Wednesday, March 30, 2005


This is a photo of Venustiano Carranza, the former president of the Republic of Mexico, and the author of the Mexican constitution in effect today.

(I am testing new photo upload software... let me know if you like the idea of photo blogs)Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Irony of the Schiavo Debate

The debate over Terri Schiavo's fate has illustrated the strange irony of the two primary perspectives. Those who support Michael Schiavo's decision to remove her feeding tube—I'll call them "A"'s— are generally the same people who are pro-abortion. Those who want her feeding tube replaced—"B"'s— are generally anti-abortion. That part is not very ironic, but the fact that A's are also usually anti-death penalty, and the B's usually pro-death penalty IS ironic.

So the A's support a mother's right to kill her unborn child. And they support the right of one individual to kill another through medical decisions when the wishes of that second individual are not known. [As argued yesterday, I would support the withdrawl of a feeding tube if the wishes were known by more than one person and documented clearly.] However, the A's don't support the killing of convicted murderers.

B's, on the other hand, support the right of the unborn child to life, and they support the right of people in Terri Schiavo's condition to food and water through a feeding tube, at least if no clear record exists of that person's end-of-life wishes are known. B's also support the right of society to rid itself of dangerous criminals who have committed murder or other serious offenses as determined by law.

So the irony is that the A's are all for death as long as it's not a criminal, and the B's are all for life except for those same criminals. In fairness, however, the A's think that they are on the side of individual choice. They believe that the mother's right to choose is more important than the child's right to life, and certainly don't approve of what they see as government intrusion into what they prefer to be only the decision of the mother. And in the case of the criminal, they see the criminal's involuntary death as government intrusion. I have trouble squaring those convergent views.

The B's, on the other hand are willing to accept more government intrusion if it means that a life can be saved. Even if that is a preemptive life saved by the death of a murderer. Consider the recent rape and murder of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford by a convicted sexual predator.

Is it possible that the A's value choice over life?

This post also appears on Blogger News Network.

Friday, March 25, 2005


One of the few good things to come out the Shiavo situation is the recognition by many that preparing a personal Health Care Directive for everyone is crucial. Had Ms. Schiavo prepared such a document, we would not be in the mess we find ourselves today. If she had decided that she would not want a feeding tube installed ever, and so stated in a written document such as a HCD, then I would have no issues with her passing as a result. Many people have made such a choice as have I in my own HCD.

I will also add that I believe that the federal government made a mistake in getting involved in what has traditionally been a state and local matter. I believe that we need less federal government involvment in our lives, not more. For the same reason I don't support the No Child Left Behind Act, despite it's good intentions. My father used to say that "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Unfortunately, the federal government laid down some asphalt in this matter.

It would also be good to remember these words of Ronald Reagan: "When government expands, liberty contracts."

May God bless Terri Schiavo and her family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Iraqi Troops in Rout Insurgents

In another stunning defeat for the Iraqi insurgents, Iraqi armed forces backed up by US firepower routed a large group of insurgents, reportedly killing 84 insurgents in the battle. The insurgents had apparently set up an al-Qaeda style training base in a remote area outside of Tikrit.

This cannot be good news for the left.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Baghdad Shop Keepers Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

Shopkeepers in Baghdad have decided that enough is enough, or at least that is what appeared to happen today. According to the Traci Carl of the Associate Press (as reported on, shopkeepers took up arms against insurgents who had just shot up cars and people, reportedly injuring three people, including a woman and a child.

Could this be the beginning of the end for the insurgency? I certainly think it marks an important turning point in this campaign. Just the fact that it was reported in the MSM is important. Of course, or illustrious senator Boxer happened to be in Iraq as part a delegation of US dignitaries, and still managed to downplay the success the world has witnessed in Iraq.

