Friday, September 28, 2007

CDC study did not look at links between autism and mercury exposure

A friend of mine sent me a link to this NBC interview of J.B. Handley, whose son was diagnosed with autism.

J.B. Handley Interview Autism & Mercury Poisoning

According to Handley:

"If you line up 100 symptoms of mercury poisoning and 100 symptoms of autism, they are exactly the same."

Handley claimed to know hundreds of children who have completely recovered from autism after undergoing Chelation therapy to remove mercury and other heavy metals from their young systems. He said the process can take up to 2 years. His son had been treated with chelation therapy for a few months and he claimed he was already seeing a lot of improvement.

The reason I think this is noteworthy is because last night I was watching KSPR News and they reported, or gave the impression (I can't remember their exact words maybe someone else who watched the broadcast yesterday at 4:30 p.m. can correct me on the details), that a new CDC study claims there is no link to autism and mercury (or maybe they said thimerosal, not sure), and went on to say something to the effect that mercury/thimerosal can even be beneficial...this is paraphrased because I wasn't able to locate information about it on their website, it might have been there, I just didn't find it.

So, I tracked down this article about the study. Here are some excerpts:

"We found no consistent pattern between increasing mercury exposure from birth to seven months and performance on neuropsychological tests," concluded the study's authors in the Sept. 27 New England Journal of Medicine....

"...the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains there is no scientific evidence of such an association. And this latest CDC study did not specifically look at links between thimerosal exposure and autism. According to the study authors, a separate CDC case-control study focused on autism and mercury exposure, is currently under way."

Read the whole article. It didn't seem very convincing or authoritative to me that there is no link between autism and thimerosal (a vaccine preservative containing mercury). As a matter of fact:

"...the researchers found that boys with the highest levels of thimerosal exposure had about twice the risk of evaluator-observed tics compared to boys with the lowest exposure."

Then, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who wasn't involved with the study in the first place, waived it all off as "chance:"

"Each test doesn't tell us as much individually," she said. "Chance alone probably explained these findings. The totality of the results are quite reassuring."

I'd say the verdict is still out on this one folks. I wasn't very reassured after reading the article about the study.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Out to lunch or gone fishin' or something like that

Looks like I'm going to have some busy days ahead with some other obligations, but here's a teaser.

I plan to write about Code Pink when I get the chance...not sure when that's going to be just yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Coughing up a hairball

Stuff effects me because I'm human. I try to rise above pettiness but once in a while something just sticks in my "craw." I feel like a cat with a hairball that can't be coughed up and maybe it can't be coughed up because I haven't bothered to cough yet.

Well, such has been the case with some ugliness I've recently experienced in the blogosphere...and I don't want and haven't wanted to be a source of escalation, so I haven't been. I don't want to drag out an argument that seems to go nowhere because short of saying "I was wrong and you were right," there seems to be no solution. Sometimes it isn't that simple. Especially when dealing in impressions and opinions. People generally feel justified in their opinions. They usually have a reason for forming them. There is usually a basis and a foundation and an opinion has been built upon it and I think it is fair to acknowledge that.

I could address this posting at Life of Jason: To Those Visiting This Blog Based On Jackie Melton’s Comments. I could point out all the assumptions Jason has made about my character and listed as though fact and I could argue with him about each and every assumption but I choose to stay with the issue, the topic of the debate.

I've tried to put myself in his shoes, I've tried to consider how it must have felt to be called on an error, in fact, I know what it feels like to be called on an error. I've been called on them before and have been willing to even go to the extent of pulling an entire blog entry because I felt the person was correct when he charged that I had misrepresented him, but in this case I think we have two stubborn people who will not back down and, on my part, it isn't really about the "misrepresentation" that Jason claims I made against him. I understand that he probably didn't mean that Mattera had no right to state his opinion, I understand that he thinks that what Mattera said isn't conducive to civil debate and he even has a point there, however, where my stubbornness won't allow me to flatly state that "I was wrong and you were right," is in the justifiable foundation of the opinion I formed.

If it is justifiable that "any reasonable person" would have thought that Mattera was a reporter, based on impression then it is just as justifiable that based on my impression of Jason's words when he stated here that:

"I really dislike the manner in which Mr. Mattera turned the tone of his confrontation with Rep. Murtha. Mattera could have easily questioned Rep. Murtha and ended it when Rep. Murtha entered the elevator. His point was made when that happened…Rep. Murtha was going to avoid the issue and not apologize to the men he falsely branded murderers. However, Mr. Mattera went further and compared Rep. Murtha’s comments to something said by Al-Jazeera."


