Tom Archives

“Everyone Thought We Were A Bit Mad”

Meet Simon Fitzmaurice, an Irish filmmaker who chose life in the face of certain death:

Ruth Fitzmaurice watched as the consultant, a man they had never met before, entered the hospital room and made his way towards her husband’s bed.

Simon, a talented filmmaker and the father of three small boys, lay there with a tube going down his throat, pushing air into his lungs, allowing him to breathe but preventing him from being able to talk.

They listened as the medic spelled out in no uncertain terms what he expected them to do.

‘He basically announced that this was the end of the road,’ explains Ruth. ‘That was it, they had done all they could – that he had phoned Simon’s own consultant in Beaumont Hospital who agreed that ventilation for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is not advocated in Ireland.’

The consultant continued, telling Simon that it was now time for him to make ‘the hard choice’ – to agree to come off the ventilator.

But Simon was not going to give up that easily.

Despite the consultant’s stark and very clear recommendation, Simon refused to grant permission to take him off the machine that was keeping him alive.

‘Simon’s family very much think for themselves, and Simon in particular is a very strong character,’ smiles Ruth. ‘He wouldn’t be fazed by being told what to do by a doctor, he would question things and say: “Hang on a second.”

‘The consultant told us if he stayed on the ventilator that he wouldn’t get out of the hospital. With MND [a degenerative condition that destroys the cells that control voluntary muscles and can affect speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement] it’s like, “where do you think this is going? You’re only going to get worse. Why would you choose to ventilate?” So that’s when we decided to fight.’

Not only did they decide not to take Simon off the ventilator they went a step further by deciding to have more children (they already had three when they received his diagnosis). They ended up having twins.

‘Everyone thought we were a bit mad,’ laughs Ruth. ‘But we felt in the face of death and with everything that had happened, well, kids are the ultimate opposite of all that, they’re life-affirming.’

But that’s not all. Simon also went on to finish a script that he had been working on for a movie he will direct starting next year.
Rather than accepting a death sentence, Simon has chosen to go on living life to the fullest possible. It’s a beautiful picture of what it truly means to choose life. Be sure to read his entire story.

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    Are you on Twitter?

    Are you a Twitter user? I am (you can follow me at @Daddypundit). Recently I wrote an essay on the pros and cons of the popular social media platform.

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      Election Reflections

      Like many other folks, I was up late last night watching the results come in. While I am disappointed in the outcome I am still proud to live in a country that allows its citizens to freely choose its own leaders. We should never take that freedom for granted.

      I’m working on a much longer essay on my thoughts and observations on the election and what it means as we move forward. For now, I’ll recommend two excellent articles I saw posted today from Albert Mohler and Joel Rosenberg.

      I was talking with a friend last night who suggested that perhaps God is chastising his people here in America the same way he did the nation of Israel when they were disobedient in the Old Testament. Perhaps that is true. I do know for certain that God ordains who He wants to lead us and therefore He must have a purpose that will be served with President Obama’s re-election.

      Finally, I couldn’t help but think of this speech from the late Chuck Colson. He summed it up much better than I ever could:

      “Where is the hope?

      I meet millions of people that tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us.

      Where is the hope?

      The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation.

      Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people.

      That’s where our hope lies  in this country.

      And that’s where our hope lies in our life.”

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        Another Victim of Obama’s Economy

        We hear a lot about the effect of the economy on small business but this video says it better than any other I have seen. Bill’s Barbecue was an institution in Richmond, VA for 82 years but it couldn’t survive four years of Obama’s economic policies.

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          Over at the Corner, Hadley Arkes has some further analysis of the Democrats’ platform fiasco from their just concluded convention and comes up with this nugget:

          For it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them.

          This is the real crux of the matter. Denying the existence of God (or at least failing to acknowledge His existence) makes it much easier to also deny that any of our rights are also given by God. The Democrats, at their core, don’t’ honestly believe what the Declaration of Independence says. Once you’ve disavowed the Declaration it’s not hard to disavow the Constitution as the two documents are closely linked to one another.

          Tonight, the President said this:

          On every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties. When all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.

          The President is exactly right. The choice that voters face is clear. Two differing worldviews are on clear display to choose from. One party believes that our rights are God-given and therefore cannot be infringed upon by government. The other believes that government has the power to grant (and to take away) rights as it pleases. Which choice would you make?

