Thursday, March 31, 2005

Juggling for Life 

I received an email in response to the photograph I posted earlier today which said, in part, ". . . hatefully mocking good people who have a strong belief in the sanctity of human life . . . . [You] want to dismiss them as rubes and unthinking holy rollers . . . . [You show] contempt for religion . . ."

Here's my response. Most of the people protecting at the hospice are nutcases or dupes (and I include all the children in as unwitting dupes). Their actions and pronouncements can by no stretch of the imagination be characterized as thoughtful or, for that matter, Christian.

Who are some of the nitwits in the crowd?
He prayed about whether he should drive to Florida and visit the hospice. Then he got an answer, said 32-year-old Nathan Dorrell.
"God told me to come," Dorrell said, "and juggle."

So Dorrell loaded his pregnant wife and two children into their minivan and made the 480-mile drive from Temple, Ga. The family arrived at Hospice House Woodside on Wednesday morning and unpacked in a shady spot.

Dorrell, wearing a fluorescent orange tie that squiggled down his chest, tossed his silver juggling clubs into the air. They glimmered in the sunlight, drawing the attention of dozens of protesters sitting nearby.
No, I'd say the person holding the sign that said "We are Idiots" was more correct than not.

UPDATE: It appears that the photo referred to above went away (I really need to pay closer attention to what I'm doing). Here is a link to the photo, posted to another blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


From a Washington Post article on protests at the White House:
"I'm wanting the government officials in D.C. to come in, even if there's force involved," [Mary] Porta said . . .

Fellow demonstrator Bob Hunt heard Porta's idea and seconded it. "The government should declare martial law for the whole county, arrest the judge, arrest the sheriff," said Hunt, who identified himself as a government subcontractor.
What's scary, is that there are a lot of people who probably agree with these sentiments.

It Can't Happen Here? 

Michael Froomkin provides evidence that it can, and does.

Battle for Its Soul 

Andrew Sullivan discusses the Terri Schiavo situation and fears the Republican party is being put to the test of its commitment to mainstream liberal democracy by the forces of religious fundamentalism.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Real Compassionate Conservatism 

In my opinion the Tampa Tribune is, with the exception of the Florida Times-Union, the most conservative major daily in Florida. All the more surprising that it ran a long editorial on the Terri Schiavo situation under the headline "Schiavo Case Shows Ugly Side Of Democracy In Action."

The Tribune notes that there are a number of "villains" who have "treated Terri as a political pawn."
The brothers Bush seemed ready to abandon the rule of law by their apparent willingness to defy court orders. Where is the respect due coequal branches of government?

And Sen. Bill Nelson rolled over by supporting the congressional power grab that gave the federal courts jurisdiction to rule in Terri's case. Is he so desperate to win re-election that he will sacrifice his convictions?
And there are a few politicians who have earned the Tribune's respect, including "Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, who risked her standing with the Republican Party with a principled vote against the congressional bill."

The Tribune saves some of its harshest criticism for Tom DeLay and Bill Frist:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's snarling performance left some Republicans among us ready to change parties. And it grated on us to see Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a renowned transplant surgeon, making medical pronouncements about Terri's condition he had no business making.

Yet with the president's encouragement, they politicized the fight to ``save'' Terri. How ironic that people of faith who profess to believe in the promise of eternal life would be so sure that Terri is better off in her hospice room.
After noting that a few Florida lawmakers stood up to the cynical stampede, the Tribune takes the governor to task:
Which brings us to the last player, the person who said his beliefs pushed him to do everything he could for the Schindlers and Terri: Jeb Bush.

At times he sounded more like a king than a governor. He threatened to take custody of Terri and made his supporters believe he would storm the hospice to save her. But when he finally acknowledged Thursday that he does not have absolute power, he blamed the media for his failure to communicate.

But Jeb's the one who had the podium. He could have talked about his political limitations all along. Instead he kowtowed to people like Randall Terry, former leader of Operation Rescue, who promises political retribution for the governor's failure to forcibly impose his personal views.
The editorial closes with a compassionate sentiment, "At this writing, Terri is dying, and her wish not to remain in a persistent vegetative state has been granted. She has invoked the passions and prayers of people around the world. We pray her end comes peacefully and with dignity."


Monday, March 28, 2005

Worth Reading Again 

Before Terri Schiavo dominated the media, the St. Peteresburg Times' Mary Jo Melone had assessed the situation and come to this reasonable conclusion:
I cannot imagine the pressure. I do know that strangers pushing their own political and religious agendas have no place in the private struggle pitting Schiavo against his wife's parents. Let those strangers look to their own families, their own stories when the people they love come to die. Some of those people will be counted in another statistic [Dr. Steven Miles, professor of medicine at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota] provided.

