Historically, there has been both violent and non-violent revolution in all forms whether social, economic or artistic. One non-violent form of revolution occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries when secular humanism advanced the ideal of liberality in the original form: freedom of thought and expression. It is during this time that some of the greatest scientific and artistic advances were made. However, for each action there is a reaction and one of those reactions was the creation of Calvinism, in itself a response to the outcome of the secular humanist revolution.
I believe there is a new revolution. Call it a counter insurgency.
Call it "Libertine" vs. "Liberal".
On to the inner sanctum for further discussion.
As in all revolutions, the ideal of the revolution can be transformed from it's original intent. In the advancement of secular humanism, what was felt, as a keen loss was the cultural mores that governed human relations within society. Secular humanism took liberal idealism and turned it into the liberalism we think of today, which is to be lacking in morals, inherently decadent and practicing debauchery. Or, the belief that all things are allowed with few restrictions as long as it did not hurt some one else. The writings of the Marquis de Sade represent in stark black and white what "liberalism" can become when it is divorced from the mores of society. Men and women who practiced sexual liberalism were referred to as "libertines" for a reason.
It was towards the end of the 18th century that secular humanism again became re-united with it's idealism of freedom and societal norms and morality began to see a rise again in the European continent. Societies began to address long festering problems, such as slavery, wars every few decades had taken an economic and social toll. The separation of the masses from those who ruled became ever more apparent. Not only in terms of economic and social status, but also in societal rules. While the ruling classes had become ever more "libertine", the masses had remained, in large part, conservative in nature. It was a separation that could not stand long when news and gossip traveled as quickly as the mail or a tradesman could travel.
The same libertine behavior had not reached the American continent in full force before that time. It was filtered through thousands of miles of ocean and the sheer need to survive in hostile territories that insured the inhabitants would adhere as closely as possible to society and its regulatory norms and morals. It also gave some vestige of normalcy far away from "civilization" and was fostered as well by the Puritan ancestry and culture of the settlers.
In America, the revolution that began in 1775 was about liberalism in the idealistic intent of the word. Freedom of thought and expression as it related to freedom from oppression by the state. In Europe, France in particular, the revolution became the classic revolution wherein the revolutionaries became the establishment and the idealism of the revolution was subjugated to the struggle for power. The revolutionary idealism, divorced from morality and self-control, induced anarchy, fear and The Great Terror, which allowed for the rise to power of a single man who gave the energy of the revolution a new direction: Napoleon and the conquering of Europe.
There is a difference between "liberal" and "libertine". We have, in the course of many social revolutions, struggled to define that line with varying degrees of success. "Libertine" behavior has and will always be looked upon askance because the connotation of "libertine" means the breakdown of society and the breakdown of society has not always been for the good of society. "Libertine" is to be free, not only in thought and expression, but from morality and societal norms. "Liberal" is to believe in and support the idealism of freedom of thought and expression, but to lend it support from a moral base.
Therein lies our problem with modern day definition of the term "liberal". Somewhere around 1967 the term "liberal" became confused with the "libertine" revolution of the counter culture. While the movement began in the grandest of idealism of freedom and equality for minorities, retaining its "liberal" idealism for a time, it quickly slipped its anchorage and drifted resolutely towards the "libertine".
We have been rebuilding the blocks of a moral society from the wreckage of the libertine revolutionaries for over two decades now. The idealism that spawned the social revolution, the liberal ideal, became lost and murky in the culmination. The word "liberal" became inexplicably married to the word "libertine" and, since then, we have sought out new words to identify the idealism of "Liberals", yet none seem to fit. The "neo-conservative" is neither new nor conservative in reality or ideology, yet the "neo-conservative" shuns the word "liberal", even in its purest form because of its connection to "libertine". At the same time, because of the term "conservative" and even "neo" the ideology of this new group of people is sorely misconstrued and misunderstood as right wing reactionary politicos who are bound to suppress the freedom of our liberal society.
Classic liberalism means freedom for the individual of thought and expression. It meant "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It does not mean freedom from all rules or morals.
Libertine means freedom from morality and societal norms.
It is time for a new revolution. A revolution that takes back the word and meaning of "liberal" and leaves the term "libertine" exactly where it belongs: unacceptable.
The problem is in divorcing the words. How do you determine what is "libertine" and thus to be shunned and what is "liberal" and thus to be protected? What morality can anyone impose on society? Can it be or should it be legislated? How do you push a "liberal" agenda without resulting in support of "libertine" behavior?
A Democrat Progressive friend of mine, directly after the elections of November 2004 voiced their fear to me, "Do you know what you've done? They [the neo-conservatives] will roll back the clock fifty years! Everything we worked for will be gone!"
Of course, they were talking about things such as anti-discrimination, affirmative action, women's rights, Roe v. Wade, etc as if the new cast and crew of the legislative and executive offices were suddenly going to be able to pass laws and re-institute segregation, force girls to wear poodle skirts to school, demote all women to secretaries and force them to be bare foot and pregnant and locked into unfulfilling and abusive marriages. They also meant that the new administration would unbalance the seemingly balanced, psuedo peaceful foreign policies that kept us blind to the boiling mass of humanity right beneath our noses in lands that aren't really all that distant anymore.
Like old revolutionaries who became the comfortable establishment, it seems that our "progressive" friends of the "libertine liberals" would prefer that we hold our noses and continue to drink our wine, never looking to far up or down or left or right because we might actually have to see what we have wrought. If we drank enough wine, so I've come to believe, the picture would get fuzzy and the ideal of maintaining this old detente policy would seem clearer. Just like their ideological libertine ancestress of France, Marie Antoinette, who continued to play in her false idle of a village as a well dressed milk maid and was alleged to have said, in response to the lack of bread for the masses, "Let them eat cake," the libertine liberals of modern day history were equally surprised when the masses cried, "Off with their heads!" Theoretically, of course, via the ballot box.
And, just like a headless Marie, they are down on their hands and knees searching for their head and asking themselves what went wrong. Didn't they give the masses circus and bread? Weren't they liberal enough with the money and government programs? Who are these "morals" and "values" people? Where did they come from? They had "freedom" didn't they? Who needs morals and values? If they wanted morals and values, why don't they just stay home and practice them on themselves and leave the rest of us to our libertine liberal ways? Isn't that what they meant when they said, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?
This is where the libertine liberal eventually separated themselves from the general populace. For a long time, the libertine liberal has basically been able to cow society in general with dire warnings that movements even hinted that there may be something wrong with this behavior and the resultant outcomes (ie, unwed mothers, rising welfare and rising abortion) was a direct assault on their rights. They believed that they could address the problem with sex education in schools and planned parenthood clinics that not only offer precautionary assistance, but also post consequential abortions. Unfortunately, these are, at best, sops to the consequences and does not treat the main systemic failure.
Classic liberals believe that the individual should do as they wish, but that that freedom also means that the individuals takes responsibility. Libertine liberals believe that the individual should do as they wish and, whatever the consequences, we will help the individual figure out how to fix it.
What is required is that we look at and redefine the term "liberal" to mean exactly as we believed it to be in its original incantation: freedom of thought and expression, but not freedom from responsibility.
Monday, February 28, 2005
Historically, there has been both violent and non-violent revolution in all forms whether social, economic or artistic. One non-violent form of revolution occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries when secular humanism advanced the ideal of liberality in the original form: freedom of thought and expression. It is during this time that some of the greatest scientific and artistic advances were made. However, for each action there is a reaction and one of those reactions was the creation of Calvinism, in itself a response to the outcome of the secular humanist revolution.
Is it me or are we living in very interesting times?
Who was that idiot that wrote "the end of history" after the fall of the USSR? Dude, it wasn't even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.
I keep thinking of all of those people, those hand wringers, telling us that the Bush Doctrine, the domino effect on freedom, wouldn't work and we were just wasting our blood and treasure in Iraq. What? I can't hear you? Speak up? What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?
No, no, cat, just a strange scene of one democracy after the other being born. Free people demanding their country be given back to them. I hear a strange gurgling sound coming from somewhere on the left. I believe that is the sound of people trying to choke down more crows' feathers.
We in the red states feel your pain and would like to recommend that you switch from that dry white French wine you've been drinking or that Canadian beer and try some good old American beer with that crow. How about a Coors? Miller anyone? Budweiser? Can't go wrong with the king of beers. Even a Pabst has got to be better than the crap you've been drinking.
Personally, my favorite is Lone Star beer. It goes really good with freedom.
Of course, I notice that there is still a few of you shouting "Bush Lied, people died." "100,000 Dead Iraqis" "Depleted Uranium" "Abu Ghraib" "Blood for Oil".
