Friday, August 28, 2009

Human Life International's Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy

Father Euteneuer has done it again! He hits a home run with HLI's statement issued today on the passing of Ted Kennedy....

We must, as a matter of precept, pray for the salvation of heretical Catholics like Senator Edward Kennedy, but we do not have to praise him let alone extol him with the full honors of a public Catholic funeral and all the adulation that attends such an event. There was very little about Ted Kennedy's life that deserves admiration from a spiritual or moral point of view. He was probably the worst example of a Catholic statesman that one can think of. When all is said and done, he has distorted the concept of what it means to be a Catholic in public life more than anyone else in leadership today.

Obviously we don't know the state of Senator Edward Kennedy's soul upon death. We don't pretend to. We are told by the family that he had the opportunity to confess his sins before a priest, and his priest has said publicly he was "at peace" when he died. For that we are grateful. But it is one thing to confess one's sins and for these matters to be kept, rightfully, private. It is another thing entirely for one who so consistently and publicly advocated for the destruction of unborn human beings to depart the stage without a public repudiation of these views, a public confession, as it were.

It is up to God to judge Senator Kennedy's soul. We, as rational persons, must judge his actions, and his actions were not at all in line with one who values and carefully applies Church teaching on weighty matters. Ted Kennedy's positions on a variety of issues have been a grave scandal for decades, and to honor this "catholic" champion of the culture of death with a Catholic funeral is unjust to those who have actually paid the price of fidelity. We now find out that President Obama will eulogize the Senator at his funeral, an indignity which, following on the heels of the Notre Dame fiasco, leaves faithful Catholics feeling sullied, desecrated and dehumanized by men who seem to look for opportunities to slap the Church in the face and do so with impunity simply because they have positions of power.

It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a "great guy behind the scenes" as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents. It is also not praiseworthy to put a Catholic rhetorical veneer on his leftist politics that did nothing to advance true justice as the Church sees it or to advance the peace of Christ in this world. Every indication of Senator Kennedy's career, every public appearance, every sound bite showed an acerbic, divisive and partisan political hack for whom party politics were much more infallible than Church doctrines. Whatever one's political affiliation, if one is only "Catholic" to the extent that his faith rhymes with his party line, then his Catholicism is a fraud.

As the Scriptures remind us, there is a time for everything under the sun. This, now, is the time for honesty about our Faith and about those who are called to express it in the public forum. If we do not remind ourselves of the necessity of public confession for public sins such as Senator Kennedy was guilty of, then we are negligent in our embrace of the Faith and we are part of the problem. As Pope Benedict has reminded us recently, charity without truth can easily become mere sentimentality, and we must not fall into that error. A Catholic show of charity for the family must not eclipse the truth that is required of all with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Senator Kennedy needs to be sent to the afterlife with a private, family-only funeral and the prayers of the Church for the salvation of his immortal soul. He will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obama to Raise 10-Year Deficit to $9 Trillion

Of course, the White House waiting until 6:30 p.m. on Friday night (the best time of the week to bury a bad news story...) to announce that it is raising the deficit projections for the next decade.

Here's the report from Jeff Mason of Reuters:

The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion in a report next week, a senior administration official told Reuters on Friday.

The higher deficit figure, based on updated economic data, brings the White House budget office into line with outside estimates and gives further fuel to President Barack Obama's opponents, who say his spending plans are too expensive in light of budget shortfalls.

The White House took heat for sticking with its $7.108 trillion forecast earlier this year after the Congressional Budget Office forecast that deficits between 2010 and 2019 would total $9.1 trillion.

"The new forecasts are based on new data that reflect how severe the economic downturn was in the late fall of last year and the winter of this year," said the administration official, who is familiar with the budget mid-session review that is slated to be released next week.

"Our budget projections are now in line with the spring and summer projections that the Congressional Budget Office put out."

The White House budget office will also lower its deficit forecast for this fiscal year, which ends September 30, to $1.58 trillion from $1.84 trillion next week after removing $250 billion set aside for bank bailouts.

