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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Denied.

It just absolutely bends the mind. First, the Supreme Court declines to hear the case (given, that isn't very surprising), and then Governor Jeb Bush's motion to take custody of Terri Schiavo is denied by none other than Judge Greer (who I am such a fan of at this moment). What drives me absolutely wild with rage is the DCF (the Florida Department of Children and Families), according to Wizbang, completely missed the boat (along with the Schindler's original attorneys when this case first came about) in taking custody of Terri when they filed their appeal over the original restraining order by Greer yesterday, as an appeal would have granted an automatic stay of order so that they could get in there and do something. As Michael Schiavo's lawyer points out (in his own smug mind, to be sure), the DCF may not have realized that when they filed the appeal, and thus didn't know they could do something. So, wonderful job in screwing that one up, DCF. I doff my damn hat to you for that one.

As I continued to read the Fox News story, I come across something absolutely snide from the lawyer who successfully argued a woman should be starved to death:
"I sincerely hope the great focus and media attention on this case can peaceably settle as people move into this weekend in a frame of contemplation," Felos said. "I hope the parents do not keep pursuing fruitless legal options to the end — their time would be better served in reflection."

Unbelievable. How about you reflect on your conscience the fact that you have successfully argued Terri should die a death that we don't even consider for anything else? This isn't even the goddamn "euthanasia" movement you're behind - she isn't getting an injection that would let her die peacefully! This is "starve a woman to death because she's inconvenient to Michael's ends, despite numerous offers of people to take over her care". Good job, I hope you feel so damn swell about yourself as you cash your paycheck.

Meanwhile, my ability to tolerate the continued existence of the ACLU - which obviously isn't reading the same Constitution that I am - continues to wane with this:

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said at the heart of the case, which was often overshadowed by a nasty family feud, was the tragedy of one woman's life.

"This is a horrible situation and there are no winners," he said. "This case is really about what Terri would have wanted."

There could have been plenty of "winners", Howard, had sanity and common sense prevailed in this case. Michael could have turned over the care of his (otherwise ex-) wife to her parents and family, who state time and again that they want nothing more than to take care of her, and moved on with his life. Terri's family, subsequently, could provide the love and care for her that Michael stopped giving when she was "dead to him" 15 years ago. Lord knows, there's probably no shortage of donors that would give money to the cause of Terri's therapy and care. It is really that simple. I don't see anything about this being a "nasty family feud" except that it was made to be that way by kicking aside basic humanity and morals to jockey to have a feeding tube removed. I'm sorry, but openly advocating starving someone to death is not the best way to having a civil level of discourse!

If the Schindlers wanted to take care of Terri, and are willing to sign over the funds to Michael anyway (as they have stated publicly numerous times), what the hell is the problem in turning over her care? Are you starving her to prove a point - that she's your property or something? This is an insane example of what happens when guardian custody goes completely amok - you have insanity like this.

It's just disgusting.

*UPDATES*

I'm sure many are aware of this now, but I figure I may as well post it anyway -

The Schindler family is back in court, asking for a temporary restraining order after Governor Bush's efforts to get Terri under state custody fell through. The order would be issued pending a new hearing over their contention that Terri's due rights process and religious beliefs were being infringed by a court order to essentially starve her to death. I think you might want to toss in "cruel and unusual punishment", the fact they haven't been given a de novo trial with the (unwritten intent of the Congress') string attached of a restraining order in the meantime, and the fact that it's court-ordered homicide, among other things. As I and others have said before, taking just the tack of "violation of due process" is a halfway manuever, you need to present more than a few things at trial!

If, I hope to God, they get that restraining order and a de novo trial (which they were supposed to get in the first place!), I hope they call enough witnesses in their favor to sink a cruise liner. This ridiculous reliance by the federal courts on an obviously-biased judge's "fact finding" is beyond bewildering - it enters the realm of the insane. The "experts", meanwhile, have launched an armada from their armchairs about how Terri's ability to track objects and faces, respond to audio cues, and do very simple manuevers, was all the signs of an otherwise-braindead person. I must be too, because I can do all of those things and yet, shit, I still forget what I did in the third grade or, for that matter, almost all of high school. I must be in a PVS, too!

