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Archive for September, 2006

Saturday, September 30th 2006

Who's #2?

Auburn struggled against lowly South Carolina. Then USC really struggles with Washington St.

I’m actually not sure which opponent is worse. But two things will hurt the pollster’s opinions of USC. First, USC played on Saturday (albeit late) and probably more pundits and Coaches saw the USC game versus the Thursday night Auburn-South Carolina game.


Yeah, I’m Old. So What? I Almost Beat The Trojans.
Wanna Fight About It?

Second, Auburn and USC have both played Washington St. with the Trojans fighting to pull out a victory and Auburn killing them. This isn’t really fair, Washington St. and South Carolina are probably of pretty comparable talent. Washington St. was away against Auburn, in a hostile enviornment, in their first game of the season, against an opponent they didn’t know very well.

Against, USC they were at home, facing a team they were more than prepared for strategy wise (having played the Trojans every year). These are some of the same points that allowed South Carolina to compete against Auburn.

In both games tauted defenses got shown up. I think USC will stay #2 in both the Coaches’ and Harris polls but we’ll see if the margain between the teams narrows. Of course as I write this the #1 team in the country is still playing and I’m assuming theOSU doesn’t implode and give up a 14 point lead to Iowa in the 4th quarter.

I’ll have more tomorrow in the weekly ‘Quick Hits’.

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Friday, September 29th 2006

Pedophilia No Longer Just For Clergy

Less than a week ago word broke that Florida Represenative Mark Foley had had strange email contact with a 16-year-old Congressional page. In less than 7 days the scandal has felled the once proud Congressman.

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former male page.

“I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

The two-sentence statement did not refer to the e-mails and gave no reason for Foley’s decision to abruptly abandon a flourishing career in Congress. Foley, 52, had been a shoo-in for a new term until the e-mail correspondence surfaced in recent days.

Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange.

Wonkette is having a field day. And now they’re linking to a Roll Call story, that House Republican leadership knew Foley was having ‘inappropriate’ contact with underage Congressional pages.

Ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who resigned Friday after reports of his improper communications with a former male House page were made public, was interviewed about some of those contacts by the chairman of the House Page Board and the then-Clerk of the House last year.

At least four Republican House Members, one senior GOP aide and a former top officer of the House were aware of the allegations about Foley that prompted the initial reporting regarding his e-mail contacts with a 16-year-old House page. They include: Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), as well as a senior aide to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl.

Friday, September 29th 2006

Preview: Washington St.

USC ends its two game road PAC 10 road trip with a trip to Pullman, WA to face the Cougars, who are a team with a lot of interesting questions.

If nothing else, Saturday’s game against Southern California will show how much progress Washington State has made this season.

That is generally the sounds you get from the Washington St. players themselves,

“It’s a good challenge to go out against a good defense and see where our team stacks up,” Hill said. “If we play mistake-free, we can go out and play with the best of them.”

Quarterback Alex Brink said the game will show how much the Cougars learned from their bad experience at Auburn.

“It’s another opportunity along the way to show that we’re improving each week. Early on, every team has difficulties. And it’s about eliminating those inconsistencies each week,” he said.

“We got beat and got beat pretty handily, but at the same time, we played against a very quality opponent. We’ve seen speed and seen what it takes to play with a team like that. Hopefully, we’re a little more prepared, a little more mature.”


Will This Week Be Another Whupping For The Cougars?

Still despite Auburn handling the Cougars in ‘Bama Washington St. is 3 – 1 and this may be a ‘trick’ game for the Trojans.

Washington St. Offense v. USC Defense

Cougar WR Jason Hill should be on anyone’s all-American watch list. QB Alex Brink showed enough in his first year as a starter last year, that Hill was able to accumulate his second straight 1000+ yard season. Still, this year the Cougar passing game has looked lethargic against genuine competition, as Scout points out,

Brink got off to an extremely slow start in the season’s opening game at Auburn. He completed just 11 of 24 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Since that game, Brink has steadily improved, albeit against far inferior competition. In his last game, at Stanford, he completed 21 of 33 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

Brink will have to show some scrambling ability to elude the Trojan pass work and have a big game if the Cougars have any chance of winning this game.

The running back by committee has been the strongest part of this Washington St. offense. Against a fine Auburn defense (although they showed they can give up big runs in last night’s game against South Carolina), DeMaundray Woolridge gave the Cougars some hope with some tackle breaking long runs.

