a right to life, and that life is the predicate from which all other rights flow. The other does not.
And now, I think they're trying to push me out. And a lot of the Party with me.
Let us not put too fine a point on this: To use Mark Shea's characterizations, I would much rather vote for the Stupid Party than the Evil Party. If the Stupid Party is also the Evil Party (Lite), well, then, Knights of the Old Republic II is out for the PC next month; I've never read anything by Edmund Burke, and I do need to remedy that; and with the twelve or so hour days I put in, I suspect my kids would like to see me more. My wife might, too. What I don't need to do is follow politics; organize; get out votes; or vote myself. Those are things one does because one cares.
And it would appear that the GOP is trying to shove the social conservatives into the corner. That notwithstanding, I'll be honest: If you offered me the end of legalized abortion in return for gay marriage, I'm there with bells on. I suspect the latter presages wrack and ruin; the former is the murder of millions.
I could handle it as Bush appointed a pro-
baby murderchoice Cabinet (including Secretary of State and Attorney General). It's a big tent Party, and the guy at the top makes the final calls. I'm cool with that. But now this:
Ken Mehlman, incoming chairman of the Republican National Committee, has asked abortion advocate and party activist, Joann Davidson of Ohio to become the next co-chairman of the party.Taken alone, this is a nothing. A pro-life Cabinet would make this irrelevant, or more accurately, an important concession to the minority of the Party that hews to this take on ordered liberty.
Davidson, a former state legislator, has served on the advisory board of Republicans for Choice since its inception in 1990. The group has stumped for pro-abortion Republican candidates and lobbied to change the strong pro-life plank in the Republican Party's platform ever since.
After word of Davidson's potential selection filtered back to the group, Republicans for Choice posted a message on its Internet web site encouraging Davidson to "make sure the concerns of pro-choice and moderate Republicans are heard within the Republican National Committee headquarters."
With the selection generating national publicity, the message has since been removed.
There is a point past which loyalty to a cause that shows no reward to you is either blind religious devotion or utter idiocy. I'm Catholic, and I'm not (that) stupid. If the Party thinks we're along for the ride and too benighted to notice things like this, well, that's at their own peril. We may not be the majority of the Party apparatus, but I note that when it came time to gather votes for the election, Team Bush manifestly did not rely on getting out the pro-choice vote. And it showed.
The next round of Supreme Court Justices -- what I, at least, am fighting for -- had best not be Souters. It would be ... interesting to watch the Party try to win without pro-lifers.
To all those who always see another Vietnam, and who would have cut and run and left Iraqis to the same fate as the South Vietnamese;
To the sunshine lovers of liberty;
To those who've torn shoulder muscles moving the goalposts;
To those who saw another Stalingrad (and secretly hoped it would be so) in the fall of Baghdad;
To those who rallied to ANSWER's side, Stalinism be damned, the lives and fortunes of millions be damned;
I echo two great men, the first:
America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally. ..And the man who built on that:
Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.
It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage; that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound—sound in unity, affection, and love—one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.And I say this:
Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
And it's just beginning.
The Florida Supreme Court has issued certain Canons of Conduct for judges. These are not optional, any more than the Rules of ethics for the Bar are optional.
One of those canons states:
CANON 3For the 2004 General Election Cycle, Judge George W. Greer, Circuit Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, took a donation of $250 from the law firm of Felos & Felos, P.A. (To follow the link to the source, select "2004 General Election" from the Election Year pulldown, then type in "Greer" in the Last Name field for Candidate Search, and select "Search for a List of Contributors" from the What would you like to know? field.)
(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:
(a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
(2) A judge should keep informed about the judge's personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the economic interests of the judge's spouse and minor children residing in the judge's household.
George J. Felos was and is Michael Schiavo's lawyer in the case before Judge Greer.
It is not uncommon for lawyers who appear before a judge to provide campaign contributions. But with a case as high-profile as this one, with the scrutiny that attended it, reasonable questions about the sitting judge's impartiality become better known, and jeopardize the perception of judicial impartiality. The fact that there were many lawyers donating to this election campaign -- the first in which Greer had an actual race for his bench -- is irrelevant. The Canon mandates that the Judge should be aware of his personal financial affairs under the heading of avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
But remember: The judiciary is impartial. A decision made by a sitting judge is not made by a human; it is made by a superhuman arbiter, utterly impartial and not at all susceptible to even the appearance of human foibles. It is The Rule of Law, and let us all bow before it.
Or at least, let us not mention impropriety when we see it.
Well, it looks like absent some other intervention, Michael Schiavo gets to finish off his wife once and for all.
Red State has examined this death sentence before, and some of its broader implications. There's one angle we haven't touched on, though, and that's what this entire mess says about our legal system: At some point, we decided that some lives weren't worth living, and that the law would sanction the end of those lives.