Biting sarcasm aside, I challenge one of those "experts" to get off their ass and prove it - show up in court and prove one way or the other that she really is gone and everything she does on those videos is involuntary. They are relying on barely minimal tests and what the court-appointed doctors are saying (as if their findings couldn't possibly be colored by a judge with a stake in the very hospice Terri is staying in, oh nooooo). I am sick and tired of all these "experts" blathering on in an effort to fulfill their own self-importance when, quite frankly, they don't know a thing about Terri Schiavo's case, seeing as none of them has actually conducted the tests or examined her. Were they to do it now, they'd find a tired, starved husk of a human being, the product of a callous court order, and would probably lunge to the same conclusion they had before. To think they call themselves doctors - they're not interested in finding the truth or helping Terri get better, they're more about getting television face-time. It fills me with anger to think I used to trust the system to do the right thing by everybody, not just the ones that can talk.

Truly disappointing.

*UPDATE 2*

Now I've seen everything - Ralph Nader joins the "Save Terri" camp. As Ace astutely points out, he is neither a sneaky Christian nor a fiendish Republican. Saving the lives of the innocent does cut across the political aisle.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Schindler's to Head to the Supreme Court

The 11th Circuit Court ruled against the Schindler's motion to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube earlier this morning, with a 2-1 vote. They also declined to strike down the law passed by Congress, citing that it did nothing to require the federal courts anything more than to hear the case - not require them to order the feeding tube reinserted before hearings, nor anything extraordinary - which is decidedly different than some people were squawking about. You can read the Court's findings in a PDF file here.

The Schindler's are making a last-ditch effort to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, which has declined to hear the case before (even though without comment). While it has declined to hear the case before, more often than not the SCOTUS declines cases based more on caseload than anything else, and their non-comment decline is usually an indicator of that. I think that with the national attention this case is getting, the Supreme Court is going to be more hard-pressed than it was before to decline hearing arguments. Moreover, if it does decline the case, it still doesn't stop it from ordering it re-evaluated in a lower court. I don't think many people are ready to throw in the towel yet, including the Schindlers. Governor Jeb Bush is riding the Florida legislature extremely hard to pass measures that could save Terri Schiavo's life, and that will be the absolute last chance for any hope of saving her life. Keep your fingers crossed that it works.


Meanwhile, armchair experts (who have yet to spend a minute examining Terri Schiavo) are prattling on about how Terri's death should be "peaceful", because starving to death is just so relaxing. They essentially argue that a lack of food and water lets you slip into a "peaceful" dehydration-induced coma, despite the fact that you're in agonizing pain for a bite to eat and water to drink. Doctors, it should be noted, tend to put a "happy face" on for these sorts of predictions, when they really don't know how it will actually end. They're trying to make people feel better about a situation like this, and the common sense part of me is screaming not to listen to it.

Wizbang, per the usual, has their own thoughts.

Michelle Malkin weighs in as well.

Powerline, too.

I'll be back later on to update with more blogposts and thoughts.

*UPDATE*

Seems as if the Schindler's have changed their mind - they're going to try for an en banc trial back at the 11th Circuit, getting all the judges involved.

*UPDATE 2*

And we're right back to going to the Supreme Court again. The 11th Circuit has refused to do an en banc appeal, which is puzzling considering this is a rather important situation where (to the average person who reads about this story) there are really huge questions of law and the application of standards here.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Judge Will Not Order Feeding Tube Reinserted

News comes this morning that the federal judge overseeing Terri Schiavo's misnamed "Right to Die" case will not order the feeding tube reinserted, citing that Terri's family in all likelihood cannot successfully prove that Terri's due process rights were being violated by having her feeding tube removed. As Kevin at Wizbang notes, this is more like a strategic error on the Schindler's part than anything else - he and I would agree that they would likely get better results to attack the original cause of having the feeding tube removed in the first place, the "clear and convincing" evidence that remains anything but "clear and convincing" (read the posts and links below to figure out why). Naturally, the case is in appeal, and hopefully they can change tacks to get a better result.

Coming as no big surprise, those champions of justice, the ACLU, are eagerly on the side of Michael Schiavo and his nutball family. Missing the point entirely (or, without ACLUe, as one t-shirt I've seen say), ACLU Florida director Howard Simon said:

"What this judge did is protect the freedom of people to make their own end-of-life decisions without the intrusion of politicians."