The trouble however is two fold for the Cougars. First, their offensive line, not very good to begin with, is stuck in limbo after two crippling injuries which will keep a starting tackle and center out for Saturday’s game against the Trojans. Second, USC has stuffed some fine rushing offenses this season, and as the Boston Herald points out in picking the Trojans, may have Sedrick Ellis back from injury,

USC already ranks sixth in the nation in total defense (217.3 yards allowed per game), ninth in rushing defense (60.7), and ninth in scoring defense (9.0 points allowed per game), so taking its play to the next level will be awesome.

And in a case of the rich getting richer, Trojans defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis, who missed two games after arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 12, might return tomorrow night at Washington State.

Even for all the hype I’m loading onto the Washington St. running game, you need to keep in mind they’re merely the most consistent aspect of an inconsistent offense. Even the running game has had its struggles, managing just 1.5 yards per carry against lowly Baylor in a 2 point win.


They Won; Should Anything Else Matter?

Coach Carroll is exceedingly pleased with the play of Fili Moala as he’s filled in, but having Ellis back to take some snaps will simply be too much for this beat up Cougar o-line.

The Cougar’s best chance is to take shots at the Trojans secondary with speedy reciever Jason Hill and Brinks other options. The secondary is still filing around with Allen Bradford back at safety (from tailback), freshman safety Taylor Mays starting, and even LB Dallas Sartz trying his hand playing S some in practice this week.

Rivals points out the limitations to the Cougar’s passing game however,

Maybe it has to do with not having a player like Jason Gesser any more, but the staples of the Cougar passing game are bubble screens, slants, short curls, and screen passes. They have a dangerous speedster in Jason Hill, but they don’t take as many shots down the field any more.

Their QB, Alex Brink, does not have a strong arm, but he is tough, makes the reads, and can move around pretty well. He can definitely make some plays with his legs. Can he make enough with his arm? He had a bad game against USC last year.

With Coach Callahan mysteriously trying to pound the ball with his previously high flying offense two weeks ago, and the Arizona passing game just sucking, the secondary really hasn’t been tested of late, especially freshman starting safety Taylor Mays. Still, it is likely that Mays is more than ready to live up to any challenge,

One year ago, Taylor Mays was starting for O’Dea High School against Bishop Blanchet.

On Saturday, the free safety will start for USC at Washington State on national television.

It will be Mays’ third start of the season for the third-ranked Trojans (3-0, 1-0). He moved into the lineup when junior Josh Pinkard suffered a season-ending knee injury against Arkansas in the opener.

All of that may be moot discussion. It is likely the defensive line and the nation’s best linebacking corp coming with blitz schemes will be far too much for poor Alex Brink.

Expect the run to get stuffed early for the Cougars. Expect early screens and slant plays to try to get speedster Jason Hill out “into space” and keep Alex Brink off the grass. It won’t matter, the Trojan CBs and of course the dominant linebacking corp have proven excellent fundamental tacklers in the open field. By the second half Washington St. will have to be taking some shots down field and the Trojans can probably expect at least 5 or 6 sacks this game.

USC Offense v. Washington St. Defense

USC’s offense has spoiled us in years prior. Where are the long passes, the jukie daring scampers out of the backfield, the 2 minute scoring drives? I criticized Kiffin’s lack of faith in John David Booty, in not taking more shots down field, but the more I look at it, the more I think the offense has set up the perfect game plan as this group get’s their feet under themselves.

There were so many comparisons to 2003 (Matt and Reggie’s first year in the line up), where the defense carried the team. The more and more games we see the more and more that seems true.

USC will be without all-American split end Dwayne Jarrett in Pullman. Fine, they’ll just throw in Patrick Turner.


Dwayne Jarrett Impersonator…You Won’t Even Tell The Difference

In USC’s three years of recruiting dominance one of the most imipressive things has been the abundance of WR’s who have come our way. Despite the backlog, they keep coming including former Rivals #1 wide reciever Patrick Turner and last year’s #2 prospect Vidal Hazleton (waiting should good forbid another wide out goes down).

Every week, I and others keep saying that “this is the week” that the offense opens up and takes some shots down field. Well…this might be the week.

The Cougars strength comes in a what so far has been a stifling rushing defense and a pass rush from the edges. Their best hope on the defensive side of the ball is DE Mkristo Bruce who has racked up 7 sacks in just three games (5 of those against Stanford’s offensively horrible line).

I have little respect for the Cougar secondary. JDB threw his first interception last week, when he stared down his reciever. What he hasn’t done is shown panic under pressure. Even if the Cougar’s blitzing schemes (and you can expect plenty of that) or Bruce get to JDB once or twice I think we can expect him to keep his cool.