The problem for the left is that there are more and more signs that GWB was right and they were wrong. It will be a very interesting future that unfolds throughout the Arab world, and equally interesting how the left responds. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 21, 2005

An Update on the Terri Schiavo Case

It occurred to me today while listening to news reports on the Schiavo case that besides the feeding of a baby analogy used in this space yesterday, that there are likely many other people who for one reason or another cannot feed themselves.

Consider a quadraplegic patient, or perhaps someone who has lost their arms or just the use of their arms from injury. How about an elderly patient who has dimentia and cannot be counted on to remember to eat? How about an elderly person who has severe arthritis and cannot even hold a spoon or a straw? Do we withdraw all feeding support in those cases as well?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Fate of Terri Schiavo

The Terri Schiavo case is a wrenching moral issue. According to several reports I have seen, her condition is one from which she is unlikely to recover, though the remote possibility does exist. The story now revolves around the question of withdrawing a feeding tube that is her sole source of nutrition, as her condition prevents her from feeding herself. Indeed, her condition is called "Persistent Vegetative State", wherein all her cognitive functions, awareness, emotion, etc. have ceased. It is sometimes called "brain-dead", and typically patients in this condition do not recover.

The ethical and moral question of her feeding tube is a difficult one to answer, and for many it is a religious question. Who is to know what she might want in these circumstances were she able to make the decision hereself? Her husband, as I understand it, says that he and she discussed such a situation before she was afflicted and said she would not want to live under these conditions. Her sister and friends, however, argue that she was only 20-something years old when this happened and would never have even discussed death or near-death circumstances.

The fight has pitted her husband against her birth family. He wants to end her 'suffering', though based on what I have recently learned about her condition she really can't be suffering; her brain function isn't capable of feeling pain or awareness. Her birth family has apparently offered to grant him a divorce so he can move on with his life, and would take-on the responsibility of her care completely.

The question of removing her feeding tube is really one that should be stated like this: Since her condition is unlikely to improve, should we stop feeding her and allow her to starve to death? If it was a question about machines keeping her heart beating, or breathing, this would be easier. To remove life support from a heart that otherwise would not beat is morally acceptable to most people. But to stop feeding her is something else completely.

If parents stop feeding their babies, they will die just as surely as Ms. Schiavo will die after her feeding tube is removed. What would happen to parents if they stopped feeding their babies? They would rightly be prosecuted on charges of murder and/or neglect.

If Ms. Schiavo is not suffering—and the medical experts say she cannot—and her birth family says they will bear the entire cost and responsibility of her continued care, how can we as society starve her to death simply because her life has little quality and there little hope of recovery? We can't be certain she won't recover, and we also can't be certain that she doesn't have some sort of awareness, and society should not deny those willing to accept the burden of her care the opportunity to do so. It's the only moral and ethical choice.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Global Warming and The Psychology of Leftists

According to Dr. John Ray, a psychometrician from Brisbane, Australia, Leftists are people who are “motivated by strong ego needs -- needs for power, attention, praise and fame. And in the USA and other developed countries they satisfy this need by advocating large changes in the society around them -- thus drawing attention to themselves and hopefully causing themselves to be seen as wise, innovative, caring etc.” Given that analysis, the debate over global warming takes on a wholly new shape.

Those who are the most ardent promoters of the theory of human-induced global warming are Leftists. As a skeptic of global warming, at least the human-induced part of the debate, I have argued elsewhere and passionately that the real objective of global warming believers is to define capitalism and the spread of the pursuit of corporate profits as evil and of destroying our natural resources. However, when viewed through Dr. Ray’s perspective on the motivations and psychology of Leftists, it would seem that their real aim is to create this ‘crisis’ of global warming, and then to come to the rescue of Mankind by banning SUV’s, logging, and other forms of capitalist pursuits. That way, they can be seen as, “wise, innovative, caring etc.” Dr. Ray has also written extensively on this phenomena.

