March 23, 2005

i, heretic

Terri Schiavo's impending death should give each of us pause no matter where we come down on the issue of her continued access to food. That I am on the side of life for Terri will come as no to surprise to those of you familiar with me. That I am mortified by the desecration of the rule of law by those who in a general sense agree with me will be probably less surprising to you still.

In a New York Times op-ed today, Charles Fried characterized the superficial problem well when he expressed dismay at the Republican’s situational contempt for the rule of law in light of their traditional patronage of that worthy cause. Whether the Republicans ever had a drop of sincerity in their support for the rule of law is hard to say, but it should be clear now that their purported high regard of America as a nation of laws is ultimately subservient to their political agenda. Unfortunately, a lack of fidelity to one’s stated High Ideals is nothing new for our political class regardless of which side of the isle on which they stand.

I seldom get more nauseous than when a Democrat or Republican is accusing other politicians of hypocrisy thereby achieving the epistemological marvel of hypocritical hypocrisy.

But my nausea today stems more from a profound discouragement that we as a society will ever be able to tackle complex ethical problems in a useful manner. We have become so dysfunctional that as a nation that we are not only unamazed at the politicization of a politically neutral moral issue, but we also unrepentantly accept this state of affairs as the norm. Our continuing voluntary acquiescence to content free dialog has brought us to this point where it is highly probable that we will come through the long and arduous “discussion” concerning Terri Schiavo and arrive at the other side with no more understanding or consensus than when we first considered the issues.

While I share the distress of many Americans over the need to find a socially useful definition of life, my greater terror comes from recognizing that the issues presented by the Schiavo case are of great simplicity when compared to profound bioethical questions that lie just over the horizon of popular consciousness. A society that cannot corporately determine that which is Life when dealing with familiar things such as the human genome will surely be dashed to philosophical pieces by the radical technologies which will explode upon us long before this writer reaches his actuarial expectation of the hereafter.

And make no mistake about it, what lays ahead is perhaps more daunting than what any of us can imagine. Will the mice with quasi-human brains that they claim are presently not allowed to fully develop be deemed worthy of any kind of human rights protection? What are we to do with other chimeras yet to be born? And fasten your seat-belts bio-sports fans because mere genetic tinkering of this kind is child’s play compared to efforts to use the building blocks of life to create fundamentally new biologies.

Hyperbole is scarcely even possible in these matters.

What is happening due to our collective inability to intelligently arrive at a conclusion on any issue that presents an ethical conflict is that we are abandoning some of our most important decisions to the political elite. Being dependable politicians, they of course pursue political advantage rather than leading constructive ethical debate. It is the ultimate in naiveté to be shocked by this.

The real shock is that we are missing here a great opportunity to set the law on the reasonable path of a presumption for the continuation of life. Certainly other positions are possible and should be discussed, but it seems likely that most Americans would favor a presumption of life in the absence of a prior clear expression to the contrary by the one who is no longer able to speak for themselves. Instead, we ogle the facts before us, stamp our feet in righteous anger and carefully avoid the uniquely American heresy of substantive dialog.

The politicians will have the last “laugh”, I suppose, because when the petition for injunctive relief to support the human rights of something akin to a pig-human chimera that can be shown to possess a brain with a human structure and chemistry, America will habitually turn to them to be told what to think. And what we must think will then of course depend on the red-blue topography of the upcoming election.

When bioethics questions come up, I often think about the line uttered by the Jeff Goldblum character from the movie Jurassic Park where he admonishes that “life will find a way”. As we set a course for tinkering with life in ways grander still than even what was depicted in that movie, it is a frightening thing to know that we proceed not only without a navigator, but without a rudder as well.

114 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

I've heard over and over in the news that this is a complex and tragic situation. It's only complex because our govt has inserted itself into it. There are thousands of people in this very same situation everyday. The x factor is The Bush brothers. 3 yrs ago, Jeb defied the florida supreme court by passing special legislatin to keep her on the tube. Eventually, it was declared unconstitutional. Then some other judge prolonged it beyond that. My question is, why does the govt take the side of the parents? The law is clear, spouses have the final say. I think Savage referred to the husband as an adulterer and his childred as bastards. Her parents, are in denial and are consumate manipulators. Terri is just a pawn in the whole ordeal. The real Terri is dead, her soul is in the hands of God. Her body survives and is a testament to the fact that it was made to survive and fight for the person inside. There is no issue of national importance. Our justice system has worked perfectly. It has sustained a direct hit from demagogues and 22 tribunals have reached the same conclusion, they have all followed the law. As conservatives preach all the time, it's not about equality of outcome but of opportunity.
It doesn't matter if the husband plans to pocket what's left of the money, or that he has moved on. (he stood by her for nearly 7 yrs) The fact is that the govt needs to stay out of this family's business.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony, that has to be one of your best blogs. Fantastic.

"Unfortunately, a lack of fidelity to one’s stated High Ideals is nothing new for our political class regardless of which side of the isle on which they stand."

This is it exactly. Can anyone name a time recently where a politician really risked the next election by taking a stand on their beliefs. It's hard enough to find someone from his/her party that goes against the rest of the lemmings... and if you find one, you can bet the opposition was orchestrated and approved behind the scenes (i.e. can you say head count). Look, life is full of problems. If our elected types take them on when the come up, have real substantial debates, and provide solutions... you end up with iterative improvements. The way it stands now... it's just one pissing contest after the next.

Let's try an experiment. Let's see if we (Curms's fellow bloggers) and set new law regarding the right-to-die cases. I will go first.

1) Everyone is required to complete a living will to obtain a driving license.
2) The Federal living will (this is definitely a Federal issue) will be very detailed, regarding instructions concerning ventilators, feeding tubes, paralysis, etc.
3) Every living will will list, in order.... who is in charge of speaking for her.
4) The law, and the person's designated person (whether that be spouse or parent or ??) will follow the individuals wishes... end of story ... Except for
5) Anyone who has evidence that the living will provisions should not be followed, would be given a forum in FEDERAL court.
6) In the event that someone doesn't have a living will, the spouse, parents and siblings will be allowed to decide. If not unanimous, the Federal court will decide.

I had the biggest problem with #6. This gets very problematic. For example, we don't have the capacity ($) to keep every single person in our country on life support... i.e. keep everyone on machines as long as technology can facilitate, regardless of mental capacity. Think we have a health insurance crisis now... just go there. This is where reality hits religious conviction.

Anyway... that's a start. Let's play Congress. :)

6:15 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

Andrew said:

"The law is clear, spouses have the final say......(he stood by her for nearly 7 yrs)"

This, to me, is the nub. If the deposition made by his "first" girlfriend, "Cindy" is truthful, he was shopping for a replacement before the malpractice trial was over. Adultery is grounds for divorce in Florida. Michael contends that he's following Terri's wishes concerning "no tubes." Surely she had opinions on adultery and divorce as well. His conflict of interest disqualifies him as her guardian.

"The real Terri is dead, her soul is in the hands of God."

I disagree. Lack of consciousness doesn't mean the soul has flown the coop. Surely a person on an operating table has no visible discernable conscious activity and is clearly "alive." The medical jury is still out on Terri's CT scans--whether or not she has sufficient cortex to be considered conscious is by no means a unanimous determination. You can bet the civil lawsuits for wrongful death are being prepared even as we write.

CG writes:

"Let's try an experiment. Let's see if we (Curms's fellow bloggers) and set new law regarding the right-to-die cases."

I like what you're saying, I'd just make it short and sweet.

1. Parents or legal guardians decide in the case of an unemancipated child. If the parents/guardians don't agree, the court gets jurisdiction.

2. Legal adults, single, married or otherwise will be treated according to their Living Will. In the absence of such, a court (maybe a Living Probate Court?) decides. While not everyone has a material estate to protect, everyone has a life. These Wills could be more or less standardized in the degree of medical treatment desired. As with a material estate where you can't bequeath what you don't have, you can't get treatment that you (or your insurance, Medicare, whatever)doesn't provide.

Tony, I'll be back to weigh in on the bioethic debate.

And by the way, that remark I made way back in my uncouth youth about "if I ever get THAT FAT, please shoot me"----I didn't mean it. Really. Put your gun away.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

Stilldream: you raise an interesting point about the adultery, but only terri can file and of course, she's incompetent. Maybe the parents ought to try that tactic. Only one problem, though, The evidence appears to be indisputable that she didn't want to be on any "tubes". The parents and family members can't seem to dispute this fact. So if that's the case, her wish should be granted. The courts have remained steadfast on this issue because, apparently, it has been factually established. The media, the politicians and the family have done a masterful job of covering up this fact. Terri doesn't want to live this way. She has a constitutional right to die. What the politicians are doing is trying to thwart that right.
When someone is "under" they still have a healthy, functioning brain. I'm not a doctor but when your cortex is gone, The inner person, the non-material person can no longer live in the body. You're pretty much a shell. Only God knows for sure.

As far as a wrongful death suit is concerned, I don't think they have a shot, since the courts have upheld the case so far. No one has yet defeated the fact that terri wanted this outcome. This is the key, nothing else matters.
The pro life extremists have junped onto this. The only problem is that terri has a voice and her wishes need to be respected. The courts are not executing her, she is getting what she wants. Hopefully, our politicians will learn a valuable lesson about the rule of law, seperation of powers, the sanctity of the family and ultimately the indvidual's right to choose.

By the way, Here's a living will that you can cut and paste:

Living Will
and
Health Care Proxy
of



TO MY FAMILY, MY PHYSICIANS, ANY MEDICAL FACILITY HAVING RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY CARE, AND ALL OTHERS CONCERNED WITH MY WELL-BEING OR AFFAIRS:

I, , hereby appoint , residing at , and whose telephone number is , as my health care agent to make any and all health care decisions for me, except to the extent I state otherwise.

In the event I receive care in a nursing facility, my health care agent shall also act as my designated representative as My health care agent will receive information when my nursing facility is required to provide information to both myself and a designated representative and also receive information if I become unable to understand such information. My health care agent will participate, to the extent authorized under State law, in decisions regarding my care, treatment and well-being.

This health care proxy shall take effect in the event I become unable to make my own health care decisions, except that the provisions in the immediately preceding paragraph appointing my health care agent to act as my designated representative in the event I receive care in a nursing facility shall take effect immediately.

Without limiting in any way the authority of my health care agent, I wish to state my instructions concerning the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment. These instructions shall apply whether or not my health care agent is living and able to carry them out. If the situation should arise in which there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by medications, artificial means of nutrition, hydration or respiration, or other artificial means or "heroic measures".

I do, however, ask that medication be mercifully administered to me to alleviate suffering even though this may shorten my remaining life.

This request is made after careful consideration and is in accordance with my strong convictions and beliefs. In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of life-sustaining treatments as described above, it is my intention that this directive shall be honored by my family and physicians as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal.

I direct my health care agent to make health care decisions in accordance with my wishes and instructions as stated above, or as otherwise known to my health care agent. I also direct my health care agent to abide by any limitations on my health care agent's authority as stated above or as otherwise known to my health care agent.

If my health care agent named above is unable to act, then I appoint the following individuals, acting successively in the following order of priority, as my health care agent, each one of them to serve in the event all those named before such individual are unable to act:

, residing at , and whose telephone number is ; and

, residing at , and whose telephone number is .

I request, but do not direct, that, to the extent possible and convenient, my then acting health care agent shall consult with all of the individuals named herein as successor health care agents in making any such decision, provided that in the event of a disagreement the decision of my then acting health care agent shall govern and be binding and conclusive upon all persons affected by such decision, and I further request that a copy of this instrument be provided to such person in the event I become unable to make my own health care decisions.

I understand that, unless I revoke it, this proxy will remain in effect indefinitely.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have signed this instrument on .

Signature:

Residing at:


I declare that the person who signed this document is personally known to me and appears to be of sound mind and acting willingly and free from duress. Such person signed this document in my presence. I am not the person appointed as agent by this document.

Witnesses:

residing at



residing at




State of Texas )
) ss.:
County of )


On the day of in the year 20____ before me, the undersigned, a Notary Public in and for said State, personally appeared ________________ , personally known to me or proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the individual whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that he/she executed the same in his/her capacity, and that by his/her signature on the instrument, the individual, or the person upon behalf of which the individual acted, executed the instrument.




Notary Public

9:01 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Andrew,

I completely agree that the law must respect Terri’s choice. I disagree with her choice. I even would change the law so that there was a clear presumption in favor of life. But we trust courts with weighing the facts all of the time. As you said, a lot of judges have looked at these facts and been unmoved.

I would add that Florida has a particularly convoluted history in this area of law. One of my writing projects in school was to draft an opinion on behalf of the Florida Supreme Court regarding then current facts wherein some parents wanted to harvest the organs of an anencephalic baby prior to having it unhooked from life support. The conflicts of interest there makes the Schiavo case look juvenile. But what I found was the law in Florida was a mess and that had some confused case law that clearly seemed to favor euthanasia. Judge Curmudgeon’s solution was to create a hearing whereby judges would assess the conflicts of interest and facts before them and determine whether or not organ harvesting could go forward. The point of this being, if we are to be a nation of laws, the courts are our instituted triers of fact. Either you are going to follow the rule of law or not. And if you think the results of such a system could ever be totally satisfactory to any individual, you are just dreaming.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Molly was unusually good today on this very subject.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Andrew, it is not complex because the goernment got involved. It is complex, because there is "NO" living will in place stating her wishes. This is every American citizens right to fill one out and file it with their doctor as well as with someone that they trust, in which is what is to be done with the document. I have now requested Senator's Clinton and Schumer's offices and Congressman's Reynolds and Higgins office to take control of her and to have an investigation done into what is driving this man in to seeing her dead, instead of just divorcing her which is his right to do. I will never support an unjustified death sentence as this one is. She is only guilty of be brain damaged. If this gives the court the right to sentence someone to death, where has our nation gone to then. The court's have shown to me that they are very arrogant to proceive to think that they would know this is what she would want without even knowing her personally. The government has one more thing that they can do and that is to pass a law for every state and every court to require and that is that before a decision like this must have a signed "Living Will" in place other than that the court will tell the people that "You have a legal right to divorce this person, but you do not have a right to have them dead!" That would have been the proper response by the court in this situation, but they wanted to be arrogant in my opinon and rule the other way, and then to put her to death that was ruled at the end of World War II as an inhumane way of putting someone to death. So, where is the legal right of the court to do either of these actions that a state court ruled and two Federal courts upheld, just where is the laws allowing this type of decision or treatment? I don't believe the US Constitution allows for this action and this is what everyone should be looking at for the answer, but they will not find nothing there. This is why I want this law done as I told them in hopes of saving her done by C.O.B. today. It may not happen, but I hope and pray that they will get it done and grandfather her in under this law overturning this unjustified death sentence, since there is no living will. I have questions as to what is motivating this person to see her daed instead of just divorcing her in which he caan. He would lose the right to any insurance and that to is only right as well. So, why should she die when there are people willing to take care of her and control of her affairs if it is just that he don't want this responsibility. No, He has to have her dead period, or he would not be fight as hard as he is to see this done, and I am wondering now if he is trying to get the government to finish something that he tried to do fifteen years ago and it went wrong, because she has a strong will to live and she survivored. These are my feelings only and you may or may not agree, but I want an investigation into this man and to know if it was a homicide that went wrong. Until, these can be answered I expect the Federal Government to take control of her and to have an the investigation started into what happened the night before this incident happened. The husband says it was caused by a heart attack, but a doctor on Mar.21 (who supposely attend to her and was a national television show and he even said there needs to be an investigation in to this as well) says that there is "NO" medical evidence to support that and in the medical records as well as in legal records that she intended to leave her husband that night, so what happened to her that night. Did her give her poison that may have made it look like a heart attack, and if so is there still any evidence. Before, I will (and this should be every citizen) allow this death sentence I want these questions answered for everyone to know. I believe in the freedom of choosing life or death, since just last week as I told the government that a federal agency and personal problems; I choose to try to end my own life by sucide by poison, but as said two days after, and I was still alive I guess the Lord stopped me from darnking too much of this poison. But, in this case I believe without a signed living will there is "NO" justication to this death sentence that she has received. I will use Mr. Joe Scarborough's closing statement from last night in closing "May God forgive us for this!"