Now, shut the hell up and eat your crow like an adult.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Many times, floating around the blog world, I've seen all kinds of rhetoric and scare quotes about the "religion of peace". Many folks seem to think that because somebody worships Allah and wishes peace upon Mohammed that they are automatically suspect. Not just suspect, but terrorists in waiting. Then there are the folks that seem to ask constantly, "Where are the voices of moderate Muslims opposing the terrorists?"
I've wanted to know that as well. I've also been one of those folks that wondered about those who claim "moderate", decry terrorists as not "Islamic", yet, at the same time, seem to be telling us that they can understand why someone would want to attack us, as if making an excuse while trying to separate themselves.
Let's face it. Fascism and totalitarian ideologies aren't all dressed up in Islam, but there is a nasty streak of folks that want to give their ideology legitimacy by quoting some words from a holy book.
Anyone with the ability to think understands that, if it weren't this religion, it would be something else they'd latch on to. Unfortunately, there are cultural ideologies tied up with Islam that make it the perfect cover for these creeps. But, it doesn't mean everyone who practices Islam, particularly in America, is a terrorist waiting to happen.
Don't get me wrong. I know extremism exists here as well as around the world, but I've often contended that these voices, if they really represented Islam, would be much more powerful than they are considering the number of Islamic adherents around the world (last figure estimates 1.5 billion). The problem is, those extremists have captured the world stage and the media microphone for too long and we've been slow on the uptake.
In the last few weeks, I've started noticing a gentleman appearing on the cable stations, particularly on Fox, who represents the Free Muslims Against Terrorism. I also noted a few blogs that were picking up this organizations website. I liked what he had to say during his interviews and panel discussions so I checked out the site and this is what their manifesto says:
The Free Muslims Against Terrorism is a nonprofit organization made up of American Muslims and American Arabs of all backgrounds who feel that religious violence and terrorism have not been fully rejected by the Muslim community in the post 9-11 era. (..)
Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously. Unfortunately most other Muslim leaders and organizations believe that when it comes to terrorism, the end justifies the means.
Other Americans have spoken up against terrorism, but never before has this message come with such clarity from Muslims or Arabs. Muslims are the only ones who can solve the problem of terror in Islam, and sadly until the founding of this Coalition, they were the only group who had not definitively spoken up against the use of terror.
Please join Free Muslims. We welcome all, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish.
I suggest you go read the rest of the site. It is very interesting and I believe that we should be supporting these kinds of grass roots efforts to help fight extremism in the United States and promote the image of Islam that we wish to be more prevalent: peace loving and free people.
Let me also say that these folks are not afraid to take on CAIR or the Muslim American Society which masquerade as moderates and get all the publicity.
Kamal Nawash was recently on Bill O'Reilly and also hosted the Laurie Roth show where he spoke with several Arab Americans and Arab Muslims regarding their need to fight terror and not be ambiguous about calling out those who would preach extremism.
These are the people we need to support.
Let their voices be heard.
Heads up from Spirit of America. ER episode aired Thursday Feb 24th and the second part will air on March 3rd at 10 pm ESt.
This month "ER" will be featuring a two-part episode called "Here and There". The episodes are scheduled to air on February 24th and March 3rd at 10pm EST on NBC. Support the spirit of the noble Iraqi Citizens, Coalition Forces, and the Civil Affairs community and make it a point to watch these episodes.
The Chicago based hospital drama features a character, Dr Michael Gallant, who is a US Army Reserve doctor. The script will feature his medical unit coming to the aid of a little girl who has been burned by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device).
“Here and There” episodes were based on the real life story of Tariq, a baby boy with Spina Bifida, who was helped by a US Army Reservist doctor from Denver, Colorado.
And this article, via Spirit of America: You Can Do Magic
And don't forget to keep updated on their many projects. You can help with even the smallest donation, spread the Spirit of America and Freedom and Democracy to even the darkest corners of the world.
Freedom is the fire burning in the minds of men.
One of the things I've been thinking about is how all of these countries, Iraq, Iran, China, Russia and Europe have something in common besides appearing to either directly or philosophically oppose the United States.
When you think about all of the talk amongst these groups and their opposition to the United States' actions in the ME, you first have to understand that whatever they accuse the United States of, they are most likely guilty of the same. Obviously, not committing direct war, but I am talking about attempts at garnering influence over the area, access to resources, access to increased commercial markets for goods (not the least of which is military and atomic). In short, soft influence, which Europe, particularly France and Germany, have continued to eschew as their favored method of dealing with the Middle East. China needs it to stay afloat.
For more on China, go to the inner sanctum.
There are several issues at hand here. The first of which is their relationship with the geography of the middle east. In previous posts, I explored the issue of oil and other natural resources. China obtains a very large portion of their imported oil from the Middle East. In particular, Saudi Arabia is its largest contributor followed by the United Arabic Emirates. China has a growing economy, a growing population and both of these are spurring a growing industrial program. Yet, Chinese reserves of oil and natural gas are not infinite and, at the rate they are being pumped and distributed, cannot fully supply their internal needs. This has actually led to China drastically decreasing the export of their own resources. Those who study economy know that this can be a problem in the future. Net importers of raw materials and resources are balancing on a tight rope of economic disaster. It also, and often, tends to lead these countries to become tired of trying to stay afloat economically while buying what they need and decide that it is easier just to expand their hegemony (yes, what they claim the US is doing) over lands that contain these raw resources.
I do mean war. Often, world war. World War I, World War II and even the Cold War were wars of land and resources, not just ideology.
In the recent past, China has attempted to extend influence over nearby countries and extend its borders into international waters. The extended borders serve two purposes: first, oil has been found on the ocean shelves just off the range of China's designated borders, based on international sea law. Other oil reserves have been identified off the coast of North and South Korea. All of these area entail certain difficulties in obtaining the oil from either international borders or placement of the reserves with limited ability to drill due to technology. However, it has not stopped China from attempting to expand its rights in order to lay claim to these resources or at least have influence over them. Secondly, China has been moving vigorously towards building a pipeline to Iran with terminals in other countries along the way for natural gas.
China, for all intents and purposes, is balancing on a tight rope. Reduction in resources, or their inability to keep up with their demand, could seriously curtail their economic growth, putting China in a tail spin. There is a lot of investing going on in China from foreign markets. China in a tail spin would have a direct impact on economies around the globe. Including the United States.
China and the United States have two types of MAD (mutual assured destruction) going on. The first is the obvious: nuclear destruction. The second, possibly not so obvious to the average Joe on the street, is economic. US companies have invested a lot of money in factories, banks, etc in China. These companies contribute a nice chunk of tax/revenue into the US coffers. Cheap Chinese goods flood the US markets and keep many US citizens employed through distribution, management, retail, warehouse, you name it, it has an impact on our markets. China also has bought up a number of US debts through their banking systems.
At the same time, US companies investing in factories and other businesses in China obviously employ thousands, if not millions, greatly contributing to their continued economic growth.
In this way, the US is able to keep what would otherwise be China's expansionist tendencies from becoming a reality. It is historically proven that countries with limited resources and expanding population tend to look outside of their borders for these resources and are not adverse to going to war to gain said resources. At the same time, economic growth has decidedly changed China's political make up, if only by a small portion. And, aside from North Korea, China has no true allies, not even potential allies since the fall of communist Russia.
As freedom and democracy move across south Asia, they find themselves more and more isolated and more and more bound to economic manuevering than any possible military action. I've noted before that this economic MAD is the reason that North Korea's continued saber rattling about nuclear weapons is unsettling to Beijing. A war on their flanks or even the potential interruption of China's economy from expanded sanctions or unrest inside of North Korea would unbalance the economic tight rope that China finds itself walking.
China and Iran
Clearly, China's interest in Middle East affairs is bound up by access to resources. Aside from oil from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, China has made overtures to Iran concerning a natural gas line and oil, putting ink to a deal in October 2004. In the meantime, China has become one of the major exporters of goods to Iran including household appliances, computers and cars. China, according to the aforementioned article, holds a veto on the UN Security Counsel and has been one of the key countries blocking the US's attempt to put pressure on Iran regarding their nuclear ambitions.
The China and North Korea
One thing you will consistantly hear from the left side of the aisle are comments about the Iraq war being the wrong war when North Korea and Iran were and are clearly more hostile and possibly more dangerous to the United States considering one claims to have "nukes" and the other wants to get "nukes". Some rhetoric has even gone so far as to demand why we didn't attack these countries since they were clearly more dangerous. Let's not forget others, from both the left and the right, demanding to know why we haven't attacked Saudi Arabia as it would appear that 15 of the 19 hi-jackers came from that country and it would appear equally clear that they are the major exporter of wahabist doctrine that is supporting or creating terrorism.
I'll deal with "why Iraq" shortly, but let's talk about "why NOT" North Korea, Iran or Saudi Arabia in context to the China problem. North Korea is too obvious. Only crazy people think that attacking North Korea, a partial client state to China on China's flank, is a good idea. I always want to ask these "experts" what they think would happen. I wonder if these people believe that China would just sit still and let us lance the puss ridden boil on their buttocks, regardless of how painful it must be?
