Thursday, March 31, 2005

Some Conventional Wisdom...

Could the conventional wisdom be dazed and confused (again)? The conventional view seems to be that the Terri Schiavo struggle has highlighted serious fissures within the Republican Big Tent between Christian Right Conservatives and the libertarians. Contrary to the pundits, I’m not convinced that the Republicans stand to lose from their efforts to prevent Terri Schiavo’s death. Rather, this appears to be another stumble by the Democrats who seem determined to offend their core voting blocks.

In their nearly blind hatred of all things Bush, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has insulted its most important constituency, African Americans, by belittling the intelligence of Clarence Thomas (think Harry Reid) and by challenging the bona fides of Condoleza Rice (think Barbara Boxer).

Now, many of the usual suspects on the left have let it be known they support the killing of helpless women.

If the political seismograph is recording any quakes of late, it is clearly coming from Democratic territory: the attacks by Barbara Boxer on Condoleza Rice’s character were rebuked by Andrew Young of all people, certainly no political ally of Condoleza’s. Likewise, in fighting against Terri Schiavo’s forced starvation, liberal luminaries such as Ralph Nader, Tom Harkin, Jesse Jackson, and Nat Hentoff have veered from contemporary liberal orthodoxy to throw their support behind a cause close to the heart of the Christian Right.

Are these isolated cases of political foolishness or the beginning of a trend? Let's hope for more quakes ahead.

In the Gloom, Some Levity...

This is shaping up to be a particularly gloomy day -- Terry Schiavo has been judicially murdered and our beloved Pontiff is said to be extremely ill, possibly to the point of death. Not to make light of any of that, but rather to inject a little bit of goodwill into the day, I am reproducing a portion of the OpinionJournal's Best of the Web Today.

I hope this makes all of you feel a little better, as it did me:

Dispatcher: Sheriff's department, how can I help you?
Caller: Yeah, I'm over here at Burger King, right here in San Clemente--
Dispatcher: Mm-hmm.
Caller: --um, no, not San Clemente, I'm sorry. Um, I live in San Clemente. I'm in Laguna Niguel, I think that's where I'm at.
Dispatcher: Uh-huh.
Caller: I'm at a drive-thru right now.
Dispatcher: Uh-huh.
Caller: I ordered my food three times. They're mopping the floor inside, and I understand they're busy. They're not even busy, OK, I've been the only car here. I asked them four different times to make me a Western Barbecue Burger. OK, they keep giving me a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and cheese, onions. And I said, I am not leaving.
Dispatcher: Uh-huh.
Caller: I want a Western Burger. Because I just got my kids from tae kwon do; they're hungry. I'm on my way home, and I live in San Clemente.
Dispatcher: Uh-huh.
Caller: OK, she gave me another hamburger. It's wrong. I said four times, I said, "I want it." She goes, "Can you go out and park in front?" I said, "No. I want my hamburger right." So then the lady came to the manager, or whoever she is--she came up and she said, um, "Did you want your money back?" And I said, "No. I want my hamburger. My kids are hungry, and I have to jump on the toll freeway [sic]." I said, "I am not leaving this spot," and I said I will call the police, because I want my Western Burger done right. Now is that so hard?
Dispatcher: OK, what exactly is it you want us to do for you?
Caller: Send an officer down here. I want them to make me the right--
Dispatcher: Ma'am, we're not going to go down there and enforce your Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
Caller: What am I supposed to do?
Dispatcher: This is between you and the manager. We're not going to go enforce how to make a hamburger. That's not a criminal issue. There's nothing criminal there.
Caller: So I just stand here--so I just sit here and block--
Dispatcher: You need to calmly and rationally speak to the manager and figure out what to do between you.
Caller: She did come up, and I said, "Can I please have my Western Burger?" She said, "I'm not dealing with it," and she walked away. Because they're mopping the floor and it's all full of suds, and they don't want to go through there, and--
Dispatcher: Ma'am, then I suggest you get your money back and go somewhere else. This is not a criminal issue. We can't go out there and make them make you a cheeseburger the way you want it.
Caller: Well, that is, that--you're supposed to be here to protect me.
Dispatcher: Well, what are we protecting you from, a wrong cheeseburger?
Caller: No. It's--
Dispatcher: Is this like, is this a harmful cheeseburger or something? I don't understand what you want us to do.
Caller: Well, just come down here! I'm not leaving!
Dispatcher: No, ma'am, I'm not sending the deputies down there over a cheeseburger! You need to go in there and act like an adult and either get your money back or go home.
Caller: I do not need to go. She is not acting like an adult herself. I'm sitting here in my car. I just want them to make my kid a Western Burger [unintelligible].
Dispatcher: Now this is what I suggest: I suggest you get your money back from the manager and you go on your way home.
Caller: OK.
Dispatcher: OK? Bye-bye.
Caller: No--
[click]
Link

And so it is done.

Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman at the heart of a wrenching dispute over her fate that drew in the U.S. Congress and President Bush, died on Thursday, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed by court order.

What are Artificial Means, Anyway?

Reuters has a piece containing the following statement from Pope John Paul II:
'The administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act,' he said. Denying them this treatment would amount to 'euthanasia by omission.'
Reuters then proceeds to make the following statement:
The Catholic Church has traditionally taught that doctors and families could end artificial life-extending measures in good conscience if a dying patient's prospects seemed hopeless.

Reuters, of course is attempting to have you believe that Pope John Paul II is once again dragging the Catholic Church back to the pre-Reformation days and ignoring the progressives in its midst. Reuters would have you believe that the supply of nutrition and hydration is "artificial" if it is delivered via a tube, but "natural" if delivered with a fork and spoon. This seems to me to be a somewhat arbitrary and capricious distinction. Why is a tube artificial? Does this mean that astronauts who consume their food via straws are being kept alive artificially? I think not. Although I'm sure the bio-ethicists could and would come up with a deep philosophical definition of artificial, I think that that is so much sophistry. An "artificial" means of life support would include those methods that have no natural analog. Therefore, a heart-lung machine and a dialysis machine are artificial; there are no natural analogs to these devices. A feeding tube, however, is natural, inasmuch as it does possess a natural analog: the aforementioned eating utensils or even one's own hands. It is not different in kind, just different in methodology.

As much as Reuters tries to spin this topic by the use of quotes from Jesuit priests who don't agree with the Pope, its not going to change the Church's essential position on this issue.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hmmm....

On the way home this evening I heard a piece on CBS radio that once again made me go hmmmm. According to CBS News, Michael Schiavo disputed reports from Terri Schiavo's father that his daughter was holding her own despite being deprived of food and water for nearly 13 consecutive days.

According to the news report, Michael Schiavo disputed Terri's father's claim by asserting that Terri had now slipped into a coma. Slipped into a coma?!? That's odd... what exactly was her condition before she slipped into this coma? Perhaps somebody could explain for us layfolks out here the difference between the persistant vegitative state that the courts concluded Terri was experiencing and the coma that Michael Schiavo now claims she has slipped into. Sure sounds as if Terri possessed more mental accuity than she was given credit for either by her ex-husband or the Courts.

Musings on Murder

Terri Schiavo's passing is now all but assured, having been condemned to a horrific death by starvation by those who claim to love her.

The morality (and certainly the legality) of the treatment she has endured at the hands of her guardian has been unceasingly debated the past three weeks. However, one point that I have not seen addressed in the media crossed my mind this morning. I hesitate, however, to raise it for fear of being deemed morbid.

Nevertheless, this hypothetical occurred to me. What if a protester (or even a member of Terri's family) was to somehow find his or her way into the hospice where Terri now resides and, as an act of mercy, was to kill her by whatever means available to end her suffering?

Would the state of Florida bring that person up on charges of first degree murder? My strongest suspicion is that yes, in this messed up state of affairs, the People of the Great State of Florida would charge that person with premeditated murder.... while those who have imposed a prolonged and painful death upon her are lauded as heroes. Only in America...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sadness for the Pope?

According to reports, Pope John Paul II attempted, but failed to read aloud a blessing to the assembled faithful at St. Peter's Square. On one level, we share with sadness the Pope's own evident frustration at his inability to do what he does best -- communicate. On another level, however, we should rejoice in sharing the world with this man, for despite his inability to speak, he is still communicating as forcefully for the good as ever. While we in the United States have been deluged with the sad story of Terry Schiavo and the evil of those who would choose death for her over life, Pope John Paul II continues his own testimony as to the value of human life, even life that is ravaged by disease and disability. No one can dispute the iron will that still drives the frail body.

