Thursday, March 31, 2005
Closing Thoughts and Comments on Terri Schiavo on Her Passing Today
Secondly, I also refer you to some extreme wisdom.
After that I would merely add, I simply do not comprehend how the courts concluded that Michael Schiavo should act as the sole spokesman for Terri when he essentially had moved on years earlier, while Terri's parents and siblings were so subordinated. I think this will continue to be debated, and rightfully so.
Lastly, the courts. They have been injured by this. Yes, yes, the kooks keep saying that Congress made a mistake by intervening. Can't these turkeys see that it was the judiciary that acted as the imperialistic governing body in this matter, completely unchecked by anything? Wake up!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Pssst! Wanna Make a Quick Hundred Thou?
CodeBlueBlog Issues $100,000 Challenge to Terri Schiavo Neurologist Experts
A Few Good Men
I'm getting tired of hearing what neurologists have to say about Terri Schiavo's CT of the brain. Real Tired. The Florida Sun Sentinel had a gang of neurologists analyze one of Terri's CT's of the brain. Here's what they said:
About 70 percent to 90 percent of Schiavo's upper brain is gone, and there's also damage to her lower brain that controls instinctive functions such as breathing and swallowing, said three Florida neurologists who viewed 12 of her CT "computed tomography" X-ray scans Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This is as severe brain damage as I've ever seen," said Dr. Leon Prockop, a professor and former chairman of neurology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, upon viewing the scans.
Then there's the infamous Dr. Ronald Cranford, who has the double-whammy credentials of neurologist AND bioethicist (have you had enough of bioethicists for a while? Why is it they all have the same opinion and they all start out their spiels by saying "this is a tragic case for everyone involved...") who also defined Terri's CT of the brain as being as bad as he's seen.
So What Have You Seen?
I've watched a steady stream of neurologists, bioethicists, and neurologist/bioethicists from Columbia, Cornell, and NYU interviewed all week on Fox and CNN and MSNBC. They all said about the same thing, that Terri's CT scan was "the worst they'd ever seen"or "as bad as they've ever seen."
Here's the problem with these experts: THEY DON'T INTERPRET CT SCANS OF THE BRAIN. RADIOLOGISTS DO.
You see, a neurologist will look at the CT of the brain of one of his patients, but this is entirely different from interpreting CT's of the brain de novo, for a living, every day, without knowing the diagnosis and most times without a good history. In addition, whereas I heard Dr. Crandon say he's "seen" a thousand brain CT's... well I've interpreted over 10,000 brain CT's. There's a big difference.
When I look at a CT of the brain every case is a new mystery about a patient Idon't know. I must look at the images, come to a conclusion, dictate my findings and report a conclusion. This becomes a part of the official legal record for which I am liable. I bill Medicare for a CT interpretation and am paid for this service.
Neurologists do not do this. They don't go on the record, alone, in written legal documents stating their impressions about CT's of the brain. The neurologist doesn't get sued for making a mistake on an opinion of a CT of the brain THE RADIOLOGIST DOES.
A neurologist has no where near this type of practical experience. And their cases are skewed according to where they practice and what their specialty is. Now, some of my best friends and some of the smartest docs I eve4r met are neurologists, but that doesn't change my observation that most neurologists I've met, in my experience, show an incomplete grasp of the nuances involved in image interpretation.
I have seen several neurologists -- in the printed media and on television -- put up a Representative CT of the brain of a normal 25 year old female and contrast this with Terri Schiavo's CT. This is a totally spurious comparison. No one is disputing that Terri Schiavo does not have the CT of a 25 year old female.
What I'm saying is that Terri Schiavo's CT could be the brain of an eighty or ninety year old person who is not in a vegetative state. THOSE are the CT scans we should be showing next to Schiavo's, because in THAT case you would see similar atrophy and a brain much closer to Schiavo's.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
To prove my point I am offering $100,000 on a $25,000 wager for ANY neurologist (and $125,000 for any neurologist/bioethicist) involved in Terri Schiavo's case--including all the neurologists reviewed on television and in the newspapers who can accurately single out PVS patients from functioning patients with better than 60% accuracy on CT scans.
I will provide 100 single cuts from 100 different patient's brain CT's. All the neurologist has to do is say which ones represent patients with PVS and which do not.
If the neurologist can be right 6 out of 10 times he wins the $100,000.
I Said What I Meant, And I Meant What I Said
My points are what I first said about the image from Terri Schiavo's CT scan:
1) It is NOT as bad as the neurologists and bioethicists play it up to be; and,
2) There are many elderly patients with various levels of mental functioning who have severe atrophy that is difficult to distinguish from Terri Schiavo's atrophy
I stand by what I said. And I'm putting my money where my mouth is.
Terri is Not a Person? Oh! I See. That's Why You're Killing Her.
Via Pro-Life Blogs:
My debate about Terri Schiavo’s case with Florida bioethicist Bill Allen on Court TV Online eventually got down to the nitty-gritty:Wesley Smith: Bill, do you think Terri is a person?If you want to know how it became acceptable to remove tube-supplied food and water from people with profound cognitive disabilities, this exchange brings you to the nub of the Schiavo case — the “first principle,” if you will. Bluntly stated, most bioethicists do not believe that membership in the human species accords any of us intrinsic moral worth. Rather, what matters is whether "a being" or "an organism," or even a machine, is a "person," a status achieved by having sufficient cognitive capacities. Those who don’t measure up are denigrated as "non-persons."
Bill Allen: No, I do not. I think having awareness is an essential criterion for personhood. Even minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood, but I don't think complete absence of awareness does.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Is Paul Krugman Out of His Mind?
RightwingNuthouse wonders if Paul Krugman is insane. The prompt for this inquiry? Krugman's morning column in the New York Times where he suggests that "liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line" will soon have to fear assassination from the religious right "unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists." (HT: Instapundit.)You've got to read today's NYT's to really get the gist of this (free online subscription required).
