Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93 as a Call to Action

No, I haven't seen it yet.

Yes, I will be seeing it, but probably not tonight.

For a variety of reasons, it seems that most folks want to let 9/11 slide into the past, and those that don't mostly want to use it to manipulate other folks. I think it's time we remember exactly what happened that day, why it happened, and how a few Americans responded. To me, it bears directly on our future, and what we have to do to face it.

I'm going to indulge in a little speculation here. I'm betting that the passengers on Flight 93 didn't stop to ask "Why do they hate us?" when the terrorists took over the plane. I'm betting that any attempts at dialogue with the terrorists ended as soon as the flight attendant's throat was cut. I'm betting that when they organized and formed their action plane, they didn't ask each other if they were Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. I'm betting that they didn't fight or grandstand among themselves for glory, personal, or political gain.

In short, I'm betting that these few people, placed under enormous pressure, behaved better during that 111 minute flight than the vast majority of our politicians, bureaucrats, members of the press, and celebrity advocates have since then.

They acted as we all believe Americans should act. With courage, honor, and not a small measure of patriotism. Knowing that they were going to die if they did nothing, and were probably still going to die if they fought back, they chose to fight because they thought it was important to deny success to the terrorists.

We need to be reminded of their courage and honor so that maybe we all can find it in ourselves before we face the end of a gun.

After the last election, there was a lot of bitterness among the political folks about the divide between the Red States and the Blue States. Political junkies from the Blue states heaped scorn and derision on the Red staters, talking about leaving the country, naming the Red states "Jesusland," as if that were an insult, and mocking the values that the Red staters held dear. Red staters in turn jeered at the folks in the Blue states, rubbing their noses in the loss, and rejecting any possibility that their way of life had any value whatsoever. The argument grew so loud and rancorous that, if all you did was read blogs and political commentary, you would think that a vast and unrepairable ideological divide split America.

Flight 93 forever proves that wrong. The folks on that flight were almost entirely folks from the bluest of Blue states, but their actions tied in directly to the values cherished by Red staters.

So what does that mean?

It means that Americans are still Americans, regardless of where they live or their political ideology. It means that true American values run deep in all the states, despite the rants of political ideologues. It means that, far from being deeply divided, the vast majority of Americans share common values, common hopes and dreams, and a common vision for our country.

It means that the greatest threat to America comes not from terrorists, Flight 93 showed that the average citizen can take care of that, but from within, from political ideologues sowing hate and discord to advance their own personal agenda. It comes from politicians who will do anything to stay in office, including hiding or spinning the truth in order to make it fit their platform. It comes from pundits who claim that the other side has no validity, that those on the other side are stupid or evil, instead of acknowledging a sincere difference of opinion rooted in shared values.

Isn't it time we told them all to shut up? Isn't it time that we told all the haters, from Limbaugh to Franken, O'Reilly to Rhodes to just shut the hell up for a while? Advancing a political agenda is one thing; doing so by tearing down the folks on the other side is another. It's shamefull. And how about we get our representatives in Washington to stop futzing around and deal with real issues. How about leaving gas prices alone and dealing with immigration? Forget strangling the internet and deal with a nuclear North Korea. Stop worrying about who can get married, and start worrying about how to keep Iran from starting an apocalyptic war.

You know, establish some damn priorities!

I look at the squabbling in Congress, the political manuevering and jockeying, and I am disgusted with both sides. Neither side has the integrity to deal with real issues, preferring instead to manipulate them to score political points off their opposition. I look at the press, slanting their coverage to get the best ratings, instead of telling the truth. For example, how many stories have you heard about record profits in the oil industry? Now, how many stories have you heard in that same press discussing that the record profits are due to higher sales volume, and not increasing margins?

It's pathetic.