More than 2-million people will die in this country this year, he said. Many will come to a point in their care when a decision is made to withhold or withdraw treatment in the name of love and mercy. Decisions like the one involving Terri Schiavo - her feeding tube is to be withdrawn on Oct. 15 [2003]- are made daily.

You can certainly call the decision to pull the tube heart-wrenching. But you cannot call it murder. And considering the means to be used, you cannot even call it extraordinary.
Unless you are willfully ignorant.

Read all of Melone's column.

Manly Men 

So this is what it is all about;
"If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations told him not to go into Iraq," Randall Terry, a protest organizer, said of the governor. "Be a man. Put politics aside."
(via Yahoo News)

UPDATE:More words of masculine wisdom from Randall Terry:
When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed... If we're going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testoserone flowing through their veins.
(Emphasis mine)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What Have You Done For Us Lately? 

Governor Bush may be finding that his erstwhile allies on the right are not willing to say "nice try."

WorldNetDaily warns Gov. Bush that Terri Schiavo could become his Mary Jo Kopechne.
Jeb Bush finds himself in a similar situation [to Ted Kennedy after Chappaquiddick]. If he lets Terri Schiavo die, that is, if he capitulates to the judicial death culture, his political future will turn as cold as it did for Ted Kennedy. The pro-life community has a long memory. This issue should never have gotten to Congress or the president. It could have been taken care of in the sovereign state of Florida by the elected governor.
Likewise, conservative loon Ann Coulter reference's Andrew Jackson's supposed comment "Well, John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it" in making the following threat.
If Gov. Jeb Bush doesn't say something similar to the Florida courts that have ordered Terri Schiavo to die, he'll be the second Republican governor disgraced by the illiterate ramblings of a state judiciary. Gov. Mitt Romney will never recover from his acquiescence to the Massachusetts Supreme Court's miraculous discovery of a right to gay marriage. Neither will Gov. Bush if he doesn't stop the torture and murder of Terri Schiavo.
They say if you lay down with the dogs, you should expect to get fleas. If you lay down with vipers . . .

Misguided at Best 

Matt Conigliaro, whose blog Abstract Appeal is essential reading in the Terri Schiavo case is dismayed at the abuse directed at the judiciary.
Judge Greer is a Republican and a Southern Baptist. No doubt he has his own views about what he thinks he would do, or what he thinks might be in Terri's best interests. But he was charged with deciding only what Terri would do. He found the evidence presented at trial clear and convincing that Terri would choose not to have her life prolonged by the affirmative intervention of modern medicine. Three appellate judges unanimously affirmed that decision.

I receive email after email telling me that no judge has the authority to end someone's life. That life must be preserved where there is even unreasonable hope, or where there is any uncertainty regarding the person's wishes. That oral evidence can never be clear and convincing. That removing "life support" is okay, but removing a feeding tube is barbaric and unacceptable. Perhaps those sentiments are noble, but they are not the law, and it was not within Judge Greer's power to make them the law. It is perfectly acceptable to disagree with the law on these points, but to condemn the judge for following the law as it exists is irresponsible and contrary to the basic principles on which our government, with its separate branches, was created.
The degree to which Michael Schiavo, Judge Greer and others have been demonized with unfounded accusations is astounding -- the law, science and the truth are too often considered inconvenient obstacles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On to the Supreme Court? 

Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, posting about the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals's decision in the Terri Shiavo case:
The case will now go up to the Supreme Court, I assume. The chance that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case or otherwise intervene is very close to zero.

I Wonder 

I wonder if those who claim that the decision of life and death is too important to be left to a spouse, to the exclusion of blood relatives, would feel the same way if, in the case of Terri Shiavo, their postions were reversed? That is, if the husband wanted to keep the feeding tube attached and the blood relatives wanted it removed.

Southern Sources and Treasures 

While rightwing blogs rant about the so-called liberal proclivities of America's universities, Eric Muller has been posting on the University of North Carolina Southern Historical Collections' Southern Sources symposium (Part 1, 2 and 3).

