Kristian Krazies Have a New Target

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/SchiavoLeave a Comment

Late last night (early this morning), Justice James Whittemore denied the Schindlers’ temporary emergency motion to reinsert the feeding tube (his well-reasoned opinion, in PDF format, is here.

From the Miami Herald (subscription required):

Pity James D. Whittemore, next in line for unholy defamation via e-mail, eternal damnation through the Internet and vilification by postcard. Not to mention death threats from those who claim insight into God’s own hit list.

***

The judge [Greer] has two deputies in tow wherever he goes in public, assigned to keep God’s self-appointed messengers from killing him.

Judge Greer will now cede such fringe benefits to Judge Whittemore, who had the case dumped on his head Monday when Congress decided to federalize the issue. Judge Whittemore, when medical reasoning and legal decisions inevitably clash with religious theology, will also get the crazies as a bonus.

The federal judge will preside over a family tragedy that has been usurped by meanness and confrontation and a showing of the power — the considerable power — of the religious right.

***

But the outlandish seems to have become incredibly effective when spread through the Internet. Republicans have rallied and Democrats have ducked. And the Schiavo bill flew through Congress as if the cyber campaign were the stuff of a national consensus.

***

But when the crazies crank up the volume, the voices of a sober majority get lost in the tumult.

I’ll say!

God Detector

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Just in time for the high holy days, too.

Detector_hand How many times have we heard it said, "Oh, Lord, give me a sign!" Alas, too often the reply is vague and ambiguous: the phone rings at an opportune time, a feather falls from out of the blue, a water stain appears that resembles a religious image.  We all want to know if God exists; maybe He just needs a reliable method to let us know He’s here.

The Yo-God GOD DETECTOR gives God a way to send a simple, unambiguous message of His presence.

Available here.

Support Our Troops?

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

The latest fad among our soldiers?

Videotaping the "charred, decapitated and bloody corpses" that they have killed, edit it together against a backdrop of loud headbanging music, and keeping the tapes as entertaining mementos.

Barbarians.

Tom Delay Lies

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, RepublicansLeave a Comment

From Tapped:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said this yesterday about Terri Schiavo:

"She talks and she laughs and she expresses likes and discomforts," he said Sunday evening. "It won’t take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that patients require."

For those keeping score at home, that statement is a straight-up, non-fungible, unambiguous, and utterly unconscionable lie.

Iraq Invasion — Two Years Later

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Since this is the second anniversary of the Iraq War, let’s look at the numbers:

200: Lowest estimated number in billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars that have been spent on the war in Iraq

152,000: Estimated number of troops currently deployed in Iraq

1,511: U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the invasion

11,285: Americans wounded since the invasion was launched two years ago

21,100 – 39,300: Estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion by violence from war and crime

176: Non-U.S. coalition troops killed in Iraq since the invasion

339: Coalition troops killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

70: Daily average number of insurgent attacks on coalition forces in February 2005

14: Daily average number of insurgent attacks on coalition forces in February 2004

18,000: Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq today

5,000: Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq in June 2003

27/14: Countries remaining in the "coalition of the willing" versus number of former coalition members that have withdrawn all their forces or announced their intention to do so

25,000: Non-U.S. coalition troops still in Iraq

4,500: Troops that Italy and the Netherlands have pledged to withdraw before the end of the year

142,472: Iraqi security troops the Pentagon says it has trained and equipped

40,000: Iraqi troops that General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said are adequately trained and equipped to handle most threats

0: Number of active Army combat units deployed to Iraq that have received the required year-long break from active duty required by Pentagon rules

30: Percent by which the U.S. National Guard missed its recruitment targets in November and December 2004

27: Percent by which the U.S. Army missed its recruitment goals in the past month

15: Percent of military personnel, according to GAO, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

2: Estimated output of Iraqi oil industry in millions of barrels per day

2.8: Estimated output of Iraqi oil industry in millions of barrels per day before the U.S. invasion

8: Average number of hours that Iraqis have electricity per day

28-40: Estimated Iraqi unemployment rate

108: Millions of dollars in Halliburton overcharges hidden from international auditors by the Pentagon

9: Billions of dollars the Coalition Provisional Authority cannot account for of all funds dispensed for Iraq reconstruction

James Madison on Schiavo

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, ConstitutionLeave a Comment

"Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils.  They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community."  James Madison, Federalist Number 44, 1788.

This is why the Constitution forbids bills of attainder (laws directed at a single person or group of people, like the recent law directed solely at Terri Schiavo and nobody else), as well as expost facto laws. 

