Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Democrats have suddenly discovered the Constitution

Only they don't seem to have read it:

Break the Filibuster
From the May 9, 2005 issue: Democrats are looking to the Constitution to preserve the judicial filibuster; the Constitution isn't on their side.
by William Kristol
05/09/2005, Volume 010, Issue 32

SUDDENLY DEMOCRATS ARE WRAPPING THEMSELVES in the Constitution. Emphasizing his commitment to maintaining the filibuster as a way to stop President Bush's judicial nominees, Senate Democratic whip Richard Durbin said last week, "We believe it's a constitutional issue. . . . It's a matter of having faith in the Constitution." The trouble is, the filibuster is nowhere mentioned, or even implied, in the text of the Constitution.

Suddenly, too, European liberals are discovering the virtues of the Founding Fathers. On the same day that Durbin was confessing his faith in the Constitution, the editors of the Financial Times were urging Bill Frist to "cease and desist" his efforts to break the filibuster, imploring him to "reread the wisdom of the Federalist Papers." The trouble is, the filibuster is nowhere mentioned, or even implied, in the Federalist Papers.

What's really going on here, of course, is this: President Bush, having been elected and reelected, and with a Republican Senate majority, wants to appoint federal judges of a generally conservative and constitutionalist disposition. The Democrats very much want to block any change in the character of the federal judiciary--a branch of government they have increasingly come to cherish, as they have lost control of the others. It's a political struggle, not unlike others in American history, with both sides appealing to high principle and historical precedent.

But it happens to be the case that Republicans have the better argument with respect to the filibustering of judicial nominees. The systematic denial of up or down votes on

judicial nominees is a new phenomenon. Republicans are right to say that it is the Democrats who have radically departed from customary practice.

More important, perhaps, the customary practice of not filibustering presidential nominees--whether for the judiciary or the executive branch--is not a mere matter of custom. It is rooted in the structure of the Constitution. While the filibuster of judges is not, in a judicially enforceable sense, unconstitutional, it is contrary to the logic of the constitutional separation of powers.

As David A. Crockett of Trinity University in San Antonio has explained, the legislative filibuster makes perfect sense. Article 1 of the Constitution gives each house of Congress the power to determine its own rules. Senate Rule XXII establishes the necessity of 60 votes to close off debate. With this rule, the Senate has chosen to allow 40-plus percent of its members to block legislative action, out of respect for the view that delaying, even preventing, hasty action, or action that has only the support of a narrow majority, can be a good thing. As Crockett puts it, "Congress is the active agent in lawmaking, and if it wants to make that process more difficult, it can." One might add that legislative filibusters can often be overcome by offering the minority compromises--revising the underlying legislation with amendments and the like.

There is no rationale for a filibuster, however, when the Senate is acting under Article 2 in advising and consenting to presidential nominations. As Crockett points out, here the president is "the originator and prime mover. If he wants to make the process more burdensome, perhaps through lengthy interviews or extraordinary background checks, he can." The Senate's role is to accept or reject the president's nominees, just as the president has a responsibility to accept or reject a bill approved by both houses of Congress. There he does not have the option of delay. Nor should Congress have the option of delay in what is fundamentally an executive function of filling the nonelected positions in the federal government. In other words--to quote Crockett once more--"it is inappropriate for the Senate to employ a delaying tactic normally used in internal business--the construction of legislation--in a nonlegislative procedure that originates in a coequal branch of government."


This is why the filibuster has historically not been used on nominations. This is the constitutional logic underlying 200-plus years of American political practice. This is why as recently as 14 years ago the possibility of filibustering Clarence Thomas, for example, was not entertained even by a hostile Democratic Senate that was able to muster 48 votes against him. The American people seem to grasp this logic. In one recent poll, 82 percent said the president's nominees deserve an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

They are right. History and the Constitution are on their side, and on majority leader Bill Frist's side. When the Senate returns from its recess, the majority leader should move to enact a rule change that will break the Democratic filibuster on judicial nominees, confident in doing so that he is acting--the claims of Senator Durbin and the Financial Times to the contrary notwithstanding--in accord with historical precedent and constitutional principle.

--William Kristol


Friday, April 29, 2005

The Judicial Process

From Elizabeth Dole.   Emphasis added.

Dole Addresses Judges Issue From Senate Floor

Dear Friend,

Today I want to express my strong concern over the judicial nominations process. It is clear this process has completely broken down. Unfortunately, the rhetoric surrounding this important issue has become increasingly bitter over the past several weeks. Sharp words have been exchanged. The intentions of my fellow Republicans have been unfairly characterized and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have even gone so far as to threaten to shut down the Government if the Senate were to exercise its constitutional right to set its own procedural rules. That is nuclear.

It is time to put aside the rhetoric for a moment and look at the facts. It is a fact that my Democratic colleagues have taken the unprecedented step of blocking not 1, not 2, but 10 nominees of President Bush to the Federal circuit courts of appeal. As a result, President Bush has the lowest appeals court confirmation rate for any first-term President since Franklin Roosevelt. It is a fact that each of these filibustered nominees has the support of a majority of Senators and each has received a rating of qualified or well qualified by the American Bar Association. It is a fact that today for the first time in our Nation's history, a President's nominees to the Federal bench are being required to receive a 60-vote supermajority rather than the traditional majority, the up-or-down vote, that has been the standard for 214 years. That is nuclear.

It is a fact that the ongoing filibuster of the President's nominees has prevented the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent to the appointment of men and women chosen to sit on our Nation's highest courts.

The former minority leader from South Dakota once lamented he found it simply baffling that a Senator would vote against even voting on a judicial nomination. I completely agree and note that every single one of President Clinton's judicial nominees who reached the Senate floor received an up-or-down vote. And contrary to what my friends across the aisle are so fond of saying, this includes the Paez and Berzon nominations to the Ninth Circuit.

By imposing a supermajority requirement for judicial nominees, the Democrats are disrupting the careful balance struck in the Constitution itself between Congress and the executive branch and allowing political considerations to play an even larger role in the confirmation process. They should heed the words of prominent Democratic legal advisor Professor Michael Gerhardt who, in another context, has written that a supermajority requirement for confirming judges would be ``problematic because it creates a presumption against confirmation, shifts the balance of power to the Senate, and enhances the power of special interests.''

For the last several weeks, instead of engaging in the hard work of compromise, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have chosen to travel down the political road. We have seen pro-filibuster press conferences, other political events, and even an obstruction rally with the extreme liberal group MoveOn.Org. Liberal special interest groups are now spending millions of dollars across the country on television ads in support of judicial filibusters. One cannot help but reach the conclusion that these organizations, having failed to defeat President Bush at the ballot box in November, are now trying to advance their own liberal agenda through the only avenue left open to them--the Federal courts.

The judicial filibuster is their way of establishing a liberal litmus test. If you are not a liberal activist, you cannot serve on a Federal circuit court of appeals, or at least that is what the new standard appears to be.

Until now every judicial nominee with support from a majority of Senators was confirmed. The majority vote standard was used consistently throughout the 18th, 19th, and the 20th century for every President's nominees, Democrat or Republican, even Whig, until George W. Bush's judicial nominations were subjected to a 60-vote standard.