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            Can a Person of Faith Be a Democrat?

            Given the events of the past 24 hours at the Democratic National Convention, this suddenly becomes a fair question. Yesterday, delegates went ballistic when party officials tried to reinsert previously omitted language about God and Israel into their platform. Needless to say this created some bad optics for the Democrats as well as creating news at their convention. This was such a grave unforced error it’s not clear yet how much damage has been done.

            But taking this in conjunction with the party’s full fledged endorsement of abortion on demand (“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”) as well as the ongoing controversy over the HHS mandate regarding conception and suddenly you get the feeling that there is outright animus towards people of faith.

            This is not necessarily new but never has it been more obvious. As John Hinderaker points outs, “The Democrats, bluntly put, have become the party of those who don’t go to church.” Although I would disagree with him over whether religious beliefs informs ones view of the issues of the day (it does) he is absolutely correct to suggest that the Democratic platform is in direct opposition to the values that Jews, Christians, and Catholics in particular hold.

            This point is further illustrated in Al Mohler’s excellent essay on the stark worldview choices we are facing in this election.

            All of this begs the question whether a devout Jew, Christian or Catholic can sincerely also identify themselves as a Democrat. I frankly can’t see how anyone can.

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              Charles Colson, RIP

              From Fox News:

              Watergate figure Charles Colson, who turned to religion, died Saturday at a Northern Virginia hospital after a brief illness, according to a family spokesman. He was 80.

              “This is a time of conflicting, colliding emotions for all of us,” said Jim Liske, the chief executive of the Lansdowne, Va.-based Prison Fellowship Ministries that Colson founded. “We grieve that our brother, our founder, our inspiration is no longer with us. But we rejoice that Chuck is with Jesus, we rejoice as we reflect on his life and legacy and that we could be a part of that, and we rejoice when we think of all the redeemed in heaven who will greet him and thank him for the role he played in their salvation.”

              Colson was the author of numerous books his most famous being his autobiography Born Again which tells his compelling story of coming to faith in Christ prior to going to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal.

              He was also a compelling speaker and boldly proclaimed Christ at every opportunity. My wife and I had the privilege of being in the audience at his acceptance of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion at the Universty of Chicago in 1993. In the midst of a highly ecumenical service with representatives of every major religion, Colson bravely and unashamedly proclaimed the gospel. Many who disagreed with him walked out during the speech. However, reading the text nearly twenty years later still gives me chills.

              Chuck Colson made a tremendous impact on many believers all over the world. His story is a true story of redemption and the power of Christ to change lives.

              Rest in peace, brother.

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                The Catholic Church Fights Back

                President Obama may have picked the wrong fight when his administration announced they were forcing the Catholic Church to provide contraceptives including the morning after pill to their employees. In his unforced error, the President may have awakened the sleeping giant of the Catholic Church and set the wheels in motion for a permanent political shift. From the Daily Mail:

                Prominent Catholic leaders across the U.S. have threatened to turn voters against President Obama over his controversial plans to offer free birth control.

                The fight is over a provision of the health reform law announced on January 20 that would require health insurance plans — including those offered by institutions such as Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities — to offer free birth control including sterilization.

                According to estimates, there are some 70 million Catholic voters – and many could be posed to vote against the president in the crucial upcoming election.

                Catholic League head Bill Donohue said: ‘Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,’ CBS New York reported.

                ‘This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets.’ Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was promoted to the status of a Cardinal just weeks ago, spoke out about the issue.

                ‘It’s not about contraception. It’s about the right of conscience,’ he told reporters. ‘The government doesn’t have the right to butt into the internal governance and teachings of the church,” he said.

                ‘This is not a Catholic issue, it’s an American issue. We’re strong on this issue of conscience, and that’s what’s at stake here.’

                Catholic clergy on Sunday called on the faithful to write Congress to protest new birth control rules from President Barack Obama’s administration, stepping up a campaign that began a week ago with denunciations from the pulpit at Masses across the country.

                Catholics are traditionally staunchly pro-life despite their tendency to vote for Democrats. But over the past couple of election cycles, Catholics have slowly begun to wake up to the fact that many prominent Democrats who also profess to be Catholics (think John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi) don’t hold the same values as those that the church endorses.

