Thursday, March 31, 2005

Legal and moral responses #2

Christian Conservative serves up the post promised here. The money-quote, far as I'm concerned is this:

When the 10 Commandments were first issued, they were immediately reconciled with the law that God had already written in the heart, and Israel’s judicial system was formed with no distinction between what was legal and what was moral. To the Jews of antiquity, legal and moral were intricately one and the same. Over the centuries however, the distance man has placed between his governments and God now dictates we distinguish between the legal and the moral, just as the Hebrew Midwives did who were commanded by Pharaoh to kill the firstborn males in Egypt. These two Hebrew women had to separate legal from moral when they refused Pharaoh’s edict, as we must do also, and failed to do with regard to Terri Schiavo.

Just plain wrong

As reported by the AP:

Brother Paul O'Donnell, an adviser to Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said the parents and their two other children ``were denied access at the moment of her death. They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there and they were denied access by Michael Schiavo. They are in there now, praying at her bedside.''

Killing your wife is not enough, you need to punish your in-laws by keeping them away as their daughter slides into eternity?

Cause of Death

Judicial indifference.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'm with Ed

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters tackles the 11th Circuit's refusal to intervene-yet again-in the Schiavo case. He makes an interesting observation:

Talk about judicial arrogance! Not only did the Eleventh Circuit openly disregard the law written by Congress, this justice arrogantly tells the other equal branches that the only branch guaranteeing a free people is the one not accountable to the will of the electorate. Bear in mind that none of the courts that reviewed this case after the passage of the emergency legislation found it unconstitutional; that at least would have put the court on record. Instead, the judiciary simply and contemptuously disregarded a law which to this moment remains legal and valid.

Um, yup. Why Justice Birch would even raise the issue of constitutionality escapes me. How many reviews have occurred since the law was signed a week-and-a-half ago? If it was unconstitutional, you'd think that somewhere along the line one of the courts (even his) would have...oh, I don't know...ruled it unconstitutional maybe!?

Makes nice political cover for basically punting on the issue though. "De Novo review? We don't need no stinkin' De Novo review!"

Fun with headlines

Some secret!

Honesty and politics: The Dems and MoveOn

Byron York wrote a piece for NRO on the latest Democrat politician seduced by the siren song of the angry Barack Obama. York makes a case that MoveOn is gaining power in Washington amongs the Democrats. A year and a half ago, they were raising money for "outsider" Howard Dean, today they're organizing events with the likes of Senate fixtures like Robert Byrd and the great Dem hope for the future, Obama.

York also notes that many insiders are less than enthused by the prospect. The money quote:

In February, the Washington Post cited Democratic-party strategists who "worry that the influence of grass-roots activists could push the party even further to the left, particularly on national security, reinforcing a weakness that Bush exploited in his reelection campaign."

The paper went on to describe the views of Democrats — all of whom "declined to be quoted by name because they wanted to be more candid about the problems they see" — who say that "the belief by some of those activists [like those in MoveOn] that Democrats can solve their problems by playing more directly to their core constituents ignores several realities, particularly the question of whether voters see Democrats as strong enough to win the war on terrorism."

No Republican strategist, even at his most creative, could ever find such a clear cut means by which to render the Democrat party impotent on the national scene.

Tolerance on display

William Kristol gets assaulted with a pie-in-the-face at tiny Earlham College last night.

A man who later was identified as a student at the private Quaker college jumped onto the stage and splattered Kristol with the pie Tuesday night about 30 minutes into a speech about U.S. foreign policy.

The story goes on to indicate that the student responsible likely faces expulsion. Well, at least not every college in America has lost it's mind, but anyway...

The story also notes that Kristol kept his sense of humor about the incident as well. In stark and gracious contrast to the event itself Kristol finished his speech, took student questions and then stayed an additional 30 minutes talking with a group of students after the official end of his visit.

Legal and moral responses

I emailed my post "Legally Right and Morally Wrong," to several Christian bloggers that I've come to respect, some in a very short time even. I invited each of these bloggers to comment on the content of the post and even to link or respond at their own sites if there was enough of a dialog to begin having on the subject.

The responses I've received thus far are pretty much in agreement in saying that the civil disobedience (as Hugh Hewitt has called it) some are pushing is the wrong approach. I especially liked this response from Michael Gallaugher at Christian Conservative:

WWJD? Jesus would have reacted squarely in the face of the Justices, and the “husband” Michael I’m pretty sure. And believe the Father will ultimately deal with the people on the last day. But while we're hear on earth, it's critical we keep the moral language consistent with the Bible, and common decency.

In practical terms, we should remind others that a judicial system so divorced from righteousness will only produce justice by coincedence, and need to put the moral and the legal into once argument - as you have. I’m working on a writing that goes into the moral identity of the Judeo-Christian ideal in greater depth that I’ll post later.

And I'll look forward to reading it!

Even creepier

I wrote a blurb yesterday about George Felos' legal/spiritual tome Litigation as Spiritual Practice. Today, Eric Pfeiffer takes a deeper look at this bizarre writing for NRO. Bizarre doesn't even begin to describe it all.

Trademark Moral Equivalence argument

Yet another attempt at moral equivalence in the Schiavo situation. This time around from Republic columnist EJ Montini. I rarely agree with him, though I will say he does force me to think. But this time around I'm not buying.

I only wish he'd put this 'graph at the beginning so I'd have known I'd be better off ignoring everything else.

The purity of their[the Bush administration] motives might be less in question if they'd said the same thing in March 2003, when diplomats asked the United States to wait 45 more days before invading Iraq. They asked that we explore every avenue before starting a war that would take thousands of lives. The president and his partners in Congress said no.

My dogs are smarter...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Creepy indeed

More than one person on the radio has described George Felos as creepy. Did they know he was an author?

If any of what is mentioned in these consumer reviews is true, this guy shouldn't be let less than 200 miles away from any and every disabled person in the country. Speechless is what I am.

Does this serve as proof that there really is such a thing as the 'Cult of Death'...?!

While we're on the subject of moral idiocy...

This little gem courtesy of Rich Lowry at NRO's Corner:

You are sadistic. It is none of your business that the husband wants to treat his wife like a human, while you prefer to treat her like a bunch of bones. No decent person would treat a sick dog like that.

I am going to create Kevorkian Airlines, named for our national hero, Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I could sell 1,000,000 tickets in the first five minutes. It will fly a mile high, a hundred miles over the ocean. Just push the needle, kick open the door, and wonderful, there would be nothing sick people like you can do to stop real people wanting too be treated like real people. There is dignity in life, there must be dignity in death....

Wow. Just, wow!

Though the reader was right--you wouldn't do this to a dog. At worst you'd shoot it in the head and be done quickly, at best you'd put it down mercifully to minimize any suffering. And I've been arguing that for over two weeks on this issue. There is nothing dignified, merciful or peaceful about letting a woman starve to death.

Just, wow!

Legally Right and Morally Wrong

To say that I'm disturbed by the Terri Schiavo situation is an understatement. It should be clear to anyone who has read my posts on the subject, that I'm greatly upset by the moral nature of the problem and what I perceive as the inability or refusal of people to tackle the larger issue of how the state and the law should approach the moral issue of "life."

What I'm wanting to do in this post is discuss this whole question from a Christian perspective. I've reached the point where I believe firmly that the courts in this case may have in fact judged properly in that the "law" made clear how they needed to rule. Yet at the same time, from my afore-mentioned Christian perspective, they seem to have gotten the moral question wrong. I believe, in otherwords, that the courts were ultimately legally right and morally wrong in their decision. Beyond that the ultimate question is, "How does a Christian react to this?"

Legally Right

The most easily understood explanation of how we got where we are legally, in my opinion, is found in this Powerline post. Written by a Florida lawyer, it's analysis focuses on how the Schindlers got out-lawyered in this fight but ends up highlighting clearly how the law got us here:

These organizations were very supportive, but by that point their options were already limited because the trial judge had entered a judgment finding that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to live.

This fact is of crucial importance -- and it's one often not fully appreciated by the media, who like to focus on the drama of cases going to the big, powerful appeals courts: Once a trial court enters a judgment into the record, that judgment's findings become THE FACTS of the case, and can only be overturned if the fact finder (in this case, the judge) acted capriciously (i.e., reached a conclusion that had essentially no basis in fact).

In this case, the trial judge simply chose to believe Michael Schiavo's version of the facts over the Schindlers'. Since there was evidence to support his conclusion (in the form of testimony from Michael Schiavo's siblings), it became nearly impossible for the Schindlers to overturn it. The judges who considered the case after the trial-level proceeding could make decisions only on narrow questions of law. They had no room to ask, "Hey, wait a minute, would she really want to die?" That "fact" had already been decided.