If it is sadness that we feel, it is the sadness of impending loss (whenever that day inevitably comes). However, it is my hope that we should be more like Mary Magdalene, who weeping for the death of the Messiah, was asked by the Messiah himself why she was crying -- leading to revelation. We shall find that Pope John Paul II will have himself gone on to his rightful honor in a happier place and that he will have left this world a better place for those of us who remain.
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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Another Reuters Attempted Hatchet Job on the President

"Reuters" is at it again, spewing "outrage" over the length of time it has taken for President Bush to comment on the Red Lake school shootings. For a news organization that doesn't care a whit about what the President says on any topic that matters, this is pretty lame. Are they saying that nothing matters until the President comments on it? I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to note that EVERYONE was appalled at what happened; it certainly does not take any commentary from the President to make it so.

No, this is another attempt by Reuters to cast the President in a bad light, insinuating that if this had happened at a Texas school, he would have even gone to the site. But, because this happened at an Indian school (I am specifically not using the term Native American, here, because these peoples are no more (or less) native to the Americas than any of us), it is cast as racism.

Get over it Reuters.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Ultimate in Making Tracks

Now here's the ultimate in Making Tracks! (Mars Rover) (From CNET News.com)
Link

Techno Hackery

This story is another example of the hubris amongst much of the techno-elite. These individuals believe that rules are only for those who don't have the power to break them. The programmers in question have come up with a hack that allows them to access Apple's iTunes store and download music that lacks Apple's copy protection. Apple makes its terms and conditions very plain to read (even if most users don't). One of those terms is to accept the copy protection.

However, the hackers come up with all sorts of explanations for why they do what they do: "it's legal in MY country"; "Apple includes 2 layers of security, so, hey, if I leave one layer out, its ok"; etc....

They can rationalize all they want, but what they are doing is stealing -- plain and simple. It's a shame that society's moral compass has drifted so far off North that so many fail to see theft for what it is.
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Poetic Justice?

Barry Bonds fears that he may miss the entire 2005 baseball season due to a recurring knee injury. Given his attitude about things, I will not be shedding too many tears for him.
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Monday, March 21, 2005

Another Democratic End Run Blocked

The Supreme Court today denied certiorari in a pair of cases involving the President's ability to make judicial appointments when the Senate is in recess. At issue is Article 2, Sec. 2, Cl. 3 of the U.S. Constitution, to wit:
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
This clause does not indicate how it must come to pass that the Senate is in recess, only that it be so. It does not specify that the Senate be formally adjourned.

Of course, the Democrats are trying to make some political hay out of the recess appointments of Charles Pickering and William Pryor to the Federal Circuit bench after the Senate Democrats filibustered efforts to get an up or down vote on these men. The Democrats hope that eventually the Supreme Court will put a restrictive reading on the meaning of the term "recess" such that the only time a President could make a recess appointment would be when the Senate has adjourned for the final time at the end of a session of Congress. Since recess appointments last only until the end of the Congressional session, this would completely gut the power.

Justice Stevens telegraphs where at least the liberal wing of the Court would go with this when the case reaches the Court following disposition by all lower courts:
"It would be a mistake to assume that our disposition of this petition constitutes a decision on the merits of whether the president has the constitutional authority to fill future (judicial) vacancies, such as vacancies on this court," Stevens wrote.
I hope at least 5 Justices disagree with Justice Stevens.
Link

What Will They Think of Next?

Here's a story about a guy who blogs using ... paper! What a concept! He could call this sort of thing a diary, copyright it and make a mint!
Link

Schiavo Legislation Signed by President Bush

President Bush early this morning signed the legislation allowing a federal judge to hear the Terri Schiavo matter. Still too early to tell what will come of this, but at least it opens some doors that were previously unavailable.

In a post about this, Michelle Malkin notes that a couple of bloggers (Xrlq and NZPundit) have located Florida's statutory definition of persistent vegetative state, which I reproduce below:

“Persistent vegetative state” means a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is:

(a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind.

(b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.

Now, I am not a doctor and my reaction is based solely on about 15 seconds of video that I have seen of Terri Schiavo (and I don't know when it was shot), but if the video is representative of Mrs. Schiavo's current condition, it sure seems to me that she does not meet at least subsection (a) of the statute. At the very least, there should, in cases like this, be a presumption that any ambiguities will be resolved in favor of life. I hope the Federal Courts see it that way, too.
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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Truth Be Told

At long last, the true nature of Michael Schiavo's concern for his wife's well-being is out for all to see. Responding to Congressional efforts to allow a federal court to determine whether he would be allowed to starve Terri to death, Michael Shiavo responded forthrightly (if not monstrously):

“I think that the Congress has more important things to discuss.”



