March 22, 2005
There are thousands of children in this country right now suffering from cerebral palsy who are probably on the same physical and intellectual level as Terri Schiavo. Many of them are incapable of feeding themselves and are receiving food and water via tubes. So far, there hasn't been a movement to remove those tubes. Once the Schiavo case becomes a historical footnote, though, the court precedent will have been set. You might think that I'm full of shit, but I've watched too many ridiculous court decisions become the legal bedrock for other ridiculous decision. Mark my words: this country of plenty has now placed a market value on a human life, and it's the low, low price of inconvenience.
Some people are claiming that Congress shouldn't get involved in our day to day activities. Please. Federal regulations control how much water my toilet can use to flush; my shower head is limited by how much water can pass through it per second thanks to the feds. And those cans of hair spray and spray paint in my house? There are federal laws regulating how far I should hold them from objects and what motion I should use( 4-6 inches, using a side-to-side motion). I purposely hold the cans 10 inches away and move it in a circle. For some reason, I think a lot of these new true believers in federalism fully supported those nitpicky intrusions into my life. So yeah, color me skeptical that their current mood will last.
I'll say it now, and I'll have said my piece on this whole horrible episode: goodbye Terri. You deserved better from us. May you find the peace and comfort in the next life. Godspeed.
Update: Rachel Lucas is in fine rant mode today. Excerpt:
Now that I know that in America, many many people (mostly liberals) are totally fine with starving living things to death - specifically, living things with "rights", which would imply some sort of sentience or consciousness or soul but apparently that includes vegetables - I've been thinking of all sorts of practical applications of that belief.
Let's see. I have a dog named Sunny, as many of you know. I signed a contract at the pound taking responsibility for her and I clearly am her legal "next of kin." Now, it's very likely that some day, Sunny will have arthritis in her hips and legs, and she might eventually be unable to move around on her own.
So! Who knows Sunny better than me? No one! So you must take my word for it when I say that I "know" Sunny would not want to suffer from arthritis to the point that she couldn't even walk around. Really, she wouldn't. I am telling you.
So here's my idea to (1) save time and money, (2) to fulfill Sunny's "wishes", and (3) to enforce her "rights": when she gets to the point where the arthritis in her hips and legs is so severe that she can't even stand up and/or walk over to the food and water bowls....WE JUST LET HER LAY THERE AND DIE!!
It's fucking brilliant, I tell you.
After all. We won't actually be "killing" her. We'll just be letting her die naturally, exactly as she would if she were in the wild. Do you think that if she lived in the woods like wolves and raccoons and squirrels do, that anyone would bring her food and water when she became crippled? Fuck no! So why should we? This is nature, folks. It is Sunny's right to die a natural, peaceful death, unsullied by human or medical intervention.
It will probably only take 7 to 14 days for her heart to give up and stop beating. Her lips and eyes might get kind of dry, but I can slather Vaseline all over her face so she's not too uncomfortable towards the end. You know, while she STARVES TO GODDAMN DEATH LIKE WE COULDN'T EVEN LEGALLY INFLICT UPON SOMEONE LIKE ADOLF FUCKING HITLER.
Update: And from KJL comes the following email she received from O. Carter Snead, general council for the Council on Bioethics. I'm excerpting the whole thing because it's well worth the read:
The state of Florida, through its judiciary, has ordered the termination of Terri Schiavo's life. This is an interest clearly protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Thus, before Florida can order such action, it must accord Schiavo with the full measure of process that is due to her. Unfortunately, a review of the record shows that such process was never provided.
The courts in Florida were charged, first and foremost, with discerning what T. Schiavo would have chosen under the present circumstances ("substituted judgment"). Florida law provides a complex system of procedural safeguards for this determination, including a "clear and convincing" evidence standard (the highest in all of civil law), and a presumption that the now-incapacitated patient would choose to live, in exercising her constitutional right to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment. Moreover, Florida law requires that a guardian be appointed in circumstances such as these to represent the interests of the patient...
