Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 31, 2005

Statement from the Schindler Family

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:02 pm

The Schindler Family has released a statement, which is quite eloquent given the circumstances. Click here.

National Heath Care — Woman pulls her own teeth

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:53 pm

Think about this next time someone proposes that the U.S. adopt national health care along the British (or Canadian or Hillary or…) model.

The British health care systen, the National Health Service (NHS) provides free health care to all Britons. This includes dental services. Or at least, purports to. But there is waiting list. In Scarborough, North Yorks, the waiting list for a dentist is 3,000 people long.

Valerie Halsworth, 64, has a gum disease that causes her teeth to loosen, get infected, and painful, and need to be pulled. She is one of the 3,000 people on the waiting list. So, in the last few months, she has pulled out 7 of her own teeth.

She added: “The only way to get rid of the pain from my teeth was to pull out the infected ones.

“I had a few pints of lager then screwed up my face, put the pliers against the tooth and yanked. It’s lucky I like milk pudding and mashed potato.

When the government provides free health care, you get what you pay for.

Addendum: Tony Blair’s response: “I can’t suddenly just produce more dentists. We have to train them. I can’t force them from the private sector into the NHS.”

Which is exactly why national health care doesn’t — and can’t — work.

Convicted of mercy killing

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:45 pm

No, not of Terri Schiavo. A soldier was court-martialed, and found guilty of putting a “gravely wounded” (AKA terminal) enemy soldier out of his misery.

WIESBADEN, Germany (AP) – A military court on Thursday found a U.S. Army tank company commander guilty of charges related to the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi last year.

Capt. Rogelio “Roger” Maynulet, a 30-year-old from Chicago, stood at attention as the verdict was read. The charge – assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter – carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Maynulet violated military rules of engagement by shooting a man who was wounded and unarmed. Maynulet, 30, maintained that the man was gravely wounded and that he shot him to end his suffering.

UPDATE (4/1/05 4:20pm):

There is a more detailed article here.

Blackfive has some insightful comments here. The discussion in the comments is also interesting. I don’t know if I agree with any of it, but it’s interesting.

Also, Blackfive reports that he has been sentenced to be discharged from the Army. No word on the type of discharge.

In Memoriam, Theresa Schindler Schiavo

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:34 am

Terri Schiavo passed away. It happened at about 9:50 am Eastern Time. The long legal fight to ensure her death has succeeded.

And, the fight continued until the end:

(CNSNews.com) – After 14 days without food or water, Terri Schiavo died around 9:50 Thursday morning – shortly after her parents issued an emotional plea to be at her hospice bedside in her final moments of life.

Terri’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, denied the Schindler family’s final request to be with Terri as she took her last breath.

(Linked on BlogsForTerri.com)

Terri has passed away, but the issue brought to the fore in her case have not. Every disabled person in the country — and anyone can become disabled — is in more danger now than they were a year ago.

However, there is some measure of good news: The guardian of Donna Matincheck of Berks County, Pennsylvania, has withdrawn a petition to end her life by starvation. She will continue to receive sustenance through a feeding tube.

I’ll have more to say later, as will, I’m sure, nearly everyone else.

UPDATE: Credit where it’s due: Dave Schuler reported this earlier than I did in a comment to the previous post.

After 20 Years of Silence, Brain-Damaged Woman Begins Talking

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:57 am

I know that Judge Greer and Dr. Cranford and Michael Schiavo all say this can never happen. But it has happened — only not when they withhold food and water:

After 20 Years of Silence, Brain-Damaged Woman Begins Talking

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) – For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her – the victim of a drunken driver who struck her down as she walked to her car. Today, after a remarkable recovery, she can talk again.

Scantlin’s father knows she will never fully recover, but her newfound ability to speak and her returning memories have given him his daughter back. For years, she could only blink her eyes – one blink for “no,” two blinks for “yes” – to respond to questions that no one knew for sure she understood. [When Terri Schiavo does this, they call it "reflexes." --DR]

“I am astonished how primal communication is. It is a key element of humanity,” Jim Scantlin said, blinking back tears.

Sarah Scantlin was an 18-year-old college freshman on Sept. 22, 1984, when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked to her car after celebrating with friends at a teen club. That week, she had been hired at an upscale clothing store and won a spot on the drill team at Hutchinson Community College.