How charming. The life or death of his wife hangs in the balance and this man has the gumption to be peeved that Congress bothers to pay attention. Of course it doesn't hurt to keep in mind that Michael Schiavo, who claims to have only his wife's best interest at heart, may have a unique view on marriage, having lived with his paramour for years while siring two children through their illicit union.

In a rational world, that alone would be enough to question whether Mr. Sciavo ascribes to the Scott Peterson view of matrimony: "honey, I love you so much that I have to kill you so that you won't suffer by having to continue to live with my failings."

In a rational world, this would suggest, at best, that Mr. Sciavo is, to put it mildly, conflicted in his role as husband and guardian. In a rational world, this would suggest that Mr. Sciavo is motivated by something other than his concern for his wife's well-being. Of course, that Mr. Sciavo collected over a $1 million dollars in the malpractice suit brought on his wife's behalf is merely a trifle.

And now, the party of (good) life has taken the next step -- certain Democrats have joined with Mr. Schiavo to block the federal legislation that would allow Terri the chance to avoid a miserable death. Having assured the country of abortion on debaand, apparently the Democrats have gone the next step in assuring a quality of life for their constituents... by killing off those outside of the womb who don't measure up to their standards.

First, abortion was justified because democrats would never want to force a child to be born into a horrible existence. But why stop there when you can terminate (i.e., kill) those who are already born but whose existence is problematic.

I fear for my disabled sister.

Bishop Milquetoast

Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg

The "Statement of Bishop Robert N. Lynch Concerning the Terri Schiavo Case" would be truly laughable if the stakes weren't so high. Rather than involve himself with the minutia of Terrri's case (i.e., her family's struggle to prevent her execution by means of a slow and painful death), the Roman Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida pontificates (no pun intended) with a slew of platitudes that essentially echo the sentiments of that famous peace activist Rodney King: Can't we all just get along....".

After pouring over relevant Church authorities for guidance in this matter (well, somebody in his office must have at least picked up a Time or a Newsweek while drafting the Diocese's statement), the good Bishop of St. Petersburg issued his ever-so bold conclusion that we are all well advised to prepare a living will. Well golly gee... perhaps Michael Schiavo can mention that to his wife so that we can avoid all the unpleasantness that has been generated of late.

Hmm... but what about Terri you ask? Does the Bishop of St. Petersburg weigh in on her fate? Of course... here, the shepherd of the flock in St. Petersberg courageously urges the faithful of his Diocese to avoid the use of "excessive rhetoric like the use of “murder” or the designation of the trial judge or appellate judges as "murderers” inasmuch "as this is a much harder case than those who use facile language might know."

Point well taken... but seriously... what about Terri? Well, according to the brave Bishop, maybe we should try to get a better handle on Terri's medical condition. Or, going even further out on that limb, the Bishop suggests that it might even be appropriate if Terri's family is permitted to prepare medical protocols that might improve the quality of her life.

And people wonder why the moral authority of the Catholic Church has been eroded in the United States. Actually, they should properly wonder why that authority has been ceded by cowardly lions such as Bishop Lynch.

Bishop Lynch goes to great pains to rely upon the statement of Florida's Catholic Bishops in “Life, Death and Treatment of Dying Patients: Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida, 1989". The banal Bishop quotes this pastoral statement for his proposition that the Church has traditionally viewed medical treatment as excessively burdensome (and therefore something than can be denied) if it is “too painful, too damaging to the patient’s bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too suppressive of the patient’s mental life, or too expensive.” There you have it... if your medical bills are too expensive, ya better watch out because, Bishop Lynch just may decide pay ya a visit. So this is what the self-proclaimed religion of life stands for?

Well, if that wasn't clear enough, Bishop Lynch goes on to state that “nourishment or hydration may be withheld or withdrawn where that treatment itself is causing harm to the patient or is useless because the patient’s death is imminent, as long as the patient is made comfortable. In general, the terms ‘death is imminent’ and ‘terminally ill’ imply that a physician can predict that the patient will die of the fatal pathology within a few days or weeks, regardless of what life prolonging methods are utilized.”

