Monday, March 28, 2005

‘Murder by Death’



The hours have ticked away.

No judge will consider the new evidence. The courts have rejected all appeals. There has been no last-minute action by the governor. Those about to carry out the execution talk coldly of “due process.” Last rites have been given. The appointed hour draws nigh.

Sounds like one of those movies where the convict, sentenced to die, is waiting for his sentence to be carried out... and the lawyer, the nun and several office staff are working frantically to persuade someone — anyone — to allow their client to live.

‘Dead Man Walking’... that’s the one.

That movie was based upon a true story.

The convict that movie was about, Matthew Poncelet, played by Sean Penn, actually deserved to die for what he had done: rape and murder. At the end of that story the convict was put to death by lethal injection in a fairly short period of time, while the nun cried and his family lamented.

Those opposing execution staged rallies outside of the prison, lighting candles and holding placards proclaiming the inhumanity of the spectacle.

We see this sort of thing every time we put a convicted criminal to death in this country.

Can you imagine the outrage we would see if the sentencing judge had ordered Mr. Poncelet be “denied food and water” until his “death process” was completed? I imagine the networks and the special interest groups would be shouting at the top of their lungs.

The politicians against the death penalty would step up to piles of microphones talking about “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Although I support the death penalty for people who callously take the lives of others I believe that, in the case of a convicted murderer being starved and dehydrated to death, I’d have to side with the protesters on that one.

And, no, I do not believe Terri Schiavo should be put to death by lethal injection. She is NOT Matthew Poncelet. She has hurt no one. I suspect, however, that after the shock of this starvation death finally hits people there WILL be talk of doing this in the future “humanely.” That’s the slippery slop we’ve just begun.

Except for the people who are scared about the precedent the murder of Terri Schiavo represents; a shamefully small number of Christians, families with handicapped children and those who believe food and water is not life by “artificial means,” there is no outcry from the special interest groups.

The politicians, the Christian Church, the special interest groups, those against the death penalty, those against treating animals inhumanely, the nuns and those without handicapped relatives are either FOR the death of Terri Schiavo or have decided to remain on the sidelines.

She will die at any time and then be immediately cremated and her ashes interred several states away from her family in Pennsylvania. Terri’s family may or may not be allowed to attend Terri’s funeral.

Terri’s family can only watch and do nothing to help her... reduced to being strip searched when they are allowed to see her in her last moments and reduced to begging the pontificating, fence post-sitting and phony “Christian” governor to live up to his own convictions about life.

Many anti-death penalty advocates have been heard to say, “I am ashamed to live in a country that puts people to death!”

Now that our country is legally torturing people to death by denying them food and water — non-criminals, non-murderers — I have to say that I know exactly how they feel.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

?



I have no idea what this is about but... it’s funny as hell.

Just thought I’d share this one.

Monday, March 21, 2005

‘A Life Less Ordinary’



It’s difficult for me to recall a more divisive and passionate issue to come along, in recent years, as with the situation regarding a handicapped woman named Terri Schiavo.

On this issue I’ve heard and seen just about every remark and sort of behavior. Lately, although it isn’t really political, the issue has been politicized to boot as it becomes more prominent on the television and as the case reaches its conclusion.

While there is passion on both sides, for me it’s a matter of evaluating several facets of the young woman’s condition and wishes and the actions and motives of her husband, family and medical experts.

This in and of itself isn’t easy to do as most associated with the case disagree with each other over these facts.

The main argument is not immediately “life” or “death”... it’s whether or not Mrs. Shiavo is being kept alive by “artificial” means, via a feeding tube.

She is not being helped to breath, as she would be with a respirator. She is not “brain dead,” where her body is not even giving the simple commands necessary to sustain her life.

This is my first question up front: Can food and water — sustenance — be classified as “artificial”? If it can be classified this way, we are all in trouble as we ALL are being kept alive by “artificial” means.

