Disappointed in my party - Jay Maynard

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Monday, 21 March 2005


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0723 - Disappointed in my party

Anyone who's known me, or read this journal, for any length of time knows that I'm a staunch Republican. I count myself among its ranks because, of the two major parties, it more closely represents my views on the issues I consider most important.

That doesn't mean that I always agree with it. One bit of political chicanery that was perpetrated this past weekend is a case in point: the Congressional meddling in the Terri Schiavo case.

At least a dozen times, based on expert medical testimony, courts in Florida have ruled that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. That means she has no cognitive abilities - in short, she's incapable of rational thought - and is not going to get any better. At least a dozen times, courts have ruled that Terri would not have wanted to be kept alive in this manner. Her parents are in intense denial of these facts, and insist that she is getting better. They've tried for seven years to take over her care so they can keep her in this state indefinitely.

Terri's feeding tube - which is all that's keeping her alive - has been removed three times now. Twice before, her parents have succeeded in having it reinserted. It looked like the third time, Terri would be allowed to die in peace. Alas, not so: Republican leadership has rammed through a bill to transfer the case to the federal courts, where, presumably, an order will be issued to reinsert the tube yet again while yet another examination of the facts will take place. All this time, Terri will be kept alive - if you can call that alive - against her wishes.

foolscap001 points to a blog entry claiming that Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and legal guardian, is a dirty rotten no-goodnik who wants her to die. That may be the case. That doesn't matter, in the final analysis. What matters is that Congress has stuck its nose in where it doesn't belong, just to score political points, and is prolonging the suffering of an innocent woman who's been kept alive artificially with no hope of recovery, in spite of her wishes. That's cruelty, pure and simple. My party should do much better than that.

current mood: [mood icon] disappointed

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Comments:


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From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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Well...it's more than that. Note the part where the nurse says her comments indicating that Ms. Schiavo was responsive were being deleted from the record, and that she was denied any sort of rehabilitation. "Rehabilitation" evidently included brushing her teeth, so that several of her teeth were allowed to rot in her mouth. That's not just letting her die; that's taking positive action to make sure she dies.

The expert testimony includes that of one Dr. Ronald Cranford, who, according to this article, claimed that one person who could, upon request, pick up blocks of a specified color and hand them to a therapist, and who could operate a motorized wheelchair with his left hand and foot, was in a persistent vegatative state.

The Patterico blog entry is coming up on a year and a half old, and the affadavits could well be from long before that; it's been over fifteen years since Ms. Schiavo collapsed. She may well now be beyond help--but if that's because of Michael Schiavo's actions, he should be brought to justice.
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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People in a persistent vegetative state may do things that can be perceived as responsive, and I have little trouble believing that the nurse saw what she thought were responses. I'll take the word of expert physicians, even over that of nurses. Nursing is a different job, with different skills and different knowledge.

My objection is to the idea that one person's case is a subject for Congressional action to overrule over a dozen courts. Where does this end? How many others will seek to involve Congress?

If Terri was ever in a state where she could have been helped, the initial misdiagnosis destroyed any possibility of that. That, after all, was the reason for the million-dollar malpractice settlement. I agree that Schiavo should be held accountable for any actions he may have committed that prevented any possibility of recovery. I'm simply not persuaded there were any. I would also assume that the courts would have held him accountable for any such, either on their own or in response to a criminal action brough against him - and, given the political climate, I would believe that some publicity-grabbing DA would have pursued such a case were there any case there at all to pursue.
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From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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I agree with you on the issue of Congressional involvement; it shouldn't have happened.
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From:ginafae
Date: - 0000
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I've been keeping up on this story in the mainstream news... I guess because it's so horrifying.

The one thing that really struck me is that doctors agree she has some cognative function - about the level of a 6 month old child. When I read that I was simply amazed that this has continued to go on. A parrot has the cognative level of a 6 year old child. But, because she's human-shaped, we're left with a different taste in our mouth when she dies. Don't get me wrong, I think that human life is emminantly more important than avian (or any other "animal") life. But, if after 10 years, she's only gained the ability to smile or cry in response to stimulus, what the heck makes her parents think they'll ever have anything remotely resembling their daughter out of the wreck of her body that is left?

I suppose I see this whole episode as one of the great trajedys of modern medicine. We can keep a body alive indefinately when there isn't a brain to support it.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Indeed. To me, keeping a body alive long after the mind that powers it has died is cruel. Just because medical science has given us this ability in no way means that it should be used merely to keep blood flowing to a brain that cannot make use of it.
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From:mary919
Date: - 0000
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So babies born who will always have very limited cognitive function should be starved? Her blood is flowing just fine. All she needs is food.
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Even if she gets food, she will never recover her cognitive abilities. She's expressed her wish that she not be kept alive in this manner. Everyone else should honor that wish.
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From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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The one thing that really struck me is that doctors agree she has some cognative function - about the level of a 6 month old child.

Well...this morning there's a recent sound clip of her and her father. She moans, with an "uh" sound... until her father says "Can you say 'Hi' to Dad?" and then the moan changes to "iiiii....aaaaaa...."