Once Judge Greer made his ruling in the initial court proceeding, all subsequent reviews of the case were limited to the facts that Greer had allowed in the original finding of fact. Period. Subsequently, none of the other proceedings could include discussion of affidavits not entered in the original proceeding, or filed since or take into account new medical procedures and technology that might shed more or better light on the state of her health. Charles Krauthammer described it this way:

Because following the generally sensible rules of Florida custody laws, conducted with due diligence and great care over many years in this case, this is where the law led. For Congress and the president to then step in and try to override that by shifting the venue to a federal court was a legal travesty, a flagrant violation of federalism and the separation of powers. The federal judge who refused to reverse the Florida court was certainly true to the law.

The matter of whether or not it was right or wise for Congress to step into this matter is another argument, one being made by people far more qualified on the subject than I. Hugh Hewitt, for one, has been making the case on his radio show that the Congress was within it's rights to attempt protecting Terri's 14th Amendment rights. Hugh and others also have addressed the issue of whether the Federal courts have ignored the intent of the bill Congress passed last week. In this post I'm not overly concerned about either point per se, only about understanding how the courts found themselves legally right on the one hand and morally wrong on the other.

Morally Wrong

On Kudlow & Cramer last week, Hugh Hewitt was asked straight-out by host Larry Kudlow in the final segment whether morality trumps legality, in general and specifically in this case. His reply was, "Morality is always more important than law, but I don't think we have to get to that combination today, Larry. It's been 7 days since Terri Schiavo had a sip of water. The United States Congress came back under it's emergency authority to pass a statute. The president signed it. It called for a de novo hearing. That hearing has not been held. It would have been moral to hold the hearing. The failure is on the part of the federal courts. Mrs. Schiavo will die as a result, and that is tragic. And there's no way to explain it except by saying the courts could not be bothered."

Since that appearance Hugh has repeatedly made his case on the radio that, while he believes that the courts' decision(s) are a travesty of justice, he also believes that their rulings must be adhered to. He makes a persuasive case on both points. While he disagrees with whether or not the ruling is truly legally correct, Hugh agrees with many a conservative in calling the decision withholding food and water morally wrong.

In reviewing my earlier posts on this, I think they convey a certain amount of frustration but I'm not sure they also convey fully the outrage I've felt over this. I can only conclude that such outrage comes from my Christian faith. My worldview tells me that such actions, such disregard for the possibilities of life is anti-thetical to what I know of the God of the Bible, in all the same ways that abortion is perceived by many to be a moral wrong.

Many critics of the President's and Congressional action in this like to point out what they perceive as the hypocrisy of George Bush declaring that "we ought to err on the side of life," when he has presided over more than a hundred executions as Governor of Texas. This is just silly posturing; there is a moral distinction between an innocent woman guilty of nothing but misfortune and convicted criminals who have received due process in the form of criminal trials and appeals, that is so clear that--pardon the flip rhetoric, but it makes the point--my dogs get it. State sanctioned killing of an innocent woman when there is reason to doubt what her condition truly is or isn't, is morally wrong. As Hugh pointed out to Larry Kudlow, the moral thing would have been to resolve the doubt and act accordingly.

Now What?

What is the appropriate response of a Christian to wrongs committed by their government against it's own citizens? Paul's writings are full of commands urging believers to obey the authority of those governing them. Such authority comes from God and disregard for it is a serious matter. What then are the 'conditions' under which it is proper for a Christian to disregard the dictates of his government?

Acts 5:28-29 is probably the most obvious example of believers disregarding a direct command from those in authority. The context here is clear and obvious: God's command to speak truth about his Son trumps the right of a ruling authority that tries to silence that truth. Regardless that God had ordained the authority of the Sanhedrin over the Jewish community in Jerusalem, the truth of Christ was more imperative than their rule. Such would be the case today in similar circumstances.

The question is, does a situation like that of the Terri Schiavo case merit a similar imperative? Under a Christian worldview, is the life of a woman in such a vulnerable state worthy of such a solemn act as the blatant disregard of governmental authority?

Would a Christian be right in advocating, for instance, that Jeb Bush use his authority as Chief Executive of the State of Florida and take custody of Terri Schiavo in direct disobedience to court injunctions? Would that be a morally correct response to the ongoing moral-wrong we are witnessing?

Such a question is the ultimate point of this post; What is the correct Christian response to what we are witnessing in Florida? My hope is that this can stimulate a dialog about what is appropriate and what is not for Christians in response to the court-ordered removal of Terri's feeding tube.

Can't win for losing

Arizona Congressman John Shadegg (R) is taking heat from local government officials and even a few constituents over a decision he made not to earmark Federal Highway funds for work on the Interstate-17/Happy Valley Rd Interchange in the North Valley. Phoenix officials have made a point of making it known to members of the state's congressional delegation that this particular project was a high priority.

When we were looking for a home 3 years ago, we considered a couple of listings in this general area. Happy Valley Road, especially at that time, was about as far north as you could go and still be in town. This interchange existed then, but the plan was for more development to the north and east (see Tramonto off AZ-74, 1 mile north). One of the reasons we didn't pursue a home in the area was my wife's almost instant aversion to the traffic circle at I-17/Happy Valley. She's not alone: Marilyn Kalandek, who lives about 1.5 miles from the roundabout, says she goes out of her way to avoid it and said it is plagued by "fender-benders.""I cringe every time I hear a firetruck going by," Kalandek said. "It's really dangerous, and it especially frightens me at night."

Shadegg and fellow Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, refused to earmark Federal funds for this because they felt it was a typical pork project:

He and Flake argue that this money is too often allocated for questionable projects based on political influence rather than the needs of the country as a whole. Shadegg has called the bill a "pork-stuffed budget-buster that shortchanges Arizona."

Meanwhile, city officials were under the impression that Shadegg had agreed to fight for money and funnel any he 'won' to this project. The result is a couple of angry City Council members and some aggravated area-residents who want to see the project completed sooner and not later.

This appears to be a textbook example of Pork politics. The state and city haven't and or can't find a way to complete all the proposed construction of this interchange and so have, not surprisingly, run to the Federal coffers for extra cash. They've been turned down on this go around and have got themselves in a snit over it.

I agree with Keith Ashdown of the D.C.-based Taxpayers for Common Sense, whose quote ends the Republic piece:

"It's an interesting case. In a sense, Shadegg is among the first to unilaterally disarm from this (earmarking) process, and there's collateral damage to his local communities," Ashdown said. "But you've got to respect him for taking a stand that this appropriation funding has to go through a better process."

Indeed. Sometimes irony is so...ironic. When we live in a time when people are screaming about the way money gets tossed around by the Federal Government like candy, it strikes me as odd that people will condemn an effort, however small, to trim a piece of pork.

Monday, March 28, 2005

About Easter Sunday, church and Life

Yesterday's Easter services marked the re-opening of North Phoenix Baptist Church's newly remodeled sanctuary. The just-finished work represents the first face-lift for this building in over 25 years. The need for such is clear by the title of this music-ministry offering: The Orange Carpet Project.

The sanctuary retains roughly the same seating capacity but the remodel has changed the dynamics of the room drastically; gone is the cavernous feeling of the old open room, replaced by a room made much more intimate by better use of smaller space. That was a key element for this project in the hope that form would meet function in allowing as many worship participants to experience the service in a personal way. Based on the experience of yesterday, I firmly believe that the design team succeeded in reaching this goal!

From my seat at the back of the floor, I also couldn't help noticing the number of handicapped individuals present for the late service. Handicapped access is more visible, or at least seemed to be yesterday, with multiple wheelchair spaces available in the back row of the front floor sections and even along the back of the walkway that separates the front floor seats from the first of the tiered seating.

I counted at least four individuals in wheelchairs and one other sitting normally but who clearly had some sort of disability. Given the focus on Terri Schiavo in the last week plus, my thoughts were of course drawn to that; and the contrast between the way these individuals' families were obviously treating them. It moved me to near-tears more than once.

As to the service itself, it was a bulls-eye! We're hopelessly lost and Easter represents God's purchase of Man from back from Death.

"Christ is Risen!"

"He is risen, indeed!"


"What a beautiful place to live..."

"Wonder what you do for work out here though?"

I've made those statements, or something similar, thousands of times. Seems every time I drive through a here-to-fore unknown part of Arizona or even in my home-state of California, such things escape my lips. How do people in Smalltown, Any-state, USA support themselves anyway?