"Why can’t someone from the right…when they have a legitimate point against a liberal Democrat…just make your point and let it go without dragging up the “just like Al-Jazeera” crap?"

and later stated here that:

"...we cannot let people like Mr. Mattera run around like a right wing Michael Moore...."

...that he felt that Mattera's free speech should have been limited, self-limited perhaps, but limited, nonetheless.

Jason, at Life of Jason claims that Mattera's point had been made, but had it? What if Mattera wanted to make the point that Murtha's condemnation of those Lance Corporals sounded more like something Al-Jazeera would say than a Representative of Congress was a part of his point? Would that point have been made without expressly stating it? And if it would not have been made and it was a point that Mattera wanted to make which he felt had some validity does he have the right to make that statement or not?

All that to say that I understand it might have irritated and aggravated Jason that I pointed out an error in his posting on the Murtha vs Mattera issue, I can't really know if this is a part of Jason's attitude because he hasn't said that. I understand that he disagrees with me about whether Mattera's comment that what Murtha said about Lance Corporals being cold blooded murderers is more like something you'd hear on Al-Jazeera than from a Representative in Washington was a fair thing to say or not. I also feel it should be pointed out that Mattera was not calling Murtha a terrorist sympathizer, he was comparing words Murtha had spoken to something one might hear on Al-Jazeera and that's simply not the same thing.

So, sure, people enage in smear tactics, Jason's own blog piece written about me and full of assumptions is evidence of that, in and of itself. People do it on the left and they do it on the right and they've been doing it for generations.

There isn't much that moderates can do to control the words spoken by other people as they exercise their freedom of speech. It isn't as simple as whether we are going to "let" people run around saying whatever they want to say. If given the choice of "letting" people exercise their right of free speech or not "letting" them exercise their right of free speech, I'd choose to "let" them. On the other hand, I think it is fair to criticize people who make statements that are less than civil. Jason has a right to criticize Mattera, I wouldn't dream of stopping him from doing so. Jason has a right to form opinion based on his impressions and he does so regularly. So do I.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jacke's personal rules and guidelines, and some thoughts on opinions

I don't have very many rules here, the rules I do have are very simple:

This blog is public. That means that if I write something here anyone can respond to it anywhere they want to respond to it. If they choose to respond in the comment section that's fine, if they choose to respond at their own blog, that's fine too. It's public, it's fair game.

I have no language restrictions. I don' t like profanity and would prefer people didn't use it but do not demand or restrict people from using it. It's nice when people respect my wishes but there is no enforced restriction on profanity.

If I make a mistake I expect to be called on it. If it is a matter of opinion then assuming there is a basis for the formed opinion I will defend it to the extent I feel it deserves defending.

If I get a fact wrong, tell me. Tell me here, tell me there, expose me. If I get a fact wrong then I deserve to be held accountable for it.

If I do not know something I will admit it.

If I am uncertain about something I will not post it as fact, I am likely, when speaking in opinion to forget to state that it is my opinion every single time I issue one and will assume the reader is capable of discerning whether something I write is fact or an editorial opinion, otherwise I'd be prefacing every other sentence with "in my opinion," and it'd get repititious and boring.

If someone writes me a private email it will stay private unless I have expressly asked permission to post it or discuss it on this blog.

Now, I think that just about covers my limited rules, as you can see, they mostly apply to me. I don't believe I have much license or right to make rules for other people.

Here's a thought about opinions:

The problem I have with stifling debate or telling other people what rhetoric is acceptable and what rhetoric is unacceptable is that everyone has their own opinion on each and every issue, hence everyone has their own opinion about what is a valid point, invalid point, what constitutes hate speech, what crosses a line, what doesn't.

When any one of us who enjoys the priviledge of free speech begins to try to dictate to another what is acceptable or unacceptable, in my opinion, whoever engages in it is starting down a dangerous road because I always wonder, who gets to be the "decider?" Who gets to decide for the rest of us where the acceptable line ends and the unacceptable line begins?

I believe that every person should be held accountable, individually, for his or her own words. I may or may not agree with a person. I may or may not think that their comments are wise, or conducive to good debate or civil but the whole idea of America is that throughout our history our military has fought the good fight to ensure us the continued right to speak our minds irregardless of popular approval.