12:51 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Tony, just for you and your readers to know, too. I have a Poll going at Court TV message boards about "Should They require a "living Will" before handing down such a decision or ruling" exact wording not sure of, but so far there are 19 votes 10 for yes, 7 for NO and 2 as undecided. I hope you all may go and vate, as well Thank you all. To find it easier just do a search for the writer's name which is "dststm44" there at thier message boards, Thanks again to everyone.

1:15 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Andrew,

You said in your post that Terry's wishes in this matter had been "factually established". That's a new bit of information. Could you point me to some references where I could verify this supposed proof of Terry's wishes?

...David R

1:50 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Thomas,

OK, I know this is an emotional issue for some, but I have to weigh in here.

" If this gives the court the right to sentence someone to death, where has our nation gone to then."

Both sides needs to turn down the rhetoric and deal with facts. Fact: In our country (in this case Florida) a person has the right to not accept assisted breathing or feeding. You may not accept that right, and you are free to go and try and get the law changed, but that's the law for now. The court allowed Terri's perceived wishes and did not sentence her to death. It's just not worth debating anyone making up facts. The Florida courts and decision was based on attempting to understand Terri's wishes... not her husband that is being vilified. The court's ruling had nothing to do with what kind of guy Terri's husband is, how fast he jumped in the sack with another woman, how the religious right measures him in regard to his marriage vows, etc. The only concern to the court regarding Terri's husband was his credibility as a witness. He wasn't the only witness. The judges have been there through all of this... you and I have not. I've found the national attack on Terri's husband to be sickening. I know nothing about him... he may very well be a jerk. But here's a newsflash... the guy was a victim in this also. He lost his wife the day of the heart attack. It's been 15 frickin years. I find this discussion similar to the abortion issue. The passions from the right to life crowd have no bounds. Need to violate current law and courts following it to install your beliefs... make a new law, get Congress to step in, suggest that maybe the husband was a murderer. The passions have no bounds. I heard Joe Scarborough last night. How disgusting.... simple pandering for ratings. Here are some more facts: In Terry's case there are two choices ... BOTH bad. 1) Terri is allowed to die (not sentenced to death). 2) Terri is kept alive with a feeding tube, in a brain dead state. The right to life crowd argues this like it will be just glorious if we keep all human shells breathing through technology. The other side of the argument is that your religious passion is interfering with this human's wishes. You don't know Terri's wishes for sure, and neither do I. In fact, the courts and judges that are being vilified will never know for sure either. But that's what we have in our country... a court system to do the best it can. Why would any of us accept religious passions as a substitute for the court system. If you don't like the law, try and change it... hijacking the process will never be acceptable. I heard that pompus ass Bill O'Reilly proclaim to the world that he, the king, has come up with the perfect solution to satisfy all. Terri's husband should divorce her, turn her over to the parents, and everyone is happy... because after all, Terri isn't conscience to know anyway. What an idiot. He just blew right past the idea that Terri's wishes may have been otherwise. Nobody's religious beliefs, politics, ideology matter in this... it's Terri's choice within the law. For those with theocracy leanings, who would like to ban any form of living will... knock yourself out... go try and change the law. You might also want to fire up the Matrix human pods machines and break it to the GOP that they will have to back off that "no tax mantra"... healthcare costs are going to be a bitch.

IMO, the two factions in this country that are the most willing to challenge the rights of others are the religious right, and liberals like myself. The RR want's a theocracy, and the liberals wants your tax dollars to play Robin Hood. Both are about as far from libertarian thinking as you could get. With constant help from these two factions, you will be guaranteed monogamous-only sex in the correct orifice, and only within moderate economic means. :)

1:58 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

You said that you disagreed with Terry's choice. Assuming you believe that Terry's choice was to not be kept alive by a feeding tube if she was in a permanent vegetative state, could you expand on your disagreement with such a choice?

...R

1:58 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Thomas,

The problem you fail to realize is that you may in fact be substituting your own judgment for that of Terri. I personally think we have no collective guilt on this one because the court has done its best to determine her wishes based on the available evidence. I think you, and many others, are letting your own feelings on suicide color your perception of the situation.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OT: From previous blog

Prof,

I saw your quiz on the other blog, but opted not to take it. If you don't believe something is different these days in middle class american on the economic front, I will never be able to convince you. Sometimes that convincing has to be in person... i.e. personal career. Regarding taxes, it's obvious income in our country is taxes with a fine-toothed comb, but other forms of income live in an alternative unpoliced universe. It's not the average Joe who has income outside their salary or hourly wage. I don't remember the year, but I remember Congress went after the IRS for not being user-friendly. They could do that because we have been brainwashed in this country to view those collecting required tax revenue as the enemy. The IRS didn't come up with the concept of collecting taxes. Congress went after the IRS because some of them had the audacity to go after the wealthy folks in this country dodging taxes.

I'll keep posting the following website as a starting point for anyone thinking everything is as it should be. Not the king, just a voter. Demanding something different from our economic system isn't communism. That argument isn't going to fly forever. You can only sell the bs to the masses until it reaches a certain pain threshold. IMO, that pain is going to get here faster than anyone thinks. Corporations will make more money outsourcing jobs and careers over the next decade, and as long as the GOP stays in charge, nobody will stop them. Corporate tax rates have continued to drop as a percentage of contribution to our nation's tax revenue, and this will continue. A narrow percentage of the population will continue to grow off the charts in wealth... and the wealth gap will become larger and more defined.

Want facts and charts regarding the wealth gap trends... read "Wealth and Democracy" by Kevin Phillips. Want to know how the average tax payer get to carry the tax burden for many of the wealthy... read "Peferctly Legal". I have recommended this reading to you before.... it would do you good. :)

US, Playground for a few

2:13 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David,

Using the socractic method to draw out your prey? :)

2:18 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the Living Will. I’ve already modified it, but can’t get the Notary to accept my cat’s paw print as a signature. :-D I know this is her will. I was there when she scratched me and signed it.

Re: Schiavo. I’m so glad its not my job to answer this situation. Last fall a friend and client of mine fell from a significant height. He was in a coma for a couple of weeks and has had to relearn so much. He just recently got to go home from the hospital to his family, though with six hours of therapy 5 days a week for the next few months. Two weeks ago today, some other friends had a baby at home with a midwife. The child was born w/o breathing or detectable heartbeat, but CPR was performed, 911 called, and the baby was resuscitated. Unfortunately, the child was determined to have severe brain damage. The difficult decision to remove him from the respirator was made, but the child has now lived a whole week post-respirator, but not expected to live much longer. I grieve and pray for these friends. I am clueless how I would act or react in these cases. I do not currently have a Living Will. I know its sticking my head in the sand mentality, but there are some things I’d rather not consider a possibility. Having it hit so close to home, I guess I need to make the effort to not burden those I leave behind with the decision or the court battle. As many of my family members as I have seen in a hospital bed over the years, Its just too possible not to act on it now.

Prof. Ricardo

2:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Yeah... that's what the living will is about to me... the family members who are stuck with dealing with it. I certainly don't want others making these kinds of decisions for me, but the big issue is the burden left to the family. I wouldn't want my wife to have an ounce of guilt about it... my wishes are in black and white. It kind of makes you wonder these days if one should also record a video to back it up.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Molly was awsome as usual. I have two future parties planned.. although with me a party just means a seond Bass Pale Ale for the night. :) The first party will be the day they kick DeLAY out of Congress. The second is when 43 goes back to Crawford. There should be some national party planned to toast 43 going back to Crawford.

2:42 PM  
Blogger David R said...

From Molly's article:

"while he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed the Advanced Directives Act in 1999, which gives hospitals the right to remove life support in cases where there is no possibility of revival, when the family cannot pay, no matter what the family's wishes are in the matter.".

Where is the outrage from the "pro-life" crowd about this kind of practice? If Terri Schaivo was an indigent 40 year old in Texas with no insurance, there would have been no trouble, she would be dead today, thanks to that law Bush signed when he was governor. And Bush wouldn't have had to fly -out- of Texas in the middle of the night in order to save her life in Florida. This must be the most ironic administration in history.

Kind of puts a pall over all Shrub's pretty talk about erring "on the side of life", doesn't it? Makes whatever view he might have on the matter seem somewhat shallow, doesn't it?

...R

3:17 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

DavidR,

I believe that suicide is morally wrong. Perhaps when we know more about the brain and what constitutes death, I might have a change in opinion on Terri’s choice being the wrong one. To me, I think the only border that I am comfortable with in terms of defining death is that of brain death. Brain death is pretty well defined and I feel confident that corporeal existence ends at that point.

Of course in a free society, I believe she is entitled to that choice. And in a practical way, I can tell you in all honesty that there are circumstance where I might in desperation choose suicide myself, though I would also say it would still be an immoral choice on my part. Now, I do not think I would chose suicide, but I am being frank in my admission that I understanding that there exists depths of human suffering that I hope to never experience.

It is also my sincere belief that should I come to experience those depths of suffering, my God will provide me the comfort and strength I need to persevere. Having now gained some years of experience and seen such suffering first hand, I am not about to dictate those choices to others. I will state my view clearly and then leave the matter between them and God, which is where the matter belongs anyway.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

DavidR,

Yes, the hypocrisy of the Religious Right is an amazing thing to behold. I narrowed the discussion for my blog piece, but I had originally planned to link this one.

And speaking of links, if you didn’t read the stories I linked, you have to see at least this one. I think a lot of people think that the coming bioethical issues are a long ways off and that I am just a wild-eyed doomsayer. But this stuff is close to reality and we will be confronting big issues within a handful of years.

3:46 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

I guess I don't see an advance directive of the type that Terri should have written down (if that was indeed her wish), as being equatable to suicide.

I think one has to participate in some directly physical way, and be aware of the choice at the time of ending life, in order for it to be suicide. Terri's choice is merely that she does not wish extraordinary medical intervention to prolong her life if her body is no longer capable of sustaining life on her own. That's not suicide at all to me. To me it feels more like leaving it in God's hands.

...R

3:49 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

DavidR,

First let me say, than God for us having something to disagree about. I feel much better now.

I don’t see the significance of participating in the act in “in some directly physical way”. What matters is your mental posture. I have trouble drawing these lines I totally admit. Lets say that someone has a serious injury of some kind and they only way they have of getting assistance is to drag themselves over a hot bed of coals to help, but the choose not to on whatever basis and choose to just lie there and “leave it in God’s hands”. I realize this is different and that is my point: I could probably easily and quickly come up with a hundred close calls like that. This is why it is important to leave it to the individual.

I am not saying that I’m positive that a persistent vegetative state is not death. I am saying that there is too much life there for me to feel comfortable saying in advance that I would no longer want to live from a moral standpoint. Brain death in my view is comfortably on the other side of the death line and I have no problem saying in advance that I would like the plug pulled in those circumstances.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David, good point. I will even raise the question in terms of a conscience, rational living adult... would not accepting a feeding tube or a ventilator, or any form of medication or medical treatment for that matter... be suicide. I don't think so. Not taking high cholesterol medicine or eating every day at McDonalds isn't the same thing as blowing one's brains out.

More on the hypocrisy front:

Many people who are passionate about keeping Terri alive because they want to "err on the side of life" would be the first to defend capital punishment. Common sense would dictate that we make some mistakes convicting innocent people... how could someone be for keeping Terri alive, but also be in favor of the death sentence. btw... I finally changed my mind about the death sentence. I'm not against it... not because guilty people don't deserve it, but because it's impossible that we don't make mistakes. I say quit sending all of these guys to prison over drugs, and convert all death sentences to life sentences w/out the chance of parole. Makes more sense.

OK, more hypocrisy. How many of these right-to-lifers do you think vote for the GOP? Asked another way, who other than the religious right is to be the most likely to be against concepts like universal healthcare, and tax rates to bring everyone into the healthcare system? What exactly do people think happens to folks outside of the healthcare system. It's like the sanctity of life is defined as: Under all circumstances, all conceptions must make it to planet earth. While on planet earth, you may or may not have enough food, or have your family covered with healthcare. If you die because of poverty of lack of healthcare, that ok... probably god's will. However, if before you die... you can manage to get yourself into a vegetative state... not only will the RR suddenly develop an interest in your plight, they will gladly chip in to pay for you.. heck they may even accept a tax hike for this.

Religion is suppose to protect the sanctity of life, and yet, in the history of mankind, more people have died in wars over religion than anything else. Maybe that's more irony than hypocrisy... don't know.

This type of public religious insanity is a cancer... it always has been. Repeat after me... private religion... GOOD, public religion... BAD.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Oops... typo

"I'm not against it... not because guilty people don't deserve it, but because it's impossible that we don't make mistakes."

That would be "I'm not against it"... it being capital punishment.

4:18 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

"Terri's choice is merely that she does not wish extraordinary medical intervention to prolong her life if her body is no longer capable of sustaining life on her own."

I'm probably tossing a grenade here, but PERHAPS we need to consider the "extraordinary" intervention that occurred on the front end of this tragedy. I don't think I've seen a minute-by minute timeline of Terri's condition from when she was found unconscious to when she received effective CPR/restarted her heart. Is it, possibly, wrong to resuscitate a person whose heart has been stopped for a period of time known to result in severe, irreversible brain damage?

This is terrible to contemplate; I know this in a most personal way. I confess I don't know the answer to this, but thought that maybe a discussion of triage on the front end may be worthwhile. I imagine there must be some sort of protocols on this....

7:10 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

"Having it hit so close to home, I guess I need to make the effort to not burden those I leave behind with the decision or the court battle."

Indeed. I had this conversation with my Mom this afternoon. While Mom and I are in agreement between us, we both know my sibling has differing ideas, and is a lawyer to boot. I literally begged her to tend to this so that our family won't be shredded over this issue, should it arise. My thanks to you, Andrew, for your post.

CG:

"Many people who are passionate about keeping Terri alive because they want to "err on the side of life" would be the first to defend capital punishment."

How about, "Many people who approve allowing Terri to die are the first to oppose executing criminals"

Stereotypes---gotta love 'em. Back to Diversity class with you!

I confess to being religious, and that informs my entire worldview. I examine our laws in light if my knowledge of Scripture--most are, in fact, neutral or even supportive. Even so, they can be misapplied and I hope that our judges and elected officials are up to the task of recognizing it when it occurs (former Illinois Gov. Ryan comes to mind, here).

I believe that all rightful authority is granted by God, and the usurpers will be judged (as will we all).

7:52 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good, the blonde babe has spoken.
An excerpt of Ann Coulter on the Schiavo case: Starved for Justice...Florida state court Judge George Greer – last heard from when he denied an order of protection to a woman weeks before her husband stabbed her to death – determined that Terri would have wanted to be starved to death based on the testimony of her husband, who was then living with another woman. (The judge also took judicial notice of the positions of O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson and Robert Blake.) The husband also happened to be the only person present when the oxygen was cut off to Terri's brain in the first place. He now has two children with another woman.

Greer has refused to order the most basic medical tests for brain damage before condemning a woman to death. Despite all those years of important, searching litigation we keep hearing about, Terri has yet to receive either an MRI or a PET scan – although she may be allowed to join a support group for women whose husbands are trying to kill them.

Greer has cut off the legal rights of Terri's real family and made her husband (now with a different family) her sole guardian, citing as precedent the landmark "Fox v. Henhouse" ruling of 1893. Throughout the process that would result in her death sentence, Terri was never permitted her own legal counsel. Evidently, they were all tied up defending the right to life of child-molesting murderers....
-----
Prof. Ricardo

11:01 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G., I checked out your inequality.org site. I am terribly afraid that you or others might take this information and its foundational reasoning as something more than an embarrassment to true scholarly analysis of economic issues.

Ever been to one of those meetings where this home business will make you wealthy beyond your dreams, save you taxes, and oh, by-the-way, it’s not a pyramid? Now if you can build your “down-line” while progressing up your “up-line,” did I mention this wasn’t a pyramid? Same thing with this web site and the idea of inequality of income. They expressly say they are not involved in “class warfare.” Why would they feel the need to bring that up? If it looks like a duck, and walks like a....