Yesterday's Republic featured a piece that examines that question. The conclusion reached is that here in Arizona rural counties face serious challenges in fostering local economies that can support residents. Though there appears no simple answer to the problem, the piece did detail a few things that can help these counties "catch-up" to the likes of Maricopa and Pima counties where per capita income is highest.

While not able to provide much in the way of detailed "plans" for addressing all the issues it discusses, I thought the piece was an interesting discussion-starter.

Dreams and Visions

Before becoming King of Israel, David first made his name in Egypt interpreting dreams. What would he make of this!?

I woke Easter morning from a dream. Not a happy dream recalling family gatherings from the past; not a dream focused on the meaning and joy of Easter. No, I woke dreaming something far more disturbing.

Forced by finances and a rare lapse of taste by my wife, I found myself buying a pink Honda Accord station wagon. The worst part? My wife insisted that I pay sticker for it!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Under Foot

A perspective shot: My dog was once smaller than my feet. Posted by Hello

Who are these "Dogs" anyway?

"D'oh, Bart!"

This is Lacy at less than 8 weeks. She and Bart were close for a while, 'til she decided he was more fun in her mouth. Posted by Hello

My Dogs are Smarter!

This photo appeared recently at, the on-line home-page of the Arizona Republic. It begs comment like no other photo I've seen in quite a while, but the more I look at it, the more difficult it is to find the "perfect" caption. After much reflection, I've decided to allow it to speak for itself.Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

My Dogs are Smarter (Or a visit to the Doggy Day Spa)

As I blogged earlier, I was not working today. But I've been busy none the less. First off, the dogs were off to the groomers for a bath and brush. Both badly in need of getting cleaned up, we decided that it also made a convenient place to stash the animals while we got the carpets here at home cleaned as well.

Come to think of it, the whole day has been about cleaning. I returned home about 20 minutes ago from having the car completely detailed, inside and out. When Cassie suffered her medical trauma last week, I wrote about the mess that became the back-seat of the car. After two hours and many laps around the waiting area, the car is home and in monumentally better shape!

Last stop of the day is going to be the doggy spa. They're always a lot of fun after their doggy makeovers. I look forward to it and a night of rest after a very emotionally difficult week.

Knowing God

I needed something after this week as a reminder of what is good and right and just. Went to the bookshelf and dug out my copy of Knowing God by J.I. Packer.

After all, what is more good, what is more right and just than God Himself?

Good Friday, Family, Television and God

I'm sitting in the home office this morning, as my firm is kind enough to make Good Friday a holiday. I am thankful for that.

Yesterday our company took the afternoon off and engaged in some off-site "team-building", "fun." It gave me the opportunity to get to know a couple of newer co-workers that I've not had opportunity to speak with much. I also put my bowling skills to use and won $50 bucks and another $60-some odd dollars worth of free movie tickets. Yes, I am a geek. And I'm thankful for that!

Last night as on any Thursday night, my wife and I finished our evening watching ER. This week's episode was rather poignant: former "regular," Sharif Atkins' character Michael Gallant was back in Chicago on 3-day leave from his tour as an Army doctor in Iraq. As I blogged last week, we've known for a little while now that my wife's cousin David was arriving home sometime this week after a 12-month tour. My wife received two emails yesterday, one from David's dad and another from his wife; David was on the ground and at home with his wife and kids!

At one point in last night's episode watching Gallant on the screen in his dress green's, my wife turned to me with tears in her eyes but joy in her voice to say, "David's home!" I didn't get to check the emails until this morning. From his wife, sent yesterday afternoon: David is home safe and sound!!! Just feed[sic] him lunch and now he is resting or shall I say trying to rest.....
He is, and for that I am very thankful!

Finally, I am thankful for what today means to and for the Christian. Jesus chose to love me and everybody I've ever known by giving up the riches of heaven for a criminal's death and the chance to reunite God with his highest Creation! I am most thankful for that.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Probably not going to be any more posts today. I'm going to be out of commission in a bout 20 minutes and likely won't get back to a computer before tomorrow morning.

That's probably not a bad thing either. I'm so worked up about the Schiavo situation that anything I write is going to seem angry and not very well thought-out to boot. Additionally, I don't have the desire to write about much else at the moment.

Meanwhile I await, like the rest of the world, the debut of Simian Logician here at My Dogs are Smarter.

The real deal

I often have to watch myself otherwise I give in to my natural inclination to pile-on. I make an exception in the case of Barry Bonds. For all the raw, obvious talent Bonds epitomizes the concept of prima-donna.

It's always about him. If that's the case Barry, you ought to realize that means the mistakes and the errors are fair game as well. If you don't want the attention, don't ask for it.

Anyway, Dan Bickley's column in yesterday's Republic examines the anti-Barry.

Good as dead

The Supreme Court has refused to hear the Schindler's final appeal. Barring a last-second miracle at the hands of Judge Greer, who is as I write considering an appeal by Gov. Bush to take custody of Terri Schiavo, this woman is going to die. Frankly, I have no reason to think that Judge Greer will suddenly allow the state of Florida to move in when he ordered an injunction against just that yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile the left is more concerned with being legally right than morally wrong. State-sanctioned killing is still killing.

UPDATE: Radio report states that Greer has said there will be no stay and the state of Florida will not be taking custody of Terri Schiavo. He should have just shot her in the head. If I'm not careful I'm going to get physically sick. "Wrong," doesn't even begin to describe this...

ANOTHER UPDATE: 11:30 AM MST; Apparently I got things wrong earlier. It appears Judge Greer has yet to issue his ruling on whether or not the state will be allowed to take Terri into custody for the purpose of replacing her feeding tube.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

They're killing her

And the best part is they don't care.

From an affidavit filed today by Dr. William P. Cheshire:

Based on my review of extensive medical records documenting Terri's care over the years, on my personal observations of Terri, and on my observations of Terri's responses in the many hours of videotapes taken in 2002, she demonstrates a number of behaviors that I believe cast reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS. These include:

1) Her behavior is frequently context-specific. For example, her facial expression brightens and she smiles in response to the voice of familiar persons such as her parents or her nurse. Her agitation subsides and her facial demeanor softens when quiet music is played. When jubilant piano music is played, her face brightens, she lifts her eyebrows, smiles, and even laughs. Her lateral gaze toward the tape player is sustained for many minutes. Several times I witnessed Terri briefly, albeit inconsistently, laugh in response to a humorous comment someone in the room had made. I did not see her laugh in the absence of someone else's laughter.

3) Although I did not hear Terri utter distinct words, she demonstrates emotional expressivity by her use of single syllable vocalizations such as "ah," making cooing sounds, or by expressing guttural sounds of annoyance or moaning appropriate to the context of the situation. The context-specific range and variability of her vocalizations suggests at least a reasonable probability of the processing of emotional thought within her brain.

5) There is a remarkable moment in the videotape of the September 3, 2002 examination by Dr. Hammesfahr that seemed to unnoticed at the time. At 2:44 pm, Dr. Hammesfahr had just turned Terri onto her right side to examine her back with a painful sharp stimulus (a sharp piece of wood), to which Terri had responded with signs of discomfort. Well, after he ceased applying the stimulus and had returned Terri to a comfortable position, he says to her parents, "So, we're going to have to roll her over...." Immediately Terri cries. She vocalizes a crying sound, "Ugh, ha, ha, ha," presses her eyebrows together, and sadly grimmaces. It is important to note that, at that moment, no one is touching Terri or causing actual pain. Rather, she appears to comprehend the meaning of Dr. Hammesfahr's comment and signals her anticipation of pain. This response suggests some degree of language processing and interpretation at the level of the cerebral cortex. It also suggest that she may be aware of pain beyond what could be explained by simple reflex withdrawal.

6) According to the definition of PVS published by the American Academy of Neurology, "persistent vegetative state patients do no have the capacity to experience pain or suffering. Pain and suffering are attributes of consciousness requiring cerebral cortical functioning, and patients who are permanently and completely unconscious cannot experience these symptoms." And yet, in my review of Terri's medical records, pain issues keep surfacing. The nurses at Woodside Hospice told us that she often has pain with menstrual cramps. Menstrual flow is associated with agitation, repeated or sustained moaning, facial grimmacing, limb posturing, and facial flushing, all of which subside once she is given ibuprofen. Some of the records document moaning, crying, and other painful behavior in the setting of urinary tract infections.

7) ...The neurologic signs are in many ways ambiguous. There is no guarantee that more sophisticated testing would definitively resolve that ambiguity to everyone's satisfaction. There would be value, I think, in obtaining a functional MRI scan if that is possible.