I hope, if anyone is even interested, that this clarifies my perspective. I'm just one person. I don't expect my opinion to be regarded as any more special than any one else's opinion. Most of the time I don't even care what I think, why would anyone else? ;)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Council Bill 2007-291 ~ 9/24/07 Agenda

Second reading but exception has been made and citizens may speak. First reading was issued at a special meeting on Sept. 18.

COUNCIL BILL 2007-291. (Carlson) CITIZENS MAY SPEAK. MAY BE VOTED ON.A special ordinance to approve the City Utilities Annual Operating Budget for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2008.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nothing personal, Jason

Here's what Robert Novak said about The National Journalism Center:

"To any follower of the media, it is obvious that sensationalism rather than facts dominates news coverage today. Some institutions, thankfully, are working against that trend. One of the most renowned is the National Journalism Center."

The National Journalism Center is a program offered by Young America's Foundation. The Foundation also offers other events and programs.

But that doesn't matter.

Jason, over at Life Of Jason, wrote Jack Murtha’s Refusal To Apologize Doesn’t Justify This Reporter. The only problem with that statement is that according to the video I watched at Jason's blog, Mattera is identified as being "OF Young America's Foundation" and at Young America's Foundation's website Mattera is identified as a Spokesman for YAF.

Neither in the video Jason at Life of Jason posted (from HotAir) nor the one at Young America's Foundation identify Mattera as a "reporter" for anyone. You see, while Young America's Foundation has a Journalism program, Mattera didn't identify himself as a journalist or as associated with the National Journalism Center and if he is, I found no evidence of it.

Young America's Foundation's mission is one of:

"...ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values."

Their website boasts:

"The Conservative Movement Starts Here."

Mattera, a young American, is apparently inspired by ideas of individual freedom (translate free speech) and when happening upon Murtha, or even ambushing Murtha if you're more comfortable calling it that, he asked Murtha "if he'd like to issue an apology," to two Lance Corporals whose charges were in the process of being dropped after Murtha had accused them of being cold blooded murderers. The Young America's Spokesman then made a statement:

"You accused them of murdering innocent civilians in cold blood, that's something that would come from Al Jazeera, sir, not a Congressman."

...and then Mattera looked at the camera and smiled! He smiled!

It's just my opinion but I think Young America's Foundation is doing a rather fine job of inspiring freedom among young conservatives. It's a matter of Mattera's opinion that Murtha's statement would be something that would come from Al Jazeera, not a Congressman and he's got a right to his opinion.

I didn't write this to come down on Jason at Life of Jason, I like Jason and find myself agreeing with him more often than not. When I pointed out that Mattera said "Al-Jazeera" rather than "Al-Qaeda," Jason corrected it but he said it made no difference to him. I think there's a bit of difference but that's just my opinion.

I do think Jason was off the mark on this one, however, and wanted to set the record straight. Not to "get" Jason, but to make the point that a spokesman for Young America's Foundation has the same right to his opinion as anyone else, heck, for that matter he'd have that right even if he was a reporter rather than a spokesman. It isn't like journalists with much more experience and credentials haven't made statements rather than ask questions at a press conference or when talking to an interviewee before.

As far as Murtha goes...did he or did he not make the statement that the two Lance Corporals were guilty of murdering innocent civilians in cold blood before they had had their day in court? All of a sudden he seemed concerned, in the video, about whether the trial was still "ongoing" or not. he certainly didn't want to issue a premature apology! But, he wasn't at all concerned about due process when he called them cold blooded murderers. That's simply a statement of truth, sometimes the truth hurts and Murtha will have to deal with the truth just like the rest of us. There ain't no elevator walls thick enough to protect him from that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Council Bill 2007-301

Oh, all right. I just haven't been in the mood to post about this but here it is anyway:

Council Bill 2007-301 will extend the MDFB loan on the Heer's building to cover the time frame it'll take for the Heer's building sale to close, actually beyond that time frame.

It still doesn't explain how the sale of $3 million is going to cover a loan of $3,100,000, the almost $260,000 set aside from the general fund back in June and the additional $26,000 the city is going to ask the council to approve to amend the budget to cover additional interest tomorrow night*...but hey, the Springfield News-Leader said the city is going to net $3 million on the Heer's deal so whadda I know?