Record-breaking deficits have raised concerns about America's ability to finance its debt and whether the United States can maintain its top-tier AAA credit rating.

Politically, the deficit has been an albatross for Obama, a Democrat who is pushing forward with plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare industry -- an initiative that could cost up to $1 trillion over 10 years -- and other promises, including reforming education and how the country handles energy.


Republicans have pounced on Obama for planning to spend too much when deficits are so high, and the issue is likely to loom large in next year's Congressional elections.

Obama, who has promised to halve the deficit by the end of his four-year term and likes to remind constituents he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from former President George W. Bush, says bringing down healthcare costs is critical to long-term deficit reduction.

Treasury markets have been worried all year about the mounting deficit. The United States relies on large foreign buyers such as China and Japan to cheaply finance its debt, and they may demand higher interest rates if they begin to doubt that the government can control its deficits.

"It's one of those underlying pieces of news that is liable to haunt the bond market at some point in the future," said Kim Rupert, managing director of global fixed income analysis at Action Economics LLC in San Francisco, referring to the revised 10-year deficit projection.

Many economists think it is unlikely the government can curtail spending, which means taxes would have to go up to cover the rising costs of providing retirement and healthcare benefits to aging Americans.

Higher taxes, which could slow economic growth, are also a major concern of voters on both sides of the political divide. Obama has promised not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cuccinelli's AG Bid Solidifies Virginia Conservatives

From this week's issue of "Human Events":

"Cuccinelli's AG Bid Solidifies Virginia Conservatives"
by Seth Mclaughlin
August 13, 2009

Republicans in search of political momentum heading into Congressional races next year are keeping a close eye on Virginia's gubernatorial campaign. But for a better barometer of where the conservative brand stands with voters, they also should be keeping tabs on the state's race for attorney general.

That's because the fight features two lawmakers from the voter-rich Northern Virginia suburbs that helped Democrats last year pick up the state's 13 electoral votes for the first time in 44 years. And, perhaps more important to the future of the GOP, the campaign features one of the staunchest, smartest and straightforward conservatives The Old Dominion has to offer: state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli.

For Virginia conservatives, Cuccinelli, a lawyer, husband, pro-life Christian and father of six, is the total package.

"When you have been around as long as I have you can tell the real deal from the fraudulent and Cuccinelli is the real deal," said Craig Shirley, president of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs in Alexandria, Va. and author of "Reagain's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All." "A lot of people who profess to be conservatives or Reaganites don't really get it, and Cuccinelli does."

The first Republican from Northern Virginia on the party's ticket since 1993, Cuccinelli rounds out a strong GOP lineup that includes former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the gubernatorial candidate, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is seeking re-election.

McDonnell, who spent part of his childhood in Fairfax County, called Cuccinelli "a conservative who knows how to win tough elections."

"Ken is a proven vote getter in Northern Virginia, where our party needs to do better," he said. "That's extremely helpful for our chances in November."

Shaun Kenney, former spokesman for the Republican party of Virginia and popular conservative blogger, took it step further by saying that Cuccinelli, also known as "Cooch," offers something the rest of the Republican ticket lacks. "McDonnell and Bolling are good Republicans. They are good conservatives, but they are not great conservatives like Ken Cuccinelli," Kenney said.

For six years, Cuccinelli has served as state Senator in the 37th district sandwiched in western Fairfax County between the Democrat-trending Beltway to the east and the more Republican-friendly areas to the west. He won the seat in a special election in 2002 and again a year later. He squeaked out another win in 2007 - despite the area's changing demographics, President Bush's dismal poll numbers and being outspent by his Democratic challenger.

Through the battles Cuccinelli has emerged a darling of social and religious conservatives who are enthusiastic about his supporting legislation to substantially curb abortion access, crack down on illegal immigrants, defend property rights and fight what he has described as "the homosexual agenda."

