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Friday, April 29, 2005

In Memoriam: The Republic of South Vietnam (1955-1975)

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Today Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.

(Update: Some sources, such as WGBH, set the date of the fall on April 29. The generally accepted date is April 30, when the South Vietnamese government formally surrendered. The attack on Saigon, and the famous helicopter evacuation, began on the 29th.)

Here are some useful links:

"Certain war has yielded to an uncertain peace in Vietnam. Where there was once only despair and dislocation, today there is hope, however frail."

Thomas R. Byrne, United States ambassador to Norway, representing Henry A. Kissinger at the ceremonies for the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize (source)

"The atrocities of My Lai would pale in comparison to the atrocities wrought when the North finally gained control of the South. In the purge that followed, more than 80,000 would be systematically tracked down and summarily executed by the new regime. Hundreds of thousands more would be sent to 're-education camps' where they would languish for years in virtual slavery. So this was the 'better life' that so many said the Communists would bring to the people of South Vietnam."

Robert E. Wheatley, "Witnessing the Death of a Nation - The Fall of Saigon" (source)

Update: The James's Liberty website has a section that refutes some of Noam Chomsky's claims about Indochina. One cited source is "The New Vietnam" (National Review, April 29, 1977), written by Le Thi Anh, a Vietnamese refugee who served on President Gerald Ford's advisory Committee on Indochinese refugees. The article is reprinted here.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wanna Cut Education Budgets?

The Education Intelligence Agency reveals one place to look:
US Averages One District Administrator for Every 47 Teachers. EIA's latest examination of U.S. public education staffing statistics reveals that, on average, school districts employ one administrator for every 47 teachers. This number refers to superintendents, assistant superintendents, resource managers, and other professionals who work at district level offices. It does not include school administrators such as principals, state agency officials, or even district support staffers.

Among states, South Carolina leads the rankings with one school district administrator for every 171 full-time equivalent teachers, with Utah second at 133, and Louisiana third at 126. New Mexico is at the bottom of the rankings, with one school district administrator for every 17.5 full-time equivalent teachers, with North Dakota just above at 18.6, and Ohio at 19.7.

The full rankings are available as Table 7 on EIA's school pay and staffing statistics web page at

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Monday, April 25, 2005

This Is Not A Scrappleface Headline

NewsMax reports that Wesley Clark wants Tom DeLay to be banned from golf:

"I like golf," Clark told HBO's "Real Time" host Bill Maher. "And I'm sorry that Tom DeLay plays golf."

Then the one-time top military man went off the deep end.

"I think that people who are charged with ethics violations in Congress should be prohibited from playing golf," he told Maher.


"Because if you can't trust them in Congress, how can you trust their score on a golf course?" Clark explained.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Nature 1, Nepal 0

Joshua Claybourn at In The Agora reports:

Rich celebrities glorify poverty in MTV's latest endeavor.

Say what?

CNS News has the details:

A new MTV series features Hollywood celebrities praising the developing world's primitive lifestyles as earth-friendly -- despite those poor nations' high infant mortality rates and short life expectancies.

The eco-tourism show, called "Trippin'," premiered on March 28 and was heavily promoted in the runup to Earth Day. The show encourages environmental awareness and lauds traditional tribal lifestyles, which lack running water, electricity and other basic infrastructure.

Cameron Diaz puts in an early bid for LGF's annual Idiotarian of the Year:

As video of mud-pounding filled the TV screen, Diaz explained, "They (Nepalese villagers) continue to live in harmony with the world around them. It's a way of living very different than what we are used to. It seems to work."

Does this sound like harmony?

But MTV viewers were not informed that Nepal has an infant mortality rate of nearly 69 deaths per 1,000 live births, about ten times the infant death rate in the U.S. Nor did they hear that life expectancy in Nepal is 59 years.