Think about that for a second. Forget any religious dimension. Forget abortion for now. Just think about that: Our law does not favor life. It's such a small thing. We believe that life is an inherent right of every human being (well, a lot of us don't believe that about humans who are attached to a placenta, but I leave that to the side). But we don't carry a predisposition toward life itself.
Obviously, I'm writing this because very soon, a husband will put his wife to death, despite the pleas of her biological family. But there's more than Michael Schiavo's
greed desire to carry out his wife's execution wishes at issue. And it's certainly larger than the extraordinary moral flexibility the fellow has shown to date, although there's some of that here, too.
Law is not in itself just. Law is a creation of imperfect human beings. We are capable of rendering highly just laws -- laws that protect the weak, provide order, and lessen the worst tendencies of men, or at least their effects. We are also capable of laws of powerful injustice, including those that give succor to those who slaughter the innocent.
There are more important things than the law as written. There are higher (or if you prefer, greater) laws. And our legal system has, in some vital ways, enshrined values opposite those laws.
I use the Schiavo case as a convenient example, but that's really the tip of the iceberg. Abortion was once criminalized, not because we wanted to control women, but because we thought there was something terribly wrong with killing babies. Suicide was criminalized, not because we wanted to imprison corpses, but because we wanted to add the law's opprobium to such a terrible act -- wanted, in other words, to put one more emotional and psychological hurdle in the path of an act for which there is no chance to express regrets in this world. We understood, in other words, that a life ended is ended finally, and that there is nothing any human being or group of human beings can do to reverse that.
It is a terrible path to which we have committed ourselves. If life has no sanctuary in the law, it will eventually have sanctuary nowhere; for law is but an organic outgrowth of society's values and mores. If a man can kill a woman who is, as far as the courts of law are concerned, completely incapable of experiencing sentience, and for whom others have offered their lifelong service to care, then why would it stop there? Why should it stop there? The slippery slope is an old argument, true; but we are now well and truly on that slope, and can begin to see the bottom.
A law that is more concerned with the convenience of life than life itself; with eliminating distress rather than seeing living children; with whether systematized murder overwhelms a procedural mechanism for good governance is, in a word, depraved. It is no law at all.
I've commented before that Benedict XVI seems to, ahem, arouse some odd emotions in a certain wing of the Church.
However, this is nothing on the rampant idiocy that must see every Pope as a political figure. Of course, the Pope is not so easily rendered as that. This doesn't stop the sort of hysteria and rampant (incorrect) politicization to which the Left inevitably descends:
This particular pope has risen by being the enforcer for doctrinal purity in the Papacy of John Paul II. It is this that makes his former affiliations an issue, because he demands that people die for their faith, or suffer tremendous hardships for it. And yet he was unwilling to do so. His youth is often offered as an excuse - but he is no older than other people he demands die for their faith.Yes, well. It is not enough to ramble on, without sentence structure, and accuse a man grown of hypocrisy for a youth lived against his will; rather (meanderingly), one must also pretend that the infallible teachings of the Church are mere bullet-points of political doctrine, to be treated as malleably as Newberry repeatedly treats English grammar. One must engage in non sequiturs of epic proportions to make a point that could be summed up thusly: The Church has no right to judge, so SHUT UP!! One must, in other words, throw a temper tantrum over a joyous day for the world's billion Catholics.
He is also part of the apparatus which has covered up peadophilia in the church, giving Bernard Law an honoured place in the festivities at Rome. Again, the issue is hypocrisy. A man who forgives so easily lies and cover ups, and yet will not forgive others who he disapproves of, is a hypocrite.
He is also part of the apparatus which meddles in the politics of other nations. And yet, his defenders demand that those who are not Catholic say nothing. I would be happy to stay out of the politics of the Church of Rome, if only it would stay out of my politics.
He is the most forward figure in manking anti-privacy and anti-choice the central moral tennet of the Catholic Church - a movement that regularly accuses its opponents of engaging in a "holocaust of abortion". It will not be right to call Ratzinger a Nazi, when Ratzinger tells his faithful to stop calling other people Nazis. Again, hypocrisy is the issue.
Look on the modern Left, and laugh.
Update [2005-4-19 21:12:53 by Thomas]: Oh, and Benedict is right about the Holocaust of abortion, too.
A giant has been laid to rest.
The man's achievements have already been touched on at length here. To catalog the man's achievements is beyond the scope of the brief words I wish to say here; but we all owe a moment of silence for a man who, no matter what else you might say of him, with two other giants (one of whom already sits with his Maker), destroyed the most evil edifice ever created by Men.
Others, however, are already intent on making something of this great man that he was not, for their own ends. That it is inevitable does not make it right, or even excusable. And they must be condemned.
There are, of course, different ways to distort the man's memory.
There is, for example, unyielding hate. (Actually, read that whole diatribe through when you get a minute. I found it hilarious. I'm also proud to agree with at least this much: "Understand that no other organization with as many resources and as many spheres of influence is as obstructionist in matters of family planning as the Catholic Church." Preach on, sister.)