Secondly, how is it that these same "realists" don't understand that North Korea is dying and China isn't sure if it gives a rat's patutti, but it doesn't want it helped along by direct outside force? North Korea as a saber rattler behind China's skirt is one thing, but a collapsed North Korea in chaos poses a whole other danger to China. They would most likely prop up another dictator if Kim Il Jong took the fall because a destabilized North Korea in their backyard could cause their own civil unrest. Outside interference in what they consider their "own" problem would result in direct conflict.
As a small reminder, while North Korea pretends it has "nukes", China does. Hopefully, nuclear MAD would bind them to conventional war, but who really wants to be at war with China over North Korea, nuclear weapons or not? China as the lead in these discussions makes perfect sense. It also keeps the US distanced from Little Kim and his demands. Talk of "nukes" is a bargaining chip that North Korea used once before in gaining economic aid and nuclear energy assistance from the US under the Clinton administration in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons. Obviously, that didn't work. Like all blackmailers, once you pay them, they don't go away like they promise, they just come back demanding more. The US has taken a firm stance: North Korea is China's rotten child and they should handle him. China understands that North Korea making war on South Korea or taking any other direct war like steps may drag them into war, just when they are growing their own econmic power house.
This is economic MAD at it's best.
China and the Greater ME
Without a doubt, China's interest in ME resources puts a strain on most US activities in the region. Not that China is alone in their need for and obtaining resources in the area, but in terms of real countries that could challenge the US effectively, even militarily, China is it. Interdiction of the resources China demands at this time in their economic growth could be seen as a direct threat to their national security. One might recall that Japan attacked the US after the US placed an oil embargo on them in attempt to block their expansion in the region which already included attacking main land China. It is not very hard to understand that wars are often fought over two things: land and resources.
If my hypothesis holds true, one might ask, "Why did we attack Iraq? Wouldn't China find this to be an attack on their resources?" First, one would have to understand that, in all the countries of the region, China had very few, if any, interests in Iraq. Neither do they have much interest in Syria or Jordan for that matter. While Iraq certainly sets on the regions second largest oil reserves, its pumping capacity was approximately 15% of the entire output of the Middle East OPEC countries. What limited amounts of oil were making it to market were spread out amongst many nations. While China was purchasing what amounted to appx. 20% of Iraqi oil, in toto compared to China's needs, it was extremely small. This is why promises from Saudi Arabia and other ME OPEC countries to continue pumping oil at their current rates or greater to assauge any short falls in the market was extremely important.
It wasn't just for US consumption, but to insure that the oil flow to the world was not severely restricted. Such restrictions would have had a much greater impact on the world in general. From my point of view, Iraq was the most logical, although, this reason alone is not sufficient to validate Iraq's role as the first amongst many to go, it certainly weighs in the balance. I would be very un-surprised if assurances regarding flow of oil and other resources in the area were given to China prior to our attack. I'd also be very unsurprised by China voicing conerns about possible instability in the area, particularly regarding Saudi Arabia and Iran. Certainly, China's opposition to the Iraq attack on the Security Counsel of the United Nations was made very clear.
In this game of strategy is quite complex considering the US wants to keep this war against terror low key and not have it develop into state on state actions outside the general aspects of WOT.
China and Europe
Recently, Europe has announced its intentions to lift the embargo on arms sales to China. This has several implications and derives from two specifc European strategic needs. First, Europe, France specifically, has long held the belief that an American Superpower, all alone in the world, is dangerous and requires balance or, in Chirac's words, "multi-polarity". Obviously, Europe neither has the budget nor the will to attempt to act as a direct opposition to American military power. Its main desire is to act as a political and possible economic opposition. Considering Iraq, Iran, Syria and China, all places where the US had or has little diplomatic interaction (and, in the case of Iran, no diplomatic ties; in Syria, limited diplomatic ties), Europe and France specifically, wish to fill this gap, basically taking up where the USSR left off when last it could manage a "sphere of influence".
Militarily, I believe that speculation by Bill Kristol and the panelist that met on Januray 18, 2004 at the Hudson Institute, are most likely correct. The panelist indicated that France's desire to arm China with the latest technology, including technology developed for American military, is an attempt to build up a military opposition to American "hegemony" without spending their own money, man power or political clout/diplomatic ties with the United States. One wonders why Europe or France in this case, cannot see past a few years into the future and note that an economically expanding China, while not actively and physically exansionist at this time, will become so in the near future if it sees a weakening of political will power. They may take that as their cue to actively seek the reunification of Taiwan or expand their borders into international waters to gain control of oil reserves and shipping lanes.
I think it is very short sighted of France. Either that or they are laying all their hopes on MAD as the check that holds China in place.
Second, the sale of arms to China has economic implications for a Europe where most of its member states are showing stagnate and weak GDP and record amounts unemployment. Defense contracts would lead to increased employment, at least through out the defense industries. Which, when taken into context with the typical European and extreme left commentary on the "American Military Industrial Complex", sounds pretty hypocritical. It is obvious the European economy and military industrial complex that is up-arming a potential superpower of China for economic benefit.
The same thing can be said about Europeans rushing to sale arms and nuclear technology to Iran. The same thing can be said for Russia rushing to sale arms and nuclear material to Iran and any number of other not so free and open countries.
Economy isn't their sole motivation, but, while many scream at the top of their lungs (including our left, Euros, South Americans and some Russian politicos) about the alleged Halliburton/Lockheed oil/military industrial complex controlling American foreign policy, I do wonder if they ever stop shouting long enough to look around at their own foreign policy?
Probably not. And, just like the press of closed countries like Saudi Arabia or China, their own press does a damned poor job of pointing this out. Mainly because their own press is often state run and state funded. If I were looking for a "propaganda machine" working in tandem with it's government, I'd be looking at French News. Where are those warning their European brethern that engaging in this activity is dangerous with little fore sight except the short term idea that they can drag themselves out of a financial and unemployment morass by arming those who have, shall we say, less than sterling human rights history, are hostile to the west in general, not just the US, are actually forthright and outspoken about their plans to enjoy political, financial and military hegemony over regions that have world implications?
Are countries that engage in these activities today in the alleged post cold war period actually continuing the cold war through their diletente diplomacy or looking to start it again? Is it like one of those people who enter into abusive relationships, where they must be afraid every day that they will be beaten to death, finally get out of the relationship just in time to stave off death only to turn around in short order and look for the same "mate" again? Did the Europeans and Russia enjoy the cold war so much that they want it back again?
That is the only thing I can think of when I hear Jacques Chirac speak about "multi-polarity" instead of "freedom and democracy".
Much easier to sit back and complain about how crappy the world is than to change it.
American Continuing Cold War Containment
In review, I believe that there are multiple fronts going on while we fight the war on terror. Obviously, we have taken on the idea that freedom and democracy are anti-dotes for fascist, tyrannical, murdering ideologies, just as it has been for well over two centuries. Stopping our thought processes at the door of "Global War on Terror" seems very short sighted. I'm sure I'm not expecting anyone to announce any different reason for exporting freedom and democracy, but looking at the interaction of countries like China, Russia, Iran, Europe even, it seems that we are in many ways continuing our cold war containment policy with maybe a slight twist. Instead of dealing with tyrants to gain influence, they will become free democracies and stand shoulder to shoulder.
If you were to pull a map of the eastern hemisphere and mark all of the countries that are either friendly, a democracy or an emerging democracy, what would you see? If you were to pull a map of the Euro-Russian area and marked all of the countries that were friendly, a democracy or an emerging democracy, what would you see?
What you would see is that the last standing enemies of freedom and democracy are slowly surrounded by freedom and democracy.
Update: Europe Bye Bye
To Russia With Love
Saturday, February 26, 2005
According to the Kansas City Star via the Wichita Eagle, Dennis Rader of Park City, a suburb of Wichita, Kansas, was arrested Friday, February 25 on eight counts of first degree murder:
Law enforcement officials took Rader into custody shortly after noon, he said, after a car stop was made on East Kechi Road. There was no incident, he said.
Williams also said that work on the case brings BTK's victim total to 10.
The other two victims in 1985 were 62 and 65 year old women.
More information and links in the inner sanctum.
Interesting, from the news conference, something I didn't know: Kansas did not have the death penalty until 1990 and it was successfully challenged and placed in abeyance in 1994. There is no death penalty in Kansas. Color me surprised. However, there is also no statute of limitations for the crime of murder so, if Mr. Rader thought that now was a good time to come forward because he was under some mistaken idea that the crimes were too old, he obviously got a big surprise.
Modern technology lends its hand again in solving what was once "cold cases" with little opportunity to be solved.
