Thursday, December 30, 2004

Season of giving

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting column today giving advice to the Left on how to comprehensively reformulate its approach to foreign policy. Among the suggestions: stop reflexively crediting the moral superiority of continental Europe and the UN, because they've demonstrated a distinct lack of credibility (understatement) in foreign affairs. In cooperation with and support of tyrant regimes and futility in many areas, these groups just aren't worthy of deference. Hanson's overall message is that the Left needs to discard its anti-Americanism where that is baseless. As regards the current tsunami devastation in South Asia, Hanson also advises people about the supposed "stingy" nature of the American people:

Ignore most grim international reports that show the United States as stingy, greedy, or uncaring based on some esoteric formula that makes a Sweden or Denmark out as the world's savior. Such "studies" always ignore aggregate dollars and look at per capita public giving, and yet somehow ignore things like over $100 billion to Afghanistan and Iraq or $15 billion pledged to fight AIDS in Africa. These academic white papers likewise forget private donations, because most of the American billionaires who give to global causes of various sorts do so as either individuals or through foundations. No mention is made of the hundred of millions that are handled by American Christian charities. And the idea of a stingy America never mentions about $200 billion of the Pentagon's budget, which does things like keeping the Persian Gulf open to world commerce; protecting Europe; ensuring that the Aegean is free of shooting and that the waters between China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are relatively tranquil; and stopping nasty folk like the Taliban and Saddam from blowing up more Buddha monuments, desecrating Babylon, or ruining the ecology of the Tigris-Euphrates wetlands.

I'm sure the New York Times doesn't consider any money spent on the defense budget as contributing to global development; this morning's editorial glosses over that to look at nonmilitary aid. But Hanson is right -- spending money to help bring democracy, freedom, and infrastructure to Iraq, or to depose the Taliban, has helped improve the condition of a great number of people in the world. The Times also ignores private donations, which as many are noting are pouring in for victims of the tsunami -- and which go to support causes all over the world all the time. We should be involved in giving foreign aid: I believe it is a moral obligation. But I also don't think the government should be responsible for all the giving we should do -- rather, private citizens should and do give enormous amounts to charity -- and I think it's unfair for American critics to look only at select measures of government expenditures when considering our generosity overall.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

And that's the way it was

It's the end of the year, which can only mean . . . it's time for Dave Barry's Year in Review column. Excelente. Sadly, it's probably his last column, since he's about to go on indefinite hiatus, but in the meantime, it's nice to have this one. A few samples (which is equal opportunity, bipartisan, and all that :) of Barry's unique brand of humor:

AUGUST: In other bad news, the Department of Homeland Fear, acting on credible information, raises the National Terror Index Level to "EEEEEEEE," which is a level so high that only dogs can detect it.

SEPTEMBER: With more bad news coming from Iraq, and Americans citing terrorism and health care as their major concerns, the news media continue their laser-beam focus on the early 1970s. Dan Rather leads the charge with a report on CBS's "60 Minutes," citing a memo, allegedly written in 1972, suggesting that Bush shirked his National Guard duty. Critics charge that the memo is a fake, pointing out that at one point it specifically mentions the 2003 Outkast hit "Hey Ya." Rather refuses to back down, arguing that the reference could be to "an early version of the song."

NOVEMBER: As the nation enters the holiday season, the festive mood is dampened by the intrusion of grim reality, as 137 Americans die in vicious predawn aisle-to-aisle combat over deeply discounted post-Thanksgiving Christmas sale items. Congress vows to remain on recess.

Abroad, the big news is the presidential election in Ukraine, where the government, citing exit polls, declares that Viktor Yanukovych has defeated Viktor Yushchenko. Hundreds of thousands of outraged Ukrainians take to the streets, protesting the fact that they cannot remember which Viktor is which. Many threaten to move to Canada.

You should definitely read the whole thing. Enjoy :)

Gone in 60 minutes

Well, he did it: Peyton Manning broke Dan Marino's season touchdown passing record on Sunday against the Chargers, and in pretty impressive fashion: with a last-minute come-from-behind scoring drive to send the game into overtime. It was, it must be admitted, pretty darn cool. Len Pasquarelli sums up the drive and the last play:

Indeed, the history of the NFL includes The Drive, The Catch, The Fumble, The Holy Roller and The Immaculate Reception, among its greatest plays. On Sunday afternoon, with the Colts trailing 31-23 and just one minute remaining in the fourth quarter, the ever-resourceful Manning authored another memorable Kodak moment.