For the ability to stuff the run shown against Idaho and Stanford the Cougars gave up better than 6 yards per carry and nearly 300 yards on the ground to Kenny Irons and company. Emmanuel Moody showed some surprising running last week. He has emerged as the back for the Trojans, despite Chauncey Washington finally starting to get healthy.

On Tuesday, Washington worked out in the morning to improve his conditioning and burst.

“I have to get my endurance up,” he said before the afternoon practice. “The leg is not hurting anymore. Now I can get it stronger.”

The sooner the better, according to Carroll.

“It’s really important for Chauncey to come back and be a big factor,” he said. “When we have been at our best offensively, we have always had an aggressive running tailback, a guy that can bring it downhill.”

Moody danced around too much in the backfield going east and west but what stunned me is the determination the small back had. On multiple occasions versus the Wildcats last week, Moody drove defends for extra yards. Who needs a big back?

To be honest, I don’t expect Washington St. to get even as much penetration as Arizona managed. There has been talk of using more two tight end sets, and using a tight end as a kind’ve H-back since the fullback position has kind’ve imploded for USC with several horrific gruesome injuries (a terrible looking broken ankle and then Havili’s broken fibula).

USC is going to have its way with this Cougar defense. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, expect some early shots downfield on Saturday against a weak Cougar secondary. Especially if the offensive line and backs show they’re handling the Cougar blitz (which is going to come) early.

Rivals doesn’t tend to agree,

This Cougar defense may present the toughest test to USC’s hope for a balanced offense we’ve seen yet. They’re not easy to run against. The big question is: Are the Cougs’ defensive backs susceptible to the big play against a good passing attack? USC must answer that question early.

I think they’re giving too much credit to this Cougar run defense. The pass rush may be the Cougars greatest hope for making a game of this contest. They need to force turnovers. But like I said, if John David Booty has proven one thing this season it is that he is gifted with a cool head.

However, I agree with Rivals that even with Jarrett the biggest mismatch on the field may be the Cougar’s corners versus Smith and Turner for the Trojans. Such is why I expect some passing yards under Booty’s belt come Saturday.

Other Stuff

There’s rumors floating around that on Game Day (the show) tomorrow Herbstriet will pick the Washington St. upset. Kirk is one of my favorite TV pundits, but this season his predictions haven’t been so hot – he had Miami and Notre Dame playing for the national championship at season’s beginning.

Other than that, as can be expected, most voices are calling for a USC victory including that Boston Herald piece and College Football New’s predictions.

In my week five picks I’m not taking the points for this game, but expect this to be a two score game.

USC 34 – Washington St. 21

Friday, September 29th 2006

Finally Those Terrorists Get What's Coming…Or Something

So many mixed feelings on the newly passed bill authorizing military tribunals for enemy combatants. (Text of HR 6166)

At least these guys aren’t going to be held without ‘charges’ and tortured behind close doors (no, now we do that out in the open since it is endorsed by Congress). However, it fails any libertarian’s civil liberty dreams by large margains.

Liberal op/eds abound on the issue, including multiple essays in the Washington Post basically anouncing the passage of this bill as the end of the world. First, Andrew Cohen says,

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake.

[...]

The legislation…appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence– from overseas or right here at home– to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration’s horrible track record when it comes to identifying “enemy combatants” and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Then a Post staffer analysizes the bill and doesn’t give it a ringing endorsement,

The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court.

By writing into law for the first time the definition of an “unlawful enemy combatant,” the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have “purposefully and materially” supported anti-U.S. hostilities. Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death.

At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.

[...]

Many constitutional experts say, however, that the bill pushes at the edges of so much settled U.S. law that its passage will not be the last word on America’s detainee policies. They predict it will shift the public debate to the federal courts, a forum where the administration has had less success getting its way on counterterrorism policies.

[...]

Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal said the bill’s creation of two systems of justice — military commissions for foreign nationals and regular criminal trials for U.S. citizens — may violate the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection of the laws to anyone under U.S. jurisdiction.

I’m sure we can expect more than just a 14th amendment challenge to this bill. Other liberal opines on the bill include Democratic Senate Minority Leader Reid’s statement, and a notable op/ed in the Los Angeles Times by Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman.


An Artist’s Rendition of Senator Reid

Despite joking around, I’m extremely concerned about this bill. I will say this, at the least, as Senator Reid points out, I have no idea why this amendment wasn’t reasonable:

Senator Byrd offered an amendment to sunset military commissions so that Congress would simply be required to reconsider this far-reaching authority after five years of experience. Even that amendment was rejected.