I get discouraged from time to time, and decide that America is headed the way of Rome, towards decadence and dissolution. But every now and then, something happens that gives me hope, that tells me that the rot may be confined to a minority, and that most of us still know what it means to be free and independant. It tells me that most of us, even if on an instinctive level, remember that freedom has a price, and that while the price is high, it is worth paying. And I begin to think that if most of us do remember that, and believe it, then we still have a fighting chance to keep our nation whole and strong.

United 93 is not just a memorial to those who fought and won the first battle against terrorism in America; it's a reminder to all of us that we, the people, are America. We are its strength, its glory, and its best hope. We just have to have the courage to act like it. The folks on Flight 93 prove that we do, all of us, have that courage.

That's why it is important.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 27, 2006

One Last Post on Gouging

At the same site as the gas temperature map is this nice graph tracking gas prices. If you run the chart including oil prices you'll see that over a two year period, oil prices more than doubled while gas prices haven't quite doubled. IN other words, the oil companies profit margin has contracted over the last two years, not expanded.

It's very difficult to prove gouging when that happens.

Also, notice that price increases in gasoline are always led by price increases in oil.

Again, it's hard to accuse somebody of gouging when their final product price tracks their main ingredient price so closely.

But like I said before, there's never a shortage of folks who won't let the facts get in the way of a good smear.

Posted by Rich
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Blue is Red and Red is Kinda Greenish Yellow

I was taking a closer look at the gas price map I linked yesterday via Gunner and I noticed something.

The states with the highest average gas prices are the states that voted for Kerry. The Blue States are finally going Red!

Posted by Rich
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Bush and Illegal Immigration

By the way, put me down as one of those folks who will be parting company with the Bush Administration over the amnesty program for illegal immigrants.

And by parting company, I don't mean an intellectual disagreement.

As a libertarian, I've voted Republican in the last two elections simply because their platform was the closest to my own; strong defense and small government. I could swallow the social ideological crusades simply because I knew there were enough folks like me to keep them from going too far.

It was a matter of priorities.

But now that the Republicans have abandoned most of their platform (huge government spending, explosive growth in entitlement programs, and dramatically weaker borders), I have no reason to vote for them any more.

So, I'm looking for a new third party to waste my vote on: fiscally conservative, socially liberal, small government, strong on defense and border control. You know, one that actually follows the Constitution. The candidate closest to that gets my vote.

And if the Democrats win, don't come crying to me. I didn't abandon the Republicans; they abandoned me when they jettisoned their principles.

PS: My guess is that there will be a very strong third party in 2008 pulling much of the moderate middle away from both the Donks and the GOP. Maybe even enough to win, or at least throw the election into overtime.

Which kinda makes these off cycle elections pretty durn important, don't ya think?

Posted by Rich
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Snow in D.C.

What do I think?

Seems like a good fit to me.

First, he has a good speaking voice, and also a decent stage presence. Yeah, I know, I'm being a little shallow here, but you have to remember that as Press Secretary, Tony Snow is first and foremost a PR guy. He's the face of the administration to a lot of folks, so it helps that he knows how to carry himself.

Second, his criticisms of the Bush Administration should immediately kill any claims that he's a partisan shill with no integrity. Of course it won't, (some folks never let reality get in the way of a good smear) but it should.

Third, it should help the President with his base, extremely important with the perception of impending doom running through the Republican ranks. Snow has the ability to clearly and forcefully articulate the positions of the Administration in a way that will reassure the base. That, along with his past history of criticizing some elements of Bush's policy should help bring some of the disenchanted back into the fold.

Finally, from everything I've read about the guy, he's a genuinely nice person, and it's good to see one of those guys get ahead for a change.

Of course, you have to take all this with a grain of salt. I am the guy who thought that Howard Dean could energize the Democrats under a united platform similar to the way Newt Gingrich energized Republicans.

Boy, did I miss on that one!