There is also the desire to say that his approach to poverty meant that he was a little bit a "progressive," too.
Yes, and I'm a fluffy white cloud.
I don't mean to pick on Markos in this. He's just a fat, slow-moving target here. And the funny part is that he's wrong and right. More wrong than right, but let's be generous and discuss the latter first.
Although apparently consumed with the need to see political machination where it is not, Markos is actually more or less on target with the "thought" behind this:
I don't want to claim the church as "liberal", and the conservatives should keep their grubby little fingers of(sic) it as well, lest they find the church they think is theirs -- an extension of Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition -- is anything but.Christianity simply is. It is not Left or Right. The radical preference for the poor stems from the same impulse that lends so much importance to the individual as an individual (for only men by their own consciences may elect the path of Christ). The Catholic Church is no more a bunch of left-liberals (that's the Jesuits) than it is so many rightists. The same impulse that repeatedly cautions against war, opposes rampant application of the death penalty, and demands a radical preference for the poor is the same impetus for demanding the end of the executions of millions of unborn children, and seeking an end to terminating the inconvenient. True, the Church is an institution that pays great heed to Tradition (and uses the proper noun, no less); but that Tradition resists the mere application of political labels.
Now, for the litany of errors:
Just remember, as Republicans try to embrace the Pope as part of their efforts to woe Catholics to the Dark Side, that the Pope was a fervent opponent of the Iraq invasion and was staunch death penalty foe. His Catholic Church is more commited to social justice than most.First, it is not "his" Catholic Church more than it is mine, unless this means "The Catholic Church under his stewardship," in which case it's still wrong, because the Church is no different than it was before him, and will be no different tomorrow.
Second, we once again need to revisit some basics. The Church's opposition to the Iraq War and to the death penalty are not matters of doctrine, unlike the teachings on abortion and euthanasia. If we must ascribe labels based on the hot button issues of the day, I must sadly inform you one and all that the unerring and timeless opposition to the murder of unborn children weighs more heavily on the ledger than the prudential judgment that there is no longer a need for a death penalty.
The Catholic Church has always been committed to social justice. What this does not mean, however, is that the Church is committed to "progressivism"; that the Church is committed to unrepentant socialism or unrepentant capitalism as the means to effect this change; or that the imperative to clothe the poor somehow equates to the imperative to prevent the slaughter of children before they can be clothed.
Which rather nicely segues into the finale: I give you the most inappropriate obituary ever. Nothing says respect for a departed man like having someone who opposed this Pope at every turn pen your magazine's last words on the subject. Bravo.
But Carroll, benighted idiot though he might be, is nevertheless useful for making the larger point: So great was John Paul's touch on this world that even a moral midget like Carroll feels a need to appropriate the man -- transforming him into a pacifist (and, in Carroll's little mind, someday likely a Pius XII accuser). Without touching too much on the Tragedy of James Carroll, suffice it to say that simply because this most recent pope opposed many recent wars does not make him a pacifist.
Suffice it also to say that it does no credit to John Paul's memory (though it hardly does harm, so great is his legacy) for the assorted moral short bus riders to make him all things to all people.
Let it go, folks. He forgave you while he was alive. No need to use him now that he's dead.
I have in my hand a copy of The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great. It is a magnificent book, and that is not a statement I make lightly.
It is also directly relevant to where we -- America, conservatives, the Republican Party, any and all of these three -- stand right now.
(Before I go any farther, I note that a less politically relevant review is posted back on my home blog here.)
Virtues is a first-person novel of Alexander's spoken autobiography, basically told in the last short years before his early demise. (His biography can be found here.) The story begins, in classic epic fashion, in media res, with Alexander the head of the greatest Empire ever known, but with his men unable to keep up with his unyielding ambition for kleos, and tracks, from the beginning, haphazardly through Alexander's life, more or less continuously, with returns to the narrative present, each time teaching a different "virtue" in war.
Why is this relevant to the conservative project, to the Republican Party, and America?
It is easy, now, as Americans, to turn to triumphalism: We are unmatched, the world over. No nation could stand against us. Indeed, I'm not entirely sure a coalition of nations could. We are preeminent, not merely in war, but in commerce, in culture, in hegemony. Insofar as the Soviet Union was ever a match for us -- and, as Ronald Reagan long suspected, she was not -- we have outstripped our greatest rival as surely and as well as Alexander outstripped Darius, the Emperor of Persia. Truthfully, the terrorist networks and small dictators we face cannot kill us; they can but badly wound us before we annihilate them. But it is not in the American character to leave a challenge or threat, once identified, standing; we must conquer it.
It is easy, as Republicans, to turn to triumphalism: Our political enemies (whom I stress are assuredly not our actual, life-and-death enemies) are so thoroughly whipped that they are having trouble figuring out what it means to be a Democrat, and why being a Democrat has become electoral poison; utterly isolated, electorally; and, quite frankly, probably headed on a sharp decline for the foreseeable future. We still remember too well the long six decades of the New Deal, when the Republican Party could be easily defined as "Democrat Lite," and, quite honestly, want to do the same thing to our former tormentors. (Fortunately, they seem to be doing it for us: Somewhere, manufacturers of the world's smallest violins are ramping up production.)