Just set it up so the bill has to be reauthorized in five years or it expires. We need to realize that legislation, even when it proves to be a terrible decision (as I think this bill will), is much more difficult to remove than it is to authorize.

To give equal time, conservative voices naturally play this as merely certifying what has always been the norm,

[T]he United States will not change 200+ years of history and treat captured enemies as citizens. We will not suddenly decide that foreign terrorists captured abroad now should have the same rights as the American citizens and residents they try mightily to murder in large numbers. We will not shy away from using the successful methods used to prevent eight separate attacks on our country by eschewing the kinds of techniques our own Special Forces troops endure during their training.

There is some credence to this. For instance during World War II, eight Nazi saboteurs who landed on American soil, were captured, defined as enemy combatants, brought quickly before a military tribunal (which met in secret no less) and six were sentenced to death. The entire process from trial to the chair (including appeals – the Supreme Court held a special session to hear the last appeal) took just longer than a month (!)

Thursday, September 28th 2006

Battery From A Medical Student

A woman is seeking battery charges to be filed, after a medical student botched a supervised intubation.

The Indiana Supreme Court is considering whether a woman who had to have a second surgery after a medical student tore her esophagus during a botched procedure was a victim of battery.
Attorneys for W- Ruth Mullins say she signed documents saying she didn’t want students in the operating room, but doctors ignored her wishes.

[...]

Justice Frank Sullivan argued that the law requires that harm be intended to fit the definition of battery.

From Kevin, MD, take the comments with a grain of salt but here is what one physician’s understanding is:

Most teaching hospitals require consent for participation of residents and medical students as part of routine admission; that is pretty clearly understood when you go to a teaching hospital.

The patient will just have to make do with a malpractice claim against the attending without the slam-dunk reinforcement of a criminal conviction against the student.

[...]

The patient may express a wish not to be treated by trainees. That aside, many teaching hospitals have general consent to have trainees participate in care as part of admissions paperwork. But whether consent was given or not isn’t the issue here. The issue is whether the lack of consent constituted battery.

Thursday, September 28th 2006

Coach O

Update
The Song Link Now Actually Works

Ed Orgeron has a bit of a reputation (from domestic violence, to bar fights, to a complete lack of a vocabulary, to bizarre team meetings). The former Miami and USC assistant is currently head coach at Ole Miss.


Voted Coach Most Likely To Spontaneously Combust

In anycase, this hilarious (even if you’re not an SEC fan) song from a Memphis sports show is making the rounds on the internet. I found it via EDSBS.


Download It

Thursday, September 28th 2006

Feel The Wrath

Medical Rants and myself praised yet another New York Times’ article recently which basically said health care spending isn’t a problem, because we have to spend our resources on something – why not our health?

Well, New York Times meet the wrath of Matt Holt.

We spend that much because the system has been politically rigged so that it’s virtually impossible not to. There is no causal connection between the vague desire for increased life expectancy on behalf of the public, and the increase in health care system spending. But there is a huge causal connection between the desire for greater health care system revenue on behalf of the system stakeholders and the increase in health care spending– because we have a funding system set up on their behalf. Has the NY Times not heard of, say, Medicare Part D? Have they not heard of 30 years of Wennberg’s Dartmouth works which proves that high cost care has bugger-all to do with improved outcomes?

I stick by my original claims.

Wednesday, September 27th 2006

PCP, ICK!

It’s a major concern of mine – the slow death of American graduates in primary care specialties. Take a look at these shocking figures,

The number of U.S. medical graduates going into family medicine has been falling — by more than 50 percent from 1997 to 2005 — with many young doctors preferring specialties that pay better and offer more control over work hours.

You’re going to have to close the reimbursement gap and cut medical student debt.

Wednesday, September 27th 2006

Need A Liver In Beijing

And you don’t even have to use Craiglist to find it.


Boy Organs For Sale! Organs For Sale?”

The BBC documents the sale of the organs of executed prisoners.

Organs from death row inmates are sold to foreigners who need transplants.

One hospital said it could provide a liver at a cost of £50,000 ($94,400), with the chief surgeon confirming an executed prisoner could be the donor.

China’s health ministry did not deny the practice, but said it was reviewing the system and regulations.

One official said that the prisoners volunteered to give their organs as a “present to society”.

He said there was currently an organ surplus because of an increase in executions ahead of the 1 October National Day.