Congress’s Schiavo law is unconstitutional.  Of course, most of the GOP Congressmen know this (or have been informed of this), but remember: this is about politicals — not about morality, and certainly not about law.

The full text of the Act is below (courtesy of Findlaw).

Read More

108

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Unbelieveable.

At least 108 people have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them violently, according to government data provided to The Associated Press. Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel.
The figure, far higher than any previously disclosed, includes cases investigated by the Army, Navy, CIA and Justice Department. Some 65,000 prisoners have been taken during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although most have been freed.

The Pentagon has never provided comprehensive information on how many prisoners taken during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have died, and the 108 figure is based on information supplied by Army, Navy and other government officials. It includes deaths attributed to natural causes.

To human rights groups, the deaths form a clear pattern.

No shit.

Backfire

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, RepublicansLeave a Comment

Gopgang The GOP majority stuck its nose into the Schiavo/Schindler family’s private affair, thinking they could score political points.  And they will reap some benefit from the religious right (who, I suggest, the GOP already have in their hip pocket.

But as the Christian Science Monitor poll at the right shows, most Americans have a problem with Congressional "meddling".

UPDATE:  This ABC poll is even more revealing:

Should Feeding Tube Be Removed?
Support Oppose
Non-evangelical 77% 18
Evangelical 46 44
Catholics 63 26
Liberals 68 24
Moderates 69 22
Conservatives 54 40
Democrats 65 25
Independents 63 28
Republicans 61 34
Conservative Reps. 55 40

But here’s the REAL slam-dunk.  Regardless of their preference on the Schiavo case, about two-thirds of conservatives and evangelicals alike call congressional intervention inappropriate. And majorities in both groups, as in others, are skeptical of the motivations of the political leaders seeking to extend Schiavo’s life.


Should Federal Government Intervene?
Support Oppose
Non-evangelical 26% 71
Evangelical 44 50
Catholics 38 56
Liberals 34 62
Moderates 29 67
Conservatives 48 49
Democrats 34 63
Independents 31 61
Republicans 39 58
Conservative Reps. 41 57

Game, set, match.  GOP loses.

Mike Schiavo Quote Of The Day

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, Congress, RepublicansLeave a Comment

"Instead of worrying about my wife, who was granted her wishes by the state courts the past seven years, they should worry about the pedophiles killing young girls," [Michael] Schiavo said, referring to a local case. "Why doesn’t Congress worry about people not having health insurance? Or the budget? Let’s talk about all the children who don’t have homes."

"To make comments that Terri would want to live, how do they know?" Schiavo said of the members of Congress who want to keep his wife alive.

"Have they ever met her?" Schiavo said. "What color are her eyes? What’s her middle name? What’s her favorite color? They don’t have any clue who Terri is. They should all be ashamed of themselves."

Yup.  You tell ’em.

You know, they were playing excerpts from the Congressional debates on NPR today — and almost politician who spoke in favor of the "Save Terri" bill mispronounced her last name, calling her Terri "Shee-ay-vo" or "Shee-ah-vo". 

But those who opposed the bill usually pronounced her last name correctly ("Shy-vo").  Apparently, they took the time to inform themselves.

Says a lot, don’t it?

The Marketing of Terri Schiavo

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, RepublicansLeave a Comment

This is the "urgent message" sent out by Randell Terry:

Dear Friend,

It is unthinkable… like some dark scenario in a horror movie… but true. An innocent, disabled woman is now being starved to death. Her food and water were suspended on Friday afternoon. […]

Even if Congress does pass a bill and President Bush signs it, it will only put Terri’s case into Federal jurisdiction. Our struggle to save Terri will begin anew.

If you can help us keep up the fight, Just Go Here Now. 

At the minute we are sending this e-mail to you, Terri is starving to death. […]

Give as generous a gift as you can in this historic battle to save Terri’s life.

We have to pay for email campaigns, meeting rooms, for a bus, for food, press releases, and a host of other items needed to create a firestorm of protest and outrage on Terri’s behalf. The buses alone are $1000 each for each day. […]

Friend, every action we can take on Terri’s behalf is worth the effort. A nation is judged by how it treats its weakest and most defenseless members. Each of us needs to love Terri, as we love ourselves. That means we do all we can to save her life. […]

Sincerely,

Randall Terry, President Society for Truth and Justice

William Greene, President RightMarch.com

If you click "go there now," you come to a group called RightMarch, which was formed in March 2003 in order to counter MoveOn.org’s "attacks on President Bush and his conservative policies".  It is a "conservative organization dedicated to giving hundreds of thousands of hardworking, patriotic Americans across the country a strong collective voice in the political process."  The group does this by placing ads;  providing email forms and online petitions that people can send to elected officials;  and by soliciting funds.  They are a 501 organization, so "your contribution is NOT tax-deductible."