It is hard -- even for folks given to constant pessimism, as we frequently are -- for conservatives not to be over-proud, for our opponents have reacted (or at least some have) to abject humiliation by descending into paranoid madness, and accusing over half of their countrymen of the worst sins (they can imagine). As the battles over abortion, marriage, and indeed, our nation's whole cultural attitude are slowly showing, we are winning. We're actually winning. And the Left knows it, and rails in impotent fury.
And in all of those is the danger, both internally and externally. We face the same, twin dangers Alexander did: Of allowing our fire, our inner spirit, our pride, our possession of overwhelming power, to corrupt us from the inside -- a battle Alexander fought to varying degrees of effectiveness; and of allowing that fire to bank, and leave us cold, with no strength to push our majority farther, to accomplish those same ends that Roosevelt managed seven decades ago.
Externally, Alexander's daimon, and his growing embrace of it, lead him to conquests such as no man had ever dared dream. It drove him over ten thousand miles from the place of his birth, in a time when speed of horse or a fast trireme was the best one might accomplish. By land mass, it has had few peers; in the cultures and civilizations conquered, it has had perhaps four equivalents, in the Soviet Union, the Mongol Conquests, the Roman Empire, and China at her greatest reach.
And it drove Alexander to accomplish terrible things, to attack those who not only had done him and his no harm, but who had never wanted to do him harm. Conquest became an end in itself. Alexander lived a constant struggle to live up to the virtues described in Virtues, and while his adherence could yield spectacular successes, his failures could carry terrible consequences.
I do not draw, as some would, an analogy to Iraq here. Even if we assume Iraq was no immediate threat to us, only the most benighted would argue that she intended no harm to us. Rather, I make this point:
If it is true, as Victor Davis Hanson and others have argued, that democracies are the most dangerous of adversaries, because though slowly roused to war, once roused, they are absolutely unrelenting, then we must be terribly careful in the next several years. As easy as Alexander found it to march across untold leagues, dispatching his enemies virtually without fail, we would likely find it easier (Afghanistan proved winnable for us, where it could not be for Alexander); as we have the moral weight of democracy behind us, perhaps even more compelling than the dream of kleos that spurred Alexander's army forward time and again.
It may be right to subdue much of the world, and force them, as best as we can, to choose between benighted primivism and some sort of self-determination that won't have them attempting to blow us up; the old post-Westphalian realism seems to have accomplished precisely nothing in that regard, and pure Wilsonian liberalism has been as ineffective. But each step must be taken carefully, remembering our basic principles, not only so that "the terrorists will not have won," but so that we do not forget ourselves in the winning. History is replete with nations and individuals who bet large, won large, and lost themselves. In Virtues, Alexander pushes his men past the point of exhaustion, because he becomes more and more convinced that this is his destiny; in the process, he loses much of who and what he was. As the world, and our country, become more unipolar, it behooves us to watch that example very carefully.
In short, this book is a good primer for non-policy wonks who want a graphic illustration of the promises and pitfalls of power. For the rest of us, it's a great read, and a great reminder. For a conservative given to some gloating these days, it's a (needed) reminder that under heaven, nothing is permanent.
“We haven't even buried the dead yet, and they're trying to pin the untold lives and livelihoods lost on an opponent for political gain.”
In what would, once, have been a surprise, the ever-decent Left is attempting to use another human tragedy as a club in their unending holy war against Chimpy McBushitlerCo. (One supposes that they need a new weapon with their cheap use of a now-gone grieving mother at an end.) As the Left long ago abandoned the pretense of original thought, they’re apparently relying on this piece to do so, to the effect that recent budget cuts for the levee projects are to blame for this disaster.
As one of the two Louisiana sons among the Editorial staff here, my two cents:
This is not unlike peeing on a grave. And, worse, it's stupid and factually incorrect to boot.
Let's count all of the ways that this is simply wrong. But first, some useful background information for those carping from the sidelines.
I address this next especially to the highly sensitive Left, most of whom have never been to Louisiana, and think of it as That state where Mississippi Burning happened, or maybe it was In the Heat of the Night?
If you're from that state, you simply know the levees are a sinking project. For most people, the words "Army Corps of Engineers" are not part of everyday conversation. If you live there, or trace your family there within a generation, it's stamped on you at birth. You know that they're fighting a losing battle, or if you don't, you're deluding yourself. If you've ever seen any of the relevant bodies of water up close, you have an instinctive understanding that the ACE is fighting a rearguard action.
One might also benefit from knowing things like the fact that the levees are fifteen feet high. When the storm surge is, oh, say, 22 feet, just to refresh your basic math, the water will be carried past the levees. Ponder that for a moment.