For lack of something better, we'll call it The Whisper, and file all of the appropriate copyright documents first thing Monday morning . . . .

With the game on the line, and needing a different twist against a San Diego secondary that played a deceptively aggressive zone much of the contest, Manning flipped through his voluminous mental inventory. He told Stokley to fake the corner route and then break the pattern to the post.

Touchdown. Record.

Dr. Z looks at some of the top seasons by QB's in NFL history, figuring Manning will probably end up ranking alongside these. Still, for Manning himself, records don't matter so much as wins, and despite the nice season the Colts are having it's going to be hard to make it out of the AFC to the Super Bowl. The Pats and the Steelers are going strong -- personally, I think the Steelers can take the Pats at home. Or maybe I just get a kick out of Irish RB Jerome Bettis :).

Common carriers

When looking at the disaster that often is airline travel today, it's hard not to conclude that some airlines want to go out of business. "No, really," they're saying, "we don't even want to be in this industry. Y'all go on and fly Southwest." In the case of US Airways (which lost football fields' worth of baggage and cancelled numerous flights over Christmas) and Comair (a Delta carrier, which owing to some major computer snafu cancelled all its flights over Christmas and will only be fully back up and running this Friday), passengers might be about ready to take up this offer and start taking their business elsewhere:

US Airways' reliability problems over the weekend could cost it dearly as business and leisure travelers begin weighing the risk of being stranded against supporting the struggling airline . . . .

US Airways spokesman Chris Chiames said operations were back to normal Monday and emphasized that "99% of our people came to work when they were supposed to, and that many, many of them volunteered to work extra hours and work extra flights to help solve the problem."

But, "Consumers won't forget being inconvenienced at Christmas," says AviationForecasts analyst Vaughn Cordle.

I like US Air (particularly the fact that they compete with Delta on the direct route to Reagan National) and I do know the company would prefer to retain customer loyalty and stay afloat, but it's just not looking likely right now. It might be easy to say "good riddance," but I don't think we necessarily should. While carriers like Southwest really are much better options in terms of reliability and efficiency -- plus their employees seem to like working there! -- they can't handle all the routes the major carriers do, so it still matters who the big guys are and whether they can stay in business. But it's not clear that a government investigation can do much to fix the problem, and the airlines themselves don't seem to be doing much self-help, multiple bankruptcy filings notwithstanding. So, it may be time to figure out what to do with my flier miles, as the NYT is reporting that the airline headaches are only likely to worsen in the next year:

With the six big airlines expected to lose another $5.5 billion this year, every one of them -- American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest and US Airways -- has announced plans for deeper cuts in 2005. All told, the slashing will reach $7.5 billion in spending and at least 20,000 jobs . . . . For passengers, the irreversible retrenchment by the airline industry, which has shrunk by a quarter since the start of the decade, has meant the loss of food service, a reduction in routes, flight delays, lost baggage and other headaches.

Both my grandfathers and my father used to work for airlines (and my brother's a pilot, though making career decisions away from commercial aviation), and my earliest childhood memories are of the Atlanta airport -- the long escalators, the computer synthesized voice on the concourse shuttles :). Flying was fun. My memories next in time there, though, are of the Eastern union picketers marching with their orange signs in front of the main terminal. So I suppose the process of separating out the profitable airlines from the weaker and unprofitable is nothing new. I guess we'll have to wait and see which airlines the present shake-up leaves standing.

EDIT: I like this line from Dave Barry's year in review column, from his September events summary: "In aviation news, US Airways files for bankruptcy for a second time, only to have a federal judge rule that the airline can't possibly get any more bankrupt than it already is. Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration, acting on credible information, announces that it will be requiring additional airport screening for commercial airline passengers who are 'wearing clothes.'" Heh.