What does that have to do with Terri Schiavo?  Nothing.  But they are happy to use her to raise money.

Sexual Abstinence-Only Education Fails

Ken AshfordSex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

In fact, it is counterproductive.

As today’s L.A. Times reports:

Young adults who as teenagers took pledges not to have sex until marriage were just as likely to contract a venereal disease as people who didn’t make the promise, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Why? 

"The study found that 88% of sexually active people who took the pledge had intercourse before marriage. Sexually active pledgers were less likely to use condoms the first time they had sex, Bruckner said."

Sex education programs that teach only about abstinence are "outside the reality of most adolescents and young adults," Bruckner said.

Fuck "just say ‘no’".  Let’s educate these kids properly, and keep the moral agendas out of it.

How Many 5 Year-Olds Could You Take On At Once?

Ken AshfordRandom MusingsLeave a Comment

As discussed here….

How many 5 year-olds could you take on at once?

The specifics:

You are in an enclosed area, roughly the size of a basketball court.

There are no foreign objects.

You are not allowed to touch a wall.

When you are knocked unconscious, you lose. When they are all knocked unconscious, they lose. Once a kid is knocked unconscious, that kid is "out."

I (or someone else intent on seeing to it you fail) get to choose the kids from a pool that is twice the size of your magic number. The pool will be 50/50 in terms of gender and will have no discernable abnormalities in terms of demographics, other than they are all healthy Americans.

The kids receive one day of training from hand-to-hand combat experts who will train them specifically to team up to take down one adult. You will receive one hour of "counter-tactics" training.

There is no protective padding for any combatant other than the standard-issue cup.

The kids are motivated enough to not get scared, regardless of the bloodshed. Even the very last one will give it his/her best to take you down.

So, under those circumstances, how many 5 year olds could you take on?

Me?  I’m going to say, oh, 30 of the little bastards.  I’m not worried about all 30 swarming me, because only a certain finite number will be able to get to me (the others will block their way).  Accordingly, I can systematically knock out the ones in my immediate vicinity.  The thing that will eventually do me in is fatigue, and at some point, they will be able to overpower me.  So I say thirty.

Starving to Death? The Calculated Inflammatory Rhetoric of the Christian Right

Ken AshfordAssisited Suicide/Schiavo, Godstuff, Health CareLeave a Comment

As one might expect, the American Journal of Bioethics is following the Schiavo case closely. 

One recent bioethicist/commentator took to task those who like to insult the hospice industry, under the false assumption that caring nurses and doctors would allow Terri Schiavo to experience pain and discomfort.  She writes:

One of the more disturbing aspects of the political rhetoric is the hyperbole of the politicians and the Schindlers (Terri’s parents) talking about how Michael is intent on “starving” Terri to death, as if she were a person who was totally healthy and fully functional. Is it possible that none of these persons have ever witnessed a hospice death? And hospice organizations have explained time and time again that someone at the end-of-life doesn’t experience thirst and hunger in the same fashion that healthy individuals do. The language the politicians and the Schindlers are using is intended to provoke and inflame.

What also puzzles me is that these devout Christians seem to be ignoring the fact that, according to the Christian doctrine, death is not the ultimate evil, but eternal damnation is; to allow Terri to die would be to allow her to join with God in eternal life. Perhaps the Schindlers and the politicians don’t really believe in an afterlife? But this case is no longer about Terri’s wishes, or her husband attempting to honor her wishes, or a family dispute. It has become a political battle reflecting the torn state of the nation, about “being right and looking good” and who has control.

Linda Glenn (emphasis added).

And then there is this from the New York Times:

To many people, death by removing a feeding tube brings to mind the agony of starvation. But medical experts say that the process of dying that begins when food and fluids cease is relatively straightforward, and can cause little discomfort.

"From the data that is available, it is not a horrific thing at all," said Dr. Linda Emanuel, the founder of the Education for Physicians in End-of-Life Care Project at Northwestern University.

In fact, declining food and water is a common way that terminally ill patients end their lives, because it is less painful than violent suicide and requires no help from doctors.

Terri Schiavo, who is in a persistent vegetative state, is "probably not experiencing anything at all subjectively," said Dr. Emanuel, and so the question of discomfort, from a scientific point of view, is not in dispute.

So before we “assume” that Terri will suffer and starve, let’s make sure that is, in fact, true.  After all, if you claim to care about her, don’t we at least owe it to become well-informed ABOUT her fate?