Let me emphasize one additional point. My friends across the aisle are well aware that no Republican--not one--is seeking to eliminate the ability of Senators to filibuster on legislative matters. We all recognize that the legislative filibuster has served an important function in our system of checks and balances. It is ironic, though, that nine of my Senate colleagues who are now working so hard to block President Bush's judicial nominees once advocated the elimination of the legislative filibuster. So who is playing politics?

I commend Majority Leader Frist for his patience in trying to bring both sides together to develop a reasonable compromise on this difficult issue. Certainly no other majority leader has been faced with such unprecedented tactics in blocking the Senate's ability to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent. I know Senator Frist will continue to do what he feels is right for this body and for our country.

If he decides he is confronted with no other choice but to proceed with the constitutional option, I will fully support him. This approach is consistent with Senate precedent and has been employed in the past by some of the best parliamentary minds in this Chamber.

Our goal is to restore the practice, the tradition of 214 years, a simple majority vote for a President's nominees to the Federal bench.

Elizabeth Dole

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Fw: Alaskan Bear -

Lanny sent me this.  I'm still struggling to comprehend the sheer size of this animal.

                           BEAR STORY

The downloaded pictures are of a man who works for the US Forest Service in Alaska and his trophy bear.

He was out deer hunting last week when a large grizzly bear charged him from about 50 yards away. The guy emptied his 7mm Magnum semi-automatic rifle into the bear and it dropped a few feet from him. The big bear was still alive so he reloaded and shot it several times in the head.

The bear was just over one thousand six hundred pounds It stood 12' 6" high at the shoulder, 14' to the top of his head. It's the largest grizzly bear ever recorded in the  world.

Of course, the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Commission did not let him keep it as a trophy, but the bear will be stuffed and mounted, and placed on display at the Anchorage airport to remind tourists of the risks involved when in the wild.

Based on the contents of the bears stomach, the Fish and Wildlife Commission established the bear had killed at least two humans in the past 72 hours including a missing hiker.

The US Forest Service, backtracking from where the bear had originated, found the hiker's 38-caliber pistol emptied. Not far from the pistol was the remains of the hiker. The other body has not been found.

Although the hiker fired six shots and managed to hit the grizzly with four shots (the Service ultimately found four 38 caliber slugs along with twelve 7mm slugs inside the bear's dead body), it only wounded the bear and probably angered it immensely.

The bear killed the hiker an estimated two days prior to the bear's own death by the gun of the Forest Service worker.

Think about this:

If you are an average size man; You would be level with the bear's navel when he stood upright.  The bear would look you in the eye when it walked on all fours! To give additional perspective, consider that this particular bear, standing on its hind legs, could walk up to an average single story house and look over the roof, or walk up to a two story house and look in the bedroom windows.






More encouraging news

I think it's good to note that under officially sanctioned "sex-ed" programs sexual activity & aboriton have traditionally increased.  Thankfully, due, I believe, to the efforts of Phyllis Schlafly, parents were able to opt-out of those programs for their children.  I wish somone would do a comparrison study of the choices made by students who participated in sex-ed and those made by the students who chose to not receive that indoctrination.  

Abstinence program shows results

By Cheryl Wetzstein

Girls who participate in the Best Friends abstinence program are substantially less likely to use drugs or engage in premarital sex than peers who are not in the program, a study says.
    The peer-reviewed study, published this month in the Institute for Youth Development's Adolescent & Family Health, also found extraordinary results among the Best Friends' high school participants, known as Diamond Girls.
    The Diamond Girls were more than 100 times less likely to engage in premarital sex than high school girls who were not in the program, study author Robert Lerner said yesterday. 
    Mary Ann Solberg, deputy director in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the findings impressive.
    "We must continue to support programs that have real outcomes -- and these are real outcomes," she said.
    The Best Friends program, in its 18th year, uses school-based curricula, fitness classes, mentoring, role models and community service to help girls in sixth through eighth grades make healthy choices during adolescence -- such as abstaining from drugs, alcohol, smoking and premarital sex. A companion program for boys, called Best Men, began in 2000.
    Best Friends, which recently won a three-year federal abstinence grant, does not teach girls about contraception.
    The Lerner study compared several years of data on Best Friends girls in the District with data from girls of the same age and in school districts that were part of the federal Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS).
    Mr. Lerner found that Best Friends girls were eight times less likely than YRBS girls to use drugs and more than six times less likely to have premarital sex -- both strong outcomes.
    Best Friends girls were more than twice as likely to not smoke and almost twice as likely to not drink alcohol as YRBS girls. More than 2,700 girls were involved in this comparison.
    At the high school level, a total of 800 YRBS girls and Diamond Girls were compared. Diamond Girls were nearly 120 times less likely to have premarital sex -- an "amazingly" high number, Mr. Lerner said. Diamond Girls were also 26 times less likely to use drugs, nearly nine times less likely to smoke and three times as likely to abstain from alcohol.
    Best Friends founder Elayne Bennett said the study provides "concrete evidence" about the effectiveness of the program. Most teens say society should provide them with a strong abstinence message, she said. "The teens get it. The young people get it. This is the message they want to have. I just wish more of the adults got it."
    However, Debra Hauser, an official with Advocates for Youth, challenged the study, saying it provided only a "snapshot" of young people who "choose to be in the Best Friends program versus those that do not."
    Adolescent & Family Health is published quarterly by the Institute for Youth Development, a nonprofit group that studies ways to help teens and families avoid alcohol, drugs, premarital sex, tobacco and violence.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Homer Owen

For His Glory will be performing this evening at a Messianic church as they begin their passover celebration.  I know that MorningStar is also having  a passover celebration.  Yet, somehow with all that's going on;  changing jobs [trying to make an at home job pay!!], finishing up our certification with the Bair Foundation, not to mention Lanny juggling more balls than I thought humanly possible, the significance of the season was passing me by.  [and to go on record....whoever thought up the idea of celebrating the resurrection at any time other than at the culmination of Passover wasn't hearing from God]
Thank you Homer for bringing it back home.  I especially like that little encapsulation of the differences between the physical & spiritual children of Abraham.  The Muslims have no Savior, the Jews are looking for their Messiah but we Christians have in our Savior both a High Priest and a Passover Lamb. 
"For it was fitting that we should have a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this he did once for all when he offered up himself."  [Hebrews 7:26-27]
Homer Owen
Apr 22, 2005


Ruby and I hopped on a plane this past Sunday and flew to Antatyla, Turkey. This is a one hour flight from Israel and then we rode a bus for another 30 minutes to a resort on the ocean. We had a great time of relaxing and doing a little sight seeing. We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this nation is and how friendly the people are and the financial stability we saw.

I was visiting with a local merchant and when I shared that we were believers from America living in Israel, he just about dropped his teeth. He told us that we were the first Americans that he had seen in several years and quite naturally he wanted to know what we were doing in Israel. Of course he also asked me what the basic difference was between the Muslim and Jew and Christian. I told him that we all three agreed that Abraham was the founder and that the Muslim did not have a Savior and the Jew was looking for their Messiah, but we believers have a Savior. I was able to share with him the wonderful good news of Jesus. Glory!

