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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
I've been silent long enough.

It's time to talk about the Schiavo case.

As with the Eason Jordan scenario, I wasn't that interested in it.  I initially thought it was a simple euthanasia case, but the more I started reading about it and seeing some very peculiar behavior, I realized that there is more to this story than is on the surface.

I think it comes down to one conclusion:  Florida Superior Court Judge Robert Greer entirely screwed this case up, and should be impeached for it.

Greer's incompetence - or bias - set this case up to be a conjumbled mess.  Appointing doctors who spent little more than 10 minutes with Terri Schiavo to come up with a prognosis of PVS (persistent vegetative state), allowing testimony of mere hearsay from Michael Schiavo, who has engaged in dubious behavior ever since the argument started between him and the Schindlers (Terri's parents), dismissing evidence of negligence of Terri's medical care under Michael's supervision, and ignoring testimony under oath in the medical malpractice trials of Michael saying he would take care of Terri for the rest of his life all points to a judge that really has no excuse for allowing this to become the circus that it has become.

It would be one thing if Schiavo had written a will or statement that expressed her desire to die if she was in that state.  It would also be another if she was on life support.  However, Terri is living on her own, and it is directly by Greer's hand that she will die.  All of the appellate courts are virtually powerless to stop it due to the the laws put in place by the state of Florida. 

I have read U.S. District Court Judge Whittemore's decision (PDF), and with the possible disagreement on two counts - count II (3) accusing Greer of failing to personally evaluate Terri's responsiveness and count IV stating the 14th amendment had been violated - he is correct in his assessments. 

Although I think he never intended to place a temporary stay and retry the case or else he would have ruled on this last night, he is essentially powerless to stop it.  Besides, I think the lawyers (and I'm using constructive criticism here, not lashing out) did not make a compelling argument to Whittemore in the first place.  Trying to use religious arguments in order to force another trial won't work, and arguing that Greer wasn't impartial without hard evidence to back it up didn't help things either.

I am glad, however, that he did recognize right off the bat that what Congress did was totally legal, and they have the right to send cases from state courts to federal review.  There has been a lot of criticism placed on Republicans in Congress for engaging in this behavior, claiming they are hypocrites for using federal power to usurp authority from the states.  However, since when did states' rights trump individual rights?  Not only is it the option of Congress to act upon what they see as a violation of individual rights (in which the right to life is specifically written in the Constitution), but it is their OBLIGATION to step in and intervene.  Congress through Article III in the Constitution has the right to delegate which court cases the federal courts can and can not review.

Congress's act does not qualify as a bill of attainder either.  A bill of attainder is a legislative act that actually passes judgement over an individual or a group of people.  For example, Congress can not pass a law placing someone in jail, or fining someone "x" amount of dollars, etc.  All Congress did was allow judicial review at the federal level and allowing them to decide whether or not it is constitutionally legal before Greer's judgement is carried out.

I really hope the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is able to find a possible constitutional problem with this issue and thus orders a temporary stay in favor of keeping Terri alive.  However, the chances of the court remanding the case back to Whittemore in order to start a federal trial are very slim.

As for why I feel there should be another trial, the people over at Liberals For Terri probably explain it better than I do:

The euthanasia hoopla is a sideshow. This isn't about euthanasia or letting Terri "die with dignity": She can swallow food but the husband won't let her. She can speak but her husband won't let anyone see her do it. Eyewitness reports are dismissed. Competent doctors are stonewalled. Her settlement money is spent on legal fees supporting her "right" to death by dehydration. And, most importantly, the husband may have caused her current condition. So let me ask you: would you want that man making your life-and-death decisions? Would you still want him as a spouse?

Apparently the feeling is mutual. He has moved on to a new "common-law wife" and two new kids. Her care is being provided free of charge by a
terminal-patient hospice run by his lawyer's cronies at no expense to her husband or her vanishing estate. The only condition is that he continue to support the "decision" to kill her - something he apparently has no problem doing.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a case for CSI Tampa, not euthanasia court? If they manage to kill Terri Schiavo,
Franz Kafka is reportedly coming back from the grave to write another book.