                The Catholic Church is rising to the challenge because they realize this controversy is not just about abortion. It’s also about religious liberty. And they are finally realizing that Democrats that they have worked to elect over the past several decades are not their allies. It’s about time.

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                  Obama’s War Against the Church

                  It’s starting with the Catholic church but it won’t be long before all churches will be targeted. But the Catholic church isn’t going to take this lying down.

                  The controversy began when the Obama Administration informed Catholic institutions that the new healthcare law requires them to pay for contraceptives. It’s not just birth control pills, either. They are also requiring them to provide the so-called “morning after” pill to anyone who wants them. The Catholic church has responded that the rule violates their teaching and they will not abide by it. In fact, they are calling for parishoners to stand up in civil disobedience. Archbishop Jose Gomez is among those calling for action.

                  While the first impulse would be to say this is merely a political dispute, it is anything but. This is a salvo in an ongoing war against Christians. Catholics and Evangelicals have an opportunity to band together for the greater good. When you have people of different faiths and political backgrounds come together for a common cause (as can be seen in this video) then you know you have a huge issue on your hands.

                  On one hand, there is a constitutional crisis that is being brought about by the administration’s actions. Their edict is a clear violation of the First Amendment. For years, liberals have misinterpreted the phrase “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” to mean that the church cannot influence government. But the amendment was worded this way to prevent exactly the sort of action that the administration is taking. Government should not interfere in the affairs of the church. That’s exactly what’s happening here.

                  But there is another issue at stake. As Elizabeth Scalia put it in her recent article, “With the administration’s decision, the covert culture of death has finally made a truly overt move against the culture of life.” The adminstration has stripped away any pretenses that they were in any way supportive of those of us who strongly believe in life.

                  This is not simply a controversy involving the Catholic Church. It is part of a larger war against people of faith. It’s also a wake up call to Americans to realize that their country and the rights that we hold so dear are being taken away from them right before their eyes.

                  Martin Niemoller, founder of the Confessing Church in Germany during World War II, famously summed it up:

                  First they came for the communists,
                  and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

                  Then they came for the trade unionists,
                  and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

                  Then they came for the Jews,
                  and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

                  Then they came for the Catholics,
                  and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.

                  Then they came for me
                  and there was no one left to speak out for me.

                  It’s time to stand up against tyranny. It’s time to stand up in civil disobedience to this government. It’s time for change. It’s not about supporting one candidate over another. It’s about standing up for what is right. It’s about standing up for truth. There’s a war on. Are you ready for battle?

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                    Fighting Back

                    It’s been a tough week for presidential candidate Herman Cain who has been battling unsubstantiated charges of inappropriate conduct. A Cain super-PAC has decided enough is enough and released this devastating ad today:

                    It’s powerful stuff. Meanwhile, Mr. Cain is not taking this lying down either. He fought back in his own way and gave liberals new reasons to get their collective panties in a wad:

                    If Mr. Cain can maintain this optimistic attitude that won him so many fans early on he could be a formidable candidate.

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                      Reshuffling the Deck

                      Herman Cain scored a big win yesterday coming out on top in the Florida Presidency 5 Straw Poll. Interestingly enough, every winner of the straw poll has gone on to win the GOP nomination. It’s a huge victory especially considering that he was not one of the front runners in national polls.

                      How did he manage to win? Some credit his debate performance last Thursday especially his answer on healthcare. Others credit his speeches during the convention. Consider this remark from Byron York in his wrap up of the straw poll:

                      One other factor should not be underestimated. Yes, the delegates liked what Cain had to say.  But how he said it was just as important.  With his deep, booming voice and a style that any motivational speaker would envy, Cain can give a rousing speech, and he gave several of them during four days in Orlando.  No other candidate, frontrunner or back of the pack, could match him.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that his power as an orator sealed the deal for hundreds of delegates.  They believed Cain was speaking to them from the heart, and they were carried away by it. As with the Democratic primary contests of 2007 and 2008, never underestimate the power of a stirring speech.

                      Mr. York gets this half right. Yes, Mr. Cain has a terrific speaking style. But more importantly, he knows what he believes and communicates his ideas clearly and concisely to his audience. That sets him apart from the rest of the field (as well as our current President). His last speech before the straw poll was a terrific statement on why he should be elected. Many delegates at the Florida convention came in supporting Perry but switched their votes based on what they saw and heard from Cain.