Monday, March 28, 2005
Steyn: There's No Compelling Reason to Kill Terri Schiavo
I'm neither a Floridian nor a lawyer, and, for all I know, it may be legal under Florida law for the state to order her to be starved to death. But it is still wrong.Read the entire piece if you can.
This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ''plaintiffs'' and ''petitions'' and ''en banc review'' and ''de novo'' and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now -- and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo -- something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of -- would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ''put her out of her misery'' after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who's exhausted her appeals is simply vile.
There seems to be a genuine dispute about her condition -- between those on her husband's side, who say she has ''no consciousness,'' and those on her parents' side, who say she is capable of basic, childlike reactions. If the latter are correct, ending her life is an act of murder. If the former are correct, what difference does it make? If she feels nothing -- if there's no there there -- she has no misery to be put out of. That being so, why not err in favor of the non-irreversible option?
Sunday, March 27, 2005
A Watershed Event
People, like me, who have placed their trust in the United States Consititution and in the courts of justice will be jaundiced forever by the gross unfairness of the rulings that have led inexorably to Terri's demise despite her parents' pleading. More and more focus will be on the skepticism people will (and ought to ) have in our judicial system.
As an American, and and old conservative coot, I placed a lot of trust in our institutions. Now I realize that I cannot believe the Constitution is as absolute as I have made it out to be in my mind - it is as fallible as human nature itself, perhaps it is a little less fallible, but when interpretted and dispensed by post-modern men in black robes, it has fallen off the edge.
From this point on, things change.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
The Root of the Disaster in Pinellas Park, Florida
Suffice it to say that I have no purpose to continue to write solely about the issue of Terri Schiavo; I am indeed ready to start writing about other things, but I find myself compelled to focus on this matter. My mind is transfixed on it, the whole thing permeated with the stench of spousal guile soaked in a sulphuric bath of raw, judicial imperialism.
Here you have parents and sibblings willing to sacrifice all, take Terri away, if necessary, never to bother a soul again, including her husband, who is, for all intents and purposes, already moved on with another (albeit common law) wife, and kids. Yet, yet, he is the one, and not the caring parents or sister or brother, whom the courts have let determine the fate of this poor young woman.
Yes, I believe in leave and cleave, but he left and cleft a long time ago, and should have no say in Terri's fate at this point, especially life-and-death say over her at this point.
It just makes me boil.
For what it is worth, I am in good company. The blogs are abound with stories related to this issue. One of note via Galley Slaves in the Weekly Standard: "How Liberalism Failed Terri Schiavo"
First, writer Eric Cohen recalls the basic facts on the ground:
In February 1990, a sudden loss of oxygen to the brain left Theresa Marie Schiavo in a coma and eventually in a profoundly incapacitated state. Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, took care of her, working alongside Terri's parents. He took her to numerous doctors; he pursued experimental treatments; he sought at least some modest restoration of her self-awareness. In November 1992, he testified at a malpractice hearing that he would care for Terri for the rest of her life, that he "wouldn't trade her for the world," that he was going to nursing school to become a better caregiver. He explicitly reaffirmed his marriage vow, "through sickness, in health."Cohen then isolates the two primary questions in the case:
But the lonely husband eventually began seeing other women. His frustration with his wife's lack of improvement seemed to grow. When Terri suffered a urinary tract infection in the summer of 1993 [12 years ago!], he decided to cease all treatment, believing that her time to die had come, that this was what Terri would have wanted. But Terri's caregivers refused to let her die, and Michael Schiavo relented--for the time being. Not all Terri's doctors, however, saw their medical obligation in the same way; one physician declared that Terri had basically been dead for years, and told Michael that he should remove her feeding tube. Michael responded that he "couldn't do that to Terri," that he could never leave his wife to die of dehydration. But at some point, his heart changed. He decided that it was time for her final exit and his new beginning. He decided that his own wishes--for children, for a new family, for new love unclouded by old obligations--were also her wishes. He decided that she had a right to die and that he had a right to let her die.
First, what would Terri Schiavo have wanted? Would she want to die rather than live in a profoundly incapacitated condition? Was Michael Schiavo's decision to remove her feeding tube an act of fidelity to his wife's prior wishes or an act of betrayal of the woman entrusted to his care? Second, what was Terri Schiavo's precise medical condition?But read the entire piece.
The right to have medical treatment withheld on one's behalf was codified in a string of legal cases over the last few decades. Ideally, the individual's wishes would be laid out in an advance directive or living will, describing in detail what kind of care a person would want under various conditions. This is procedural liberalism's ideal of autonomy in action: The caregiver simply executes the dependent person's prior orders, like a lawyer representing his client. But even persons without living wills still have a legal right to have their wishes respected, so long as those wishes can be discovered. Each state establishes specific criteria and procedures for adjudicating the incompetent individual's wishes in cases where these wishes are not clear, especially when there is a dispute between family members (as in the Schiavo case) or between the family and the doctors.
Under the law of Florida, where the Schiavo case was adjudicated, the patient's prior wishes must be demonstrated with "clear and convincing evidence"--the highest standard of legal certainty in civil cases. In cases where this standard of proof is not met, the court must "err on the side of life," on the assumption that most people, even those who are profoundly disabled, would choose life rather than death. In other words, the state is not supposed to judge the comparative worth of different human beings, but to protect the right of individuals to decide for themselves when their lives would still have meaning. And in cases where the individual's wishes are uncertain, the state of Florida is charged to remain neutral by not imposing death. This is the aim of procedural liberalism--and this is where things went terribly wrong in the Schiavo case.With scant evidence, a Florida district court concluded that Terri Schiavo would clearly choose death over life in a profoundly incapacitated state.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
We Won't Forget
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
MSM Doesn't Give Up on Trying to Make Us Believe a Lie
However you feel about the Terri Schiavo case, one fact is indisputable: The mainstream media coverage of the matter has been abysmal.