The Terri Schiavo question is not about the Right To Life or the Right To Death with Dignity. It is really about the Right To Indemnification from acts of Mortal Treachery, Medical and Legal Fraud. It is also about the Right To Have Our Mortal Wishes Respected.

We can argue the larger point all day long, but we can't let those that engage in incriminating and fraudulent behavor make life-or-death decicisions - whichever way they may go - on behalf of someone who may have been set up from the beginning. The truth is in there somewhere, and it's time to take a long, hard look at it before it's too late.

That's what it's ultimately about.  The abortion/right to life issue is a smokescreen for a negligent husband that is doing everything he can to kill his own wife.  And he had the nerve to insult Republicans this weekend, specifically Tom DeLay?

Regardless of whether the courts actually allow Terri to be killed - and that's exactly what's happening; they are killing her - one fact is certain:  Michael Schiavo is one of the lowest forms of scum on this planet.  And that's my word.

Posted at 04:49 pm by Expertise
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March Madness Round 2 Sunday Recap

Well the field of Sixteen is set, and there were a couple more surprising entrants added Sunday.

First, NC State is red hot, adding Connecticut to it's list of victims as they pulled the upset, 65-62.  Julius Hodge is playing as if he wants an NBA contract, and Elian Etimov is simply deadly from the arc.  A lot of people said Herb Sendek needed this win in order to keep his job.  I disagree.  NC State fans are just disgrunted because they think they are entitled to a national championship and a consistent Sweet Sixteen berth.  Sorry guys; Jim Valvano doesn't coach that team anymore.

Villanova beat Florida handily, but is that really an upset?  Yeah; the Gators are the SEC Champions, but (1). That's not a great feat considering there's only one SEC team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen (I'll talk about the SEC and the Big East later this week), and (2).  They've had Kentucky's number since February.  That the equivalent to the Tampa Bay Bucs consistently beating the Atlanta Falcons.  Beating Kentucky doesn't make Florida a great team because they do it often, yet don't play well against equal or better talent.

North Carolina is pretty much the most dangerous team in the tournament, destroying Iowa State by 27.  I'll admit; I fell asleep watching the game.  Hell, Carolina was up by 20 in the second half, and I felt it was a done deal.  I didn't think the score was going to be this bad though.

It's funny, because going into the tournament everyone thought the Syracuse bracket was the toughest of the four.  Now, they're saying North Carolina has the easiest trip to the Final Four.  UConn, Kansas, Florida all fell over the weekend, and Friday UNC faces a Villanova team that just found out that their premiere inside player is gone for the rest of the tournament.   If/Once they win that, they then face the winner of NC State/Wisconsin.  Things are looking pretty good on Franklin Street, but if they make the Final Four will they be battle tested when they finally face a considerable challenger?  Who's to say.

So here's my rankings for the final 16 teams:

1.   North Carolina
2.   Arizona
3.   Illinois
4.   Washington
5.   Oklahoma State
6.   Louisville
7.   Duke
8.   Kentucky
9.   Michigan State
10. West Virginia
11. Texas Tech
12. NC State
13. Utah
14. Villanova
15. Wisconsin
16. Milwaukee

I ranked them by the strength of their wins vs. their situation coming into this weekend.  No doubt North Carolina is the hottest team in the tournament right now, and they're playing some tough basketball.  Arizona is playing great too, and Washington has grown on me a bit.  I haven't been impressed by either of Duke's wins, and while NC State/Wisconsin will be a tough game, it's doubtful if either beats the winner of UNC/Nova to get to the Final Four.  Villanova is ranked so low because of Sumpter's injury, and that's the last thing they need when facing a beast like Sean May.

I'll give a review of the Sweet Sixteen matchups later this week.

Posted at 03:22 am by Expertise
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Monday, March 21, 2005
Blog note.