After two decades of silence, she began talking last month.

On Saturday, Scantlin’s parents hosted an open house at her nursing home to introduce her to friends, family members and reporters.

Dressed in a blue warm-up suit, she seemed at times overwhelmed by the attention. She spoke little, mostly answering questions in a single word.

Is she happy she can talk? “Yeah,” she replied.

What does she tell her parents when they leave? “I love you,” she said.

Scantlin still suffers constantly from the effects of the accident. She habitually crosses her arms across her chest, her fists clenched under her chin. Her legs constantly spasm and thrash. Her right foot is so twisted it is almost reversed. Her neck muscles are so constricted she cannot swallow to eat.

A week ago, her parents got a call from Jennifer Trammell, a licensed nurse at the Golden Plains Health Care Center. She asked Betsy Scantlin if she was sitting down, told her someone wanted to talk to her and switched the phone to speaker mode:

“Hi, Mom.”

“Sarah, is that you?” her mother asked.

“Yes,” came the throaty reply.

“How are you doing?”

“Fine.”

“Do you need anything,” her mother asked her later.

“More makeup.”

“Did she just say more makeup?” the mother asked the nurse.

Here’s what they say cannot possibly happen:

or, Bradley Scheel, said physicians are not sure why she suddenly began talking but believe critical pathways in the brain may have regenerated.

“It is extremely unusual to see something like this happen,” Scheel said.

And here’s how therapy for patients who allegedly have”no hope of improvement” can have a hope of making them improve:

The breakthrough came when the nursing home’s activity director, Pat Rincon, was working with Scantlin and a small group of other patients, trying to get them to speak.

Rincon had her back to Scantlin while she worked with another resident. She had just gotten that resident to reply “OK,” when she suddenly heard Sarah behind her also repeat the words: “OK. OK.”

Staff members brought in a speech therapist and intensified their work with Sarah. They did not want to get her parents’ hopes up until they were sure Sarah would not relapse, Trammell said.

Was she “aware” of anything for all those years when she couldn’t communicate and they thought she was completely unconscious, like they think Terri is?

Family members say Scantlin’s understanding of the outside world comes mostly from news and soap operas that played on the television in her room.

On Saturday, her brother asked whether she knew what a CD was. Sarah said she did, and she knew it had music on it.

But unfortunately they don’t seem to have calendars in nursing homes…

But when he asked her how old she was, Sarah guessed she was 22. When her brother gently told her she was 38 years old now, she just stared silently back at him. The nurses say she thinks it is still the 1980s.

I found this story linked here, where there is a theory as to why Michael Schiavo wants Terri to starve.

March 30, 2005

Slow learners…

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:19 pm

It seems that a “leaked” memo that ABC and the Washington Post reported had been circulated among Republican senators, claiming that the Schiavo case represented a great political opportunity, could well have been a fake. This from the Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post, not exactly a right-wing source:

While there is no hard evidence that the memo is fake, there are several strange things about it, including the basic fact that no one seems to know who wrote it and that the noncontroversial part of it is lifted from a Republican senator’s press release.

ABC and The Post say their reports on the Schiavo memo were accurate and carefully worded. The document caused a stir because it described the Schiavo controversy as “a great political issue” that would excite “the pro-life base” and be “a tough issue for Democrats,” singling out Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson. Two days after the memo was reported, the Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill, signed by Bush, to transfer jurisdiction of Schiavo’s case from Florida courts to the federal judiciary in an effort to restore the brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube.

“There’s nothing on the face of the document to identify a source — not only is it unsigned, there’s no letterhead, no nothing,” Hinderaker said yesterday. “This is literally a piece of paper with stuff typed on it that could have been written by anyone.”

The controversy erupted March 18 when veteran correspondent Linda Douglass reported on “World News Tonight”: “ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators, explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case.”

Two days later, a Post article by Mike Allen and Manuel Roig-Franzia said: “An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base, or core, supporters.”

Virginia politics

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:07 pm

Commonwealth Conservative, a blog that covers Virginia politics (and claims to be the first blog run by an actual elected official), has finally covered something so local I actually know one of the people involved; that is primary races for the Virginia House of Delagates.