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Andrea Clark’s Battle for Life

John Hawkins continues to follow the case of Andrea Clark, the Texas woman who is about to be removed from life support, even though she is conscious and doesn't want to die.
I asked Melanie if the family had talked to Andrea since our last conversation. She said they had and that Andrea had asked for a whopper from Burger King =). But, she said when they told her that the hospital was going to pull the plug on her on Sunday, she became, as you'd imagine, very upset and angry.

This story is just too incredible to be believed. If true, then we're witnessing a conscious, aware, adult, being deliberately killed by a medical facility because in their judgment, her life isn't worth the fight. It's too hard to accept that something like this could actually happen.

And that may be why I'm troubled by a lingering doubt. The television station that broke the story says that:
n an e-mailed statement, the hospital referred to it is confidentiality policy regarding patient privacy, saying it is precluded from commenting on Clark’s case unless the family provides written consent.

The family hasn’t done that...

Why not allow the hospital to answer questions? If Andrea really is aware and communicative, the hospital would have to admit that, and then they would look even worse. The fact that the family doesn't want the hospital to be able to tell their side of the story, along with the very callous nature of the story bugs me. How does the family gain by silencing the hospital? Nothing.

Unless Andrea is worse off than the family has led us to believe.

I simply cannot believe that there are doctors out there who will remove life support from a woman who is capable of asking for a Whopper.

But here's the thing. As much as the possibility of this being some kind of manipulation bothers me, there's no getting around the fact that this scenario could happen under Texas law. It specifically states that the ethics committee can withhold life sustaining treatment against the wishes of the patient, if they believe that further treatment is futile. So even if Andrea's family is not telling the whole truth, the questions they've raised are still valid.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Rocky Top Stroll

With Michael Silence out getting his heart repaired, I figured somebody should take over the Rocky Top Stroll until he's back on his feet. And since I'm somebody, I'm doing it.

#9 posts over at Uncle's about the difference in news coverage between shots fired into the Republican campaign headquarters and shots fired at Knoxville Mayoral candidate Steve Hall.

I can understand the urge to sell newspapers but how is a sensational event in 2004 given greater coverage than an attempt on the life of a current City Councilman and candidate for Knox County Mayor?

I would add a question; Are we seeing a trend, or are these just isolated incidents of violence?

Rising gas prices seem to be on everybody's mind.
Glenn Reynolds links to this chart, which gives a good comparison of the costs of different alternatibve fuels. I'll give you one guess which alternative fuel technology is the most expensive. Yep, it's everybody's favorite, the hydrogen fuel cell.
Les Jones links to a related story comparing the efficiencies of different fuel sources.
John Norris Brown links to Glen Dean who puts record oil company profits into perspective once again.
The five year average that oil companies make per gallon of gas is around 6 cents. With the surge in prices over the last year, they are now making about 9 cents per gallon. Government takes about 45.9 cents per gallon.
Gunner links to this map, which shows the average gas price by county throughout the US.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Crashing at the Bottom of the Slippery Slope

Inch by inch, we move closer and closer to state sanctioned euthanasia. Follow the link to read the whole thing but here's the gist.

A woman writes that her sister is in a hospital in Houston, and that the hospital's board of ethics has determined that continued treatment is futile. They've informed the woman that she has 10 days to find another facility to take her sister before they pull the plug. Now, before lapsing into unconsciousness, according to the sister due to overmedication for pain, the hospitalized woman made it very clear that she wanted full life support until she died naturally. But Texas has a law that says that doctors do not have to take the wishes of the patient, or whoever makes medical decisions for the patient, into account if in their judgment, continued treatment would be futile.

Now, while there are a lot of questions surrounding this woman's case, there aren't many questions for me surrounding this law. Back during the Schiavo case, I wrote the following:
I'm guessing that the next fight will be similar to the Schiavo case, except with the sides reversed. The family will be fighting to keep the victim alive, but the doctors, or just as likely, the insurance company, will sue to remove a feeding tube, or stop a ventilator.

Boy did I miss the mark! Not only was there a law allowing involuntary euthanasia already on the books, it had been there since 1999!
Let's take a look at the law in question.


