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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
More on the memo.

More evidence is starting to surface hinting that the Democrats were indeed behind the unsigned memo.

From the New York Times:
As tensions festered among Republicans, Democratic aides passed out an unsigned one-page memorandum that they said had been distributed to Senate Republicans. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," the memorandum said.
Interesting.  So now there is at least one witness to the memo being in Democratic hands, and on Capitol Hill, no less.  As far as anyone can tell, this is the earliest anyone has noted seeing the memo.

We also have the Washington Post breaking the story about a memo that was first seen in the hands of Democratic staffers claiming it came from the Republicans and an actual copy of the memo was first posted on the internet NOT by WP or ABC News, but a left-wing news website.

And Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is jumping on this by calling for an investigation as this could be a possible violation of Senate rules.

Something stinks, folks.

Now the next question:  Will the New York Times disclose which Democratic staffers were passing the memo around?  I think considering the information they've already given and the evidence that's stacking up, I'd say that isn't an unreasonable request.

UPDATEIn the Agora is on top of things.  Joshua Clayborn contacted some ABCNews sources that are saying they never meant to imply that the memo came from Republican staffers.  And he's busted Kate Snow for directly accusing Senate Republicans for the memo on Good Morning America.

Hindrocket thinks they are starting to back off of their original claim that this was "GOP Talking Points" and they probably don't know where the memo originated.  That sounds about right.

UPDATEHindrocket is back again with a source that's backing up Clayborn's story (Although I wonder how in the world that source got the job after looking at the spelling errors.  There's hope for me yet.) 

Also, The American Spectator reports on a behind-the-scenes investigation carried out by Senators Rick Santorum and Mitch McConnell as well as their staffs to trace the memo back to it's author.  According to their sources, they believe a Democratic research office created by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid created the memo and started all of this mess in order to sabotage the Democrats.

I'll give Reid's office the benefit of the doubt until more information comes in, but I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't the case. 

Posted at 05:46 pm by Expertise
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Who wrote the memo?

Last week, a memo popped up on the Senate floor being sent to Republicans weighing the political implications of Congress moving on the Schiavo case.

Here's the memo (via Powerline).  There's no doubt this was sent to Republican senators, and I'm sure they took heed of it.  But the question is, who wrote it?  And who is/are the source(s) of the Washington Post and ABC News, who broke this story? 

You see, this memo was unsigned.  No letterhead, no signature, no nothing.  Thus anyone could have typed it, and according to an email by Powerline's John Hinderacker, anyone could have had access to the Senate mail system and placed it in the Senators' boxes.  Is it possible this was another effort to sabotage the Republican Party, as 60 Minutes tried to do with the National Guard documents?

Mike Allen, the reporter who broke the story for the Washington Post, claims his source was valid, or else he wouldn't have published it.  Of course.  Journalists always think the benefit of the doubt should be given to them until proven otherwise.  Sorry, but in today's world the media's credibility is shattered, and it's going to take more than a journalist's word in order for a story to stick.

A perfect example why the public can't take the mainstream media at it's word is how they are distorting this story.  Despite no clue of where the memo came from or who wrote it, the media is characterizing this as "GOP talking points", as ABC News did,  claiming it was distributed by "a GOP strategist", as the irresponsible Cynthia Tucker stated, or even accusing "Republican leaders" of sending it, as the Boston Globe said.  They're definitely not the only ones guilty of this, but if I tried to grab them all it would take all day long.

There is already proof surfacing that it is indeed a hoax.  Hinderacker had another emailer point this out:
Why the "GOP Schiavo memo" is a fake: The Real S.529 is a bill introduced by Grassley on 3-3-05 to establish a US anti-doping agency. No competent staffer would create a talking points memo with the wrong S. number on it.
He's right
.  However, I'll give the writer of the memo the benefit of the doubt for the moment, because the actual Schiavo bill was originally S.539. Thus, maybe they just got a number wrong. *shrugs* The bill that ended up passing after a compromise was reached was S.686.

Believe me, we haven't heard the end of this.  I might have some more info later this morning.

UPDATE:  Ha.  Guess where they traced it.

Most of the memo was traced back to the Traditional Values Coalition website.  Either this is indeed a hoax or that has to be the laziest staffer in Washington.  And that came from a commenter on The Raw Story, a left-wing blog/news site.

I was around when the Sixty-First Minute blew up on Powerline.  Something tells me we're going to have that kind of a day.  I'm surprised Reynolds hasn't jumped on this yet.

Posted at 07:19 am by Expertise
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Denied.

The 11 District Court of Appeals denied the Schindler's appeal this morning around 2 am.

It's kind of ironic, because five years ago I was awake when I received the breaking news that Janet Reno sent federal agents to raid the Gonzalez home in Miami, Florida to snatch Elian Gonzalez through an illegal search warrant around 4:30 or so before dawn.  I even saw the Pulitzer Prize winning picture of the federal agent pointing the gun at Elian and Lazaro hot off the presses.

I feel just as powerless now as I did then, because you knew without a shadow of doubt that an evil injustice was being committed as you watched, and the one who was doing this would get away with it and there was nothing you could do about it.  It leaves an empty pit at the bottom of your stomach, and reminds you that at times this is a very cruel world.

But these are the rules we play with.  It would be nice to have a justice system where every guilty person would be punished and every innocent person would get justice, but as with anything that is controlled by men, it is never foolproof.  This is one of the times where the problems with the system become more glaring than ever.

Terri Schindler didn't do a thing to anyone.  She didn't kill anyone, try to swindle money from anyone, nor did she commit a crime.  But people who did will get more due process than she's getting.

The Schindlers probably have one more chance, and that's the Florida legislature stepping in with a law making it illegal for disabled people to be denied food (actually, it's already a law, but a legal loophole allows Michael Schiavo to do it anyway).  But by the time that's passed and signed, Terri may be dead already.  It's a shame.

Posted at 03:43 am by Expertise
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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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