Now, is that a desperate attempt to say "Hi, Dad"? Humans, after all, are creatures that look for patterns, and see faces in the shapes of clouds, though nobody would claim that an intelligence is shaping clouds (well, maybe the "Intelligent Design" bunch would, but that's another discussion...). It sounds like it to me, but I might be wrong. If it is, though, is that a six-month level of cognition?
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From:ginafae
Date: - 0000
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Nobody knows. She could be trying to say "Hi Dad" or after 10 years of coaching she might have learned the ability to mimic. After all, does she change the moan to "iiii....aaaaaa..." every time she sees him? Or is it only after being prompted to mimic?

I don't have easy answers, but research into this subject shows that if you don't "come back" within 6 months, you won't. And even after something like 5 months, the patients didn't have any memory of thier previous life. They were being re-taught to be who they once were, and pretty much maxed out around the level of a middle-schooler.
From:sojew
Date: - 0000
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A baby doesn't have the ability to feed itself either, therefore it's being fed by an outside and "Artificial" source. Should we let them starve to death too?
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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The difference here is 1) babies will almost always grow to have much more cognitive function, and 2) the courts have found that Terri has expressed her wish that she not be kept alive in this manner. Her wishes overrule everyone else's.
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From:howardtayler
Date: - 0000
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The specifics of Terri's case are irrelevant. This is stupid use of the U.S. Congress.

Like Jay, I feel really bad for the Schiavo family, and if there have been crimes or injustices there, I think they should be dealt with... by the authorities with immediate jurisdiction.

On any given day there are probably a dozen cases of personal and familial injustice somewhere in the United States. If Congress tries to pass laws to "rectify" each of those situations, they'll never get anything else done, and we'll be saddled with thousands of additional pages of useless legislation, not to mention burdensome precedent.

--Howard
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From:irpooh
Date: - 0000

sorry - I found myself on my soap box

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Congress has stuck its nose in where it doesn't belong
Congress has more noses than Medusa had snakes!

six-month level of cognition
Personally, I wonder what Jean Piaget would have to say about all of this...
From here one can find most of his material in a short simple form: Sensorimotor Stage. This stage occurs between the ages of birth and two years of age, as infants begin to understand the information entering their sense and their ability to interact with the world. During this stage, the child learns to manipulate objects although they fail to understand the permanency of these objects if they are not within their current sensory perception. In other words, once an object is removed from the child’s view, he or she is unable to understand that the object still exists. And unless everything I learned in class has left my brain - this also when babies begin to learn to make Pavlovian responses to certain stimuli, ie "Say Hi to Daddy!" The response is not well articulated, but the hopefull parental ear will fill in what is missing until the child learns to fill in missing and sounds and sylables for itself.

While I am appalled at the reported attitude of the husband, saddened by the desperate hope of the parents and totally pissed off at the actions of all parties involved along with the actions of the Courts and Congress - I simply refuse to believe a woman as active and vital as Terri Schiavo WAS that she would want to spend the rest of her life the way she is NOW!!!

THERE... now that that is out of my system - When in the Sam Hill did the Courts and Congress of this country suddenly become experts on Psychology and Medicine? I was going to ask, "What happened to Ethics?" - but that is a whole 'nother critter and discussion!

Jay, thanks for the space to stand on my box for a few seconds.
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From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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This blatant violation of long-standing established law and even their own ideals (in this case, states' rights) in order to force their morals on someone else is exactly why I hate the Republican Party and cannot vote for them. What's sad is that of all the things to bring President Bush back from one of his many vacations early, it was to sign this thing into law...

Hypocrites, the lot of them.
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Why aren't you complaining about the Democrats who went along with it? The measure passed the House by better than a 4-1 margin, and half the Democrats voted for it.
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From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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I'm disappointed by those who did. However, that's just part of the overall complaint that I've had for some time that the Democratic Party has no leadership right now; the Minority Whip said he told party members to "vote their conscience", freeing them to individually vote however they did. Half of them, IMO, went the wrong way, but that shouldn't have happened, either. The whole party should've stood up against the GOP and their attempts to ram this through, they should have pushed against this as a whole, and it didn't. That pisses me off more than any individual member choosing to vote for it, honestly.

But that said, it's not the Democrats' fault that the GOP is ramming this through in the first place, and it is the Republican Party as a whole unit that is doing this. So any complaining about them should be secondary to the complaints that this shouldn't be happening in the first place and that the GOP is doing it.

If the country had voted Democratic in the first place, this abuse wouldn't be happening right now. That would've ended up rewarding a party of inertia, and I wish they would do more right now, but honestly, I prefer inertia to this.
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From:korgmeister
Date: - 0000
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Hmm, records indicate he's plenty pissed at them.
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From:wakkowarner
Date: - 0000
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Thank you for saying everything I was going to say about this matter.
From:xterminal
Date: - 0000
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That doesn't matter, in the final analysis. What matters is that Congress has stuck its nose in where it doesn't belong, just to score political points, and is prolonging the suffering of an innocent woman who's been kept alive artificially with no hope of recovery, in spite of her wishes. That's cruelty, pure and simple. My party should do much better than that.

You may consider yourself a republican, but that's a very conservative viewpoint (the republicans haven't been conservatives since... what, Calvin Coolidge?). If it fits in with the rest of your mentality, you're bound to clash with the party line some (if not most) of the time...
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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I do clash with the party line a fair amount of the time. However, I clash with the Democrat party line a lot more. If the Libertarian Party were a real force in politics, I'd jump in a minute...but so long as there's a tenuous balance between Republicans and Democrats, with essentially no chance for others to be elected on an ongoing basis, I believe it's more important to influence the outcome than make a statement that will get ignored.

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