John Hope Franklin, who Muller correctly calls "a national treasure," spoke at the conference and had this to say about his experiences doing research in segregated libraries and archives.
I learned that the South was utterly and hopelessly confused about what it should do about race, and you could find as many different arrangements as there were places or states or archives. The vagaries and inconsistencies and contradictions were endless. One had to be careful about making any conclusions or any generalizations about the South. I did not go to the South to do research to change the South. I went to do research to explain to the South what life was like even if the South did not understand it itself. I went to prove to the South that as my mother told me when I was six, regardless of what the arrangements are, regardless of what people tell you, just remember that not any of them are any better than you are . . .
This is an example of the useful programming that our universities are uniquely equipped to present -- I sure wish I had had an opportunity to attend Southern Sources.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Politics of Death 

The St. Petersburg Times questions President Bush's claim that he choses to "err on the side of life."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lileks Off Meds Again 

One of the most idiotic rants on the Terri Shiavo case (including Star Trek reference . . . always a sign of deep thinking).

What Happened When 

Steven Haidar, Dartmouth College/University of Miami and Kathy Cerminara, Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center, have a timeline (with links of key events in the case of Terri Shiavo.

Not particularly useful for those who prefer to remain ignorant.

What's Going on Here? 

I am happy to say that I live in a district represented by a Congressman who has the integrity to speak out against the cynical actions of the Senate and House Republican leadership in the Terri Shiavo legislation.

Leaving aside the human tragedy, the legal and political implications to Congress's action is unsettling, at best. CBS legal analyst, Andrew Cohen, explains what we are placing at risk:
Not liking a particular result in a case that has been litigated fully and completely by a court with competent jurisdiction, Congress now has said that the game must be re-done with new rules that heavily favor one side over the other. The implications of this move are astonishing. Just think about it. Anytime Congress doesn't like the result in a particular case, it could swoop in and call a "do-over," which is essentially what this legislation represents. And this from a Congress that has for a decade or so tried to keep all sorts of citizens-- including disabled employees-- out of federal court. If this law is declared valid, no decision in any state court in the country will be immune from Congressional second-guessing. It would throw out of whack the entire concept of separation of powers. The constitutional law expert [Lawrence] Tribe calls it "trial by legislation" and he is right.
If Bill Frist, or Tom DeLay or Rick Santorum had wanted to examine the facts of this case, the opportunities are there, but they consciously choose to be willfully ignorant, citing myths, lies and edited evidence to justify their actions. I mean, come on, Frist has a medical degree . . . you don't think he could be a little more conversant on the medical realities of this case?

UPDATE: The St. Petersburg Times' Howard Troxler sees it for what it is, abuse of power.

Friday, March 18, 2005

North of the Suwannee 

Why Now? has been posting since last November, so why haven't I discovered this interesting blog until now? And why had I never heard of the town from which Bryan blogs?

Thanks, Matt 

If you have an opinion on the Terri Shiavo case and haven't been reading Abstract Appeal's reasoned analysis, you may not know what you are talking about.

Matt Conigliaro is providing a real service to those who do not have the legal expertise, the time or the inclination to figure out what is really going on.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Luck of the Irish 

Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

"Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin'to tell ya."

"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"

"That's what I'm here to be tellin ya, Brenda." "There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery..."

"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me."

"I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."

Finally, she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"

"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned."

"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"

"Well, no Brenda ... no. Fact is, he got out three times to pee."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who Wants to Know? 

Sunshine Sunday is over, so let's get to work . . .
Two decades ago, there were 250 exceptions to Florida's constitutionally protected "Government in the Sunshine" laws, which guarantee access to public records.

Today, there are more than 1,000 exemptions. As the Legislature's annual session enters its second week, lawmakers are considering removing at least 30 more categories from the public eye.
In the state Capitol this year, the House and Senate are considering restricting the release of information concerning medical errors by hospitals, absentee ballots, nonprofit research institutes funded with taxpayer dollars, police records and more.

Supporters of shuttering access in certain areas say the measures are needed to protect personal privacy and business interests, and for state- and national-security reasons.
They're also needed to keep the pesky public from sticking its noses into government business.

We the People 

Sun-Sentinel columnist Stephen Goldstein wonders about Jeb Bush's commitment to representative government.
First, it's a thorn in Bush's side that a majority of "the people" approved the constitutional amendment forcing him -- How dare they? -- to reduce public-school class sizes. They knew, but didn't care, how expensive it would be. They knew, but didn't care, that he campaigned against it.

So, his "brave idea" is to get voters to replace the amendment he detests with one he likes. It would link giving districts wiggle room on class size with raising teacher salaries. In other words, divide-and-conquer: Pit student needs against teacher greed -- and make the unwashed masses see "Jeb knows best."

Second, the guv is chafing at the bit to get even with Broward County (which he hates) for approving slot machines (which he hates) to help fund public education (which he hates). He doesn't care that a majority of voters statewide passed a constitutional amendment, authorizing Miami-Dade and Broward to choose whether they wanted one-arm bandits. (Who do they think they are?)