Matters of life and death

I'm much overdue in posting this link, but I hope it's not too late to mention it. A few weeks ago Professor Berman made this post about a recent Ohio Supreme Court case, State v. Yarbrough, in which the death sentences imposed for the 1999 murder of two Ohio college students was overturned because of a lack of jurisdiction; the murders were committed in Pennsylvania. Chris Muha, a Yale law student who is the brother of one of the victims, wrote to Moritz bloggers asking them to publicize the story somewhat; Chris (and neurosis, though I can't find the link) did so. I can't add any insight to the jurisdictional question at issue here, but I did want to mention that Chris Muha wants people to know that, even as there is a motion to reconsider in the Ohio case, as Catholics he and his mother are both against the death penalty. I also oppose the death penalty except in the rarest of circumstances (which qualification does not cover most of the impositions of the death penalty in this country today). Catechism (2266-67) teaches that while "legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense," nevertheless if "nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person."

The most interesting take on Christian attitudes towards the death penalty I have read recently was by Professor Budziszewski in First Things; he argues that murder deserves death in return, but proper application of mercy counsels in favor of not always giving what is deserved:

The argument against capital punishment runs as follows. True, the purpose of retribution is served by the murderer’s death, but under certain circumstances retribution might interfere with other purposes of punishment: it might prematurely put an end to his rehabilitation; it might undermine deterrence (say, by so angering his compatriots that they, too, commit evils); and it might not be necessary for the physical safety of others. Therefore, it would be better not to kill him, but to protect society by other means—perhaps by locking him up forever. The difficulty with this argument is that it seems to regard the secondary purposes of punishment as sufficient to overturn its primary purpose. Rehabilitation, protection, and deterrence cannot justify doing more than what retribution demands; how can they justify doing less?

Fortunately, this is not the end of the story; mercy and justice can, in fact, be reconciled . . . . To the question, “Is it ever permissible to show mercy?” I also answer “yes,” but for a different reason. The faith I hold recognizes the dilemma that utilitarians ignore. Justice is inexorable; evil must be punished. This would seem to make mercy impossible; yet there is mercy. As the Psalmist says, “Great is thy mercy, O Lord; give me life according to thy justice” (Psalms 119:156). Somehow the irreconcilables meet and kiss.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Appointments clause

Good news for us "antiabortion" types: two new solid pro-life senators have been appointed to the Judiciary Committee. NARAL is reduced to overblown metaphors, naturally, while pro-life groups are heartened:

Antiabortion groups hailed yesterday's appointments, while advocates of keeping abortion legal expressed dismay. "The color code for potential threats to the Constitution just went from orange to red," said Ralph G. Neas of People for the American Way. "It's hard to believe the Judiciary Committee could go any farther to the right, but it just did."

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: "It appears the far right is massing troops on the border of Roe v. Wade."

Conservative groups see it differently. "I'm very pleased with it, obviously," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. "Sam Brownback and Tom Coburn are friends of ours."

I haven't been as concerned about these nominations since Specter pledged not to block the president's nominees, contra Daschle; to judge by his own words (particularly in the WSJ) I think he was sufficiently chastened by the conservative campaign against his chairmanship to hold now to his word, even though it may have been made as a pragmatic attempt to keep power. Still, having Coburn and Brownback will help.

Requiem for the records

As Peyton Manning continues to display serious class (passing up an opportunity to get Marino's TD record at the expense of the Ravens at the end of Sunday's game when it was already won), he also continues to display extraordinary ability. He's got two more games to get just two TD's to set a new record, and with the way he's been playing all season with multiple scores per game (with a nod to the Ravens' nice defensive scheme Sunday), he should shatter this record. Marino seems to be taking it all in stride -- couldn't happen with a nicer guy, right? Well, I've liked Manning since he was at Tennessee, so I don't mind him blowing past this record. But I have to admit being bummed that Manning is also set to break a couple of my all-time favorite player's records as well. Steve Young has the record for single-season passer rating (112 -- Manning's currently at 126 (!)), and he and Jerry Rice have the most touchdowns for a QB-WR combination in history (85, but Peyton and Marvin Harrison are at 82). It appears these marks are not long for this world. Can we please have a moment of silence? :)

Friday, December 17, 2004

one ... more ... test ...