Shirley said Cuccinelli also should win kudos for successfully calling on Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine last month to hold a special session to deal with a recent U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that said the government must make scientists who prepare lab reports in drunken-driving and drug cases available for cross-examination by defense lawyers. Cuccinelli warned the decision left prosecutors in legal limbo and jeopardized prosecutions already in the pipeline. Kaine later agreed. "He was ahead of everyone else on the that issue," Shirley said.

What makes Cuccinelli's electoral success so impressive is the 37th district has become a political graveyard for Republicans. Last year, voters there backed Obama and former Gov. Mark Warner in his bid for the U.S. Senate. It favored Jim Webb over George Allen in the 2006 senatorial race. And a year earlier, it opposed Republicans running for top statewide office - including McDonnell and Bolling.

Supporters say his success comes from his unapologetic refusal to buck conservative tenets. For example, in 2007, when Democrats said he is too extreme because of his support for gun-rights and opposition to taxes, abortion and gay marriage, he embraced it. But other Republicans ran the other way and lost, leaving Cuccinelli as the GOP's last remaining state Senator from the region.

"The policy proposals I put forward apply to the real world, but they all come with the conservative philosophy," he said. "I can explain every position I've got. People know where I stand. Whether people agree with me, or don't, I have always been a straight shooter. They appreciate that, unlike a lot people, I am consistent across the board and they know that. For a lot of people that is refreshing."

This approach has helped him open an 11-point lead in his race against Delegate Stephen Shannon, also of Fairfax County, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll.

The poll comes after local elections this year that also seem to bode well for the GOP as it looks to regain footing in the greater Washington metropolitan region and among swing voters nationally.

In January, Republicans came within 16 votes of grabbing the Alexandria seat of former state Delegate Brian Moran who left the post in his failed pursuit of the Democratic nomination for governor. (Two months earlier, Obama had carried the same district with 75 percent of the vote.) In February, Republicans came within a little more than a percentage point of winning the chairmanship of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Then in March a Republican won the county board's Braddock District seat for the first time in a decade.

"Virginia is basically conservative," Cuccinelli said. "The exception to that is Northern Virginia, which is not conservative or liberal, but has been hostile to Republicans in recent years. But it is not this year. Northern Virginia looks a lot different in 2009 than in 2007 and that is even before we get to the November election."

He believes part of the impetus for change is the "buyer's remorse" some voters are having after witnessing President Obama's first eight months in office. "Clearly that plays a big role. I think people are getting something they didn't bargain for and are reacting very strongly to it," he said.

The SurveyUSA poll drove home the point by showing that 13 percent of Obama voters plan to cross over to support Cuccinelli, while 8 percent of McCain supporters plan to cross over to support Shannon.

The bottom line is Cuccinelli's political profile may have been tailor made for a statewide campaign he is a known commodity in Northern Virginia, holds a record that appeals to the more conservative parts of the state and is benefiting from having a Democrat in The White House.

"I hold my own in NOVA and I believe I go with issue advantages to the rest of the state," he said. "It's a good combination and obviously Northern Virginia is the 800-pound gorilla that has been a tough nut to crack in recent years."

And a win this year could propel him onto the national stage, where the GOP is hungry for a conservative figure to rally around.

"I hope he is thinking about that," Shirley said. "He definitely would be among the rising stars in the Republican party."

But first things first, Shirley says Cuccinelli is focused on the coming weeks where elections in Virginia and New Jersey will take center stage in national politics and Democrats will pour money and energy into wooing voters.

President Obama has already stumped with Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor, and will likely continue to do so for the entire Democratic ticket. Meanwhile, Shannon, who began the race $900,000 ahead of him, has posted an attack ad on his website questioning why Cuccinelli has not denounced a Republican candidate for the statehouse who encouraged her supporters to fight Obama's policy by saying, "We have a chance to fight this battle at the ballot box before we have to resort to the bullet box."

Cuccinelli called the ad a "desperate" attempt to move the campaign away from real issues and tie him to someone he has never campaigned for. He also said it is a sign of what's likely to come because Democrats realize what is at stake.