Or consider that the pumping stations are maintained by the City of New Orleans, with assistance from the ACE.
Most of these geniuses are also blissfully insulated from what a hurricane is, and have no idea what storm surge is, or exactly how much water and wind is poured onto an area before, during, and in the wake of a Category 4 Hurricane.
Let me share. I live in Florida. Part -- most -- of my job this last year has revolved around the wreckage of the four hurricanes that slammed into my State last year. You don't actually appreciate the power of these things unless you see things like the Escambia Bay Bridge (you know, part of I-10) simply missing in places, or the wreckage that has been Punta Gorda for the last year. Buildings blown up. Parts of streets missing. Trees smashed all the way through houses. Much of Florida is still a set of blue tarp roofs, when seen from the sky.
And those were in areas above sea level.
With the facts nicely out of the way, the Left has decided to use the bodies floating in the streets as a perverse sort of political ammunition, so let's put this little meme into the ground now. With a stake in its heart.
The Left would have us believe that the Bush Administration purposefully underfunded the levees, and that this underfunding directly caused (or at minimum, contributed to) the catastrophe in New Orleans. This is wholly false.
The idea that the White House and Congress should have magically foreseen a Cat4-5 coming down almost head-on onto New Orleans, and should have therefore increased funding for the levees, and that doing so would somehow have stopped this tragedy, is absurd. It wouldn't last five minutes in even the most Plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions in the Union.
Even accepting this idiocy on its own terms, and we'll get to the core of this shortly, from the E&P article that these ghasts are relying on, we learn that they spent $450,000,000 on the levees over ten years, "[b]ut at least $250,000,000 in crucial projects remained." At the rate they'd been going (about $45,000,000 per year) that's almost six years' worth of "crucial" projects yet to be done. The money was reduced starting in FY 2004, so in fact no more than 1.5 years of the remaining six years' worth of projects was incomplete due to funding cuts. All the rest wouldn't have been done yet anyway. But somehow, finishing 25% of the "crucial" projects remaining would have saved the city. Of course, we don't know what those "crucial" projects are, but hey, this is still all about Iraq, so who cares?
Now, if we're going to lay blame at the hands of the Federal government -- and why not? They're Republicans -- let's not forget that there were other governments, shall we say, nearer to the scene.
If we're going to get into the politics of this (and they haven't even found all of the bodies yet, so why not?), let's not skew any of the blame from the highly efficient, corruption free government of Louisiana. Their preparation for a disaster they've feared for decades should have them lined up in the street and shot, if we're gonna go this route. That's one hell of a lot of dead Democrats. In New Orleans, they don't bury their dead in the ground; instead, the dead are placed in mausoleums. Why? Well, it can't be religion, as that old Catholic town would have no reason not to place the dead in the Earth. It's actually because they fear more or less precisely what happened here: Massive flooding washing coffins -- wooden air bubbles, essentially -- into the streets.
As the Weather Channel adroitly puts it:
Florence added, "So, what you can only imagine happening is that they're burying on the levee, you've got flood levels coming over the banks of the river. You've got floating caskets that are pushed up above the ground. And you can only imagine. These levees sloped down into the city. If there was enough water, you could have caskets floating through the streets of the city."And don't get me started on the hurricane evacuation routes. The city of New Orleans lies below sea level; if they want to live there, why couldn't they just raise the $45,000,000 a year locally to maintain their own dikes? They could have covered that with a hotel bed tax and a property tax hike of less than $50 a year. The city's budget is already a half-billion per year. Which $45 million out of that was more important than the levees?
After experiencing this enough times, residents decided to do something about it, according to Florence. The solution was to begin burying loved ones in tombs above ground. ...
Today, the city owns seven cemeteries that house such tombs, but there are many others in which caskets have been buried underground.
Engineering now allows underground burial in the sub-sea level city, and floating caskets are a thing of the past. "That no longer really never happens in New Orleans because the land has been drained since the turn of the century. A system of water pumps... drains water out from under the city 24 hours a day."
But of course, we shouldn't take them on their own terms, because their terms are simply wrong. From Popular Science in May 2005:
Today, parts of New Orleans lie up to 20 feet below sea level, and the city is sinking at a rate of about nine millimeters a year. "This makes New Orleans the most vulnerable major city to hurricanes," says John Hall of the Army Corps of Engineers. "That's because the water has to go down, not up, to reach it."And that is from May 2005 -- when they were looking at bringing the levees past their ability to withstand a Category Three hurricane.
The Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale defines a category-5 storm as one with "winds greater than 155 miles per hour and storm surge generally greater than 18 feet." Although hurricanes of this magnitude slamming directly into New Orleans are extremely rare—occurring perhaps every 500 to 1,000 years—should one come ashore, the resulting storm surge would swell Lake Pontchartrain (a brackish sea adjoining the Gulf of Mexico), overtop the levees, and submerge the city under up to 40 feet of water. Once this happened, the levees would "serve as a bathtub," explains Harley Winer, chief of coastal engineering for the Army Corps's New Orleans District. The water would get trapped between the Mississippi levees and the hurricane-protection levees. "This is a highly improbable event," Winer points out, "but within the realm of possibility."