*Geesh, I meant Monday night, the 24th

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Special Container Ordinance meetings

I attended the special meeting on the container issue the first night, September 17, and was impressed with the proceedings. I spoke very briefly with Brenda Teeslink after the meeting, who also expressed satisfaction with the proceedings that night.

Council members Gary Deaver and Denny Whayne were in attendance with Mary Collette arriving late.

Deputy City Manager Evelyn Honea presented a power point presentation and handed out paper copies of that power point presentation.

That night storage container businesses that own the units were in attendence. They were allowed to comment as often and as in depth as they pleased. There appeared to be genuine interest in their input by Honea and by Councilman Gary Deaver. Honea made notes as issues came up which she felt deserved further consideration.

Whayne, at one point made a feeble attempt to paint the business owners as having a "defensive" attitude but was quickly shot down. I, personally, saw no evidence that business owners had a defensive attitude. Everyone seemed reasonable and interested in working together to find a satisfactory solution to the issue.

I made the decision to skip the second and third meetings with plans to attend the last meeting. My reasoning is that, having seen the flavor of the first meeting, I'd like to revisit and see how it is going at the final meeting.

Honea presented broad guidelines of what the City is now considering and, like I wrote above, seemed genuinely interested in the thoughts and concerns of the representatives of storage container businesses present that first night. Often she inquired, after reading the language of a particular point, as to whether the representatives of the storage container businesses approved that particular language or had any problems with it.

This was my first true experience of hearing and seeing Evelyn Honea in action and I was impressed with her demeanor that night.

It will be interesting to see how the city uses the information and input they gather at these meetings in their final ordinance presentation to the City Council. I noticed that they seemed to seriously consider many of the points Brenda Teeslink had made in the alternative ordinance proposal she had offered at the special meeting on August 20. There was a softening of some of the city's positions and fees were reduced. Registration would only be required once every four years as opposed to annually.

I would encourage others to attend one or both of the final meetings. Here is the upcoming schedule (meetings are at 6:00 pm 4th floor Busch Municipal Building conference room):

Sept. 25, 2007: Large Retail Business Owners and Users Neighborhood Groups / Residents

Oct. 1, 2007: Manufacturing and Industrial Users Neighborhood Groups / Residents

Meetings which have already taken place:

Sept. 17, 2007: Storage Container Businesses that own the units Neighborhood Groups / Residents

Sept. 18, 2007: Small Retail Business Owners and Users Neighborhood
Groups / Residents

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Katherine Yurica: Revisiting hypocritical hype

Today I found a Katherine Yurica article, The Ship of State Is Sinking, Who is on the Lord's Side? Actually, the reference to it advised it was a "must read."

Yurica wrote:

"When I was a youngster in a Pentecostal church, we all wanted to “hear from God” on a daily basis. The only way we could be sure we were “hearing from God” was to read the Bible. But that’s a pretty big book! So we played what came to be known as Bible Roulette. We would take our Bibles, close our eyes and turn the book every which way, open it at random and point at something on a page—then open our eyes to see what God was telling us. This worked pretty well until one day one kid read his word from God for the day: “And Judas went out and hung himself.” We all decided that was not an inspiring word from God so we told him to do it again. This time, he went through the process with great intensity. When he opened his eyes, his finger was pointing to these words, “Go and do thou likewise!” That’s how we learned that not every word in the Bible has equal gravity."

I disagree that "not every word in the Bible has equal gravity." While some verses may contain more meaning in one's life at any given moment, most verses, most of the time, when taken separately, as Yurica's game of "Bible Roulette" demonstrates, do not have the same depth of meaning when taken one verse at a time out of context that they do when taken in context. For Yurica to state, blankley that "And Judas went out and hung himself," is less meaningful than other verses might apply when taking one verse at a time but there is a context there and when the entire context is taken into account and the whole "story" examined the verse "And Judas went out and hung himself" takes on deep and grave meaning and comes as an important warning in the context of people's lives.

But to go in a less cerebral direction and examine Yurica's political posturing:

"I am a senior citizen, who has taken up the challenge of the dominionists by addressing their errors and agenda in every way I can. I personally believe along with Jim Wallis that the churches and our faith have been hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep’s clothing. And it is my desire to reach the hearts and minds of the innocent who have been led away into a sort of mental captivity.