Given that Terri has lived for years with the condition that currently afflicts her, it would seem obvious to all but the feeble minded that she is neither terminally ill nor is her death imminent (using the very definition relied upon by Bishop Lynch). As such, you certainly would have expected the Diocese to weigh in with the full weight of its authority to condemn the evil being committed against Terri Schiavo. Instead, we are treated to a sermon commanding us to use nice language against those who would perpetrate evil.

Perhaps the good Bishop would spend his time in a more constructive fashion by giving up a round of golf for an afternoon devoted to the reading of Pope John Paul II's 2004 address entitled "Life Sustaining treatment and the Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas", in which he declared, “The obligation to provide the ‘normal care due to the sick in such cases’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Iura et Bona, p. IV) includes, in fact, the use of nutrition and hydration.” The Pontiff goes on to state that even if the vegetative state was of prolonged duration, the cessation of minimal care including hydration and nutrition can not be ethically defended. “Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.”

The Pope has once again demonstrated that he is a man of moral clarity. Would that the same be true of the Bishop of St. Petersburg in Terri Schiavo's hour of need.
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Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Erosion of Local Control

Congress has acted in the Schiavo case. While I applaud the action of the national legislature in this specific case, I lament that Congressional power was necessary to fill the void left by the State of Florida's in/misactions in this case. There is an old legal saying that hard cases make bad law. I fear that this may be true here: conservatives have spent decades trying to get the Federal Government out of local matters; now conservatives, pursuing an undeniably just cause, have allowed the camel's nose under the tent flap. Who's to say where this will end. At it's worst, it could result in the end of the concept of sovereign U.S. states once and for all.

All because one state chose to abdicate its role as protector of the innocent and helpless .

[Post

Sick Headline Writing --"Yahoo! News - Schiavo Spending First Full Day Off Tube"

How sick is this? AP carries a headline about Terry Schiavo: Yahoo! News - Schiavo Spending First Full Day Off Tube. They make it sound like she's spending the first day of vacation or something else enjoyable, not being murdered.

How about the following headline: "Schiavo on First Day of Starving to Death"? That's a bit more accurate.
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Friday, March 18, 2005

A Time for Prayer

For whatever reason, I have not paid too close attention to the life and death decisions being made in Florida concerning Terri Schiavo... until today.

Watching the videos of Mrs. Schiavo with her Mom for the first time today was absolutely devastating. Admittedly, I am not a doctor, nor am I a prestigious bio-ethicist (whatever that may be), but as a human being, I could not help but be profoundly moved by the pleas of Terri's family, especially after seeing Terri's obvious reaction to her Mom's touch.

The faint smile that crossed Terri's face is clear to all except those who choose not to see. On a personal note, I have seen that wan smile before. I saw it on my Mom's face in the final stages of her illness and with that smile, I knew she was with us despite the terrible toll her illness had taken on her. I know Terri's family sees this same smile and that's why they are fighting so desperately to prevent the state from committing murder at the behest of husband.

And murder it is. Mr. Schiavo and the judge who ordered that Terri be starved to death may claim an enlightened purpose to alleviate Terri's suffering but that is nothing more than an effort to mask the monstrosity of their goals. They are starving her to death! Can anyone imagine anything more cruel?!?

If I did that to my dog, I would be hauled up on charges of animal abuse... and rightly so! At least, in the name of humanity, we put our pets out of their misery as quickly as possible to minimize their suffering. Even a monster such as Scott Peterson is entitled to a lethal injection to spare him an agonizing death.

According to a judge who fancies himself God, Terri Shiavo is not entitled to such niceties. Instead, Mr. Shiavo and his judge have condemned Terri to a slow, lingering death that I would not wish on the worst of my enemies. That this can be rationalized in a supposedly civil society should shock the conscience of even the most hardened among us.

At this point, Terri's feeding tube has been removed and the legal obstacles she and her family face are enormous. Now is a time for prayer.