I've really been struggling to get the studying for this one done over the last few days. Which, considering I thought it would be the most straightforward, only adds to the frustration. Anyway, I will be back! Just have to get through this one today. See y'all soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It was only business

When I first saw the pictures of new ND head coach Charlie Weis (see here for instance), I couldn't help but think he looked sort of like the guys you always see in the movies sitting in the front of The Family's restaurant who are there to look vaguely threatening and to size up any visitors who might be stopping by to meet the Godfather. As it turns out, Weis is from New Jersey, and he's promising a new, "nasty" style of Notre Dame football (also "intelligent" and "hard-working," of course). Along these lines, Lucas Sayre posts an entertainingly reworked baptism scene, of the imagined fallout from the events of the past two weeks. E bene :)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Come together

Someone found my site this morning by Googling "immigrant marriage Philippines." I don't think I've ever written about those three things in tandem, but thanks to an intensive week of studying (immigration and administrative law) I think could answer any questions about it now -- file an I-130, wait for it to be approved to file an I-485 to get the beneficiary spouse a green card, but depending on whether the petitioner spouse is a citizen or a permanent resident you'll either have to wait for a turn in the quota to come up, or not . . . Well, I'm glad to realize something stuck, anyway :) But now I'm in DC for a few days, and the first order of business is: to take a nap.

In the meantime, a few interesting posts around the blogosphere recently: Tony Rickey on liberals in academia, Professor Bainbridge on same (here also), Carey Cuprisin on why winning isn't everything, and Jim Geraghty on the anti-"Happy holidays" backlash.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Finding a Notre Dame man

ESPN is reporting (eschewing a snarky tone, which is appreciated given the high level of snark in most stories about the Irish over the last week) that the Irish are going to interview Bills offensive coordinator Tom Clements today. This looks like a smart move by the Irish, and I hope they handle it well. Clements is a Double Domer -- he was on the national championship team in '73, and then came back to get a law degree from the school in 1986. He's got the Bills on a decent win streak right now. Here's how Sean at Blue-Gray Sky assessed Clements the other day:

As for the reasons I think he would be the ideal choice - first of all, he wants the job. He wanted it in 2001, and I'm guessing that hasn't changed. This is not someone Notre Dame is going to have to hard sell on coming to Notre Dame and then overpay to get them. Clements will come immediately and at a reasonable price.

Second, there is no danger of Clements asking the administration to lower the admission standards. He will know and embrace these standards because he has played and coached under them before . . . .

Fifth, and most importantly, this would be a tremendously popular move with the alumni base. THIS is the move they should have made three years ago after the O'Leary thing blew up in their faces. Keep it in the family. Clements has his fair share of advocates within the high powered alum, which will help. I think this is a move, given how the Meyer thing went sour, that would be tremendously popular. I'm picturing Clements at the press conference announcing his acceptance of the job and I'm picturing him talking about the spirit of Notre Dame and how special a place the university is, and truly MEANING it. Not just saying it because his paycheck says "University of Notre Dame" on it, but saying it because that's how he truly feels and always will feel. And I get excited about having a guy who can go out and re-sell Notre Dame without having to be sold on it himself.

Would like to write more, am realizing I do in fact have a test this afternoon. Doh! All right . . . I better go study more and worry about the coaching situation later :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Kecharitomene: full of grace

Today, in the Catholic liturgical calendar, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which many people (including, unfortunately, many Catholics) think refers to the conception of Jesus, but which actually refers to the conception of Mary. We believe that God's grace touched her from the moment of her conception, so that she was redeemed by Christ from the beginning and preserved from original sin. As the Ark of the Covenant was sanctified as the vessel which contained the symbol of God's first covenant with man (the Ten Commandments), so was Mary sanctified as she who would carry within her the New Covenant: Jesus Christ.

Mark Shea, an evangelical convert who's on hiatus from blogging to write a book about how he came to discover Mary in the Catholic tradition, has a good article on the same subject in this month's Crisis. John Mark Reynolds recently wrote a very nice reflection on Mary's meaning to us at Christmas. Finally, Fr. William Saunders writes about the bases in Scripture and tradition for our understanding of this doctrine and points out why we reflect today on the grace given Mary by God:

In a homily on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception delivered in 1982, Pope John Paul II wrote, "Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who filled you, Virgin of Nazareth, with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In Him, you were conceived Immaculate! Preselected to be His Mother, you were redeemed in Him and through Him more than any other human being! Preserved from the inheritance of original sin, you were conceived and came into the world in a state of sanctifying grace. Full of grace! We venerate this mystery of the faith in today's solemnity. Today, together with all the Church, we venerate the Redemption which was actuated in you. That most singular participation in the Redemption of the world and of man, was reserved only for you, solely for you. Hail O Mary, Alma Redemptoris Mater, dear Mother of the Redeemer."