[rant] Frankly, that's a load of crap. There is no living will for Terri, so we don't know what she really wants. Michael admits as much on Larry King Live, in front of his own lawyer. Michael Schiavo can only use his own hearsay testimony, along with that of his brother, to say that's how she wanted things to be. Now, you might be saying : "Well, wait a second, isn't Michael's brother corroborating his testimony?" and I would say to that it is enormously easy for testimony from another family member to closely match up with their kin, either because they are in on something or they want to protect them. Most courts would not weigh that with nearly as much consideration than if, say, a third party from neither family was in the room when Terri allegedly says "I wouldn't want to be kept alive that way". Even still, she says this after an emotionally-charged television scene, something that thousands of us have said at one point in our lives to others, but never really mean it. It is absolutely flimsy to ride an entire case on that scenario, and yet Michael Schiavo did. I mean, for God's sake, the man said his wife was dead to him fifteen years ago! Do the deed and divorce her, if you want to move on. You look like a bottom-feeder for denying the one party that wants to do everything, and would go into bankruptcy if they had to, the one thing they want most: to take care of Terri. That settlement money won't keep your conscience warm at night, and it sure as hell won't save your soul in the end, either. Hell, you can probably even get the terms of the settlement changed so that you can divorce her and still receive the money in the end for your contribution (laughable as it is) to her care, and you can do it behind closed doors and with gag orders. None of us would be the wiser - we'd still loathe you anyway for what you've done.

What strikes me as absolutely despicable is that Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, a known euthanasia advocate, has the unmitigated gall to say that Terri's civil rights are being violated by keeping that feeding tube inside of her. How anyone can reconcile "an effort to prevent the starvation of an innocent living, breathing human being" to "violating their civil rights" needs a punch in the head. It violates anyone's civil rights to wilfully starve them to death. That cannot come from "clear and convincing evidence" in a sane world, and yet here it is. It is so absolutely ludicrous, it starts to become unbearable.

I would say that Rachel at Blue-Eyed Infidel doesn't mince (harsh) words about how a lot of people feel about this (including me).

What is being done to Terri is absolutely wrong, and we treat EVERYTHING else with infinitely more respect and care than most people ought to except her. It just enrages me that all this evidence, a veritable mountain the size of Mount Everest, still doesn't convince people and the court that killing a living, breathing human is, you know, WRONG. It would be another thing ENTIRELY if it could be proven that Terri was completely gone, but the evidence that contradicts this is so strong, it's astounding. If Terri was in agonizing pain (outside of neglect at the orders of her husband) and comatose, with no proveable chance at rehabilitation, it would be entirely different to just give her an injection and let her pass quietly and comfortably. This isn't the case - you are STARVING a LIVING PERSON. Grow some goddamn backbone and give her a chance at life at the hands of people who care, not from the one who says she's otherwise dead to him. [/rant]

OK, so I ended up ranting anyway. Call it pent up frustration, if you will, but you can tell this isn't a simple matter of flipping a switch - much as people want to pretend it is. We are a country of laws, to be sure, but we are a country of rights and of morals - and we have always taken the moral high ground in everything, because we can. It may be harder, but we do it anyway. We cannot ignore our morals and principles to let a woman starve to death because the man who wants nothing to do with her wants that albatross off of his neck. We have always wanted to do what is right for humanity - we cannot avoid that now by looking away or professing ignorance.

*UPDATE*

Bill Hennessy posts his own thoughts, essentially arguing that we wouldn't even think of doing this to mentally-disabled people, why are we doing this to Terri Schiavo? It's all about perspective, folks.
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Monday, March 21, 2005

The Mob Mentality and Terri Schiavo

The case of Terri Schiavo continues to spiral round and round some sort of horrible carousel of politics, where Paul at Wizbang notes an effort by radically liberal bloggers (*cough* Oliver Willis *cough*) to snuff out the future of an otherwise-healthy woman. Their reasons, in my opinion? They don't like a (Republican) Congress getting involved to save a woman's life, or the fact that they're trying to change the venue of the Schindler's appeal so that they have a fair chance at making their case in a federal court, because they sure as hell can't get one with that pig-headed Judge Greer in Florida. Boo-goddamn-hoo, you crybabies. Get over yourselves and stop treating this as though Terri Schiavo is a completely lost cause. She clearly is not, and you pretenders would otherwise be SHRIEKING from the rooftops the injustices her husband has done to her if it were politically expedient for you. You only start wailing about threats to democracy when you're not the ones doing something like this in front of a television camera. Grow up and spare me your whining bullshit.

What is being done to Terri was a total injustice - she received no treatments for the illnesses she developed while hospitalized, she received no tests that could aid doctors in treating her and improving her condition, she has received exceptionally little in ways of therapy, treatment, or overall care. It is not right to treat her this way - we treat animals better than how some people are treating Terri Schiavo. Give her the food, give her the water, and give Terri a chance to live. It's the biggest part of the Constitution, folks - the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not "the right to die because my spouse has an epiphany after a lucrative settlement and that TOTALLY doesn't play into his sudden change of heart and, like, junk and stuff". She deserves a chance and deserves treatment, just like every other human being. I could have sworn that was a big tenet of liberal progressive thinking - you know, treating everyone's life with respect.