Iran with Cruise Missiles

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

FireFox Gets Another Boost

Firefox is getting another boost, this time from Yahoo. As those of us who use Firefox extensively know, Yahoo products are a bit spotty with the browser. For instance, Yahoo Messenger does not work with Firefox currently. Yahoo has now pledged to include Firefox to its supported browsers which will make it easier for all of us.
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Toys R Us

I think everyone who thinks that the impending purchase of Toys R Us by a consortium of investment capital firms will result in the saving of the company is crazy. I will bet that the company will be broken up within a couple of years and sold for its real estate.
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ANWR -- Open for Business

The Senate's action in moving to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) seems hopeful. After all, with oil prices hitting an all time (nominal) high yesterday, it would seem that this would be a no-brainer. Not so, unfortunately. There are a lot of people out there more worried about potential harm to a bunch of caribou than about inner city kids freezing to death because their parents can't afford heating oil or natural gas. I'd like to see some studies about the horrific impact the Alaska Pipeline (remember that? You probably won't unless you are at least 35) has had on wildlife. I doubt anyone can produce such a study (at least a serious one) because the pipeline has had almost no impact on wildlife. Why should the ANWR drilling be any different?
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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Thanks for the Info... NOT!

MSNBC - Atlanta hostage turning around 'sad, tough' life

A remarkable story of a woman's courage in the face of the ultimate adversity...Ashley Smith's harrowing tale at the hands of Brian Nichols following his murderous flight from the Fulton County Courthouse should have been described so simply.

Instead, the Associated Press decided the public needed to know about several unfortunate decisions Ms. Smith made early in her life, including an incident that occurred in her teens. Hmm... did this "background" information somehow advance the story of her ordeal as Brian Nichols' captive and the extraodinary courage she displayed under the most difficult of circumstances. Not a whit.

Rather, the AP story is yet another example of the media just not getting it. Ms. Smith did not ask for notoriety-- I am sure if Ms. Smith could have avoided the horrible events of this past Saturday, she would have done everything in her power to do so. Nevertheless, the AP has decided that her past is fair game for publication although it had absolutely no bearing on the events that transpired over that terrible 24 hour period.... and the American public is smart enough to know that once again the media has crossed the line from responsible journalism to sensationalism.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Only in Detroit...

McPhail awards mayor with slur

Pop quiz time! The number one political issue facing the City of Detroit today is: (a) a massive budget deficit which has forced mass layoffs and the real prospect of municipal receivership; (b) an alarming exodus of its citizenry which has seen Detroit's population drop by over one-half in less than 50 years; (c) a dismal high school graduation rate of only 44% as recently as the 2002-2003 school year; or (d) race relations.

You get the prize if you chose (d)! But hold on... its not what you think. Leave it to Detroit's politicians to avoid garden variety claims of racism. Instead, the race issue de jour involves Councilwoman Sharon McPhail's presentation of the "Sambo Sell-Out of the Year" award to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other select members of Detroit's City Council for supposedly selling out their black constituents. Bear in mind that the City of Detroit's population is 82% black and is governed by a black mayor and a predominantly black city council.

Of course, the real twist to this tale is that Councilwoman McPhail (herself a serious contender for mayor in the upcoming mayoral election) happens to be black, as is the recipient of her prestigious award, Mayor Kilpatrick. Apparently, having been so conditioned to cry racism as early and as often as possible to advance her career, Ms. McPhail is having withdrawal symptoms now that there is no longer a significant white population within the city at whom she can hurl her racial invectives. Not to be deterred, Ms. McPhail has simply found new targets for her race baiting... that they too happen to be black is just a minor obstacle in Ms. McPhail's efforts to promote racial disharmony as best she can.
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Yahoo! News - Economy Expanding with Little Inflation

Yahoo! News - Economy Expanding with Little Inflation

Hmmmm.... clearly we have now entered that small window between presidential election cycles: Reuters has published a business article today based almost entirely on facts without its usual dose of dire economic predictions and opinions as to the poor health of the nation's economy under President Bush's stewardship.

I have my own prediction: Reuters' apparent switch from an opinion service to a news service (at least on the business front) will last no longer than the six weeks of winter predicted by Punxsatawney Phil earlier this February....
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Don't Hire Me to Make Your Stock Picks...

I actually had a buy order in for Ebay on the day it went public...but I told my broker not to go higher than $17-18 (the IPO strike price was about $13, if I recall correctly). It closed that day at about $60. One share purchased that day for $60 is now probably worth more than $1,200 (after splits).

I also once considered purchasing KMart at $30, but figured it was overvalued.

Whoops!
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"Senators Reassure Bloggers". Then Why Am I Not Reassured?

Senators McCain and Feingold rushed to reassure bloggers today that they will not be prohibited from posting on political topics by the McCain-Feingold Campaign "Reform" Act. That's all well and good, but the decision whether blogging can be regulated is no longer the Senators' to make -- it rests with the Federal Elections Commission and the Federal Courts, both of which have been known to, shall we say, improvise from time to time.