On a fundamental matter of life and death, the MSM heavyweights have proven themselves utterly incapable of reporting fairly. Take a widely publicized ABC News poll released on Monday that supposedly showed strong public opposition to any Washington intervention in Terri's case. Here is how the spinmasters framed the main poll question:
As you may know, a woman in Florida named Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her parents and her husband disagree on whether or not she should be kept on life support. In cases like this who do you think should have final say, (the parents) or (the spouse)?
A follow-up question asked:
If you were in this condition, would you want to be kept alive, or not?
The problem is that, contrary to what ABC News told those polled, Terri Schiavo is not on "life support" and has never been on "life support." The loaded phrase evokes images of a comatose patient being artificially sustained by myriad machines and pumps and wires. Terri was on a feeding tube. A feeding tube is not a ventilator. Terri can breathe just fine on her own.
And as many of her medical caretakers and parents have argued, if given proper rehabilitation, Terri could learn to chew and swallow on her own as well. She is disabled, not dead.
But ABC News did not see fit to inform either the poll takers or its viewers of the truth. Instead, it misled them -- and the result was a poll response that produced -- voila! -- "broad public disapproval" for any government intervention to spare Terri from slowly starving to death. Blogger Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters (captainsquartersblog.com) noted: "Either ABC is completely incompetent in conducting research, or they have attempted to fool their viewers and readership with false polling that essentially lies about the case in question. Since when does ABC conduct push polling for euthanasia?"
Imagine how the poll results might have turned out if ABC News had made clear to participants that Terri is not terminally ill. Not in excruciating pain. Capable of saying "Mommy" and "Help me." And of "getting the feeling she's falling" or getting "excited," in her husband's own testimony, when her head is not held properly.
Imagine how the poll results might have turned out if ABC News had informed participants that in a sworn affidavit, registered nurse Carla Sauer Iyer, who worked at the Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in Largo, Fla., while Terri Schiavo was a patient there, testified: "Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri's death. Michael would say 'When is she going to die?' 'Has she died yet?' and 'When is that bitch gonna die?'"
Now, if you were in this situation, would you want to be kept alive, or not?
Breaking News: Appeals Almost Exhausted for Terri Schiavo
ATLANTA - The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied a request by Terri Schiavo's parents that it rehear her case, leaving only the U.S. Supreme Court as a last judicial option.
In Florida, meanwhile, Gov. Jeb Bush tried to build support for Schiavo's parents by saying new evidence suggests her condition was misdiagnosed, even though doctors have said for years that Schiavo is severely brain damaged and in a persistent vegetative state.
Republicans in the Florida Senate were trying to pass a law that would prohibit patients like Schiavo from being denied food and water if they didn’t express their wishes in writing.
The 10-2 ruling by the entire federal appeals court came just 12 hours after a three-judge panel from the court ruled against the parents. Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, has consistently convinced courts that she would not have wanted to be kept alive in her condition.
The ruling was the latest legal blow for Schiavo’s parents as their 41-year-old daughter’s life hangs in balance. Doctors removed Schiavo's feeding tube on Friday and they have said that she could survive one to two weeks without water and nutrients.
The three-judge panel, in a 2-1 ruling issued overnight, said the parents “failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims” that the feeding tube should be reinserted immediately. The severely brain-damaged woman began her fifth full day without the tube, which has kept her alive for more than a decade.
"We also conclude that the district court’s carefully thought out decision to deny temporary relief in these circumstances is not an abuse of discretion," Judges Ed Carnes and Frank Hull wrote in the majority opinion.
“There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo,” the ruling said. “We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law.”
In his dissent, Judge Charles Wilson said Schiavo’s “imminent” death would end the case before it could be fully considered. “In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube,” he wrote.
Schiavo: A Case CAN be Made for Intervention
Reading a couple of liberal blogs recently, the l-bloggers are hanging their Schiavo hats on two factors: Congress is usurping the power of the court by passing the legislation it did; and Terri Schiavo HAS had due process.
Without getting into the "Terri should die" debate, I'll make only two limited range comments.
1. I keep hearing people talk about the "separation of powers", which is of course one of the intentions of the writers of the Constitution, but I have not heard anyone write about the other side of that coin, the system of "checks and balances". While mere separation goes a long way to keeping one branch of government from abusing their power, it is not sufficient.
There is also a system of checks and balances written into the Constitution, whereby the co-equal branches of government, in addition to sharing power, also check and balance each other. In the case of the judiciary, the checks and balances are that, except for the establishment of one Supreme Court, all other Federal courts are subject to establishment by the legislative branch. Congress establishes all the inferior courts, and regulates them in terms of jurisdiction (within a few limits specified in the Constitution). Therefore, without saying whether Congress was wise to have acted in this case, I must conclude that, IMHO, they acted within the framework of the Constitution. If I am wrong in that conclusion, the Supreme Court will likely rule otherwise.
2. We were foster parents for a while (9 months). During that time, we learned much about guardianship of minors. All the children we took in had been in home situations which were alleged to be abusive in some way--parents (i.e. guardians) who somehow wouldn't or couldn't take care of their children in accordance with the law. The children were removed for their protection while the allegations of abuse were considered. IN EVERY CASE, although the parents were still "guardians", and still had parental rights (i.e. guardian rights and responsibilities), the child had an attorney appointed to look after THE CHILD'S interests, not the guardian's interpretation of the child's interests. There is a difference here, of course; I'm not saying the analogy is perfect. It seems, however, that Terri is in almost the same situation as a child removed from its home.