Mayans said this morning that he received a call late last night from police officials saying DNA of the man brought in Friday for questioning is a match to evidence gathered at the scene of at least one BTK murder.
Tests were done Friday.
Once the killer began his correspondence again, certain information was released to the public in hopes of receiving tips, one of which must have led the police to him.
Who Is the BTK Killer?
Reviewing the list, he seems to follow the basic pattern of many serial killers. His father was dead and his mother raised him. She worked a lot and probably gave him little attention. Another man entered the picture. The man was a strong authoritary figure. Most likely he exhibited a number of other patterns that were unknown at the time.
The police and FBI have successfully tied him to eight murders and two more are pending. Based on other information, Rader had worked repairing copiers and other business machines. This had him traveling and away for extended periods. I imagine that the FBI is running a larger search via VICAP to see if he matches any other unsolved murders within the area that he serviced for his job. I say this because he went on little spree's within the Wichita area, killing five in 1974, then was dormant until 1977, killing two more and killing his final Wichita victim in 1986. All things considered, it is very unlikely that a serial killer either started out with four people, nor escalated to that degree and then just stopped killing. Based on information, he was in the military in the early 60's and discharged in 1966.
Other information seems to be differing from a few details of the killer's self description. For instance, according to the AP, he is 59, not 64.
Speculation #1: According to his self desription, his father died in WWII, based on his age, the killer would have had to have been born in 1946 which would have made it nearly impossible for his father to have died before he was even conceived. Considering his penchant for prostitutes and his mother "working at or near a railroad" where she eventually "dated" a railroad detective, could it be that his mother was an unwed mother, possible even a prostitute at some point? Maybe she was was just promiscuous back in the day when it wasn't cool and this caused him some grief at school or with his friends? Other information has him attending church and Sunday school as a youth where his illegitimate birth and mother's behavior may have also caused him some discomfort.
Speculation #2: If I was the FBI, I'd be searching every cold case within the radius of every known residence this man has ever had, though he apparently lived in the Wichita area consistantly since 1966. Other crimes, possibly not even deaths, but assualts, could be tied to this man as serial killers usually begin with something much smaller. He admitted to frequenting prostitutes in his missives to the media and police, so it is likely that there may be other crimes against prostitutes that were never solved related to this man.
After he was apprehended, as in many small towns, the entire neighborhood turned out to watch as if at a live TV showing, some even bringing lawn chairs, as police, SWAT and bomb squad raided his home. That's small town Kansas for you. Nothing else that exciting going on in a long time.
Some small information that probably led to the killer's capture. He worked on copiers. He had a tendency to photo copy his victims' licenses. The Wichita City Library was closed on Friday for "undisclosed reasons". Kansas State Attorney, Phil Kline, noted that Congressman Teehart's endeavors to push certain legislation through congress and the existence of that legislation helped to solve the case (can you say PATRIOT ACT). Rader was pulled over by the police in his car.
Speculation #3: Stupid, old serial killer was making a copy of some evidence or a letter he intended to send again at the public library. Somebody saw him or he had made bad copies and threw them in the trash where somebody saw them. They immediately called the police after noting down his name from his library card or following him to the door where they noted his license plate number.
Speculation #4: Stupid, old serial killer was using the public library to check out certain information either in books, library microfiche or computerized records of newspaper clippings regarding his killings, composing his next missive to the media/police on the computer or using some other attribute of the library that pinged somebody. Since it happened so quickly, it is possible that his actions raised some awareness in the local library workers and they called the authorities (I don't think, in the state of Kansas, too many librarians have worried about "privacy" for their attendees. I could be wrong, but we aren't talking about extreme left librarians in the big city concerned about freedom of speech. Librarians in Kansas, particularly small towns, are usually pretty damned conservative)
Speculation #5: Stupid, old serial killer had already given himself away in some manner and the cops were tailing him. He went to the library and used a machine or checked out a book in the process of continuing his crimes. They say he had a penchant for poetry of a certain variety which he often quoted or spoofed in his missives to the media regarding the deaths of his victims. Using the Patriot Act, the police were able to ascertain his activities at the library which confirmed their suspicions. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
According to the Discussion Board, his own daughter may have tipped off the police and, according to the AP, surveillance led to the car and suspect.. Speculation #5 looks pretty good.
Other information points to the fact that he most recently was working as an Animal Control Officer. Note the recent picture in a uniform like shirt and tie. In which case, aside from the possibility of crimes being committed away from the main Wichita area, he may have gone dormant for long periods in between because he had a nother outlet for his anger and sadistic behavior. I wonder if there have been many cases of missing animals or dead animals that have been tortured or killed in the area? If so, wonder how many were put down to "ugly youth" or "satanic" worship?
Just a little thought, please note the glasses in the picture. Why is it that serial killers always seem to have big square glasses?
Second little thought, please note that the AP doesn't get it right. The Wichita Eagle says he was arrested after a traffic stop shortly around noon and AP says he was arrested at his home. While his home was searched, that's not where he was arrested. I can't believe these guys are that sloppy. Then again, I can.
These are all speculations as the DA and police refuse to give any other details regarding the investigation as they have placed a gag order and sealed files until the trial in order to insure that the case is prosecuted to the fullest and with little incidents. They say to stay tuned to the Kansas DA's website.
Of course, as usual, the neighbors thought he was a nice man, who was quiet and never caused any problems. Except for that one lady down the street who was murdered.
Scarily, his is the second serial killer caught in the Kansas and Missouri area in a year and the third one in the last three years. Last year, a man was arrested for the killing of six women, all within a year, whose bodies were found in abandoned lots, near empty homes or just unceremoniously dumped in high grass in a poor neighborhood of Kansas city. The women were known prostitutes, were all black and the killer was black and lived in the neighborhood. The other killer was the infamous internet player, John Robinson who lured women away from their homes, murdered them and put their bodies in barrels in a pond and storage unit that he kept. One of the women had a child which he arranged to have his brother adopt. Most of the women were on some sort of SSI or other benefit checks which he continued to receive and cash in their names, allaying family fears that the women were dead until somebody finally got suspicious.
On another historic note, the Lawrence Journal indicates that a family known as the "Benders" lived in Kansas in the 1890's and would lure men with money to their homes where they would sit them down to supper, crack their heads with a hammer and slash their throats. Neighbors became suspicious and the Benders eventually left town. When authorities went to their house, they found the bodies of their victims, some stacked up in the cellar waiting burial and others in the back yard.
I guess you don't really need scary movies to turn people into "killers". All this crap about death and violence in movies motivating youth to be more violent, I don't think so. Seems like people have been doing it for as long as there's been civilization. I'd also say that the Benders may have been the inspiration for a number of movies in the last 20 years.
BTK Killer Arrested
Complete Wichita Eagle Coverage of BTK
BTK discussion board
Friday, February 25, 2005
Just caught Larry King Live and John Walsh was on. They were talking about the BTK Serial Killer in Wichita, Kansas. Now, if you want to know that the world is a screwy place, imagine a serial killer in Wichita, Kansas. The question one must ask is, "Why?" or "What the hell is in Wichita, Kansas?" Well, it's bigger than some suppose, but really, being a serial killer in Wichita, Kansas is pathetic. It is a desperate cry for attention because of course, unlike hundreds of crimes in New York, New York that might be the same guy and go unnoticed for awhile, a serial killer in Wichita will get ALL the news coverage because there isn't much else to cover there.
This guys has been screaming pathetic loser for over 25 years now. Seems he went all quiet for awhile and suddenly popped back on the screen sending little notes to the local television stations. Obviously, the guy is old now and decided he needed to be caught and repent of his sins or maybe he was off killing women someplace else and got tired of not getting any attention so he came back to podunkville where they caught him within 15 months.
This guy was pathetic and wanted to be caught, that's it.
At the end of the show, Larry King asked John Walsh if there was any other situation going on that should be covered and John Walsh talked about the apparent ritual slaying of the Coptic Christians in New Jersey. I am near quoting him when I tell you he said the media was not covering this crime right, it is a case of Muslim extremists murdering this family right beneath our noses and that the media is doing what they did since 1993 and the first WTC bombing, covering their ears and eyes to the fact that Muslim extremist exist and intend to do harm to America and her citizens, right here in America.
Could have knocked me over with a feather.
Came across some new miliblogs recently and thought I should share. One of them reminds me of CBFTW at "fear and loathing in Iraq".
Check out Sic Vis Pacem, Para Bellum. He has a specific post that I found most interesting: Arkansas Boys which is the Arkansas National Guard his group is replacing and he has posted original songs by this group.
I Am a Patriot
Mortaritaville is as funny as it sounds. It was cracking me up. Check it out and make this guy a daily read.
The other would be major K at strength and honor
Via Mudville Gazette
Today is D-Day again. Today at 5pm, the stay of execution for Terri Schiavo runs out unless the courts take a different decision.