Ahem...Cameron, dear...NATURE IS IN FULL-BLOWN WAR AGAINST THE NEPALESE!! It's killing off the children and the adults as fast as it can! The people aren't in harmony, they're in bondage! They don't have modern sewage treatment and other defenses against Nature's Weapons of Microbial Destruction. Those dung-covered huts and primitive water supplies are nature's bioweapons labs! It's time the Nepalese and the other Third Worlders stand up against the oppressor!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Understanding Conservatives

Andrew Sullivan has some instructive posts on how to misinterpret social conservatives' views on sexuality. Let's start with this:

I'm not surprised that so many on the social right liked Andrea Dworkin. Like Dworkin, their essential impulse when they see human beings living freely is to try and control or stop them - for their own good. Like Dworkin, they are horrified by male sexuality, and see men as such as a problem to be tamed. Like Dowkin [sic], they believe in the power of the state to censor and coerce sexual feedom. Like Dworkin, they view the enormous new freedom that women and gay people have acquired since the 1960s as a terrible development for human culture. Cathy Young has a great blog item exploring these connections here. Dworkin, of course, was somewhat too frank in her hatred of sexual freedom to achieve any real political power. But the theocons ... well, they're helping frame big government conservatism as we speak.

That old prejudice just won't die. "The right thinks sex is dirty." No. The cultural right thinks that premarital sex is psychologically and socially injurious. The cultural right thinks that homosexuality is a disorder.

Then there's this:

David Brooks, in another smart column, points out that from the beginning of the 1990s, we have seen a sharp decline in all sorts of anti-social behavior: crime, abortion rates, teen pregnancy, and so on. At the same time, the last fifteen years have been marked by the high watermark of gay visibility and activism. If the assumptions of many social conservatives are true - that there is a direct relationship between culture and society, and that gay visibility is a sign of moral decline - then none of this should have happened.

Aside from failing to document sources for his statistics, the problem here is that Brooks isn't looking at all of the evidence of cultural decline. Is nonmarital sex overall in decline? Extramarital sex? Are sexual relationships becoming more or less stable, and otherwise more or less healthy?

And do conservatives tie the rise of homosexuality with crime in general, or certain crimes? There is certainly an increase in illegally citing foreign law to make constitutional rulings, but I wouldn't tie that to gay visibility. [Update: Actually, one of those rulings was Lawrence. Maybe there is a connection...]

A triple-header! (Scroll down to "The Issue Is Oxygen")

What many of us are asking for is simply the ability for lay Catholics and indeed priests and theologians to be able to debate respectfully such pressing issues as mandatory celibacy for the priesthood, a less rigid biological understanding of the rights and dignity of women, and a real dialogue with gay Catholics about how we can practically live lives that reflect our human dignity and our profound human need for intimacy and sexual expression.

Gee, I wonder if the new Pope would have any reason to be cynical about gay activists' willingness to engage in rational dialogue?

One protest that was announced was an upcoming zap of Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, the German prelate who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. He had written a paper for the Vatican in which he said that homosexuality was "intrinsically disordered" and a "moral evil."
[. . . ]
Ratzinger took the podium and began to speak. As soon as he finished his first sentence, a group of about eight people to the left of the crowd leaped to their feet and began chanting "Stop the Inquisition!" They chanted feverishly and loudly, their voices echoing throughout the building. The entire room was fixated on them. Activists suddenly appeared in the back of the church and began giving out fliers explaining the action. Two men on the other side of the room jumped up and, pointing at Ratzinger, began to scream, "Antichrist!" another man jumped up, in one of the first few rows near the prelate, and yelled, "Nazi!" All over the church, angry people began to shout down the protestors who were near them; chaotic yelling matches broke out.

It was electrifying. Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched the protestors and then looked back at Ratzinger. Soon, anger swelled up inside me: This man was the embodiment of all that had oppressed me, all the horrors I had suffered as a child. It was because of his bigotry that my family, my church -- everyone around me -- had alienated me, and it was because of his bigotry that I was called "faggot" in school. Because of his bigotry I was treated like garbage. He was responsible for the hell I'd endured. He and his kind were the people who forced me to live in shame, in the closet. I became livid...

Suddenly, I jumped up on one of the marble platforms and, looking down, I addressed the entire congregation in the loudest voice I could. My voice rang out as if it were amplified. I pointed at Ratzinger and shouted: "He is no man of God!" The shocked faces of the assembled Catholics turned to the back of the room to look at me as I continued: "He is no man of God -- he is the Devil!"

Such stories are as common as Hollywood breakups.