Analogy. You and I have two vehicles. Mine gets 10 mpg and yours gets 20 mpg. New rules mandate a replacement and we replace them with their new high mileage counter parts. Now mine gets 17 mpg and yours gets 42 mpg. Are we both better off? Yes. Is the disparity (inequality) greater? Yes. Is that bad? No. If you did not exist, and I jumped from 10 to 17 mpg I have benefitted. If you chose to shirk the law and drive your old vehicle at 20 mpg, does that affect me? No. What effects me is what I do! Inequality is the sin of comparison to indulge pride or envy. If you have a 1200 sq ft. home with two window A/C units, an 11 cubic foot refrigerator, and only a 1967 VW bug for your family of four, are you poor or wealthy? It depends doesn’t it, on whether you are in rural China, or Hollywood, California? Actual conditions did not dictate poorness. Being poor, or unequal, was you relationship to the level of others.

If you want to, from a humanitarian standpoint, discuss a minimal level of nutrition, shelter, healthcare, liberties, etc. that a human being should have, I’m with you C.G. But if your $75,000 a year is some how tainted by the fact that Tony makes $300,000 a year (Didn’t know you got a raise, huh?), that is pure unadulterated envy, and it ain’t pretty.

This web site drips of envy. It ignores realistic influential trends in trying to show some meaningful correlations (as if even they would have some relevance), because the site has an agenda. Surprising, huh?

For instance, do you think a relevant fact in the disparity of income might have been the explosion of illegal immigration in the past 30 years? Did you see a graph where that influence was pulled out to see “inequality” w/o it? Do you think the explosion in the use of personal computers caused an increase, not only in general productivity, but in the potential for great wealth acquisition? Does the phrase "dot.com" mean anything to you? Ever considered doing an online business, say, in the distance learning area? Were you expecting to make more than minimum wage at it? How capitalist of you. That might have provided a disparity between what you currently make, and what you could make selling a useful service to tens of thousands of buyers eagerly offering up their credit card numbers to you. How about doing your job sans the PC this coming year? Just work a little harder, you’ll make up the difference right?

Inequality.org dismisses the technology aspect in item #5 when it said: When asked to explain the inequality surge, economists often point to globalization, new technology, and other deep impersonal forces.

Good grief Charley Brown. This sounds like a women’s magazine with the “deep impersonal forces” wording.

C.G., I’ve already committed myself to purchasing “Perfectly Legal.” Promise me it is deeper in substance than the girlie economics on this web site.

Prof. Ricardo

9:31 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

dreamin,

"How about, "Many people who approve allowing Terri to die are the first to oppose executing criminals"

First, I never said there isn't hypocrisy on both sides. To me the line between "providing mercy by allowing Terri to die" or "providing mercy by continuing to tube food into her shell of a body... basically brain dead" is a thin one. Anyone, on either side that holds up one side or the other as an obvious RIGHTEOUS choice is either speaking for God's direction or speaking for Terri's wishes. Speaking for God seems a bit arrogant, and speaking for Terri is a educated guess (that's what the Flordia courts did). But, to your analogy about supporting Terri's right to choose death in this situation, and also being against capital punishment representing hypocrisy... depends. For example, I'm a case where the analogy wouldn't fit. I support a persons right-to-die and am also against capital punishment. However, the reason I don't support capital punishment has nothing to do with religious or sanctity of life reasons, but rather because of unavoidable conviction errors in our court system. Your analogy doesn't work with my reasoning, but I'm sure you could find someone where it worked. Hey, I'm for diversity unless you define diversity as theocracy.

Prof, prof, prof... you are so bright, and yet so misguided. How did that happen? First, what does Terri's husband's sex life have to do with this case? The religious right doesn't approve of this guy going on with his life... we get it. So what... what does that have to do with this case. If his new girlfriend/common law partner effected the case based on Florida law... it would have happened. It did not... so now all you are doing is pronouncing some kind of morality judgement.

Inequality org... I can't say it any better than they did"

7. Class Warfare? Not!
To speak with alarm about the gulf between rich and poor (or between rich and middle; or middle and upper-middle) is to invite the charge of fomenting “class warfare.” Indeed, the question of inequality has rarely stirred much passion in America except in periods of deep discontent, and it has usually been framed as a problem of “haves” and “have-nots” or (in recent years also) “have lesses.”

These laments arise out of feelings about justice, suffering, and mutual obligation that are as old as humanity, and deserve respect rather than scorn. It is only by making a religion of the “free market” that anyone could possibly construct a reasonable-seeming justification for American-style differences in earning-power between, say, a janitor and an investment banker. But the poor are not the only victims of inequality, and the damage is not to be measured solely in material terms.

In the U.S., perhaps more than in any other prosperous society, inequality reaches into dimensions of life where most people would prefer to believe that money does not rule. The service someone receives from our education and health-care systems, to mention two large cases in point, is profoundly dependent on money and class. The economic givens of early childhood are frighteningly good predictors, in fact, not only of access to health care and formal schooling, but of lifelong health and educational attainment.

Americans’ experience with the political process is also dramatically affected by their place on the socioeconomic ladder, and here, too, the influence runs both ways. Inequality shapes the system, and the system aggravates and perpetuates inequality.

These multi-dimensional effects and feedback loops are important for what they reveal about the nature, severity, and scope of economic inequality in America. In addition, they underscore the issue’s relevance to those focused on more policy-specific problems. Your first concern may be education, health, poverty, racial justice, the workplace, the environment, or the preservation of democratic government and a strong civil society. In all these realms, recent history has taught us that the fulfillment of broadly shared ideals is going to be immensely difficult in a world of highly concentrated wealth, income, and economic power.


You see Prof, we make arbitrary decisions in capitalism. I know your mantra is one man's success doesn't hold another back, and our ecomomic system is the only fairness arbiter we need. You really don't have to think outside the box much to shoot holes in that theory. You are well aware of my public company CEO compensation rant (I spent a couple of months on it at one time), but let me repeat for any new readers. When "public company X" continues to pay their CEO millions in salary while at the same time dropping employee spouse's from the health insurance plan, it's an arbitrary decision backed by our society (note my use of Public company here, it is significant). That arbitrary decision could just as well been we will only pay public company CEO's x% of the average worker pay in the company, and the savings from the CEO pay used to cover the higher insurance premiums, and therefore bring the company spouse's back under the insurance umbrella. This is real-world consequences that hinge on arbitrary decisions. Someone, by definition will make the decision. The GOP hands-off business ideology just means the corporate boards (clubs) will make the decision. Guess what... they are every day... and every day the CEO's compensation gets sweeter, and everyday the average employee is getting less, and squeezed out of insurance. Now there is a bigger issue with insurance than just public company arbitrary choices, but it still makes the point... arbitrary compensation decisions happen every single day in capitalism, and they have a direct impact on lives (one CEO's extreme success DOES effect and define the other public company employees who get less.. it just simple math. There is finite public company salary pool, and if you give 50% to the CEO, the employee's get the 50% that's left). My entire ideology became apparent to me the day I came to the conclusion that capitalism will never be a "good enough" fairness arbitrar in our society, and the average Joe has one chance... and that chance is GOVERNMENT. The moneyed elite is never going to do anything but pad their second home lives... period. Trickle down is snake oil... not even worthy of debate in a civilized society. We will never be a civilized society as long as corporate america owns our government. I will take bloated, inefficient government any day over the wealthy few treating this nation as their personal playgrond. Your's, and the GOP's personal responsibility and entitled disproportionate mantra quit working on me... and I used to help sell it. We have the absolute right in a representative democracy to say... "Jack Welch, you are an employee in a public company just like the rest... your rock star status now ends, your compensation is limited as follows, and all employee's can now have full health coverage again." No economic system should be a society's social justice arbiter... it should be the people... and not just the wealthy people deciding. You can choose to be subservient to an economic system if you want... I now belong to that radical sect that believe the economic system should server us rather than the other way around.

I will be curious if you shoot the same kind of holes in the book "Perfectly Legal". For example, one of the chapters deal with the Estate tax. The author points out how the GOP searched the countryside for a family farmer to hold up as an example of being screwed by the unfair estate tax... i.e. family farmers unable to pass the farm on to family because of estate tax provisions. They couldn't find one example... anywhere. It was just a myth being sold by the GOP.

CG

11:23 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof... big difference between envy and not accepting the rules/status quo. It would be quite a stretch to frame not accepting our current public company CEO compensation packages as "envy".

11:51 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I think there is a very good chance Congress's little Shiavo stunt will get a judge, doctor or lawyer killed or injured by some crazy. If so, blood will be directly on their hands.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

I blinked and 20 posts showed up. The question was asked what evidence is there that Terri's wishes have been factually established? Duh! how about the 25 or more judicial hearings that have upheld the husband's testimony as well as the testimony of others who knew terri? I'm amazed at how many people believe all the allegations of foul play that have not been established over the facts that have absolutely been established ,without refutation. The problem is that this case is so emotional that people have thrown all reason out the window. The state of florida and terri's parents have had unlimited resources at their disposal to prove that her husband tried to kill her or he strangled or abused her and they haven't. One of my law school profs told us that you can't change the facts. People want to say that the husband shouldn't be able to act on her behalf because he is an adulterer, that he should have divorced her. I believe that the only reason he is still involved is to make sure that Terri's real wishes are being carried out. He doesn't stand to benefit from her death. The trust fund is not in his control.

As bystanders, we can go and on about what should have happened or could have happened but the fact is that the sytem has worked. The rule of law has prevailed. Our govt has checks and balances in place to prevent a president or a governor from imposing their will in this situation. Thank God for that. This case is a true test of conservative thinking. A true conservative would respect the individual's choice over govt intervention, they would respect the rule of law over demagoguery, they would respect the marriage relationship over outside meddlers and they wouldn't impose their religious view on others. Everybody has jumped on this case to beat their own drum. Terri is not being murdered, killed or executed. This is not about abortion or the pro-life movement. Yes, it's gut wrenching to realize that we are all in on a death watch but the fact of the matter is that the court is only doing what she wanted done. If Terri is indeed a Christian, this is her time to overcome all of her problems and go into the presence of God. There is overwhelming evidence that she is unable to relate to reality and chances are she never will. There has been no medical evidence that she can be rehabilitated. Her parents are in complete denial. Everybody's got it wrong but them. If they really loved her, they would let her go. She is not coming back to them. It's been a week and chances are that she is terminal at this point.
The lesson to be learned from this is quite simple, make your wishes known in writing and the govt won't have to get involved.

We don't need any new laws. Texas has already dealt with this scenario and if a person doesn't have a living will, a commitee determines if there is nothing else that can be done, the hospital can pull the plug. The family can then move the person to another facility if they disagree.

There was a lady at our church who suffered an aneurism recently. The doctors told the family that there was no hope but through prayer, she is still alive, at home and recovering. I think what is being lost in this whole thing is that God is ultimately in control. Perhaps the answer is no.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,

I wish you could see your letter through my eyes. So as not to totally devastate my earnings this year, I’ll respond to your post one paragraph at a time.

You quoted inequality.org: These laments arise out of feelings about justice, suffering, and mutual obligation that are as old as humanity, and deserve respect rather than scorn. Says who? Injustice means you got dealt unjustly, unfairly, not as a reasonable transaction would have dealt. What is the standard? In economics we deal with the concept of Fair Market Value. It’s how you value your contributions of non-cash assets on your tax return. It’s what happens 10 million times a day on ebay, and millions of times in the want-ad portion of every newspaper the world over. Someone offers their wares or service, and you can accept or reject it, thus establishing the market price for that item. Injustice happens when you do not have access to this market. Injustice happens when your government says “I know your skills are worth only 5 dollars an hour, but the minimum wage is $10/hr, therefor you will never be employed and are not employable. Thus someone who has their labor as an asset, and is willing to take what it is worth, is prevented from doing so, because of an “arbitrary” decision of government to elevate the poor.

Mutual obligation? So you have accepted the Christian ethos of being your brother’s keeper. However, you have failed to value his right to dispose of his assets as he sees fit. The corporate world is very simple.

Shareholders elect the board of directors.
Board of directors appoint and compensate officers.

As representatives of the shareholders they hopefully want the best officer for the company’s bottom line. If International Business Machines pays their Officers what you and I make, sell your shares now, do not wait a moment, that company is not in good hands. They are after a qualified candidate with qualifications you and I and just about everybody we know does not have. Because of that, he or she will be compensated by an amount that neither you and I and just about everybody we know does not receive.

If you wish to disrupt the natural flow of rights of shareholders to elect the directors, and then compensate the officers, at what level do you wish to usurp? Do you wish to neuter the stockholders and have the Board of directors be bureaucrats? Do you wish to neuter the Board who represent the stockholders? Shall we criminalize bad management as well since paying a CEO “too much” is just not fair to the Janitor? Maybe we could have the CEO and Janitor swap duties every other month, because, if their compensations should not be materially different, then surely their responsibilities are not vastly different as well? A janitor running Microsoft might be amusing for the 35,000 employees and 650,000,000 users of their products. Probably not.

“It is only by making a religion of the “free market” that anyone could possibly construct a reasonable-seeming justification for American-style differences in earning-power between, say, a janitor and an investment banker.”
This is so absurd as to baffle me on how far back I need to go to find common ground. You have established your position elsewhere that you are not a friend of property rights as understood in the Constitution, our founders, nearly all of humanity since time began. You know, like the dreaded “C” word describes. However, your argument against “injustice” demands a respect for private property rights. The inequality is what? Of what the Janitor has v.s. what the investment banker has? If it is not theirs to dispose of as they see fit, then its not theirs.

A few years ago I invested in Oracle stock. Lost money. But I sold it because of a stupid move their officers did. They hired President Bill Clinton to speak at one of their meetings. $100,000 for one speech. I figured if they didn’t know any better, they could kiss my grits. In the free market you can do that. Nobody made me buy it. Nobody made me sell it. Injustice is not when Oracle did something stupid. It’s when I am prevented from moving about the free market as each individual person sees fit.

Terri Schiavo is part of that free market. Is it “a religion of the free market” that Terri’s wishes not to be held on life support are to be honored? Would it be an injustice to not honor her wishes. You be the judge.

Prof. Ricardo
Further decimation to socialism to follow...

3:24 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Your sermon on capitalism and economic "free will" has a few flaws, the main one being history. If you were correct, Mark Twain's Gilded Age represented our most moral time... the free will of the moneyed elite offering free will jobs to children at the tune of 60+ hours a week. Go ahead, explain to us why it was immoral for our government to make laws about child labor. Tell us how much better our nation was when there were no labor protections and minimum wages. Sell that snake oil if you must, be we aren't going back. Prof, it's all about setting the rules and human nature. If you make it legal for a CEO to outsource IT jobs to India, they all follow like sheep... they have to in order to compete. However, set the rule up front that no US public company can outsource US IT jobs, and they can all compete with local labor. Even a football game needs rules... why would you let corporate america define the rules book rather than all of us participating in a representative democracy.

Agree to disagree... save your energy dude, it's tax season. You need to help protect all of those self-interested entitled massive harvests. :)


Andrew... good post.

3:49 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

from CNN's website:

"Why have the Schindlers said Michael Schiavo should not be their daughter's guardian?

They believe that there is a conflict of interest because Michael Schiavo lives with his girlfriend and has two children with her. They have contended that he cannot uphold the best interest of his wife while living in what they describe as an adulterous relationship. Michael Schiavo has said he is removing his wife's feeding tube as part of keeping his promise to her that he would not allow artificial means to preserve her life. He has stated that his new family does not affect his feelings for his wife because he can love more than one person."

HE CAN LOVE MORE THAN ONE PERSON?

Of course. Too bad it's against the law when it involves adultery.

Andrew said:

"I think Savage referred to the husband as an adulterer and his childred as bastards."

Ugly as the words are, they are the truth. Of course, Michael is taking steps to rectify that even as we write.

As has been pointed out over and over, this drama plays out daily. Hard decisions are faced and made. THE THING that distinguishes this one is Michael's credibility in recalling his wife's wish to die.
from: HAWKINS v. UNITED STATES, 358 U.S. 74 (1958)

"The basic reason the law has refused to pit wife against husband or husband against wife in a trial where life or liberty is at stake was a belief that such a policy was necessary to foster family peace, not only for the benefit of husband, wife and children, but for the benefit of the public as well."

I realize that this was applied to a criminal case, but are we so sure it doesn't have some applicability here? Surely there is enough at stake.

from the same:

"Over the years the rule has evolved from the common-law absolute disqualification to a rule which bars the testimony of one spouse against the other unless both consent."