But for the decision to withdraw her feeding tube, Terri cannot be considered medically terminal. But for the withdrawal of food and water, she would not die.


Based on this evidence, I believe that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there is a greater likelihood that Terri is in a minimally conscious state than a persistent vegetative state. This distinction makes an enormous difference in making ethical decisions on Terri's behalf.

Like I said earlier about lawyers, I'm not a doctor, no one in my family is a doctor. But how, in the name of simple common-sense, can testimony such as this be ignored completely? Yet the bench is simply unwilling to seek additional answers to any questions in this case.

They're going to kill her and the only thing I can deduce is that they don't care. Either that or they want to and frankly, that is too sick to contemplate.

I want to puke.

As if...

"I've never had so little respect for an online persona."

Um...okay, sure!

I truly have no words to describe how much I dislike this man. Honestly.

Numbers, numbers, numbers...numbers everywhere!

The Social Security Trustees released a new report today on the state of the Social Security system. Some interesting numbers:

The report also shows the 75-year unfunded liability of Social Security increased from $3.7 trillion last year to $4.0 trillion today.

The present value unfunded liability over an infinite horizon increased by $700 billion from $10.4 trillion in 2004 to $11.1 trillion today.

I remain convinced that one cannot repeat the term 'unfunded liability,' too often in this debate.

"Move along! Nothing to see here, move along!"

Reviewing the 11th Circuit decision

The 11th Circuit in Atlanta has refused to overturn Judge Whittemore's ruling on Terri Schiavo so the feeding tube stays out. The Godfather reviews the decision this morning and it reads very much like the dissenting opinion of Judge Charles Wilson in this 2-1 ruling.

Hugh says:

With the astonishing decision of the 11th Circuit to deny injunctive relief to Terri Schiavo's parents during the course of these appeals, the urgent matter moves first to a petition for en banc review and then to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, only recently in the headlines for relying in part on foreign law in his ruling against the death penalty for juveniles. It is a false hope to believe that Justice Kennedy will act to stay Terri's death, or that there are five members of the Court willing to do so, despite the clear intent of Congress that hydration and nutrition be resumed until a de novo trial was held, and appeals from that trial exhausted.

Judge Wilson, quoted by Andrew McCarthy in today's NRO says in his dissent that, "[intent] is to maintain the status quo by keeping Theresa Schiavo alive until the federal courts have a new and adequate opportunity to consider the constitutional issues raised by Plaintiffs. The entire purpose of the statute was to give the federal courts an opportunity to consider the merits of Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims with a fresh set of eyes. Denial of Plaintiffs’ petition cuts sharply against that intent, which is evident to me from the language of the statute, as well as the swift and unprecedented manner of its enactment. Theresa Schiavo’s death, which is imminent, effectively ends the litigation without a fair opportunity to fully consider the merits of Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims."

I'm no lawyer, nobody in my family is a lawyer and I know no lawyers. I'm not qualified in any way to offer competent commentary on this matter, so I won't even try. I can look at it through the clear prism of common sense and say, "Most certainly, yes!"

Even if she is as bad off as many say, what is lost in a new review of the facts? If her brain is truly a tub of goo (as I've literally heard someone say), what does she care if she undergoes an MRI or PET to further determine the extent of her injuries?

Are we then concerned about the mental anguish it causes Michael Schiavo, or Terri's parents? While a concern certainly, that's not part of anybody's argument. So again I ask, what's the problem with subjecting this "brain-dead" woman to additional tests meant to determine more conclusively what her state at this time truly is?

Whats the hurry to see this woman die?

UPDATE: Just heard a radio report that the Schindler's request for an en banc hearing from the 11th Circuit has been refused. The dread just grows; they're going to let her die.

Terri Schiavo side-story

The hullabaloo about the "GOP talking points memo," found on the floor of the Senate.

Bigger names than I are writing about it, so I limit my remarks to simple comments (I don't have the time, the inclination or anything else to pursue a story like this):

Fake but inaccurate.

At Powerline, there's an interesting little blurb about some of the specifics in the memo. The memo, purported to come from somewhere in the power-structure of the Republican Senate, refers specifically to bill S. 529 as the bill that the Senate voted on over the weekend.

A Powerline reader did some digging and found that bill S.529 actually "is a bill introduced by Grassley on 3-3-05 to establish a US anti-doping agency." Research confirms it.

Are you kidding me with this stuff? As the Powerline guys say, the burden of proof is now on ABC and the WaPo who have run with this story to explain that they haven't been snookered.

Is spring springing?

"Bees! They're ripping my flesh!..."

So screams Chris Farley's Tommy Callahan in Tommy Boy to shake off pursuit by a couple of state troopers. Locally it seems we're getting perhaps more than our fare share of "bee cases" around town.

Bee calls have increased threefold in some parts of the Valley, fueled by rainy weather that provided perfect conditions for bees to swarm and form new colonies.

But fire calls aren't always an accurate measure of bee activity: many people call bee professionals directly when they have a problem. And this year, experts say they're busier than ever. "The business is out of control because of the amount of rain we have been having," said Rob Duffin, whose Atomic Bee Control and Bock's Bee'sss in Mesa field 50 to 75 calls a day. "Everything is healthy for the bugs and the bees." Bee removal companies and exterminators said they are adding trucks and employees to crisscross the Valley to handle double the number of calls this year of bees lodged in chimneys or holed up at apartment complexes.

I've been waiting for the last of the rain to disappear before tackling the Spring bug problem in the back yard. I know it's coming, I'm prepared for it but I don't want to spring the trap too soon! Hadn't thought about bees however. And with two dogs it could be a concern, just as it might with small kids. The animals don't know better than to aggravate a swarm of bees; they're just being curious after all! Thankfully our home is still in good enough shape that it doesn't allow for potential hive sites.

As always if confronted with an active swarm of bees around your property, take appropriate cautions:

"Bees rely on flowering plants, melons and citrus, said Chandler Battalion Chief Dan Couch. We don't have that much anymore, and we are not seeing the swarms we used to."Duffin said people should check roofs and foundations for bees and have them removed. He said bees are scent-driven and don't like strong perfumes or oil from a lawnmower."When people take action (against beehives) the bees get angry," Duffin said. "People need to take it serious because (a bee attack) can happen very quickly," he said. "(Some people) don't know what they are doing and they put themselves in jeopardy and the public around them."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Quick observations

I'm heart-sick and it's making me cranky.

My wife's grandmother died of a heart-attack one year ago today. She is inconsolable on this anniversary and there is not much that I can do beyond what I have already to console her: pray for her and keep telling her I love her!

I am heart-sick watching a society say it's fine with killing an innocent woman in a hospital bed. In the course of urging people to grow in a relationship with Christ, my old pastor used to ask the question, "Does your heart break over the things that God cares about?" This whole question offers an inkling into God's heart and mind. How must it break over the way we deal with each other? And yet, so full of love for us in spite of it all...

This is all working it's way out in things like the post about Bonds and the fact that there is a serious lack of any deep or meaningful comment around here today. What can I say?

I'm heart-sick and it's making me cranky.

TMI! (Too much information!)

"'...I could argue that you're a fascist because you're wearing pajamas.'

'I'm only wearing the top.'"

Way too much information!

Its time to play "This is your party!"

Obscenity-laced tirade at The Daily Kos from Sunday.

This is what passes for intelligent debate in the Reality-Based Community.

It was meant as a joke but maybe, just maybe, my dogs are smarter!

What is that noise?

Oh, Barry Bonds is talking again.

While Bonds was defiant and confrontational during his first press conference of the spring on Feb. 22, he was despondent Tuesday, using the word "tired" 14 times during his approximate 10-minute session.

"I really don't have much to say anymore," Bonds said. "My son and I just going to enjoy life. My family's tired. You guys [the media] wanted to hurt me bad enough, you finally got there.

"You wanted me to jump off the bridge, I finally have jumped. You wanted to bring me down, you've finally brought me and my family down. Finally done it. From everybody, all of you. So now go pick a different person. I'm done. Do the best I can, that's about it."

When asked if there was something specific he was talking about, Bonds said, "Inner hurt, physical, mentally. Done. I'm mentally drained. I'm tired of my kids crying. Tired."

I don't care anymore. Just go away; retire if you think that's the answer. I've had it with multi-millionaire's who think they can live without accountability for what they do--on or off the field. Enough. Really.

Just go away.

The more I read and think

on what is happening in the case of Terri Schiavo, I feel like God's heart must be breaking.

How much must He love us, a creation that is willing and glad to do such things to each other?!