There is an allogation that her guarian is not looking after her best interests. If she were a child, she would be removed from the home and an attorney ad lietum(probably mispelled) appointed for her. Since Terri seems as helpless as a child, perhaps she should have been given the same protections as a child would receive. From that standpoint, I CAN see how a case could be made that she has not received due process.
- I'm working under my knowledge of Arkansas laws, acknowledging that Florida seems to have trouble protecting children, and may have different laws.
- If we are going to make an error of going too far in choices between life and death, I hope I will always err on the side of life.
Monday, March 21, 2005
The Evening Blather without Dan Rather
Can't these people see how overtly biased they are? Every expert they excavated was in favor of death for Terri Schiavo. One actually said that she was, essentially, "as a dead person." Outrageous! I actually heard the entire room wince at that remark.
What is to become of every unwanted wife (or husband for that matter), whose spouse is able to bamboozle a judge into thinking that he knows what the infirmed wife wanted, and that is to be killed through starvation.
This woman, Terri Schiavo, is not in need of any herculean efforts to be kept alive. Food and water is all she needs. She takes care of the rest. Her parents are willing to do it for crying out loud. I would venture her caregivers at the hospice she resides are writhing in agony over the court order not to feed this helpless woman.
Are we to believe that what happens to severely handicapped people, the least of these, who cannot feed themselves - that they become such burdens on society that we allow them to starve as a merciful measure while the intellectualoids argue whether or not they feel any pain?! I weep for our society of people really fall for this nonsense.
We Enter Day Four of Starving Terri to Death
A Florida court has twice before ordered Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube removed--in 2001 and 2003. Six days after the latter episode, the Florida legislature passed "Terri's Law," which allowed Governor Jeb Bush to intervene. Last year the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Terri's Law was unconstitutional.
We review this history both to show how poorly Florida's legal system has served Mrs. Schiavo, and to explain the reasons that Congress is taking the extraordinary step of intervening in what normally would be considered a matter solely for a state's judicial system. The conservative Republicans leading this effort--Senators Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, Representative Tom DeLay--are taking hits for supposedly abandoning their federalist principles.
We'd have more sympathy for this argument if the same liberals who are complaining about the possibility of the federal courts reviewing Mrs. Schiavo's case felt as strongly about restraining the federal judiciary when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues they don't want to trust to local communities. In any event, these critics betray their lack of understanding of the meaning of federalism. It is not simply about "states' rights." Conservatives support states' rights in areas that are not delegated to the federal government but they also support federal power in areas that are delegated.
Think of an analogy to the writ of habeas corpus. As John Eastman of the Claremont Institute points out, "We have federal court review of state court judgments all the time in the criminal law context." The bill before Congress essentially treats the Florida judgment as a death sentence, warranting federal habeas review. Mrs. Schiavo is not on life support. The court order to remove the feeding tube is an order to starve her to death. Moreover, Mrs. Schiavo is arguably being deprived of her life without due process of law, a violation of the 14th Amendment that Congress has the power to address.
The "right to die" has become another liberal cause, part of the "privacy" canon that extends through Roe (abortion) and Lawrence (homosexuality) and the Ninth Circuit's views on assisted suicide that the Supreme Court is taking up this year. Of course, it gets a little messy when someone is actually being killed, and a husband with a conflict of interest is the one who claims she wanted to kill herself, but the left apparently believes these are mere details that shouldn't interfere with the broader cause. Thus the discovery of federalism.
Terri Schiavo's case is a tragedy for her and her family. Beyond the immediate question of whether she lives or dies, her case may well have the salutary effect of demonstrating to the elites who want the right to kill oneself embedded into law that there is another side to the debate that is going to be heard.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Michael Schiavo and Scott Peterson
I point readers to the previous work of Wesley J. Smith. You'll recall that, in 1992, when he was arguing for more money in his malpractice lawsuit, Michael Schiavo argued that Terri would live a normal life span and that he intended to be a loyal husband to her for the rest of his days. Because of this testimony, Michael Schiavo received $1.3 million, $750,000 of which went into a trust to fund Terri's rehabilitation.
Shortly after receiving this money, Mr. Schiavo suddenly remembered that Terri didn't want to live a normal life span. As Smith reported:One evening, during the second term of President Ronald Reagan, Terri Schiavo and her husband Michael decided to watch a television movie about Karen Ann Quinlan. . . .
While discussing the movie, Michael claims that Terri stated she would not want to live hooked up to a "machine" (she's not), or be a "burden" (her parents don't consider her a burden and want to care for her). Michael's brother, Scott, backs up his claim, while his sister-in-law, Joan, told the court that Terri had approved of pulling the life support from the dying baby of a mutual friend and said that if she ever wrote a "will" she would say that she didn't want "tubes."
Little did Terri know that these purported statements, uttered under very casual circumstances, would become the justification used by her husband in his six-year drive to remove her feeding tube and end her life. Indeed, based on these casual statements, Judge George Greer of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Clearwater, Florida ruled that Michael had established "by clear and convincing evidence"--the highest evidentiary standard in civil law--that Terri would rather dehydrate to death over a period of 10-14 days than live on food and water supplied by a feeding tube.
That's the full extent of Michael Schiavo's "clear and convincing evidence" that his wife wants him to murder her. Terri's parents, on the other hand, testify that she had no such desire, leaving us with a he said/she said case--at best.
And that's before you examine the rest of the mountain of evidence that Michael Schiavo has a profit-motive for this killing. And that's before you learn that Michael Schiavo has, since Terri became disabled, fathered two children with another woman, to whom he claims to be engaged, which suggests that he has even more motive to be rid of Terri and which, at the very least, suggests that he is sufficiently compromised that there is no moral universe in which he is fit to be her guardian.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
They Don't Know Me
"The don't know me." What does this tell us? It tells us that it is all about him. He looks at this situation as from his own perspective. I grant you that in the early days, he did care for his invalid wife. It must have been an awesome struggle. But he's moved on, and his wife is still in need of care, and to eradicate the past, he is hell bent on eradicating her, even though there are her parents and others who are putting their money where their mouths are, to save Terri Schiavo.
