Archive for May, 2007

Where parental rights hit the fan

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

What a terribly, terribly sad story. 

(AP) Boy who fought cancer treatment dies

An 11-year-old boy whose parents won court approval to treat their son’s leukemia with an unconventional method has died after five years of fighting the cancer.

Noah Maxin died Thursday at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said Rinda Schelat of Reed Funeral Home in Canton.

Noah’s parents, Greg and Theresa Maxin, won the right in 2002 to abandon chemotherapy treatment for their then-7-year-old son. County child welfare officials had accused the couple of neglect after the Maxins told Akron Children’s Hospital they were pulling Noah out of chemotherapy three months into a 3 1/2-year treatment plan.

The extreme libertarian viewpoint that would allow parents the right to do just about anything they choose with their kids, up to and including conduct that most people would regard as child abuse, has tended to give the concept of parental rights a bad name among liberals.  But clearly, the right, in general, to raise one’s children according one’s own values and judgment is both an inherent and an indispensable part of any meaningful concept of freedom.

Parents do, quite properly, have broad discretion in deciding what’s best for their children: But, obviously, the interests of the children themselves must also be given very strong consideration, and the law so provides.  Personally, I tend to error on the side of putting the interests of the child over the rights of the parent in cases like this, but I can understand that this is a terribly difficult judgment to make, especially where, as here, the parents are clearly trying to act in the child’s best interests, even if unwisely so.

According to the article, Noah was only off chemotherapy for four months, before his parents put him back on after the cancer returned: hopefully the doctors can assure them that such a short time gap was unlikely to have played a decisive role. 

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I’m going to be a genius until I’m 103!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I mean, if one drink a day can slow the progression to dementia, just think what two or three a day can do!

So Bush considers Jimmy Carter Irrelevant

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

This is pathetic.  Bush & Co. would have been smarter to have just ignored Carter.  Here they manage to look both small and stupid at the same time they give extra play to his statement.

(AP) White House Hits Back at Carter Remarks

CRAWFORD, Texas — In a biting rebuke, the White House on Sunday dismissed former President Jimmy Carter as “increasingly irrelevant” after his harsh criticism of President Bush.

Carter was quoted Saturday as saying “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”

The Georgia Democrat said Bush had overseen an “overt reversal of America’s basic values” as expressed by previous administrations, including that of his own farther, former President George H.W. Bush.

I can’t help but wonder what words people will be using to describe George W. Bush 26 years after he leaves office.   I’m guessing the list won’t include Nobel Prize winner, the greatest ex-president ever or great humanitarian, all terms now routinely attached to Carter.

Ladies and Gents — Mr. Charles Pierce

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Posted at Altercation, where Pierce, arguably the best political satirist working today, routinely gives it away for free (like me!).

OK, I’m convinced.

Impeach him. Impeach them all. Start chucking people into the hoosegow for contempt, and as material witnesses. Stuff this White House so full of subpeonas that it bursts. Blow this government apart.

I held off on this because I thought the process was both legally unjustifiable and politically futile. I believe it is still the latter. The difference is I don’t care any more that it is. The Comey testimony — coupled with the astonishing arrogance it takes simply to ignore congressional subpoenas as though they were something someone slipped under your windshield wiper — pushed me all the way over the edge. The president spied on Americans and thereby broke the law. Repeatedly. The president was told he was breaking the law by members of the Department of Justice who had no reason to lie to him on the subject. (John Ashcroft noticed, for pity’s sake.) The president knew he was breaking the law so he sent the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel out to behave like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. (Sorry, Andy Card. I liked you when we were both young and ambitious in Massachusetts, but it’s off to Allenwood for a spell until you come clean.) The clean-up crew failed, and he kept breaking the law anyway. Repeatedly. They spied on their political opponents. They used their steroidal view of executive powers to justify it in their tiny little minds. That’s what they’re hiding. I have no doubts any more that the administration has committed more crimes than we know. And every day they remain unpunished — hell, every day they remain in office — we become more deeply complicit in their offenses. It’s time to govern ourselves again.

This can’t be a matter of political calculation any more. It simply can’t. It’s a fundamental question of what kind of government we want to have.

The daily doom: carbon saturated ocean edition

Friday, May 18th, 2007

I guess it’s time to bring back the daily doom series.  I mean, it isn’t like global warming is getting any better.

So without further adieu . . .

To repeat myself, yet again: Does a day ever go by anymore without another terrifying revelation about global warming?