New Orleans has nearly completed its Hurricane Protection Project, a $740-million plan led by Naomi to ring the city with levees that could shield residents from up to category-3 storm surges. Meanwhile, Winer and others at the Army Corps are considering a new levee system capable of holding back a surge from a category-5 hurricane like Ivan, which threatened the city last year.
To determine exactly where and how high to build these levees, the engineers have enlisted the aid of a 3-D computer-simulation program called ADCIRC (Advanced Circulation Model). ADCIRC incorporates dozens of data points—including seabed and coastal topography, wind speed, tidal variation, ocean depth and water temperature—and charts a precise map of where the storm surge would inundate New Orleans. The category-5 levee idea, though, is still in the early planning stages; it may be decades before the new barriers are completed. Until then, locals had better keep praying to Helios.
Of course, if the gibbering yard apes would read their own links instead of trying to throw human corpses at their opponents, they'd note that the budget cut is for a study to examine a future levee to upgrade from Cat3 protection to Cat5 protection.
Katrina was a Cat4-5.
Of course, in the ever-maddening need to lay human bodies at George Bush’s feet, the ghouls can’t be bothered with the facts:
Engineers developed several possible scenarios for what might have caused the catastrophic breach in a levee, which is essentially an earthen berm topped by several feet of concrete.In other words, even if the Federal government had sent trillions of dollars, it wouldn't have made a difference. A 15-foot wall doesn't contain a 22-foot surge. Once the water is over the levee in any quantity, it starts scouring the levee from the face of the earth.
Corps of Engineers officials said their analysis indicated that a limited amount of water washed over the top of the levee in waves, scouring and weakening the foundation on the levee's dry side.
Suhayda said that's possible. But another possibility is that, during the half-day floodwaters built up in Lake Pontchartrain and the canal, water may have percolated through the earthen part of the berm, undermining it.
That effect, combined with the cumulative pressure over time, may have caused a breakthrough.
"There's no question that those kind of conditions might have just reached the limit of what that particular levee could handle," said James "Bob" Bailey, a flood and wind hazard risk expert with ABS consulting in Houston.
It's also possible the levee was older and had degraded as all earthen and concrete structures do, he said.
A final possibility is that an unknown, massive chunk of debris struck the levee at some point during the night, causing a breach.
Today's breach came after New Orleans had, almost miraculously, survived a hurricane many engineers feared would send water gushing over the long, 15-foot levee that protects the city's north shore from Lake Pontchartrain."
And then of course there’s this, from that arm of the VRWC, the Times-Picayune:
A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new "hurricane proof" Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina's fiercest winds were well north. The breach sent a churning sea of water from Lake Pontchartrain coursing across Lakeview and into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.
Or this, from NeoUltraFascistConCentral, the New York Times:
The levees, which provide a tenuous barrier between the city and the waters that surround most of it, have long had many weak spots and were not designed to withstand the full force of a storm like Hurricane Katrina.In other words:
Both major breaches took place along canals built in decades past as conduits for commerce, Army Corps officials said.
The other failure occurred along the Industrial Canal, an 80-year-old channel that had been identified as a weak spot in computer simulations of storm surges from hypothetical hurricanes.
Mr. Hall said that as the surge from the storm swept in through Lake Pontchartrain - actually a broad inlet off the gulf - it began sloshing over the vertical steel and concrete wall and the earthen berm behind it.
"Once it got over, it began to scour down at the base of that flood wall on the protected side," he said.
The rising waters in the canal pushed in on the high part of the retaining wall while water cascading over the top ate away at the base, Mr. Hall said, adding: "The effect is like a high-low tackle in football. You hit the head and feet at the same time from opposite directions, and it goes down."
In the rational world -- which the "reality-based" community increasingly does not inhabit -- governance is an exercise in prioritization. Was it rational and defensible to shift funding from any source toward defense- and war-related activities in the aftermath of 9/11? Of course. Did that shift leave the levees unready to handle Katrina's deadly burden? No. The levees were inherently unready: even at maximum proposed funding, their design was only for a Cat3 storm, not the Cat4/5 that Katrina was. It is true that in 2004, proposals were floated to upgrade to a Cat4/5-capable levee system; it is also true that even in an ideal situation, the studies -- not the construction! -- necessary to assess what that would entail would not be finished before 2008.
This madness is all of a piece with the "Bush was on vacation when this happened" idiocy. Yes, we could have used his heat vision to seal some of the levees at weak points, and his superhuman strength might have been enough to save some collapsing concrete. But what we really needed was for him to get the rest of the Justice League out there, especially Green Lantern. Or at least to reverse the Earth's rotation and save us from this disaster.