One of the things that I noted from the Blogs For Terri website were the videos of Terri interacting with her family, to music, to direct commands to "open her eyes" and to follow a balloon with her eyes. I also noted that the Judge in this case, who also issued the last stay, refused to see these videos.
Why? He continued to insist on "expert" opinion instead seeing with his own eyes what is clear to the simplest minded person with two eyes: Terri is not in a "persistent vegetative state", but is conscious and able to communicate, even in such a small way, that she is a living, sentient human being.
It is almost as if Judge Greer is re-enacting Pontius Pilat. He wants to turn this over to Terri's "husband", allow him to do as he wishes and Judge Greer can wash his hands of her death.
Judge Greer should remember what history made of Pontius Pilat.
Last, according to Blogs For Terri, news sources are reporting that the Florida Department for Children and Families has asked for 60 days to investigate possible abuse.
Terri's condition is due to a stroke she suffered when she mysteriously "collapsed" in 1990. At the time, the "collapse" was indicated as the result of her "stroke", but new information has come forward that bone scans and x-rays, taken during her original hospitalization indicates fractures in the skull and other areas which some say indicate "traumatic" injury commiserate with abuse. Michael Schiavo has refused in the past to release her medical records for review. The FDCF has finally decided to step in and investigate.
Other testimony has come from a nurse caring for Terri in the past who indicates that Terri has a negative reaction, possibly even fearful, when Michael Schiavo has come to visit.
This information is non-conclusive and the injuries may be found to be consistent with her collapse, but it is appropriate for an investigation to occur. Prior to her collapse, Terri had no known medical conditions that would have contributed to the stroke which put her in this condition.
Still standing for Terri Schiavo.
Where are the people that insist capital punishment death sentences are state murder? Does this woman deserve any less support?
Cruising my favorite places on the net, I took notice the other day that a group of Germans were planning to counter protest and anti-American protest in Mainz when President Bush came to town.
Via Little Green Footballs and IMAO comes the link to No Pasaran and MedienKritik who staged the counter protest and have pictures.
Even better, because it was such a novelty, a German satellite news organization interviewed the counter protesters and video taped them pre-protest, during and post.
It's in German, but I think you can get the gist of the conversation. One of the counter-protesters invokes JFK and Ronald Reagan, reminding the viewers who it was that stood with Germany and protected them during the cold war.
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner!"
The freedom of the city is not negotiable. We cannot negotiate with those who say, "What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable."
There are many people in the world who really don't understand-or say they don't-what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin!
I hear it said that West Berlin is militarily untenable - and so was Bastogne, and so, in fact, was Stalingrad. Any danger spot is tenable if men - brave men - will make it so.
John F. Kennedy
"Mr. Gorbechav, tear down this wall!"
Ronald Reagan at the Wall, Berlin
Thursday, February 24, 2005
No, I am not Iranian, but I am a member of the Legendary Army of Pajama Clad Bloggers for Freedom. I've been keeping track of a story about bloggers from Iran who were arrested for allegedly speaking out against the Islamic Republic of Iran where apparently, Res Publica, or "for the good of the public", means for the good of keeping the state intact and capable of oppressing its people because only the state knows what's good for the people. According to them, anyone that says that their government sucks is not good for anyone to read even though it is very likely that, if it's being written, everyone knows it already.
Of course, according to this nasty regime, talking about Brittney Spears, clothes that don't cover you from head to wrist to foot, books not on their approved list of reading, music not on their approved list, relationships, stupid people, other countries, etc, etc, etc, is all dangerous to the state.
Of course, if you are reading this, you already know that any state or culture that has to protect itself from any such discussions is already a failed state and culture. It is already the beginning of the end and these buttheads just don't know it yet.
In Iran today, at least 20 known bloggers have been arrested. Many have been jailed and some have been tortured. Who knows if 20 is the final number?
Even if it is just one it is one too many.
The Iranian regime has declared war on the Free Nation of Bloggers. They have banned sites and access by internet providers. They have declared free speech and free flow of information illegal, the two most important rights of Free Bloggers everywhere. The blogging revolution is well underway and by sheer numbers they cannot stop the march to freedom.
I missed "Free Mojtaba and Arash" day, but it should be every day until they are released.
Stay updated on the situation by going to The committee to protect bloggers.
Honestly, I looked at some of the people they were quoting. One of which is "Juan Cole" who, in general, I don't agree with his "expert" opinions on the ME. However, when fighting the enemy, sometimes you have to take on some allies you normally woiuld not give the time of day to. In this case, the case of jailed Iranian bloggers, I'll even shake hands with the devil if it means freedom of speech is protected.
Go over to the site here and read about what we can do to make a difference and spread the word.
Did you know that China has blocked access to many blog services and specific sites? I know a Chinese student that used to post at the ITM brothers who was able to email an acquaintaince and tell us that their internet service blocked all "Iraq" related blogs. I guess they only want the official word to be the word on Iraq.
Freedom of information, the freedom to speak, even to say something that is unpopular or even downright stupid, should always be protected.
It's the one thing I think I agree on with my friends to the left of me, some place we can find common ground.
If you are reading this, know that millions still cannot. Not because of lack of internet connection, but because they are not allowed to by their government.
Message to tyrants everywhere:
You cannot control the flow of information, it is more powerful than you.
You cannot control the blog, it is more powerful than you.
Let Freedom Reign!
Let my people go!
LCpl Kat-Middle Ground
Legendary Army of Pajama Clad Bloggers
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Greer orders an extended stay until Friday at 5pm.
Some points to clarify:
1) I believe everyone has the right and is guaranteed the right, under the patient's bill of rights, to give instructions on and participate in their own treatment, including refusing such treatments.
2) I believe that it is right and appropriate for the closest family member to make such decisions on behalf of their loved one in the case that there is no written directives.
3) I believe that the government should make no laws against these rulings.
4) I believe there are distinct differences between diminished quality of life, diminished capacity (mental or physical) as opposed to persistent vegetative state and terminally ill.
The problems that I see complicating this case:
1) If Terri Schiavo had actually told her husband her desire not to live in such a state, why did he continue to seek "methods to revive her" for several years?
2) If this is not about financial gain, why did Mr. Schiavo, after receiving a 1.4 million dollar malpractice settlement awarded in Terri's name, a $750k settlement awarded in Terri's name and a $600k awarded in his own name, decide the next year that Terri should now be taken off of this life sustaining treatment? Why would he not divorce her and leave her care to her parents? He claims that it is because he would lose the right to represent her as her husband, but, aside from a piece of paper which has not been legally nullified indicating they are married, he is openly living with another woman, openly has children and, it must be considered that, while they are "legally married" he still controls the finances related to the noted settlements. Also, I question, based on item #1 of this section, what Mr. Schiavo's motives were for disregarding Terri's alleged request to not live in this condition. One must consider that, had Terri been disconnected from life sustaining food and water or the vent she was obviously originally connected to (she has a trach hole in her throat according to pictures), Terri would have died within a very short time of the onset of her original condition. In which case, had Mr. Schiavo continued to press malpractice suits (for which he has won over 2.7 mil), it is likely that the rewards for this malpractice would have been much less as Terri would not have been available or benefited from the rewards.
3) If Terri Schiavo is in a "persistant vegetative state", why is she able to respond to stimuli directly in what appears to be emotive and controlled? Terri is not terminally ill. She does not have a degenerative disease. She is not comatose nor unresponsive. She simply has diminished mental and physcal capacity.
4) If Terri Schiavo is no in a persistent vegetative state, but fully conscious with only diminished mental and physical capacity, death by starvation and dehydration will be painful, regardless of any attempts to state otherwise. While she may not understand what is happening to her as we who are conscious would, she would feel pain and discomfort, regardless of her inability to convey that to her caregivers.
5) The law cannot and should not decide whether somebody lives or dies under these conditions but should insure that rightful guardianship and representation is considered and the patient's rights are protected in regards to their directives for healthcare. I do not know what was presented to Greer on behalf of Mr. Schiavo. It would seem that both of these issues must be in question on the face of the time lines and actions taken.
6) Lastly, we must be careful that we do not make any precedent setting decisions that would diminish any other rights, such as patient right to refuse treatment, make advance directives regarding care in case of incapacitation or the right to designate or have implied a representative.
These are the difficulties with this case and why it is taking so long to decide by the courts as to what is appropriate. It would seem, had the courts truly been interested in insuring that Terri's rights were guarded, they would have nullified both the parents and Mr. Schiavo's guardianship and appointed a third party without interest as the sole guardian. Instead, this person is in conjunction with Mr. Schiavo's guardianship.
I think there is a clear case of financial interest and reasonable doubt as to whether Mr. Schiavo really had cause to know of his wife's intent regarding incapacitation.