...The procedural irregularities that tainted the handling of Ms. Schiavo's case include...:
The court's failure to appoint a guardian ad litem (following 199 ;
The court's usurpation of the guardian's role (in direct violation of Florida law);
The court's reliance upon insufficient evidence regarding T. Schiavo's wishes (namely, the recollection of her husband that T. Schiavo's had made ambiguous, casual remarks about "not wanting to be a burden" many years prior, in a wholly unrelated context);
The court's refusal to consider probative evidence of T. Schiavo's wishes (namely, witness testimony that Mr. Schiavo was lying and that he had never, in fact, discussed end-of-life care with T. Schiavo); and
On remand, the court's shifting of the burden to the Schindlers to demonstrate that T. Schiavo would have wanted treatment under the present circumstances (inverting the logic of the Florida laws).
These irregularities make it impossible to conclude that T. Schiavo's wishes under the present circumstances were proven by "clear and convincing" evidence, particularly in light of the presumption (under Florida law) that she would have chosen to receive life sustaining treatment. Any claim, therefore, that re-insertion of the tube is contrary to Terri's wishes (and thus an encroachment upon her right to refuse treatment) is groundless. We simply do not yet know what her wishes would have been.
The recently passed S.686 gives the Middle District of Florida jurisdiction to hear a suit or claim by or on behalf of T. Schiavo "for alleged violation of any right of T.M. Schiavo under the Constitution or laws of the US relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life." It gives third parties the standing to bring such claims. And, most importantly for present purposes, it empowers the federal court to determine, DE NOVO, "any claim of a violation of any right of T. Schiavo within the scope of this Act, NOTWITHSTANDNG ANY PRIOR STATE COURT DETERMINATION AND REGARDLESS FO WHETHER SUCH A CLAIM HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN RAISED, CONSIDERED, OR DECIDED IN STATE COURT PROCEEDINGS."
Thus, its seems highly improper for the federal court to determine on the basis of a two hour hearing that the Schindler family would not likely be successful on the merits in an entirely new trial, complete with extensive discovery, etc.
Nope, nothing to see here. Move along, please.
Update: These will end after Terri finally dies, but I had to post a link to Patterico's column. Excerpt:
In other words, although this witness originally seemed credible, the judge decided that she was not credible largely because he believed that Karen Ann Quinlan had already died in 1982 while the witness had Terri Schiavo saying Karen Ann Quinlan was alive. But Karen Ann Quinlan died in 1985, not 1976 as Judge Greer appears to have believed.
Based largely on this mistake in dates, Greer rejected the testimony of Meyer in favor of that of Michael Schiavo, his brother, and his sister-in-law, who apparently testified that Schiavo had said she wouldnt want to be hooked to a machine (is a feeding tube a machine"?).
Its hard to admit youre wrong, and when this was pointed out to Judge Greer five years later, he wrote that it made no difference to his credibility analysis when Quinlan had died. As I read the language quoted above, it made a big difference to him. Greer just didnt want to admit it.
March 21, 2005
Twelve years ago I had to bury the first person who befriended me when I moved to Virginia. He wasn't my best friend, but at one time he was my only friend. When I received word that he had died, I didn't know how to respond; 33 years of life didn't seem long enough, but that's all he was given. His impish grin and devilish sense of humor survive only in our minds and hearts. It's not enough, not nearly enough, but it's all we have. And I'm glad for the memories, however tinged with pain they might be.
In last week's episode of Boston Legal, one of Denny Crane's[William Shatner] longtime friends was diagnosed with ALS. What struck me was Shatner's (paraphrased)comment with James Spader at the end:
People don't tell others that they care about them enough. We should do that more often.
Make certain that if you love someone, you tell them. Today. There's no guarantee that tomorrow will come for both of you.
OK, I get the hang of this game. Sending Bolton to be U.N. ambassador is like . . . putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam's Iraq chair the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man U.N. operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else.
All of which happened without the U.N. fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the U.N.'s expense?