There just aren't words for this...I'm heart-sick and I don't know what to do about it.

UPDATE: I don't have words, but Charmaine Yoest does.

It must have been quite a burden for the prehistoric cliff dwellers to care for a crippled child. Climbing was an essential part of their lives; and their lives were consumed with survival in a way we cannot imagine except through visiting a dig. They certainly had easy ways to dispose of inconvenient people -- the cliffs loomed.

Yet still, they sat in the dirt and lovingly crafted a crutch.

How is it possible that these pre-historic people were more civilized in this than we?

More stuff you can't make up

Yesterday, the Easter bunny was going to jail for causing a disturbance in an Iowa mall.

Today, the Easter bunny is the sad victim of assault, this time in Michigan. What is it about Mid-westerners and the Easter bunny!?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Obligatory Sports Post

I'm torn. As a fan of WCC basketball, success for Gonzaga in the post-season is good for the other 7 schools in the conference. Yet as a Pepperdine alum, I want to root against them!

My thoughts about the Gonzaga-Texas Tech game on Saturday boil down to this:

Gonzaga (or at least many of their fans) consider themselves an elite program after gaining national prominence and proving worthy of the description with strong regular seasons the last few years.

But elite teams don't gack a 13-pt second-half lead and lose.

Coming attractions

After some deliberation, I've invited another ESPN alum to join me here at My Dogs are Smarter. In fact, it may presage a whole other joint-blogging effort to-be-named-later.

But first things first; if you see something written by someone other than myself, that's why!

Stuff you can't make up

The Easter Bunny is going to jail!

Authorities say they got a call Saturday afternoon about a man dressed as the Easter Bunny who was causing a disturbance at a local mall.

Police say the 36-year-old man told officers he was working at the mall's picture taking area when someone threw water at him.

Police say the man left the area, changed clothes and came back to tell a fellow employee he was leaving.

The employee says she became frightened when he started yelling at her. Police say the suspect also threatened another person to get out of his way. He's charged with two counts of harassment.

Of Local Interest

Does this qualify as a wargasm?

Dramatic increases in defense spending since 2001 has helped prop up the state's soft economy and perhaps averted an economic free fall.

The money has been used to build helicopters for the Army, provide armor plating to Humvees, and make cruise missiles and smart bombs for various military branches. But the contracts go beyond war equipment. One of the largest single contracts went to a Phoenix-based firm to provide private health care coverage for military members and their families.

"This could have been a much deeper recession for Arizona without these dollars," said Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor and director of the Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University."We know we've lost jobs in semiconductors the last three to five years, so these injections have helped buffer what has happened there and in the overall manufacturing sector."

Blow it up and start over!

Bracketworld™ is in serious trouble!

I'm looking at my brackets and can do nothing more than shake my head...what a mess!

Three #3's gone, two #2's...a #14 wins in the first round! What a weekend!

The damage is worst in Albuquerque. My regional semi's pick there included a Wake Forest-Gonzaga match-up; not gonna happen. Should Louisville beat Washington, the region will be dead for me! Oy...

The NCAA Tournament didn't really begin until that kid from Vermont hit that insanely deep jump shot Friday night, the one that ended up beating Syracuse.--Dan Bickley, Arizona Republic Sports columnist.

God is good...

all the time!

A praise that escapes the lips of many a Christian in recognition of who and what God is, not just what he is capable of. Including the two that live in my house.

I wrote here on Friday about our sick puppy and the equally sick veterinary bill. On Saturday we saw another tiny example of God's goodness in our lives.

Last month, my wife and I finally got around to refinancing our home. Not because of laziness, but by virtue of our bad-deal-first-mortgage and the existing second we'd taken out in '03, we were only finally able to do this at the first of the year. We closed on Feb 15th and the last thing to do was wait for a refund from both loan-holders of any money still in our escrow accounts.

About a week ago we got the first check from the second. Saturday there was a check in the mail from the firm that held our first: $866 dollars. When you sum the two checks, we received back an amount of money almost exactly equal to the total vet bill for Cassie's treatment last week.

God is good...all the time!

And as if to emphasize the point, we received a family email informing us that my wife's cousin who has been in Iraq with the US Marines is awaiting final processing with his unit for their return to the states. He expects to be back in the US by the end of the week!

God is good...all the time!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hitler deconstructed

Victor Davis Hanson strikes again. I don't have quite the time or the inclination to write too long a post about this, but there are not enough words to offer in praise for this open:

The effort to remove fascists in the Middle East and jump-start democracy, for all its ups and downs, has been opposed not just by principled critics who bristled at tactics and strategy, but also by peculiarly vehement cynics here and abroad — whose disgust was so often in direct proportion to their relative political impotence.

Many of them live here.

Terri Schaivo thoughts

Larry Moreno is filling in for Laura Ingraham today. He's taken the whole 3 hours to discuss the Terri Schaivo case. The one point being made that has truly stuck, is simply this:

We wouldn't put a criminal on death row (no, not even Scott Peterson) to death by starvation. Why are we willing to allow an innocent woman to die this way?


UPDATE: As of this afternoon, it appears they've pulled the tube. Federal subpeona's not withstanding...

If the material that has been compiled by Friends of Terri is accurate, they might as well have just shot her in the head. It'd be quicker and less painful.

This is one of those "Cry out to God about the nature of this Life," moments. There aren't any words.

More money than brains

I suppose it's the kind of problem you can learn to live with fairly easily, but I don't get this.

The 76 Union station on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is doing brisk business despite self-serve pumps selling regular unleaded at three dollars, five cents a gallon and supreme unleaded at three dollars, 15 cents.

For Malibu residents who don't want to step out of their luxury cars or S-U-Vs, full serve pumps are selling fuel at three dollars, 33 cents for regular and three dollars, 38 cents for supreme.

Having gone to school in Malibu, I'm well aware of what it takes to live there. Even if you're not Steven-Spielberg-rich, you do need a serious bankroll. But $3.38-a-gallon for gas?!

Maybe rich people really do light their cigars with $100 dollar bills...

My Dogs are Smarter(Or how I dropped a cool grand on Puppy Love)

Veterinary care is expensive. And how...

I got home late on Wednesday night and my wife advised me that Cassie, the Rott-mix, had been sick. Doggy-diarrhea is never a fun thing. Thankfully there were no problems in-the-crate though and she just left a mess in the back-yard. Other than the tummy trouble, she appeared fine and was her usual self the rest of the night(translation: antagonized big-sister mercilessly).

When I let the girls out yesterday morning, she again ran straight for the door and once outside suffered from diarrhea. Again, she was fine otherwise and ate her breakfast with no protest and was drinking her water as well. Hopefully she'll be fine by the end of the day...

Soon as I opened the door from the garage, I knew we had a problem. The unmistakable stench of...well, you know...hit me like a sledge-hammer. We'd had an--many?--accident in the crate. And how...though she is a bit of a neatnik; she went on her blanket and the blanket was wrapped up neatly and shoved out of the way.

When let outside she made a bee-line for her favorite restroom spot and suffered another case of diarrhea. But this time it was bloody. BIG RED FLAG!

When my wife arrived home a few minutes later we got both dogs together and into the car and on the way to the Emergency Clinic as our regular vet had closed 20 minutes earlier. After about a 20 minute wait I was able to take her in to be looked at.

A cursory exam left the doctor assuming the cause was one of three things: a foreign body that was swallowed and causing an obstruction, a GI infection of some sort, or Parvo. Though she agreed with me that based on her behavior and her overall appearance that Parvo wasn't very likely. An X-ray and some blood-work would tell the story.

Over an hour later the word finally came; a slight GI infection, cause unknown. No obstruction visible though it couldn't be ruled out entirely based on the X-ray. Prognosis: overnight stay for observation and fluids to re-hydrate. We can pick her up in the AM and take her for treatment to our regular vet. All for the tidy sum of $760-and-change.

After a sleepless night, my wife went off to work and I returned to the clinic to pick Cassie up and take her over to our regular vet. After waiting 45 minutes for them to clean her up and contact the vet's office to say we were coming, they released her to me. And you've not seen a happier dog! She was not happy when I left her in the examining room the night before to be taken away for the night and was very happy to see daddy!

The observation notes indicated that she'd had a pretty good night, hadn't gotten sick again and responded well to the attendants affection. Things turned south after I put her in the car. I could hear her doing it but had to focus on driving so I could not stop her from tearing at the bandage on her fore-leg, pulling out the IV-catheter and bleeding all over the back-seat. Thankfully I was stopping at my wife's office and she was able to join me for the rest of the trip to keep an eye on Cassie. An easy 10-minute drive turned into a minor-emergency because she was bleeding a lot and we couldn't be certain how it was affecting her.

