Friday, June 05, 2009

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court...

If I hear one more bloviating talking head say that the function of the judiciary is to "interpret" the law rather than to "make" law, I am going to scream.

You will notice that no such language is found in Article III. The constitution refers to the judicial power. While it does not define the term, the framers were conversant with and quite reasonably established a COMMON LAW country. In a common law system, judges make law EVERY DAY. Period.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Because we can't see this picture enough

Because abortion is always simple

During the 2004 Presidential Debates, the giggling murderer replied to a question about abortion by saying that it was a simple issue, and that it was always wrong. In 2008, John McCain made a joke out of people who consider the health of the mother to be a serious consideration during pregnancy. The murder of Dr. Tiller and the right-wing cabal of crazy that instigated it seem to cling to this childish worldview, and it's impossible for anyone with a brain to see the world in that simplistic a way.

I'd imagine there are a lot of stories out there from real people who've dealt with this real issue. Last summer, when my wife was pregnant with our son, we were apprehensive. We'd already been through a miscarriage, and I'm a worrier by nature. More than 6 weeks before the due date, she became concerned about a very high blood pressure reading, and we ended up in the hospital at midnight one evening. That night, she was diagnosed as being preeclampsic, and the only cure for preeclampsia is delivering the fetus. The situation was pretty clear to me - the pregnancy had to end or my wife would likely die. I can't imagine a world in which I would be forced to write off my wife's health as an irrelevant part of that discussion. We were fortunate in that our son was developing well within his womb, and that the hospital we were at had a fantastic NICU. He's doing great (you wouldn't know he was premature), and it all worked out in the end, but the fear remains for possible future pregnancies.

I bring this up because of a NY Times article where patients recall their experiences with Dr. Tiller. These are oft-times heart-wrenching stories of women and families making extremely hard decisions regarding pregnancies that had gone wrong for any number of reasons. This isn't cold-blooded murder, or casual disposal of complications from unprotected sex. This is hard stuff, people, and anyone who's gone through anything remotely like what these women went through couldn't pretend that abortion is simple or trivial. There are stories here that will hit home for lots of people, whether they happened to you, happened to someone you know, or just live in your fears. There are entirely too many people on both sides of the "debate" who have made caricatures of themselves and of humanity, and this time it lead to murder. Congratulations, idiots.

Twenty Years

We were watching TV
In Tiananmen Square
Lost my baby there
My yellow rose
In her bloodstained clothes
She was a short order pastry chef
In a Dim Sum dive on the Yangtze tideway
She had a shiny hair
She was a daughter of an engineer
Won't you shed a tear
For my yellow rose
My yellow rose
In her bloodstained clothes
She had a perfect breasts
She had high hopes
She had almond eyes
She had yellow thighs
She was a student of philosophy
Won't you grieve with me
For my yellow rose
Shed a tear
For her bloodstained clothes
She had shiny hair
She had perfect breasts
She had almond eyes
She had yellow thighs
She was a daughter of an engineer
So get out your pistols
Get out your stones
Get out your knives
Cut them to the bone
They are the lackeys of the grocer's machine
They built the dark satanic mills
That manufacture hell on earth
They bought the front row seats on Calvary
They are irrelevant to me
And I grieve for my sister
People of China
Do not forget do not forget
The children who died for you
Long live the Republic
Did we do anything after this
I've feeling we did
We were watching TV
Watching TV
We were watching TV
Watching TV
She wore a white bandanna that said
Freedom now
She thought the Great Wall of China
Would come tumbling down
She was a student
Her father was an engineer
Won't you shed a tear
For my yellow rose
My yellow rose
In her bloodstained clothes
Her grandpa fought old Chiang Kai-shek
That no-good low-down dirty rat
Who used to order his troops
To fire on women and children
Imagine that imagine that
And in the spring of'48
Mao Tse-tung got quite irate
And he kicked that old dictator Chiang
Out of the state of China
Chiang Kai-shek came down in Formosa
And they armed the island of Quemoy
And the shells were flying across the China Sea
And they turned Formosa into a shoe factory
Called Taiwan
And she is different from Cro-Magnon man
She's different from Anne Boleyn
She is different from the Rosenbergs
And from the unknown Jew
She is different from the unknown Nicaraguan
Half superstar half victim
She's a victor star conceptually new
And she is different from the Dodo
And from the Kankabono
She is different from the Aztec
And from the Cherokee
She's everybody's sister
She's a symbolic of our failure
She's the one in fifty million
Who can help us to be free
Because she died on TV
And I grieve for my sister

- Roger Waters

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Was Air France Flight 447 Brought Down by Turbulence?

From the Christian Science Monitor comes a fascinating report on meteorological analysis of the stricken airliner's flight path. The link to Tim Vasquez's blog, below, with his analysis of the weather conditions that may have caused the accident is technical but worthwhile reading.

Was Air France flight 447 brought down by a 100 m.p.h. updraft?

Or were its two jet engines snuffed out by hail or heavy rains?
In the absence of a black box, the leading theory now is that the Airbus 330-200 was brought down by a 300-mile-wide band of tropical thunderstorms that it could fly neither around nor over.

Brazil’s defense minister confirmed Tuesday afternoon that military planes found a three-mile path of wreckage in the Atlantic, hundreds of miles from Fernando de Noronha, a Brazilian archipelago.

Professional pilots and meteorologists are digging through the available data – flight routes, satellite images, aircraft specifications, and weather reports – and spinning out several likely causes.

One of the most detailed and cogent pieces of analysis of Flight 447’s last minutes – winning the praise of pilots around the world – is a blog by Tim Vasquez.

Here's one of Mr. Vasquez's more intriguing speculations:

Due to the high cloud tops and freezing level at 16,000 ft, there was extensive precipitation by cold rain process and it is likely the MCS was electrified. Lightning of course being considered with good reason since the A330 is one of the most computerized and automated airliners in service.

From my neophyte's perch observing weather patterns, it seems they've become more severe and unpredictable partly as a result of global warming. Are modern airliners like the Airbus A330 at a disadvantage under such conditions because the advanced computerized and automated avionics might be susceptible to lightning?

Perhaps we should bring the reliable old DC-3's back into commercial service.

Operation Rescue Connection Found to Dr. Tiller Assassin

Kansas City, MO KKMBC reports that Dr. Tiller's murder suspect Scott Roeder had a handwritten phone number on his dashboard to Operation Rescue senior policy advisor Cheryl Sullenger, who was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in 1988. Sullenger contends Roeder is "you know, somebody who's been around" and that he hasn't called her "recently."

More here via Daily Kos.

Tea (and death) for the Tiller-man

I'm sure you have all heard about the shocking murder of Dr. Tiller IN CHURCH.

The silence from the right is deafening.

There is little that I can add to the philosophical, ethical and moral debate on this question. Shall we first of all observe, however, that Dr. Tiller was practicing medicine in accordance with the law? And that he was IN CHURCH?

I had a conversation about this case with a friend of mine, a tenured history professor at a local college (I.e., no knuckle-dragging neanderthal here), and his response was stunning. He found the murder in church to be reprehensible (thank heaven for small favors) but said without a second thought that if the killer had broken into the clinic operating room and killed the doctor during a procedure, his conduct should be lauded and celebrated, not prosecuted.

THAT is what happens when people buy into the assumption that a zygote/embryo/fetus is a "human being." You cannot discuss things with these people because they are walking definitions of the "begging the question" logical fallacy (when a given argument depends on what it is trying to support) buts rotsa ruck there.