What's with this anyway?
It is the age old story of man struggling with his fate, finally to do so from the perspective of self.
Do you remember the ER episode of the middle aged woman who suffers a stroke, and thinks and talks to herself just as if she we were completely healthy? This riveting episode keeps running through my mind.
What if Terri Schiavo is perfectly cognizant of her surroundings, and frustratingly cannot tell us that she wants to be saved, but the state courts grind on as if she had a terminal disease, and her fate is sealed without herculean intervention.
If you saw the ER episode I'm referring to, you'll remember the scene near the end where her husband is making a decision for her, it's a wrong decision, and we can hear her speaking to herself in her head, saying, "no, no that's not what I wanted, that's not what we agreed to."
That's what I keep hearing in my head when Michael Schiavo or his insipid lawyer speaks.
The MSM talking heads are claiming that Congress, and particularly the embattled Tom DeLay are just playing politics here. To many of them it may be merely "political." To many of us, however, it is an act of rescuing the weak and lowly. I don't care what you call it, really; call it politics, call it what you will, but if it saves that poor girls life, you can call it poppycock for all I care.
Why did Jesus bother to say "what you do to the least of these you do unto me?" Why did he have to make such a profound and contemplative remark? Because he knew and knows the hearts of men. And he knew and knows we're apt to put our own agendas ahead of the weak and lowly.
"They don't know me." Indeed, I'm afraid we do. We may have never met, but we know you very well. Too well, in fact.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Feeding Tube Removed by Another State Judge Edict
Breaking News: Removal of Feeding Tube Blocked by Congress
Today's the Day to Intercede for Terri Schiavo
USAToday - In a last-ditch effort to save Terri Schiavo's life, a House committee plans to issue subpoenas Friday to stop doctors from removing the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube.
The extraordinary legislative maneuver comes after the House and Senate failed to agree on legislation to keep the woman alive before leaving Washington for their spring break. House officials hope that the subpoenas will stop doctors from removing Schiavo's feeding tube at 1 p.m. ET Friday.
More on Terri Schiavo and her Battle to Live
We see it almost every week on Law & Order-a woman comes upon a large sum of money, and her husband kills her to reap the financial benefits. On TV, the man is prosecuted and convicted for his actions. But what happens in real life?
Ask the parents of Terri Schiavo, and the account you hear may not be so optimistic. To understand the kind of hopelessness they feel, you need to know the whole story.
Now 41 year-old Floridian Terri Schiavo suffered a heart attack in 1990, and with it, severe brain damage leaving her unable to care for herself. This necessitated the use of a feeding tube, since Terri was unable to feed herself. For 13 years, Terri has undergone numerous therapies, none of which proved very effective. She was also awarded $1,500,000 via malpractice suits in 1992, according to the website devoted to her cause, terrisfight.org. The money from the lawsuit settlements went toward Terri's continued care. Thirteen years later, she now resides in hospice care.
But you have not heard the whole story yet, by far. CNN reports-as do other sources-that Terri's heart attack may have been caused by bulimia. In 1993, Terri developed a urinary tract infection, and her husband Michael Schiavo attempted to prevent treatment for it-an action that would lead her to die. The same year, he signed a DNR release for Terri-a "do not resuscitate" order, meaning that if Terri ever took a severe downturn requiring "extraordinary measures," she would not be revived, and instead allowed to die. Michael claims Terri had had a conversation with him about DNRs before the attack and had said that if something ever happened to her, she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
1997 was the year that tipped off the court wars for Terri's life still going on today. In May of that year, Michael Schiavo went to a judge, and got permission to remove Terri's feeding tube. For eight years, Michael has been fighting with Terri's parents, the Schindlers, for Terri's life. Some years, judges have ruled that the feeding tube may be removed. In some cases, it has been, only to be put back in by an overturned decision. During that time, Michael Schiavo's actions have been questioned, even those before Terri's attack.
Allegations of abuse have been leveled against Michael; some even say his verbal abuse caused her bulimia. Terri's parents have had to fight to get access to their daughter, and even to have access to her medical records. Many times, they have tried to retain guardianship from Michael, to no avail. Doctors have come in to examine Terri. Some have found her to be in a "persistent vegetative state," meaning that she has no ability to recognize or react to stimuli. Other doctors have declared that she does indeed react to stimuli, stating she "lights up" when her parents, nurses, and other visitors enter her room. A lot of the argument surrounding Terri's case is focused on the issue of her "official state," under the idea that if she is actually vegetative, her life may be ended by way of starvation through the removal of her feeding tube- the end result Michael Schiavo is fighting for.
The most recent major court decision regarding the Schiavo case was on March 8 and 9th of this year, when Florida Sixth Circuit Judge George Greer ordered Terri's feeding tube to be removed on March 18-this Friday. The order includes barring further medical tests to determine Terri's true condition, and disallowing Terri's parents from feeding her after her tube is removed. If the judge's order remains intact after the many appeals that are sure to follow, Terri Schiavo will begin a lengthy starvation until death on March 18, 2005. Thus far, one appeal to save Terri's life has already been overturned. This past Friday, Judge Greer denied yet another attempt to stay Terri's execution.
I do not think I need to say much more on this issue: the facts speak for themselves. I should add that Michael Schiavo has already moved on with his life-he now has two children with his girlfriend of 10 years. But he does not yet have Terri's money. Let us all pray fervently that Terri's story is a triumph rather than a tragedy; a story Jack McCoy would be proud to be a part of. If a husband can kill his wife, take her money, and get away with it, I tremble for the human race.
