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Saturday, April 02, 2005
ASKING THE DIFFICULT QUESTION, or
Argumentum a posteriori

I don't have anything against the Pope. Check that: I DIDN'T have anything against the Pope.

I did not believe that he was the AntiChrist, nor did I believe that the sun shone out of his sanctified posterior.

Like many Americans (and many American Catholics) I found his views on birth control, abortion and related matters to be criminally medaeval -- most especially his refusal, like another medaevalist, Bush, to allow distribution of condoms in Africa to help contain AIDS. This has been termed, with unintended and clueless irony, "The Culture of Life."

But in light of the secret complicity of Father Frank Pavone in the Terri Schiavo brouhaha (about which more, in a later column) and the cabal that the Pavone's Priests for Life is in bed with (and don't think for a moment that in Bush's secretly self-serving statement on John Paul II's death, his careful use of the phrase "Culture of Life" was an accident), one has to ask the following question:

Why did John Paul II choose NOT to enter Intensive Care, knowing that said refusal was tantamount to a death sentence? (Vatican rationalizations during the ghoulish death watch that "he has medical equipment and staff at the Vatican" notwithstanding.)

There is nothing "natural" about septic shock. A urinary tract infection managed to make it into the blood stream (and I'm not going to speculate about how that happened) and the entire circulatory system collapsed: the arterial and veinous walls lost tension -- viz. "shock -- thus dooming the heart to futilely attempt the herculean effort of making up for a massive loss of blood pressure by beating faster to take up the slack. Since this is rarely possible, even in a healthy patient, the organs then failed, one by one, lacking oxygenated blood. Beginning with the kidneys, a "dominoe effect" (herein, perhaps better termed a "dominus effect") ensued, and, voila! Pope-no-more.

The Vatican assures us that the Pope was fully aware of his condition and options. We must take them at their word, which I believe to be honest.

But: In ICU he'd have been put on a heart pump, perhaps a heart/lung machine or even dialysis, and there is a 50/50 chance they could have saved his life.

Remember, he made a big deal of the Schiavo case (and Pavone undoubtedly earned big Brownie points for his enfranchised role), so the question nhas got to be: if medical intervention was necessary to save Terri Schiavo's life, why was it explicitly denied in John Paul's case? By choice, one might add.

If life is this great and unrenouncable gift of God, impossible to deny or truncate -- for any reason whatsoever, no matter how compelling -- then why deny it, by consciously and intentionally dooming one's self to death?

Isn't that the equivalent of suicide?

I'm going to gently speculate that 1) John Paul didn't want to face the embarrassing possibility that HE would end up in a state in which the Vatican might have to decide whether to disconnect his life support, and 2) he saw an opportunity to push his 'life' agenda one last time, this most political of popes making one last political maneuver. The gathering of the faithful in a long wait for death would focus the world on his agenda, and that was a reasonable tradeoff for a life that he'd decided was about to end anyway. Still ...

I realize that this is cynical and not at all compassionate, and even smacks of guttersnippery, but I can assure you that, since my eternal soul is most assuredly darned to Heck in the AfterThing, far greater torments await your humble correspondent than anything you can imagine, and, therefore, allow me to posit the simple question:

Why did the Pope have HIS life support cut off?

Requiscat in Pace, Karol Jozef Wojtyla.
.
Friday, April 01, 2005
A MOST UNFUNNY APRIL'S FOOL

In deference to the utter grimness of the day, the usual hijinks and hilarity of this zany blog are deferred for a happier moment.

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "'weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother, say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.

"Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

"And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."

. . . . -- William Blake, 'The Chimney Sweeper'

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Death Watch.
.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
COMPASSION IN ACTION, or
Pack up the Pachyderms

Strike the tents. Get the elephants back on the boxcars. See if the clowns can all fit back in the car. The entity formerly known as Terry Schiavo has passed on.