No mutual consent that we know of here. It all comes back to he said, she said.

6:53 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I'm going to input some "rougher" comments without a lot of forethought, so don't use it as a measure of my intelligence.

I keep hearing about this woman's husband being "an adulterer," and his kids "bastards." C'mon, get real.

According the the Gospel, if you even look at say.. Catherine Zeta Jones.... then you are "an adulterer." So basically, Christians have a choice. Either be a homosexual or an adulterer. I myself fall in the latter category.

It seems kind of strange that you have people who want to cut all spending for things like Medicaid all of a suddent want to keep someone on feeding tubes until she dies of old age. I guess the taxpayers are paying for this? Talk about flip-flopping. This takes the cake.

I mean, how much money does it cost to keep this one person alive as a vegetable for another 40+ years? It's almost like the Soviets keeping Lenin's body preserved in the Kremlin, as if they are going to get him back someday. I think if some rich benefactors want to keep her alive, they should allow it, just to keep her mom satisfied. But I don't think they are doing any valient, noble thing for Terri herself.

This is a luxury of a rich country to sit around and debate this. Can you imagine this happening in a poor country? They'd have to let Terri go and help one of the many other infinite people that needs it. Terri has had 15 years to get better. Time for her mom and dad to count their losses and move on I think. There is something really vain and arrogant about this whole thing....all this attention on letting one brain dead person finally pass away after sitting in bed for 15 years. Meanwhile how many people are in immediate need of help, people who actually have a chance? I guess you aren't valuable to society unless you are a vegetable and can be used for baby-kissing politicians' photo-ops.

(Now if Terri's not really brain dead, she knows what going on around her, and this is all a big giant conspiracy theory so the the husband can collect the settlement money, then I think by all means they should keep her alive. But that scenario doesn't seem very likely.)

Okay, so that's my cynical, non-pretentious rant. As long as it's honest from me, hopefully it won't be B.S. for you.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

OK. We have a case where a living will or medical directive was absent. The second tier of authority was the husband’s assertion of an oral directive. This oral directive apparently has the authority of a written directive, because, in light of the husbands actions that often appeared to not be in his wife’s best interest, and in contradistinction to what Terri’s parents believe are Terri’s wishes, the oral directive, as we are now seeing played out, has the ultimate effect of ending life. The correct rule is that the husband, all else being equal, has the authority over the parent’s when it comes to representing Terri. From a Christian point of view, Terri was “given” in marriage and is now united with her husband, a bond that should not easily be broken, particularly by intrusive parents, do-gooders, or even government.

But apparently “all else” is not even. We like to see ourselves as heros. We would like to say “I gave it my all. For my army buddies, I would dive on to the grenade to save them all.” Jesus gave his life for me and I should easily give it back to him. In fact, we would die for our offspring and spouse.

It sounds good. But how come so many who would die for the ones they love, fail miserably at living for the ones they love? The “all else” that is not even is the apparent abandonment of Michael Schiavo from Terri to this other woman and now their two children.

Terri is legally alive, but many say that in reality, as Andrew said in his first post above,
the real Terri is dead, her soul is in the hands of God. So that what appears to be, and may even be legally so, may not in fact or substance actually be. Michael Schiavo may be Terri’s husband legally, but in substance, since without question he has abandoned Terri’ therapy, Terri’s care, his marriage with Terri, and every other conceivable link to his former marriage, Michael in essence is not qualified to speak in Terri’s best interest by claiming the authority of husband, the post he abandoned years ago. At least not to the point of life and death equaling a written, notarized statement by Terri herself.

One thing is certain. As much coverage, discussion, and outrage as has been displayed on both sides, now that the cat is out of the bag, now that a self-written document is not required for the cessation of life, the next case that comes along will not get as much attention, as much coverage, as much outrage. When Terri goes flat line next week, time will pass, our outrage will have been spent, and the next in line, whether it was their wish to die or not, may not even get our attention. Outrage will have turned to being disgruntled, which over time will turn to tolerance, which is the final step to acceptance. How long until the case comes up where an asserted oral statement challenges a written directive? After all, they now have the same authority. That is, the authority to end life.

Prof. Ricardo

1:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

1) Terri's husband doesn't have to pass your moral test, just the law.

2) For those who have been calling this murder (sickening really), it would be just accurate to say this 15 years of tube feeding has been 15 years of torture... probably against Terri's will.

3) I think the "err on the side of life" statement is meaningless in this case. Nightline did a survey and asked the question: "would you want to be kept alive in Terri's situation". 87% said no, 8% said yes. Why would we err in this situation to the 8%? Almost none of us would want to be kept alive in this situation, including the vast majority claiming the moral high ground by demanding she be kept alive forever like a lab experiment. IMO, you have a very cruel nature or religious belief system if you feel obligated and moral to force feed people in Terri's situation. This is when religion gets dangerous... when it is substituted for common sense and compassion. We aren't on some Nazi sliperly slope here... we are on some religious fanaticism slipery slope, however. I've seen the US the religious right pray for... I hope they never get it.

4) To the religious right/GOP (I can't tell the difference these days... never thought I would say it, but can we have Reagan back?), every court decision they don't agree with is Judicial/Judge activism. In this case, we had years of Flordia court cases, a couple of trips to the Florida Supreme court, and even action at the Supreme court level. Our congress, motivated politically by the RR base... decided to put on a show. Let's call it the theocracy Congress activism show. Prof, even you said this should have never happened. Well, the Florida judges probably agree with you. Calling the Flordia judges activist because they didn't follow this Congress's stupidity..is, well... stupid.

5) There are all kinds of creeps in this world, but at the top of the slithering variety are the right to lifers that leach on to families in pain in order to get their face on TV to give us their sermon. They get on TV and proclaim murder and the Nazi-ization of the US. It really doesn't matter to them what the reality is of Terri's situation... they have some national preaching to do to this nation.

6) I think Yoshi was correct... there is a certain amount of arrogance in this whole thing. This isn't some national crisis on the sanctity of life. This is one of those sad situations where there is no good answer... continuing the lab experiment/torture or letting her die... no good choices... although letting her die is the only rational choice IMO. Want to bring class warfare into this... allow me. Many, maybe the majority of families that find themselves in this situation don't have the ability to afford 40 years of life support/lab experiment. So what's the rule.... just the one's allowing the slime Randall Terry to leach on get it... only rich people. God knows the GOP wouldn't be for any kind of taxes to cover it for everyone. That would be a hoot... universal feeding tube support, but no other healthcare included. Heck, the GOP can't even make a distinction between bankruptcies caused by irresponsible spending and those caused by medical bills. Other countries must just watch us with confusion... the richest country on the world that refuses any form of universal healthcare, and yet we spend weeks in a death struggle over one life... that expired 15 years ago.

I'm sure I have more opinions on the matter... and we definitely share them as they occur to me. I'm in a very bad mood... my OSU Cowboys aren't going back to the final four.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G., maybe this will cheer you up. I dove into my hardback copy of Perfectly Legal last night.

Prof. Ricardo

8:30 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Good for you. I will be looking forward to your Perfectly Legal book review. I have often wanted to refer to the details in the book the last several months, but it's still on loan with the neighbor. I should get it back before your response. :) I guess that means I should owe you one book reading of your choice at some point... other than the bible... I already read the four Gospels for Curm (he had to read Al Franken's Lies, and the Lying Liars That Tell Them. I'm buried in .NET (computer books) at the moment... but I can owe you. :)

I wish I had thought of this . And yes, when you see Tulsa you might think this website is mine.... but unfortunately it wasn't my idea. Man, that is funny. LOL!!!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Everyone knows that she has "NO" living will, under this circumstance (as I told her parents) that this document will show us (everyone) without a doubt (and he should be made to show without a doubt to receive a death sentence) this IS what she wants not just say "she told me this!" I ask about where is the videotape or anything like this. But to the subject If I was her and was in her stituation and "NO" living will, I would expect the federal government to dstep in to show me (at least) just how important a living will is. I may be upset with them at first of it happened, but as they say when you point fingers, you have three pointing back at you, because it would be (as it is her's) my failure to do a citizen's responsibility of writing or make a way to let everyone know my personal wishes. So, as I was saying I might be mad , but in reality it was my fault that they did, and if I am mad about it then I would been given the chance of coming out of this and did, be their intervention. As I said this document has become the least thng a citizen has the right to do, since a death sentence will be handed down without it, so why fill one out don't need to now, that this court ruled against requiring them to have this document. I don't know what she wanted, but I have serious questions about this mans drive and I would like the government to find out everything, since you have the vatican replying to this, I asked Prime Minister Blair and Queen Elizabeth to reply on what I see as the most illegal sentence that can be given. Illegal?, yes the method of death is and was ruled a crime against humanity, now this is in question as well as this document. Is it a crime against humanity (as they said at the end of WW II) or is it legal now because it is the US that is allowing a citizen to be straved. As I wrote to them "Not one of the government officials or even a higher court said to Judge Greer "that he may choose to sentence her to death, but you will not do it in the manner of stravation and denying them a human need!" Yesterday on MSNBC, a doctor said that she wasn't (I assume in his medical opinon) that she doesn't feel anything, but today it is reported that she is being given morphine for any pain or suffering that she maybe experiencing. Which is it is she or is she not? No one can truly even answer this question without a doubt as the court say was in their decision in this stituation. No one knows if she is or is not, because research on the brain everyone must agree can only be done (as to in suffering issues, pain issues, not mapping the areas and what we do know about the brain) can only be done after death and then the brain has to be signed to be researched done. They say the brain size is smaller, but does this still give the court this right for either part of this situtation, and I personally would like to have a medical exam of this woman to know and to have Bethsda to do it, since they examine the President. As I told them and I hope if I was in this situtation, that once this document, videotape, computerized letter from me (or in this case her) a date and time (enough time for everyone to say good-bye at least for me) would be set to receive a lethal injection or a humane manner (which they can perscribe in this). I believe allot of people would agree the technologies to day there are other ways other than "How the Government decided (before President Bush was President and maybe a few Senators and Congressmans where in congress). Even if they feel it maybe politic sucide to do, they must enforce this now to show us the people just how important this is or the government will deny this action for your constitutional right to life. This whole situation stems from a citizen's failure to do her responsibility and now the government must uphold her right to life, because of her failure. I will admit I have not even done this, since death is the most serious of anything to me. Thank you whether anyone talks about Why not one government nor higher court has never asked this judge as to where his constitutional right or even his human right to deny a citizen to a human need that he CAN NOT legal sentence a convicted criminal this way or not it is a shame and the US IS NO BETTER than Nazi, Germany as long as they are allowing this and any other action in this manner. Anyone, Who loves someone as he claims to should be outraged about the manner of being put to death. I will not or tolerate this manner and as I told the government they must not as well. I would like to see everyone that did this method of death to "supposely" a loved one as the woman yesterday having her husband denied this as well, to be denied this human right and need as they did or are doing to a loved one, Thank you Tom from Buffalo, NY.

As Itold the parents and any citizen who wishes the government to enforce this years ago decision by our governemt to write them in support of a new law (at least), Requiring a written "Living Will" or even a videotape showing what we want and the law will settle that they and even I would be put to death in a humane manner either by law or by choice. I feel everyone would agree to this, Thank you all.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

The law can very hard. For example if a woman tricks a man into having sex so she can get pregnant, guess what? He is legally obligated to support the child. Likewise, if a woman gets pregnant by another man while married, the husband is the legal father of the child. If a person dies while still legally married but estranged, the survivor is still entitled to inherit. Paperwork is mother. This is because the law can't conceive of every circumstance and we must have order in our society.
Despite all the allegations and accusations against Michael the adulterous whatchamcilit and his bastard kids, he is still the husband.People need to get off their moral high-horses and look at reality. As a young man. Michael for all and intents and purposes lost his wife. No sex, no companionship, no children. After 5 yrs of holding out hope and in the face of overwhelming medical evidence, he realized that Terri was never going to be the same. Michael did the mature thing. he moved on. But at the same time, he did what he was asked to do, give terri her release to God. Instead of being admired, he is being crucified and called a murderer. In the 15 yrs of this saga, there has been no evidence whatsoever of foul play. You can even get this from FOX news. In his own way, Michael is discharging his final duty as a husband. Let's get real. There are only 3 scenarios:
1. Terri dies in a few days
2.Terri is healed miraculously by God
3. Terri's life is prolonged only to remain in the same condition only to die in the years to come.
There is only one happy ending and only God has a say in that. All of the pro-life and anti-euthanasia people don't give a flip about this poor lady. It's time for all of us to allow Terri to pass, for the family to mourn and for governors and courts to get out of the way.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I guess my point would be, people made their bed, so let them lie in it. Ms. Schiavo's wishes will never truly be know. I have not heard one comment from some person that could be considered impartial in this case come out and say, "she did not want to live this way". I guess the difference for me, is that those who are fighting to "let" her die in dignity, don't have a clue either. I am not against her passing. This is a family matter, the first court tuling should have been enough - unfortunatly. I do not agree with the courts ruling, but it was the ruling, and can not at this point be refuted. I do think we are going over board on this issue. The determination of the court based on heresay is what the legislature should be debating, not the extra hearing in one more court. Should it be allowed, to remove someone from life-support, that does not have any written statement to that affect. I personally think "no". But who am I. I in this circumstance don't care either way what happens to me. My God will have my best interest in mind. She will either be in a better place soon, or condemmed to an eternity in a much worse place than this. What really effected me in this case are the "martyrs" from the RR that are sacrificing themselves on TV to show their support for Terri to live. Was it not Jesus who said that the tax collector, a hated member of society in that day would have a better chance of attaining heaven than the Priest that spouted off about fasting to show their piety to God. They should not be doing that. Fasting and praying in this instance should be done in private, and we should be praying for God's will, not anything specific to her life or death. The pastors areested yesterday should wake up in jail and be ashamed. They are not being persecuted like Paul on Potmos for just believing in the Savior, the made a dumb decision. There are two sides to this, and we will not be able to settle our differences on this case. I do not feel regret or remorse for Ms. Schiavo, or Michael for that matter. He got what he deserved, a 15 year h*** for not doing the right thing from the get-go.He made his bed, now he lays in it. he put himself in a bad position to be making decisions about a wife that he abandoned. Did he have a secular right to move on? Probably. Did it make his decision to end her life easier? No. Have we learned any lessons about life here? For most - NO. So let's all grow up and start making decisions that are right instead of stupid and selfish. We should be working to settle our differences for the future cases. How will we be less divided the next time this happens? Paper stated living wills are the best way. I do have sympathy for Terri and her situation, I pray that she had made the choice to follw Christ and will be in a better place tomorrow. Michael, no sympathy, he choose his course of action long ago, and should live with it. I will say this to all of you who "believe that it is Terri's wish not to live this way", you are just as clueless to her real wish as anyone else, as the court is. No one talked to her that could be construed as impartial. NahNaNahNa boo boo IMO.....

9:06 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Andrew said: All of the pro-life and anti-euthanasia people don't give a flip about this poor lady.

“All” is a fairly inclusive word. Are you certain about that? :-)

Prof. Ricardo

9:27 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

What I wonderful discussion I missed out on during my 3 day weekend. I think most of the points have been well hashed out.

I would like to discuss briefly, however, what is or is not suicide. It seems to me that while I believe the Bible is clear that suicide is immoral, I do not believe it is equally so clear what suicide is, or is not. And it would be wise here to remember that the Bible was not originally written in English so the proscribed conduct can easily get misunderstood though the prism of language.

Unlike other acts we undertake, suicide is inherently subjective. You can only define suicide through a reference to an individual personality. Now if you want to narrowly define suicide to as the dictionary does, there are many acts that technically are suicidal without deserving moral condemnation. It might be useful to look at the Merriam-Webster definition:

Main Entry: sui·cide
Pronunciation: 'sü-&-"sId
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin sui (general) of oneself + English -cide; akin to Old English & Old High German sIn his, Latin suus one's own, sed, se without, Sanskrit sva oneself, one's own
1 a : the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind b : ruin of one's own interests < political suicide >
2 : one that commits or attempts suicide

By the dictionary definition, the soldier who throws himself a grenade is committing suicide. But to illustrate the subjectivity, look at the difference between:

1) Throwing one-self on the grenade to end one’s own suffering (this is pretty realistic if you have heard from people who have been under the stress of battle), and

2) Throwing one-self on the grenade to save your squad.