"I am going to have a dogfight on my hands come September and October," he said. "If we roll through in a state that Obama won and took to Democrats for first time in 44 years and we come back and sweep it, that will give Blue Dog Democrats a pause in Congress," Cuccinelli said. "They will not want to go along with their liberal cohorts. Second of all Republican candidates in 2010 will get a jump start out of Virginia."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

American College of Surgeons Issues Statement on Erroneous Comments Made by President Obama

Statement from the American College of Surgeons Regarding Recent Comments from President Obama :

CHICAGO--The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President's remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.


L.D. Britt, M.D., FACS, Chair of the ACS Board of Regents
John Cameron, M.D., FACS, President of the American College of Surgeons
Andrew Warshaw, M.D., FACS, Chair of the ACS Health Policy and Advocacy Group
Christian Shalgian, ACS Director, Division of Advocacy and Health Policy

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 76,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Arlen Specter faces fury: 'You work for us!'

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) fired back Tuesday at a raucous town hall audience that booed and jeered him for more than an hour.

Specter immediately tried to temper the rough crowd, which started booing him before the question-and-answer session even began, with the blunt warning: “If you want to stay in here, we’re not going to tolerate any demonstrations or booing. So, it’s up to you."

But minutes later during the senator’s response to a question on whether Americans would be able to maintain their private insurance under the Democratic health care proposal, a protester who was not selected to speak stood up, walked into the aisle and began shouting at him.

“Do you want to be led out of here?” the senator told the man, pointing at him. “You’re welcome to go.”

Specter then walked toward the heckler who was being pushed back toward his seat by another member of the crowd.

“Now wait a minute,” Specter shouted repeatedly into the microphone. “You want to leave? Leave.”

“I’m going to speak my mind before I leave, because your people told me I could,” the protester said once the room quieted down. “I called your office, and was told I could have the mike to speak. And then I was lied to because I came prepared to speak.”
“I’ll leave,” the protester said, as several police officers stood nearby. “And you can do whatever the hell you please to do. One day God’s going to stand before you, and he’s going to judge you and the rest of your damned cronies up on the Hill. And then you’ll get your just deserts. I’m leaving.”

The man received loud applause and shouts of support as he walked out of the room.

Trying to regain control, Specter pleaded with the crowd “to figure out some way to have an orderly procedure.” And he tried to respond to the protester.

“When he says that I’m tramping on constitutional rights, I have to disagree with him,” said the senator, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party this year. “I’m encouraging constitutional rights. I’m encouraging constitutional rights by coming to Lebanon [Pa.] to talk to my constituents. I could be somewhere else. I don’t get [any] extra pay. I don’t have any requirement to be here.”

But Specter’s assertion that he was not required to attend the town hall was not received so well.

“You work for us!” shouted several members of the crowd. “You work for us!”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama, Heath Care Continue to Fall in the Polls

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 30% of the nation's voters “Strongly Approve” of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-seven percent (37%) “Strongly Disapprove” giving Obama a “Presidential Approval Index” rating of -7 (see trends). Forty-five percent (45%) give the President good or excellent marks for leadership.

New Rasmussen Reports polling shows public support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low. Data released yesterday shows that 51% fear the federal government more than private insurance companies. Thirty-two percent (32%) favor a single-payer health care system for the U.S., while 57% are opposed.

The “Presidential Approval Index” is calculated by subtracting the number who “Strongly Disapprove” from the number who “Strongly Approve”. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

Overall, 49% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

High School Teammates Carry On

I have been on business travel the past few days and have not had an opportunity to post anything on the RC Blog this week(sorry!). I was watching ESPN on Monday morning in the hotel and saw an inspirational story of friendship and love of neighbor that needs to be shared....

By Tom Rinaldi

"Leroy, touch your toes."

Leroy reaches his arms out in front of him in mock effort, and says, "They're at home."