In this post I discuss three albatrosses hanging around the neck of gay activism: the refusal of many activist organizations to ostracize NAMBLA, the close association with the political correctness movement, and lobbying efforts to mandate what children will be taught about "tolerance" and sexuality. Add a fourth: the rabid incivility of many activists, and the failure of activist organizations to roundly condemn it. Who suffers? The two groups that are capable of constructive dialogue:

There are gay people who support parents' right to choose their children's educational options, who respect the rights of private creed-based organizations to exclude gays or atheists or whomever from membership, and who accept that people don't have to like each other's ideas, actions, or psychological orientation in order to like each other. Likewise, there are social conservatives who feel the same about getting along with others, who believe that a few or many of the benefits associated with marriage could be extended to other relationships (not just gay ones) without insulting the institution of marriage, and who believe that, at least to some degree, the government has too much of its hand in (nominally) defending cultural values - that some of that "defense" should be assumed wholly by the private sector. These people need to find each other somehow.

Vicodin Sucks

Sci-Tech Today reports the latest trend in drug use:

One in five teenagers has popped Vicodin, OxyContin or some other prescription painkiller to get high, a shocking new study has revealed.
And, just as disturbing, today's teens can get those drugs almost effortlessly simply by raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

I heard this on the radio a few days ago, and my initial reaction went something like this:

VICODIN? Are they freakin' nuts? What kind of idiot seeks the side effects of Vicodin ON PURPOSE?

I was prescribed Vicodin last year when I got some dental bone grafts. The label says "May cause dizziness." Yeah, and molten lead may be hot. "Dizziness" is putting it mildly. After taking the stuff I couldn't so much as sit down in a chair and and surf the web. Fortunately I didn't need to take it long.

I can understand intellectually why someone with a propensity for recreational drug use might try Vicodin without any prior knowledge of its side effects. I could half-understand why somebody might take it as an extreme sleep aid, although Melatonin is cheaper, and does a better job of actually making you sleepy. But why in the name of Timothy Leary would someone take the stuff (recreationally) a second time? What is so bleeding enjoyable about acute drug-induced vertigo?

It is possible that I am more susceptible to the ill effects of Vicodin than the average person, that a lot of people are capable of taking the stuff and having enough balance to sit comfortably in a chair. It is also possible that some people are whacked enough to actually find pleasure in losing their equilibrium to such a degree. It's a complete mystery to me.

Astute readers have already figured out that I've never been drunk a day in my life, since I would have made the alcohol-Vicodin comparison by now if I had. (Alcohol isn't all that tasty, anyway, and it's too expensive.) The only comparison I can make from personal experience is going too long without eating. I've done that a couple of times when my sleep schedule was disrupted by a daytime chore (I normally work nights) and I didn't readjust my eating schedule to match. The Vicodin was worse.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Earth Day!

Cox and Forkum has the spirit.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh reports a spotted owl sighting:

Well, lo and behold, they tagged a bunch of them and they found a couple of them living in a Kmart sign, the red K in a Kmart sign. Spotted owl! And the Kmart sign, I hate to tell you, is not a tree. I don't know if you can find any Kmart signs anymore, or as many, but these two spotted owls found them. Now, I've been to Hawaii. The idea that there's not enough space in Hawaii for these songbirds to survive and live because of human development is something I just don't accept, just like I don't accept it in this country. But even at that, you know, we've taken this to such extremes, and I want to recycle some old news here.

Rush featured this story on his radio morning update earlier this week, and proceeded to identify a serious threat to the owls' habitat: Wal-Mart. The Arkansas-based discount chain's success comes at the cost of K-Mart's market share. Fewer K-Marts means fewer nesting grounds for the spotted owl.

Update: We're winning the war against the Antarctic ice shelf. Humans 1, Nature 0.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Not The Next Pope

Courtesy of Emperor Misha.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Becomes Pope Benedict XVI

At Amy Welborn's I left this remark in comments to her post on an E. J. Dionne column:

Dionne hasn't considered the possibility that the votes against Ratzinger could have been motivated largely by a desire for him to continue in his position as enforcer of orthodoxy and befuddler of clueless journalists.

Well, there goes that theory.

Waco Anniversary Roundup

Read my 2003 post on the disaster. Note the opening paragraph:

Ten years ago today, the property of a madman suspected of amassing illegal firearms was assaulted, and nobody in Hollywood complained.