Our Delegate, Chap Petersen, has decided not to run for re-election to focus full-time on running for Lieutenant Governor. Running to replace him (and previously running to unseat him) is my friend Jim Kaplan. If you live in the 37th district (Fairfax, VA), please vote for Jim!

In Memoriam, Johnnie Cochran

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:42 pm

Johnnie Cochran has passed away. For those of you who don’t remember:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., the charismatic attorney who became famous in the successful defense of football star O.J. Simpson on murder charges, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles of a brain tumor, spokespeople said.

In one of the defining moments of the trial, Simpson appeared unable to put on a pair of gloves connected to the double murder. Cochran famously admonished the jury, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

He also told them the should acquit because one of the police investigators once used “the N-word.”

All I can say, really, is that I’d love to see Cochrane arguing his case before the Heavenly Court. Imagine him saying this to God (or St. Peter, if you’re a Christian): “I have been describes as a sinner unworthy of being admitted to Your presence. But that description is inaccurate — and if it doesn’t fit, you must admit!” :-)

(This thought is inspired by the confluence of Cochrane’s defense style in the O.J. trial, with the famous words of W. C. Fields, who was known as an agnostic but was seen reading the Bible on his deathbed. Asked why he would suddenly take up Bible reading in view of his agnostic beliefs, he is said to have responded, “I’m looking for a loophole.”)

(No disrespect to either Mr. Cochrane or Mr. Fields intended — though as Eugene Volokh and Ann Althouse point out, the law in this country would rather you speak ill of the dead than of the living. Yet another way “the law” backwards from reality. The living are considerably better able to defend themselves, but libel laws don’t apply to the dead.)

$100,000 for any neurologist who can diagnose PVS from a CT scan

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:54 pm

Dr. Thomas Boyle, the radiologist who analyzed Terri Schiavo’s CT scan here and said it’s no worse than those of some other people who actually walking and talking (if a bit impaired), has severely criticized the claims of some neurologists — especially Dr. Ronald Cranford, who claims to be a neurologist/bioethicist — that Terri is in PVS on the basis of that scan.

He is now offering a challenge: $100,000 to any neurologist involved in the Schiavo case who can diagnose PVS from a CT scan. And $125,000 for any neurologist who is also bioethicist. The rules:

To prove my point I am offering $100,000 on a $25,000 wager for ANY neurologist (and $125,000 for any neurologist/bioethicist) involved in Terri Schiavo’s case–including all the neurologists reviewed on television and in the newspapers who can accurately single out PVS patients from functioning patients with better than 60% accuracy on CT scans.

I will provide 100 single cuts from 100 different patient’s brain CT’s. All the neurologist has to do is say which ones represent patients with PVS and which do not.

If the neurologist can be right 6 out of 10 times he wins the $100,000.

Appeals Court that said Maybe this morning, says No now

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:44 pm

The 11th Circus Court of Appeals, in its latest act, said this morning it would hear the Schiavo case — and then said this afternoon that it wouldn’t.

How anyone is supposed to have any respect for the court system after all this, I don’t know. If anyone ever accuses me of “contempt of court” I’ll have to plead massively guilty, be I have total contempt for these courts. Oh wait, I shouldn’t say that, or they’ll call it a “reflex” and say I’m not allow to eat anymore. OK, I have no contempt for the courts — they are beneath that….

Pat Sajak has a blog

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:11 pm

Pat Sajak has a blog, and he’s not talking about spinning wheels of letters, either. Here’s his latest:

Recently, for example, I was discussing the United Sates Supreme Court with on of my many Liberal friends out in Los Angeles when she said, without any discernable embarrassment, that Justice Anton Scalia was “worse than Hitler”. Realizing she wasn’t alive during World War II and perhaps she may have been absent on those days when her schoolmates were studying Nazism, I reminded her of some of Hitler’s more egregious crimes against humanity, suggesting she may have overstated the case. She had not; Scalia was worse. As I often did when my parents threatened to send me to my room, I let the conversation die.

Aside from being rhetorically hysterical—and demeaning to the memory of those who suffered so terribly as a result of Hitler and the Nazis—it served to remind me of how difficult it is to have serious discussions about politics or social issues with committed members of the Left. They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers. And they do this while completely missing the irony.

More examples follow.