(e) If the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the review process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment, the patient shall be given available life-sustaining treatment pending transfer under Subsection (d). The patient is responsible for any costs incurred in transferring the patient to another facility. The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written decision required under Subsection (b) is provided to the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless ordered to do so under Subsection (g).

And there it is in black and white. If the doctors decide you aren't fit to live, you don't live. If that isn't euthanasia, then what is it? Yeah, the law requires that the hospital help the patient find alternative care, but how many hospitals are going to take a transfer that has already been labeled futile?

None. Once an ethics panel (God the irony is so rich, isn't it?) determines that further treatment is futile, you're bound for the cemetery.

So, what are the ramifications of this law? Once a doctor has determined that treatment is futile, can insurance companies refuse to pay the claim? Also, the law intentionally refused to define just exactly what defines futility. There's nothing to restrict doctors and hospitals from extending the concept of "futile treatments" beyond life supporting/saving measures. If a patient has a history of severe heart trouble with multiple heart attacks and so on, could a medical panel determine that further treatment is futile, as he will certainly die of a heart attack eventually? How about treating illness in the elderly? If their life expectancy is only 5 or 6 years anyway, couldn't treating their illnesses be considered futile? Wow, insurance companies would save a bundle with that policy!

Again, there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the case that brought this to my attention. It could turn out that the patient in question is much worse off than her sister is telling us, and further life support would indeed be futile.

But do you really want a panel of corporate ethicist making that decision for you?

Here's the real knee slapper.
OF AIDING SUICIDE. A person does not commit an offense under
Section 22.08, Penal Code, by withholding or withdrawing
life-sustaining treatment from a qualified patient in accordance
with this subchapter.

So in Texas, a doctor can kill you when you don't want to die, but he can't kill you when you do want to die!

Simply amazing.

Posted by Rich
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Dad, I Need to Learn Spanish

That's what my daughter said to me today.

She'd just returned from a visit with her mother in Birmingham. Her mom works in a restaurant and there are a lot of Mexicans who work there. SOme of them speak some English, others not so much. My ex hangs out with them, so it was natural that my daughter did as well.

I asked her why she wanted to learn Spanish, and she said it was because she felt guilty, because all of her Mexican friends were having to learn English if they wanted to talk to her.

"Well, they are living in America. Shouldn't they be learning English anyway? I know if I moved to Mexico, I'd be learning to speak Spanish."

"No dad, that's different. They don't have to learn English here."

"Why not? Isn't that a double standard?"

"No, because you'd have to learn Spanish to get by in Mexico. Mexicans have whole communities here so there's no need for them to learn English."

Then she said it was a very sensitive issue with her and she didn't want to talk to me about it because she'd just get mad.

Posted by Rich
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Michael Silence Does Have A Heart

Get well soon Michael.

Posted by Rich
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It’s Dangerous to be a Muslim

And it's not because of George W Bush, either.

It's because of other Muslims.

Once again, we see Islamic terrorists killing Muslims in an attempt to, well, I don't know what the hell they're attempting. I could say that these bastards are so kill crazy that they no longer care who they kill, and since it's too dangerous to kill Americans, they kill whoever is handy, but that might seem insenstive of me.

So I won't say it.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

An Apology to the Nashville Scene

I now understand what happened, and it wasn't their fault.

Through my own investigative skills, I found out that Karl Rove used to be a dedicated reader of Hobbs Online. Now that he's got some free time, Karl decided it was time for Bill to begin blogging again. And so, with the Machiavellian deviosity he's trademarked over several decades of political manipulation, Karl swung into action, beginning a whispering campaign, and leaving an anonymous tip for Mr. Kopp, who ran with it. The events that followed, leading up to Bill's departure from Belmont University, were all anticipated and guided by Mr. Rove to make sure that Bill had the time and the inclination to resume blogging once again.