The reasons I remain a skeptic on global warming are many and complex. First, while there is almost no rational person who is arguing that the atmosphere is not currently warming, there is real debate—among scientists—on the cause of the warming. It’s only since 1979 that we have been able to analyze temperature data on a truly global scale using satellite measurements. All previous data relies on surface measurements on land or by ships at sea, or, since 1954 from balloon-measured temperatures. The "reliable" temperature record is usually viewed as being from about 1850, though measurement devices, locations, times, and techniques have varied widely over the decades. As a result, the historical temperature record, the very foundation of global warming theory, is still in dispute.

Second, one of the pillars of the global warming belief is the so-called “Hockey-Stick” temperature analysis cited in the 2nd Assessment Report of the IPCC, (summary) which eventually led to the Kyoto Protocol that recently went into effect. Two Canadian statisticians have analyzed the data and found that the original study used a statistical model that would find a “hockey stick” (the shape of the graph of rising temperatures) in almost any group of random data. The Hockey Stick debate rages on, with the authors of the original study now claiming that it mostly relied on tree ring data from ancient Bristlecone pines in the high deserts of California. If so, then it certainly would seem to me that they are basing their entire argument on the temperature around a few small trees in one very small and remote (even today) area.

OK, so there are other data points to support the position of the global warming believer. They claim that the ice caps are melting at an increasing rate, and that many of the glaciers on mountains such as Kilimanjaro in Africa and Fuji in Japan are retreating in alarming ways. They cite the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere as evidence of human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. They cite evidence of warming oceans and ozone holes, and offer evidence that human activity as the cause. I won't reference these things here since they are readily available in the MSM.

However, there are also competing claims by other scientists who say that all these things can be explained by natural processes. The icecaps have been retreating since at least the end of the last ice age, and an acceleration of the rate of retreat seems to me to be entirely logical given a warming climate, just as ice in your soft drink melts slowly at first, the last few cubes disappear rapidly as the temperature in the glass rises over time. And the retreating glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro, at least, have also been explained as having local causes related to deforestation, not a change in climate.

The undisputed rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, despite claims by global warming believers as evidence of the burning of fossil fuels, has been shown to follow rising ocean temperatures rather than precede them. Since water has a much higher thermal inertia than does the atmosphere, it takes a tremendous amount of “forcing” to change up or down the temperature of water. I am no scientist, but I am pretty sure that for the atmosphere to be warming the oceans, the atmosphere would need to be very, very, hot, for a very, very long time. The Earth’s surface, remember, is 70% water, and that’s just the top of it. The average depth of the ocean is about 3.2 km (2 miles). That’s a lot of water, and it is constantly churning, upwelling, etc., so to see any change in temperature of the oceans by a warming of the atmosphere seems unlikely to me.

But the oceans do appear to be warming, as some scientists supporting global warming have recently reported. But could there be an alternative to human-induced global warming? Of course! I read recently of increased volcanic activity on the ocean floor as being a strong contender for the cause. That is certainly a more believable alternative, since the thermal inertia of highly dense molten rock at upwards of 1,200ºC (2,192ºF) is much higher than that of our atmosphere.

In addition to the above, there has been lots of scientific work recently on fluctuations in solar output and how that affects atmospheric temperatures. I am no scientist, and all I know is what I read, but I find these competing theories fascinating and, frankly, compelling.

But to get back to the premise of this article, since to me—once again, a non-scientist—the science on global warming is in dispute, I have to wonder about the unusually strong motivations behind those to whom global warming has become almost a religious experience, hence the reference to Dr. Ray’s analysis of Leftists.

Viewing the debate about global warming from this perspective, it seems clear that to the average Leftist, this debate is about much more than global warming. It is about power, control, and ego, and the insatiable need of the Leftist to acquire such things. They are so passionate about their views on this because it not only feeds their addiction, it also comports nicely with their views on capitalism, democracy, socialism, and central control.