The early news images only reinforced the impression of carnivale that has suffused this tragedy: tents and pavilions; cameramen like schools of predatory fish, lurching and stampeding in whatever direction the next image might be found; the "Christian" protesters, bused in and bearing suspiciously well-lettered signs. The camera whores: Terry Randall, Jesse Jackson (a late-coming clown, desperate for a national stage); the Catholic mafia of monks and priests, looking ever more sinister as they gloat in their self-rightousness. A lone trumpeter playing bad hymns, as an archetypal white couple sing the old hymns for the television cameras. The inevitable shots of people who never met, nor really actually would have given Ms. Schiavo the time of day in her sentient phase, crying great crocodile tears, again for the cameras.

Perhaps that's not fair: they truly grieve for the faux image of a woman they never knew, the graven idol of cute and helpless that they have created in their own minds. But is it really grieving, when it can only be YOUR fantasy? Or is it, perhaps, a projected form of self pity? The tears are real at any rate.

And, inevitably, like a biblical plague of locusts, they will move on to more fertile fields.


"It is with great sadness that it has been reported to us that Terri Schiavo has passed away," Paul O'Donnell, a Franciscan monk who acts as spokesman for the parents, told reporters.

He said the parents and other close family had been allowed into the room after the woman's death.

"They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there. And they were denied access by Michael Schiavo." [Kansas City Star]
Not noted nor little remembered will be that Michael Shiavo WAS present in the room at the time of his wife's death. Even though the family unleashed a decade of vitriol, painted Michael as a wife-abuser, a murderer and worse, they fully expected that they would be able to stand in the same room with him as he bid his wife farewell. Selfish to the end, the Schindlers now gird their loins to fight over the funeral.

And as the poster children for compassion, the media, ever compliant, side with them, as neutral gossips in a divorce take sides without a stake, without a clue. The viciousness of the Schindler camp -- the endless news conferences, the continual accusations of the ugliest sort, the lies (we won't appeal again), and the self-delusional pronouncements that "Terri is fighting" and "She is responsive" and "She tried to say 'I want to live'" and all the rest all breathlessly reported -- contrast with the quiet of the husband, who was, CNN reports, at the hospice for nearly the entire period since the feeding tube was removed.

He shunned the media, didn't go in front of the cameras to denounce the Schindlers, who, monopolizing the spotlight, grew ever more strident and self-pitying in their orgy of self-glorification.

They screamed when Michael wouldn't allow Easter Communion. Then, when he relented, they screamed when it wasn't THEIR chosen priest who administered it. They screamed when Michael wouldn't allow their newest demand to have communion served EVERY day, and slimy snake Bobby Jr. insisted to the cameras that Michael was denying "Terri" her "religious rights." They begged Jeb Bush to break the law and kidnap Terri (Randall Terry of Operation Rescue dredged up a few attorneys from skid row who were readily willing to opine that Jeb had the power -- as attorneys can always be found to justify anything, no matter how monstrous, as a quick look at our current Attorney General Gonzales' "torture" opinion will show).

Sadly, they didn't know -- nor would the major news outlets report -- that Jeb had already TRIED to send in state cops to kidnap the VFKAT, but the local police told them that unless they brought the judge or a court order with them, they'd resist in a most professional manner. Jeb didn't do it because he thought he couldn't. Jeb didn't do it because he knew he'd failed. But he spins that he "didn't have the authority" when he had only been thwarted in trying to exercise the authority he now claims he didn't have a legal right to exercise.

The Schindlers demanded an autopsy. Michael complied. The Schindlers demanded that THEY control the funeral. Michael demurred. They screamed that they should be allowed in the hospice room to the end. Michael didn't relent.

And this afternoon, Bob Schindler will heap more abuse on Michael Schiavo. Listen to the latest Priest as he emulates Jesus by turning Michael's Shiavo's other cheek:


Father Frank Pavone, a priest who ministers to her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said Schiavo became considerably weaker overnight.

"Bobby Schindler and his sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, were 'sitting there praying, holding her hand, stroking her hair,' Pavone said.

The Catholic priest said he sang Hail Holy Queen and several hymns in Latin.