Once arrived and after we managed to convince the front desk that she really was bleeding a lot, she was seen by the Vet asst. and cleaned up. Finally, we started to relax again.

The doctor's assessment was similar to last night's diagnosis. As was the treatment: more fluids, some anti-nausea medication (neglected to mention the puking: last night on the way to the clinic and on the way to the vet this morning. May need to pull out the back-seat and put in a new one it's such a mess!) and observation. For only another $230...

That's pretty much a cool grand, and we're still not out of the woods; should she not improve over the course of today or overnight theres more blood-work and tests to be run, including for Parvo. Like I said, veterinary care is expensive but how at the same time do you not care for what amounts to a member of the family? I'm sure there's a limit and it's different for every owner but $1000 is, for us anyway, worth the love of a puppy.

The Third Thursday in March

Should be a holiday; nay, a Holy-day!!

Why? Because it is the first day of the NCAA Mens' Basketball Championship tournement. Often referred to as 'March Madness' it represents the single busiest, craziest and most-intensely-watched collection of basketball games there is.

For instance, the first weekend of action (3/17-3/20) there will be 48 games played in 4 days, each and every one televised! No man can if posting is light, this will be my excuse (whether true or not!).

I'll update this periodically and give whatever thoughts I might have on how things are developing in Bracketworld™.


(Early game results)

Austin Regional
(15) Eastern Kentucky 64
(2) Kentucky 72

Chicago Regional

(12) Wisconsin-Milwaukee 83
(5) Alabama 73

5-12 matchups are always brutal. They produce at least one significant upset each year.

UPDATE: More scores!

Albuquerque Regional

(9) Pittsburgh 71
(8) Pacific 79

8-9's are always fun games. When you see them close you realize just how good a job the Selection committee has done in putting together Bracketworld™! Pacific has made some noise this season and appears a pretty solid team! I will always celebrate west-coast basketball victories!

Friday Morning update: First day recap!

Austin Regional

(10) Iowa 64
(7) Cincinnatti 76

I picked the upset. Oops.

(11) UTEP 54
(6) Utah 60

Chicago Regional

(13) Penn 65
(4) Boston College 85

(9) Nevada 61
(8) Texas 57

Another close 8-9 game. Picked the "upset" so it helps my bracket. Yay for me!

(16) Farleigh Dickinson 55
(1) Illinois 67

(13) UAB 82
(6) LSU 68

Big-time upset that messes with my bracket a bit. Will be in good shape as long as Arizona doesn't succumb on Saturday.

Albuquerque Regional

(16) Montana 77
(1) Washington 88

(15) UT-Chattanooga 54
(2) Wake Forest 70

UT-C lead at half but as happens so often, the big school wears down the little one and runs away in the second-half.

(14) Winthrop 64
(3) Gonzaga 74

WCC starts 1-0! We'll see how St. Mary's fares today...

(11) UCLA 66
(6) Texas Tech 78

No upset here. Brackets take another hit!

I'll look at today's early games a bit later.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

From the business section

Mortgage rates have increased to a 7-month high at an average of 5.95% according to the AP in a story released today. Not hard to believe, especially living in Phoenix when it seems I'm subjected to weekly stories about speculative buying and increasing median-home prices.

At the end of the article, I found a couple of interesting if not useless statistics:

Separately, the share of homeowners who were behind on their mortgage payments in the final quarter of 2004 dropped to 4.23 percent, from 4. 41 percent in the third quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Thursday. The fourth-quarter's delinquency rate was the lowest since the second quarter of 2000.

The share of mortgages that started foreclosure process, meanwhile, rose to 0.44 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 0.39 percent in the third quarter.

Makes sense when you take into account recent economic reports about job growth and the state-of-the-economy in general. I have no way to know but the researcher in me wants to understand if the increase in the one stat is due to the decrease in the other--in otherwords, did the share of homowners behind on their morgtages decrease because X-% of them started on forclosure proceedings?

The ANWR debate

The topic of drilling in ANWR could always assure a fiery discussion over at ESPN, and yesterday it seems was no exception. Based on my reading of the threads, the usual suspects lined up in the usual fashion.

This post caught my eye. As background, this poster is a NE transplant living in the Southwest. He is a fervent critic of anything Bush-related and a proud liberal in the Massachusetts tradition.

Aside from the fierce ideological perspective (PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT!), what stood out was the forgetting of a few historical facts. Pats writes:

Get this through your head, ANWR is a refuge, a NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE. This is something we saw and said, wow, this is a nice place where a lot of animals live, let's not ruin this.

A quick look at a timeline reveals the following:

1960: President Eisenhower declares that 8.9 million acres of tundra and mountains in the northeastern corner of Alaska be set aside as a protected wildlife refuge.

1980: Congress expands the refuge to 19 million acres and declares part of it wilderness. Also proclaims that potential oil reserves in the refuge's 1.5 million-acre coastal plain be considered for development, but only if Congress specifically authorizes it.

Specifically, Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), approved by a Democratically controlled Congress. Section 1002 of ANILCA specifically set aside 1.5 million acres of what we now call ANWR for further study of the environmental impact of drilling expected oil deposits in that section of the refuge.

Going to the source, the USGS report "Arctic Refuge Coastal PlainTerrestrial Wildlife Research Summaries" states:

In 1987, the Department of Interior published the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, Coastal Plain Resource Assessment - Report and Recommendation to the Congress of the United States and Final Environmental Impact Statement. This report to Congress identified the potential for oil and gas production (updated* most recently by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2001), described the biological resources, and evaluated the potential adverse effects to fish and wildlife resources. The 1987 report analyzed the potential environmental consequences of five management alternatives for the coastal plain, ranging from wilderness designation to opening the entire area to lease for oil and gas development. The report's summary recommended opening the 1002 Area to an orderly oil and gas leasing program, but cautioned that adverse effects to some wildlife populations were possible.

So, in summary we have 1.5 million acres of land in the refuge set aside by law for potential oil drilling put in effect by a Democratic President and Congress. (Though to be clear, that law did not in and of itself make clear the way to open drilling on the ANWR plain; that could come only by direct action from Congress and the President at a later date.) The italics are important.

Alaska senator Ted Stevens was reportedly considering retiring if the fight over ANWR went differently than has turned out. The Fairbanks News-Miner article from Saturday, March 12th also pointed out a couple of interesting things that speak to the 1980 "deal" that was struck over Section 1002:

Stevens said a recent letter from former President Jimmy Carter urging defeat of the budget resolution amendment probably wouldn't do anything but anger Republicans. It certainly had that effect on Stevens. That's because it got him thinking about those days 25 years ago when Carter was in the White House and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act was on the brink of passage in Congress.

Carter accepted the ANWR compromise in Section 1002 of ANILCA, Stevens said. As he sees it, the compromise they all agreed to back then was this: Oil drilling would not be allowed in the area unless an environmental impact statement found that it could be done with no significant effects on the wildlife and environment. The studies have confirmed that drilling can meet that standard, Stevens believes. So he thinks Carter, and anyone in Congress who opposes the work, is reneging on the original deal.

As I look at the original "deal" in 1980 and contemplate current opposition, I see people ignoring not just "facts" about what drilling will-and/or-won't accomplish but most importantly, rejecting the legitimate claim to ANWR oil by law. Law signed by a President who now shares in the fervent opposition to oil extraction in ANWR.

I am left to conclude that this opposition is purely and totally ideologically driven--a version of religion for the left.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Taken to account

Former Worldcom CEO Bernie Ebbers is going to Federal prison for a very long time. Larry Kudlow blogged his thoughts on the verdict earlier today.

At the end of it all, I'm reminded of something one of my MBA-profs said one night in class. It was sort of an aside as accounting per se is not part of Price theory but he said it anyway.

"I have former students in Federal prison because they wouldn't listen to me. Listen, please listen to me when I say this: if you juggle accounts or otherwise play fast-and-loose with your accounting, you will get caught and you will go to prison!"

Yes, yes you will.

Italians obstructing investigation

So what indeed! The NY Times is reporting that Iraqi efforts at hunting down the kidnappers of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena have been hampered by...the Italian intelligence service!

Iraqi investigators who are trying to find the kidnappers of the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena say their work has been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the Italian intelligence services that won her release exactly a month after she was abducted on Feb. 4.

Information from the Italians, Colonel Jabbar asserted, could have made the difference in cracking the case and bringing the kidnappers to justice. Instead, he said, his investigators saw the lines of communication shut down once the Italians began negotiating with the kidnappers.