There is all of the moral difference in the world between the two. I think that if I spent a great deal of time I could define a bunch of situations that are technically (dictionary definition) suicide, but for which there would be no moral condemnation from God because they are foremost acts of Love. A great example I just thought of was the Mother with cancer a few years back that elected to continue her pregnancy and forwent medical care that would’ve saved her but killed her baby (I’m sure there are many instances of this, I just am remembering a particular national story). How heroic did her death seem to those of us opposed to abortion!

I could go on and on but what it clearly boils down to is one’s state of mind. The inherent subjectivity I am describing is not in any way relativistic, however. I believe there is an absolute standard of immoral suicide-ish conduct and it goes something like the act of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion, of sound mind, and who is under no compulsion to carry out the act for a greater moral good.

So it is impossible to know what acts constitute suicide without seeing into the mind of the actor unless of course they tell us themselves. I think absent the actor’s ability to speak for themselves, we are in great peril of error to presumptively bandy about that label.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Just to further stir the pot a bit, I am curious as to whether anybody has any thoughts about the coming crisis of bioethics I described in my leader post. I think this is a very big deal. If you read the links about the genetically altered mice, I think it should disturb most of us on some level. Interestingly, I have invited the topic in my leader post, yet it has not been taken up by any of my readers.

Let me say it more directly: these chimeras are real and are being born in labs around the world TODAY. This is not idle speculation of a science geek, but rather it is coming soon to a neighborhood near YOU. Am I the only one concerned about this?

{sigh} I probably am.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,

Not sure how you feel about this, and you can rebuke and I will not di this again....but

My wife is participating in the three day walk for the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, if you feel a need to participate by donation, please use this link. If not my wife and I would accept prayers first and foremost. My wife will be walking 60 miles in three days, anyone who has either run a marathon, or participated in any military service also knows this is a task of great magnitude. Please pray for her, and for those who do not pray, just nice thoughts for her commitment would be nice. Hope this link works


https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=61807&lis=1&kntae61807=F52F9AE44E70473EB1527A53DE063F3A&supId=70728270

10:26 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,

Having spent 10 and 1/2 years in the glorious US Marine Corps, whom I might add guard the streets of heaven, I take issue with you suicide blanket cast apon those fine young men that have given their all for you to be able to dash their heroic feats on the rocks of indifference. First, the sacrifice of covering a grenade is not a guarantee of death, some have survived, second by your definition any person so inclined to join our model military service is committing suicide, just prolonged and delayed....(is that redundent?) till the final hour comes to play. Shame on you!

oh yeah, any help on how you get "links" in without messing up the whole blog would be appreciated.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

First let me say that this facility is here for pretty close to whatever purpose the readers of the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon choose to make it. I have yet to delete something and while I don’t wish to formally relinquish that possibility, I highly doubt I shall. For instance, if a Nigerian letter promising riches in exchange for bank account numbers to be posted, I probably would delete that assuming it had no purpose in a discussion.

Next, I have a rather substantial personal commitment to the area of cancer research, so your post in that regard would be not only appropriate, but completely in line with my own view as to what are worthy causes.

Now, to post a link, I’ll give you an example. A link to my main page would be posted as follows:

<*a href="http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/">Disenfranchised Curmudgeon<*/a>

Just remove the “*” characters from that line, and it will post as a link thus:

Disenfranchised Curmudgeon

Now, I hope you were being tongue in cheek with your remarks shaming me for disparaging the soldiers who have cast themselves on grenades. I think either I didn’t write very clearly, or you didn’t read very clearly one. First, I don’t know how likely it is to survive a grenade blanketing, but I’m comfortable with saying that I think that people contemplating such an act are pretty much planning on checking out. My whole point was that the act was a morally noble act and that the dictionary definition would seem to not make this distinction.

And honestly, I have no clue how you traveled from my proffered definition of a word that does not exists but that means something like “an immoral taking of ones own life”, to your statement that I am suggesting that any marine volunteer would be committing suicide, to be a bizarre extrapolation. I certainly don’t mean that nor do I see how you can take my words and get there.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

First, let me say I appreciate your rational voice on Tony's blogfest. I hope you stick around. Second, you probably need to read Tony's post again about defining suicide. I'm sure he will defend himself shortly, but you missed his point, IMO. He was making the point that a soldier who threw himself on a grenade to end his life could be considered suicide, but the same soldier doing exactly the same thing for different motivations (i.e. to save his fellow soldiers) would not be considered suicide. To me, suicide is a personal matter other than family obligations... but that's what Tony was saying, IMO, FWIW.

Regarding links, Prof can teach you... call it Passing it on. :)

I would like to repeat something I pointed out earlier. According to several polls over the last week or so, approx. 90% of us would not want to be kept alive in Terri's situation. Most of us don't need additional information, for example some mutia of brain activity that shows up on some brain scan. I agree with Randy, and I said some similar earlier... we should learn from these type of cases and fine tune law and required citizen behavior (i.e. living wills, durable powers, advanced directive, video, whatever...). BUT, in this case the question is... what to do with someone who doesn't have a living will. So here's the question again:

In Terry's case, why would we "err on the side of life"? Clearly, a majority of us wouldn't choose to be force fed in this manner. Why would we err on the side of a minority? I just don't buy the Nazi slippery slope bs... what a crock. What's moral is in the eye of the beholder... is force feeding a brain dead person for 20+ years moral, or is allowing a person to die moral. I really don't see much distinction between forced breathing or forced feeding.

I do know one thing... if you are part of the 90% that wouldn't choose this for yourself, you certainly are a hypocrite if you are one of the one's crying MURDER.

Bottom line... a policy of "keep everyone alive without living wills using the full capability of current technology" is not reality. We couldn't do it if we wanted, and for damn sure, every one of the GOP "no tax" types would have to sing a different tune if they were behind this policy. In all sincerity, I would gladly agree to keeping all the Terri's alive if that included universal healthcare... if it was doable. Instead, we need to start concentrating on the ones still here with lives to be led, rather than all of this religious based sanctity of life blather.

OK.. the last sentence was a little over the top... Dreamin is probably right, I need some diversity training. Seriously, though... I will never get being ok with 45 million folks without healthcare, and then fighting to the last breath to get every conception squirted out to planet earth, and every life prolonged past common sense because YOU CAN. Religion strikes me as strange when it's all about "getting here" and "staying here".... but anything in between... you are on your own. Give me a religion that is the "sanctity of the poor suckers alive, conscience and trying to get through this world", and maybe I will sign up.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,
I will admit that my I took thte first of that particular blog in a personal context and my have not had the insite to pull myself further back to realize that you were pointing out two circumstances and defining both. I do know from personal experience that the act of throwing ones self onto harm in the midst of battle is more of a reaction of protection rather than a formulative thought process. I apologize for any mis-interpretation that I made.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I think the phrase “slippery slope” profoundly understates the importance of the underlying principals that are up for discussion in the whole Schiavo matter. First, while the term is useful in the law, I believe that it automatically gets points of view unfairly criticized in popular usage. Call it a “crock” if you wish, but the fact is that law is a living thing and it accretes over time. What is done today has ripples and those ripples will be felt by succeeding generations of Americans.

Why err on the side of life? Because the founding principal of our nation of laws is that the individual is sovereign. I realize that you have a lot of problems with that concept, but it is notwithstanding the way our system of laws is designed. And fundamental to personal sovereignty is the idea that as individuals alone do we have a right to decide how to dispose of our lives. Any retreat from this line, no matter how slight, is tantamount to unconditional surrender of Liberty because if we do not under our system of laws retain the unfettered right to Life, then our Liberty has no meaning at all.

Such distinctions do not trouble everybody of course. Those who believe that the only moral measure of all things is social justice will of course love the argument that a majority gets to decide how one disposes of their life. But then, our law has never worked that way and never should. I have said it what feels like a billion times, but I think there is so much fuzzy thinking on this essential point that repetition is sadly in order: in the American system of law, there are certain things the majority does not get to decide. We should all be thankful for this because it is this principle from which all our freedoms flow.

Now lest you think that I feel that we are at some cross-roads on this point, let me be as clear as I possibly can be: we have already reached that cross-roads and crossed over into the abyss of majority rule. I seriously doubt that there is any turning back at this point, so honestly, if you want to criticize me for tilting at windmills, I could not find fault with THAT argument.

But you go on to say, “What's moral is in the eye of the beholder” and you most certainly already know I will give no ground on that particular point. I would say that moral relativism is at the bottom of the social divide on any number of social points. Those of us who believe in antithesis are clearly in the decline notwithstanding the fact that most Americans label themselves as Christian. And here is the reason I will continue to rail on this particular point: most people accept this modern rehash of ancient intellectual tripe with out serious criticism or understanding.

For those of you who have come thoughtfully to a relativistic notion of morality, I apologize because perhaps tripe is a bit harsh. I understand well that there are intelligent and thoughtful people who have strong opinions in favor of these views. But having examined closely and rejected the various ideas that fit generally under the umbrellas of utilitarianism, materialism and humanism, I think I have earned the right to call it tripe because of the great suffering that I believe it is bringing on mankind.

So CG, you would leave us in that sorry state of affairs where my fellow citizens have the power to circumscribe my right to life. Or put differently, you claim, as a matter of right, a vote on determining the dimensions of my right to chose how to dispose of my own life. Any claims of this sort I utterly reject. You may indeed succeed in imposing your will on me through legal means, however that claim can never be made a moral one.

The measure of the right to life must surely always remain what individuals would choose for themselves if they were able to make the choice. Absent an ability to determine that, we must err on the side of life because anything less is for the state to seize that which is fundamentally mine and this would indeed be the de jure end of personal sovereignty.

Which of course brings us full circle again. We have been around this circle so many times I am verging on a permanent state of dizziness. But is it not interesting that it always seems to be that the result of strenuous demands for social justice is a curtailment of this liberty or that? You can continue to claim the mantel of capitalism if you so choose sir, just be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of the occasional snicker from those of use who can see the internal inconsistency.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

I'm just curious what kinds of freedoms do you think we "give to people that do not deserve them"?

5:28 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

On my bioethics yawn I've recieved...this isn't as interesting as my other links, but relevant. I am particularly intrigued by the name of the website.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

"So CG, you would leave us in that sorry state of affairs where my fellow citizens have the power to circumscribe my right to life."

I swear you must go take a hit off a joint between blogs. Do you remember my recent blog challenging everyone to act like Congress here... and create rational laws on this subject. All that matters here is the law... and any FUTURE changes we may want to make to it. Whether Tony is giving his recycled lecture on the basis of our rights, or CG is pointing out 90% of us wouldn't choose to be force fed in Terri's condition... the dilema is the same, which is to define the laws regarding people being kept alive through extraordinary means that do not have a living will. That's all we are talking about... what should be the law? Your "err on the side of life" and "individual is sovereign" does NOTHING to define that law. With all of your romantic high minded verbage... we are still stuck in the same place... people have to make the rules/laws to address these kinds of issues. So tell me... where in your world do we violate individual sovereignty when someone is allowed to die? Draw us the line for us... the place where we cross into tripe relativist thought. Do you make a distinction between the feeding tube and the ventilator? Is your policy is simple as max technology without a living will? If so, comment on the cost involved, and how you think we can/should fund that?

Religious and constitutional sermons are nice.... but eventually you have to get your hands dirty and be an adult and make laws for a pluralistic society. Those who have not performed their personal responsibility regarding a living will, force these decisions on other's who never wanted the job. Take a break from the sanctimony and get your hands dirty... define the law/s for us. Your a lawyer... let's see what you are made up.






For the DeLay fans -> DeLay Right to Die family case

7:32 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Temper, temper gentlemen.

CG,
Thank you for the kind words about my rational voice. I do however feel that I am a part of the RR that y'all talk about here. Although I do not want to see this country in a theocracy, I do see a need for more values and morals in this society if we are to survive for any extended period of time. We are already reaping the reprocussions of our self absorbed need for every little right that we can get our hands on and convince a liberal judge to question and thereby give. Our primary concern in this country should not be to give ervery pornographer his right to "what" free speach, hogwash. We should be protecting the little ones, and those that cannot defend themselves. However, no matter what I believe, I personally do not establish law, the legislature does. As you may continue to hear from me, and it may wear you out form time to time, I spent over 10 years risking my life for the freedoms that people take advantage of. I guess that really is my beef with the situation, we have become a society that does not even respect the freedoms that have cost so many so much, or their sacrifices for the time they gave if their scarifice was not the ultimate, or of a nature that involves serious bodily injury.

Tony,

Maybe this can give you some insight into some of the people that I believe have erroneous rights that were won under constitutional rights that were not intended at the time. I do believe that the constitution is an evolving document, this idea that it is living and breathing and should include every self indulgence that tickles our fancy, again hogwash.

I do hope that you except my apology for "shaming on you", I did not believe that you were actually slandering the good name of military personnel everywhere, just thought at the get go you might be taking away from what I understand as a heroic action that is reaction for the sanctity of life that most all military personnel understand, I was wrong in that assumption, and once again I understand the phrase that goes with the word "assumption". Again my apologies.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

ya know, I think I avoided your question when I got off track.

To be specific, I think that criminals, after conviction have far to many - "rights" I do think that their situationshould be well monitored, and that we do not do near good enough a job at rehabilitation, but as far as rights, they should live in a more restricted enviroment, that teaches and does not just allow them to wander around and lift weights. Yeah let us put in prison a person convicted of assault, and let him beef up some more so next time he commits assault he can kill his victim so there are no witnesses. Crazy in my opinion. They should be put to work to help contribute funds to a victims fund to help with medical bills first and then replacing items that were stolen, and not recovered or damamged in the crime. IMO

7:54 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: ...where in your world do we violate individual sovereignty when someone is allowed to die?

Of course there is so many grey areas in these arguments in Terri Schiavo, that each area is dependent on another grey area.

Is a feeding tube different from a ventilator. Yes and no. Yes in that it is a man made mechanical devise that helps facilitate eating. But so are forks, knives, kitchen appliances, baby bottles, dentures, and a few other things that escape my imagination. However, rarely does the average person require assistance breathing. Those with asthma obviously do, as well as any of us put under for surgery.

The problem I saw with Terri’s being “allowed to die,” is that she was prevented from any nourishment by decree. Were extraordinary measures removed and she were “allowed to die,” that would be one thing. But she is being prevented from “ordinary” measures of acquiring food. THAT was a step beyond “allowed to die.” That became a mandate to die.

Friends of ours took their newborn off a ventilator two weeks ago. They knew that it would die. It was only a matter of time. Now we are two weeks after removal and the child still lives. They took away the “extraordinary” measure of the ventilator. Should they now take away the ordinary source of oxygen known as “breathing?” Should they also remove his feeding tube?

Are we “allowing” people on death row to die? When I see people arrested for trying to get bottled water to another person, and have the police have a confrontation with a state agency that was going to barge in and give nutrition to Terri, it is hard to think this is “allowing” nature to take its course. Instead, we have stepped out into extraordinary measures to make sure that she can not, and does not, live.

All this to 1) honor her wishes, which were so heart felt that she had written directives and living wills written up. Well, not written, but everybody knew her wishes. Well, not everybody, but most everyone. Actually, just her husband. But being a fine upstanding sacrificial husband always doing what’s in Terri’s interest, who could argue with him? Ok, he did withhold all treatments that might have improved her, but at least he didn’t abandon her. Ok, maybe he abandoned her, but who wouldn’t, right? I mean, everybody here on this Tony’s blog would certainly abandon their wives after a few years of difficulty, right?

And 2) End her suffering. All that wailing and gnashing of teeth. But at least she has the, as the doctors called it, euphoria, of starving to death. Apparently, she has been in constant pain that could have been alleviated by an empty stomach. I knew the natural holistic sciences offered a better method.

Prof. Ricardo

9:09 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

That's not temper... that's just a normal conversation with the Curm. If you think that's bad, you should hear how we go at it in person. :)

Do you know what judicial activism is? It's any judgement by a judge that someone doesn't agree with. The judge being thrown on the cross in Florida is a diehard Republican. Go figure.