Reason has a collection of its stories on the Waco siege. In one of them, Virginia Postrel confronts a certain breed of paranoia:

A Los Angeles Times news report by Janet Hook is direct: "Gingrich has kept his distance from the violent extremes of the right....But Gingrich has continued to champion the same causes as these extremist groups: criticism of the Waco siege, opposition to gun control and general anti-government themes."


In the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, we have seen a different side of that confusion--the deliberate conflation of his opponents' words with the deadly deeds of a handful of vicious, isolated individuals. Using tactics that would make Joe McCarthy sit up and take notes, Bill Clinton has sought to intimidate critics of government policy by branding them as terrorists.

Such tactics must not work. Loud voices are not the same as violent deeds. Criticism is not the same as murder. Exposing government violence is not the same as blowing up buildings. It is grossly irresponsible to blur these distinctions. And those who rely on such smear tactics are in no position to lecture the rest of us about toning down rhetoric.

In fact, wide-open debate is the best chance for restraining violent impulses. Contrary to the Los Angeles Times editorialists, hearings on Waco would be a very good idea, especially now. Information is the enemy both of out-of-control government and of paranoia. Vigorous, open dissent is a powerful check on government excesses--and an important, peaceful outlet for citizen grievances.

Declaring those grievances illegitimate, and those citizens the philosophical allies of murderers, may make a weak president feel strong. But it won't make the grievances go away. And it won't make sleazy rhetoric any less sleazy.

Gee, I wonder if the people who blamed conservative punditry for the OKC bombing are worried about all the future violence being bred by the rantings of Michael Moore, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, and the Democratic Underground.

OKC Anniversary Roundup

Read my 2003 post on long-forgotten suspect John Doe Number Two. Meanwhile, NewsMax reports on audio tapes of telephone calls that Terry Nichols made to a Philippine residence linked to Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing. And Rand Simberg links an article that explores unanswered questions surrounding the bombing.

Cruel Shoes

I've seen this week's Time cover, and I've got one question for Ann Coulter: what's with the pointed shoes? Don't those things crush your toes? Or are you into that sort of thing?

Carnival of the Capitalists

The April 18 edition is up at Among the attractions is my post on the estate tax.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Nobody Expects The Food Inquisition!

Lawmakers are pondering the idea of regulating advertising of sugary and fattening foods (emphasis added):

The focus of the effort to limit food advertising to children is in Washington, where Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, plans to introduce a bill this month that would allow broad regulation of advertising to children on television, the Internet, and elsewhere -- a power that Congress sharply limited three decades ago, despite allowing continued broad regulation of commercials during programs aimed at adults.

The food industry opposes the measure, arguing that self- regulation would be more effective while also maintaining companies' right to free speech.

The Internet, too? Better be careful not to let the kiddies see those burger recipes...

Hey, if childhood obesity is such a problem, why don't we just cancel the school lunch program?

Cheeseburger In Paradise

Marginal Revolution has discovered a new cheeseburger recipe:

Make your patty boxier than usual. Stuff it with maytag blue cheese, and some high-quality butter as well. Then cook it. You can add other touches as well, but that is the basic idea

In case you're, the appliance company is not in the cheese business. Maytag Dairy Farms was founded by the son of Maytag Corporation's founder.

Brad DeLong warns that this concoction may be illegal in California. Be sure to check out his comments for other recipes.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Prehistoric Tax Tale

For a few weeks the Alley Oop comic strip has been running a storyline that is reaching its conclusion this week. The online archives go back only a month; at the time of posting the beginning of the tale is unavailable, and by mid-May the entire story will be faded into Internet oblivion.

For those not familiar with the strip, "Alley Oop" is about the adventures of a caveman (the title character), some set in and around his prehistoric surroundings and some in the future, courtesy of a Dr. Wonmug who discovered Oop's prehistoric kingdom of Moo via his time travel machine. Observant readers will note several anachronisms in the strip, which include metalworking (the crowns worn by the cave-royalty), paper and written language (see below), evidence of the invention of shaving (the stranger in the current storyline sports a mustache and is otherwise clean-shaven), and, of course, dinosaurs living side-by-side with people.