"I believe that our elected Democratic officials need to know and become aware of the fact that there are strong biblical statutes condemning the Bush administration agenda. They need not quote those passages, but they need not walk into the public forum feeling inferior in any way to their Republican counterparts or opponents! And what is more, they need not arrive at a public debate with the wrong belief that the progressive case is not even contained in the Bible! We do not expect our officials to be biblical scholars! However, neither do we desire them to develop a sense of inferiority that will affect their confidence and their moral authority as they debate and present their position on issues. Nor should they hesitate to quote passages of great beauty to inject uplifting language in their speeches. A line of beauty can lift the spirits of a whole assembly:

“Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24 NEB)

...I am guilty of quoting scripture in my essay and book to demonstrate that Mr. Bush’s agenda is anti-Christian and against biblical moral standards..."

Many times I have tried to discuss and debate progressive versus conservative interpretations of scripture with progressive Christians, since I tend to take a more conservative view. I believe, contrary to many progressive Christian's declarations, that the conservative interpretation of scripture encompasses the same interests that the progressive interpretation of scripture addresses but it doesn't stop there. Conservative interpretation doesn't end with a concern about the poor, the environment and social justice issues but also examines other issues of moral behavior. The progressive viewpoint tends to want to stop there, cite an out of context rendering of "judge not" as justification for any lifestyle and move on, "nothing to see here, folks, you do your thing and I'll do mine."

It's fine for Yurica to seek to promote the progressive viewpoint as supported by scripture. Where I take issue with Yurica is in her desire to demonize the conservative viewpoint with the assertion that only conservative Christians can be guilty of being dominionists while progressive Christians are somehow immune to trying to effect national policy politically by virtue of being progressive in their views as opposed to conservative. I have on more than one occasion pointed out that she, and other progressive thinking Christians want to have it both ways.

Did you know that if you search the Merriam-Webster online dictionary that dominionism isn't even a word? I'm not sure when it became a trendy label with which to demean and stir up suspicion toward conservative Christians who seek to have a voice in American politics but to this day it is still not recognized as a word in the dictionary.

I wrote about Dominionism, Progressive Christian Dominionists, on December 4th, 2006.

According to Wikipedia:

"Dominionism...seeks to establish specific political policies based on religious beliefs.

It is most often used to describe POLITICALLY ACTIVE conservative Christians WITH A SPECIFIC AGENDA. The term is rarely used as a self-description; many feel it is a loaded or pejorative term, and USE OF THE TERM IS PRIMARILY LIMITED TO CRITICS OF THE Christian Right." (emphasis mine)

Under that definition the term dominionism should be equally applied to all Christians, regardless of their political viewpoint.

If, as Yurica claims, she is a Christian (only God knows) and she:

"read the Bible through from cover to cover by the age of ten for the first time! I’ve read it cover to cover many, many times since then."

Surely she has come across this scripture more than once:

22Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2: 22-26. (emphasis mine)

and this scripture:

"7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[a] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[b] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11

and this:

"For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary, and those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another."------ 1 Corinthians 12:14-25 (emphasis mine)

You see, I have no problem with Yurica wishing to establish specific political policies based on her religious beliefs and using scripture to promote a politically active progressive agenda. Perhaps she represents the foot and the conservative viewpoint represents the hand. Until she is willing to extend respect to the conservative Christian viewpoint, however, she is as guilty as anyone of polarizing the Christian and the political community as anyone.

She asks, "Who is on the Lord's side?" I'd like to think that all Christians are on the Lord's side and each individual Christian in the community or nation is doing their part as a member of the body of Christ. The mere fact that Yurica seeks to divide the Christian community into political factions after reading the Bible all the way through numerous times is a matter of concern. Is the Body of Christ her concern or the progressive political agenda?

I think it is important to revisit and reiterate my concerns about the individual opinions of Katherine Yurica. They appear to be given great clout among a certain online readers. I will remind you that Yurica wrote:

"I personally believe along with Jim Wallis that the churches and our faith have been hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep’s clothing. And it is my desire to reach the hearts and minds of the innocent who have been led away into a sort of mental captivity."

Katherine Yurica and Jim Wallis are concerned about their faith being "hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep's clothing." I am concerned about that as well but I don't think it is so much that there is a secret conservative dominionist group wishing to set up a theocracy in America, if that is true then progressives are also guilty of wishing to set up a more progressive Christian version of a theocracy in America.