(Hat tip: Jane Galt)

Priest threatened with arrest for giving communion

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:01 pm

Perhaps it’s just me, but I thoguht we had freedom of religion in this country, and that that freedom was protected by the First Amendment, which says,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see anything in there about “unless a judge objects, in which case the police can arrest you” after the “free exercise thereof” part. Now I know a judge is not “Congress” making a law, but judges aren’t supposed to make laws in the first place, and the fourth and fourteenth amendments are supposed protect our rights against imposition by the other branches and the states.

Yet, we have this report, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Schiavo’s religion — Roman Catholicism — has always been a flashpoint in the seven-year legal battle between her parents and her husband. Her faith was so entwined in the legal fight that a judge issued an order dictating the exact number of times — once — that she could receive Holy Communion after her feeding tube was removed March 18.

But Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, who gave Schiavo her last authorized Holy Communion on Easter, said Tuesday that he had tried to defy the order during an afternoon visit to Schiavo’s hospice room. Bobby Schindler, Schiavo’s brother, said the three police officers in the room warned Malanowski that he would be arrested if he followed through on plans to place a drop of consecrated wine on Schiavo’s lips.

Holy Communion is one of four steps in the Catholic sacrament for the dying. Malanowski said he was able to perform the other three: granting absolution for sins, anointing the forehead and performing an apostolic blessing. He performed all four on Easter but said Schiavo should have the right to receive Holy Communion every day.

Supporters of the Schindlers accused the courts of infringing on Schiavo’s religious freedom.

Not one, but three police officers are sitting in a room to make sure a woman dies. To make sure no one feeds her. And to make sure no one does any religious ceremonies on her without the permission of the government.

Clearly, the only solution is to rescue this woman and protect her religious freedom by taking her to America …. waitaminute….

Is this America we live in?

Heck, even in Muslim countries, like the United Arab Emirates, there are Muslims who think she should be able to have communion.

Appeals Court to Hear Schiavo Review

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:42 am

Thirteen days after the feeding tube was pulled, and ten days after Congress required the federal courts to hear the Schiavo case, the 11th Circus Court of Appeals has finally agreed to hear it.

No hearing date set yet. Like I said before, I think they are trying to run out the clock. They would not do that for a convicted murderer.

March 29, 2005

Welcome, Visitor 10,000!

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:25 pm

Welcome to whoever (from uu.net) just made the 10,000th visit to this blog.

For purists: That’s the 10,000th visit, not the 10,000th visitor. The true number of visitors is much lower, since many people make multiple visits. (On the other hand, if anybody’s reading via RSS, they don’t get counted by SiteMeter.)

For real purists: It’s also not the 10,000th page view. If you visit different pages on this blog but never separate two page view by more than 30 minutes, that counts as a single “visit.”

Thanks to all of you. I find the fact that you find my writing worth the trouble to read extremely gratifying.

(Side note: Traffic has surged in the past two weeks, probably due to the interest in Terri Schiavo. To answer your next question: Yes, I’d gladly give up all the traffic to see her fed.)

Jesse Jackson Tries to Visit Terri Schiavo

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:56 pm

Story here.

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — The Reverend Jesse Jackson says Terri Schiavo’s case “transcends politics and family disputes.”

He’s been visiting the Florida hospice where the severely brain-damaged woman has gone without nutrients or water since March 18th.

Jackson calls her treatment an “injustice” and says denying her a feeding tube and water is “unnecessary.”

Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, invited the civil rights leader after he issued a statement last week calling for the woman’s feeding tube to be reconnected.

Some demonstrators applauded Jackson when he arrived and shouted, “This is about civil rights.”

Schiavo’s family is still urging President Bush, Congress and Florida Governor Jeb Bush to intervene.

Any chance this will end the claims that the support for saving Terri is all about right-wing politics?

UPDATE: Turns out Rev. Jackson was denied permission to visit. From this other story:

Jackson said he asked Michael Schiavo for permission to see the brain-damaged woman but was denied.

(Blog entry title updated to reflect this.)

CBS releases Terri’s obituary — in advance

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:53 pm

CBS, previously known for releasing forged memos purporting to related to President Bush’s military service, released an obituary for Terri Schiavo even though she is, at this writing, still alive. Actually, they released it yesterday. They pulled it off their web site, but not before Glenn Beck got a copy. (Non-PDF copy here.) Everything is filled in except the date, which is written as “March TK, 2005.”