After what has been a very LONG weekend, where I was officiating a basketball tournament down east and was visiting family at the same time, I didn't have the chance to do any blogging yesterday.  I'm home now, so I should be able to catch up with some things that have been going on lately.  So later this week you'll see my recap of Sunday's games in the NCAA tournament (tonight) and also a recap of The Contender (tomorrow). 

In the next day or two I'll also write about Terri Schiavo, as I've been able to keep up with that story over the weekend, albeit I'm just starting to learn bits and pieces about it.  Possibly in a seperate one I'll discuss the conflict between the judiciary and elected representatives.

And I haven't forgotten about the Congressional hearings either.  I'll probably discuss that around the end of the week just before Thursday's Madness games.

But I'm not dead, guys.  I just have some catching up to do. *shrugs*

Posted at 06:58 pm by Expertise
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Sunday, March 20, 2005
March Madness Round 2 Saturday Recap.

Well folks, close to every bracket has been butchered half to death between Friday and Saturday upsets.  Don't feel bad; I am the same way, and I accurately picked three of the four Final Four members last year along with the eventual national champion, Connecticut.

The biggest upset was West Virginia's double overtime win over Wake Forest.  I swear I heard bracket sheets being ripped up and thrown in the trash all over North Carolina when the buzzer ended that one.  A lot of people had Wake Forest going to the Final Four out of Albuquerque.  Yeah; I was one of those too.

The second biggest upset had Boston College completing their end of season collaspe by falling to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  To put it bluntly, Wilwaukee was facing a BC team that was exposed in February and have been ripe for defeat.  Both Wake Forest and Boston College can't be happy with how their seasons ended.

On top of that, Washington routed Pacific today by 18.  I thought Pac would at least show up, but that's what I get for placing a top West Coast team over a mid-major one.  Gonzaga was just an exception to the rule in the 90's.  Speaking of which, the Zags were upset by Texas Tech.  Whenever Gonzaga has had a high seed, they end up having a short tournament.  They need to stay underdogs.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day, as Friday's surprises now have to once again pull upsets to get into the Sweet 16, and the four ACC teams have to show they are for real, as they face serious challenges.  Here are my picks:

Syracuse:

- #1. North Carolina over #9. Iowa State

- #10. NC State over #2. Connecticut

- #5. Villanova over #4. Florida (SEC vs. Big East.  This should be interesting.)

- #6. Wisconsin over #14. Bucknell (Bucknell will give em a fight, tho.)


Austin:

- #1. Duke over #9. Mississippi State (This should be a battle.)

- #5. Michigan State over #13. Vermont


Chicago:

- #2. Oklahoma State over #7. Southern Illinois


Albuquerque:

- #4. Louisville over #5. Georgia Tech

Posted at 03:33 am by Expertise
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Saturday, March 19, 2005
March Madness Round 1 Friday Recap

A pretty entertaining day, with a few upsets mixed in with solid competitive games.

In fact, the only ones that were ran away with was North Carolina's thrashing of Oakland and a surprising Mississippi State making a statement by handling Stanford.  No matter, because there were a couple of upsets that got a lot of people's attention.

Tonight, Bucknell upset Kansas in the Syracuse Region after a baby hook by center Chris McNaughton.  The German exchange student stepped up and made the basket with only 2.4 seconds left in the game.  Kansas tried to make a last second shot by Wayne Simien ala Christian Laettner, but it hit the back rim and fell out. 

I gotta give Bucknell props in more ways than one.  After all, defeating Kansas just made Roy Williams's life just a little easier.  Beers are on me guys.

Another big win was Vermont, who alot of teams called the next Gonzaga, used a time consuming offense to keep the game close, put the game into overtime, and finished off Syracuse by three points.  Well, that busted my bracket, as Syracuse was one of my Final Four teams.  Thanks guys.