Interesting, this is the country that the Apostle Paul came from and then when he did his missionary outreach we find him in his home country quite a bit. The letter to the Church at Ephesus and the Church at Colossae were in present day Turkey. We had no desire to go and look at the ruins of these and other churches, but I had a great desire to hear the Message that the Holy Spirit ministered through this great man of faith. The Holy Spirit quickened a lot of verses for me to look at during the week, but the one that stood out the most and is still stirring me is in 2 Corinthians.

"I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin, But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

This morning I drove up to the last Samaritan village in existence on the top of the Mt. of Blessing. I took a Jewish friend with me from Ariel with his 15 year old daughter. Passover has just begun here in Israel at sundown and this village is the only place in Israel where they slaughter the passover lamb. This has to be done before sundown and we observed them offering over 20 lambs up to the Lord. Before the slaughter we observed them pleading for mercy for almost an hour.

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

This whole week just gave me a greater appreciation for the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. Thanks be to God that today we know a risen Lord that has done it all and we are complete in Him. May He grant all of us a fresh revelation of Himself and the glorious reality of who we are in Him. Praise God for His mercy and grace. I praise God for our Hebrew roots, but I am so thankful for a simple gospel message that is able to save us to the uttermost. Yes, we are free indeed. Glory!

We received news from the government water testing facility about the water spring water upon the Mt. of Blessing. They are amazed and told us that it is the purest water in all of Israel. Now is God good or what? When Jesus tells us that He has come to give us life and give it to us more abundantly, He truly means it. Thanks for your prayers as we work out all of the details in setting up a bottling plant and marketing this wonderful water. I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas where we had great water and this water has the same general taste, only sweeter.

This walk in the Spirit is very intriguing to say the least. Back in the middle 60's I tried to get a company together to bottle the water from my home town, but was not able to pull it off. The old saying, 'what goes around, comes around', appears to be happening. May He be glorified in this water project from the Mt. of Blessing. Blessings to you from the hills of Samaria. Homer

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Liberals, Religion & the Courts

Just a memory jogger:  Whenever you next hear of someone complaining about the separation of church and state remember the campaigning John Kerry & Bill Clinton did in predominately liberal churches -- and remember the appearance Kerry cancelled when he was told he  would be welcome but would not be allowed to campaign. 
I find it ironic that the new hot issue for liberals is to learn to speak the "language of faith" -- not to embrace faith, which of course exposes the hypocrisy.  [it's the usual style over substance trait]  The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks -- they might learn the language [I find it doubtful -- but they might] however, keep listening -- sooner or later the true heart will be revealed.
I am no longer surprised by their venom but I do think liberals should drop the pretense that they are the stalwart guardians of tolerance & diversity.   They certainly don't seem to tolerate well the diversity represented by people of conservative faith [or qualified Judges who adhere to strict Constitutional interpretation]
And once again -- beating my not quite dead horse -- it's all about the courts.
[emphasis added]
Religious 'intolerance' cuts both ways
Cal Thomas (archive)
April 20, 2005

Democrats, who have been taking a crash course in the language of religion in hopes of winning some "values voters" away from Republicans in time for the next election, are agitated about a telecast scheduled for Sunday, April 24.

The event will feature not only some prominent religious conservatives, but also Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The announced purpose of "Justice Sunday" is to pressure senators to do away with the requirement of a "super majority" of 60 votes before a filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees can be broken. The sponsors of the telecast, a coalition of Christian conservative groups, want a simple majority, improving the likelihood that most of Bush's nominees would be confirmed.

Democrats claim the telecast, which will be distributed to churches, Christian TV and radio stations and the Internet, will suggest members of their party are against "people of faith." They charge Republicans with exploiting religion for partisan ends. The New York Times and Washington Post published lead editorials last Saturday (Times) and Sunday (Post) criticizing the gathering.

The Times editorial was titled "Bill Frist's Religious War" and claimed the group sponsoring the telecast is guilty of "intolerance." It also asserted the judges Democrats may wish to filibuster are "unqualified."

Apparently the American Bar Association endorsement of these judges is no longer sufficient for the Times, which once believed ABA approval was the gold standard for determining the qualification of a candidate for the federal bench.

The Times, which needs to take some medication and lie down for a while, also charged Frist with trying to confirm judges who would "accept a theocratic test on decisions."

Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, must not have been paying attention to "progressive Christian" Rev. Jim Wallis, who has been trying to teach Democrats the language of faith.

Durbin said, "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven." Gender confusion about God won't play well in red states, Senator, where the deity is regarded as "Father."

This isn't really about religion. It's about results. Liberals have been happy to align themselves with clergy and congregants who preached a social gospel that mostly followed the Democratic Party line.

From abortion, to gay rights, the ordination of homosexual priests, same-sex "marriage," disarmament, peace movements, environmentalism, government programs and a host of other issues, any clergy or lay person who signed off on the agenda and objectives of liberals was more than welcome at the political table and was never thought to be a threat to the Constitution or accused of attempting to impose a theocracy.

But let conservatives organize to express themselves and suddenly we are told they are a danger to our way of life and religious storm troopers can soon be expected at the door to take us away in the middle of the night to dungeons where we will be brainwashed into accepting the religious and political doctrines of the uneducated fanatics.

For better, and sometimes for worse, "people of faith" have spoken to moral and political issues since before the founding of the nation. Why is the republic in danger only when conservative religious people speak and act? Why are only conservatives seeking to impose a "theocracy" and liberals are never charged with such motives?

The answer is that liberals fear their earthly power is slipping away. They are less able to impose a secular leftist world view on the country. They know that the courts have been the only means by which they have been able to force their views on a majority who do not share them.

Christian conservatives have the same constitutional right to use the political system to advance their views as religious and secular liberals do. Whether they should expect government to restore their view of righteousness is another matter. But to deny them that right is to make them second-class citizens and denigrate their faith. Isn't that the ultimate intolerance?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Re: I'm feeling gratified.


When I started reading all the "knowledgable" ones giving their enlightened insights on the new Pope -- I knew they were off in their interpretation. You can read below the confirmation of my personal belief that Benedict didn't choose his name for a previous pope but for Saint Benedict. 
Sidebar but Kerry and I visited the Benedictine nuns last Friday which seems timely somehow.  We both came away very impressed with their expression of community.  Meagan has found a similar group of Charismatic women from Greenwood Christian Center who live together and have based their lives together on covenant.
Also as I read the usual brouhaha I was reminded of Kim Clement's prophecy concerning the public's reaction to the next pope and the promise of the evangelization of Europe.  Things are looking promising
May he be blessed. and May the Lord make us one.[John 17:20-23]
'Benedict' May Signal Focus on Evangelizing Europe
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The German cardinal with the charge of defending Church orthodoxy for the last 23 years was elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church today by the College of Cardinal.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, know for his faithful adherence to Church teaching as well as his influential role at the Second Vatican Council, emerged as the new Pope on the famous Vatican balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after it was announced he would take the name of Benedict XVI.

 Culture of Life Foundation board member Father Joseph Fessio told CNN that the key to the name was not his predecessor, Pope Benedict XIV, but St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe and the founder of western monasticism.