(Reuters) Study: Southern Ocean saturated with CO2 (via Kevin Drum)

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is so loaded with carbon dioxide that it can barely absorb any more, so more of the gas will stay in the atmosphere to warm up the planet, scientists reported Thursday.

Human activity is the main culprit, said researcher Corinne Le Quere, who called the finding very alarming.

The phenomenon wasn’t expected to be apparent for decades, Le Quere said in a telephone interview from the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so,” she said. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. “So I find this really quite alarming.”

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Are loyal Bush Republicans simply morons?

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Be honest: we all scratch our heads in utter bafflement over the same thing: there he’ll be directly in front of us — maybe on TV, maybe at the water cooler at work (does anyone still have a water cooler at work?), or maybe sitting on the barstool next to us – when we’ll hear that sickeningly familiar refrain: you know, the avalanche of GOP talking points, the ones that were so obviously stupid even back before six years of the reality of honest to God Republican rule proved beyond any reasonable doubt just how stupid they are.

And you ask yourself: “Crap, how can anyone be that stupid?  Are these people simply morons?”

Well, now we have the answer — and it comes from one of every angry liberal’s favorite pundits, The Shrill One himself, Paul Krugman.

Check out his latest column here (if you’re the upstanding sort who’s paid for TimesSelect) or here (if you’re one of the unwashed rabble who hasn’t).

Krugman’s point in condensed form is that it isn’t just Bush who is dumb; the entire GOP base is dumb. 

All of which raises the fascinating philosophical question: which came first, the chicken(hawk) in the White House or the egg(noramuses) who nominated him?   

This isn’t about process: it’s about ending the war

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

What an unmitigated crock.  Both the White House and the Senate agree, it seems, that some sort of compromise needs be worked out on funding for Iraq.  The time has come, we are solemnly assured, for our politically divided Senate and our politically (and otherwise) compromised chief executive to all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

Even dependably anti-Bush elder statesman/grump Sen. Robert Byrd seems to have signed on.  “To be successful,” Byrd is quoted as saying in the article linked above, “we must end the finger-pointing and instead roll up our sleeves and work together. I believe that we can — and we will.”

Only one small problem: that won’t end the war.  And notwithstanding what the inside the Beltway crowd may believe, ending the war is what people care about.  Sure they’d like to see an end to partisan gridlock on the issue, but not, as David Broder et al. suppose, because they find it distasteful.  No, it’s because gridlock doesn’t end the war.

Republicans and Democrats can rip each other’s eyes out, for all the people care, as long as at the end of the day (and preferably a very short day, at that) this godforsaken-everybody-knows-it-can’t-be-salvaged war is over. 

Anything any politician does that moves us closer to that day (while protecting our troops) will be rewarded by the voters.  Anything any politician does that moves us in the opposite direction, will be punished by them — end of story.

Just why so many of the folks in the nation’s capital keep finding it so hard to understand this simple and often repeated message must surely be one of the great mysteries of our age

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Accountability is for little guys

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

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New episode (and cafe regular) next week

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Sorry about this, but things have been nuts this week.  So there won’t be a new The Last Chance Democracy Cafe episode until next Thursday. 

But here’s a little something to perk your interest: We’ll be meeting a new café regular then.

And it isn’t another guy.

When resignation isn’t enough

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

That Alberto Gonzales is still the Attorney General of the United States, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence of his gross misconduct and repeated perjury, is, in itself, of course, an indictment of the health of our political process. 

But this isn’t about resignation anymore.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that the real issue — or at least what should be the real issue — isn’t how many more days, months and years Gonzales will disgrace the Department of Justice until his inevitable resignation comes.  No, the real question is how many days, months and, yes, years he should spend in prison thereafter.

Take the time to do two things, if you haven’t already: First, read Glenn Greenwald’s summary of the recent explosion of events in the old NSA scandal; second, watch a clip of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s testimony.

Greenwald’s summary provides the indispensable background for what’s going on — or at least as much of what’s going on as can be divined through the haze of secrecy and deceit. 

As for Comey’s testimony, I tell you what it reminds me of — the movie Seven Days in May.

We always knew that Bush thought the Sept. 11 attacks gave him a blank check to ignore the constitution.  We may finally be on the verge of finding out just how far, based upon that fallacy of logic and character, his gang of thugs took us down the path of lawlessness and constitutional disgrace.

And when that story is finally told, and told in full, it will not be enough for the malefactors to slink away.  There must be consequences that are at least somewhat commensurate to the crimes.