Our story begins in the neighboring kingdom of Lem. A fellow named J'on Fish has concluded some unknown business with King Tunk, and leaves the kingdom with a large bundle of goods that he earned for his services. Shortly after appropriating an unattended cart to carry his bounty, he sees a stone marker pointing to the kingdoms of Lem and Moo, and Fish takes off for Moo.

There he requests a private audience with King Guz. Oop's best friend Foozy (who always speaks in rhymes) speculates: "Perhaps he plans to share his wealth! I'm sure these furs would help my health!" But the stranger has the opposite in mind. After inquiring what compensation Moo's king receives for his services, Fish convinces Guz that the citizens haven't been paying their fair share. Fish emerges from the royal cave with a parchment (!) reading:

By Order of King Guz Effective IMMEDIATELY....Each Citizen of Moo Will Pay A 7 Percent TAX!

As the first taxes roll in, Foozy worries that "this sudden wealth could lead to greed," while Oop recognizes problems in calculating the tax for certain Moovians. In the case of the man who paints but doesn't hunt (there's another anachronism - not the painting but the caveman who doesn't hunt), Fish figures he can make payment by doing a portrait of the king. As for the single (probably widowed) mom, he looks at the youngest of the children and says, "this one looks nice" - alluding to those jokes about selling children to pay off debt. (We never see Guz take possession of the baby.) Oop doesn't like the tone of things, and states his objection to the tax "insanity." Guz arbitrarily raises it to 10 percent on the spot, and threatens to throw tax protesters into the Pit, a deep ravine that serves as Moo's prison.

The April 6 strip introduces those dreaded initials "IRS." dreaded One evening, as a family of four sits at the table for dinner, agents from J'on Fish's Intimidation and Requisition Squad come knocking on the door. The husband is behind one day on his taxes, so they take payment by seizing the dinner and even the daughter's rag doll.

Other Moovian families are going hungry as a result of a visit from the IRS. Outside the royal palace (a mostly-nondescript cave), a boy complains to his mom that he's hungry, and the mom says the food went to the king in taxes. Guz and Fish overhear, Fish says, "Don't let their whining get to you, King Guz! You're doing the right thing for your country!" Guz's thoughts reveal doubts, though.

Alley Oop shows up and warns the king that there's massive unrest. Fish dismisses this as Oop's attempt to get out of paying taxes. But when the population descends on the palace with picket signs, Guz decides that he should have heeded Oop's warning. The Moovians run Fish out of town, pelting him with (appropriately) rotten herring. In today's strip the forcibly-retired government consultant considers a career change to auditor.

I have a few observations from this storyline. For the first two, refer to the explanation J'on Fish gives the Moovian public for the tax:

My dear citizens of Moo, consider what your king does for each and every one of stores, water supply, protected borders...just to name a few! And just imagine how much more he could do with proper remuneration!

First observation: the tax was established without a clear notion of what services it would fund. Governments should draw budgets first and taxation methods second.

Second observation: tax planning must consider the budgetary needs of the taxed. This tale illustrates the premise of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, which is now available online (link via Rand Simberg). The "one lesson" is that to properly judge a policy one must consider all of its effects and not just the most obvious and immediate. Guz saw the big stash of loot he was getting, but not the empty dinner tables.

Third observation: the Laffer curve is real. The curve illustrates that tax rates and tax revenues rise together only up to a certain point, above which revenues decline as rates rise. As Jude Wanniski states in The Way The World Works, at a certain rate tax revenues will immediately shrink to zero - as Guz witnessed when the kingdom went into revolt.

Fourth observation: Government consultants must be subject to checks and balances. Consultants can be valuable resources, or they can be parasites who lobby for programs only so they'll get rich.