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and as we continue our Advent preparation, may we invoke the prayers of our Blessed Mother, Mary Immaculate, to draw ever closer to our Lord, her Son, this Christmas.

Monday, December 06, 2004

ND notes

Brand new blog by six Domers (I'm assuming) who are following the current coaching saga and offering their own news and insights. The posts are all really interesting so far (particularly the one detailing the standard bash-Notre-Dame storylines that the media love to trot out whenever possible). This one by Sean may have been written while under the influence, but (and so?) is a really useful evaluation of different guys we could/should be looking at, with one overall principle that should be guiding the search:

I'm not sure how Urban Meyer would have done as the Notre Dame head coach, nor how he will do at Florida. My guess is he will have them in the SEC Championship game next year, at a minimum. They have a TON of talent. I do know the reasons why I thought Meyer would be a great fit, and it wasn't so much the prolific, wide open offense that he runs nor his renowned motivational skills. Now more than ever, the University of Notre Dame needs someone who can passionately sell the school to recruits. Someone who bleeds blue and gold, and who assembles a staff that bleeds blue and gold. Urban Meyer, I thought, fit this bill.

My main concern now is that we need to hire someone who loves Notre Dame.

Sean thinks we should hire Bills offensive coordinator Tom Clements. Michael likes Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino. I'm not sure what to think right now, but I agree we need someone who loves the Irish. I hope we take the time to find that person; now that we've already got the usual critics piling on, we might as well. We owe it to the players and the school as a whole.

This strange place called a "library"

Well, it turns out that 3L's are actually required to take exams, despite a complete lack of any motivation or interest that I can detect on the part of said 3L's. (I think that lack of motivation should have some relevance as to whether we have to show up, but no one asked me :). Accordingly, I must go reacquaint myself with the public library, where I haven't spent much time since last school year, and turn my attention toward some serious outlining for exams at the end of this week. In the meantime, if I may direct your attention to two excellent posts from Justin Katz -- one on playing God, and one on the "anti-abstinence crowd" and what drives it. Good stuff.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Scientific philosophizing

Via The Corner, this link to a TCS article on what the larger debate over embryonic stem cell research is really about: philosophy. Essentially, the author argues, knowledge of science doesn't automatically bring knowledge of how to put science to use. Rather, ethics and philosophy govern (or should, at any rate) the use of science. Proponents of ESCR shouldn't claim that because we can do human embryonic research, therefore we must, Q.E.D. -- the "must" (and its necessary dismissal of moral or ethical objections to that research) is really a philosophical claim that bears more scrutiny:

Some philosophical system must adjudicate the interaction between science and human endeavors. There is no way around this. Science, when it aspires to step outside itself and explain how its fruits should be put to use, is no longer science but philosophy. The scientific enterprise tells us how a discrete question is to be answered; it does not tell us how to apply that answer to life . . . . Bereft of first principles, Science is nothing but a mass of unconnected facts, an organ with no mind to command it. Practically speaking, the demand for decisions to be made on the basis of science alone has meant that while profounder schools of philosophy are excluded, a sort of utilitarianism reigns, a dull calculation of pleasure and pain which scorns all concerns about the wider social state, much less the wider moral order.

The author thinks the philosophical sides boil down to utilitarianism and natural law theory. I think this is essentially correct, but then again, a whole lot more than just the debate over ESCR comes down to those two schools of thought . . .