I noted this before. Had Mr. Schiavo simply disconnected Terri from life supporting equipment and services in 1990 or even 1991 as per her purported request, we would not be having this discussion.
For more information also see CNN: Judge Orders feeding for Florida woman. For once, they get some of the details right and actually discuss my position that she is not comatose nor terminally ill.
You are never too young. Write your advanced directives. Write your will. Do not leave you and your family open to these difficulties.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
I have been struggling with this for a long time. I have personal experiences with this subject. My grandmother was very ill for a long time. She had a progressive disease with no cure. She had Congestive Heart Failure. She had emphysema. She had one lung that continued to fill up with liquid and no amount of increased lasix (diuretic to decrease fluid in the body) could fix over time. She had multiple strokes which continued to slowly erode her physical ability. She had spots on her liver that they suspected were cancerous, but she would not let them biopsy.
She had told me and many others that she did not want to continue like she was. She knew she was dying. Many years ago, she had told me that she had a dream that she would die by drowning. She had this dream when she was very young. She was always afraid of water and refused to learn to swim. I even remember as a youngster that she would not even go into the shallow end of a pool unless she had on a life preserver and someone, preferably my grandfather, near by.
I don't know if this was prescient or not. In the end, she was drowning, just not in the way that she thought it would happen.
That must be the one problem with prescient visions, they are never really clear.
However, after she was diagnosed with CHF, my grandmother believed that she had seen her own death, but it was the irony that she never realized what it meant.
I'm not really here to talk about this, but I thought it was interesting to mention. I think I should also mention that it was not "drowning" by CHF that killed her.
She told me many times that she did not want to live to fulfill that vision. She told me and many in my family, if the time comes, she did not want to end like my grandfather, hooked up to a bunch of machines with her body and mind slowly shutting down. Everyone she told nodded their heads and agreed they wouldn't let it happen. But, in private moments, some, including my father, talked about not just giving up unless it was a foregone conclusion, unless there were no longer brain waves. He didn't want to be the one to decide that it was time for her to be let go. He had to make that decision on my grandfather and it still haunts him today.
Certainly, with modern medical technology, one could be kept alive far longer than expected, but, in many cases, it is only a short prelude of a few days or weeks before the rest of the body begins to shut down and they eventually die.
I knew what had to be done to protect my grandmother's wishes. After she was hospitalized for pneumonia and the spots were found and the prognosis for CHF was not good, I looked up on the internet and found the website for living wills and advance directives in the state of Missouri. Each state has it's own legal language necessary to be considered a viable living will. I also retrieved a "Durable Medical Power of Attorney" and a "Financial Power of Attorney". I went to visit my grandmother several days after she was released from the hospital. I stayed for several days and watched as she had good and bad days. I waited until she had several "good days" because I wanted to make sure when we talked about the decisions to be made that she was not under any duress from her physical condition that might interfere with her mental capacity.
I sat down with her and went over each of the forms. First, we did the "Financial Power of Attorney" which we discussed and gave to my cousin with whom my grandmother lived. This made sense as she was the one who would be the closest to my grandmother to help her when she was no longer able to over see her own affairs which she did right up to about a week before she died. Really, she had no assets, no retirement funds, no bank accounts which would be considered any inducement for anyone to act outside of her best interests, so that made it easier. Just a social security check and the need to write checks for paying for her prescriptions and few other medical needs and continuing to pay her premium for her life insurance policy which was just enough to pay for her funeral expenses with an incredibly small amount left over.
Second, we discussed the "Durable Medical Power of Attorney" and how it gave someone the power to make medical decisions for her should she become incapacitated. This is not a living will in and of itself and can be challenged, though with difficulty, by any family member that has a closer relationship than the person who it is assigned to. After discussing it, she made both me and my cousin co-powers of attorney. This may seem counter intuitive, but we did not do it without some other measures and long talks with both my cousin and I to insure that we were on the same page about what was to be done. It was both of us because I traveled so much and I was concerned about being available to make the decisions. Still, I didn't leave it at that.
Next we completed a living will which was very specific in what would or would not be done in the case of certain medical emergencies. This included things like with-holding intravenous anti-biotic treatment, intravenous food or hydration delivery, tube feedings of food and water, ventilation to assist with breathing, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and a few other invasive and non-invasive "extra-ordinary" endeavors.
Being a worker in the medical field, I understood what each of these items meant in both measures of saving, if utilized, and what it meant to die under those conditions. I explained them explicitly to my grandmother and cousin. I didn't want any of us to be under any delusions about what we might experience.
All of the decisions on what to with-hold were made by my grandmother. Even after I discussed at length my problems with with-holding food and water, through whatever means, under circumstances where she was not incapacitated accept by the means to feed her by mouth, my grandmother opted to choose to with-hold these life saving measures as well. It pained me considerably, but it was her life and her decision, not mine. I was only the conduit through which in the future the decisions would have to be approved.
Finally, we wrote out and put on file a "Do Not resuscitate" order with the local hospital and her physician.
Her last request to us was that she be allowed to die at home and not taken to the hospital. As her condition worsened, we arranged to have in home nursing and other medical equipment to make her more comfortable.
Six weeks later, my grandmother experienced several mini-strokes. She was in severe pain. I was traveling to our corporate office when it occurred and was only notified when my grandmother, in severe pain, asked my cousin to ignore her request and take her to the hospital. Mainly because the physician would not order any pain medication until he had seen her and he didn't make house calls. Even though the home care nurse had several conversations with him about the levels of pain and the probable causes. In the end, the doctor was a bit old fashioned and he could still wield some power over the treatment.
It took me four hours to fly home and three hours to drive down to where she lived. I arrived only twenty minutes before she passed. We had several discussions with the hospital staff regarding her condition. They could not and would not prescribe any pain medications because that would slow down her cardiac functions and they believed that she was already suffering from this problem. At the same time, they recognized her power of attorney and living will and were not making any other extra-ordinary efforts. This is the one thing that still bothers me today.
She was not catatonic but in a strange state where she was neither comatose yet neither coherent and fully awake. She continued to cry and moan in her strange half state about the pain as well as many other delusionary moments when she thought she saw her long dead father and mother as well as some other people. On other occasions, even without her eyes open, she seemed to recognize that my cousin and I were there and said often that she loved us. On one occasion she accused us of lying to her because, of course, we had taken her to the hospital and she was dying there even though she had asked for it in her more lucid state. Neither my cousin nor I made any comment to her regarding it. We didn't think she really understood.
Eventually, she drifted off into her semi-comatose state where her communications were simply moaning and thrashing around a bit on the bed because of the pain. Her eyes were not open and she did not respond much to our words.
I have written about it before. I will say again that the hardest thing I ever did in my entire life was to hold her hand and sit by her bed while she died without lifting a finger to help her. She passed at 11:41 pm from an infarction in the brain. No one else was there but my cousin and me. I really didn't have time to lose my composure because my cousin did immediately. She held me so tight with her arms around my neck sobbing that, for a moment, she was near choking me. What could I do but hold on to her as tight?
Finally, we had to sign some papers and call the family.
I have only had a few discussions concerning the Terri Schiavo case. I have had a very difficult time in discussing it because I have been both Mr. Schiavo and Terri's parents. I feel both the resoluteness that I did as my grandmother wished and the pain (and yes, guilt) of being the person who carried out those wishes as well as the person that wished that she would live forever, that I could come back the next week and drink tea at her kitchen table, discussing world events and family happenings, getting advice or just listening to her talk about her life.
Written documents attested to and signed by the person does not make the decision making process any easier on the person making those decisions. It really only gives an outline by which you can function. It did not, for me nor my cousin, really alleviate the pain or assuage the guilt. It only balanced it with the knowledge that we did, in the end, do as she had asked.
I will now tell you the other secret that we hold between us, my cousin and I. Both of us discussed the matter of with-holding tube or intravenous food and hydration and had determined that, if that was the only thing wrong, we would not abide by that request. As Durable Medical Powers of Attorney, we could over-ride the living will. We would not abide by that one request because it is not death by a medical condition, but by starvation. We both knew, if it came down to it, that eventually, her medical conditions would take her, but I would refuse to stand by that order if it meant, in a very real since, killing her slowly and quite cruelly if the other conditions did not first take their toll.
Maybe I am splitting hairs. Certainly, with-holding other treatments could be considered just as tantamount. Maybe, if there is a God, he will consider me a murderer after all for not attempting to save one of his creations by every means necessary. I don't know and will leave it up the Creator to decide on judgment day. But, it just seemed that, that one condition, was worse than any others.
So, I am speaking here from experience, yet I did not have to struggle with that decision as that is not how she came to pass.