Interpreting the name as a nod to St. Benedict would indicate that the new pope would make defending the embattled faith in Europe central to his mission just as St. Benedict and the monastic movement he led was essential to the spread of Christianity on the Continent in the sixth century. Some time around 500 AD, St. Benedict left his studies in Rome because of the widespread corruption there and eventually formed a monastic community at Subiaco, 40 miles from the city.

Benedictine monastic communities became centers of intense scholarship in Europe and are responsible for preserving and developing much of the Western tradition on the Continent, a point the Pope will likely want to emphasize to the new European Community which refuses to acknowledge Europe's Christian roots.

The name could also be taken as a tribute to Pope Benedict XV who led the Church from 1914 to 1922 and oversaw the promulgation of the first Code of Canon Law. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger helped produce the second edition of the Code of Cannon Law. Following World War I, Turkish Muslims erected a statue of Pope Benedict XV in their homeland for his work with refugees during the war, a sign perhaps that Pope Benedict XVI will pursue peaceful relations with Muslim countries.

Dissenting Catholics have sought a silver lining in the election by noting that Benedict XV formally ended the Church's attack on modernism. Others noted that the new Pope was old, 78, and therefore might have little time to make his mark. But most dissenters responded immediately with anger. Andrew Sullivan on his blog,, practically called the news an indication that a Church split was imminent.

"It would be hard to over-state the radicalism of this decision. It's not simply a continuation of John Paul II. It's a full-scale attack on the reformist wing of the church. The swiftness of the decision and the polarizing nature of this selection foretell a coming civil war within Catholicism. The space for dissidence, previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning," Sullivan wrote.

Following the announcement web sites with articles on St. Benedict, Benedict XV and Ratzinger were bombarded with traffic leading to sluggish surfing. An unofficial site devoted to Cardinal Ratzinger,, was so deluged with hits that it soon crashed.

The site's owner, Christopher Blosser, commented on the crash on the popular Catholic blog, Open Book. "As you can imagine, the entire world wants to know who this Cardinal is (if they don't already). I'm working on upgrading the bandwidth, but the changes may not go into effect for 24 hours, so you might have to wait to access the site. I apologize. I really should have anticipated this. But then, who knew?" he said.

Prior to entering the Catholic hierarchy, the German-born Pope was a well regarded theologian with expertise was on St. Augustine and was more comfortable in academia than the corridors of the Vatican bureaucracy.

Though often labeled a "hardline conservative," Pope Benedict was one of the leading voices for reform at Vatican II. Under his years of service to Pope John Paul II he tried several times to resign but his service was so valued by the former pontiff that he would not allow him to leave his Vatican post.

Grace in a nutshell

  Francis has drawn out the kernel of truth in the word grace.
We've been taught that grace is God's unmerited favor which, of course, it is. Yet unmerited favor is only one aspect of grace. In reality, grace is God's promise to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
We've been given grace -- now what are we going to do with it?
Read the entire article:
Shout Grace!
Francis Frangipane

We sing Amazing Grace, but I don't think we realize how amazing grace actually is. Grace is God's power, motivated by His mercy, working to fulfill His compassion.

We are saved by grace, but what culminates in a "day of salvation" experience is actually months and even years of God quietly, yet powerfully, working in our hearts. Recall: Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44a). Do you remember that drawing power? Before we knew God, divine power was working invisibly within our hearts, drawing and wooing us to Christ.

Yet let me take this miracle of grace further, for after Jesus spoke of the Father's drawing power, He then said, "and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44b). This is the power and commitment of our Father's love: from the days of our sin and rebellion even to the days long after we die, grace continues working to unite our hearts with God's. From our utterly helpless beginnings to our utterly helpless end, from being dead in sin to being dead in the grave, grace carries us to the arms of God.

Unlocking the Power of Grace
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that, in the ages to come, He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:4-8).

Paul says that grace saved us "through faith." Faith unlocks the power of grace and releases it to function in our world - and faith itself is another gift of God. The difference between both gifts is, the grace-gift must be activated by the faith-gift. We must believe that God is "rich in mercy." We must accept as true that God loves us with "great love." We must not doubt He atoned for "our transgressions." We must be confident we are "alive together with Christ."

Grace works through faith. Believing the words of grace unlocks the power of grace; the power of grace to fully transform us comes through faith. As it is written, "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16). The true stride of a Christian's walk is "grace upon grace." The same grace that turned our hearts toward Christ continues to work in us, transforming even our sufferings and trials into virtue and power. Are you in a battle? Are you struggling with finances, health, righteousness or relationships? Your grace-miracle has already been created. But you must believe that, not only has God created a grace-provision for you, but Christ is motivated by love and actually desires to show you favor.

You may feel like a loser, a sinner, a person others routinely reject - and perhaps you are! The purpose of redemption was so that, in the ages to come, God might display through us "the surpassing riches of His grace." You may be poor in this world, but you can become rich in the transforming grace of God. Believe Him. A day will come in the future world of God when He will point to you and I, once fallen and depraved, filthy and isolated creatures, and display us before heaven and earth as radiant, transformed beings - a glory to His workmanship and love. And it will come to pass because we believed in the grace of God to change us.

Who cares what other people think of you? God says He loves you! Indeed, His grace is working to set you free. God knows you have been struggling with desperate issues; that's one reason why He has inspired this message.  His grace is reaching to you to deliver you.  The means to your victory is not more prayer or more Bible study, but faith-activated grace. Of course, I strongly believe in both prayer and study, but the power to release each of us is a free gift of grace. Don't postpone your breakthrough.  Believe that God's grace is here to release you!

What We Cannot Do On Our Own
We've been taught that grace is God's unmerited favor which, of course, it is. Yet unmerited favor is only one aspect of grace. In reality, grace is God's promise to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

The Bible says that "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rom 4:3). It doesn't mean that Abraham believe there was a God. No. Demons believe in one God and tremble! When Abraham "believed God" it meant that he believed what God had promised would come to pass. God promised to do for Abraham what Abraham and Sarah could not fulfill on their own. The Lord had promised Abraham he'd be a father of many nations. This is the glory of God's grace: it accomplishes what is otherwise impossible for us. You see, grace not only chooses me, saves me eternally and blankets my life with mercy, but grace also works in me realities unattainable without divine help.

Consider Zechariah and the story about Zerubbabel, who was governor of Israel. The Jews had been held in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. Now, they were being restored to Jerusalem. It was Zerubbabel's task to oversee the restoration of the city. In the struggle of the battle, weariness settled on the governor. So, the Lord gave Zechariah a promise for Zerubbabel. He said,

"'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech 4:6).

God was saying, in effect, "You have labored, your enemies are many and they are strong, but this work I've set before you isn't about your abilities; it's about what I can do working through you."  Likewise, our salvation isn't about our works or power. It's about believing in the Holy Spirit's power and the grace of God. Then the Lord gave Zerubbabel an important word. He said,

"What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of "'Grace, grace to it!'" (Zech 4:7)

Zerubbabel had mountains in his life that were too much for him. He had a task that was beyond his abilities. Yet God promised His Spirit would help and when it was done, multitudes would be shouting "Grace, grace" at the finished work. 