Friday, December 03, 2004

What an embarrassment

Back in the spring, assessing the utter disaster that is the John York-managed San Francisco 49er team, I essentially decided to go on strike as a Niners fan. I have loved that team since I was little, but over the past few years in particular the management has done just about everything it possibly could to alienate fans and drive the team into the ground. (No, this was not a fair-weather fan thing -- I've stuck with the team through down years before, but this year I was just too ticked at the management to bother.) Here, the Chronicle's Kevin Lynch and SI's Michael Silver detail the ruin that is now a 1-10 season. In the event, while I feel bad for the players this year, I have been happy to follow two of the teams I thought I'd switch to for the season -- the Colts and the Steelers. Fun division, the AFC is :)

But switching from one complete disaster to another, Urban Meyer has apparently accepted at Florida, not ND. I sure hope Kevin White has some sort of backup plan, as he now has to head around the country again on another head coach search during recruiting season. True, some are saying ND is better off without Willingham or Meyer, but at the moment, the whole situation just looks like a joke -- on us. Oh well. Tune in next season.

So .... Peyton Manning's looking pretty great this year, huh?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

By what authority?

After the Third Circuit struck down the Solomon Amendment (which requires schools to allow military recruiters on campus as a condition of receiving federal funds) the other day, Harvard Law School wasted no time in reinstating a ban on military recruiters. Now, I thought the Third Circuit's decision, made on free speech grounds, was rather absurd (see Anthony Rickey's site for a good critique of the ruling). But agree or disagree with it, I'm not clear why it applies to Harvard. My understanding is that Harvard was not a party to the suit, even though HLS faculty members signed on to an amicus brief -- FAIR, the group bringing suit, doesn't publically disclose its members, but Harvard isn't ever mentioned among those that have been named, like Stanford and Georgetown, and I think Harvard specifically declined to join this suit. The attorney arguing the case for FAIR says that the court's ordered injunction applies nationally, but that's not clear from reading the opinion. Last year, Marty Lederman of SCOTUSblog considered the question of whether one circuit court's injunction can apply to non-parties, in the context of federal injunctions of the partial birth abortion ban:

The real question -- which district courts and courts of appeals occasionally answer incorrectly -- is whether a district court's (or court of appeals') declaration that a statute is unconstitutional has the effect of enjoining the defendant from enforcing the statute against parties not before the court. The answer to that should be "no." Absent a special statutory review provision allowing a single party to obtain a judgment restraining enforcement of a statute in its entirety, and in the absence of class certification, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled only to a judgment that declares a challenged statute unlawful and/or enjoins its enforcement or application as to those plaintiffs. See, e.g., U.S. Department of Defense v. Meinhold, 510 U.S. 939 (1993); Virginia Society of Humane Life v. FEC, 263 F.3d 379, 392-94 (CA4 2000); Meinhold v. U.S. Department of Defense, 34 F.3d 1469, 1480 (CA9 1994); Ameron v. Army Corps of Engineers, 787 F.2d 875, 888 (CA3 1986); National Center for Immigrants' Rights v. INS, 743 F.2d 1365, 1371-72 (CA9 1984). Indeed, a district court's decision would not even collaterally estop the government from enforcing the statute against nonparties, in the extremely unlikely event the government would choose to do so. See U.S. v. Mendoza, 464 U.S. 154 (1984).

So my question is, is HLS just going ahead and acting in the expectation it could also win an injunction in the First Circuit? Or does it really have good justification for acting so quickly? Just curious.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Behind the scenes

I had it on some authority (all right, it was about fifth-hand information, which is why I didn't pass it on this morning :) that the Irish had already gotten an agreement from Urban Meyer to coach at ND, that that's why they fired Willingham yesterday, and that Meyer was going to be announced today. So much for that last part, which never seemed all that likely, with a major bowl for Utah coming up. Still, is it possible that Meyer and the Irish are just holding out a little longer? In a thoughtful article, John Walters considers what was really behind Willingham being dumped:

Ty Willingham was not fired because he failed to win a national championship. Ty Willingham, who by every account is a man of impeccable integrity and character, a man possessed of both wisdom and intellect, was fired because 1) under him the Irish no longer had any fight and 2) Notre Dame did not want to miss out on a chance to hire Urban Meyer.

It wasn't Willingham's 21-15 record that did him in so much as the manner in which Notre Dame so often lost the past three seasons. The Irish have lost by 30 or more points 20 times in their more than 118 seasons. Five of those 30-point losses occurred during Willingham's tenure . . . .