This is obscene. It's actually worse than obscene, because not all of those bodies floating down there right now are from the mausoleums. How distorted is our political discourse -- excuse me, their political discourse -- that they start pointing fingers before the bodies are in the damned ground? We haven't even buried the dead yet, and they're trying to pin the untold lives and livelihoods lost on an opponent for political gain. I'd say something about shame, but the Left long ago forgot that.
Gee, guys, if you have the courage of your convictions, join the National Guard. They could use a few, ahem, bodies right now. Or at least act out your more lurid dreams and head down to New Orleans or Gulfport. Grab a body floating by. Reporters are thick on the ground -- scream at Bush and shake the body in front of the camera to good effect.
I no longer see the Left as a set of political opponents. I understand them now to be what they are: An uncompromising, barely human mass of malignancy, that exists only to be crushed electorally and culturally once and for all. Or, as a wiser man than I put it, The Evil Party.
My kudos to Wisonsin Governor Jim Doyle (surprise! a Democrat!) for once more giving the lie to the third adjective in the Evil Party's formulation on abortion: Safe, legal, and "rare."
Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday vetoed a bill that would have forced doctors to tell women seeking abortions after their fifth month of pregnancy that their fetuses could suffer pain.Putting everything else to the side, what the good Democrat is really saying is not merely the absurdity that viable children have no sense of pain -- obviously, only the class of abortion rights supporters are without that sensibility, and only in the moral and intellectual spheres -- but that anything that might slow a mother's approach to Moloch's altar must be stopped. Carthago delenda est, indeed.
Doyle, a Democrat, said there is no evidence conclusively proving when a fetus can feel pain. The Republican-controlled Legislature should not be allowed to decide scientific fact, he said.
"It would be reckless to inject a requirement that doctors communicate unproven science to their patients during an already difficult and sometimes traumatic time," Doyle wrote in his veto message. "This bill intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship ... and contravenes the requirement that doctors provide objective and accurate information to their patients."
I am no fan of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In order to avoid speaking ill of the dead, I'll simply repeat what I've said before: He was a man of powerful conscience, albeit not one that could ever get him to vote against his own Party with any regularity when there was a conflict between the two.
But, credit where it's due: He articulated something that we now take for granted: That over time, sins and moral weakenings are viewed as right and normal; or, in his memorable phrase, we define deviancy down.
Haleigh Poutre will die, ladies and gentlemen. This much is certain.
But what is increasingly certain is that she will die at the hands of the State, a State that arrogated the power to protect her from abuse and failed; a State that hid that abuse; a State that now wants to dispose of yet another inconvenient life. And make no mistake: A court is as surely an agent of the State as a police officer.
No "libertarians" in any numbers will rise up to demand that the State not exert its power over an unwitting innocent; no "liberals" will cry out in rage at the execution of an innocent (when there are so many misunderstood criminals duly convicted by their peers to gnash teeth over); and far too many "conservatives" will simply wash their hands of this much blood (what's a little more?), reluctant to wade into these waters again soon, or perhaps mutter something about federalism, as if that solves the moral issue involved.
Her blood on all our hands. And the blood of the next child killed for convenience, who maybe shows a few more vital signs. Yesterday's deviance is today's standard.
We're going to lose this one.
Let's be honest about it: Bill Frist's little pirouette on slicing and dicing children was merely a precursor of things to come.
I was, frankly, amazed that he sided with the President way back when all of this started in 2001. He never struck me as much of a social conservative, and frankly, I never trusted him to hew to that position. But do not doubt what this signifies in the larger scheme of things: My long-held suspicion that we would have government-sponsored involuntary human experimentation is about to become a certainty.
Do not, ever, misunderstand me on this: I rank this little expedition into the old jungles of human depravity as one of the worst, stupidest atrocities this country has ever countenanced. When we seriously contemplate making people to use them as experimental tissue; when we justify the dismemberment of already-made people with "they were going to die anyway"; when we offer human lives on the altar of Better Medicine for the Rest of Us, well, let it simply be said that Harry Blackmun is smiling from his little outpost in the Ninth Circle right now.
But we will lose this fight, at least in the short run. To say otherwise is to deny political reality, and to deny ourselves the tools needed to win the war in the long run. Here's why we lose:
People are basically scum. Actually, that's more or less a constant of the human condition. Anyone who banks on heroism out of their fellow men is either richer than the wildest dreams of avarice and hates money, or is an utter fool. Most folks will save their own skins given a chance, and will definitely sacrifice an unrelated other's life (or even a related other's life) for their own convenience and comfort. This is part of why our Founders were so nervous about the direct rule of the people: Men are hardly angels, and even the Prince of High Places took a third of the Host of Heaven into revolt at one time. When we are dealing, as here, with humans who don't even look human, well, let us simply say that the collective human track record of dealing with folks like that is not encouraging. (Believers in human "progress" insert squeals of protest here.)