Leftists despise capitalism and democracy because these concepts are founded in liberty. Liberty, despite the Leftist’s most fervent claims to the contrary, runs completely counter to everything the Leftist stands for. To achieve their goals of controlling everyone and everything, they must work to eliminate liberty. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “When government expands, liberty contracts.” They have discovered global warming as a very effective weapon in their pursuit of power and influence, and will let nothing and no one get in their way. Those who dare challenge the popular notions of human-induced global warming are held out as heretics and charlatans on the payroll of evil and corrupt corporations who are trashing our environment and impoverishing most of the people of the world.

The debate over global warming has become a great struggle between those who favor liberty and those who favor regulation and central control. We must return the debate to the simple pursuit of scientific truth, regardless of which side of the debate the facts come down on.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am not a scientist, but as I have just laid out, the science is not yet settled on global warming, and it probably will not be for years or decades to come. At the same time, I strongly favor careful review of what things we are doing that could adversely affect the environment. We should strengthen environmental laws that are effective and useful, and discard those that have little or no value, or are actually counterproductive. Those regulations that have a significant dollar cost should be carefully evaluated against benefit. I welcome a debate over pollution, as I, like most reasonable people, am strongly in favor of improving our environment and cleaning up polluted areas and protecting most areas that have yet to show much human influence.

Many of the proponents of global warming theory have a much larger agenda than one as simple as ‘saving the planet’. Keep that in mind as you read and hear more on this subject.

[Special thanks to Greenie Watch for so much research into this subject]

This post can also be seen on Blogger News Network.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Social Security Reform

The president's plan to privatize part of Social Security (SS) has been visciously attacked by the Left. Their attack is three-pronged: First, deny that a problem exists; second, instill fear in those retired or soon to retire; and third, frame the debate over privatization as simply a way for the Bush administration to reward the brokerage industry. All of these positions are false, and makes one wonder what the real motivation behind the Left's position on SS reform.

As described on American Thinker, SS was originally intended to be supplemental retirement benefit, accompanying employees regular pension. However, once the Congress realized that SS was taking in far more revenue than it paid out, they realized that the surplus could be used to finance other programs. Ever since, the federal government has been raiding the SS trust fund's surplus and spending it, replacing the spend funds with Treasury bonds, essentially IOU's. It became an income tax on top of the regular income tax.

The idea that part of the revenue stream from SS might go into the hands of individuals and out of reach of the government spenders is the real source of opposition to reform. The picture becomes clearer when you consider that beginning in 2018, the SS trust fund will stop producing a surplus and will need to begin cashing in those IOU's. By 2042 those IOU's will be exhausted as well, and benefits will only be paid at 73¢ on the dollar.

Already our federal budget is severely bloated, and runs huge deficits. Imagine those days beginning in 2018 when we begin to reduce spending in other areas of the budget to replay the IOU's to the SS trust fund? If you think the Democrats are screaming now, just wait until then!

The claims by the Left that there is no crisis is patently false. According to the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees annual report for 2004:

"It then begins to increase rapidly and first exceeds the income rate in 2018, producing cash-flow deficits thereafter. Despite these cash-flow deficits, beginning in 2018, redemption of trust fund assets will allow continuation of full benefit payments on a timely basis until 2042, when the trust funds will become exhausted. This redemption process will require a flow of cash from the General Fund of the Treasury. Pressures on the Federal Budget will thus emerge well before 2042. Even if a trust fund's assets are exhausted, however, tax income will continue to flow into the fund. Present tax rates would be sufficient to pay 73 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2042 and 68 percent of scheduled benefits in 2078."

The need to reform SS is real and immediate.

This post can also be found at Blogger News Network.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Democrats Don't Like the Spreading of Democracy's James Taranto wrote in this week's Best of the Web Today about a conversation on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" between the host and former Clinton aide Nancy Soderberg regarding the spreading of democracy in the Middle East. As has become painfully obvious to watch, Ms. Soderberg, like so many Democrats, is so desparate to return to power that she would prefer American policy failures, since she sees failure by America as an opportunity for Democrats. It is frankly embarassing to watch Democrats continue to hope for American failure so that they can 'rescue' us from ourselves. They can't stand the idea that the liberation of Iraq and the subsequent enthusiastic vote could well mark the beginning of a new era of democracy in the Arab world.