Teaching the kids that homosexuals shouldn't get equal rights is not protecting them, IMO. Homosexuals don't represent a culture threat. Culture threats come from not understanding the pluralistic society one lives in, not understanding where one's rights come from (not everyone has Tony to keep them straight), not only not valuing one's rights but allowing only the economic poor to fight our wars for us. Threats come from any faction that wants to claim the country as their's... particularly the wrong headed fundamentalist zealotry in the US. Threats come from a society that starts to hold out the judicial branch as "a liberal enemy". Liberal is pluralistic, conservative is anti-pluralistic... other than the libertarian nut jobs who are an equal "no government for you" crowd. Can't believe that's Tony's roots.

Seems like most of us see threats to our society... just not the same list.

btw... Let me be the first on this blogsite to thank you for your military service. I got to shake hands with Wes Clark when he came through Tulsa on his presidential bid... and got to thank him for his service. He was shaking hands in the crowd after his speech/pep rally... and I only had a chance for brief interaction. I really wanted to ask him something on the lines of "given your economic background (I think he taught an economics class at one time), does he think middle class america is on the road to ruins, or is he really optimistic, and if so, why". Well, obviously that wasn't going to happen in the 5 seconds per person hand shake ceremony... so I just said what came out of my mouth... "thank you for your military service for our country regardless of whether you become president or not". At the end of the day, he was of more value to this country for his military service, than half the yahoo's that end up with as president.

Blog on....

9:49 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I am a drug-free blogger. Perhaps some of these arguments would be easier to bear with medicinal assistance, but outside a pint or two of beer at night, I strictly avoid such measures.

Now, if you had been actually listening to what I was saying, my point was directed at what should be a default position in the absence of an advance written and properly attested directive. The point of yours at which I took great umbrage was that since 80% of Americans would not want extraordinary measures, pulling the plug should be the rule in those cases of individuals with out advance directives. I think I have made the argument for how this notion contradicts the fundamental right to life with sufficient clarity that I shall not at this point elaborate further, though I certainly am willing if those points remain less than clear to you, or anyone else here for that matter.

I have, of course, never laid out in terms of positive law those rules that I would adopt or support were I a member of an appropriate legislative body. I think, however, my position on the matter is pretty clear from my various opinions expressed in these pages. Since you have suggested that I am somehow unwilling to “get [my] hands dirty”, I will address the question you advance directly, but only over the objection that I think a fair examination of my work here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon would clearly reveal where I stand on this matter.

My opinion is that the law should protect our right to life through a presumption that favors the individual’s continued possession of that life. Until such time as we have an adequate legal definition of life, a proper respect for the right to life compels a conservative definition of what constitutes life. It is tempting here to proffer my own view on the matter as a reasonable position and suggest that brain death should constitute a safe harbor for defining death, but I feel that the greater protection of life others might desire deserves its fair hearing as well. Until we come to grips as a society with this issue, we must act with extraordinary care in the protection of that which is most sacred to us as human beings.

I state this position, hopefully with sufficient clarity this time to achieve your satisfaction in being able to apprehend it clearly, with full appreciation of the complications you suggest. I am extremely mindful, in this age of a collapsing healthcare system, of the financial burden that this may at times impose. It is these burdens that I believe compel us as a society to grapple with the topic of defining life and death. But that the problem is difficult or expensive does not make an adequate moral case for adopting the contrary view in the minds of all but the most ardent utilitarian.

In my view, some things are worth dying for. Or even bankrupting one’s self for. The right to life of all Americans is one of those things.

I hope that now my hands are sufficiently soiled.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Well, we probably have more common ground on the point of prisoner treatment than you might imagine. You might also guess that I approach the topic in a different way than you.

The prisoners deserve human rights because they are human. This is not something earned, but rather a matter of the inherent value of life. To say they do not “deserve” rights is to miss the important nuance of the better statement: “they have forfeited the right to enjoy their human rights”. Stated in this way, we could probably find much common agreement.

I am tempted to get into the broader topic or crime and punishment but that is probably best for another day and another thread of conversation.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Good for you... you see grey in this world. If I could just get Tony to do that. :)

I think I should clarify a few of my thoughts:

1) I still don't see a substantial difference between forced feeding and forced breathing. Bottom line, both happen "for an adult" from others.
2) If I were proposing law, I would take proactive measures to require living wills (I suggested when getting a driver's license... it occurs to me that another catch point would be when one got married).
3) In the situation where a person slipped through the cracks and didn't have a living will (or whatever documentation served that purpose)... the government would decide. I would never have set this up where a judge/court was suppose to try and determine wishes based on other's testimony (husband or wife). It's a dumb idea... how can anyone know for sure. I think it should be simple.. if you don't have a living will... your fate will be decided by a federal process. I think that federal process would include doctors, clergy, etc., and they could call witnesses. I would make the federal law as clear as possible, including such definitions as brain-dead. This is more grey area, but we can certainly do better than try and define the definition of brain-dead in every case.
4) I think allowing someone to starve to death is barbaric. If one has a living will, or when the federal process (all based on law) determines one is to be allowed to die... the most painless method... lethal injection or whatever should occur. A person should be able to choose otherwise in a living will based on religious beliefs or not... or maybe even the other way.. have to ask for the lethal injection up front in a living will.. but there should be a legal way to avoid starvation at the end of life. I definitely believe Euthanasia should be legal at the citizen's request.
5) The kids being arrested is just the result of the law. We follow the law. If the law needs to be changed, we change the law. It's illegal to bomb abortion clinics, it's illegal to bring water to someone being allowed to die, etc. There were no heroic measure here to kill Terri... just following the law. It's normal to find disagreement in law... how could it be otherwise in a pluralistic society. However, it's just a false argument to frame that as taking heroic measures to kill someone. IMO, of course.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You know, Randy seems like a really decent guy. I shudder to think what his reaction might be were he to see a real display of temper.

Randy,

Let me just assure you that such a display of temper would be an ugly thing and tender military types that are merely accustomed to death, gore and destruction should best shield their eyes should it come to such extremes.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Speaking for myself, I would want no one other than my spouse to have a say in such matters. I will probably draft a living will for the purpose of making that crystal clear: whatever she says if I am in such a condition, she speaks for me. I find this far preferable to a document that she might somehow be legally bound to yet contrary to what my actual wishes would be had I had perfect foreknowledge of the facts. It seems not unlikely that there could be some circumstance, some knew knowledge, some possibility that I can not remotely foresee that I would trust her at that point of time to decide upon for me more than I would trust myself to attempt to provide a crude form of remote control.

And this is not unreasonable from a social standpoint. Absent a statement of the arguably deceased, who is better able to understand and appreciate my wishes than my spouse? I certainly would not want my Parents having a say. And that is not out of a lack of trust, but rather recognition that at this point in my life, they do not have a full appreciation of my thoughts and approach on matter of this kind. I suspect this is true of most people if they stop and think about it.

I can think of a lot of ways to make this work, but I certainly would not want so elaborate federal law on the subject. A presumption favoring life and a hearing in court should be adequate protection enough.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"I hope that now my hands are sufficiently soiled."

Why would you think that? You just broad-brushed it again. I have no more idea if you are for "max technology to keep someone alive under all circumstances, or not".

"The point of yours at which I took great umbrage was that since 80% of Americans would not want extraordinary measures, pulling the plug should be the rule in those cases of individuals with out advance directives."

Well, I admit I knew you would jump on the anti-majority rule rant, which wasn't my point. My point IS that the "err on the side of life" is just as USELESS/USEFUL as the "what would the majority choose in this situation, in which we have no written direction from the individual". At the end of the day, high-minded ideas don't solve the problem. We have to make a call through law. I further suggest that this should be a federal matter with pretty specific parameters... rather than each state and each court adhocing a solution each time. Surely if anything is federal, it's our basic rights. I never argued against Congress attempting to define the laws of our land (that's there job), but rather objected to Congress's attempt to override the judging of current law. The real sticky question is whether new law developed by Congress.... even under these types of circumstances, should ever be allowed to be retroactive. For example, I could see Terri's case causing a permanent change in law (although I wouldn't hold my breath once the camera's are gone)... but I question whether that new law should ever be allowed to change a court's ruling retroactively.


Maybe you should do a blog on crime and punishment, because Randy reminded my of a question I intended to pose to you. I think all sex offenders should either never see the light of day outside prison (even if a relaxed country club version or more of a hospital institution), OR only out of prison with a permanent GPS tracking device. I think most of the sex offender types are mentally sick, and couldn't stop if they wanted to... so I lean towards NEVER letting them out. But my question here, is IF they were left out.... how does a lifetime tracking device square with individual rights. I figure if we can strap a device on Martha Stewart for six months... we have already answered "if we can". Now it's just a matter of answering "GPS tracking - how long is ok". My answer would be for life, if you ever got out of prison.

I guess you have find humor anywhere you can. I just noticed the pun I had introduced in an earlier comment.

"I would make the federal law as clear as possible, including such definitions as brain-dead. This is more grey area"

I guess that is grey matter, but still pretty funny. :)

12:49 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"Speaking for myself, I would want no one other than my spouse to have a say in such matters."

You and your wife could be in the same car accident.

"I can think of a lot of ways to make this work, but I certainly would not want so elaborate federal law on the subject. A presumption favoring life and a hearing in court should be adequate protection enough. "

Then by definition, you are in favor of adhoc decisions across the country by (judges) every single day. I think this is a no-brainer (oops, there I go again) requiring federal law. All we need is the Shiavo drama every single week of our existence... NOT!!! I'm not saying we can ever get rid of crazyville totally, but this entire thing became inflamed because of Congress, and because of individual state/judge discression. I would tighten this powderkeg down... and then prepare to federally fund the consequences of the decision.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: the most painless method... lethal injection or whatever should occur.

Ah... more grey area. When does my directive become a pre-written, under certain circumstances, suicide note? Would at some point suicide have to be legalized? Where, oh where, is my black and white world?

Prof. Ricardo

1:02 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You are correct gray-area breath: I did broad brush it. And the details are included in my broader statement.

In my early reply, I said, “[m]y opinion is that the law should protect our right to life through a presumption that favors the individual’s continued possession of that life.” I did not qualify this in any way. To emphasize my point, I continued later in the post, “In my view, some things are worth dying for. Or even bankrupting one’s self for. The right to life of all Americans is one of those things.”

So to answer your question narrowly, as you insist I must do in order to make sense to you: we must do whatever it takes and do so no matter what the cost because life is the most precious thing we have under the laws of men. Don’t bother with the what-if questions on this point, because I see the grey and I reject it.

More mystifying still is your assertion that a presumption favoring life is useless. Somehow you think I’m being vague and impractical, but that is exactly how law works on many key issues. Presumption of innocence comes to mind. A presumption favoring life would make the law work and not muddy the water. You just don’t like the result I’m advocating, and in attacking the result you are vainly suggesting that creating a presumption isn’t “making the call through law”. Actually, it is exactly that.

I also pause to marvel at your contempt for “high minded ideas”. I would think a social justice utopian such as you would at least appreciate the appeal to principal. Or is it only the “high minded ideas” that you support are to be deemed worthy of respect in your version of utopia? I make no apology for defending the great principals of our civilization.

On Crime and Punishment: I might have to blog on that one some day soon. I think my view that all violent felons should merit the death penalty might stir up a nice little argument or two.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

There is no need for any new laws, especially federal laws because of the Shiavo matter. The current laws work just fine. As far as a lving will be a suicide note, remember the directive doesn't come into play until it is necessary to keep you alive with extraordinary means. I imagine you could keep anyone "alive' forever with a respirator, artificial heart, kidney dialysis and a host of other measures but are you alive? What's being lost in this discussion is that terri is for all intent and purposes, dead. She has no conscious reality. She is not aware of anything that has happened in the last 15yrs. She has not being able to respond to any efforts to confirm that she is in touch with reality. The family has done a masterful job of convincing us that she is in fact conscious at some level. The few seconds or so of her appearing to be alert and responsive are gleaned from hours of videotape. The fact that she opens her eyes and appears to look at balloons and makes sounds makes a pretty convincing argument that she is somehow in there, but the medical evidence is overwhelmingly against that. The reason this has gotten so much attention is because of the power of technology to give us a glimpse at what is going on. But you have got to take into consideration all the facts and when you do that it leads you to a different conclusion. That's why we need judges and courts. Each and every court has reached the same conclusion. Do you think that they might be right on this? All parties in this matter have gotten what our system promises; due process.

Currently the texas legislature wants to pass a bill to prevent the 21 at 21 practice from going on. I guess there's a practice of kids who turn 21 taking 21 drinks. Stupid? yes. Do we need a law to stop it? no. It's already illegal.
Another law is being passed to prevent high school cheerleaders from shaking their booties. No, i'm not kidding. Where does it stop?
One thing I agree with is that pedaphiles should get stiffer sentences. A minimum of 60 yrs. So if you commit the crime at 18, you should be pretty feeble before you get out. There should be no repeat offenders.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

"Would at some point suicide have to be legalized?"

Of course it should be, at least for GOP types. :) I wonder how many people change their mind about suicide because it's illegal. You just have to do it right and make sure your spouse gets the insurance money. IMO, if you really are going to go the suicide route, you should take out at least 1 person that claims suicide should be illegal before you check out... kind of a patriotic duty thing. :)

Now... back to my poor irritating friend... Mr Plank. I can't believe you followed your broad brushing with yet another broad brush. It's like an endless loop. There are worse things than suicide. :)

“In my view, some things are worth dying for. Or even bankrupting one’s self for. The right to life of all Americans is one of those things.”

That nice... but we are also talking about potentially bankrupting the US with it's healthcare bill. It would almost be worth making our healthcare worse just to see the "no tax crowd" to actually have to collect taxes for something they want besides the military.

"Presumption of innocence comes to mind. A presumption favoring life would make the law work and not muddy the water."

You had to know that wasn't going to fly... pretty lame. I'm pretty sure what "presumption of innocence means". I still have no idea where you/society has settled on defining life, or the end of life. Oh yeah... I know... just go into court with the "presumption of innocence" and it is crystal clear. In your world it's all about the process and not the result... as long as we never face the real issue head on, and hide behind high minded constitutional or religious tenents... we can claim the moral high ground. Just admit it... you really don't care much about what we do here on planet earth because you have your ticket punched for the next life. You could at least step out of the way for those of us who still want to work on this mess. :)

On crime and punishment in my world... on the same day that all of the drug-based convicts are set free, you would see all of the sex offenders being marched to their permanent residence or lethal injection. If you killed someone or raped someone... you are done. Guilty of smoking a joint or sharing a mushroom with Yoshi... "what store do you prefer?".

Plank is irritating, Plank is irritating, Plank is irritating... sorry, was that out loud?

10:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Andrew,

Well, you and the Plank are the lawyers, and you both say we don't need new law. That's fairly compelling, but I keep coming back to the same thing... without making this federal law, each state and each court is doing their own thing. I will be the first to admit I'm not much of a state's rights guy in the first place (I think that was very important at our founding, but becomes increasingly less important as our society becomes more complex). BUT... this sure seems like a federal matter to me. How can two states have two seperate definitions of life in this regard?

I just saw Shawn Hannity and Jesse Jackson shake hands on Fox News because they agreed on putting the feeding tube back into Terri. Good old Hannity got out the lawn chair and setup up camp right there in Florida. At least Bill O'Reilly is entertaining when he is doing his insanity act. Shawn is insane and a bore... bad combination.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

No, I won’t admit it because it is not true. I care a great deal about making this a better place.

And I could care less about “claiming the moral high ground” and rather am very adamant about pursing a moral course of action.

You ridiculed my position that the cost does not matter when it comes to protecting the right to life, but I could not be more serious when I state that nothing is more important. I definitely believe that we should deal with a definition of life (and death) and not avoid it. The fact is that I am not the one avoiding the topic; rather it is most of America because of its perceived political interests. I have and will continue to take this topic head-on and your accusation to the contrary must sound pretty hollow to anyone who has read what I actually have said.

So let me say it again, just in case that I left a bit of ambiguity on this most important of topics. I believe that it is possible to come to a social compromise on this matter that will prevent the bankrupting of our national coffers. We are tragically not engaging in that dialog. Until we reach a mature consensus on the matter, our Constitution must continue to protect the right to life conservatively because that is the function of that instrument of law. If because of our communal intellectual sloth we do not correct our course and it results in the destruction of our nation, then I am of the opinion that is a fair result. A society that claims to hold Liberty dear but then abandons those core values is not worth preserving.