For those of who attended Notre Dame and regularly check the "Cannot Attend" box on invitations to weddings that take place in autumn (unless it's specified in the invite that a big-screen TV has been secured for the reception hall), the past two seasons have been especially ignominious (see, I attended a bastion of academia!) . . . .

You can make the argument that Notre Dame does not have the talent to match up with those teams, and maybe you're right. But the margin of those losses suggest something more insidious than a disparity in talent; those routs suggest that as a team (not as individuals, but as a team), Notre Dame lacks strength of character. And that flaw goes back on the coaches.

Another columnist, with some weird characterizations of the administration (this isn't Halloween, and the writer's off-target there) simply points out that "the Domers are aware of the growing Urban Legend and forced out Willingham quickly so they can pounce on Meyer, whose innovative offense is a rabbit to the tortoise of Willingham and stuffy coordinator Bill Diedrick." Well, I guess we fans are left just hoping it works out -- for the Irish, and for Coach Willingham.

EDIT: Yesterday I was somewhat critical of ESPN's Mike Wilbon's comments that the firing was largely about race. I didn't have a link because his comments were on TV. But today Wilbon took a whole column in his paper, the Post, to expound on his theory (he takes issue with other college football programs as well, but is particularly focused on ND). One ND alum thinks Wilbon is being unfair to the Irish.

First do no harm

Yesterday the AP reported the seriously disturbing news that a Dutch hospital has already begun euthanizing babies. I've always understood the motivations behind the drives to allow such things -- everyone can sympathize with the case of someone being in serious pain and not feeling like he wants to go on living. But such an impulse, however sincerely intended, is morally misguided because it chooses death over life. Made permissible in the law -- sanctioned by the state -- euthanasia is morally disastrous. Once you make the legal allowance that some human life is simply not worth living despite death not being imminent, it's hard to draw and hold a line thereafter. The Dutch started out by promising that only terminally ill, fully conscious and cognizent adults, with the consent of at least two doctors, could make the decision to end their own lives. Precious few years later, that decision has been extended to people whose illnesses are not fatal and even to 12-year-old children (!) and, from the other end of the life spectrum, to infant children -- who could not possibly consent. Having jumped from one limited class of cases to another one entirely, the main Dutch doctors' association wants to further expand euthanasia to people "with no free will," including -- explicitly -- infants, children and the mentally retarded. Far from being a rare procedure with safeguarded limits, euthanasia in the Netherlands now involves -- predictably, one might add -- people with power to affect other people's lives making the decision that those other people's lives aren't worth living. What happened to the first duty of physicians, to do everything possible to save and improve a patient's life? We keep lines like the one against euthanasia in place because we must value all human life or else, shortly, value little of it. We don't want individuals to experience pressure to end their own lives (by feeling that they'd be an economic or emotional burden on others) and we don't want the state to be making judgments about how much, exactly, our lives are worth to continue (by making prudential economic considerations about human life). We don't want the disabled to feel that they aren't worthy of life because they aren't perfect and aren't guaranteed happiness (but who is?) -- and we shouldn't want the coarsened attitude toward human beings that such eugenic-minded devaluation brings on. Even more, here's part of why doctors' actions in the Netherlands should shock us:

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Executive Director, Alex Schadenberg, said that this is not new news. "The British Medical Journal revealed, already in 1997, that eight percent of all infant deaths in the Netherlands are from euthanasia for fetal anomalies. This is clearly eugenic euthanasia, and has nothing to do with having a terminal illness," he said.

"The 2001 law made euthanasia legal only for consenting persons above the age of 12 and for children under 12 with parental consent," Schadenberg pointed out. What is new is the proposal to eliminate an age restriction and the need for consent for persons who are unconscious or unable to make the decision for themselves. "The reason it is eugenic euthanasia, is because these babies are being killed not because they are going to die, but because they are going to live."

By now, it's long been the case that pretty much anything goes in the Netherlands, morally speaking. And their culture's grown progressively weaker. It's not too late to stop the slide there, though it is going to require a lot of prayer and action to save that society. It's definitely not too late for us to act here and heed the Dutch example as a major warning sign for what could happen here if we were to allow, for instance, Oregon's little experiment to expand.

EDIT: Hugh Hewitt has more, and this post from John Mark Reynolds is also valuable.