And then, the boys laugh.

He didn't know they were gone.

Staring down at the sheets of his bed, the morphine starting to fade, Leroy Sutton was still numb, but he had a feeling something was wrong.

"It was when I tried to sit up," Leroy said, remembering that day nearly eight years ago. "I pulled the covers up, and that's when I figured everything out."

It was Dec. 7, 2001, the day that shaped Leroy's body, and his life.

Leroy Sutton was a senior wrestler at Lincoln-West High School in Cleveland.

He was 11 years old at the time, walking to school with his brother along the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad tracks near his home in East Akron, Ohio. A freight train approached, and Leroy got too close. His backpack got caught on one of the passing cars, and he was pulled beneath the wheels.

"I didn't even look down," said Leroy, now 19, recalling the first moments afterward. "I was just staring at the sun the whole time. I wasn't trying to look down because that's when I would have panicked."

The paramedics who arrived within minutes saved Leroy's life, but the doctors could not save his entire body. At Children's Hospital in Akron, his left leg was amputated below the knee, his right leg below the hip. He knew what had happened, but didn't understand what he'd lost until a day later, when he lifted the sheets, and looked down.

As the memory came back to him, his voice dropped and his head dipped.

"The whole time I was in the hospital, I just asked, 'Why? Why?'" he said. "Every night I could not go to sleep … because when I tried, I'd end up hearing the sound of a train."

Leroy left the hospital a month and a half later. He endured long, difficult hours of rehabilitation. He accepted that a wheelchair would be part of his life but was determined to make it a small part.

"I did not want to be in my chair," he said. "I had to build my arm muscles up so I could move around. … I move around on my arms a lot."

That ability to move -- to lift and flip and twist his body -- led him to a place few expected, and into a friendship few could have foreseen.

"Leroy, don't forget your shoes. …"

Others look down, duped. Leroy just smiles.

"You just can't see them. …"

In January 2008, midway through his junior year in high school, Leroy transferred to Lincoln-West High in Cleveland. By the time he was a senior, he was a familiar sight (his wheelchair flying down the hallways) with a familiar refrain (his laughter booming off the lockers). When he decided to join the wrestling team, just as he'd done at his previous school, the coaches welcomed him. They knew his story and were eager to tap his strength.

"I told him, 'You've been hit by a train. What else, what kid, what wrestler, what can stop you?'" said Lincoln-West coach Torrance Robinson.

Dartanyon Crockett was one of Lincoln-West's most powerful wrestlers, winning at several weight classes.

At Leroy's first practice, his first partner was the only other wrestler on the team powerful enough to handle him. Dartanyon Crockett was Lincoln's best and strongest talent. He was 5-foot-10 with muscles bunched like walnuts, and already a winner in multiple weight classes. But when Leroy hopped off his chair and onto the wrestling mat, the competition was more than Dartanyon expected.

"He was a complete powerhouse," Dartanyon said, recalling their first drills together. "I never wrestled anyone as strong as him. We pushed each other to our limits, and we didn't let each other give up."

Hour after hour, month after month, practices connected them in ways that went beyond the gym. They went everywhere together: between classes, on team bus rides, at each other's houses -- both dialed in to a wavelength few others could hear. They spontaneously broke into songs only they knew. They performed imaginary superhero moves they invented. They laughed at jokes and words only they understood.

Yet, their simplest connection was the one everyone saw and no one anticipated. Not even Leroy and Dartanyon know exactly when, or how, it first happened.

"One day I'm coming out of my office," said Kyro Taylor, the school's power lifting coach. "I look over to the corner of the gym where the mats were at, and right up the steps I see Dartanyon with something on his back, and the closer I get, I'm like, 'Is that Leroy?' And it was Leroy on his back. Dartanyon's carrying him."

It was not a onetime ride.

Dartanyon lifted Leroy onto his back and carried him to and from every match, on and off every bus, into and out of every gym, all season long. At more than 170 pounds, Leroy was not a light load. Dartanyon never cared, and the carrying never stopped.