You seem to advocate a legislative tinkering to solve every problem that rears its head. Band-aid solutions will only get us deeper into the morass that passes as modern American political thought. I instead take the long term view and want to set us on a path that is grounded in shared values because only by doing so can we guarantee the blessings of Liberty to our posterity. And for this desire you have the audacity to suggest that I am unwilling to confront the problem?

I think perhaps that I am not the one who is in denial about the gravity and importance of the situation.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Curm,

"You seem to advocate a legislative tinkering to solve every problem that rears its head."

What the hell does that mean? Maybe we don't need laws... because after all, all laws are just tinkering. You seem to want to leave the courts with "you know it when you see it".... regarding a legal definition of death/life in this country.

Broad-brush, broad-brush, yada yada yada. Come back out to play when you have more than platitudes and general accusations. You are turning out to be just a complainer with no solutions... I guess other than "let's all correct our sinful ways and become better people". Anything short of absolute truth is just tinkering. Nice.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

And you call me irritating.

Tinkering is slapping an unconstitutional legislative band-aid on a matter of serious constitutional dimensions. I seek solutions, not sweeping it under the legislative carpet.

What do you call my statement in my last post where I said, ”I definitely believe that we should deal with a definition of life (and death) and not avoid it.”

Further, I have offered the definition of life and death I advocate. I have articulated a legal mechanism that would function to protect the individual’s right to life when they are unable to speak for themselves (presumption favoring life and hearings to make life ending treatment decisions).

In turn you accuse me of engaging in mere platitudes. Are you certain you aren’t confusing my arguments with a duck-billed mammal?

You also suggest that I would leave defining life to the courts. I have never said that and in fact am on record here and in other threads to hold the exact opposite of that position.

In sum, you seemed to totally miss every argument I have made in this thread. I don’t mind being disagreed with, but at least take the time to understand what I am in fact saying.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Not a nation of laws, not even of men, but of platitudes... eh?

9:40 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Gentlemen let us keep a civil tongue in our conversation.....you guys actually meet in person from time to time


Andrew,

I will agree with you that at the present state of technology we can not see any activity in Terri's brain waves. This does not necessarily mean that there is not someone inside the "shell" of what was Terri. As the "GOP" has disregarded Mikey's testimony about Terri's wishes, you have taken for granted that he is telling the truth. And you use as your defense, the fact that a Judge has taken him at his word. The facts though…. that is the interesting conundrum. We do not know the facts, and likely never will in this case as Ms. Schiavo expires. If you look at the fact alone, that she had the presence to look at the balloons can at least put her in the same category as a 3 day old, just because she does not have the faculties to move parts of her body, does not establish that she is completely gone. Yes, yes, I understand that with all the ways we have to measure brain activity, an organ that we still do not fully understand I might add, shows no activity in there. We do not fully understand the make up of what actually goes on up there, but with technology growing leaps and bounds we will at some point. We may discover that we have made some “fatal” errors in some of these cases. We are not talking about “life support”, it is in fact just a feeding tube, and for the last, what 11 or 12 years, no one has been allowed to treat her with any kind of rehabilitation, coupled with the “fact” that her husband abandoned her, and waited to fulfill her “wishes” according to Mickey. Now I am comfortable with all that has been done to try and “save” her, and I am not so comfortable with the decisions that one judge made, and just to put it on the record, all the courts that looked at this, and correct me if I am wrong, did not look at the entire case, just the decisions of the first judge. So they did not in fact go over all the evidence in the case, just whether or not the first judge had made any errors in his judicial power that could have been over turned.
That being said, and knowing that I am with the law, and the judge made a decision, that I may not agree with, I still respect that decision. I do feel that the providence of God was a part of this, for whatever reason, maybe, and I am stabbing at this, but it will show that what he has done to further our technology was allowed for us to sustain life such as Terri so that she could affect lives in ways that we can not imagine. Again, I and just a stabbing in the dark here. I could be completely wrong and it could be for the reason that when he has placed someone in that state it is time for them to go home. On that note, I will be the first to agree that what congress did over the weekend to muddy this case even further has just solidified my stance that I do not like any and all of them, Dems and Reps alike. I still stand firm on my best of two evils stance though. The fact that our congressional leaders can come together on a topic like this for the wrong reason, and can’t figure out healthcare, social security, or the continental divide of wealth astounds me to no end.

The two laws you talk about, booty shaking and 21 at 21, you are kidding right?

1:19 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Andrew is not kidding. That is real laws up for consideration.

As for CG and I, don’t worry yourself. We have been doing this for 21 years. Its kind of like James Carville and Mary Matalin. Well, perhaps not THAT much like that. But if it were like that, CG would be Mary.

I’m not one to hold back too much with anyone once I get riled up though I like to think of myself as agreeably disagreeable.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

Mary here. :)

"coupled with the “fact” that her husband abandoned her"

I guess everyone is referring to the wedding vows when they charge Michael Shiavo with abandoning his wife. Just so you know people come in all flavors... I have talked this over with my wife and we would both want the other to go on with their life. That's what love is to us... valuing the quality of life of the other. Different strokes for different folks.

"The fact that our congressional leaders can come together on a topic like this for the wrong reason, and can’t figure out healthcare, social security, or the continental divide of wealth astounds me to no end."

Randy, here's what works for me. Everytime I see our elected types on C-Span (which is pretty often for me regarding the Senatate... not so much the House) I pretend the Ringling Brother's circus music is playing in the background. I think up to now we have survived electing buffoons and power junkies. I'm afraid that isn't going to work forever. For example, try and come up with any rational reason to take on Social Security now, but not Medicare. Middle class america is being hit by a combination of job outsourcing, manufacturing moving overseas and a health insurance fiasco.... and top agenda items include Tort reform, individual (not corporate) bankruptcy laws, future social security problems, and a battle to lube the GOP conservative judge assembly line. I would replace the entire lot with college professors, and we would have a much better country.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

Wow, I never thought I would see Jeb and Jesse, walking hand in hand and singing Kumb by ya. This is excruciatingly painful for everybody. My gut says why doesn't the husband back off and let her live? Yet the law is the law. Yes Prof, this is black and white. There is nothing gray. What we are seeing is a true test of our institutions. Conservatives have always preached against activist judges, now they are seeing firsthand, strict construction of the law. The conservatives want a liberal outcome, they want the courts to fashion something out of thin air. They want another Roe V Wade.
There is no way out for Terri. None. It's horrible to think that she is literally being starved to death but there is nothing that can be done. Perhaps the Fla. law wll be changed to prevent someone who has no written directive to become a ward of the state. Or maybe when a spouse is living in sin the guardianship goes to the parents. The only thing I can see where the law would be improved is to prevent the pulling of the plug unless there is some standard of what a persistent vegetative state is, but then you deprive the indvidual of the right to die.
There are no easy answers but what the courts have done is correct.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Andrew,

Jeb and Jesse sitting in a tree...

I agree – what the courts have done is correct. You can argue the facts till doomsday but few of us are in a position to substitute our judgment for the court. While it is totally possible in a probabilistic sense that they got it wrong, I don’t see that we have better tools available today. Certainly, the law could be improved as I have described, but under the parameters of the law, the legal result seems correct.

Like so many other issues, people have a lot of trouble separating their own moral outlook from what the law IS. I disagree with the law, but I abhor the violence being done to our system of government by politicians who put themselves above constitution. Sickening really.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

I agree that I would want my wife to carry on with her life, and to get rid of me before I was a burden. And IMO she can do what she wants, heck, I am going to a better place than she has to stay in. Why should she not be happy. On the other hand I have an obligation from my own set of values to stick it out for her, no matter the circumstances. If she directed me to pull the plugs then I would, if this were verbal and not written, I would consult with her close relatives. I would ensure that we all were on the same page, I would let them know her wishes and if they disagreed I would hold on for hope. I would also address any financial needs at that time. For me it goes beyond marraige vows, I have made a commitment and I plan to see it through, even if that means I will be lonely for a ling time. IMO lonely knowing that I have the one that completes me is better than shacking up with a good substitution.

Did I miss something with the whole "Mary here" thing.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

How can we be sure about anything? There are several standards in the law. one is the preponderance of evidence or the 51% standard which is what was most likely used in this case. then there is clear and convincing evidence, maybe like 70-80%, then there is beyond a reasonable doubt which is when you are so sure that you can sleep in peace. Even at that, there are many people wrongfully convicted. I don't think the purpose of our justice system is to make perfect rulings, just a process by which we can have confidence that both sides had the same chance. In this case, the family had the same chance to disprove Michael as Michael had the burden to prove he was telling the truth. It was heard before a judge who is supposed to be a disinterested party. Was he? Who knows. I know of judges in this town that I wouldn't want to try a case before because they lack judicial temperament. Judges have discretion and if that discretion is abused, they can be reversed. the system is designed to give the presumption that the judge is fair and unbiased. We live and we die with that presumption.
One thing is for certain, judges and courts do a better job of deciding the facts than politicians, unless of course the judge is a politician. In Texas, all county and district judges are elected and 90% in Dallas and surrounding counties are republicans. Does that make you feel better or worse?
Juries are no better. I have tried many cases and trust me there are some people I wouldn't want on my jury. Sad to say, I would often strike people of certain denominations because of their mindset. I would prefer a methodist over a baptist because methodists seem to be more compassionate. On the other hand, I preferred someone with a relgious affiliation over one who had no affiliation. Sometimes men were better than woman depending on the case. I didn't make a preference based on race but I would try and get some minorities on because it would be more reflective. An all white jury just didn't look right. Of course, the same would be true for an all black jury,except that was demographically improbable.

I think the emotions of this case makes us want to change the system to get a different outcome. That's why we have a constitution so that we won't go through wild cyclical changes in our government and our society.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"Certainly, the law could be improved as I have described"

Oops... earlier you said that would be tinkering.

Randy... have to challenge you on the verbal instructions from your wife. If your wife told you clearly what her intentions were in a situation like Terri, what difference would it make to you if it was written or not? Of course it could matter legally... but you were implying a change in your actions. That's one of the things that has been most upsetting about this entire fiasco to me. I think it's fair enough to feel passionately that Terri shouldn't be allowed to die... but that passion had no bounds. Once things turned against their wishes, many started accusing Michael of maybe being guilty of putting Terri in that condition. This seemed to come right out of thin air, from people who didn't have a clue about facts, other than they disagreed with the Judge/Courts. That's the kind of zealotry that you just have to hope remains a fringe element or we are all toast. Congress's actions, and the actions of those who have been trashing the Florida courts have been really sad. I heard Mel Gibson talking to that idiot Hannity... and Mel said this marked the end of our nation's humanity... or something like that. People get themselves into such a brainlock on isssue like this, they can't even comprehend that there are decent caring people out there that thing the compassionate thing IS to let Terri die. I don't know if it's 911 causing such insanity or not, but I do know if one case like this can cause such a meltdown... then one more terrorist attack should seal the deal. People better get a grip and act a little more adult and face reality... we are likely to have some very tough times ahead. I think America had it so good for so many years we may not be capable of withstanding hardship... like most of the rest of the globe faces all of the time.

America.... grow up, and keep religion a private matter. The last couple of weeks we got a glimpse of the effects of public religion.... not pretty. There is nothing on this planet that is more likely to rob someone of their individual liberties then public religion. Religion isn't rational, it can't be compromised, you are either in or you or out, and if you are out you are wrong and must be changed or forced to comply. Of course I'm the one broad-brushing now... but it's still an accurate observation, IMO.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

It's finally over for terri schiavo. May she rest in peace. I pray for her family and her husband in their loss. Only God knows everything about this matter and He is a righteous judge. We can be assured that all things will be reconciled by Him.

This matter is a microcosm of our society, from the brokenness of the family, to the dysfunction of our society, to the polarization of our political views. Hopefully, we can all learn something from this that will make us better.

The priest who made comments after her death called her death a killing, Jesse Jackson, used the occasion to push for health care reform and I'm sure others want to bring up the right to life, activist judges and so on.

The good I saw is that we as americans still value life and even if this one wasn't saved, I think we can be assured that we will do what we can to protect the life of those who want to live. I also saw that our court system did not bow to political meddling and did what the law requires of them. The right of Terri to die was upheld and the right of the spouse to make final judgments was also upheld. These are the good things that happened. Now, I hope these two families can end their hostilities and honor terri's life in her passing.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yes, may Terri rest in peace. It is my prayer that her wishes were upheld in all of this.

I wish I could see the good in all of it that you see Andrew. While I agree that it is good that the courts functioned and did their duty in spite of meddling from the highest reaches of our decaying Republic, I think the political popularity of the constitutional shenanigans is a point of serious concern.

We have slowly drifted from our institutions of the Rule of Law founded upon Natural Rights to a new and frightening thing, which is the Rule of the Majority founded upon No Discernable Principals. To the extent that the Schiavo case fits in the continuum of that downward spiral, this matter will reverberate through our institutions for some years to come. My predication is that Terri Schiavo will become a political cliché and the whole matter is far from over in terms of social impact.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

For those of you who want peace of mind about the schiavo matter, I suggest you read the guardian ad litem report.
http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/schiavo/1203galrpt.pdf"

10:12 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Andrew,

I wish that GAL item could have been posted sooner, although I have a particularly bad taste in my mouth from a personal case with a GAL, this one seemed to present facts. It does look like Mikey did give a good go for at least three years, I guess we can all look back on things we did and decide that we may have made some mistakes. If I were in a similar situation I hope that it would not go in a similar matter. Although everyone handles things differently, I can not see me finding a new life with someone else and hanging on to the marraige like he did. Unfortunately it cast a shadow of a doubt on at least half the public...I know our doubt about his motives should not have to be his concern, but in light of what happened I think it is clear to see that it did effect the outcome to some degree and lengthened the situation for all involved. It is clear from the testimony of the Schildlers that they did not care what Terri's wishes would have been.

CG,

What was up with the "Mary here" thing, I am still missing it.
In my defense, I think I would always see a light in my wife's eyes no matter her condition, and I view a feeding tube in a different light, I could not make a decision to starve her to death. Ventilators and heart machines I see in a different light and could let go, maybe.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Paraphrasing:

Dr. James Dobson: "This was state sanctioned murder. Judge Greer is an evil man".

Pat Boone: "This was Orwellian".

Mel Gibson: "This marks the end of humanity.... look what they did to Judge Moore".

Fred Barnes: "This was an action of an Imperial court".

It must be killing Falwell to be to sick to make it to a TV camera.

In this country, at least for now, we don't let the Mullah's and crazy people run things. That said, these TV preachers aren't wealthy because that can't get anyone to listen to them.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Regarding my Mary comment (I can see it's messing with your mind :)...

Tony had said the following earlier in response to your concern about our temper/jousting with each other... I was just playing along with our Blog cruise director. :)

"As for CG and I, don’t worry yourself. We have been doing this for 21 years. Its kind of like James Carville and Mary Matalin. Well, perhaps not THAT much like that. But if it were like that, CG would be Mary."

If you've ever watched Carville and his wife go after it, it's a wonder they remain married. Truly an odd couple.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

dangit, I never thought to look at Tony's posts for the answer. Right in front of my eyes.
Yeah those two are a pair, talk about the ability not to take things personally.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

The Terri Schiavo matter is Bush's raison d'etre for his new term. How lucky can a guy get. He has pretty much been out of the white house since his ignauration, stumping his social security deal. Then this comes up. Now he can fan the flames of idiots like Randall Terry, James Dobson, Tom DeLay and others how are too ignorant to look at the facts. All they care about is their agenda. Imperial Court? you mean all 22 of them? It's down right un-Christian for Dobson to call this judge evil for doing his job, I'm sure that the Lord will correct him on that. The fact is that Bush thought he convened an imperial court to do his bidding. It's shameful that Bush did not accept the outcome of the courts and correct. As a Christian, I'm enbarassed at the display of extremism and hatred by so called Christian leaders. Bush makes it worse because he panders to them, threatening our institutions and our freedom. Any true conservative will have a difficult time trying to defend theze actions.