Listen, my friends, don't run from the mountains in your life, face them with faith - and then shout "Grace, grace" to them. Let God make your mountains into "a plain."

Let's not mutter an unbelieving whisper about grace, but shout it out loud. It doesn't say, think about grace, but release your faith and shout "Grace, grace!" God's unmerited favor has been poured out upon you; now speak to that mountain of discouragement, sickness or financial need - GRACE, GRACE!

Blessed God, You have drawn me to Yourself and have sheltered my life in the impenetrable stronghold of Your grace. Forgive me for drifting back into trusting in my works or abilities. Lord, I believe in Your grace! I shout "Grace, grace!" to the mountains that stand before me! In Jesus' name!


Lucianne on the pope

Two articles from Lucianne
We will all be awaiting developments:
  • Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany Is New Pope
    He has chosen Pope Benedict the 16th as his name
    Very conservative - Dems demand a recount
  • Quote of the Day: Pope Benedict XVI (the former Cardinal Ratzinger)
    'We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism . . . that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure.'
  • Fw: in case you missed it

    Which is entirely possible whenever the left-slanting media chooses which issues it will blow out of proportion and which it will ignore or downplay. [The recent "ethics" flap comes to mind as only the "ethics" of the Right are being examined while the Left continues to enjoy their junkets & nepotisms unchallenged]
    However the irony I am referring to is that terribly scandalous memo with it's 15 minutes of fame that few  Republicans seemed to have ever received which suggested that the controversy surrounding Terri Schiavo could work to conservative's advantage.  Powerline is pointing out that while that seems to have made national headlines not much notice is being taken of Howard Dean .  Interesting when you consider that the memo which took weeks to nail down was relatively private while Dean is broadcasting his plans at a public forum.
    Like John Hinderaker, I'm having difficulty discerning why one is considered acceptable by leftist while the other was an outrage. 

    Iraq & the Media

    In case you've wondered -- yes I have an issue with the establishment media.  I first noticed it in the mid-seventy's [while I was still strongly liberal] and thought it was bad journalism.  It became more apparent when I changed bandwidths in the 80's.  But what was once only my private observation, is now, thanks to alternative news sources and some excellent researchers, documented evidence. 
    Emphasis Added:
    To Old Media, Good News in Iraq Not Newsworthy
    David Limbaugh
    Tuesday, April 19, 2005
    When it comes to reporting on the Iraq War, the Old Media might as well be an appendage of the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party. It is astonishing how little coverage we've seen of the positive trend there over the last few months.

    I realize many just chalk up the media's emphasis on bad news as intrinsic to journalism: the attitude that if nothing is going wrong, it's not really newsworthy. But that just doesn't wash.

    How could anyone seriously contend that a reduction in the anarchy isn't newsworthy? What could be more important than signs indicating we might have turned the corner on the "insurgency"?

    While we heard a daily drumbeat of despair and an ongoing tabulation of American dead when things were looking bleaker – a look, I might add, that was meticulously cultivated by the Old Media – we hear nothing but a thundering silence today.

    How can we but conclude that the media simply don't want to promote the good news out of Iraq? But why? Well, obviously, they suppress good news because it vindicates their nemesis, President Bush, and incriminates them and their liberal comrades.

    Do you think that's unfair? Would you prefer I conclude instead that they downplay positive developments because they abhor the march of democracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East? I'm straining for an alternative explanation for their one-sided coverage.

    We heard barely a whisper from these naysayers when we witnessed the popular uprising in Lebanon against Syrian occupation. Rather, they chose to highlight counter-protests by Hezbollah sympathizers – as if the media were rooting against democracy and independence.

    They don't even pretend to be balanced. Remember the early anti-administration reporting that accompanied the beginning of the ground war? There were predictions of quagmire, reports we were being greeted as occupiers and not liberators, exaggerated stories of museum lootings, complaints about our supply lines not keeping pace with our advancing troops and the like.

    Don't forget the media hype over alleged coalition negligence leading to missing explosives in Al Qaqaa, nor the media's preposterous, relentless quest to pin the Abu Ghraib abuses directly on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    The most egregious example of bias involved their conspiratorial joinder with Democrats to smear President Bush as a liar concerning his claims of WMD in Iraq. When we failed to find large WMD stockpiles after deposing Saddam Hussein, they helped Democrats portray a global failure of intelligence (assuming the weapons weren't there and moved before our invasion), as premeditated deception by President Bush. They've all repeated the lie so much now that it has become part of the "conventional wisdom."

    Moving into the present, why aren't we hearing much today about how we have the terrorists on the run? The Washington Times – decidedly not part of the Old Media – reported that the U.S. Marines almost caught "Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq," and he is still being pursued. "He's going from brush pile to brush pile just like a wet rat," said Lt. Gen John F. Sattler.

    "Big deal," you say. "It's only newsworthy if they capture him." Wrong. It's newsworthy anyway, but especially if his near capture is more than blind luck. Indeed, it appears that any blind luck involved accrued not to coalition troops, but Zarqawi, who managed to escape only because of poor visibility brought on by bad weather.

    Far from serendipitous, our tightening of the noose around Zarqawi was a natural consequence of our earlier military successes. Gen. Sattler told the Times that the "coalition has forced Zarqawi to work 'independently' by killing or capturing his first- and second-string lieutenants." A media at least marginally receptive to good news out of Iraq would be all over this story.

    While we don't want to prematurely "count our chickens," it would seem that a media interested in reporting rather than coloring the news would celebrate this story.

    Similarly, how about the relative decline in American fatalities? How about reports that Iraqi security forces are maturing and strengthening each day? How about recent hints that if current trends continue, we could begin withdrawing substantial numbers of troops toward the end of the year?

    Perhaps Gen. Sattler's declaration in November that our victory in Fallujah had "broken the back of the insurgency" was not an overstatement. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, I suppose we'll not hear much from the Old Media until the next coalition setback.

    In case you're wondering, I'm not saying the Old Media don't want good things to happen in Iraq – but just not on President Bush's watch.

    Now, that's newsworthy.

    what the fighting's all about

    Just in case there was any doubt as to why there's such a vicious fight going on over the appointment of judges -- it's all about the constitution.  John Hinderaker from Powerline reports on a recent "progressive" conference on the Constitution.  The telling paragraph is here:
    The left makes no secret of its intentions where the Constitution is concerned. It wants to change it, in ways that have nothing to do with what the document actually says. It wants the Constitution to enshrine its own policy preferences--thus freeing it from the tiresome necessity of winning elections. And how will the Constitution be changed? Through a constitutional convention, or a vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures? Of course not. The whole problem, from the liberal perspective, is that they can't get democratically elected bodies to enact their agenda. As one of the Yale conference participants said: "We don't have much choice other than to believe deeply in the courts--where else do we turn?" The new, improved Constitution will come about through judicial re-interpretation. It only awaits, perhaps, the election of the next Democratic president.
    The American government was designed with a system of checks and balances.  What had become one of the most important today is the check provided the courts by the Constitution.  If the Constitution is adapted to fit "progressive" policy instead of strictly interpreted and only changed by congressional amendment, there will be no check at all. 
    It is essential to blow away the smoke screen.  When you remove the rhetoric it becomes obvious that the left's filibuster technique is designed to block qualified candidates who favor interpreting the constitution according to "Original Intent" .  Unable to affect their desired societal changes by the constitutionally designed method of legislature and popular vote, they are attempting to side-step the will of the people through the judiciary.
    As one of the Yale conference participants said, "we don't have much choice other than to believe deeply in the courts -- where else do we turn"  If they succeed, we will no longer have a government of the people, by the people or for the people.  We will have what we are now approaching, a government of unelected judiciaries whose capricious theories and ideologies will determine the direction of our nation.