In fact: To hear the feeding itself described as “artificial” is scary. Further... it has been documented, regards Terri Shiavo, that the feeding tube is in place only because she has not been trained to feed herself and because it saves time for those who care for her.

So the core issue, to me, is moot. Food and water is not “artificial” to Terri anymore than it is “artificial” to the rest of us. The only problem is that she either cannot do this on her own or has not been trained to do so.

Which leads us to another aspect of the argument...

“What about Terri’s quality of life?”

The quality of her life is not something most of us would want, either for ourselves or for her.

Babies are aborted with their possible “quality of life” in peoples’ minds. There is no doubt that, as judged against individual standards, many people — should they be allowed to live — would not have what we, as individuals, decide is a decent “quality of life.”

But where do we draw the line on this? At what point is it our decision to decide whether or not others should live or die because they may not have what we perceive to be a decent “quality of life”? Is this any human being’s decision in the first place?

Would you agree that many villages in Africa, for instance, have a substandard “quality of life”? Should we, perhaps, nuke these villages to spare them this substandard quality of life, in order to save starving children and warring tribes from a life we would not want to live?

Obviously Terri Schiavo’s life is not of the quality we would desire or encourage. But she is where she is do to an act of God (or, if you believe some... an act by her “husband”). None of us caused this but it likely isn’t within our purview to decide to end it because of our own thoughts on the quality of her life.

Which leads us to another aspect of the argument...

What does Terri want? What does her family want? What are her “husband’s” motivations on this?

It seems to me that if Terri did not want to live her family might know it. Personally, I’d feel better if her husband and family agreed on any of this. But they do not. This, of course, precludes anyone deciding her wishes positively one way or the other.

Her family wants her to live. Her husband does not. Both sides claim they “love her.”

Therein lies another fact in the matter: The “husband” who loves her but wants her to die, the husband who lives with another woman and has children with that woman, the husband who refuses medical treatments and training for Terri and has custody of Terri but refuses her blood relatives decision-making powers about her future, the husband who hasn’t been a “husband” for many years and spitefully dismisses the wishes of her immediate family.

The more one studies Michael Schiavo, the more odious the man becomes and the more suspect his motives appear. We have only his word and hearsay on Terri’s wishes about her “quality of life”... something he remembered after eight years and after some checks were cashed.

Michael Schiavo’s motives and actions over all these years should not only be considered in any judgment on the situation they should held up to scrutiny against the matter of Terri’s life and death. Regardless of cut and dried law the family’s wishes should certainly be considered by him and the courts. His actions should be considered as well. But they have not been.

Which leads us to another aspect of the argument...

Our Constitution notes everyone’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Notice that “life’ comes first.

The argument made by those wishing to starve Terri to death is that “she has had her day in court,” there has been “due process” and “what about states rights?”

Obviously, the fact that Congress has become involved could have ramifications on its own. But, the fact that the State of Florida’s “due process” has led to an argument and decision in favor of starving a person to death — who does not live by artificial means — has ramifications far deeper than the matter of “states rights.”

There is a gigantic hole in Florida’s “due process” when the state can justify killing individual citizens by denying them food and water regardless of their conditions.

And, in fact — according to the proclamations, words and deeds of our Founding Fathers — the MAIN purpose of the federal government is NOT “states right” or “due process” but to “protect individual liberties.” We should be glad that the federal government has taken an action for the purpose of protecting one citizen.

Perhaps our Republic is not completely dead just yet.

Since this matter DOES have some questions to it as to what Terri’s wishes truly were and questions about the results of treatments she has not received and sharp divisions and possible motives of those who know and ACTUALLY love her... life should be regarded with more than a casual dismissal over “due process” and the odious motives of her legal guardian and “husband.”

I rarely agree with the republicans and the president. But, in this case, they have done the correct thing. Where there is a question — and in this one there are many — life should be protected.

This is a sad story in either direction. But the real family’s wishes should be respected.

Food and water is not “artificial.” A dangerous precedent is set if this becomes the definition of “artificial.”