So you see, it wasn't the folks at the Scene's fault. They couldn't help it; they were outwitted by the master strategist.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

No Blogging Today

I just did a 10 hour road trip to Birmingham and back to take mydaughters to visit their mother over the weekend. The idea of sitting in a chair and staring at a monitor fills me with a dread normally associated with the phrases "You need a root canal", "We're showing home movies", and "Honey, we need to talk."

Back tomorrow

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Did She Even Read What She Wrote?

Okay, first read this:
Beyond the sober reality of job loss, in which only the most heartless and anonymous blog-world gadflies take glee, last week’s exposure and subsequent hand-wringing over Hobbs’ tacky handiwork were colored and complicated by a host of entanglements.

Ahh, the sweet voice of reason. Nobody should take glee in another's misfortune. I'll bet she was responding to this bit:
How many bloggers actually have jobs? We don’t know, except to say one fewer now than before.

That’s because a poor blogging sap who’d made his bed—only to be snugly tucked in by the Scene—lost his job at Belmont University last week.

You can almost imagine the writer cackling with glee as they wrote it. Not only do they get in one more jab at Bill, but they get to take a swipe at all of blogdom at the same time. It's nice to see the editor of the Scene acknowledging that openly reveling in another man's misfortune is inappropriate behavior for a real journalist.

Just one problem; she wrote both quotes. In the same piece. And within 3 paragraphs.

So much for real journalism at the Scene.
Hat tip MKS

Posted by Rich
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Michelle Malkin and UCSC SAW

I first read the story on Michelle's page. The Students Against the War group at UC Santa Cruz ran off military recruiters during a job fair on campus. Clearly this is a case of an abuse of free speech, as the students used their right to abridge the rights of the recruiters and the students who wished to talk to them. In her story, Michelle published the contact information of the SAW organizers which she obtained from their press release, available at multiple sites across the internet. Folks used that information to contact the student organizers, and some went over the line, threatening and harrassing them. Then supporters of SAW started threatening and harrassing Michelle. Now some of the left side of the blogosphere are saying that what Michelle did by publishing the contact information was unethical.

Here's a brief part of what Kevin at Lean Left has to say:
This is a despicable, loathsome thing to do. Malkin deliberately set out to harass people for the “crime” of protesting military recruiters. She didn’t attack their ideas, or debate their conclusions, or engage them in anything resembling an honest fashion...She set out to intimidate the students and make their lives miserable...

Here's what I find as odd; the SAW at UCSC were engaged in exactly the same kinds of activity when they protested the recruiters!

Now Kevin characterizes the protest as "peaceful;" I guess he missed the past history of SAW campus protests, which included slashing the tires on recruiters' cars, rock throwing, and intimidation and harassment of students wanting to talk to the recruiters last year; and the fact that this year, the protesters tried to break through the police lines while a group of students were talking to the recruiters. Maybe because nobody got hurt this time (One school employee was injured last year) that's all it takes for Kevin to consider it a "non-violent protest." But I'll bet any amount of money you want to put up that if a pro-life group set up outside an abortion clinic and engaged in the exact same tactics used by SAW, Kevin would stand squarely in favor of prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law.

To paraphrase Kevin, SAW deliberately set out to intimidate the recruiters, and any student who wanted to talk to them. They set out to harass them for the crime of wanting to serve their country. Doesn't this activity also warrent the labels of 'despicable' and 'loathsome'?

Reading Michelle's piece further, including the updates, I found out that A) not one of the students whose contact information was given out has contacted Michelle in any way to ask that she take down the information, and B) that the information she posted could be found on several other websites. To argue that the information was somehow meant to be private is ludicrous at that point. To take a lesson from another current kerfluffle, we've been told by many on the left that because Bill Hobbs put the cartoon up, he's accountable, even if he didn't publicize it, and even if he took it down later.

Shouldn't the same standard of accountability apply to these protestors?

Posted by Rich
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