CNN's head-jolting shockfest!

A mostly political Weblog.
March 28 2005 4:04 AM

Head-Jolting Shockfest!

Plus--GM gives up?

(Continued from Page 2)

The husband has not allowed a lot of medical testing in the past few years. I have tried to find out what her neurological condition actually is. But the evidence is sketchy, old and conflicting. The Florida court found that most of her cerebral cortex is gone. But "most" does not mean all. There may be some cortex functioning. The severely retarded or brain-damaged can have some consciousness.

P.S.: I'm not saying a non-slanted poll would somehow reveal majority support for the pro-tube position. As MP notes, other surveys suggest widespread anti-tube sentiment. But, as far as I can see, no other poll has as large an anti-tube majority (63%) as ABC's. ... Update: Still true!CBS has now  released another poll with a large anti-tube majority. The crucial question (#14) is prefaced with a run-up of hypotheticals locking respondents in to the concept of Michael Schiavo's spousal authority--but CBS's anti-tube majority (61%) still isn't as big as ABC's number. (Question #14 was only asked of a "partial sample." A second "partial sample" was asked a question ABC didn't ask about what should happen now: "Should the tube be reinserted ...?" That produced a larger (66%) anti-tube majority, perhaps because some people feel that the tube, once out, should stay out. For example, they might believe reinsertion could be painful. ... If you find CBS' sample-splitting confusing, you are not alone.)  11:32 A.M.

External Relations and Outreach! Who said gossip is inconsequential? Here's Topic A at the World Bank. ... 1:14 A.M.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I tend to think the following, from an NRO  interview with Prof. Robert George, is the beginning of wisdom on the Schiavo case:

NRO: As you know, there's some question about what Terri Schiavo's wishes were or would be now. How much should turn on this question?

George: It is the wrong question. It is pointless to ask whether Terri Schiavo had somehow formed a conditional intention to have herself starved to death if eventually she found herself in a brain-damaged condition. ...[snip]

Even if we were to credit Michael Schiavo's account of his conversation with Terri before her injury — which I am not inclined to do — it is a mistake to assume that people can make decisions in advance about whether to have themselves starved to death if they eventually find themselves disabled. That's why living wills have proven to be so often unreliable. One does not know how one will actually feel, or how one will feel about one's life and the prospect of death, or whether one will retain a desire to live despite a mental or physical disability, when one is not actually in that condition and when one is envisaging it from the perspective of more or less robust health.

Consider the case of a beautiful young woman — an actress or fashion model perhaps — who is severely burned in a fire. Prior to actually finding herself in such a condition, she might have supposed — and even said, if the subject had come up in a conversation — that she would rather be dead than live with her face grotesquely disfigured. But no one would be surprised if in the actual event she did not try to kill herself by starvation or some other means, and did not want to die.

Unlike Prof. George, I'm not sure these misgivings should preclude enforcing the living will of a person in dire Terri-Schiavo-like circumstances. But they should certainly preclude the routine, strained legal finding of conditional intent based on less-than-compelling evidence. That such evidence is most likely to come from parties--family members as well as spouses--who are most likely have ulterior motives for their suddenly precise recollection doesn't make the enterprise any more sound. ... P.S.:Where do you go to sign a living will saying you want them to leave the tube in? I somehow don't think such a document is as readily available in handy preprinted form as the other kind. Nor do I think it would get all that much respect from the courts. The economic pressures are all in favor of  pulling the plug. That's a crude Marxist interpretation of law-as-epiphenomenon. Doesn't mean it's wrong!  ... Update: One pro-tube will seems to be available here. ... P.P.S.: Give me Comity or Give me Death! Actually, Give Me Both! Dahlia Lithwick makes a strident appeal to "the rule of law" and federal-state "comity."  Would she feel the same way about the crucial need for comity if in, say, 1950 Congress had been outraged by the refusal of a Montgomery bus company to let Rosa Parks keep her seat? If you want to change the law, you gotta start somewhere. ... 4:56 P.M.

Monday, March 21, 2005

This 2003 item summarizes what I think about the Schiavo case. ... Opposition to the Florida court's ruling seems like a legitimate protest against what appears to be a disingenuous machinery of euthanasia lawyers are busy establishing under the guise of a "right to die" (a right Terry Schiavo can only be said to be exercising by an extremely suspect chain of reasoning). ... Our society is going to have to have this out at some point--why not now? And why isn't it a perfectly reasonable issue for the national legislature to address? ... P.S.: Emailer R.H. writes:

After the election, several Dems talked about extending some kind of olive branch to the religious right ...[snip] ... Isn't this a great opportunity for the Dems to make a symbolic gesture to pro-lifers that wouldn't hurt anybody except Terri Schiavo's creepy husband?  But instead, Dems are once again telling the right -- in a swing state, no less -- to shut up and obey the courts ....

3:08 A.M.

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