Please go to terrisfight.org and see how you can help save Terri's life.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Chafee Watch (Continued)
Just a couple of comments on the Senator's sundry remarks: He says the elderly in RI want to maintain Social Security as it is. Well this senescent old geezer is willing to see the system change if not for anything else but for the sake of his own children. And as far as his comments on President Bush lacking a mandate, where has this guy been? This is the first sitting president in quite awhile to see the kind of numbers he received. If it was Reagan, and the numbers were 90-10, Chafee would still be holding everything up. And what does "a kind of a pledge" mean? Is that a pledge that really doesn't count? Is it a half-baked pledge? Is it a non-pledge? And how does one "pledge to be open minded" anyway?
MR. RUSSERT: You're considered independent, undecided. One Republican, one [Sen. Ben Nelson] Democrat.
Senator Chafee, Vice President Cheney said this to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that "the Bush re- election victory provided a mandate `for the notion of personal retirement accounts,' and that Democrats would pay a political price among younger voters if they blocked them."
Do you believe that the president has a mandate for personal retirement accounts?
SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE, (R-RI): Well, the president has been on the road for a while now. And coming from a state with high elderly population per capita--Rhode Island now one of the top five in the country, I believe. I'm hearing from my seniors that the sell isn't being made yet on personal accounts. And we all know we have to do something about Social Security. Baby boomers are retiring. But selling these personal accounts, it's a tough sell. I'm hearing it from my elderly constituents and even the younger ones. They have some reservations about the cost up front and also the risk.
MR. RUSSERT: Does the president have a mandate for them because of his re-election?
SEN. CHAFEE: Well, usually when you talk about a mandate, you're talking about an overwhelming win. I don't think by any measurement the 2004 election was an overwhelming win. It was very, very close. It came down to Ohio. So I don't think he can use the word "mandate."
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Chafee, should the president take private, personal accounts off the table and focus on solvency?
SEN. CHAFEE: Well, as a member of the Centrist Coalition which meets every Tuesday to discuss this issue, we took kind of a pledge to have a completely open mind on all issues, but what we're learning in this Centrist Coalition is that there are other ways to address Social Security. As Senator Nelson mentioned, raising the caps. It's presently at $90,000. So if Tiger Woods is making $10 million a year, he's only paying that 12 percent Social Security tax on that first $90,000. That's one way. If you raise it...
MR. RUSSERT: How high should it go?
SEN. CHAFEE: Well, there's one proposal Dianne Feinstein from California is saying $140,000. Senator Graham from South Carolina saying have a doughnut hole, so it doesn't kick in until $200,000. So we can argue about that, or talk about over $90,000, it won't be 12 percent, it'll be 3 percent, 4 percent, some other percentage.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Chafee, I noted you invoked the name of George McGovern, and I started thinking about an article I read in the Providence Journal how you did not vote for George W. Bush for re-election. You wrote in his father's name. As a protest?
SEN. CHAFEE: Yes. On the issues that I care deeply about--the environment, Roe vs. Wade, the war in Iraq, with no weapons of mass destruction, the tax cuts that are now leading to deficits, I've got some deep issues with the president. But it's nothing personal. And so as a Republican, I support the Republican Party, but I did write in another Republican.
MR. RUSSERT: You were asked at that time might you become a Democrat, and you said, "No, I don't at this time, but I don't rule it out."
SEN. CHAFEE: Well, ... I think we don't want to ever say never.... I'm proud of the Republicans. I'm working hard for my Republican Party in Rhode Island. We've got a good governor, Governor Carcieri, a Republican, Rhode Island, good team. We're trying to get elected there. So my full intention is to stay Republican. I'm proud of the Republicans.
And why remain a Republican? His answer is: we have a good team in RI, and I'm proud to be Republican. But why?
These are just some of the things that bother me about Chafee.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
WHENEVER I THINK OF CANADA . . . strike that. I'm an American, therefore I tend not to think of Canada. On the rare occasion when I have considered the country that Fleet Streeters call "The Great White Waste of Time," I've regarded it, as most Americans do, as North America's attic, a mildewy recess that adds little value to the house, but serves as an excellent dead space for stashing Nazi war criminals, drawing-room socialists, and hockey goons.
Henry David Thoreau nicely summed up Americans' indifference toward our country's little buddy when he wrote, "I fear that I have not got much to say about Canada. . . . What I got by going to Canada was a cold." For the most part, Canadians occupy little disk space on our collective hard drive. Not for nothing did MTV have a game show that made contestants identify washed-up celebrities under the category "Dead or Canadian?"There is much, much more here.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Desire of Nations?
Political Bloggers May Influence 1 in 10
The Gallup organization has concluded that blogs are "not yet in the media big leagues." It bases this conclusion on a survey showing that "just 12 percent of Americans [age 18 or older] read political blogs regularly (at least a few times a month)." And only about 6 percent read such blogs at least a few times a week. Why is this good news? Because it shows how much room for growth political blogs have. In this regard, blog readership is significantly higher among those in the 18-29 age group. This group made up 17 percent of the sample but 25 percent of blog readers.
What about the view that blogs aren't in the big leagues yet? That might well be true. However, Gallup rests this view on the fact that so many more people get their news from the local newspaper, the local news show, and, to a lesser extent, other outlets. But blogs are not competing with these outlets as news providers. For the most part, we are competing with opinion journals and op-ed sections. The Gallup piece does not contain information about the extent to which Americans rely on these sources.
The 12% that say they read political blogs at least a few times a month amount to roughly 26 million Americans. That may not make blogs a "dominant" news source, but one American in ten ads up to a lot of influence.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Can Theology Converge with Physical Reality?