I'm starting to think that some people are out to prove me wrong.


*UPDATE*

Not related to Terri Schiavo, but I feel it is important enough to mention here. I have (finally) updated the blogroll on the right to reflect the great blogs I have linked to on numerous occassions but never got around to adding to the blogroll. With that fixed, I must say that ALL the blogs on that blogroll are great blogs to read, and come highly recommended. Do give them a look.
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House Bill Passes

The House has passed the Schiavo bill, with a 203-58 vote. 53 Democrats, 5 Republicans voted against the bill, with many abstaining. It will be interesting to see if they have jobs after 2006, but good on them for the courage of their convictions. As Paul at Wizbang notes, the 53 nay-vote Democrats, and the 102 Dems that didn't vote, are going to look like fools for making such a huge fuss and then not backing it up with the courage of their supposed convictions. But that still doesn't stop the likes of Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., from screaming that this Bill "is a clear threat to our democracy". I needn't remind the good Congressman that it is, in fact, a republic, a democratic republic, even, and not just a democracy. The legislators of this republic decided that it was important enough to declare that EVERYONE, including brain-damaged women neglected by their spousal guardian, has a meaningful life and that they are all important enough to be considered. It is clearly time that Terri Schiavo and others start being treated as people again, instead of refuse or something that is simply "there".

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this survives far enough to get some food back into Terri's stomach, and that the road is brighter from here on.
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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Partisan Politics and Saving Lives

Well, it officially happened - political squabbling has come to a head in the Terri Schiavo case, and is definitely not pretty. House Democrats are forcing debate on the issue, which starts at 9PM EST, with a possible vote as soon as possible after midnight tonight. Ace points out, quite rightly, that the Democrats are taking a decidedly (in my opinion) wrongheaded tack in dealing with this case, and how they can probably better themselves as a party than appearing as the party that says "No", or over-eager to yank out Terri's feeding tube. Naturally, this debate makes it yet another day that Terri is without food or water, much to many people's chagrin.

Paul at Wizbang is incensed.

The Blogging, Part-Time Airman is incensed.

Megan of Lesbiencestmoi is incensed.

A lot of people are ticked off about this - what can be accomplished by ignoring our humanity to quibble about how we go about and save a life? Or, for that matter, let a runaway judge decide the fate of a woman by ordering that she starve to death?

This is way too simple of a decision to make - let the woman live, or prove with finality that she is otherwise dead. Don't make her die just to fulfill one end of that spectrum. Humanity is way more important than political wrangling, and it is in-hu-mane to starve anyone to death. Show some backbone, guys, and get behind a cause because its right, instead of quibbling over who else is involved.

*UPDATE*

John from WuzzaDem has a post detailing Terri Schiavo's medical records, something I had quite often raised in my comments to this thread over at Ace of Spades, but neglected to post here. Something I intend to fix right now. Take a look at WuzzaDem's main page for his own great posts on the subject as well, not just the one in the link.

Also, there are two posts by Paul over at Wizbang, one live-blogging the floor debate and the other a continuation of his earlier rant. Let's just say that he is on an absolute tear.
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Updates on Schiavo Case

Apologies for the delay in posting more about this - research and work don't always go hand in hand in terms of sharing time, even when you work at a library. Anyhow, here is a few updates on the Schiavo case.

Congress is the center of intense focus in this case of Terri Schiavo, unintentionally drawing attention to the fact that Congress is getting involved in the Schiavo case, and sort of relegating the actual person they started this over to a lesser position in the public spotlight. Over at Jackson Junction there's a video with Tom DeLay ripping into Michael Schiavo, which is remarkably subdued in comparison to what I and others would do with a bullhorn on a rooftop.

The press coverage has been, in a word, exceptionally poor - as Ace points out. I find quotes like this (found in various newspaper repeats of AP reports) to be absolutely appalling:
Schiavo, 41, could linger one to two weeks, provided no one intercedes and gets the tube reinserted - something that has happened twice before.
Linger? What the hell is the author, Mitch Stacy, driving at? This is hardly a case where the smell of a dead mouse lingers in the wall for a week or so. This is a human being, someone who is still alive and doesn't deserve to starve! Show some respect and tact, man.