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    Forgiveness and the Pope

    Unlike some, I am choosing not to read what the liberal MSM might have to say about a man they never understood.  Love is necessary for true discernment and those who have had their minds clouded by fear, cynicism, unbelief & hatred wouldn't be able to present a true picture.  But Professor Bainbridge did have this to say in regards to what the Pope's response was likely to have been.
    When I start to get riled by this sort of thing (and reading Michelle Malkin's post pointing to some of the worst examples of hate speech directed towards the late Pontiff really started to get me angry), I remember this picture:


    if John Paul could forgive Mehmet Ali Agca for trying to assassinate him, I'm sure the Holy father would forgive these media idiots.


    Somehow I don't think the MSM's attempt at Pope-bashing is going to be effective.  Rather like trying to put out a raging forest fire with a water-pistol.

    NY Times caught with it's slant showing

    Powerline caught a screen grab from the NY Times article about Pope John Paul II just before they changed it to delete the "need some quote from supporter:" insert.  
    True to form they had their criticisms ready to go -- just couldn't find anyone "handy" who liked him.  As Hindrocket points out -- this tells us a lot more about the NY Times than it does about the Pope.

    reality check

    "Don't be afraid." the prophet answered.  "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
    I heard an echo of that proclamation in this excerpt from Charles Krauthammer.
    It was Stalin who gave us the most famous formulation of that cynical (and today quite fashionable) philosophy known as ``realism'' -- the idea that all that ultimately matters in the relations among nations is power: ``The pope? How many divisions does he have?''
    Stalin could only have said that because he never met John Paul II. We have just lost the man whose life was the ultimate refutation of ``realism.'' Within 10 years of his elevation to the papacy, John Paul II had given his answer to Stalin and to the ages: More than you have. More than you can imagine.

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    As death gives way to victory

    Photo Not Available

    On Saturday, April 2nd, at 9:37pm in Italy, Pope John Paul II died in his room at Vatican City, Rome. He was known for his devotion to Christ and his dedication to sharing the message of God’s love wherever he went. St. Peter’s Square was filled with pilgrims joining their prayers with those around the globe for John Paul II, who has impacted the world as Pope for 27 years.

    On Saturday, President Bush, while receiving regular updates on the pope’s condition, said he is, "a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom. He is an inspiration to us all.” Pope John Paul II is also known as helping to defeat communism, being from Poland himself and standing for solidarity, his prayer for the Holy Spirit to “renew the face of the Earth” becoming a rallying cry for many Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement in Poland during 1989-90, said of John Paul, "We know what the pope has achieved. Fifty percent of the collapse of communism is his doing. Of course, communism would have fallen, but much later and in a bloody way. He was a gift from the heavens to us."

    Though suffering from massive heart failure on Friday morning, the pope, still lucid and communicative, conducted papal business from his bedside, approving a flurry of church appointments around the world.

    The pontiff also requested readings of the Way of the Cross, biblical accounts of Jesus’ journey up to the cross, His death and burial. John Paul reportedly listened intently making the sign of the cross.

    Star Parker on Education

    I just realized -- I've read four books recently which fall into the biography/autobiography category. Star Parker's, Pimps, whores and welfare brats, was one of the most inspiring.

    STAR PARKER: We need to open the education marketplace

    Scripps Howard News Service

    Friday, April 1st, 2005 09:26 AM (PST)

    (SH) - According to a study recently released by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, high-school graduation rates in California are almost 20 percent less than those officially reported by the California Department of Education.
    While the state data show 87 percent of high-school students graduating in 2002, the Harvard study says the graduation rate was 71 percent.

    More shocking is the snapshot the study provides of minority graduation rates. Statewide, 57 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Latinos graduate from high school. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 39 percent of Latinos and 47 percent of blacks graduate.

    The California Department of Education does not appear to be challenging the data that Harvard is reporting. The state's data seem to ignore the fact that many kids simply drop out of school, generally between the ninth and 10th grades. These dropouts often get conveniently reported by schools simply as transfers.

    The Los Angeles Unified School District consists of 782 schools with 742,000 students who are mostly from poor homes. Sixty percent of the schools in the district have at least 80 percent of their students from low-income families, as measured by the number qualifying for free or subsidized school lunches.

    Given that education is the principal predictor of future earning power, we are looking here at a classic cycle of poverty. Poor kids incapable of taking advantage of the single resource available to them - education - that can change their lives.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 1999, the earnings of full-time workers without a high-school degree were 77 percent the earnings of those with high-school degrees and 45 percent of those with bachelor's degrees. The gap between education and earnings widens over time. Back in 1975, those without high-school degrees earned 90 percent of those with high-school degrees and 58 percent of those with bachelor's degrees.

    Not only are inner-city high schools factories of hopelessness, but as society becomes more complex, with increasing demands for an educated work force, the hole just gets deeper for kids, overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, who are not getting educated.

    The No Child Left Behind Act puts performance pressure on non-performing schools to both improve test scores and graduation rates - or face sanctions.

    L.A. school Superintendent Roy Romer says the problem is school size. He has a plan to subdivide existing school campuses into smaller schools that will allow more personal attention for students. The Los Angeles Times reports that Romer has a $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation to pursue this project.

    I have no reason to question either the diligence or sincerity with which Romer is approaching this prodigious problem. Given the constraints he faces, my guess is he's doing the best he can. However, I have little optimism that he will make much of a difference because the constraints he faces are unreasonable.

    The frameworks for standards, reform and sanctions defined by No Child Left Behind are important reforms for our public school system. But the problem is our public school system itself. How do you fix a business that has no competition and for which government itself limits the possibilities for reform? Poor kids are simply trapped in a government school monopoly where the manner in which education is defined and administered and the values that are conveyed are by and large pre-scripted by a politically correct establishment.

    When I log onto the Web site of the National Education Association, the national union of the teachers staffing our public schools, the first thing I see is a headline announcing a study that says "the goals of 'No Child Left Behind' cannot be met without a significant increase in resources." According to the Pacific Research Institute, the L.A. Unified School District spends more than $9,000 per year per student. I am confident that if inner-city parents had $9,000 through a voucher or scholarship to send their child wherever they chose to school, more than one in two would graduate.

    Businesses that face competition deliver more and more for less and less. Monopolies deliver less and less for more and more. What else can we expect from the NEA and the government school monopoly than claims that spending is the alleged answer for everything?