8:58 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Yoshi,

So you want to be in the military. Great. I spent 10 years in my beloved Marine Corps. What a great experience. If you would like some advise, and are not being sarcastic about your comments, let me know. I can give you some, if "A" then "B" senarios to see if the military is really what you would like. Your comment had a hint of sarcasim seems I can not pick up on it like I used too. Just let me know I will help in anyway that I can.

3:43 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I wasn't being sarcastic at all. It's something I've been thinking about for a while. I think I'm well suited towards it, plus it would pay my bills, give me interesting experiences, and open some doors in a few years from now. You can send me an email, it's listed on my name. That way we don't have to post our discussion up on the blog page.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

"There is something irrational about it."

Yes... and the it is organized religion. I have a theory that man is basically a pack animal... susceptible to peer pressure, and striving to fit in. We have many flavors of packs... but organized religion is certainly one of them. You ask why our nation is willing to waste so much time on one case... one brain dead person who left us 15 years ago. It's because to many... being right and following the rules of one's pack is everything... common sense need not apply. Being right is the same as reenforcing one's belief that they belong to the right pack. I've noticed the pack diminished intelligence problem in work settings. I've seen a half dozen, otherwise intelligent people, turn into idiots when they act in aggregate. I can't explain it... just that I've seen it way too often. This is where my "private religion good, public religion bad" comments come from. Personally, I don't know how people look around at this world they live in and convince themselves there is a man that lives in the sky that loves them... but I am truly grateful for any solace they find in those beliefs. That is sincere which may surprise some based on my comments. Where I quit being grateful about religion, is when, in it's organized form it works against striving to evolve the human condition, or against common sense protection of humans. I will give you an example. The news is running a 24 x 7 Popathon as we speak. It seems strange to me to treat a human as a deity himself... seems kind of opposite of the little I know about Christianity.... but then I also thought the entire Reagan thing was nonsense also. Humans are very strange indeed when it comes to hero and star worship. Anyway, back to my point... "the dangers of organized religion". As much as I tried to to flip channels and catch something other than the Popathon... I heard something that blew me away. This pope believed, and preached, that condoms should not be used/available/talked about.... not sure of the exact pope position... just that rubbers were a non-starter. This just blew me away. We have an entire continent where generations of kids are losing their parents to aids... and rubbers are the enemy. When group think says "our rules and our beliefs... i.e. abstinence" trumps preventive measures (i.e. condoms)... group think becomes evil and an enemy. I just have very little tolerance for pack group think ignorance. The irony never ends... the same people yelling "the sanctity of life" and "abortions are murder" are often the very same ones to say "condoms are immoral". Or as you point out... claim to be for the sanctity of life and yet never acknowledge their political party is the king of leaving many behind while they serve the wealthy. If you give the Randy Terry crowd $10 million... and tell them they could pick whether or not to force-feed Terri for another 30 years, or they could provide health coverage for 2000 poor families ($5000 a year x 2000 families = $10 million)... I guess they would feel compelled to keep Terri alive. (Note: that previous comment reeks of US-only thinking... do the same math at $2 a day to keep African babies alive... 5 million african babies get to live tomorrow, or one brain-dead american). Yes, I know... the numbers don't matter... it's the sanctity stupid (Tony, good Blog title for you. Actually, that's a good enough title to get me into the blog game). If that type of decision making is made based on organized religion (or unorganized religion for that matter), then religion becomes an enemy of society. If the implications of religion on society were all positive, that would be awsome.... unfortuately it's not reality. I repeat... private, solace giving religion ... FANTASTIC... public, irrational, society limiting religion.... EVIL.


"Why does the world give so much press coverage to Terri Schiavo, but when 80 million Africans are going to die of AIDS no one really cares?"

Two issues here... 1) the press covering it 2) our willingness to be lead by the press into a national preoccupation of it.

Issue one is pretty obvious... the news is just lame (I would say the PBS News Hour is an exception). With the Foxification of cable news, and everyone else lowering themselves in the name of competition... news has been reduced to one giant pissing contest.

I guess the second issue (why we are easily lead) may be obvious too.... we just aren't that bright. :)

The military career is obviously a personal decision... you should seek honest appraisal from those who have lived it like Randy P. From your postings, you would have struck me more of a Peace Corp type... i.e. safer ways to travel. :) At least wait until Shrub Jr is back in Crawford... and the neocons are not the flavor of the moment. Wolfowitz is off to head the World Bank... Africa is a priority... much better use of a neocon, IMO. Robert S. McNamara did his penance at the World Bank also... funny how history repeats itself.

BTW... if anyone hasn't seen the movie Fog of War, you should rent it. Tony recommended it to me. I had no idea how close we really came to the end. It really puts a perspective on all of the arguing and debating we do. In the big picture.... we are all on borrowed time and just keeping busy in the meantime. :)

7:33 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I saw the Fog of War, it was great. I've recommended it to Professors who I think will actually show it in their classes.

As for the military vs. Peace Corps, I initially did consider the Peace Corps. But there are a few problems. First, they don't pay anything, and I have quite a little debt I want to get rid of. I might still decide on Peace Corps, but I also thought the Peace Corps was something I could get into when I was much older if I really wanted to.

I've been interested in conflict zones, war, developing countries, etc, for quite some time now, and I was thinking a couple of years in a combat zone could give me about a good a perspective on these things as you can get. I sit around in my car and listen to NPR and listen to reports from the frontlines, or watch films like The Fog of War and Hotel Rwanda, and I think to myself, I would rather see it in person. Any type of morally conflicting situations that might arise I think I could maintain good judgement in.

Ultimately, I'd like to work in some kind of peace-promoting international agency or the U.S. government, and the miitary would probably set me up for that type of employment with a security clearance, another language, leadership positions, etc, etc. The peace corps could give me some of those things as well, but I think the Army pays better. 65,000 dollars in repaid loans (I would net 35 grand!), 20 thousand dollar bonus, and about 2600 dollars a month salary. I would expect to have quite a little nest egg saved by the time it was all over. I might even have the financial capital to invest in some foreign country as it is being rebuilt, assuming I see some business opportunities before anyone else does. Friends of mine who have finished school are now working at bars or retail shops at the mall, and I really don't want that to happen to me. I'd move to Czech Republic and teach English or something, but I have a 30 thousand dollar student loan hanging over my head.

I guess the drawbacks to the military would be risk of contracting some kind of uranium poisoning or losing a limb, but that seems like not surfing because you are afraid a shark might attack you.

I will think about it all and see if something else doesn't come up. I go to Europe on June 20th and will contemplate it over the summer before I make a final decision. I may just decide to sell cars in Texas while Europe experiences its cold winter months, make a bunch of money, live at my parents, pay my debt off, and then return to the Bohemian carefree life of Prague around March 2006. We'll see.

9:22 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

First let me say I am not Catholic, that being said let me ask you a question. What is the best, surefire way not to contract Aids or some other STD, 100% guaranteed?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I will even go one better, what is the second best way, however this one is not 100%, but still a pretty sure thing?

8:48 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

So the Africans that don't sign up for the 100% method should die? What kind of logic is that? Keep them alive, and then folks can give them a sermon.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

That reminds of something Bill Maher said on his show this week. This may be the first post Tony deletes. Warning: dirty joke to follow.... run away if that kind of thing bothers you.

Maher: After years of safe sex and abstinence promotion in schools, statistics show that sex is still rampant, with a twist. Now, the most common type of sex is oral sex and anal sex. Got to hand it to the do-gooders... they got the kids to think outside the box.

One more:

Thank god they only found a finger in Wendy's chili last week. If they had found an entire hand, Congress would have passed new law to keep the hand alive forever.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Well, let me see. Were I in a country that had an epidemic running wild, killing millions. Come on, actions and consequences. So what I hear you saying is, people who drive drunk and kill someone should not pay a penalty for their actions. Every choice in life that we make is a crossroad. You can go left down the road where no one is accountable for their actions, or you can go right where every action has some type of consequence. Yeah pretty much, we should spend billions and billions to send condoms to Africa, so people can continue to do stupid things, yeah know there is between 15 and 20% failure rate in condoms, they break, have holes. How many of your friends would have to be laying in a hospital in the end stages of a disease for you to realize this ain't what you want.

But anyway, I think we should take an avid interest in the plight of the African, we should do all we can to help, but are you telling me that you do not even want to broach the subject of abstinence or fidelity in marraige. Even sex in marraige is a risk, cause you never actually know about the person you are sleeping with. Both these options are still the best on the market, and they are free. What is worse is you are going to give someone a condom they are going to feel safe, and all that is going to happen is you will slow the spread by a measurable margin. Even with condoms people will contract the disease. Lots of people will still contract the disease. Should we push the use of condoms knowing that 15% of the people that we give a false hope will still contract HIV. It's like using a bandaid for someone that cuts their leg off.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

So, teen pregnancy is on the decline, that is great news

10:17 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

"So what I hear you saying is, people who drive drunk and kill someone should not pay a penalty for their actions."

Wow... retract my common sense compliment. These people aren't driving drunk... they are screwing. You just put the dying from drunk driving and dying from screwing in the same consequence box. You just said basically... hey, they deserve to die if they don't screw under your approved rules. Again... wow. I'm done for now... better things to do today.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

This must break the GOP owner's hearts (corporate america). Good one, referring to a corporate america heart. :)

You can't touch that IRA --

I've thought of a good T-Shirt idea. "Senator, if you aren't talking about terrorism, or jobs or universal healthcare... Shut the F*** up!" What do you think... think it would sell?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Wow, guess I hit a nerve. I think you are either not getting my point, or....maybe I am pulling your chain to get a rise out of you. So I am done with that now. The Pope's position is one of the catholic faith that believes that you should have as many kids as the God will give you, the best way to work this out is by not using birth control, which is the Pope's position. Catholics do not believe in birth control.

12:55 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I noticed that about Randy's comment as well. People are having sex, so they must face the consequences of death? That's pretty harsh. Why can't they just use condoms like we do?

I know that condoms are not 100% effective, but AIDS is a virus that spreads exponentially. Think of one cat having 8 kittens, and each kitten having 8 kittens, and each of those having 8 kittens. That's how AIDS spreads. If you cut that first kitten's litter by 85%, that would seriously slow down the spread and give governments time to get a grip on it. We need to take what we can get now. There was a drug recently that the US had been supplying to African nations that was very successful. Then a few people had adverse reactions to it and died. Suddenly some African governments were blaming W.Bush for the untested drugs. Well, sorry, but if it works 98% of the time, and the alternative is nothing for anyone, then I'm sorry, but those unlucky 2% are going to have to deal with it. The same logic applies to condoms. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

People need to think in "net" terms. Otherwise we may as well make a global suicide pact and kill ourselves all together.

Catholics don't have to condone condoms, but they don't have to impede other's ability to access them. Condoms are a cost-effective way to slow the spread of AIDS, and should certainly be complemented with education about fidelity and abstinence and all that. Of course, many orphans are forced into prostitution due to extreme poverty, rape is common in a society where women have no power, and often women contract AIDS from their husbands. I think if you are using a condom to protect against the virus, and not to prevent pregnancy, what's the harm? I think instead of "consequence for action," it's more like, "consequence for circumstance of being geographically in the wrong spot."

2:14 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

and of course, condoms should be used as a last resort. There are many other factors and strategies that have to be taken into account and used in conjunction with condoms.

2:16 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I wanted to comment about the "Minutemen" patrolling Arizona's borders. Scott Wilder was defending them today, expressing disappointment with the President for calling them "vigilantes." Scott said they were merely a bunch of "80 year old men with binoculers."

Perhaps the President then heard what I heard. Some of them are armed with guns and are passing out white supremacy literature. Scott managed to neglect that point.

Now on other "conservative" radio shows they are claiming the Minutemen are keeping out the "terrorists" who might be coming across. But seriously, it isn't about that at all. They are racists that are worried about being outbred by the Hispanic population. Terrorists aren't coming in that way, and even if they did, they wouldn't get far with no I.D., acting suspicious, and trying to acquire explosive devices.

So we hear the U.S. has become Nazi Germany on account of Terri what's-her-name, but when we have the neo-Klu Klux Klan on the borders with shotguns, hunting Mexicans who are "illegal", no one says anything.

I really respect President Bush for calling them vigilantes. I hope he doesn't puss out and back down.

6:53 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

http://www.democracymeansyou.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc

Common Good, check this site for cool tshirts and bumper stickers.
I ordered the "THINK, IT'S PATRIOTIC" shirt and sticker. I like the "1984" one, but it's out of my size.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Yoshi,
Did you get my email, hope I sent it to the right place.

Just so you know, it is the Ku Klux Klan, not that it makes any sense to me.

Ya know I find that I am a lot more opinionated than I was 10 years ago when I got out of the Marine Corps. I joined for some pretty specific reasons, protect freedom and everybodies right to express that freedom guaranteed under the constitution, yada yada yada. Where did I go, I mean I was a highly trained professional killer, licensed to destroy without prejudice, but I think my respect for people to do what they thought was best for them was unhindered. I guess I saw so much of the world and how others lived, it just made me realize what we have here, and the ability to have these conversations, Tony and CG can sound on posts like they would not spit in each others face if they were dying of thirst. What a great country.

Anyway, I was just re-reading my blogs, at first I thought y'all were being a little critical of what I was saying, but I guess I was not getting it across correctly. The point I was trying to make: We do have an obligation to help whenever and wherever we can around the globe, condoms are cheap, and Yoshi you are correct, even if only half of what we send over is used we can significantly decrease the spread and start to manage the problem. What I think will most likely happen however is not many will use the condoms, and yes if you can convince one to use it and save his life, there by saving the lives of eight other kittens and so on and on Jeanette' oh la la, right. We should help, we should always help. I see posts like CG put out the other day

“Maher: After years of safe sex and abstinence promotion in schools, statistics show that sex is still rampant, with a twist. Now, the most common type of sex is oral sex and anal sex. Got to hand it to the do-gooders... they got the kids to think outside the box.”

And to think that CG would blame abstinence for the moral depravity WOW, where is your common sense. If kids are getting ideas to perform these types of sexual acts, it ain’t because we are teaching abstinence; I think it has more to do with not controlling what they find on the internet. Course wouldn’t want to take those freedoms away from anyone.

And Yoshi, I know you are trying to point out that there are a lot of innocent victims that area caught up in the sexual trade of flesh in these countries, and you advocate condoms, how many of these sick individuals that perform acts with minors are gonna use a condom. The innocent victims will always be the victims. I know here I go again, shoot what is wrong with me. I am going back under my rock. See ya

7:41 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,

Post something else, get me outa this condom conversation, soldier down. Corpsman up

7:42 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

I'll try to get something else posted soon. I've had life getting in the way of important stuff like blogging.

I'll add that this is a great country. I think a lot of times the fact that I'm critical gets interpreted as some sort of America loathing. I'm far from that I'll assure you. But, in all things I try to look at things honestly and just because we have a lot of things right, doesn't mean we should not strive to be better.

And there is my present irritation. It appear to me that we have quit striving to be better and instead we are striving to maintain wealth. And this change will be our undoing as a civilization.

11:11 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Randy,

I did get your email and I responded to it. I basically just said I was mainly considering the ARMY over the MARINES b/c they pay off your loans, give you a huge bonus, and the salary isn't so bad as well (as good as any entry level private sector). The Marines are interesting, but they don't offer the money. Money isn't everything, but who are we kidding, it is. One of the main reasons I thought of the military was to get my student loans paid off.. if the Marines start offering that, I'll consider them. In fact, I'll even double check what they are offering.

Yea, I know that rapists, unfaithful husbands, and prostitutes probably won't use condoms anyway. The prostitutes would though, and the wives might if they lived in a less chauvenistic society.

I was thinking last night though that like anything, policy decisions should be made regionally. Meaning, a policy for a village in Tanzania shouldn't be decided by people in Washington DC or Rome, Italy. What should happen is local experts should evauluate the problem and make a request about what they need. If that's used school books and Scott Wilder's Bibles, fine. If it's soap and bednets, fine. If it's a condoms, fine. Whatever you need to solve the problem, it's yours. The people on the ground in these areas probably have more knowledge than we do, and they seem to feel they need condoms.

I tried to change the topic from condoms to the MINUTEMEN guys. I want some confirmation of whether or not they are Klansmen.

11:24 AM  

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