I repeat the following quote of Yurica to make the point that obviously she feels the use of scripture and Bible passages is just fine if used by a Democratic official rather than the Bush administration. It seems to depend on one's agenda whether Yurica finds faith acceptable in public discourse or not:

"I believe that our elected Democratic officials need to know and become aware of the fact that there are strong biblical statutes condemning the Bush administration agenda. They need not quote those passages, but they need not walk into the public forum feeling inferior in any way to their Republican counterparts or opponents! And what is more, they need not arrive at a public debate with the wrong belief that the progressive case is not even contained in the Bible! We do not expect our officials to be biblical scholars! However, neither do we desire them to develop a sense of inferiority that will affect their confidence and their moral authority as they debate and present their position on issues. Nor should they hesitate to quote passages of great beauty to inject uplifting language in their speeches." (emphasis mine)

Again, I don't care if Democrats use the Bible or "passages of great beauty" when making a case for the progressive agenda, though according to Wikipedia that constitutes dominionism. I simply wish to point out that Yurica and Wallis seek to divide the Christian community.

It's their business if they seek to establish specific political policies based on their progressive religious beliefs (the definition of dominionism according to Wikipedia), it just seems disingenuous and even hypocritical for them to condemn it in one group while trying to create and embrace it in their own. If a conservative Christian had written what Yurica wrote above she would most likely accuse the writer of being a dominionist. I'm tempted to say she can't have it both ways but apparently she can.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Emergency Council Bill 2007-290

I've been looking into Council Bill 2007-290, the emergency bill involved in the Special Meeting called September 18. Follow the links above and below for background.

According to what the City Council adopted on August 27 (Special Ordinance 25244) the Director of Finance cannot exceed her certified levy listed in Section 2 of that ordinance. The Council, however, has authorized the Director of Finance to set each levy in an amount equal to the levy authorized by the State Auditor.

Apparently there are some adjustments to be made in the levy amounts, but according to section 3 of Special Ordinance 25244 the levy amounts can only be adjusted down because the Finance Director was not authorized by Council to adjust them up:

Section 3 - The levies listed in Section 2 are estimated based on the preliminary assessed valuation provided by the Greene County Clerk. The City Council authorizes the Director of Finance to set each levy in an amount equal to the levy authorized by the State Auditor. However, the levy certified by the Director of Finance shall not exceed the levies listed in Section 2.

The city was required by State law to have their certified levy amount submitted to the State by Sept. 1. Did the City hear back from the State Auditor and how do they plan to adjust the levies? Unless otherwise authorized the Director of Finance cannot adjust the levies up, they can only be adjusted down. Which would be a good thing for tax payers.

Is it possible that the new emergency Special Ordinance/Council Bill 2007-290 authorizes the Director of Finance to adjust the levies to exceed the levies listed in Section 2? There is no available online explanation to the Special Ordinance listed on the Special meeting agenda for September 18 so citizens won't know unless the City posts it on Monday or Tuesday before noon, the time of the special meeting. I think it is legitimate to wonder about that scenario because the Director of Finance has already been authorized to adjust them down, so unless the City must again approve the final valuation in the form of an ordinance for the public record (which could very well be) then one would wonder why it was necessary to bring it before Council again.

In the case of Special Ordinance # 25244 the city was required to post a public hearing notice. There has been no public hearing notice in this case, as yet, and the fact that it is brought as an emergency bill tells us it will be voted on September 18.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Claire McCaskill's logic not very logical

McCaskill issues statement on Petraeus testimony

"“I think the logical thing is to change the mission, to change our mission from securing Iraq and providing stability to that nation to what we really should be doing which is fighting terrorism. We should be fighting terrorism in Iraq with our troops on the ground, but at a much lower level than we have now. And we should be refocusing our troops in other areas of the world where terrorism continues to be a problem, and in fact is growing because we are bogged down in Iraq. There is a better way than what we are doing now."

I think the logical thing is to support the mission, to support our mission of securing Iraq and providing stability to that nation because by doing so we are fighting in the arena of war where the most extremist and vicious of the terrorists are drawn.

I see no logic in McCaskill's statement that we should be fighting terrorism in Iraq at a much lower level than we have now and refocusing our troops in other areas of the world where terrorism continues to be a problem. Why would you would you lessen your focus on the hornet's nest while trying to swat the strays on their way to the nest? How is that logical? No. You hit the nest with hornet's spray, you kill the nest and the residual action kills the returning hornets.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Walk Now for Autism

I know I already posted on this yesterday but that was before Jason Wert and Amy Burnett appeared on KSGF. Listen to this pod cast from the Vincent David Jericho Show this morning and try to get out to the Walk Now for Autism event tomorrow.