Already since the vote in Iraq we have seen the people of Lebanon rise up and force the upcoming withdrawl of Syrian forces, the presidential order in Egypt to hold real, democratic elections in that country for the first time ever, and the clear move toward further peace in the Israli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, since the Iraq war Libia has chosen to destroy it's WMD's and move back into the community of nations.

How Democrats could be sad over these developments is beyond reason, except that it is clear that they want, and could actually work for American failure to help them return to power. It is truely sad to see a once-great party turned into such a feable excuse for one today.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Taranto's analysis of the show:

We've long been skeptical of Jon Stewart, but color us impressed. He managed to ambush this poor woman brutally, in a friendly interview. She was supposed to be promoting her book, and instead he got her to spend the entire interview debunking it (at least if we understood the book's thesis correctly from the very brief discussion of it up top).

She also admitted repeatedly that Democrats are hoping for American failure in the Middle East. To be sure, this is not true of all Democrats, Soderberg speaks only for herself, and she says she is ambivalent ("But as an American . . ."). But we do not question her expertise in assessing the prevailing mentality of her own party. No wonder Dems get so defensive about their patriotism.

Here is an excerpt from the show's transcript (by Taranto):

Soderberg: Well, I think, you know, as a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen. I think the way to look at it is, they can't credit for every good thing that happens, but they need to be able to manage it. I think what's happening in Lebanon is great, but it's not necessarily directly related to the fact that we went into Iraq militarily.

Stewart: Do you think that the people of Lebanon would have had, sort of, the courage of their conviction, having not seen--not only the invasion but the election which followed? It's almost as though that the Iraqi election has emboldened this crazy--something's going on over there. I'm smelling something.

Soderberg: I think partly what's going on is the country next door, Syria, has been controlling them for decades, and they [the Syrians] were dumb enough to blow up the former prime minister of Lebanon in Beirut, and they're--people are sort of sick of that, and saying, "Wait a minute, that's a stretch too far." So part of what's going on is they're just protesting that. But I think there is a wave of change going on, and if we can help ride it though the second term of the Bush administration, more power to them.

Stewart: Do you think they're the guys to--do they understand what they've unleashed? Because at a certain point, I almost feel like, if they had just come out at the very beginning and said, "Here's my plan: I'm going to invade Iraq. We'll get rid of a bad guy because that will drain the swamp"--if they hadn't done the whole "nuclear cloud," you know, if they hadn't scared the pants off of everybody, and just said straight up, honestly, what was going on, I think I'd almost--I'd have no cognitive dissonance, no mixed feelings.

Soderberg: The truth always helps in these things, I have to say. But I think that there is also going on in the Middle East peace process--they may well have a chance to do a historic deal with the Palestinians and the Israelis. These guys could really pull off a whole--

Stewart: This could be unbelievable!

Soderberg:---series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which--it may well work. I think that, um, it's--

Stewart: [buries head in hands] Oh my God! [audience laughter] He's got, you know, here's--

Soderberg: It's scary for Democrats, I have to say.

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work. No, but I think, um, it's--you know, you have changes going on in Egypt; Saudi Arabia finally had a few votes, although women couldn't participate. What's going on here in--you know, Syria's been living in the 1960s since the 1960s--it's, part of this is--

Stewart: You mean free love and that kind of stuff? [audience laughter] Like, free love, drugs?

Soderberg: If you're a terrorist, yeah.

Stewart: They are Baathists, are they--it looks like, I gotta say, it's almost like we're not going to have to invade Iran and Syria. They're gonna invade themselves at a certain point, no? Or is that completely naive?

Soderberg: I think it's moving in the right direction. I'll have to give them credit for that. We'll see.

Stewart: Really? Hummus for everybody, for God's sakes.