Then Michael has to play out the part of the grieving husband, despite shacking up with another woman and having two kids by her. But please, don't let anyone tell you he's not a good, God-fearing man. The following is from the same linked AP report:
"It felt like some peace was happening for Terri," Michael Schiavo told NBC's "Today" on Saturday. "And I felt like she was finally going to get what she wants, and be at peace and be with the Lord."
It felt like "peace was happening for Terri"? I'm sorry, but how can you prove that? You were asserting so damn much that the woman is nothing but a fixture in a hospice room, but now you're ascribing feelings to her? I wouldn't feel at all peaceful in the knowledge, even at a base subconscious level, that my spouse is fighting so hard to have me starve to death. This entire facade of Michael's is so nauseating, I can't stand it.

The Captain's Quarters has updates on the Supreme Court rejecting, without comment, a motion to hear the case on appeal. Taking this to the SCOTUS would have been the most direct means to getting Terri back on hydration and food. Unlike the headline says at Ace of Spades or elsewhere, I can see why the Supreme Court would not want to hear the case - they may fear they would be looked upon as interfering with a State matter (much like some are saying what Congress is doing with the subpoenas), and therefore don't want to look like meddlers. The cynic in me already says that, considering the meddling they do anyway in other matters, they may as well do some meddling that could bring about some good. This doesn't mean that the SCOTUS won't hear the case after the lower courts make some rulings on the subpoenas and/or the appeal to reinsert the feeding tube and they're petitioned again, it just means that they won't hear the case now. I, too, share in the frustration that they aren't hearing the case, but some things can't be helped.

Rightwing Nuthouse has a grim prediction for the future in dealing with the infirm and the (supposedly) incurable. The problem with Terri's case is that, should she ultimately die in the end, this becomes a springboard for more "right to die" or "right to euthanasia" cases, and it becomes progressively easier to just, well, let it happen. What makes this all the more difficult to swallow is how quickly the facts will be twisted, and hence history rewritten, when Right-To-Die groups and their ideological ilk try and turn the forced starvation of a woman into the acts of a martyr. In the efforts to be "merciful" to the indigent and the crippled, we start making everything a "special case" for putting someone down, and the line between "mercy" and "convenience" becomes blurred, indistinguishable. Sooner or later, a baby may not meet some sort of standard the parents have, or a relative's care has just become a little too inconvenient because of their family history of disease. It is the horrible, nasty way that the entire Eugenics movement considered acceptable back at the start of the 20th century, and was ultimately rejected then, as it should be now. One can only hope that the results of the Schiavo case turn out to be positive, so that this road cannot be traveled for another day.

*UPDATE*

Wizbang has word of the "Terri Schiavo Bill" that is pretty much set to pass in Congress. President Bush is returning to DC from Crawford to sign it, perhaps getting Terri's feeding tube reinserted as early as Monday. It'll have been almost 72 hours later, but it is definitely something. Although, this bill stands very little chance of surviving judicial review, seeing as it is directed at one person, setting us back to square one once it is overturned. I could very well be wrong - it may be written in such a way as to be bullet-proof, we'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, another post on Wizbang has some more context, with links to a news article on the history of "Right to die" cases and thoughts from the ever-acerbic pundit Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter essentially argues that, while Judge Greer's findings on Terri's wishes are largely immune from review, it does not mean that he's not mistaken:

Judge Greer's finding on Terri's wishes may be immune from legal review, but it's not immune from criticism. He's a finder of fact - he's not God. A few years ago, Judge Greer found that Helene Ball McGee did not have reasonable cause to believe domestic violence was imminent and denied her an order of protection. Two weeks later, Mrs. McGee was stabbed to death by her husband. So judges can make mistakes.
Mr. Aylward argues in his post on Wizbang that this case, at the very least, deserves a full review with a fresh set of judicial eyes, to see if that court's findings are the same as the Florida Circuit Court's. I would be willing to bet that they would not base the same decision on Michael Schiavo's hearsay-based testimony, and how this gradual "revelation" came to him after recalling a conversation he had had with his wife after watching a television program doesn't quite constitute "clear and convincing evidence". Particularly and especially after he has this epiphany after being awarded a settlement in a malpractice suit. I'm sorry, something about that smells, here. Give this case a fresh review, a trial de novo, and lets see how the cards really stack up.

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I may have to retract an earlier misconception I perpetuated in an earlier post - Judge Greer did not order the feeding tube removed, but instead gave Michael Schiavo permission to do so (which he wasted, naturally, no time in doing). Then again, considering I'm reading this AP story for the information, that too could be highly suspect. In the spirit of intellectual honesty (and because I'm not quite ready to believe everything the AP says now), I am going to leave the original posts up, unedited, until it is decided one way or another. At that point, I'll go back and make a note of that fact in those posts. You can count this paragraph as a sort of IOU one way or the other.
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