From Jason's blog, Walk Now This Saturday:

This Saturday is the Walk Now For Autism event at Jordan Valley Park.Registration begins at 9am with the walk starting at 10. Families from all over the Ozarks who have children with autism will gather to raise awareness of autism and to raise money for research to help find a cure for their children.

Military: Special breed, selfless

In reply to Peacenik Collin's letter in the News-Leader, Deadline today for opt out decision:

There are many reasons young people join the military. Some who join realize that there are opportunities made available to them that they might not otherwise have but, bottom line, joining is a selfless act. Even if they join for reasons having to do with self promotion, such as the money or the education afforded them, they have decided to give more of themselves in service to their country than they will receive in return. There can never be a benefit to "pay" for their willingness to offer their lives in sacrifice to their country.

People who join the military are a special breed. People like those involved with Peace Networks of the Ozarks would have you believe that they are stupid for making the decision to join the military, or uninformed or immature and don't know what they're doing. Hogwash. I'd wager that teens who sign up for the military have characteristics which the Peace Networks of the Ozarks do not have and will never understand. In short, if they want to see stupidity, ignorance and immaturity, I'd suggest they raise their mirror and look long and hard at their own reflection.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mattel: "We do not put a price on safety"

According to this August 14, 2007 New York Times story regarding Mattel's recall of toys contaminated by lead based paint:

Mr. Walter said Mattel had long had quality checks in place, but added that now “we do realize the need for increased vigilance, increased surveillance.”

The company said today that 65 percent of its toys are made in China.

Earlier this month, Mattel recalled over one million Chinese-made toys, including Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer products made by its Fisher-Price unit, because they were contaminated with excessive levels of lead paint, which if ingested could pose health hazards to children.

Mattel’s stock was down about 2 percent in trading this afternoon.

Mattel executives said that the $30 million charge announced earlier this month includes the cost of today’s recall. But costs of doing business at the toymaker will go up as the new tests are integrated into its systems, Mr. Eckert said.

“We will have costs associated with this increased testing and vigilance, but what’s important here is we do not put a price on safety,” Mr. Eckert said.

...recalls...underscore the problems facing toy makers and other companies doing business in China. China has become a manufacturing powerhouse by depending on cheap labor and savvy cost cutting measures.

I'm just wondering, at what point does it begin to become cost prohibitive for American companies to export American manufacturing jobs to China?

... and of what value was the life of the man who owned the Chinese toy manufacturing company whose business in China was shut down due to the contaminated toys:

...Zhang Shuhong, a 52-year-old businessman, had apparently committed suicide, just days after Mattel blamed his company, Lee Der Industrial, in Foshan, in southern China, for the recall of one million toys coated in toxic lead paint....

Walk Now For Autism

Jason, of Life Of Jason, would like your support for Walk Now For Autism and has written a blog entry all about the event which will take place this Saturday, September 8.

Get all the scoop here.

He will also be on the Vincent David Jericho Show, 104.1 FM, 1260 AM, tomorrow morning (Friday) between 7:15 - 7:30.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Recommended Reading 11 ~ Intelligent Design rift hits Baylor again

Baptist Press - I.D. rift hits Baylor again - News with a Christian Perspective

"Robert Marks is a world-class expert in the field of evolutionary computing, and yet the Baylor administration, without any consideration of the actual content of Marks' work at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, decided to shut it down simply because there were anonymous complaints linking the lab to
Intelligent Design," Dembski said.Dembski himself was at the center of a controversy involving Baylor and Intelligent Design in 2000 when he was removed from his post as director of the school's Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design after refusing to rescind a statement supporting Intelligent Design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry....

...Dembski, in comments to the Southern Baptist Texan newsjournal Sept. 4, underscored the hypersensitivity surrounding Intelligent Design in scholastic institutions these days."You have to understand, in the current academic climate, Intelligent Design is like leprosy or heresy in times
past," he said. "To be tagged as an ID supporter is to become an academic pariah, and this holds even at so-called Christian institutions that place a premium on respectability at the expense of truth and the offense of the Gospel...."