The chickens are definitely coming home to roost and we all potentially will pay the price with our hard won freedoms.
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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mahered

Well here it is... at long last... my very first post! You will immediately note that unlike my compatriate, GWhiz, I am technologically challenged to the utmost degree. Nevertheless, because I have views on all things, I won't let my ignorance stand in the way of a good post!

What better way to start than with a review of Bill Maher. Although I missed Bill's recent diatribe (uhh... I mean dialogue) with Ward Churchill, Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine does a yeoman's job of producing a transcript of their conversation concerning all things un-American. Leave it to Bill, he is one of few Americans who can deflect attention from a sorry demagogue such as Ward Churchill by one-upping him in the "I hate America" department.

Of course, by this point I should not be surprised by Mr. Maher's virulent hatred of the USA... he has made his views about this country abundently clear throughout his career as a political commentator with a supposed comedic edge.

I certainly don't profess to know what goes on in Bill Maher's mind. Could anyone who has received so much good fortune really be so bitter about the society and culture that allowed him to scale to such heights of success? Does he really wake up in the morning despising the very thought of living in a country that allows him to achieve enormous wealth and fame by denigrating its history and ideals?

Or, is Bill Maher simply the ultimate shock jock-- trading on a series of vicious attacks against his country for the sake of an increase in his television ratings. Who knows....

Regardless, what is certain is that Bill Maher is the ultimate embodiment of the great political abyss which has consumed a large portion of the American polity. Yes... Bill Maher represents this political nothingness even more so than Michael Moore... at least Michael Moore places a jovial smile on his poisonous political darts. Maher, on the other hand, makes no effort to conceal his disdain for America, routinely offering up a witch's brew of nihilism thinly disguised as cynical intellectual sophistication.

According to Buzz Machine, Maher, while presumably referring to Osama Bin Laden's murderous thugs, asked Ward Churchill:

"Don't you think there are reasons why they hate us and they're valid....?"


To which the audience applauded.

Is this what popular liberalism in America has descended to? If so, no wonder the political divisions in America have reached such a fevered pitch. As a conservative growing up in an extremely liberal part of the United States (yes, my hometown of Detroit voted for John Kerry by better than a 9 to 1 margin), I am by now used to spirited political debate.

I naively thought that the differences between conservatives and liberals really took place only at the fringes. Yes, we had significant policy disputes with each other but deep down, we were all pulling for the same outcomes. I had supposed that we all were looking for ways to ensure that the country prospered free from threats from abroad, and that the opportunity to achieve this prosperity would be available to both rich and poor, regardless of their race or religion. In the end, I rashly thought it was not the goals that divided us but the manner in which we achieved those goals that created the obstacles.

Unfortunately, it has became all to clear that my notions of the political playing field were far removed from the truth. While conservatives were busy questioning the logic of a given liberal policy (without questioning the liberal's good faith), the liberals were levelling ad hominem attacks on the conservatives regardless of the liberals' initial thoughts on the policy in question (for example, the Social Security issue or Iraq, both of which were declared to be concerns under the Clinton Administration and presumably espoused by the Clinton Democratic echo chamber; when the same policy objectives were announced by the Bush Administration, they were declared to be anathema and President Bush to be the source of all evil in the world). I can only conclude, therefore, that the divide between liberal and conservatives has grown from a dispute over the appropriate means to an end, to a serious difference as to the ends themselves. The Left has been hijacked by the "Hate America First" crowd and no longer seems to offer any meaningful solution to the big issues of the day.

That is, unfortunately, too bad, because debate is more fruitful with more than one serious point of view presented.
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Are We Losing the PR War?

Dr. Demarche has a roundup of Iranian anti-American propaganda videos and notes that we are quite possibly losing the public relations battle with the Enemy. I agree with the good Doctor that the United States needs to take this more seriously and counter the propaganda being directed against us.
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Lost?