Whether you agree or disagree with either side on this issue... say a prayer for Terri Schiavo and for this tragedy to be decided in favor of justice, and against the motives of those who would politicize it.

The life you save just may be your own.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

‘Odd Jobs’




A recent survey of workers shows Americans are less satisfied with their jobs over 10 years ago.

There’s a shocker, huh?

“Compared to a decade ago, job satisfaction has declined among all types of workers, but the drop varies by age and income. The biggest decline in on-the-job happiness was among workers earning $25,000 to $35,000 and among workers between the ages of 35 to 44.”

The survey shows that most of this dissatisfaction has occurred since… guess when… the Bush Administration has been running the country.

This is not unusual at all when you consider that the Bush Administration’s goals are directly opposed to making things better for workers and, instead, are more in tune toward enhancing profits for corporations at the expense of American workers.

This has been accomplished, over the years, in a variety of ways:

  • The importation of foreign workers, both legally and illegally (mostly illegally), so as to create an artificially higher worker base which allows corporations to offer less pay and benefits.


  • Laws against citizens and in favor of corporations, as with the federal government forbidding the purchase of cheaper drugs in Canada.


  • The constant assault against the 40-hour workweek, which also allows corporations to reduce pay and benefits.


  • Tax breaks, benefits and welfare for corporations, which allows them to move jobs overseas and exploit slave labor.


  • Criminal and unfair trade agreements, which remove jobs from our economy and run smaller companies out of business.


  • The list of the Bush Administration’s “accomplishments” is absolutely endless. The one qualifier for every action the Bush Administration takes is that it MUST benefit corporations at the expense of American workers.

    It’s really no wonder at all that people are dissatisfied with their jobs… they haven’t much opportunity with which to compete and survive.

    A rising tide is supposed to “lift all boats.” But, the “great economy” that was promised by this administration has not occurred and the jobs and opportunities it promised has been little more than a trickle against a rising tide of corporate profiteering and competition against cheaper labor.

    “Workers are generally content with their commutes to work and the relationships with co-workers. But they voice substantial discontent with their companies' bonus plans, promotion policies, health plans and pension benefits. Only about one in three said they are satisfied with their pay.”

    One can look all around and see the results of the Bush Administration’s policies; countless thousands of workers with degrees who are working menial labor jobs, thousands of new “temp” workers, outsourced from their factories which are now located in foreign countries, career-minded folks who work several part-time jobs to compensate for the full-time jobs being given to foreign workers for less pay.

    The list is endless.

    Consistently, with the Bush Administration’s policies, there have been less and less jobs available for more and more numbers of workers. The corporations are cashing-in on their presidential-backed bonanza.

    We always hear the same things from the Bush Administration; “workers need to ‘re-train,’” “the jobs are located in different areas of the country now,” “the boom is coming.”

    All of this is pure crappola.

    The truth is that people will work more and more for less and less, as long as this stooge is president… up to and including the point of slave labor if this president is allowed to continue running the country in favor of corporations and against the country’s citizens.

    What the Bush Administration never addresses is the displacement of people and their children. But, how could they? They obviously don’t care.

    While we are being told to “re-educate” ourselves and lied to about how foreign workers and illegal aliens are “only coming here to do the jobs Americans won’t do”… while the outsourcing and corporate profiteering is taking place and people are being told to “move for jobs,” REAL people are being displaced and REAL families are suffering RIGHT NOW.

    The Bush Administration does not acknowledge that people have homes they will lose and relatives that cannot be left behind, that working people cannot an afford to wander around the country to find the jobs the administration claims it is creating but isn’t.

    To hell with health insurance. This administration isn’t even concerned with a living wage.

    Meanwhile, the movement of jobs outside the country continues, the profiteering goes on and the importation of cheaper workers proceeds unabated.

    There is no truth about anything in this administration. There is no patriotism or loyalty to American workers. There is no empathy or compassion toward American citizens.

    There is only a naked and a decided un-Christian greed.

    And…

    There is at least one job many Americans will increasingly be dissatisfied with.