...Dembski said the way the Baylor administration has dealt with Marks in this case is "inexcusable by any standard, certainly Christian but even secular.""I've been at MIT, Princeton University, Notre Dame, Cornell, Northwestern and the University of Chicago, and at none of these schools have I ever have witnessed the shameful treatment that Baylor has accorded to Robert Marks," Dembski said....

"...What has changed is the science. We know things now and there are new discoveries being made all the time that are leading a number of scientists to not just question Darwinian evolution but to actively pursue research into Intelligent Design," Crowther said. "The thing that is driving this really is the science. We wouldn't be having the debate if there wasn't something going on in science that was causing a lot of questions to rise from most of the scientists."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Making the Cause of Increase in Uninsured Missourians Sound Simple

News-Leader not considering all factors, blames a Republican

The Springfield News-Leader, Our Voice column, "Numbers of uninsured residents outrageous," in today's, September 4 edition states:

"The nation's uninsured population increased by 5 percent, which is bad enough, but in Missouri, our number of uninsured increased by a whopping 16 percent....

...Here in Springfield, both major hospital systems, Cox and St. John's, have made it clear that the increase in uninsured population in the last couple of years is creating financial stress. Ultimately, those of us who have insurance, the businesses that offer it, and state taxpayers will end up paying for this cost, and the price will be higher than what it would have cost to give more people access to insurance."

The News-Leader column claims that "the primary cause of our state's increase in uninsured population" is due to "Blunt's devastating Medicaid cuts from 2005."

But, considering that FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), in their study on Immigration's Impact on Missouri, cites the Pew Hispanic Center:

"According to an estimate of the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2005 there were an estimated 35,000 to 65,000 illegal aliens living in Missouri."

I wonder if it is fair to claim that as the "primary cause" without qualifying such an opinion. Without considering the population increase of illegal aliens in Missouri over the last couple of years?

Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Ph.D., Esq. wrote in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 10 Number 1, Spring 2005:

"What is seen is the political statistic that 43 million lives are at risk in America because of lack of medical insurance. What is unseen is that medical insurance does not equal medical care. Uninsured people receive medical care in hospital emergency departments (EDs) under the coercive Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1985 (EMTALA), which obligates hospitals to treat the uninsured but does not pay for that care. Also unseen is the percentage of the uninsured who are illegal aliens. No one knows how many illegal aliens reside in America. If there are 10 million, they constitute nearly 25 percent of the uninsured. The percentage could be even higher."

"What is unseen is their free medical care that has degraded and closed some of America's finest emergency medical facilities, and caused hospital bankruptcies: 84 California hospitals are closing their doors. "Anchor babies" born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income." (emphasis mine)

Blaming Missouri's population of uninsured and the financial stresses placed on our local health care providers on "Blunt's devastating Medicaid cuts from 2005," as the primary cause without qualifying it as such is short sighted. It just isn't that simple. There are other factors to consider.

Blunt has recently promoted his own crackdown on illegal immigration in Missouri. It wouldn't be a stretch to consider that as policy which could benefit the stressed financial situation faced by Cox and St. John's hospitals.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Faith of a Mustard Seed ~ Mother Teresa

Brian Lewis (News-Leader), in Did Mother Teresa feel inner darkness?

"Living saint" brought light into world despite doubts.

Lewis ends with:

"One of the astounding things about Teresa's dark night of the soul is how long it lasted. Yet just as remarkable was her steadfast service and work for the poor and the weak, despite whatever doubts she may have harbored."

That "astounding thing" might seem inconsistent with the fact that she remained in steadfast service, but is it? I don't think so.

She had doubts because she was human, but even through the deepest doubts she had the faith necessary to be the face of Christ to so many. Her doubts did not exist because God does not exist, her doubts existed because she was human and I believe she recognized her human imperfections and rose above them to exibit a deep and abiding faith, even in the face of deep and abiding doubt.

Matthew 17:20 New International Version (NIV)

20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I bought a bracelet at a shop down in Galloway Village a few years ago. On that bracelet was inscribed a quote from Mother Teresa:

We Can Do No Great Things...Only Small Things With Great Love - Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was very human and knew just how human she was. She had a humble spirit and recognized that she couldn't do anything great, all she had to offer was a life of small acts motivated by the great love that Christ displayed for mankind.

It is not a "faith shaker" to me that Mother Teresa doubted. She was human. It is an inspiration that even in times of doubt and deep darkness her faith, even if as small as a mustard seed, sustained her service to Christ. That is what faith is all about.