In the case of Terri Schiavo, I see distinct differences and distinct parallels. The many problems with this case include the fact that living wills were not the norm over a decade ago when Terri suffered her injuries. If they had been, it is quite likely that we would not be having this discussion at all because Terri would have died back then. This causes me some concern over the situation of the case. Frankly, it seems that Mr. Schiavo had either cause to believe that this would not be her final condition, whether through medical assurances or by faith, or that Mr. Schiavo had no intention in the beginning of adhering to Terri's request way back when she was first injured. Or, lastly, maybe he didn't really know what Terri wanted because she never said and he was just going along with what the doctor's suggested for treatment because that is how it was done way back when.
I'll tell you that, until very recently, it was actually very rare for people to discuss these possibilities. Particularly young people. Most of us in our twenties think we are going to live forever or, at least, for another 50 or 60 years so it never crossed our minds. It never crossed mine although, it is a possibility that I said in one offhanded moment or another that I would not want to survive under certain conditions, I'm not sure who I said it to or whether they would ever have any input in those decisions.
Who knows the truth except Terri Schiavo in this case and she can't speak for herself. Not in anyway that would be considered competent and recognized speech.
The other differences between Terri Schiavo and my grandmother are much more apparent. Terri Schiavo has no other known medical condition that is terminal. Brain damage is not terminal unless it is the type of damage that controls bodily functions like heart beat, liver and kidney functions just to name a few. While being unable to swallow might have proved terminal in 1880 because no one knew of tube or intravenous feedings, it is certainly not a terminal condition. Unless, of course, you stop feeding the patient.
Have we decided that, like all those who researched eugenics in the 1920's and 30's, like those of Nazi Germany and those in Europe now who decide from whom the state health program can with-hold certain treatments from those we consider incapable of living a full life as we would live it, we get to make the decision of who lives and who dies? Have we decided that the weakest and most vulnerable among us should die or be killed like a pack of animals?
We find ourselves in a difficult position. I find myself in a difficult position because I fully believe each person has the right to decide how far they want to go, in what condition they would want to live if there life is to be cut short. But, I also find in there that there is still some moral ground on which to stand, as narrow as it may seem. A person that is not terminally ill but may be paralyzed will not have the same life that I do today, but it does not mean that they can have no quality of life. A child who has down syndrome or chronic illnesses such as Crohn's disease or CF may never have the same quality of life nor length of life that another fully healthy child may have, but it does not mean that they cannot have any quality life nor that they are less valuable. In these conditions, they are living and not dying and I would not have us legalize assisted suicide or homicide in these cases because it would simply be a decision based on depression and mental anguish. These are not decisions based on dying.
Terri Schiavo may not be the woman that she was a decade ago, but it does not mean that she is less deserving of care or life.
Maybe, someday Terri will catch pneumonia or her degenerating body may cause other body functions to begin to shut down. Then, if she is alive beyond March of this year and her parents are caring for her, they will have to make the hard decisions and they will be hard.
We have entered into the "slippery slope" that so many have talked about. As a person that worked with my grandmother to take advantage of that first step, I now find myself an accomplice to the next slippery slide down that step, the one in which we have gone from decisions of and for the dying to decisions of and for the living.
Maybe this is about eugenics. Maybe it is about how we have come so far in controlling our lives that we want to control our deaths, never realizing that this is truly the one thing that we don't control. Yet, it would appear that there is some fear in that and so we have begun to decide on how we will take back that control if in only some small part. This may be, as some claim, the direct cause of loss of faith in something greater and the advent of human power over humanity. Like the actors in "Final Destiny" we are trying to control that destiny and, if we can't out run it, at least dictate how it will end.
I realize that there are other issues about cost of care and possible insurance money. I didn't really address it because part of me understands that Mr. Schiavo, even if he were to receive any life insurance, is most likely in debt up to his eyeballs and would lose it immediately to those debts. The on-going cost of care is not an issue for Schiavo either as he has been offered by the parents to divorce her and allow them to take guardianship which would place all of the financial burden on them. I believe they even offered to sign a contract absolving him of any future care or cost. I can't imagine this is financial which is why the courts, as much as they may have wanted to do otherwise, could not find that his guardianship of his wife was voided by his potential economic gain.
Unfortunately, it is most likely the only decision the court could make a decision on, who is the guardian and thus who has the power of medical decisions. There have been many Terri Schiavo's before and there will be many after her. We stand here on the precipe. It is not the law that decides who is alive or dying and they did not make that decision. The courts and the law, in the end, do not want to make those decisions because it could and would open up entirely new frontiers wherein even people like my grandmother could not make her own health decisions and wherein her doctors could be held liable for not taking every necessary step to keep her alive and could be charged with murder and I and my cousin as accomplices.
That is the other side of the slope on which we stand and we should recognize it clearly while we discuss this issue.
It is not the law in which we should look for the saving lest the law be used against as much as for.
If there is a law to be found here and should be considered above all others, that is that Terri Schiavo cannot speak for herself. It is Terri Schiavo that must be protected as a vulnerable person under the law. Above both Mr. Schiavo and her parents, it is her inability to speak for herself that should insure that the law protects her even if she is never able to speak for herself again. Above questions of rightful guardianship, when Terri did not and cannot speak for herself, the law must extend that protection to her and not allow the decision of guardianship to be the decision on whether she has the right to live or die.
The law today is too garbled because we are afraid of interfering in people's rights and we have attempted to avoid that interference by making no such laws or setting no such precedents. Instead, you see the law falling back on the only known law and that is decisions of guardianship. That is what you see in Florida today. Unfortunately for Terri Schiavo, the lack of law and precedent will most likely result in her losing her life.
We are afraid to make those laws because, even though today allows for written consent and direction, there are many out there who do not have any such legal documents under which to protect themselves or their rights. Believe me, in my field, I completely understand the questions because I know we in my field have gone to extra-ordinary lengths to keep people alive. That is what we do. I am not sure that, in any capacity, I want to be the person that tells another that we cannot remove their loved one's vent when they are clearly dying.
We are afraid to make those laws because, if we try to define "life", the next steps will be in using that definition against abortion (and that is another discussion), against the study of embryos or use in genetic research (that also is another discussion) and, even, against the death penalty. However, I think that time is coming soon when we must engage and decide, when we can no longer avoid it as many push the boundaries of what is not defined by law.
In the end, it is our own understanding of what life and death means. This is the "morals" and "values" that people like me talk about, not those outlined strictly by the law nor simply set down in a religious text. It is what is inside of us all: the capacity to care and the capacity to do harm.
To me, the question is: Is she dying or is she living?
To me, the answer from the medical field should be the fall back to, "First do no harm."
To me, the answer from the law should be simply to protect the living.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005, the law will not have changed. It will still find itself balancing on the top of the slope, trying desperately to not take a step in either direction having only decided on the law which is at hand, who is Terri's guardian.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005, it is we that will change when Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is removed. We will have turned the corner on our own humanity and taken the next step down the slippery slope where people like Dr. Kevorkian and anyone who is not the patient who has been recognized as a legal guardian can decide with or for the patient that, living they may be, but dying they can do and dying is better than living.
Here in we must recognize the nihilism that has infiltrated our society and be prepared for the ever faster slide into ignominy.
There are people on the other side who will say that this does not have be that slippery slide. This is only one small step and, to them, it is a step up. This is our ability to control what becomes of us. This is our ability to decide how we can or want to die. To "die with dignity" they say.
Terri Schiavo is not dying, but she will and there will be little dignity in that death as there is little dignity in any death.
There are some that say that this is Darwin's theory of evolution at it's finest. Only the strong survive. I would say if you must apply an evolutionary theory, it is that creatures evolve beyond what they once were to what they can be and we have come a long way in our evolution since we last left our weak on the plains to die in order to save the tribe and there is nothing to show that our "tribe" is in danger of dying by caring for Terri Schiavo.
Although, I would say conversely, that her dying from this act may well be the portender of the death of our "tribe".
Update 8:37 AM CST:
Terri's Parents Statement
Micheal Schiavo's Statement
For the record, on pain of any more attempts at convincing anyone that this whole situation is wrong, Mr. Schiavo states that he finally understands that there is no cure for Terri and she should be let go. Note that, while I talk about "incurable" diseases, I mean them in the terminally ill, this will kill you, category, not brain damage which is not terminal in Terri's condition. This isn't about whether she is "curable" or could ever function again as she once did, but whether she is living or dying or dead. I submit to you, she is not dead nor dying, but living. At least, for today she is.
Update 9:10 CST:
Terri's Fight Go here and watch the videos. The one called "Terri Responding To Music" is absolute proof that she can and does respond to stimulus. Somebody is lying about "persistent vegatative state" or is at least widening the definition beyond its original intent.
Update 10:41 CST:
Still no news on whether the tube was removed. Just found this article from January 27 in the Detroit Free Press and noticed that there is a significant contradiction:
But just as no one should hasten another's death, neither does anyone have the right to prolong someone's life against that person's will. This isn't outsiders condemning others to death; it's people choosing how they want their own lives to end.
