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:: Thursday, March 24, 2005 ::

From the Times?

Wow, the Times has an editorial that's remarkable straightforward:
Fortunately, the unpoliticized numbers in yesterday's report are not overly dire. Using a 75-year time horizon, the trustees project that the system will be able to pay full benefits until 2041, at which time it will be able to pay 74 percent of the promised benefits, falling to 68 percent by 2079. That works out to a gap of $4 trillion, which could be bridged with modest tax increases and benefit cuts, phased in over the next few decades. If people try to tell you different, they need to be set straight.
I realize it's an Op-Ed -- from the evil Times too -- but that's still a surprisingly blunt statement.

True, of course. But it's not like the media to call it so straight on Social Security.
:: Morat 7:54 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 ::

Activist Legislators

Activist Legislators - The boundless overreaching behind Congress' new Schiavo bill. By Dahlia Lithwick remains the only person on Slate that's a 'must read':
And what is the overwhelming constitutional value that supersedes each of these centuries-old legal notions? Evidently, Congress has a secret, super-textual constitutional role as the nation's caped crusaders -- its members authorized to leap into phone booths around the world and fly back to Washington in a single bound whenever the 'culture of life' is in peril. Republicans acknowledged this weekend that their views on 'the sanctity of life' trump even their convictions about federalism. Or, as Tom DeLay put it, when asked how he reconciles this bill with conservative calls to keep the federal government out of state matters, 'We, as Congress, have every right to make sure that the constitutional rights of Terri Schiavo are protected, and that's what we're doing.'

This congressional authority to simply override years of state court fact-finding brings with it other superpowers, including the power of gratuitous name-calling: Members of Congress unable to pronounce Schiavo's name just last week are denouncing her husband as an adulterer and common law bigamist who withheld proper medical care from her. I wonder what they'd say about my parenting -- or yours -- if they decided to make a federal case out of every domestic-custody dispute currently resolved in state court proceedings.

Members of Congress have apparently also had super-analytical powers conferred upon them, as well. Senate Majority Leader, and heart surgeon, Bill Frist felt confident last week -- after reviewing an hour of videotape -- in offering a medical diagnosis of Schiavo's condition, blithely second-guessing the court-appointed neurologists who evaluated her for days and weeks. His colleagues are similarly self-appointed neurological experts. Years of painstaking litigation, assessment.
Look, the basics of this case are clear: Her husband was solely responsible for the decision, under the law. (Not a new law. Not a contested law. But a common basis of US law -- your spouse, unless you specify otherwise, is your legal guardian if you're incapacitated).

Numerous courts -- and impartial people assigned by these courts -- have come to the conclusion time and time again that Terry has no chance of recovery and that she would not have wanted to continue in this state.

Her husband isn't in it for the money -- there is none. He isn't in it so he can get remarried -- he could have walked away at any time. He's suffering a nasty smear attack from some of the most powerful men and woman in the United States for no personal gain whatsoever.

Terry is gone. I've heard people ask "An MRI would tell for sure, why won't he submit her to one?". They ask that because they're ignorant. A MRI would determine whether tissue was functioning -- but you don't need to test when the CAT scan showed there was no tissue to function.

Terry has a big fluid filled hole where the most critical parts of her brain used to be. All the parts of her brain that made her a person are gone -- replaced by fluid. There's nothing left to repair, rebuild, or heal. It's like hoping someone can restore a painting after vandals removed the canvas and burned it.

It'd be nice to pretend otherwise. But the law -- and Terry's husband -- have to work with reality, not wishful fantasies.

This whole affair disgusts me. Her parents I can forgive -- it's hard to accept the truth about a loved one. But for the GOP there is no forgiveness. Only disgust and contempt for the rats that they are, to exploit grief and heartbreak to give Tom Delay a bit of a break from his bad press.
:: Morat 8:58 AM :: ::

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