Part two: And this one is from Victor David Hanson. VDH takes on the whole Chimpy McSmirkyBusHitler business. Excerpt:
So what gives with this crazy popular analogy one that on a typical Internet Google search of Bush + Hitler yields about 1,350,000 matches?
One explanation is simply the ignorance of the icons of our popular culture. A Linda Ronstadt, Garrison Keillor, or Harold Pinter knows nothing much of the encompassing evil of Hitlers regime, its execution of the mentally ill and disabled, the systematic cleansing of the non-Aryans from Europe, or mass executions and starvation of Soviet prisoners. Like Prince Harry parading around in his ridiculous Nazi costume, quarter-educated celebrities who have some talent for song or verse know only that name-dropping Hitler or his associates gets them some shock value that their pedestrian rants otherwise would not warrant.
Ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination. Nowhere do we see that more clearly among writers and performers who pontificate as historians when they know nothing about history.
March 19, 2005
If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.
As I mentioned rather profanely before, I will not alter my blog behavior one iota if the
dickheads-that-are powers-that-be decide that they don't want to hear any more commentary from the little people. You remember them, the US citizens: they were in all the papers. Even that little scrap that Congress has seen fit to wipe their collective asses with, the US Constitution.
I realize that I could simply convert my site into an ALL ANAL SEX!!! ALL THE TIME WITH BARNYARD ANIMALS DOING TEENAGE SLUTS!!!! and then I'd be safe. Hmmm, what to do, what to do. Should I retool my blog to discuss bestiality, necrophilia and hardcore porn to stay safe, or continue with my usual staple of stale jokes and political commentary, and potentially end up violating, umm, I have no idea what, since the regulation would be fragantly illegal.
Short answer: fuck 'em.
I'm in, and I hope that everyone in this country is with me. If not, I weep for our future.
Update: Stephen Macklin of Hold The Mayo made the following comment:
My blog will change in response to FEC rules. No more quizzes, no more book or movie memes. All political advocacy all the time.
I stand corrected.
March 17, 2005
Many people believe that Terri Schiavo has had the best of care, and that everything has been tried by way of rehabilitation. This belief is false. In fact, Terri has had no attempts at therapy or rehabilitation since 1992, and very little had been done up to that point. Terri has not even had the physical therapy most doctors would regard as normative for someone in her condition. The result is that Terri suffers from severe muscle contractures, which have caused her body to become contorted. Physical therapy could remedy this, but husband Michael has refused to provide it.
Terri has also suffered from what many professionals would regard as neglect. She had to have several teeth extracted last year because of severe decay. This decay was caused by a lack of basic dental hygiene, such as tooth-brushing. She also developed decubitus (skin) ulcers on her buttocks and thighs. These ulcers can be prevented by a simple regimen of regular turning: a basic nursing task that any certified nurses aide can perform. The presence of these easily preventable ulcers is a classic sign of neglect. Bob and Mary Schindler have repeatedly complained of Terris neglect, and have sought to remove Michael as guardian on that basis. Judge Greer was unmoved by those complaints as well.
Terris diagnosis was arrived at without the benefit of testing that most neurologists would consider standard for diagnosing PVS. One such test is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). MRI is widely used today, even for ailments as simple as knee injuries but Terri has never had one. Michael has repeatedly refused to consent to one. The neurologists I have spoken to have reacted with shock upon learning this fact. One such neurologist is Dr. Peter Morin. He is a researcher specializing in degenerative brain diseases, and has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Boston University.
In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.
There was a moment of dead silence.
Thats criminal, he said, and then asked, in a tone of utter incredulity: How can he continue as guardian? People are deliberating over this womans life and death and theres been no MRI or PET? He drew a reasonable conclusion: These people [Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer] dont want the information.
I don't really believe in karma, but in Michael Schiavo's case, I hope it exists. I want him licking the ass of the bacterium on the anus of dung beetles in his next life. And the life after that. And the life after that...