That's wasn't the only bracket buster, tho.  Charlotte fell to NC State.  I figured they could at least go Elite Eight (stop laughing).  St. Mary's also fell to Southern Illinois.  That's a sigh of relief to the mid-major at-large boosters, as very few of them advanced this weekend, if any at all.  I was hoping Old Dominion would pull off an upset against Michigan State, but they fell down the stretch.

I also watched the Dook/Delaware State game, and if Delaware State actually could make layups, we might have had a huge upset there too.  I guess that was asking too much from the MEAC Champs, but they played with a lot of heart and almost showed up the ACC Champions.  Some Tarheels stuck around to watch the game, and they made it known with chants of "OVERRATED" towards the end.  Ha.

Tomorrow we find out whether or not the top seeds simply had pre-game jitters or they really were struggling.  I'm sure someone will fall.  Here's what I got:


Albuquerque:

- #8. Pacific over #1. Washington
- #2. Wake Forest over #7. West Virginia

- #6. Texas Tech over #3. Gonzaga


Austin:

- #7. Cincinnati over #2. Kentucky

- #3. Oklahoma over #6. Utah


Chicago:

- #1. Illinois over #9. Nevada

- #3. Arizona over #11. UAB

- #4. Boston College over #12. Wisconsin-Milwaukee


This should be fun to watch.

I'm gonna miss the first session of games tomorrow and most of the second, as I have to be at a basketball tournament all day tomorrow.  But I should be around tomorrow evening.  Enjoy the Madness.

Posted at 01:45 am by Expertise
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Friday, March 18, 2005
March Madness Thursday recap.

Thursday's first round games weren't bad at all, it was just that almost everyone seemed mediocre.  No one had an impressive perfomance, with the possible exception of Oklahoma.  The top seeds looked like they only had just enough to pull out a W today, and they better come on the court with a better attitude Saturday, or they won't be playing next weekend.

The two upsets came from the SEC.  The first was Milwaukee upsetting Alabama, as I mentioned earlier, and LSU fell to UAB, who made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year and barely made it to the Dance this year.  I think the UAB win shut up the naysayers who claimed they didn't deserve to be there ahead of Buffalo or Notre Dame.

So what does this leave for the SEC?  Well Kentucky seemed to only do just enough to beat Eastern Kentucky today.  Many thought LSU would go far; in fact I saw LSU in the Elite Eight in a number of brackets (I dunno why.)  On deck tomorrow is Mississippi State - a team I didn't think should have got in - and Florida.  Is it possible that Kentucky will be the only one left?

Tomorrow will have the ACC spotlighted, as UNC plays underdog Oakland (Some have said Oakland with give the Heels trouble.  A 13-18 team?  I'll be damned.).  Carolina better win by at least 20 or I'll be pissed.  Duke faces Delaware State, from the MEAC.  Expect Reddick and Melchionni to rain threes all game.  NC State faces Charlotte in what I feel will be the first ACC loss of the tournament.  Charlotte's a gritty team, and C-USA showed everyone what they were made of with UAB and Cincinnati's wins Thursday.  Georgia Tech will have a tough time at George Washington, and we could see an upset there as well.

So here are my picks for Friday (upsets are highlighted in yellow):


Syracuse:

- #1. North Carolina over #16. Oakland

- #2. Connecticut over #15. Central Florida

- #3. Kansas over #14. Bucknell

- #4. Florida over #13. Ohio (not sure about this one, folks)

- #5. Villanova over #12. New Mexico

- #6. Wisconsin over #11. Northern Iowa

- #10. Charlotte over #7. NC State

- #9. Iowa State over #8. Minnesota


Chicago:

- #2. Oklahoma State over #15. Southeastern Louisiana

- #10. St. Mary's over #7. Southern Illinois


Austin:

- #1. Duke over #16. Delaware State

- #4. Syracuse over #13. Vermont

- #12. Old Dominion over #5. Michigan State

- #8. Stanford over #9. Mississippi State


Albuquerque:

- #4. Louisville over #13. Louisiana-Lafayette

- #5. Georgia Tech over #13. George Washington

Posted at 05:37 am by Expertise
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Thursday, March 17, 2005
March Madness Thursday: Afternoon Session

Well it didn't take long for the bracket busting to start.  #12. Milwaukee beat #5. Alabama in the Chicago Region, and pretty handily I might add.  I don't recall Alabama ever leading in that game, and kept a sizable lead down the stretch, leading by as many as 14 at one point in the second half.  I didn't expect Alabama to make it to Chicago anyway, but I thought they had enough to win that game.  But that's what I get for having faith in the SEC.

