Tuesday, May 22, 2007

True Conservatism

"Standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by" were some of the words of a favorite song back when I was a kid standing on the corner (the name of the song escapes me at the moment). Since 1995, however, the trial bar and citizens of the State of Michigan have stood on the corner watching prescription drug-induced casualties mount by the thousands without an available remedy for relief from the damaged caused by the irresponsible behavior of the drug industry. For twelve years now, Michigan law has deemed that a drug approved by the FDA is safe and , thus, the drug's manufacturer cannot be held legally responsible for the harm caused by that drug. In a state where it is estimated that 28,000 deaths a year are caused by legally prescribed prescription drugs, this is unconscionable. The litany of events occurring since 1995 that demonstrate the politics and the idiocy behind this law serve only to reinforce, in my way of thinking, the wisdom of our forefathers in designing the Bill of Rights in guaranteeing (under the Seventh Amendment) that all citizens shall have the right to trial by jury to redress civil grievances. It is the conservatives in our political world that have done this to us. I have a question for those who think such an outrageous usurpation of individual rights furthers the interests of our society. Is it not a basic conservative principle that one should be held accountable for their behavior?

A New Paradigm

There's an old saying that goes"what you see is what you get". In the national front, the subject of abortion provides an interesting variation on that topic. Instead of that perspective, one gets a "what you don't see, you get" analysis from none other than the U.S. Supreme Court as a rationale for imposing restrictions on the right of a woman to choose to abort. One would naturally expect a scientific rationale as a basis for imposing restrictions on this scientific procedure. Particularly when the Court that imposes the restrictions has attempted to set a standard in the past fifteen years as to the criteria upon which scientific evidence must be assessed in order that it may deemed to be permissibly used in American courtrooms. In a ways, these requirements are the scientific paraphrasing of the "what you see is what you get" paradigm.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in the Supreme Court case last month, approvingly cited a friend-of-the court brief filed by the Justice Foundation. The foundation, a nonprofit public interest litigation firm that has handled an array of conservative causes, has increasingly focused on abortion through its project called Operation Outcry. The group began hearing from women in the late 1990s who considered themselves victims of legalized abortion — physically and emotionally — and wanted to tell their stories. Operation Outcry, which grew to include a Web site, a national hot line and chapters around the country, eventually collected statements from more than 2,000 women, officials said. In its friend-of-the-court brief, the group submitted statements from 180 of those women who said that abortion had left them depressed, distraught, in emotional turmoil. “Thirty-three years of real life experiences,” the foundation said, “attests that abortion hurts women and endangers their physical, emotional and psychological health.”

The case before the Supreme Court involved a specific type of abortion, occasionally used after the first trimester, that involves removing a fetus intact after collapsing its skull. Justice Kennedy upheld that ban on narrower, legal grounds, but he used the Justice Foundation brief to write more broadly about the emotional impact of abortion on women.

“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained,” Justice Kennedy wrote, alluding to the brief. “Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”

Given those stakes, the justice argued, “The state has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.”

As a trial lawyer (now retired) I spent the better part of fifteen years advocating the role of the drug Bendectin in causing serious limb defects in children born of mothers who ingested the drug during critical periods of pregnancy. I did not rely on anecdotal evidence, such as Justice Kennedy has in the case under discussion, although there was certainly plenty of it. I instead relied upon hard science from a multitude of scientific disciplines to demonstrate that, scientifically speaking, it was more likely than not when the drug was ingested during critical periods of limb development, it could cause limb malformations. Every federal court in the country rejected that evidence, as well as jury findings that the drug caused birth defects, by setting a standard which obviously, now that Justice Kennedy has tipped his hand, was intended to accomplish a different purpose; i.e., to throw the cases out so that corporate America doesn't have to bear the financial burden of accepting responsibility for its misdeeds.

What you don't see, you get. The new standard for justice in the United States.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Meditative Experience


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thoughts Re Courage

One of the most disappointing political occurrences in recent memory (to me) was the failure of Colin Powell to stand up and be counted during the run-down to the Iraq war. Instead, former General Powell put form before substance and blind obeisance before logic in claiming that the presence of non-existent Iraq weapons of mass destruction justified U.S. military intervention. He must have had many sleepless nights for this act of non-courage, as well he should. This singular act comes to mind this morning because I am reading about the former U.S. district attorney in Missouri who was replaced before the 2006 elections by a Bushie from Washington who indicted four people for alleged election fraud four days before the most pivotal Senate election in the country. Like several of the other prosecutors who were similarly removed, this man now comes forward after the fact and claims that he was removed for political reasons, i.e. his failure to aggressively puruse claims of alleged fraud by Democrats which would give the Republicans a strong election issue. The question (and the thought) I have is where in the hell was this guy (and the others) when it really counted? Courage requires doing the right thing at the right time. It rings hollow that all of these people come forward after the fact and claim they were forced from office for political reasons. In fact, if true, the reasons were wholly or partially illegal and the time to step forward would have been when things were happeninig, not after the fact. My writings over the past few months have been sprinkled with a plea for a person or persons with qualitities of statemenship to emerge from the morass of political animals. Just think what would have resulted if, instead of being a bush puppet, Powell would have stood up in front of the world order and declared that the U.S. had only evidence of dubious value. ditto Tenet's new book. How come we hear these things now? A new book is necessary for these events entitled "Profiles in Lack of Courage."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

clever quips from the internet

I take no credit for the following other than to pass it on for pleasure, inspiration and provocation of thought.

Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself. -Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is
like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by
the handle. -Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the
support of Paul. -.George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow
man .... which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-G Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. -James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor
people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car
keys to teenage boys.
-P. J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors
to live at the expense of everybody else.
-Frederic Bastiat, French Economist

Government's view of the economy could be
summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving,
regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
-Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
-Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what
it costs when it's free! -P. J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money
as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
-Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean
politics won't take an interest in you!
-Pericles (430 B. C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature
is in session. -Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap... except when Congress does it.

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy
appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the
blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing
of misery.
-Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the
taxidermist leaves the skin.
-Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is
to fill the world with fools.
-Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class... save Congress.
-Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
Ward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong
enough to take everything you have.
Thomas Jefferson