Courtesy of the Claremont Institute:
A $1.5 million Templeton prize for progress in spiritual knowledge was awarded to UC Berkeley physicist Charles Townes, 89 (Larry Stammer, LAT).
Townes, winner of a Nobel prize and co-inventor of the laser, argues that science and religion are converging:
"If you look at what religion is all about, it's trying to understand the purpose and meaning of our universe," he said in a telephone interview from New York this week. "Science tries to understand function and structures. If there is any meaning, structure will have a lot to do with any meaning. In the long run they must come together."
Townes said that it was "extremely unlikely" that the laws of physics that led to life on Earth were accidental.
Townes’ argument supports the intelligent design research of the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute. His views are likely to draw strident criticism. Consider the Feb. 7 NY Times op-ed by biologist Michael Behe, which argued for intelligent design, a conception of life that opposes Darwinism. Note as well philosopher of science Stephen Meyer’s work on DNA and intelligent design.
All of these approaches attempt to expand the narrow scientific rationalism which dominates investigation into physics, biology, and the material side of our being. The biblical account of these grand themes would of course not require confirmation by science. What is important here is that our thinking about nature—regardless of our religious beliefs—be enriched by the notion of what Aristotle called final causes, that is, purposefulness. Just as Aristotle’s Politics never loses relevance, so it is with Aristotle’s Physics, his discourse on nature, which discusses the four causes or origins of motion in the universe.
The Kind of News that Gives One a Sick Feeling in the Pit of the Stomach
LifeNews.com has the latest development, and it's bad news for Terri Schiavo, her family, and supporters:
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The judge in the Terri Schiavo case has ruled that a Florida state agency can't investigate the thirty allegations of abuse and neglect it says have come at the hand of Terri's estranged Michael. The Florida Department of Children and Families hoped to delay Terri's starvation death for 60 days to look into the concerns.
Circuit Court Judge George Greer claimed the request from DCF "appears to be brought for the purpose of circumventing the court's final judgment ... in violation of the separation of powers doctrine."
After hearing testimony about the charges of abuse yesterday, Greer told DCF officials, "All of the things (the witness) ticked off ... were all issues that have been in open court in front of the media and in the court files which the media has access to."
Yesterday, Department of Children and Families supervisor Susan McPhee told Judge Greer that Michael has denied her medical treatment and isolated her in her hospice room with the blinds closed and prevented her from going outdoors.
Those are just some of the "30 detailed allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation" the agency received in a 34-page document in February.
"This is a heightened situation because we are talking about the life of Terri Schiavo," DCF attorney Kelly McKibbe told Greer Wednesday.
Read the rest here.
A Fatwa on Bin Laden
The fatwa said that according to the Quran "the terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al-Qaida ... are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam."
It added: "Inasmuch as Osama bin Laden and his organization defend terrorism as legal and try to base it on the Quran ... they are committing the crime of 'istihlal' and thus become apostates that should not be considered Muslims or treated as such." The Arabic term 'istihlal' refers to the act of making up one's own laws.
Escudero said a fatwa can be issued by any Muslim leader who leads prayer sessions and as he serves such a role, he himself lawfully issued the edict.
He called it an unprecedented condemnation of bin Laden. "We felt now we had the responsibility and obligation to make this declaration," he said in an interview.
"I hope there is a positive reaction from Muslims," he added.
Asked if the edict meant Muslims had to help police try to arrest the world's most wanted man - who is believed to be hiding along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan - Escudero said: "We don't get involved in police affairs but we do feel that all Muslims are obliged to ... keep anyone from doing unjustified damage to other people."
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
They've Got Until May Then...Whammo
George W. Bush, saying the time for delaying tactics and half-measures has passed, has set a May deadline for Syria's full withdrawal from Lebanon. ... "Today, I have a message for the people of Lebanon," Bush said. "All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. "Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands. The American people are on your side."
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Keep an Eye on What Iran Does in the Straights of Hormuz
But read the whole thing.
Austin Bay discusses the possibility that Iran might close the Straits of Hormuz in response to US and European sanctions to prevent Teheran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The Iranians didn't actually threaten anything but simply warned of an "oil crisis" in the event they were pushed to the wall. ABC News Online says:
Iran's top nuclear official has warned the United States and Europe of the danger of an oil crisis if Tehran is sent before the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program. ... "The first to suffer will be Europe and the United States themselves, this would cause problems for the regional energy market, for the European economy and even more so for the United States," he said.
The Iranians were at pains to distinguish between a 'reasonable' Europe and an intransigent United States. Teheran pointedly implied that if the whole region were destabilized the fault would lie squarely with the United States.
Mr Rowhani, who was speaking at a conference in Tehran on nuclear technology and sustainable development, however expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached with Europe over the development of Iran's nuclear program. ... Mr Rowhani warned the US that it could destabilise the region if it blocks an accord with Europe. If Washington brings the issue before the Security Council, "Iran will retract all the decisions it has made and the confidence-building measures it has taken", he said.
So 500,000 Pro-Hisbollah pro-Syrians Demonstrated in Beirut Today - So What
Across the Middle East, a critical mass of events is taking that region in a hopeful new direction. Historic changes have many causes, yet these changes have one factor in common. A businessman in Beirut recently said, "We have removed the mask of fear. We're not afraid anymore." Pervasive fear is the foundation of every dictatorial regime -- the prop that holds up all power not based on consent. And when the regime of fear is broken, and the people find their courage and find their voice, democracy is their goal, and tyrants, themselves, have reason to fear.
History is moving quickly, and leaders in the Middle East have important choices to make. The world community, including Russia and Germany and France and Saudi Arabia and the United States has presented the Syrian government with one of those choices -- to end its nearly 30-year occupation of Lebanon, or become even more isolated from the world. The Lebanese people have heard the speech by the Syrian president. They've seen these delaying tactics and half-measures before. The time has come for Syria to fully implement Security Council Resolution 1559. All Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw before the Lebanese elections, for those elections to be free and fair.