    Problems today in the inner cities are complex. Many poor families are broken, single-parent homes. This itself is a major predictor for failure in school. Kids from these homes get sent to public schools where prohibitions on providing any framework for values make it impossible to help them find meaning amidst the chaos in which they live. It doesn't take much imagination to predict where this leads.

    We can educate these kids. But we need to open the education marketplace, take it out of the hands of the unions and monopolists, and let people who really want to help these families and their children have a chance with them.

    Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (, and author of "Uncle Sam's Plantation."

    New Website

    Okay -- new to me [and didn't you know, it's all about me :-) ]

    I've always had a fascination with the skies -- I won't say astronomy ....I just loved looking at the pictures -- not doing the science.

    Here's a site full of gorgeous pictures.

    Great thought

    From the Book The Abbey Up The Hill by Carol Bonomo.  This was something that was part of a teaching given by Abbot Henry:
    "Anxiety and tension are spelled L-I-F-E.  Peace is the ability to deal with anxiety and tension with underlying joy."

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    We love because he first loved us

    From Francis Frangipane:

    We Love Because He First Loved Us

    Do you love Jesus Christ? Is there a part of your heart that not only intellectually accepts Christ's death for you, but actually loves Him for the price He paid?

    Do you love His word and appreciate the many times He's rescued you from difficulties and battles, many caused by your own sin or foolishness? Do you love how He accepts you unconditionally when you turn to Him? He has forgiven every sin you have ever committed. How can you not love Him?

    For too many people, knowing Jesus goes no deeper than agreeing to the historical fact of His existence. However, loving Him is a distant, almost unnatural reality for them. They take His name in vain or anger and, incredibly, use it as a curse. However, when you say the name of Jesus, its very sound calms the troubling in your heart. They mock His righteousness and delight in lawlessness. Yet, you love righteousness, even if you fall short of your own spiritual aspirations.

    The fact that you possess love for Christ, even if your love is imperfect, proves something vital about you. The very existence of your love has been cultivated and awakened by God's love for you. The living Christ has actually approached you and revealed Himself to you. As it is written, "We love, because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).

    Today, Christians argue about doctrines and divide over eschatologies. Yet, let us look at the deeper issue: do we each love Jesus Christ? If so, our love for Him is the result of His love for us. You see, the proof that we truly know Jesus Christ is not measured by the degrees we post on a wall, but the degree of love for Him that burns in our hearts.

    Do you love Him? If so, it is because your love is a response to the relentless warmth of God’s love for you. His love has proven itself irresistible. He says, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). Again, He says that "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). Even our coming to Him is a product of His love for us.

    When I say, "I love You Jesus," it is because at some point, long before I knew Him, before I could discern His voice or recognize His influence in my life, His love was drawing me to His heart. Yes, I know I am not worthy, but still Christ loved me. True, I have no righteousness of my own, but I imagine there was a moment in heaven when the Son turned to the heavenly Father and said, "I love Francis. I will bring him to Myself, show him My ways and become the strength of his life."

    Never wonder if God loves you. Rather, look at your heart. Do you love Him? If so, your love for Him is proof of His love for you. We love, because He first loved us.

    Heavenly Father, help us to pause, to absorb into our consciousness the impact of Your purposed love for us. Let this wondrous love influence everything we think and all that we do and become: I am my Beloved's and He is mine. You banner over me is love. Let my life be flavored by Your unfailing mercy until, with all my heart, I love You, even as You have loved me.

    Truth in politics

    "In the United States Senate, one of the things I observed
    in the early days - and it's still used - and that is that
    you take someone's argument and then you misrepresent it and
    misstate and disagree with it. And it's very effective. I've
    done it myself a number of times. But eventually, eventually
    people catch on."

    -Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, speaking this week at the
    National Press Club in Washington

    From Kerry

    Knowing my aversion to television, Kerry, very generously recounted to me the many things she was able to observe in the after-math of tragedy. These are important things. Eternal things. Things that matter. In case perhaps you also did not get to observe these touching tributes, I want to share them with you as well.

    I have seen some things I wish you could have seen . . . the Schindler family statement - they thanked everybody, EVERYBODY from the President on down with very specific thanks, including lawyers and judges and politicians and hospice workers and all who tried to help Terri. They begged those who supported them to continue in prayer and specifically said that Jesus enjoins us with His words, "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." They asked forgiveness of anyone they might have sinned against during this time.

    President Bush's words and address . . . that life is precious and matters to Americans, especially those who are at the mercy of others who should be caring for them. Not quite those words, but close.

    In the end, Bobby Schindler, who has handled the press and everything else, had to let his sister make the statement. He was devastated with grief.

    The priest who told Sean Hannity, when he said he was just so angry, that the problem in America is that we don't get angry anymore . . . and then learn what to do with that anger and not sin.

    People outside the hospice holding hands and praying, and a school teacher who spoke so eloquently, and simply so that a child could understand, about what really happened there.

    one more

    I thought I had finished sending articles about Terri Schiavo. Like David, when his child died, I felt it was time to get up, wash our faces, take a meal and go to the tabernacle and worship God. But Jan LaRue raises a point that I am shocked I didn't notice on my own. Again, make careful note of the mis-direction and deception that has been used in manipulating the thinking of the American public. While engaging in dramatic breast-beating about the government staying out of these decisions -- we were carefully mis-directed away from the fact that it was only because the government was brought in that this event ever took place.

    emphasis added

    Judging Terri
    Jan M. LaRue (archive)

    April 1, 2005

    It all comes back to how one agent of government decided the facts, the evidence and the law.

    Terri Schiavo has lost her valiant struggle against the forces of law that set the forces of nature at work against her body. May the work of Jesus that conquered the force of death bring her family and friends comfort.

    One of the most puzzling aspects of this distressing ordeal has been the repeated mantra, “People just don’t want government involved in ‘end-of-life’ decisions. It should be left to the family.” A poll conducted by CBS last week indicated that “82 percent of Americans felt that Congress never should have been involved. Seventy-five percent said end-of-life decisions should not be made by the government.”

    You would think that these comments and polling data came from another planet. How could anyone miss the pervasive presence of government that Michael Schiavo set in motion against Terri?

    The Florida Legislature, like every other state legislature, has enacted laws that regulate end-of-life issues. Florida’s definition of spouse allowed an adulterous Michael Schiavo to express Terri’s “wishes.” The Florida Supreme Court worsened the situation by its decisions prior to and in this case. The statutes and court rulings that worked against Terri will continue to mitigate for death and against life unless the Legislature acts.

    Michael Schiavo brought the government into the situation when he went into Greer’s court and sought an order to remove Terri’s feeding tube even though she was not dying and was not on any extraordinary life-sustaining measures such as a ventilator. Would the “keep the government out” crowd deny Terri’s family the right to respond by appearing in the same court on her behalf?

    Then there’s the “affront” the no-government crowd expressed when Governor Bush intervened and when Congress and President Bush intervened to provide the same type of federal review of Greer’s death warrant that federal law provides to condemned criminals.

    Then there’s the matter of all the police officers at Terri’s hospice who enforced Michael’s every wish and searched Terri’s friends and family before they could see her.

