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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 15, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas 4 New Braunfels Herald-Ze/ft/np Tuesday, November 15,1983Opinions Hsrald-Ztitung EditorJames J. KilpatrickPublic officials have no right in a private matter WASHINGTON - A 17th-century proverb tells us that the streets of hell are paved with good intentions. So it is with the hell that has been imposed in recent weeks upon UR parents of Baby Jane Doe on Long Hand. It is a sad but instructive story. The child was born Oct. ll with three major birth defects. Her spine had not closed (the condition is known as spina bifida); she had an abnormally small head; and she had water on the brain. The child’s parewte behaved responsibly. They talked with childcare professionals; they talked with a clergyman; they talked with attending doctors; and we may assume they talked long and hard between themselves. Of the family’s economic circumstances we know nothing. Neither has it been reported whether the family has other, normal children. The medical conclusions were bleak: With corrective surgery, the child might gain a short-term extension to her life, but the procedures would carry a high risk of adverse side effects. The parents were told their child might survive as a paralyzed vegetable. They reached an agonizing decision: no surgery. Left alone, the child would have about a 50-50 chance of reaching age 20, though there would be a continuing high risk of such diseases as meningitis. Word of the baby’s birth and the family’s decision leaked out of Stony Brook Hospital. What followed was an act of breathtaking gall, which Webster’s defines as “brazen boldness coupled with impudent assurance and insolence.” A lawyer by the name of Lawrence Washburn, associated with the right-to-life movement, filed suit to compel the parents to authorize surgery on their baby. Mind you, this insensitive intruder was not related to the family; he held no public position with a health or welfare agency. He was Mr. Buttinski, and he was seeking — doubtless with the very best intentions — to play a bit part in the God act. New York’s Court of Appeals on Oct. 28 threw Washburn’s suit out of court with some hard remarks about the “offensive” and “distressing” nature of the suit that subjected the parents to litigation that had neither precedent nor justification. But this was not the end of the parents’ ordeal. Five days after the state suit had been dismissed, the U.S. Department of Justice leaped into federal court in Brooklyn. Our government had the very best intentions also. It demanded the hospital's confidential records on Baby Jane Doe, in order to let a district judge determine if the parents and the doctors had violated the infant’s civil rights. This is the 12th time, according to the National Law Journal, that the federal government has ordered an investigation under the Rules and Regulations for Handicapped Infants adopted in May of last year, but it is the first time the government actually has taken court action against a hospital. I thought the rules and regulations a bad business at the time they were promulgated. They remain a bad business today. It simply is not business of the federal government, or so it seems to me, to intrude upon the informed and reasonable decisions of a family in such intimate matters as this one. The federal rules say that surgery cannot be denied “when such denial is based on anticipated mental impairment, paralysis or incontinence of such child rather than on reasonable medical judgements that treatments would be futile or unlikely of success.” In the name of the Constitution of the United States, how did we get into such Orwellian nonsense? The surgeon general at the moment is a nice bearded fellow by the name of C. Everett Koop. He too must have the very best intentions. But did he run for God in some august primary? Did he get elected? What are his credentials — what are a judge’s credentials — for saying to the anguished parents, “Thou shalt operate!”? Some parents may have the wealth and the temperament to care for a severly retarded, deformed or paralyzed child. Other parents may make a reasoned decision that a “right to life” carries a question with it: A right to what kind of life? Our well-intentioned bureaucrats seem not to have thought about that little question at all. Jack Anderson Government lets oil theives go their merry way Andy Rooney Do presidents ever get back at the press? WASHINGTON - The cattle rustlers who plagued the Old West have been succeeded by a new breed of range thieves: oil rustlers. They can be big oil companies who commit the larceny in their bookkeeping departments or individual operators who simply steal the oil outright. The one thing they have in common is the source of their ill-gotten wealth: federal and Indian lands which hold billions of dollars’ worth of oil. The most disgraceful aspect of this multi-billion-dollar rip-off of the American taxpayers is that the government lets the crooks get away with it. Unlike Wyatt Earp or Marshall Dillon, today’s govenment inspectors have acually been discouraged by higher-ups to enforce the law and collect what rightfully should be paid for the public’s oil. No one knows for sure how much is lost to the oil rustlers each year — accounting procedures are too sloppy and the Interior Department’s enforcement measures hopelessly lax. But knowledgable sources told my associate Dale Van Atta the government will come up more than $1 billion short in oil royalty collections this year alone. They estimate that the losses could double or even triple in the next seven or eight years. Significantly, the General Accounting Office has found that in almost every case examined over the last 35 years, the royalty payments have been inaccurate — usually in the oil companies’ favor. A year-long investigation by a House Interior subcommittee headed by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.t found that the department hadn’t even bothered to verify the volumne of oil and gas being pumped out of federal and Indian lands — estimated in 1980 at a total volume of almost $20 billion. The Interior Department, supposedly in charge of the oil-leasing program, was found to have such an unstructured and unsupervised accounting system that changes in royalty accounts were frequently made without authorization of senior officials. The amended reports filed hv oil and gas companies to reduce their payments were routinely ap-proved at all levels. One field investigator testified that toter he proved that a company was pumping more oil than it was paying for, officials at headquarters helped the miscreant work out a way to get out without paying. Critical reports filed by government auditors in 1972 and again in 1979 failed to bring charges. Last year, the congressional watchdogs reported that the situation had grown worse. Interior’s inspector general had also exposed the problem of royalty cheating in several major audits. One comany was found to be