I would presume that there'd need to be more reporting on this, but I'm struck at how this under-scores yet again the counter-productive nature of what the Italians did in paying for Sgrena's release.

And on a side-note, increased security surrounding the visit of John Negroponte still has nothing to do with this story...

'Pioneers' never get their due

GM has terminated their innovative electric vehicle program--EV1--this week. Pulled the plug, as it were.

GM produced the car originally in 1996 and leased their production run of 800 vehicles to residents of Southern California and Phoenix. Provisions of the lease stated that at the end of the 3-yr term all vehicles would revert back to GM.

The vehicles have spent the last 6 years at a storage facility in Burbank awaiting their final disposition. It came this week, when GM transported the vehicles from Burbank to their desert proving grounds in Mesa, AZ this week. Presumably, most of the cars will end up being crushed and materials sent off for recycling.

Worshipers of all-things Environmental are naturally upset at seeing the avant-garde EV1 sent off to it's final resting place. The car was, at the time, an innovative attempt at bringing electric powered vehicles to market:

The protesters, mainly clean-air advocates who decry GM's pulling the plug on the EV1, held a monthlong round-the clock vigil at the storage facility in California. They say the auto giant should allow drivers to buy the EV1s for private use rather than scrapping them.

GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss makes the point that most environment-worshippers always seem to miss:

"God love these people," Barthmuss said of the protesters. "We appreciate their enthusiasm, and we appreciate their loyalty, but there just wasn't enough business to sustain the EV1 over the long term."GM spent more than $1 billion developing and marketing the EV1, he said, but the public response was disappointing.

"Eight-hundred vehicles and $1 billion spent in four years does not a business make," Barthmuss said. "We have to make vehicles that sell in heavy volumes to stay in business."

I've run into many pro-environment (nay, anti-petroleum) technology advocates and they all insist that transition to things like electric/hybrid and alternative-fuels is something that ought to happen now rather than accepting that only when the market catches up to the vision, will the transition take off.

"Eight-hundred vehicles and $1 billion spent in four years does not a business make."

Back Online

Jim Gerahty has hit the ground in Turkey. Yay!

Though, some of these comments scare me.

I've traded emails with Jim a few times, and he was kind enough to provide me my first link to "the big time," when he linked to one of my posts on the Eason Jordan affair. For that I will always be grateful (is that spreading it on too thick?), but most of all I enjoy reading TKS and missed it during the move!

Welcome back to civilization, Jim!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Funny stuff I'd forgotten

Galley Slaves has an argument going on about the relative funny-ness of John Candy's movie career. Victorino Matus references Candy's performance as Freddy in Splash (older brother to Tom Hanks' character Allen), specifically his first scene where he proudly points out that he's now officially published! It's a letter in Penthouse, but published none the less!

Which prompted me to take a trip in my way-back machine to March 1984...

I saw Splash as part of a film-class my freshman year of college. I vaguely recalled Hanks from Bosom Buddies, but familiar or not it was obvious that he was a star-in-the-making! I spent months quoting this movie to and with friends. Sadly, over the course of the last 21 years I don't recall all that I thought so funny at the time. But one has stood out across the years as the funniest for me:

Hanks "rents" a boat for a trip to Nantucket, which amounts to a small dingy with an outboard motor and a very fat, un-ship-shape-looking pilot. The motor dies and the pilot of this boat jumps into the water:

Allen: "Where you going Mr. Fat Jack?"
Pilot: "I'll swim back to shore and get the little boat."
Allen: "The little boat!?"

As for Candy, I think he's even better later in the show when quoting Swedish stag-films while impersonating a famous Swedish oceanographer. But that's just me...

LOL of the day

Courtesy of Powerline and it's readers. The reader's comments are just plain funny; no if's and's or but's.

You need to go to a Texas Air National Guard surplus equipment warehouse and buy one of their old typewriters. I’ve heard the typewriters they had back in the 70’s could do about anything.

'Course, you have to read the post to get the joke, but trust's funny!

Something stinks

Christopher Hitchens nails it again. Writing for Slate today he discusses the NY Times revelation over the weekend about systematic "looting" of Iraqi WMD sites in 2003.

On the surface of the story, there are similarities with the al-Qaqaa saga the Times rushed to print just prior to the election in November. Whatever similarities there are, they stop at the surface. As Hitchens points out:

It was eye-rubbing to read of the scale of this potential new nightmare. There in cold print was the Al Hatteen "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory." And what of the Al Adwan facility, which "produced equipment used for uranium enrichment, necessary to make some kinds of nuclear weapons"? The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad: The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.

Glanz and Broad's disclosures beg two questions, which Hitchens then takes up. 1) "How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction?" and, 2) "What's all this about "looting"?"

The first question presents a non-sequitur for all who have so certainly proclaimed that WMD can't, don't and never did exist in Iraq. The fact that machinery existed in-place that is universally understood to have uses in production of weapons and systems that were prohibited by UN resolution only highlights the potential threat that the Bush Administration sought to deal with in taking action against Sadaam Hussein. The capability plus uncertainty of what exactly was going on only strengthens--in my opinion--the Administration's post-9/11 argument.

Hitchens' second question is even more salient than the first. The Times' reporting says it all:

"In four weeks from mid-April to mid-May of 2003 … teams with flatbed trucks and other heavy equipment moved systematically from site to site. … 'The first wave came for the machines,' Dr Araji said. 'The second wave, cables and cranes.' "

The word that jumps from the page is "systematically." Hitchens describes it this way:

But obviously, what we are reading about is a carefully planned military operation. The participants were not panicked or greedy civilians helping themselves—which is the customary definition of a "looter," especially in wartime. They were mechanized and mobile and under orders, and acting in a concerted fashion. Thus, if the story is factually correct—which we have no reason at all to doubt—then Saddam's Iraq was a fairly highly-evolved WMD state, with a contingency plan for further concealment and distribution of the weaponry in case of attack or discovery.

Such a systematic approach implies planning. This was no collection of native Iraqi's and their borrowed pick-up trucks as alleged at al-Qaqaa. So the question that is left is simply, "Why?"

Hitchens next and last target are the inspectors themselves. Hitchens writes: "The U.N. inspectors, who are solemnly quoted by Glanz and Broad as having "monitored" the alarming developments at Al Hatteen and elsewhere, don't come out looking too professional, either. If by scanning satellite pictures now they can tell us that potentially thermonuclear stuff is on the loose, how come they couldn't come up with this important data when they were supposedly "on the ground"?"

Why indeed. Why would inspectors monitor yet say nothing about this situation? Why would they monitor yet do nothing about this situation, as limited as their ability might have been? Why indeed!

One last point. I wrote last week about the claim former head of inspections Rolf Ekeus made last week that Tariq Aziz had offered him a bribe. I certainly don't know, and it may not be possible to know certainly one way or the other, whether or not these two situations might be related. All I do know is that they prompt more questions than they answer, and that viewed together the inescapable conclusion is that something stinks here.

Even if either or both turn out not to offer proof of the Administration's WMD-claims, I think at the very least they point out the ineffective and utterly un-trustworthy nature of the inspections-regime that so many argued was the best way to approach the problem of Sadaam Hussein in 2003.

Say what you will...

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke yesterday at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. The gist of the speech, from what I can tell, was the continued politicization of the high-court:

In a 35-minute speech Monday, Scalia said unelected judges have no place deciding issues such as abortion and the death penalty. The court's 5-4 ruling March 1 to outlaw the juvenile death penalty based on "evolving notions of decency" was simply a mask for the personal policy preferences of the five-member majority, he said.

"If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again," Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. "You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility."

"Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?" he said.

Laura Ingraham was playing sound-bites from the speech this morning on her radio program. From what I can tell, they included some quotes not found in the print-story and as such, offer additional insight into the justice's views. As I listened to this most articulate of men, it struck me just how powerfully intelligent this man is.

Say what you will about him, he's no dummy...

Monday, March 14, 2005

So what?

Over at editoriale, no one in particular posts the "revelation" that heightened security surrounding the presence of US ambassador John Negroponte contributed to the circumstances around the shooting of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and intelligence agent Nicola Calipari. To which I can only say, "So what?!"

He blogs from the left, and I know for a fact that he was one of the many who felt no compuction in pointing out all the ways the Bush Administration screwed the pooch in Iraq. The left yelled, screamed, groused and griped every time a US soldier was killed in some new, unexpected form; like running through a check-point and detonating a car-bomb for instance.