The elections in Lebanon must be fully and carefully monitored by international observers. The Lebanese people have the right to determine their future, free from domination by a foreign power. The Lebanese people have the right to choose their own parliament this spring, free of intimidation. And that new government will have the help of the international community in building sound political, economic, and military institutions, so the great nation of Lebanon can move forward in security and freedom.
Today I have a message for the people of Lebanon: All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands. The American people are on your side. Millions across the earth are on your side. The momentum of freedom is on your side, and freedom will prevail in Lebanon.
America and other nations are also aware that the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv was conducted by a radical Palestinian group headquartered in Damascus. Syria, as well as Iran, has a long history of supporting terrorist groups determined to sow division and chaos in the Middle East, and there is every possibility they will try this strategy again. The time has come for Syria and Iran to stop using murder as a tool of policy, and to end all support for terrorism.In spite of attacks by extremists, the world is seeing hopeful progress in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. There is only one outcome that will end the tyranny, danger, violence and hopelessness, and meet the aspirations of all people in the region: We seek two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Sono pazzesco, voi sono pazzesco
Whoops again! This is a picture of the real car in which Giuliana Sgrena was transported - the previous photo shown below in this blog was actually a stock photo submitted by the AP. SO, the 300 to 400 rounds may have been more on the mark so to speak. We regret the error.
For what it's worth, Captain Ed has "Sgrena in her own words," which describes (as the Captain put it):
The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less than a kilometer away...when...I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier.
The driver started yelling that we were Italians. "We are Italians, we are Italians." Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain.
So they drove through Baghdad fast enough to almost lose control of the car, never slowed down as they approached a checkpoint they knew to be ahead, and the "rain of gunfire and bullets" apparently only hit two of the three people in the car -- hardly likely if the intent was to assassinate everyone in the vehicle. In fact, it sounds very close to the American version of the incident, in which the Italians failed to coordinate their movements with the military command protecting the single most dangerous road in Iraq, one on which numerous car-bomb attacks have been launched, and failed to approach a military checkpoint in a battle zone with caution and common sense.
The fact that anyone survived should be considered somewhat fortunate under these circumstances. It also points out that American soldiers act with caution and discrimination, not hysterical free-fire as Sgrena and the Italian press alleges.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Giuliana Sgrena "Si Pazzo!"
Now she claims that U. S. Troops were out gunning for her because they didn't like how the Italian government brokered her release (??!!??)
Moreover, the vehicle in which she escaped was, she said, the recipient of 300 to 400 rounds of ammunition.
Looks like they missed. (HT: LGF)
All one can say is what was said in "The Godfather:" si pazzo!
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Wanted - Dead (not Alive)
Now we need to git 'em.
In January, we posted a piece on the murder of an entire NJ family by what appeared to us to be the work of Islamo-facists. We apparently jumped the gun.
MrPower2 has brought to our attention the fact that New Jersey police have arrested two men for the deed, Edward McDonald, aged 25, and Hamilton Sanchez, aged 30.
One of the men lived upstairs above the Egyptian Christian family. Authorities said the motive was robbery and not religious fanaticism.
The two men, already on parole for drug offenses, pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder in the Jan. 11 killing of the Armanious family.
We regret the error.
"I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: The motive for these murders was robbery. This was a crime based on greed, the desperate need of money," Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.
DeFazio said officials believe a planned robbery spiraled out of control when the 8-year-old loosened her bonds and recognized McDonald. He is accused of killing her to avoid identification, and Sanchez is accused of killing the three others, DeFazio said.
An Anchor to the Side of the Head
Justin Katz points out an anecdote about the reaction of a "well respected neurologist" who could not understand why Terri Schiavo had not been given an MRI or PET scan under the authority of her caregiver husband:
I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that [husband and legal guardian] Michael had refused these tests.Next, Donald B. Hawthorne asks a question: Is Terri Schiavo being killed by an activist judge's judicial fiat?
There was a moment of dead silence.
"How can he continue as guardian?", the neurologist said in a tone of utter incredulity. "He refused a non-invasive test? How can they be debating a life and death decision without these tests?" ...
He said, "I can't believe intelligent people are debating this woman's life without these tests."
Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer, says Hawthorne, handed down a ruling which allows her husband Michael to remove "nutrition and hydration from the ward, Theresa Schiavo, at 1:00 p.m. on March 18, 2005." Hawthorne then points out that this is only one of the latest in a litany of ethically challenged actions by this judge.
For the full litany go here.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Time to Pack It In, Senator
The Democrat from West Virginia recently said in reference to Republican efforts to change Senate rules on filibusters, "witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. ... Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. ... He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side."
The Anti-Defamation League calls those remarks "hideous, outrageous and offensive." Adding, "The Senator shows a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was and what he and his regime represented."
Senator Byrd has been up to this sort of thing for years and if you've ever seen him, you get the impression that he's very pleased with himself. It's time, however, to send him back to the farm and call it a career. The insensitive reference is bad, but what do you say when his statement actually explains why the Senate rule is faulty? Its the Democrats with the crucial votes prevent the rule change who are manipulating the law "to cruel and unjust ends." They're the ones blocking nominations of judges from going to the full Senate where the nominees actually would win confirmation. By using the super-majority filibuster rule of 60 votes required to end debate, they effectively have stymied the Senate's "advise and consent" obligations. Wrapping themselves in a "cloak of legality" they obstruct what they cannot defeat by ordinary means.
So to paraphrase Foghorn, "I say, I say, I say, .... son, it's time you went back to the chicken coop and stopped all this foolin' aroun'. I say, I say."
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Death Penalty Madness
Justice Scalia dissented:
"The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent."
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