paying 70 percent less than it should have. And the biggest underpayments were by 25 major oil and gas companies, which account for 85 percent of all royalties. For example, one large oil company paid $10 million in royalties in some offshore gas leases — but should have paid $17.5 million. As for the less sophisticated rustlers who simply move in their rigs and steal the crude, one estimate is that as much as six percent of onshore oil production is being stoloen that way. Because of the government's ho-hum attritude toward the oil rustlers’ depredations, inspectors are seriously frustrated. They have been threatened in the field and transferred by headquarters when they try to do their job conscientiously. Many have quit in disgust. So the Interior Department bumbles along and the oil thieves go their merry way.Poor ol' boy Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., is known as probably the most successful fundraiser in the annals of Congress. So a recent mailing is somewhat surprising: It is an almost pitiable plea for $15 or 825 donations to match $10,000 conditionally pledged by IO Helms supporters (unidentified). They insisted, the letter said, that Helms match the amount before they’d hand over the $10,000. A Helms campaign spokeman said he wasn’t familiar with the particular fund-raising letter, but said he was “sure that the senator really did have IO friends who put up $1,000 each.” The letter explains Helms’ recourse to such a gimmick with a poor-mouth complaint about “the massive war chest the liberals are amassing to defeat me.” The last official report showed that Helms had already raised $1.7 million to the $90,000 amassed by his opponent, Gov. James Hunt. North Carolina political insiders are betting Helms will raise $15 million for his reelection bid.Panamanian recruit Panama’s strong man, Gen. Antonio Noriega, may join the revived Condec anti-communist alliance of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The mutual defense group’s announced aim is to protect each other from the “Marxist-leninist threat in Central America” — spelled Nicaragua. Noriega is an old buddy of Eden Pastors, the former Sandinista hero who is now trying to overthrow the Managua regime from his base in Costa Rica, Panama’s northern neighbor. If Nicaragua and the Condeca countries start mixing it up, Panama’s role would probably be to support Pastoral guerrillas and to send troops in to defend Costa Rica, which has no army of its own. Everyone knows that reporters are tough on the president no matter who he is. If it’s ever a she, they’ll be tough on her, too. Do you Hunk the president ever strikes back? Do you think he ever gets mad at newspaper people and broadcast reporters because of what they write and say? If President Reagan wasn’t striking back last week, it was a very unusual thing he did when he stepped into an agrument between Hollywood producers and network television executives and made a ruling rn favor of the Hollywood producers. The business decision the president made affects which one of them will collect about $800 million a year from rerun and syndication rights to old tel vision shows. I have no idea who is right in this case. I wouldn’t want to have to By TOM RAUM Aaaociatad Praos WASHINGTON - The Ohio Clock took a licking but kept on ticking. And, still, no one can tell you why ifs called the “Ohio Clock.” Last week’s bombing in the Capitol focused attention on the ancient timepiece, a tall mahongony case clock located not more than IO feet from the blast site near the Senate choose between these Hollywood producers and the network television people as to which group was ethically right. Money is higher on both their lists of objectives than art. It seems like a very unusual decision for a president to make. It’s especially unusual for a president who says government should leave business alone. Maybe I’m too suspicious. Maybe the President has been studying the issues in this case for months and finally decided the Hollywood producers were right. You’d think though, with all the problems he’s been having in Lebanon, Grenada, and with unemployment at home, that he wouldn’t have had much time recently to spend on show business problems. Each of us expects our president to be better than human. We want him to chamber. At first workers thought the old clock was broken. But a little tinkering got its pendulum swinging once again. And today, it’s still ticking off the minutes, just as it’s done in the same spot since 1159. For as long as anyone can remember, the clock has been called the “Ohio Clock.” That’s always seemed strange, since the word “Philadelphia” is printed behind its be Superman, above pettiness and revenge. We expect him to smile and turn the other cheek. We don’t expect hun to be like the rest of us. Still, you can’t help wondering — or I can’t anyway — if maybe the President was striking back at the networks for all the mean things White House correspondents Sam Donaldson, Chris Wallace, and Bill Plante have been saying about him. Don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, a little devil in the back of his brain aught have whispered “Go ahead, Ronnie Stick it to them.” President Nixon's administration, presumably with his blessing, wasn’t above sinking back at reporters. In 1971, John Dean one Nixon aide, wrote to another, John Ehrlichman, asking the blunt question, “How can we use the available federal mandate to screw our political enemies?” There hands. It was just another mystery of the Capitol. But tile bomb blast sent the office of the Capitol curator scurrying into its records for the history of the clock. Seems it was ordered by the Senate in 1815 from Thomas Voigt, a Philadelphia clockmaker, for just over $300. The clock, which is topped by an ornate, wing-spread carved eagle, was delivered to the Senate in 1816 and placed outside what was then was ample evidence during the Watergate trial that this is the way President Nixon wanted it. CBS News correspondent Dan Schorr, and at least ten other news people on Nixon's “eneimes” list, facing various forms of harassment from the government, including IRS tax audits. It would be difficult to sit there and take it if you were president and had all that power. It would be difficult not to swat at the journalistic gnats buzzing around your head all day long, wouldn't it? If you were president and network reporters were always picking on you and some old pals rn Hollywood asked you to do something that would help them and hurt the television networks whose reporters made you so mad all the time, what would you do? I know what I’d do ... but I’m only human. the Senate chamber. It was moved to its present location — after the Capitol was expanded and a new Senate chamber built — in 1859. But, alas, the curator’s office can come up with no clues as to why the clock is called the Ohio dock. So the clock remains a mystery. But, wound once, it ontinues to do ell that anyone could ask of a clock — it keeps good time. Washington Today We can't expect anything from a clock but time ;