Fifth observation: the kingdom of Moo already had de facto taxation. Guz has a standing army equipped with spears and turtle-shell helmets. Somebody had to hunt all the turtles, make trees into spear shafts, gather stones and shape them into spearheads, and lash the spearheads onto the shafts. You think Guz did it all by himself? And who is doing the hunting and gathering that feeds the army while it guards the palace and the borders?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Lower Your Shields And Prepare For Boarding

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We are here to seize your annual taxes, for the glory of the Empire. Do not resist us.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Minorities Hit Hard By Estate Tax

National Black Chamber of Commerce president Harry C. Alford, Jr. explains:

The National Black Chamber of Commerce refers to the death tax as the “legacy killer” because that it what it does. It kills the legacy of economic empowerment and independence that can no longer be passed on to one’s son or daughter. The community investment is sucked up to pay for a massive tax that comes due only because the family founder has died. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

The death tax is also a job killer. Small businesses are the backbone of Virginia’s and America’s economy, and the death tax can easily break the back of a small business. When you take thinly capitalized, privately owned businesses that have their assets tied up in real estate or equipment, and you hit their owners with massive one-time death tax bills – after they’ve paid taxes their whole lives, a host of very bad things happen. Instead of the heirs continuing to run the farm or business, more often that not they are forced to sell it to pay the tax bill.

In a Gary McNamara Show on Dallas-Fort Worth radio station WBAP this evening, American Family Business Institute director Dick Patten (not to be confused with the actor - see bio here) stated that most minority business owners represent first-generation wealth. If the RINOs and Democrats want more second-generation wealth among minorities, they will vote to repeal the tax. Unfortunately, they care about their own wealth more.

Too bad estate tax repeal didn't happen in time to benefit Michael Schiavo.

[/extreme sarcasm]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Estonia Update

A new coalition cabinet is in place.

Calls To White House Outsourced To India


Monday, April 11, 2005

Free Trade vs. Managed Trade

The Globalization Institute has an article on a recent report titled "Trade Justice or Free Trade?" that demonstrates the economically depressing effects of centrally-planned trade policy:

The Trade Justice Movement's support for managed trade, with price supports and quotas, is shown to cause poverty by reducing the world economy's ability to create wealth. The Movement's ideas for controlling world trade are impractical and would lead to the Sovietization of the world economy.

According to Alex Singleton, the report's author: "The Trade Justice Movement thinks the world economy would work better if it were centrally planned. We saw central planning in the Soviet Union and all it produced was poverty. The only trade that has ever lifted countries out of poverty is free trade."

The entire report is available here (179K PDF file).

Another Woman, Another Feeding Tube

Found this story via James Lileks (having trouble finding a permalink to his post). Thrown Back reports here on the case of Mae Magouirk (emphasis in original):

Magouirk of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Magouirk suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

Straight Up With Sherri has been all over the story - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The last post displays a letter from Kenneth Mullinax, Magouirk's nephew. The feeding tube has been reinstated, but the war isn't over:

MY Aunt Mae is now being nourished and hydrated at UAB medical Center.

HOWEVER, BETH GADDY HAS ISSUED AN ORDER TO THE MEDICAL STAFF AT THE CCU-UNIT of UAB WHICH PREVENTS MAE'S BROTHER (A. B. McLeod) SISTER (Lonnie Ruth Mullinax) and nephews/any of the Alabama relatives FROM VISITING MAE MAGOUIRK IN HER ROOM at the hospital. When we appeared today to visit Mae, we were turned away by hospital staff!

It is ironic that my Mom is on the 7th floor and Mae is located on the 8th floor of UAB but she is prevented from seeing her sister who is suffering from the same heart malady. SO IT GOES.

It is heartbreaking..but we are still overjoyed she is receiving substantial nourishment, fluids and a proactive medical treatment....praise Christ!!

(Hat tip to Spatula City for the link to one of Sherri's later posts.)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Michelle Malkin has a disturbing story of doctors euthanizing babies in Belgium.

The Fall 2003 edition of Ethics & Medicine has an informative article on the infant euthanasia movement. Anyone who has read Whatever Happened To The Human Race by Francis A. Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop (1979) will recognize some of the material. This passage stands out (emphasis added):

[S]cholarly discussion of medical neglect as a treatment option for a disabled infant...began with a study published in 1973 in the New England Journal of Medicine by Raymond S. Duff and A. G. M. Campbell. These doctors documented 43 cases of withholding care from handicapped infants at Yale-New Haven Hospital, indeed breaking what they termed the "public and professional silence on a major social taboo." (Joseph Fletcher broke the silence in pastoral theology in 1968, by suggesting that Down's syndrome infants be "put away" either in a sanitarium or "in a more responsible lethal sense"; he offered comfort to bereaved parents by saying there is "no reason to feel guilty" because such an infant is "not a person."