In Terri Schiavo's case, her husband communicated his wife's wishes to doctors after years of pursuing methods to revive her.
So, you understand, first, people have a right to choose how to end their own lives, but it wasn't Terri who communicated the desire, but her husband. So who is choosing how they live and die? Secondly, as I pointed out before, there is a significant contradiction in what Michael Schiavo tried to do before "pursued methods to revive her" and what he says she wanted done "not prolong her life".
Well, Mr. Schiavo and Detroit Free Press, which was it? She wanted to die or she wanted to live? If she wanted to die, why did Mr. Schiavo continue to seek "methods to revive her"?
If that's not funny enough for you, an op-ed in the Toledo Blade almost gets it right by explaining why it is the judicial branch didn't want to interfere in anything outside of deciding who was her legal guardian, but, as usual, makes a little blunder, too:
The unfortunate fact is the Schiavo case has become the centerpiece in a raging debate between right-to-die and right-to-life combatants who have taken the last shred of dignity from a wife and daughter reduced to dying by degree.
Now, isn't that funny? I mean "dying by degree". As we noted, Terri does not have a terminal illness. She is brain damaged, but it is not killing her any faster than you and I are dying. As a matter of fact, we are all "dying by degree" every day because we are all dying the minute we are born. Maybe we should all just throw in the towel and drink the kool-aid since we're "dying by degree"?
On the last note, try reading this piece:
But the tragedy has been blown into an international cause celebre with legal impediments that prevent the poor woman from resting in peace.
How about people like Michael Schiavo and this dunder headed op-ed writer are impending this poor woman from living in peace?
Update 11:40 AM CST
Or, how about this little gem fromSt Petersburg Times an anonymous "staff writer" having done a decent job of describing the legal process and issues of state and federal law, why they can't interfere, lapses at the end with their own little plug about "painless" death:
People can live two to three weeks without food or water, said Ronald Schonwetter, director of geriatric medicine at the University of South Florida. Last year, Schiavo's tube was removed for six days until Terri's Law was passed. Most experts believe that lack of food and water results in a relatively painless death, Schonwetter said. People sleep more and more as their organs shut down. Then they lapse into a coma and die.
Yet, here on this medical website about the importance of hydration, they seem to be saying something other than what Mr. Schonwetter and the writer said when they talk about joint pain because your cartiledge is made up of part water and lack of water causes it to shrink; lower back pain from the same; migraines, etc. Severe dehydration causes your body functions, like kidneys to shut down. Have you ever had a kidney or bladder infection? Painful, isn't it. How painful do you think your kidneys shutting down would be? We're only talking dehydration here and the site doesn't talk about you going into a coma or "sleep" before it starts happening. It talks about you going into shock. In which case, it means you are aware that it's happening and the only way you would not be able to communicate the pain is if you were in a coma already.
Or this article:
Blood pressure sometimes drops so low it can not be measured, and skin at the knees and elbows may become blotchy. Anxiety, restlessness, and thirst increase. After the patient's temperature reaches 107°F (41.7°C) damage to the brain and other vital organs occurs quickly.
Well, how painless is that? Maybe somebody should check out what Mr. Schonwetter has been doing to free up beds in his geriatric center?
What about starvation? According to this site, it doesn't sound very painless. Liver failure painless? Heart failure painless? Kidney failure painless? Rectal bleeding? Regression of organs? Or this site:
Hair is thin, tightly curled, and pulls out easily. Joints ache and bones are soft and tender. The gums bleed. The tongue may be swollen or shriveled and cracked.
One wonders if either the writer of the "painful" piece or Mr. Schonwetter has ever tried starving for a bit?
Update 12:59 PM CST
According to Blogs for Terri, Judge Greer, who is over seeing the case, has issued a stay (of execution) until tomorrow, Wednesday February 23, at 5pm. No info on what changed his mind, but stay tuned to this blog or Blogs for Terri for updates.
You are already protected under the law. You can decide how you will live and how you will die. However old or young, whatever your medical condition, you can decide how you want to be treated as long as you are the legal age of consent and are not deemed mentally incompetent. If you have not done so today, you should immediately write a will. You can find out about how wills, property and probate work by going to Free Legal Advice. You should also look up your state's laws on what is an acceptable will or other legal language required. As there is no federal law on either advanced directives/living wills, trusts or legal wills regarding property, each state has their own laws and language. Most states do not accept hand written wills, even in your own hand writing, unless they follow certain guidelines. This includes whether or not these documents have to be notarized, how many witnesses, if any, etc.
If you have any property, valuable assetts or significant funds that are not already assigned directly to a beneficiary, you should consult an attorney. If you have sole custody of children from a previous marriage, you should know that, upon your death, your ex-spouse can sue for custody and can become the legal guardian. The legal guardian of your children can access any trust funds or manage any property in their names as long as the child is under the legal age of adulthood in their state if that property, beneficiary monies or trust funds are not protected.
Even if you believe that your loved ones know what you would want done in a situation where you are incapacitated, you should insure that your right to deny or demand treatment is protected by writing an advanced directive/living will. You can find the correct form for your state here or here or simply look up "advance directives" followed by the name of your state to find your appropriate form.
You should also be aware that there are two types of power's of attorney: Financial Power of Attorney or just plain "Power of Attorney" and "Durable Medical Power of Attorney". As they indicate, the Financial Power of Attorney only gives your designated representative the power to take care of your finances. They are not deemed the legal representative for your medical care. "Durable Medical Power of Attorney" only designates a legal representative to make decisions on your medical care. Even if you have a "Durable Medical Power of Attorney", you should still have "advanced directives" on your desired care.
Again, it doesn't really pay to be cheap when you have money, property or children to be concerned about. Go find an attorney and get your will done. Powers of attorney and advanced directives do not require an attorney but you may wish to keep copies of all of your legal documents with this person.
As you can see by the two situations we have talked about, leaving these decisions unwritten can leave your family unprepared.
Monday, February 21, 2005
One of my favorite stories about the civil war was the story of the Fighting 54th From Massachusettes. One of the first African American units raised and subsequently assaulted Ft. Wagner, South Carolina, July 18, 1863, made famous in the movie "Glory".
The first African American soldier to win the Congressional Medal of Honor was Sgt William H. Carney of the fighting 54th:
His citation reads in part: "When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded..
Sgt. William H. Carney, 54th Massachussettes
The 54th suffered over 281 casualties inlcuding 54 KIA and 48 missing in action.
The Fighting 54th went on to fight many other battles.
I remember watching the movie "Glory". It was one of the best movies I've seen in content because it was one of the first movies to attempt a realistic view of raising and training the first African American unit and portraying the views of the different people involved. Frankly, I never thought Matthew Broderick did a convincing portrayal of a firery abolitionist. Maybe I just saw him as "Bueller" too much? What I thought was that the other actors around him, like Denzel Washington, pulled the movie off.
I was commenting on the views of the characters. What I found interesting was the portrayal of even the abolitionist Shaw as having condescending views of their troops until they slowly came to respect them as men.
I remember reading how many abolitionist were actually anti-war as well. Largely because the abolitionist movement started within the Quaker movement which was pacifist by nature.
I grew up in Kansas. I visited John Brown's famous home and the site of the Pottowatamie massacre where John Brown and his sons struck down slavers with their swords. People said that John Brown was a fanatic. We hadn't yet begun the civil war, but I think he knew what was coming and what it would take to make men free. In the Topeka rotunda is a mural of Kansas. Above many depictions of life in Kansas, rises the figure of John Brown, larger than life, his arms outstretched above the scenes, a bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.
Black and white drawing of Topeka mural John Brown
I've often thought of that mural because, when I was a kid, I thought that John Brown looked scary with his grey flowing beard, his mouth open and his eyes seeming to flash fire. He seemed like all of my thoughts of a vengeful God.
John Brown was captured near Harper's Ferry in 1859 when he attempted to raid the federal armory to gain weapons and arm his own army, ostensibly of slaves he would have freed after the raid. The irony was that he was captured by Colonel Robert E. Lee accompanied by Jeb Stewart. John Brown was executed in December 1859 after being convicted of treason. Some said he was an insurgent. Some a fanatic. Other's a hero.
Interesting how time and the end of a war can turn a man from crazy to a near prophet of things to come. At his trial, he gave an address to the court in which he states:
Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case), -- had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends -- either father, mother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class -- and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.
The court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me further to "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done -- as I have always freely admitted I have done -- in behalf of His despied poor, was not wrong, but right. Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments. -- I submit; so let it be done!
John Brown's small army of 22 included five African Americans. Two were killed at Harper's Ferry, one escaped and two were executed. One of the executed, John Anthony Copeland, Jr.,, was heard to say on his way to execution:
"If I am dying for freedom, I could not die for a better cause -- I had rather die than be a slave!"