Saturday, March 26, 2005

PFA fires back

Remember how I said Social Security Reform is dead? Well the anti-tax/pro-business wing of GOP isn't giving up as easily as say, Bill Frist. PFA (for progress for America) a 527 that the GOP launched to boost Bush last fall, have put up ads on CNN (and possibly others, but this is the one I saw) giving viewers ten seconds to name the reform proposals of the Democrats and then saying the Democrats have no solution they are only blocking progress.

Actually, in those 10 seconds I was able to rattle off a few things that Democrats have proposed: removing or raising the ceiling on Social Security payroll taxes, making "personal accounts" on top of social security, a combo of both, linking benefits to need (aka cutting benefits for those seniors who are wealthy pre-Social Security benefits)... So basically, if you are informed, this message doesn't stick, but then again, when you are informed, no spin works on you.

Even if you haven't been paying attention and agree with the ads sentiment--that Democrats are just saying no and have no solutions-- most people think that is a good idea. The vast majority of Americans like social security and see a problem down the road, but no immediate crisis. No bit of slandering the AARP or Democrats will change that.

Why would Congress listen to Bush these days anyway, his approval rating is a stellar 43 percent. I think Americans are having some buyers remorse (but they still aren't sad they didn't buy Kerry). Hopefully, this administration will go the way of their idols, the Nixon Administration, and be forced to resign in shame soon. The parallels are starting to emerge.

Cooking on TV and death threats

So we were flipping the channels this morning and low and behold on KBYU (the LDS-run PBS station, not the U of U-run PBS station) our Caterer, Mary Crafts [of culinary crafts]is cooking Easter foods.

In fact, she is showing how to cook a ginger-orange pork loin that will be one of our entries. Looks like it will be good but our meal may be pretty buttery. Still, she does the classic cooking show fallacy of time lapse. That is what we like about 30 minute meals by Rachel Ray, because she is cooking the whole time, even while she goes to commercial. Crafts' show looks like it was filmed several years ago but still a hoot. [update filmed in 1997]

On more serious note, an insane set of people advocating, and even ransoming, the murders of Michael Schiavo and FL Judge Greer. As my fiancee pointed out, it is extremely hypocritical to on the one hand condemn the judicial rulings as "murder" yet on the other hand to simultaneously call for other's deaths. As others have so wisely stated, this is in inevitable result of the GOP leadership's stoking of their extreme right-to-life base.

Utahns aren't in this group. Sure, they are overwhelmingly pro-life, but they don't think about abortion 10 times a day like some of these wackos in TX, MI, NJ, FL, and other places do. The only time they get relied up about abortion is when they get a mailer or see an ad on TV.

Friday, March 25, 2005

DKos doesn't get Utah and Schaivo consequences

The headline is "DeLay and Schiavo: How's it Playing in Utah?" and cites a Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed.

While the Trib has recently decided to kiss up to the right wing, they have always prided themselves as Utah's First Independent Newspaper. Despite their resent court battles regarding ownership, it still is true that they are not owned by the LDS church, unlike the Deseret News. If the Des News had condemned DeLay, I would sit up and notice. Still good for the Trib to stick to principles.

Speaking of principles, Schaivo has completely backfired for the GOP except those trying to run for president and want to appease the powerbrokers in the GOP primary (especially in SC) because everyone saw it as a political move and not principles.

So Frist looked like a fool as did the rest of Congress, but the biggest loser in all this is Bush. Not because he signed that unconstitutional law, but because for the past two weeks the media have covered this non-stop and no one is talking about social security. If he hadn't lost already, it is deader than dead now. Plus, I love how he took vacation while Cheney still went through the motions around the country.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The end?

Well this week, and it seems the Schunder's legal avenues of appeal are over. FindLaw does a nice job of collecting all the major opinions, motions, and lawyers beyond this whole business.

Today was pretty light for me because two teachers canceled their classes so I shot a few hoops and worked on my paper (and sat through another dreadfully dull Property class). I am going to celebrate Maudy Thursday this year, let's see how depressing it all is. After Episcopalian practice is the most Catholic of all the protestant religions.

Thank goodness the NCAAs are on and the weekend is nigh. Have a good night.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

One less stop on the Terri-Go-Round

Now Terri Schiavo's parents' only options are the US Supreme Court, which has previously declined to hear the case, or more unconstitutional wrangling by the political branches of Florida state government (Jeb and the GOP-controlled legislature). [Since the 11th circuit ruled 2-1 for Michael Schiavo]

In a way, I hope that the Supreme Court comes out strong to lay the smack down on Congress and Florida to tell them that what they are doing violates the Constitution and that the parents need to admit to themselves that they have lost their daughter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

TRO denied, round 21

That's right this morning's opinion (in PDF, thanks to How Appealing)was the 21st written opinion on the case, almost all of which have ruled against Terri's grieving parents.