"Most of the time we wouldn't get a wheelchair lift, so I would have to carry him on the bus, take his wheelchair apart, put it on the bus, then carry him off the bus," he said. "And then, into the building and up the stairs."

Dartanyon lifted Leroy onto his back for the playing of every national anthem, and carried him down the bleachers before each match. Yet as inseparable as they were, a team unto themselves in a way, they also shared something greater than their sport.

That's because the teammate who carried Leroy on his back all season long knows about challenges himself.

Dartanyon Crockett knows, because he's legally blind.

Dartanyon sings.

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone."

Leroy listens, then corrects him: "But you can't see."

"So? I can still sing."

And they pick up the song together, twice as loud.

Born with Leber's disease, a condition that causes acute visual loss, Dartanyon, 18, has been severely nearsighted his entire life. He can barely make out the facial features of a person sitting 5 feet away.

"I'm basically blind compared to someone with 20/20 vision," he said.

It just started happening, they say. Dartanyon carried Leroy everywhere.

As a boy, his father watched him bump into the same table corners and fumble for the same objects over and over again, uncertain what was wrong. He received the diagnosis just after his son started elementary school.

"I wanted to grab him and help him, but I wasn't allowed to do that, because the world isn't like that," Arthur Harris said. "I never let him feel sorry for himself."

"I did feel like something was wrong with me because I was completely different from everyone," Dartanyon said. "Like I was … some type of freak."

Yet as he grew older, he not only accepted the condition but also adjusted so well to his inability to see that those around him often were unaware of anything until he told them.

"I asked him, 'Are you serious?'" said Lincoln-West teacher and assistant wrestling coach Justin Hons. "Nothing about him ever gives you the hint that he has a disability. The way he carries himself, he doesn't ask for anything."

Still, there are signs. At times, his eyes dart back and forth as if ricocheting between objects. Boarding the city bus for the ride to school, he asks the driver to tell him when his stop is near, unwilling to trust his glimpses of the passing landscape. In class, often he places text just inches from his face to read. On the wrestling mat, although his moves are quick and bold, he sees little more than rough shapes lunging toward him.

Yet his own view of his limits remains focused and clear.

"I'm just seeing it as a challenge God has given me and how I'm going to react to this challenge," he said. "Let it make me the person I am, or let it break me."

Other trials in his life could have broken him long ago.

After his mother died when he was 8, he moved in with his father, Harris, who struggled to take care of himself in the midst of an addiction to drugs and alcohol. There were times when Dartanyon scavenged the house for food, but found none. For most of his time in high school, he had no steady place to call home.

"I let him down," Harris said. "It was terrible for him."

Through it all -- being evicted from their apartment in Lakewood, the nights Dartanyon covered his father with a blanket after he'd passed out -- Dartanyon stayed in school, stayed on the mat and supported his dad's effort to stay clean. Harris now has been sober, while working two full-time jobs, for more than a year.

That Dartanyon would pick someone else up was no surprise. He learned to carry a father before he ever carried a friend.

"He made a lot of mistakes in the past, and he's learned from them," Dartanyon said. "It's made our bond stronger than I could fathom. He's a great father."

When the words were related to Harris, he dropped his head and began to cry.

"Above all, I'm glad the love never left," he said. "I'm glad that stayed."

Dartanyon and Leroy move down the hallway after class.
"I am Darth Cripple," Leroy says.

"I am Blind Vader," Dartanyon replies, and they turn a corner; their laughter is all that's left behind.

Friends joke. They jab. They can be the least flattering of critics and the loudest of supporters. So it is with Dartanyon and Leroy. They mock each other and themselves, every chance they get, in ways others never would dare.

They are as close as brothers, and Leroy and Dartanyon joke around with each other all the time.

There's a sure sign of a pending joke. The pace of speech slows, and the tone becomes a notch too earnest. Leroy, in particular, has mastered the pattern.