    Even in death, the government will be involved, as a county medical examiner performs Terri’s autopsy. George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, who continually ranted against government involvement, now says, “Michael wants the autopsy so that the extent of her brain damage will be confirmed.” I’d like to ask him if it wouldn’t have been more prudent to do that by an MRI or PET scan before they had her killed, and why they opposed that if they’re interested in the truth. And how convenient, if Felos and Schiavo were wrong—no civil or criminal liability for causing her death, even if her brain damage isn’t shown to be what they’ve claimed.

    Too many “right to live” and “right to die” advocates and the media have focused on whether Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state” (PVS). That is irrelevant in deciding whether her feeding tube should have been removed until Terri’s wishes were first established. No one can be put to death legally simply because he or she is brain-damaged, even to the extent of PVS. To do so based on her condition but absent her consent would be murder.

    The issue under Florida law is whether Terri ever expressed a statement that she would not want to live if she were in a condition that left her dependent upon a feeding tube. Under Florida law, that has to be established by clear and convincing evidence. The “evidence” that Judge Greer found clear and convincing is what Congress intended the federal district court to review de novo under “Terri’s law.” That did not happen.

    Greer found the testimony offered by Diane Meyer at the trial in 2000, at first credible but then not credible for one reason. Meyer said that in 1982, she and Terri were recent high school graduates who had just seen a movie about Karen Ann Quinlan, who had been in a coma since collapsing six years earlier. Quinlan was the subject of a bitter court battle over her parents’ decision to take her off a respirator. Meyer says she told a cruel joke about Quinlan, and it set Terri off. “She went down my throat about this joke, that it was inappropriate.” She remembers Terri saying she wondered how the doctors and lawyers could possibly know what Quinlan was really feeling or what she would want. Terri added, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

    Greer said that Quinlan died in the ’70s. He concluded that Meyer was mistaken about the date of her discussion with Schiavo and speculated that it occurred when the two were children, not young adults. Greer said, “The court is mystified as to how these present tense verbs would have been used some six years after the death of Karen Ann Quinlan.” He ordered Terri’s feeding tube to be capped.

    Point of fact—Quinlan died in 1985, a fact that Greer could easily have established and taken judicial notice of. Greer then discerned Terri’s wishes based on the highly suspect statements of Michael Schiavo and his two relatives.

    A former girlfriend of Michael Schiavo, Cindy Shook, gave a deposition on May 8, 2001. Shook said Schiavo got angry when she asked him questions about Terri, saying, “[T]his had destroyed his life and he was being robbed of a normal life.” When Shook asked him about Terri’s care, he said, “How the h-ll should I know, we never spoke about this, my God I was only 25 years old. How the h-ll should I know? We were young. We never spoke of this.”
    Based on Shook’s statement, Judge Frank Quesada ordered doctors to uncap Terri’s feeding tube. Greer refused to consider Shook’s statements.

    In September 2003, Greer ordered the tube to be removed on October 15, 2003. In response to that order, the Florida Legislature enacted a law on October 21, 2003, authorizing the governor to issue an order requiring the tube to be reinserted. He did so the same day. The Florida Supreme Court held the law unconstitutional on September 23, 2004.

    Fast forward to Greer’s last order regarding removing Terri’s feeding tube on March 18, 2005. It states: “Ordered and Adjudged that absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, Michael Schiavo, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, Theresa Schiavo, at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2005.”

    Notice first that Greer did not simply grant Michael Schiavo the discretion to remove nutrition and hydration from Terri. Greer ORDERED him to do it. Second, the order goes beyond removal of the feeding tube and includes food and hydration by natural means.

    Next, when Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, filed a motion to request permission from Greer to provide Terri with food and water, he denied it. “Ordered and Adjudged that Respondents’ Emergency Expedited Motion for Permission to Provide Theresa Schiavo with Food and Water by Natural Means is DENIED.”

    When was it established by clear and convincing evidence that Terri ever said she wouldn’t want to be fed by mouth if she were capable of swallowing food and water? Never. Offering her water would be relevant to prove that. More importantly, what Florida statute gives Greer the authority to issue the order? None that I know of.

    This order is about as insane as ordering a respirator removed and if the person breathed on his own, ordering the air sucked out of the room or smothering the person with a pillow.

    If we assume, for the sake of argument, that Terri would prefer ending her life by starvation rather than having the feeding tube re-inserted, there is a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that permits her guardian, a surrogate or her proxy to order the tube removed based on establishing Terri’s oral declaration by clear and convincing evidence. Incidentally, In re Browning, (1990) was argued by George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s lawyer.

    The court held:

    [I]t is important for the surrogate decision-maker to fully appreciate that he or she makes the decision which the patient would personally choose. In this state, we have adopted a concept of “substituted judgment.” [In re Guardianship of Barry, 445 So.2d 365, 370-71 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984)]. One does not exercise another’s right of self-determination or fulfill that person’s right of privacy by making a decision which the state, the family, or public opinion would prefer. The surrogate decisionmaker must be confident that he or she can and is voicing the patient’s decision.

    Notice the emphasis on making sure that the decision is not one the state would prefer. That is exactly the problem with what Greer did when he ordered the tube removed. Greer was not Terri’s guardian; Michael Schiavo was. Greer ordered Terri’s tube removed and denied her parents the right to offer Terri food and water orally.

    Greer exceeded his authority under Florida law. By ordering Michael to have the tube removed, Greer eliminated the exercise of discretion by the guardian and exercised it himself. Greer eliminated any exercise of discretion by Michael to change his mind. In fact, if he did change his mind, Schiavo would have had to file a motion asking Greer to rescind his order.

    In 1990, in Cruzan v. Missouri Department of Health, Nancy Cruzan’s parents, on their behalf and on behalf of their daughter, appealed a decision of the Missouri Supreme Court, which denied their petition for a court order directing the withdrawal of their daughter's artificial feeding and hydration equipment. The Missouri court denied their petition because there was no clear and convincing evidence of the daughter’s desire.

    The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision:

    While Missouri has in effect recognized that under certain circumstances a surrogate may act for the patient in electing to withdraw hydration and nutrition and thus cause death, it has established a procedural safeguard to assure that the surrogate's action conforms as best it may to the wishes expressed by the patient while competent. … The State is also entitled to guard against potential abuses by surrogates who may not act to protect the patient.

    The basis of the Court’s decision is a person’s liberty interest under the Due Process Clause to refuse unwanted medical treatment. Conversely, there must be a liberty interest to not be deprived of food, nutrition and medical treatment by the state against his or her wishes.

    These are some of the evidentiary mistakes and errors of law by government that deprived Terri of her fundamental right to life under the U.S. Constitution. This is what Congress intended the federal district court to review de novo. That court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to do so. The decisions permitted Greer’s order to remain in force.

    For the first time in our history, our government has allowed an agent of government to order a disabled person, guilty of no crime, and not terminally ill, to be put to death by dehydration and starvation, which would never be imposed on a convicted murderer because of the Supreme Court’s “evolving standards of decency.”

    How does the “government stay-out” crowd find satisfaction in this?

    Janet M. LaRue is Chief Counsel and Legal Studies Director for Concerned Women for America.

    ©2005 Jan M. LaRue