Now, prewritted obituaries are nothing new — newspapers are reputed to keep “current” obituaries on famouse people currently in perfect health — but there is something different about this one — it contains an account of Terri’s “death,” including the “fact” that Michael was at her bedsite, and his alleged immediate post-death comments to Larry King.

Michael Schiavo, who was at the bedside of his wife Terri when she died, told Larry King that he lives now with another woman with whom he has two children.

“I can love more than one person,” he told King. “Everybody can do that.”

According to friends and relatives, Michael Schiavo was Terri’s only love. His big-but-tight-knit family took in Michael’s bride, and she befriended his siblings, including his brother, Scott.

Keep in mind that this story was released on the CBS website on Monday, March 28, and that Terri is still alive as of Tuesday, March 29 (12:50pm). CBS is clearly making stuff up. But they’ve been doing that for years.

Autopsy OK

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:58 am

As far as I know, Terri Schiavo is still alive, but there is this bit of news:

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Reuters) – The husband of brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo has ordered an autopsy after she dies to silence allegations his plan to cremate her body is aimed at hiding something, his lawyer said on Monday.

A future Harvard student who got his tube back

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:51 am

From The Crimson, Harvard University’s student paper, comes this fascinating story by Joe Ford, a Harvard student:

The case of Terri Schiavo has been framed by the media as the battle between the “right to die” and pro-life groups, with the latter often referred to as “right-wing Christians.” Little attention has been paid to the more than twenty major disability rights organizations firmly supporting Schiavo’s right to nutrition and hydration.

The reason for this public support of removal from ordinary sustenance, I believe, is not that most people understand or care about Terri Schiavo. Like many others with disabilities, I believe that the American public, to one degree or another, holds that disabled people are better off dead. To put it in a simpler way, many Americans are bigots. …

Our country has learned that we cannot judge people on the basis of minority status, but for some reason we have not erased our prejudice against disability. One insidious form of this bias is to distinguish cognitively disabled persons from persons whose disabilities are “just” physical. Cognitively disabled people are shown a manifest lack of respect in daily life, as well. This has gotten so perturbing to me that when I fly, I try to wear my Harvard t-shirt so I can “pass” as a person without cognitive disability. (I have severe cerebral palsy, the result of being deprived of oxygen at birth. While some people with cerebral palsy do have cognitive disability, my articulation difference and atypical muscle tone are automatically associated with cognitive disability in the minds of some people.)

The result of this disrespect is the devaluation of lives of people like Terri Schiavo. In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—“would not want to live like this.” In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might “get better”—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called “mental retardation”) is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.

Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because he or she cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.

Besides being disabled, Schiavo and I have something important in common, that is, someone attempted to terminate my life by removing my endotracheal tube during resuscitation in my first hour of life. This was a quality-of-life decision: I was simply taking too long to breathe on my own, and the person who pulled the tube believed I would be severely disabled if I lived, since lack of oxygen causes cerebral palsy. (I was saved by my family doctor inserting another tube as quickly as possible.) The point of this is not that I ended up at Harvard and Schiavo did not, as some people would undoubtedly conclude. The point is that society already believes to some degree that it is acceptable to murder disabled people.

There is some more information about Joe Ford here.

March 28, 2005

A Match Made in the Blogosphere

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:30 pm

Congratulations to bloggers FrankJ at IMAO and SarahK at Mountaineer Musings, who are getting married! (Yes, too each other… No, I don’t know if they met through blogging, but it looks that way from Frank’s post.)

UPDATE:

They did meet through blogging … but not the way you might think. (Well, not the way I would have thought anyway, having met my wife through an e-mail discussion list back in the dark ages of the internet long before there was such as thing as a blog, or even a web site.)

It’s a great story. You can see the whole thing — the parts they want ot make public, anyway ;-) — detailed here. This being a blog, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom and then read the posts from the bottom up. Here’s the first post.

A Question for the Federal Judiciary

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:23 pm

Why is it that the same federal judiciary that finds constitutional rights to abortion and contraception in the “penumbras, formed by emanations” of the search and seizure clause of the fourth amendment, could not find the necessity in a statue requiring a de novo finding of fact for a temporary restraining order to keep someone alive long enough for their de novo finding to have any meaning?

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