                      The media has tried to make the race for the GOP nomination a head-to-head race between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. But Herman Cain makes a great case that he deserves to be considered as well. The race is not over by any means.

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                        Broken Windows and Restoring the Rule of Law

                        Two separate but somewhat related articles that are worth reading. First, Amity Shlaes reminds us of Frederic Bastiat’s Broken Windows and their application to today’s economy (hat tip: Steven Hayward). An excerpt:

                        In the summer of 1850, just before going to Paris, Bastiat laid out the now-famous parable. Disaster happens. A thief breaks a man’s window, or a storm does. The man has to pay the glazier to fix it. The glazier spends his money at the store. When enough windows are smashed, voila: a visible benefit, new jobs for the glass industry.

                        True enough, noted Bastiat. The window replacement is what is seen. What about that which is not seen? “Since our citizen has spent six francs for one thing, he will not be able to spend them for another. It is not seen that if he had not had a windowpane to replace, he would have replaced, for example, his worn-out shoes or added another book to his library.”

                        The same holds for a government: when it repairs windows — cleans up hurricane damage — it is not using the same money for other causes that might be more worthy, such as reducing government debt or taxes.

                        “What Is Seen and What is Not Seen” was how Bastiat titled his essay. The corollary “not seen” today is all the businesses that can’t be started because of taxes or regulatory and legal uncertainty. The corporate-tax cut that the president proposed would benefit those unseen businesses or individuals.

                        The other article is the transcript of a speech that Representative Paul Ryan gave this morning at a Constitution Day celebration in Washington. The focus of his speech was on freedom and the importance of the Rule of Law. A brief excerpt:

                        Usually, our defense of the Constitution is presented as a defense of America’s founding principles and values, and rightfully so. But our constitutional system is not just a collection of principles; it embodies an approach to government with profound practical implications for both our freedom and our prosperity. When that system is threatened, both freedom and prosperity suffer.

                        Freedom is lost by degrees, and the deepest erosions usually take place during times of economic hardship, when those who favor expanding the sphere of government, abuse a crisis to persuade free citizens that they should trade in a little of their liberty for empty promises of greater economic security.

                        We all remember what Benjamin Franklin said about that trade – that those who would make it deserve neither liberty nor security. But in such cases, when liberty is lost, it is our fault as champions of the Constitution, for failing to mount a sufficiently persuasive and effective defense.

                        Ryan goes on to demonstrate several different ways that the rule of law has been attacked over the years. This speech is by far one of the most serious and consequential political speeches I have ever read. There is no doubt in my mind that Rep. Ryan should run for President (the sooner the better).

                        Be sure to read both articles.

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                          One Final Thought on 9/11

                          We’ve spent the last few days imploring each other to never forget 9/11. But leave it to Vin Scully to put it in perspective. Like so many other things, he has a way of painting a picture with words and capturing the moment like no other broadcaster. This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in San Francisco to face the Giants. Scully paused following a pre-game 9/11 ceremony to reflect on the meaning of the anniversary:

                          “We had a lead, gray morning, slowly burning off to a brilliant sunrise, making you think of that beautiful day in New York 10 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001. Certainly a day in which God must have wept, wept over man’s inhumanity to man. A day of heroes and a day of horror … But it should also bring some honor for as we watch rising from the ashes of New York, like the Phoenix itself, the high-rises that will once again be a testimony to the heart and soul of this great country. I remember Ronald Reagan once said, ‘If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.’ And you might notice today, above all days, you will hear God’s name mentioned, and we hope, not in vain.”

                          You can read his entire remarks here as well as see a video of his first game following 9/11.

                          Hat tip: Hardball Talk

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                            Social Security: “A Ponzi Scheme”

                            Rick Perry got into a bit of trouble this week for speaking truth about Social Security. Mona Charen asks whether he blew it by referring to it as a Ponzi scheme while others argue it’s something much worse. (Hat tip: Scott Johnson) But the bigger question addressed in this post is whether we should be saving Social Security at all.

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                              9/11 Ten Years Later

                              I’ll never forget it no matter how hard I try.

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