Update: Andy McCarthy has a great piece over at National Review Online. His point is that we treat mass murderers better than a defenseless, innocent woman. I reiterate: starving and dehydrating someone to death is fucking NOT in their best interest.
Update: Gerard weighs in with a typically thoughtful post. He includes the current mindset infecting today's society wherein the political is personal, the party uber alles.
Update: From Spoons:
"If Jeb Bush were a truly courageous man, he'd send in the national guard to stand in the hospital room door and insure that those ghouls don't get to kill Terri Schiavo in cold blood."
And still more from Spoons, whose blue language is waaayyyy too mild for my tastes.
Update: Lileks weighs in as well. Excerpt:
Ill stop here before someone feels compelled to send an email comparing Terry Schiavo to Spock in that horrible episode in which his brain was gone but even then, youll note, they beamed down and looked around for the damn thing. In short: err on the side of life is not a bad motto to keep in mind. This seems simple enough. I respect those who nod, count to three, and offer a soft however so that we may refine the particulars. But I dont have much time for those who hear err on the side of life and automatically bristle, because they hear the voice of someone who, damn their black and God-addled brain, once sent $10 to a politician who opposed parental notification law that did not have a judicial review.
You may not always agree with that sort of person. You may have no need for them. But you never think you have need of any chocks until you're in the truck, and you realize it's rolling down the hill. Backwards.
Update: from Jonah Goldberg:
Look, I've had a very bad week which has distracted me from all of this Schiavo stuff. I need to read and think more about all of it. But I think it's fair to say I'm not exactly on the same page with a lot of my conservative friends and colleagues on many of the issues involved. I'll write more on the issue later. But I have to say I'm disgusted with the faux moral outrage from liberals who are stunned by the idea that the federal government might get involved in issues like this. This is the party which danced a jig over the Violence Against Women Act and which has defined a vast swath of its political raison d'etre around the idea that the federal government should jealously guard the right to abortion and the right to appeal a death sentence in federal courts. And it is now scandalized that the Republican Party is trying to prevent a state court from killing a woman. It's okay for Washington to meddle when a husband slaps his wife, but it's outrageous when Washington tries to stop a husband from killing his wife? It's mandatory that a federal judge make sure a minority isn't passed-over for a promotion, but it's a rejection of the rule of law for a federal judge to make sure that a woman isn't wrongfully starved to death? Thanks to the hard work of Democrats states can't set their own drinking age or voting age, but suddenly state judges should be The Word of God when it comes to slowly killing citizens. I don't get it.
I do think conservative Republicans are at a minimum inconsistent in their sudden love of the fourteenth amendment and an activist federal government. But liberals are no less inconsistent in their sudden love of states' rights on such issues. The difference is that Republicans are embracing a principle they've spent some time upholding -- a culture of life -- while Democrats are spending most of their time whining about the "hypocrisy" of their opponents. I would respect the Democrats more if they had the courage to argue that Terri should die. That is their position.
Ann Althouse offers a slightly different perspective on the federalism issue.
Update: One final link, and this time it's to Hog On Ice. Excerpt:
Thanks to liberals, I live in a state where I can be prosecuted for cutting a mangrove tree that pops up and obstructs my boat dock, but Michael Schiavo can kill his wife, with what appears to be inadequate reason, and not even pay a fine. People call Terri Schiavo a vegetable. Would that it were so. In Florida, the law protects vegetation.
We need to investigate Terris condition. We need to investigate Michael Schiavos motivation. We need to be remindedforcefullythat the value of a life is not related to how closely that life approximates an ideal existence. Brain-damaged peopleat least those who are capable of consciousnessare human. They are human. Not one of us is any better than they are. Terri Schiavo is not three-fifths of a person or half a person or a third of a person. She is either a complete person or a dead body kept warm by artificial means. She should be presumed alive until proven otherwise. The burden of proof should be on those who want to starve her, not on her or her anguished parents.