China executes more prisoners than any other country in the world. In 2005, at least 1,770 people were executed, although true figures were believed to be much higher, a report by human rights group Amnesty International said.

In March, China’s foreign ministry admitted that organs from prisoners were used, but said that it was only in “a very few cases”.

Wow. I mean you have to be shocked about this and believe that the prisoners are not donating their organs in many cases and if they are that the sale of them raises serious ethical questions.

China’s death penalty has always raised eyebrows beyond the debate on the death penalty (if that is possible) – you used to hear stories about the families of those executed in China being charged for the bullet. Indeed, researching that old story I stumbled across this. Turns out this selling of organs piece isn’t exactly an expose.

Three years ago, Dr. Thomas Diflo’s moral nightmare walked into his examination room: a patient freshly implanted with a kidney bought from China’s death row, where prisoners are killed—sometimes for minor offenses—and their organs harvested.

Since then, Dr. Diflo, director of the renal transplant program at the New York University Medical Center, has seen half a dozen such people, typically young Chinese American women. The surgeon says his patients weren’t distressed about snatching organs from the condemned, but he was overwhelmed by the implications.

Diflo says he and his colleagues wrestled with the issue in a debate that was “quite lively and revealing, but the bottom line was that we take care of patients who come to us, regardless of their situation—moral, ethical, financial, or social. Although I might find what they had done reprehensible, I was still nonetheless obligated to care for them in the best way that I knew how, and that is what I do.”

[...]

There’s no telling how many kidney buyers returning to the U.S. have gone for follow-up care at a less elite institution or stayed within secretive medical channels recommended by their brokers.

[...]

Selling organs is a felony under a 1984 federal law that was spearheaded by then senator Al Gore, and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Live or executed prisoners in the U.S. are forbidden to donate an organ, even for free, except to family members under special circumstances.

[...]

The trafficking of human organs from Chinese executions to American residents is “something we’ve always known was going on but something we’ve never been able to document,” says an American investigator working for the Laogai Research Foundation, a group founded by renowned human rights crusader Harry Wu and named for the gulags of China.

With all that said, if we had the money and someone I loved wasn’t high enough on the list would I make a trip to China or another developing nation with them? If I thought it was a matter of their life – no doubt, however terribly unethical that sounds.

Wednesday, September 27th 2006

Greed As Fuel

The New York Times has once again taken up the chime, “We have to spend it on something!” and Medical Rants has picked up from there.

I actually agree with Dr. Centor, but I’ll play devil’s advocate here.

Over the years I have opined that health care costs are increasing because we do more things to improve quantity and quality of life. While I believe (and I am not unique here) that I could personally design a health care system that would save some dollars, I could not prevent health cost inflation.

[...]

The important issue here is that we understand the trade-off. We cannot cut health care spending and then complain about decreasing health care quality.

But the counter argument, the entire point of proponents of single payer is that other countries do health care for cheaper with NO loss of quality. Claims that we cannot cut healthcare spending or provider reimbursement without sacrificing quality don’t sit with these people.

I think that quality has many measures. Comparing quality between countries is difficult, especially here in the U.S. considering Americans live the least healthy lives in the entire world. Anyone who has been around the blog probably knows my greatest pet peeve when discussing the current American health system is speakers who say – “We spend the most on health care but have the worst outcomes!” or something along those lines. They imply a directional relationship that is completely 180 of the actual one. We’re one of the world’s fatest societies, we have one of the world’s largest diabetic populations and in both those categories we’re one of the world’s fastest growing nations. The reason we’re sicker isn’t a failure of the health care system necessarily but of unhealthy lifestyles. And the reason in part we spend so much on health care is because we’re sicker.

I completely concede the waste of the American health care system and realize that Big Mac plays only a part (and maybe a small one) in increasing American health care spending. But the fact Americans are unhealthier by choice than other nations also has a major impact in trying to compare national health care systems.

Disparities in health (not health care) such as expanded on above make comparing quality variables across cultures difficult. That doesn’t even speak to a problem in determing what those quality variables should be. Less traditional values like waiting times for “elective” procedures must go into any measure of quality. These are issues gripers about the American health care system selectively ignore.


Ohhhhhhh Yeah. The American Healthcare Provider.

Beyond that, and I don’t mean this to sound greedy (although I’m sure some will read it that way), but I believe that many countries which achieve health care at lower costs undervalue health care. I’ll say it here – that ugly word – socialism. It can achieve lower costs without sacrificing many (but not all) important measures of health care quality, but it sacrifices other things (and not just the physician’s bottom line) in terms of liberty.