Speaking of which, Kentucky didn't make theirs an easy game, only beating #15. Eastern Kentucky by eight.  E. Kentucky played hard, and had a pretty good post game.  That's pretty impressive when they don't have a true center.  They were able to pull it within five, but Kentucky just had too much talent.  I think Tubby Smith wouldn't be at Kentucky next year if he had choked this one.

Oklahoma pulled away from Niagara, as I figured.  And Pacific delivered a solid win over Pittsburgh.  I'm calling this one now; Washington won't make it to Albuquerque.  Write that down.

Right now, Iowa is down by six early to Cincinnati.  I said Iowa would win, and I still think that's possible.  Pennsylvania and Boston College will start up in a few minutes.  Washington and Montana will start up in about 15 minutes or so, and UTEP vs. Utah should be a tossup.  Enjoy.

Posted at 03:12 pm by Expertise
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March Madness Thursday: Noon Schedule.

A number of great games going on right now...

The biggest shakeup at the moment is Wisconsin-Milwaukee leading Alabama by double digits.  I didn't think Alabama would make it to next weekend, but I thought they would seal the deal against Milwaukee, though.

A number of teams are trying to get the jitters out of them early today, as Eastern Kentucky is trailing behind Kentucky, but are still a couple of 3's of getting back into this game.  Niagara is hanging in there with Oklahoma, but I'd expect them to start pulling away anytime now.  The last game, Pacific vs. Pitt, should be a highly charged game and I expect that to be a close one all the way up to the end.

I'll be back around 3:00 PM to update and tell you about the afternoon games.

Posted at 01:05 pm by Expertise
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The Blogosphere: A Caste System?

I've been paying attention over the last couple of weeks to the discussion about inclusiveness of the blogosphere.  The Susan Estrich vs. Michael Kinsley "feud" has sparked a discussion on several blogs about the struggles of women bloggers and whether there is a "good ole boy" network, per se.

There are several reasons why blogs are more popular than others.  A good reason is that bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Malkin, for example, are also columnists and have a strong fanbase in which they were able to attract to their websites.  That's why Malkin's blog became such a force so quickly.  Others, like Powerline, became popular mainly by being unrepentant whistleblowers in the face of the mainstream media.  Before Rather, there was their battles with the Associated Press, and I have become a big fan of Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff''s work and scholarly analysis of current events. (What irony: his name is Deacon, yet he's a Terps fan.  Ah well.)

However, most bloggers start from scratch; no fanfare, no readership, and no identification.  In fact, I'm sure several bloggers quit after only a few weeks because blogging at first seems like a hobby, but becomes a tedious chore.  Several bloggers post 3 or more times a day, and all of it is new material.  Some people simply don't have the time or the patience for that kind of writing.  The fact that you check your blog a few hours after you posted what you THINK is a masterpiece, and see the blog looks the same as when you left the computer earlier, can be quite disheartening. 

The blogosphere runs off of a free market system, and that market can be very cruel.  You have two choices; you can quit, or you can dig in your heels and sustain until you get your break.  Say what you will about LaShawn Barber, but the bottom line is she made contacts and did what she could to have people notice her.  Like Malkin, her writings are provocative, and they get people to pay attention to what she's saying and the things she champions.  In a market, you have to sell something that very few can provide; that includes perspectives, backgrounds, and writing prowess.  You have to be exceptional.  If you sound like everyone else in the blogosphere, you're going to have the same ratings as everyone else in the blogsphere.