Terri Schiavo is the Rosa Parks of the disabled. And the terrifying thing is that, like Rosa Parks, she has untold peers who have been less fortunate than she. Rosa Parks was arrested, but in the end, she was vindicated. But how many blacks were thrown off of buses before she made the news? And how many Terri Schiavos have been quietly disposed of?
She deserves a fighting chance and due process, not a death warrant issued by a kangaroo court. And maybe if the medical tests go her way, shell get to live as long as an average murderer appealing a death sentence.
Update: I lied. Sue me. I should have checked in at Victory Soap before declaring that I was finished.
Update: And Graumagus weighs in, too. Excerpt:
That said, the sticking point in this whole affair for me is the fact that, in 15 years, this woman's husband would not allow a MRI or PET scan to be done.
I'm sorry people, those of you who are screaming 'She's brain dead! The EEG and CAT scans blah blah" let me tell you something:
THEY CAN BE WRONG.
In 1996 my father had a very nasty left side stroke. The CAT scan showed a brain bleed the size of a fist and the EEG basically said he went from hard boiled to scrambled.
They said it was surprising he even survived
They told us it would be a miracle if he ever spoke again.
They told us he'd never walk again.
They were wrong.
His MRI came back and showed that the damage wasn't nearly as bad as was shown even on a subsequent CAT scan (after the MRI)
My father was speaking within two weeks and walking within three months. Now he speaks fine, walks with a cane, drives, and bitch/pisses/and moans about shit just as badly as he used to pre-stroke.
My point is, how can they advocate pulling this woman's feeding tube without even doing all of the basic necessary medical tests to properly diagnose her condition? That shit is criminal.
Yeah. It is.
Final Four #1: Oklahoma St., Gonzaga, Duke and UNC. Duke vs. Ok. St. in the final, Duke winning their fourth title.
Final Four #2: Illinois, Gonzaga(stop your bitching), Duke and UNC. Duke vs. Gonzaga in the final, Gonzaga turning the world of college basketball on its head by winning it all.
And now for the obligatory top ten(received via email, so I don't know the source):
Top 10 ways to lose your NCAA tourney pool
10. Look for the winner of the play-in game to ride that momentum all the way to St. Louis.
9. Account for anticipated hostile takeover by NIT field of 32 in your bracket.
8. Years of grade inflation and legacy admissions finally yield an Ivy League national championship.
7. When filling out your bracket, ask yourself: what would Christopher Lowell do?
6. Instead of doing a bracket, download witty ring-tones!
5. Channel your wishes for a USC-Auburn football match-up onto your NCAA bracket.
4. It's Boston's year expect an M.I.T-Radcliffe final.
3. When in doubt, go with traditional powers like Indiana and UCLA.
2. According to the Chinese calendar, 2005 is the year of the rooster. As such, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers look unstoppable.
1. That transvestite will not only knock out Tonya Harding, but also make the Final Four.
March 16, 2005
Hey, Germany and Italy should get along great, seeing as how they've been staunch allies in the past. France will just keep making white flags. At least it's some sort of contribution, right?
March 15, 2005
Meat: it's what's for dinner.
"It's a totalitarian regime."
Pot, I don't believe that you've been formally introduced. Meet the kettle.
March 14, 2005
Interesting season for Duke. After last season, Chris Duhon graduated, Luol Deng turned pro after one season and a committed high school senior entered the NBA draft and was drafted in the first round. Duke looked, by talent, to be a middle of the pack ACC team. That Kreezeeyouwishky guy sure can coach, though. This season is quite possibly his greatest coaching job at Duke. Ever. I'm quite pleased at how things have turned out.
Having said all that, I don't believe that they're likely to make the Final Four this year; Syracuse could give Duke fits in the Sweet Sixteen. My guess is that UNC will be the ACC team that goes the distance. I'm looking forward to being proved wrong. On both counts.
March 11, 2005
Let them know with whom they are dealing: the people of the United States of America. Sign the petition.
I cannot believe that this is the 31st installment. Where did the last 31 weeks go?.
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