"We were saying to her, 'Terri, there are a lot of people around the country praying for you,' Pavone said. 'We were all saying the same things, assuring her that we are here, we're not going away.'" [Miami Herald]
But media-savvy Pavone, who spelled his name for the reporters so they'd be sure to get it right, decided that his smarmy description (they didn't quote the portion wherein he claimed that by some voodoo all the people who were praying for her were present, and they 'communicated' this through prayers caressed and strokes.) wasn't enough, and decided to get his "compassionate" licks in:
"Unfortunately, just 10 or so minutes before she died we were told we had to leave the room because there would be an assessment of her condition and because her husband Michael wanted to be in the room," said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. Pavone said Michael Schiavo outright rejected the Schindler family's request to be with Terri Schiavo in her final moments. "His heartless cruelty continued until the end," he said." [Fox News]
Or this:

[AP] "And so his heartless cruelty continues until this very last moment,'' said the Rev. Frank Pavone. He added: "This is not only a death, with all the sadness that brings, but this is a killing, and for that we not only grieve that Terri has passed but we grieve that our nation has allowed such an atrocity as this and we pray that it will never happen again.''
Pavone is a piece of work, all right, no less a clerical opportunist than Jesse Jackson. According to LifeNews.com, in an article on Pavone's criticism of DNC Chair Howard Dean, "Priests for Life ... worked to encourage pro-life people of all parties to vote in the 2004 elections." Or, consider this Report on a press conference held to decry the California Supreme Court's pro-homosexual ruling on marriage: "The press release said other conservative leaders (Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Father Frank Pavone, Jerry Falwell, Pastor/author Rick Warren, and author Phillip Longman) have issued statements that will be shared at the press conference."

Don't tell me he's there for the Schindlers. He's there to flog his political pony.

Both Jackson and Pavone, it should be noted, managed to worm their way to the epicenter, with Jackson interviewed by phone by CNN as the initial announcements were being made, and Pavone making the post-announcement announcement, and holding an impromptu press conference, before he was reminded that the main media event would be LATER, this afternoon, when Bob Schindler would command that media spotlight that Pavone, Terry, Jackson, et al, so desperately crave.

But don't bet on it. The Schindlers have shown themselves, in all of this, to be profoundly selfish and self-serving people. Why should they share the spotlight?

Still, if nothing else chills you, it ought to be the manner in which the Right Wing Hate Machine can take ANYONE and turn them into a demon from hell. There are little blue-haired soap opera ladies out there (fresh from their Scott Peterson fix) who are now POSITIVE that Michael Shiavo is the Devil Incarnate, the most horrific and slickest murderous monster since Ed Gein.

And the Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Washington Times, New York Post crowd did it as casually as you'd swat a fly. It's not Terri Schiavo I feel sorry for. It's not the Schindlers I feel sorry for -- although they have my sincerest pity -- it is Michael Shiavo and his paramour, and their children. The "right" thinking will make the rest of their lives a living hell, I can just about guarantee it. We haven't seen the last tragedy in the Schiavo case.

But, in the "life" debate, I ask you: Is a human being the Coca Cola, or is it the Coca Cola bottle?

I have to wonder. If the Christians admit that you shouldn't confuse the Coca-Cola with the Coke bottle, why are they so utterly obsessed with the bottle? They define "Terri" one moment as an immortal soul, and the next as an empty shell. And in this empty shell game, the Constitution, the Congress, the Presidency have been compromised; and the shameless pandering of so-called 'religious' organizations has been appalling -- many of whom are collecting funds based on the picture of the Coke bottle ... oh, and did I mention that the Schindler parents are SELLING the mailing list of everyone who sent them donations, along with the rights to use the likeness of the Coke bottle even before the corpse is cold? Some noble parents, they!

The old carneys haven't forgotten their tricks. They're still pulling the shell game on the rubes, only in this case, the shell was once named "Terri."

The Right Wing Media machine HAS to continue flogging this, even in the absence of public approbation, because they can't afford to admit they were wrong. The Joe Scarboroughs, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters and Bill O'Reillys continue to hate in the name of love, and Michael Shiavo, who has lost more than any single player in this whole, Shakespearian tragedy, is in virtual hiding, along with the judge -- Greer -- in the case (a conservative Republican who was asked to LEAVE his Southern Baptist church over this) because of the great volume of death threats they have received.