The article continues to explore the historic relationship between infanticide and eugenics, and three examples of its portrayal in film. The first was The Black Stork (IMDb listing here):

...made by muckraking journalist Jack Lait and Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a surgeon in Chicago's German-American Hospital. Based loosely upon a fictionalized account of the high-profile Baby Bollinger infanticide case attended by Dr. Haiselden, the film begins with a eugenic mismatch, Claude, who has an unidentified inheritable disease:

Despite repeated graphic warnings from Dr. Dickey (played by Haiselden himself), Claude marries his sweetheart, Anne. Their baby is born so severely disabled that it needs immediate surgery to save its life, but Dr. Dickey refuses to perform the operation. Anne is torn by uncertainty until God reveals a lengthy vision of the child's future, filled with pain, madness and crime [he murders Dr. Dickey]. Her doubts are resolved, she accepts Dr. Dickey's judgement, and the baby's soul leaps into the arms of a waiting Jesus.

The film is filled with horrifying pictures of other child and adult "defectives" and contrasts a farmer's quarantine of diseased cattle with a neglected derelict (who represents a danger to society because he is not quarantined).

Dr. Haiselden felt that impaired infants like Baby Bollinger were better off dead than living in state institutions for the incurable or feebleminded. He "secretly permitted many other infants he diagnosed as 'defectives' to die during the decade before 1915...[and] over the next three years he withheld treatment from, or actively speeded the deaths of, at least five more abnormal babies." The Chicago Daily Tribune quoted Haiselden advocating doctors not to tie umbilical cords of 'defectives' newborns and allow them to bleed to death: "Instead of struggling to save deformed children and those marked plainly for insanity and uselessness," the surgeon continued, "physicians should [s]ave only the fit."

I'll skip the second offering - a 1941 Nazi propaganda film - and proceed to the third (emphasis added):

The first American educational film for the medical profession on the use of infanticide was Who Shall Survive? produced in 1972 by Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School. In the 25-minute documentary a newborn infant with Down's syndrome was permitted to die by "inattention." The infant had an intestinal blockage (a nearly identical medical case as the Bollinger baby dramatized in The Black Stork), but instead of undergoing corrective surgery (the parents refused consent), the infant was moved to a corner of the nursery. Without nutrition, the child died 15 days later. The film, shown at the Kennedy Center Symposium in 1972, was probably the first large public conference on infanticide in the United States. The documentary presents nobody that objects to the so-called "treatment." Instead, medical inattention is offered as an acceptable example of managing a difficult neonatal problem.

There's more. Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 08, 2005

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

In a recent post, Damian Penny linked to this article that lists 15 bad scenes in good movies, and 15 good scenes in bad movies. What mystifies me is that one of the bad scene/good movie examples comes from Showgirls, one of the most thoroughly panned films in recent memory.

I can think of a few examples of bad scenes in good films:

  • The African Queen - The early scene where Bogart's stomach rumbles and squeals while dining with Katherine Hepburn and Robert Morley.
  • Citizen Kane - That ridiculous scene where people start breaking out in Ziegfield Follies-esque song and dance at the newspaper office.
  • Gone With The Wind - Two scenes: Vivien Leigh's excessively over-emoted "I'll never be hungry again" and "Tomorrow is another day" speeches.

Alternate Virgin Atlantic Logo

Jay Manifold emailed a link to this.

Make yer Virgin Atlantic reservations here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope John Paul II's Legacy

FrontPage Magazine Managing Editor Ben Johnson sums it up:

And it is no wonder the Left reviles him in death as in life. His teachings, in essence, stated: Government is not God. Marxism is a failed religion, and economic collectivism is the road to ruin. All members of the human family possess inalienable rights not dependent upon government fiat. All life - even the unattractive, the afflicted, and the invalid - is endued with inherent worth in the site of its Creator and cannot be snuffed out when it becomes inconvenient.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

In The Agora has some useful biographical links.

Rest in peace.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Read The Fine Print

Be careful about signing those living wills. If you want certain technological measures you want withheld under certain conditions, make sure those technologies and conditions are stated explicitly. If the document says "life support" without saying what machinery constitutes life support, take a Bic lighter to it.

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