Like Ronald Reagan, I'm a big optimist about the American spirit. Like most American conservatives, though, I'm one heck of a pessimist about the selfishness of humans in general. And when comfort and continued life are on the line, we're humans first, Americans second. That leads to:
The "Greatest Generation," the Baby Boomers, and at least Generation X will not be denied a chance to put off death and discomfort for just... a... little... longer. I'm not going to fall for the Iliad fallacy here, but I will say that those three generations have shown an inordinate fear of death and growing old (events heretofore considered somewhat ordinary for mortals). They (we, as I think I'm considered an X-er) diet and exercise and watch Suze Orman and follow the latest fad diets and dietary supplement fads and spend ridiculous amounts of money on preventative (and psuedopreventative) medicine and worry and gab about death and spend simply incredible amounts of money on art and literature about staying young forever. A fear of death is probably an intrinsic part of the human condition, but we've taken it to new, technologically aided heights.
And although embryonic stem cell research is still all about the potential benefits, the instant it was sold as a potential cure for everything from arthritis to Alzheimers to Parkinson's to everything short of death, the jig was up: Something that could cure every ailment of the human condition some day simply would be in the toolkit, and exciting alternatives to slaughtering kids can be damned, because we haven't been adequately promised that they can cure us of being human.
And, historically, we -- those three generations -- have had no problem with butchering children in utero; why would we, who together are easily the largest voting bloc in the country, deny ourselves manna (or, for geeks, mana) just because we have to kill them in petri dishes?
We won't. We'll demand it on a government-funded silver platter. Which is why:
Embryonic stem cell research is a winning issue. Maybe not in the Republican primaries; we'll see. But in society at large, that mega-voting bloc dwarfs any opposition, no matter how principled and correct, and it crosses party and non-party lines. How does this compare to abortion? Not as big yet. The Democrats' odd, suicidal desire to be seen, 1970s-like, as utterly weak in the defense of the United States? Not in the same league. The collapse of fiscal conservatism? Well, I disagree with a lot of the editors here: People will tell pollsters again and again that they demand fiscal accountability, but when it comes time to pull the lever, the boys who bring home the pork are the ones who don't have to go home.
But if all other things are equal, this will win out. Credit where it's due: Attacks on American soil have been notable for their absence the last four years. (God grant that it stay so.) Defense will fade as an issue if that trend continues. I suspect we'll be fighting the abortion wars at the state level relatively soon. And you know what I think about pork.
Because, at base:
Our Priesthood has declared that embryonic stem cell research is vital. When The Scientific Community tells us that we need something to put off death, we embrace it wholeheartedly. Scientists are no different from other human beings: They want to do Big Things, they want their work to Make a Difference, and they are, as are we all, selfish, flawed creatures. I'm not quite sure when or why we decided to elevate them to the level of a secular priesthood, but we did so, and they are now solemnly assuring us that they need to be able to take people apart for spare parts. Like a good group of Faithful, we will bow to our betters and give them what they demand, for they will reward us with the divine gift of an extra month in the actuarial tables for our fidelity and obedience.
It is precisely that simple. The folks to whom we've delegated far too much of our moral decision-making -- and thank God we held those reins fifty years ago -- are telling us that what the conscience should know is depraved is licit, and more than that, is necessary. They want to play with their toys without moral supervision. They're offering us one heck of a potential payoff. You'd better believe we're going to snap it up.
So it's coming. Federally funded embryonic stem cell research, with the resulting therapeutic cloning and massive increase in the number of children butchered for that bitch-goddess, Reason.
It is incumbent upon us to fight that. It is also incumbent upon us to prepare for inevitable defeat, but to learn the lesson of Roe and fight accordingly: Men will do depraved things to popular acclaim with what to a non-conservative must be depressing frequency. Unless we're prepared to take up arms -- and I'm not -- then we must resign ourselves to massive slaughter at the indirect hands of the government. But, the abortion wars showed us that how we fight determines the course of the war.
The pro-life movement was so outraged by Roe and the mandated sanction of the murder of children that it spent the 1970s floundering, unable to make any headway in public opinion. We were perceived as frothing religious lunatics.
But we learned. We learned the importance of a consistent, reasonable message. We learned the importance of working within the political system. We learned the importance of grass-roots organization, and message crafting, and listening to our fellow Americans for the best way to present our arguments to them. And though it's taken thirty-plus years -- and, yes, forty million dead -- we're within inches of sending Harry Blackmun's abomination to the grave with him.
We must do the same thing here. We must advertise the science of human life. We must remind people that the difference between an embryo on the cutting line and one on the way to becoming a baby is merely coincidental location. Men may be depraved, but they have better angels to whom we can appeal over time. We must make Republican and, yes, Democrat politicians pay for supporting this policy, by denying them our time, talent, treasure, and votes. And we must make clear to them why we're so doing.
Millions will die. Mark me.
But it is said of the Roman Legions during the Republic that they lost many battles, but never a war. As many wags have noted, this is because the Legions refused to let a war end until they had won.
We must be as the Legions.
Vita populi Suprema Lex.