It is kinda fun to hear on CNN them describing the criteria for a temporary restraining order or to read this opinion and know exactly what they are talking about, like you are some member a secret club-- the club of lawyers. I know, I am a dork.

Now the appeals court has to rule the same way, and the US Supreme Court has to lay the smack down on Congress and the President, and we can all go home and Terri's parents can come to the realization that their daughter has been lost to them for about 15 years, oh and by the way they lost their son-in-law too over all this.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lacking resolution

For tomorrow's Criminal Law Class with the famous and controversal Judge Paul G. Cassell, he has assigned us to read two chapters out of the book entitled "Debating the Death Penalty" (thanks google print) that he co-edited with a oponent of the death penalty Prof. Hugo Bedau (Cassell is a whole hearted supporter)-- one pro, one con, each by the co-editors.

I have to say that I am disappointed in both sides. I was waiting for these two law professors, one of whom is a federal judge, to convince me that they were right and the other was wrong. Yet all they managed was to make me disbelieve both men and keep to my position that there are a ton of problems with the death penalty, but I still feel that certain truly guilty people who did horrific things deserve a terrible punishment, worse than other "regular" murders.

It seems there is not an out-and-out discrimination/racism in giving the death penalty, but like the SAT, the criteria are stacked against them. Killing a cop is a aggravating factor, and rightfully so. But of course there are more white cops than black cops, there is more likely to be interracial killing that leads to death. It is also more likely that prosecutors elect to go for the death penalty against black defendants than white who commit the same crime. Still the fact that more whites are on death row is an improvement, but more needs to be done to rid ourselves of the racism hidden within our system and in our minds.

Both seem to forget that there are people on death row who have been there for decades and that current fixes do nothing for them unless there is de novo review of their cases, which the 1996 Federal Habeas statute of limitations prohibits. Both have good points for why the death penalty is unnecessary or why it prevents the death of future innocents, but they fail to make the next leap as to why we should wholeheartedly support or oppose the death penalty.

Like Education policy, the statistics used by both sides is specious and both also rely on anecdotal evidence yet critique the other for doing so. Both use emotional arguments but then chastise the other for having no proof other than table pounding.

In short, I now have more things to say about the issue as a result of reading these polemics, but I have not been moved from my "middle position" nor do I think either side was persuasive to those few people who are undecided, let alone ardent pro or con people.

Perhaps this is because Prof. Bedau admits that with each reform to the death penalty to make it fairer-- no mentally ill, no children, extensive appeals, no automatic death penalty, not all murderers, high standards of evidence, competent defense teams, fair judges, unbiased juries, DNA post-conviction statutes, judicious use of executive clemency, etc.-- the window of abolition of the death penalty gets narrower and narrower. The death penalty, he forthrightly reports, is further "entrenched" with each progressive reform.

Likewise, supporters admit that they are deeply troubled and experience anguish with each capital case they try. Yet they still plow forward full steam ahead, confident that it deters, incapacitates, and that every convict on death row got his just deserts.

I implore people from every side to give me their best arguments and to read this book which is now available online via Google Print and Oxford Press. Maybe you can put me over the hump either way.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Those who read my blog probably read other blogs too; so I don't have to tell you the Bush signed a law as Governor of Texas that pulls the plug on people like Schiavo, or that GOP congressmen that are grandstanding also voted to cut Medicare which goes to people in Terri's situation, or other such hypocrisies. I don't have to tell you that the bill they are voting on clearly is a bill of retainer and prohibited by the US Constitution.

So I will just go with my favorite angle of this story: the psychoanalysis of Terri's parents. And there the New York Times as an excellent article that I actually read in print today because I was house sitting for my parents. It feels wired to fold and hold a newspaper nowadays.

...the heightened hope of open eyes, combined with memories of the patient when fully aware, can act to infuse any motion at all with meaning, psychologists say. A limp mouth may look like a concerned frown. A movement of the eyes may make a visitor gasp. Still alive in memory, and still living and breathing in body, vegetative patients seem sometimes to be on the verge of re-inhabiting themselves, like an old actor coming out of retirement to reprise a familiar role.

It is so very sad that their daughter is in a permanent vegetative state, and truly feel sorry for those parents. But I equally feel bad for the husband, whose spat with his mother- and father-in-law have been dragged out on an international stage, and whose wife's wishes are being denied so that extreme Christian conservative groups can talk about the "sanctity of life."