Apparently Americans are not taking to in-car navigation systems like they are in other parts of the world. Gizmodo reports that only 300,000 vehicles with such units were sold (including aftermarket) of the 17,000,000 or so vehicles sold last year. I was one of the 300,000 in my company vehicle and think these things are the greatest. They are only going to get better as they add real-time traffic information from XM Traffic, where the traffic info is beamed into the car along with the XM broadcast. How cool is that?
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Reuters -- Completely Irresponsible Reporting

In what has to be one of the most irresponsible texts ever attempting to pass itself off as a news story, Reuters this morning has completely signed on to Eason Jordan's team:
"ROME (Reuters) - Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena, shot and wounded after being freed in Iraq (news - web sites), said Sunday U.S. forces may have deliberately targeted her because Washington opposed Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers."
Subsequently in the article, however, Reuters states that "[Sgrena] offered no evidence for her claim" but that "it was possible the soldiers had targeted her because Washington opposes Italy's dealings with kidnappers that may include ransom payments."

Perhaps an explanation for this becomes apparent when we learn the ideology of the paper for which Sgrena writes: a communist daily. I haven't read this paper (and probably could not, since I can't read/speak Italian), but I am going to take a wild guess that the editorial policy thereof has never been particularly in favor of the U.S. policy in Iraq.

What is appalling is that Sgrena would use the death of an Italian serviceman or intelligence agent and make the claim, with admittedly no evidence supporting her assertion, that the U.S. targeted her. Italians should be shrieking at her for using the death of an Italian hero for political hay. Reuters should be similarly castigated.

Finally, the headline itself is designed to make it appear that the Italian government has bought into Sgrena's sick theory: "Italy Rejects U.S. Version of Iraq Shooting". This headline is irresponsible in that nowhere in the article is there an indication that the Italian government disputes the version of events issued by the U.S. military. The article quotes a couple of ministers, both holding minor posts in the government, and even then neither official claims that the U.S. deliberately targeted this so-called journalist for execution. There probably are private citizens who believe this tripe, but if that is the most support there is for this nonsense and that is how it looks, the headline should read "Italians Reject U.S. Version of Iraq Shooting."

There really is no vilification extreme enough for Reuters. If McCain Feingold is designed to limit partisan speech, Reuters is far more offensive than bloggers.

UPDATE: Someone must have applied some heat to Reuters as they have somewhat altered the original article. Now, they have Sgrena backpedaling with the following statement:
"You could characterise as an ambush what happens when you are showered with gunfire. If this happened because of a lack of information or deliberately, I don't know, but even if it was due to a lack of information it is unacceptable."
Frankly, I don't care. Reuters is on a political mission and should be treated as partisan advertising for the Democratic Party.

UPDATE 2: Now that I am doing my late-day blog scan, I see that Michelle Malkin posted on this topic a couple of hours before I weighed in this morning, and to much the same effect. Good; I'm glad she got this topic out there, particularly about how everyone is ignoring Sgrena's political affiliations. Perhaps we should start a rumor that Sgrena set this whole thing up to make the U.S. look bad? That's probably more plausible than the Army targeting her specifically...
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Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Homer in Me Showing

I am from Detroit. The city does not always make me proud, but it is home, no matter where I happen to live. Few cities can compete with Detroit, however, for its all around sports. I will always be a Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions fan. ALWAYS.

That being said, the Lions, which have mucho room under the salary cap for next year are not making a big splash yet in the free agency market. Given the success of Millen / Mariucci in the free agency and draft market last year (conceded by most to have been the most successful), I am prepared to wait and see. However, our collective patience grows thin; the team must be playoff competitive this year or heads are gonna roll!
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WinFS To Be Available on Windows XP

Microsoft Watch notes that WinFS will likely be available on Windows XP. OK, so it joins Indigo, Avalon and Fundamentals in that respect; in other words, all the eagerly anticipated technologies that are to be the Longhorn release of Windows will be available for WinXP.

Why bother with upgrading?
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Where have you gone, alt-ctrl-del????

That's a very good question. The answer: the gwhizkids family is getting ready for a move from the sunny (and mostly warm) southern US to the colder climes of western New England. While this move won't be happening until the gwhizkids-kids are done with school in May, there is much to be done. Not to mention that gwhizkids has a new job...

All that being said, I expect blogging to continue to be light, except for brief periods of inspirations coinciding with infrequent free time (say 1-2 posts per day?)

Now, all that could change if my supposed sidekick Trajan would stop driving around in that Caddie of his and actually sit down and post something...
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What People Will Do to Win a Bet

This article details how 2 University of Georgia students decided to walk about 60 miles in 36 hours... just to win a $50 bet.

Who said our universities were not turning out intelligent people?
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