"People look up to me sometimes," he said from his wheelchair. He waits, then says, "Well, usually, they look down to me." His laughter comes first, and easiest.

"They constantly make fun of each other's situation, each other's disability," Hons said. "But they do it publicly, because they're not afraid of their disabilities."

The one place they don't laugh is in competition. Entering gyms all season, one atop the other, each cared as much about the other's match as his own, with as much invested in the other's outcome. Every time Dartanyon wrestled, Leroy sat on the edge of the mat, serving as unofficial coach and chief encourager.

"It's like having my brother there," Dartanyon said.

There was plenty to watch. Competing at 189 pounds in Ohio, one of the most wrestling-rich states in the country, Dartanyon relied more on strength than technique, preferring to overwhelm foes than to outpoint them. Nearly always the aggressor, he rarely waited for another's move, for a simple reason. He might never see it. So he struck first, and usually, firmest.

He went 26-3 in his senior season, securing the league championship in his weight class.

"It's amazing," Robinson said. "As phenomenal as he is, and he can't see. How does that happen?"

As for Leroy, who's unable to generate the leverage essential in wrestling, leverage gained by using the lower body that he doesn't possess, the matches were tougher, and the wins more difficult. He expected nothing less than 100 percent from his opponents, and if he sensed any pity, he reacted with anger.

"Pity?!" He spits the word. "It's more than likely that I'll punch you in the face than sit here and cry."
Leroy would bounce on his hands and often flip his way onto the mat before matches. Then he would scream out. Then he would slap his hands down as hard as he could, making a thunderous echo, his smile dead, his arms wired. If some stared when Leroy entered the gym atop Dartanyon, even more stared as he competed.

Wrestling in multiple weight classes this season, Leroy won nine matches, the majority by pinning his opponents. But in every match, regardless of the outcome, he left a message. He never said it, but his coaches understood.

"Watching him wrestle," Robinson said, "has taught me how to stand in areas of my life that I wouldn't have wanted to."

Dartanyon and Leroy walked across the stage and received diplomas at graduation. Dartanyon is enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland for the fall. Leroy plans to attend Collins College in Tempe, Ariz., to pursue a career in video game design.

"Did you guys do the homework?" the teacher asks.

"Dartanyon tried," says Leroy, "but he couldn't see it."

"So Leroy ran over," says Dartanyon, "and read it to me."

It was the final night of the school year, graduation night. The people inside the theater building of Cuyahoga Community College were there for a celebration more than a ceremony, to pay tribute to an accomplishment that meant more here than in most schools in America.

The majority of students at Lincoln-West High School never earn a diploma. This year, the school had a graduation rate of roughly 40 percent.

On that early June night, the graduates gathered on a stage, their gowns flowing and their tassels poised to swing, each ready to mark a point in a journey.

Leroy had dreamed of this night for a long time.

"My goal," he said in May, "is to actually walk across the stage."

No one on the stage that night understood that goal more than Dartanyon. That's why, when Leroy's name was called, Dartanyon stood, too, right beside him.

What would you do for a friend, one you carried on your back all year long?

You'd put him down, and walk beside him, which was exactly what Dartanyon did.

He helped Leroy stand -- upon new prosthetic legs he was fitted for just weeks earlier -- then moved alongside him as Leroy crossed the stage, step for step, eye to eye.

When Leroy stopped, put out his hand and grasped his diploma, the audience rose and delivered a standing ovation.

After the photos were taken, and the music stopped, and the tears dried, the two sat in the theater, side by side.

"As long as I can remember," Dartanyon said, "I've been carrying him from point A to B to C. Graduation was the first time I finally got to walk beside him." He paused. "It was a privilege. It was an honor."

Leroy's eyes moistened, and he looked up.

"It meant so much to me," he said, "to know I have a friend who was there to catch me if I stumbled."

There was no stumble.

There was no pun or punch line, no joke or jab. There were just two friends, sharing one moment, and there they lingered, smiling, in silence. is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.

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