So, look for Jeb to pressure the Legislature to limit the number of slots, ban Las Vegas-style machines, reduce the hours of operation, and tax revenues so high they'll be unprofitable. Bottom line: Subvert the popular will.

Third, Jeb and the Legislature will kill the voluntary, universal pre-K program voters approved in a constitutional amendment by underfunding it. They've already approved a substandard program, even though voters said it should be "high quality." Now, they'll get even with Floridians who dared to tell them what to do by starving the program of resources.
If Governor Bush put as much effort into making citizen initiatives work as he does in trying to overturn them, maybe our state wouldn't be in such bad shape.

Sounds About Right to Me 

A good definition of libertarianism:
It's hedonism combined with the desire to not be made to take account for the needs of others. It's a person who thinks about the public commonweal in terms of how much he has to pay to support it. It's "I don't give a sh--, and I'm not paying for sh--."
Yale Law student Angus Dwyer, quoted by Julia Gorin in Opinion Journal.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How 'Bout Them Gators! 

Congratulations to the University of Florida basketball team on it's convincing victory over the Wildcats to capture the SEC title -- the Gators' first ever tournament championship.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Let the Scams Begin! 

If you wanted to design a method to ruin a state, you probably couldn't do any better than the Florida Legislature (with a bid assist from Governor Bush). Let's pick one example . . .
House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, and House Budget Chairman Joe Negron, a Republican from Stuart whose district includes parts of Palm Beach County, want the state to cut taxes and make ends meet by smashing into long-protected piggy banks dedicated to such things as environmental-land purchases, affordable housing and health care.
This is an obvious attempt to augment state revenues with a one-time infusion of funds from the trusts in order to justify more tax-cutting. As is the case with their big brothers in Washington, Florida's Republican lawmakers are willing to push the consequences down the road.

The trust funds were set up to take the politics out of certain state programs and to create a predictable cash flow for planning programs. In many cases, industries agreed to the imposition of a fee on certain business transactions (we don't like to use the word tax in Florida) to fund a particular trust.

This is not to say that individual trust funds should not be examined to see if they are filling a public purpose, but talk from some lawmakers about the trusts becoming "fiefdoms" is a red herring.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Growing Older? 

Since much of the debate on Social Security is based on demographics, here's an interesting site that animates the changes in the U.S. population by age and sex, from 1950 to 2050.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Slots Win and Lose 

In yesterday's elections, the voters in Broward County approved allowing slot machines at pari-mutuel sites, while Miami-Dade rejected the initiative.

I ended up voting against slots in Broward, persuaded by the argument put forth by Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs that there were just too many unanswered questions. The Legislature hasn't even addressed the issue (as it must), and heavily Democratic Broward will have a more difficult time getting its fair share of gambling revenues from the Republican lawmakers now that the gaming industry doesn't have to lobby legislators for a good deal so as to encourage local support.

The one good thing that should come out of this is that several of the pari-mutuel sites will be moving forward on ambitious, multi-million dollar improvements to their facilities, most of which have been looking a bit blighted of late.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Another Florida Blogger 

Stop by Livin' in Sarasota Florida and see what Joe Moraca has on his mind.

Good stuff on affordable housing, neighborhoods, urban design and all those other issues that Florida's urban areas ignore at their own (and our) peril.

If I Feel Like It 

As if in response to Robert Steinbeck (see previous post), James Lileks states,
Do I have an obligation to others? Of course. But I would prefer the freedom to express it as I see fit, thank you.
Which, of course, is no real obligation at all.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Every Man for Himself? 

The Miami Herald's Robert Steinbeck has it exactly right:
I fear that the relentless, unabated push for privatization will eventually turn America into a nation of dog-eat-dog, every-person-for-himself competitors, shredding our sense of shared national destiny -- which has been the strength of all Western nations. How, after all, can you bond with someone you are conditioned at every turn to view as a rival to be bested?

Make no mistake: The wall-to-wall privatization of American society is the goal of Bushian economic strategy. Both President George Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush view every government revenue stream as ripe for diversion to the private sector -- Social Security, Medicare, public schools, prisons, child safety and welfare, health-insurance coverage, even military operations and more.
Bushian philosophy overtly encourages us, as a national mission, to concern ourselves only with our families, not our fellow citizens. Save for your own retirement. Educate your own kids. Worry about your own productivity. Let your fellow Americans fend for themselves.

With no common tribal history, and no sense of shared social commitment post-privatization, what generator of national unity will remain for us as Americans?
Steinbeck fears there is an answer to that question, and it's one that none of us should welcome.

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