Is there a blogosphere hierarchy?  No doubt, and at the center of it, particularly on the political conservative side, is Glenn Harlan Reynolds.  What makes his position so unique is that he refers so many blogs that Instapundit becomes a central source for a lot of the blogosphere.  It's very rare that Instapundit doesn't take the lead on the top issue of the day (well, Powerline and LGF completely led with Rather, but possibly because Reynolds was sick that day, if I recall).  Thus, the blogs he links to most generally receives a heck of alot of traffic, which creates a network (Powerline, Althouse, Kaus, Hewitt, etc).  

That's not a bad thing; that's simply how it is.  You got to get in where you fit in.  When a new product with a fresh name comes out, it's always going to be harder to compete with the brand names, because the brands will always have their loyal and faithful base.  Thus, in a lot of cases you have to be significantly better than the brands in order to be truly competitive.  You also have to adapt to circumstances and problems a lot quicker than they have to.  For example, VodkaPundit took some time off this week from his blog, but was able to get some well-known bloggers to step in for him.  Reynolds has done the same in the past.  But how many other bloggers could do the same thing?  Very few.

I'm not a syndicated columnist (although I aspire to be), a lawyer at a big firm, a law professor at a well-known university, a talk radio show host, nor a political consultant or analyst.  I'm just me.  I go to school, I referee, and I blog.  I like politics and sports, which is what I mostly write about.  It's not the easiest road to take in the blogosphere, but it's the road most traveled.  One day, my persistence will get me where I want to go; until then, I'm content with where I'm at and will adjust my little spot in the sphere in order to attract more visitors.  I have a vision, and while it may take a minute, I'll see it through. :)

UPDATE:  This post was featured on Men's News Daily, which is probably the best collection of news and commentary on the internet.  So if you read my article there, feel free to leave a comment on either the tagboard or in the comments section.  Check out the links on the sidebar and click Home in order to see some of my current writings, including the California gay marriage ruling, March Madness, and the continuing fight in Congress over filibusters.

So welcome, and please visit again.

Posted at 05:24 am by Expertise
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March Madness: Round 1 Thursday.

Aiight, this is it.  It's put up or shut up.

Thursday starts the annual sacrifice of 63 teams in nine cities across the country.  In three weeks, we will have our national champion.

That's what makes March Madness special.  There are several NBA coaches and superstars that have won NBA Titles, but was never good enough to lead his team through six straight in order to be called NCAA Champion.  To be an NCAA Champion is to belong to a pretty elite group.

So here are Thursday's games, and my picks (I placed my upsets in yellow font):


Chicago:

- #1. Illinois over #16. Fairleigh Dickinson

- #9. Nevada over #8. Texas

- #5. Alabama over #12. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

- #4. Boston College over #13. Pennsylvania

- #6. LSU over #11. UAB

- #3. Arizona over #14. Utah State

- #10. St. Mary's over #7. Southern Illinois

- #2. Oklahoma State over #15. Southeastern Louisiana


Albuquerque:

- #1. Washington over #16. Montana

- #8. Pacific over #9. Pittsburgh

- #11. UCLA over #6. Texas Tech

- #14. Winthrop over #3. Gonzaga (That's right.  I said it.)

- #7. West Virginia over #10. Creighton

- #2. Wake Forest over #15 Chattanooga


Syracuse:

No games scheduled.


Austin:

- #6. Utah over #11. UTEP

- #3. Oklahoma over #14. Niagara

- #10. Iowa over #7. Cincinnati

- #2. Kentucky over #15. Eastern Kentucky


I don't understand the reasoning of not having an even amount of games on Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday (I think it's because CBS wants to preserve it's Sunday night lineup), but I wish they would have kept it the way it was.  And I definitely hate the idea of naming the regions after cities.  What was wrong with East, Southeast, Midwest, and West?

Why try to fix something that isn't broken?  Ah well.  *shrugs*

Also, I plan to do some updates throughout the weekend, so check back to see what's going on.

Posted at 02:37 am by Expertise
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