Enhanced security--for John Negroponte, Bozo the clown or as part of a new SOP--isn't the salient point here. The AP reported that US forces were not fully informed as to the "mission" surrounding the release of "a hostage" that led to the shooting death of Calipari. Less than informed seems also an apt description of Italian General Mario Marioli, second in command of Italian forces in Iraq.

But I guess it's easier to scream about policies designed to keep American's alive.

UPDATE: Yesterday's Washington Post includes this piece on checkpoints by free-lance journalist Bartle Breese Bull. Written, surprisingly enough, from a free-lance journalists point of view.

Long before the Italian incident, orders had come down that deadly force was to be used only as a last resort -- after the failure of obstacles, then flares or smoke bombs or "star clusters," then warning shots, and finally efforts to take out the oncoming vehicle's engine block. These procedures are real. I have seen our soldiers' reluctance to use force and felt the fear it brings. Car bombs cause 30 percent of military casualties.

But please, let's focus on the non-story part of the story about Negroponte's increased security...

Obligatory Sports Post

The draft is done. I have a fantasy baseball team, but how good is it? Only time will tell, but my initial misgivings have given way to guarded optimism. As optimistic as one can be drafting in the last spot anyway...

  1. I nabbed three 27-yr old wanna-be-studs-in-the-making: Brandon Inge, Brad Wilkerson and, most impressively potential 35HR/100 RBI guy, Texas OF Kevin Mench.
  2. I found a great late-round value in Washington Nationals OF, Endy Chavez. At this point, he appears set to start the season leading-off in Washington and all signs point to even more SB's than last years 32. That was with pick #201...
  3. Bobby Madritsch, SP Seattle Mariners. Who? Madritsch looks to be the 4th/5th guy in the Mariner rotation. Of note are a couple of his numbers from last year: 6-3 in 11 starts with a 3.25 ERA and WHIP of 1.25. I'll take that at pick #160 anytime.

Most of the time I hate drafting in such a position; between keepers and early picks, a guy in my position is left trying to put together a team without big-name, high profile players. Yet, I was able to plug several pieces of last year's success back into the mix: Michael Young, SS; Aramis Ramirez, 3B; Sean Casey, 1B.

All in all, I feel pretty decent about this team given the caveats above. Should my pitching, which I built around, hold up it's end of the bargain I will most definitely compete.

Of Local Interest

Yesterday's Arizona Republic ran a series of features about the "housing dilemma" enveloping the metro-Phoenix area. The series ran the gamut from a front-page piece examining home prices that outpace area wages to editorial pieces looking at the issue from varying viewpoints.

This one I can't get my brain around though (written by the head of the local Firefighters Union):

Unfortunately, although they do an outstanding job in their profession, many are not able to live in the same communities they protect. A variety of factors, including the rapid rise in the price of homes, has led to a significant decline in the availability and affordability of workforce housing across the Valley.

This ultimately means that too many of our domestic defenders are having to commute great distances because they simply can't afford to rent or buy a home where they work.

While I understand the concern about the former, the latter statement is nonsensical. I fail to see the problem when a Phoenix firefighter who works at Cactus Rd & 24th Drive commutes from El Mirage or Litchfield Park because a home in central Phoenix has become too costly.

Phoenicians, as best I can tell from 3+ years of observing, have a deep desire to avoid becoming in any way like Los Angeles. To a great degree--as one who has now lived in both cities--they have achieved that goal. I can appreciate that, but I fear that Phoenicians are desperately trying to ignore the encroaching reality of their situation: housing costs are rising, and will continue to rise and without a concerted effort aimed at preserving some affordable housing elements in the region or a likewise concerted effort at finding legitimate means for increasing wages in the area, more and more people will be priced out of various areas in town. Whether government officials or public figures like it or not, the public will adjust to the new realities.

Having come from Southern California where commute times of 1-2 hours each way can be commonplace, I can understand the reluctance to submit to the reality of the situation but I can't join in the outrage. Reality is reality, people who want to buy a home can, will and should go where they can afford to purchase. If the commute is too long for you, change jobs. Having to commute from one city to another does not qualify as a moral outrage.

File under D for 'Duh!'

From Reuters: U.S. media coverage of last year's election was three times more likely to be negative toward President Bush than Democratic challenger John Kerry, according to a study released Monday.

The annual report by a press watchdog that is affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said that 36 percent of stories about Bush were negative compared to 12 percent about Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.

Only 20 percent were positive toward Bush compared to 30 percent of stories about Kerry that were positive, according to the report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

UPDATE. 3/15/05, 4:54 MST

LOL!!!! In the interest of fairness, the Administration announces a new policy of providing journalism pieces that portray Administration policies in a bad light.

Wealth trumps deficits

Or so says Larry Kudlow. In response to the Fed's release of "The Wealth of America," Kudlow points to the "flow of funds" report and concludes his blog entry with the following:

Free markets, free trade, and add a dose of lower tax-rates, deregulation, and technology-driven productivity. Oh, and by the way, a $48.5 trillion net wealth is 121 times the 2004 federal budget deficit of $413 billion.So wealth trumps deficits. I'll take wealth anytime.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Got no "want to"

It's Friday afternoon and not much is going on for me at the moment. There is plenty of stuff going on in the world, and you'd think theres plenty of blogging-material amidst it all. And there is.

So why do I sit here listless and caring not that the world is passing me by? It's 85-degrees as of 4:05 PM; Spring is...springing? sprung? Regardless, I don't got the want-to--I'd rather be outside enjoying the weather!

UPDATE: Okay, so I lied. Sort of. Here's a quick snippet highlighting the most horrific local story of the day: A 9-year-old boy stabbed a classmate in the eye with a pencil Wednesday at their Phoenix elementary school because he wanted the other boy's basketball, according to a police report.

This gets a close-second: Angelica Villasenor-Aviles was arrested Thursday morning after Gilbert police said they found her passed out in a car holding a methamphetamine pipe and a lighter against her chest while her month-old son was screaming in the back seat.

Couple of stories that leave you despairing for the world you live in. But then again, is it ever surprising when any of us sinful human beings act like sinful human beings living in a fallen world?

Blog ads reader survey results

What do they have to say? A lot!

In a nutshell, blog-readers appear a desirable age-and-income demographic:

86.5% of respondents were b/t 20-60, and the single biggest age cell was 31-40; fully a full quarter of respondents who answered the question fell there.

Over three-quarters (76.9%) of respondents reported an annual family income in excess of $45K/year, a full 39% of respondents earn b/t $60-$120K a year.

The biggest surprise? Democrats represented a larger segment of the blog-reading population than Republicans--39% to 27%--by a full 12-percentage points!

So much for the troglodyte-right-wing-whacko-in-the-basement stereotype...

Of course, this survey is self-reporting and certainly does not represent any sort of random-sample of blog-readers thus making it near impossible to draw any major inferences from the information. Still, it is interesting to look at.

Only about 20% of respondents indicated that they themselves blog. I think it would be very interesting to see the data filtered by these 6,232 bloggers to get an idea of their age-and-income distribution.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for pointing to the results!

That's not how we do business

Former UNSCOM chief-weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus revealed today that he was offered millions of dollars if he'd "report right."

His response to Hussein's deputy prime-minister, Tariq Aziz: "That is not the way we do business in Sweden."

The Post describes this revelation as yet another "oil-for-food bombshell scandal." Sounds fair to me.

The allegation also begs a few questions, the first of which is obviously, "What would Hussein need to hide behind attempts at bribing officials in the inspection regime?" Perhaps those telling us all about the non-existent Iraqi WMD's could answer that...

Next, "Was this reported by Ekeus back to the UN? To whom?"

And finally, "What was the UN's response?"

Dilbert watch

"...chain your bicycle to a wino. Whatever."

LOL! I know that area...! Downtown LA, Figueroa and 7th Street. Worked there for a bit over a year, though to my shame, I never got on a first name basis with the homeless guy who called the corner bus-stop home.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Telling stories

The man I work for started his career in Market Research under the tutelage of a well-known professional in the field. Were I to give you his name you would likely recognize it, especially if you operate at all in the world of Evangelical Christianity.

During the course of events this morning, my boss and I were discussing how easily some lose track of time. Which led us back to his one-time boss and mentor:

"Yeah, he would focus so intently on one thing sometimes that he'd completely lose track of everything else going on. I'll never forget one day I'm leaving at 5:15 and he stops me on the way out asking me where I'm going.

"'Well,' it's 5:15, I'm going home.' 'Wow!,' he exclaims, 'it's 5:15? I should go to the bathroom.'"

Adds all new meaning to the phrase "Focused like a laser-beam."

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