And, knowing this, the CNN asshole then proceeded, in a telephone "exclusive" to identify the "other" woman, her children and brother, and I wonder if he will feel any complicity if they are kidnapped, injured or killed. It was the most astonishing breach of journalistic trust I've seen in a long time.

I feel sorry for the Coca Cola. I really don't understand the circus, the comedy of errors, the plague of locusts all focused on the Coke bottle.

You didn't know about Greer? Of course. The "facts" in this case have been far less important than the soap opera. The flat EEG. The creation of an artificial personality, a golem that Senators and Congressment were referring familiarly and tearfully to as "Terri" -- without any, ANY of the players having actually spent so much as a nanosecond in the presence of the actual Coke bottle. This whole sad, sorry mess has been an exposition of the ugliest and crassest elements of humanity, most ESPECIALLY the clergy, the congress and the Brothers Bush.

It's all been about soap opera. And it has all been a drama NOT in real life, played out in the false mirror of the television, never in reality, but played to an audience that, increasingly CAN'T tell the difference between reality and the false mirror.

And that is a frightening prospect. Ironically, Terri Schiavo died one day before the holiday set aside for her exploiters. So this soap opera is, more or less concluded. Concluded, that is, except for the epilogue that the Fox News website is already hot on the heels of. There will be the inevitable made-for-tv movie. Perhaps even the inevitable major motion picture. Meryl Streep will play Terri Schiavo. Judy Densch will play her mother, Gene Hackman will play the father, and Ben Stiller will play her brother Bobby. And the soap opera can continue. Because it was never really real, anyway.

A soap opera that induced one reader of this blog to write me the following letter last night:



Subject: Your comments on Terri

I actually read your entire dissertation on Terri.

I am so glad your brain is not "mush", as it seems to work quite well though your compassion appears non exisistent, but … I don't walk in your shoes, who knows what you have faced to create your feelings, obviously strong.

I suppose I fall rather into the "right wing". And my anger on the situation is this: I do not believe life is to be valued simply because it produces something of value to someone. Life is precious because even with perfected cloning, you can never duplicate the whole sum of an individual. It is a one time shot. It is not a toy, it is irreplaceable.

And you are so very right about one thing, the more you know about God, the less you really know. He is just so much greater than the capacity of my 'mush'.
Right-wingers should just STAY AWAY from attempts at irony. They always come off as so awkward and ham-handed. Why? Well, perhaps in order to DO irony, you need to have a sense of humor, and I don't tend to find much in the Right. Take a look at Ann Coulter's "humor" some time. It consists almost entirely in one-sided insults. The letter writer, I will note, it NOT guilty of that, and I am certain that she is sincere in her desire to discipline me for incorrect thinking.

I replied:



In other words, since I don't agree with you, I'm not "compassionate"?

I guess I don't understand how on the one hand, you claim certitude about what should be done, about what is compassionate and irreplacable, but turn around in one paragraph and plead that the ways of God are unknowable.

Which is it?
No response has been received. (Nor is one expected. )

Meantime, lacking in compassion, I'm just glad that the circus is leaving town.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Ye that Work Iniquity: WHEN DIMBULBS ATTACK,
Or, "The Marching Morons" wasn't SF, it was PROPHECY!

This is from MediaMatters.org (click for page) and I'm posting it in its entirety, to show you what a reputable neurologist says when attacked by the weepy, creepy imbeciles who have anthropomorphized the VFKAT (vegetable formerly known as terri) into a cuddly hallmark card (as the anti-abortion lobby and the save-the-seals bunch base much -- if not ALL -- of their positions on "fundamental cuteness" as an irrefutable argument).

Note the smarmy way that these sleazy fucks act as if AP never once got a fact wrong in history! (Shit, kids, they get facts wrong all the damned time, including the spelling of names and dates, as I can PERSONALLY attest to!)

MSNBC has been buttfucking this vegetable for ratings for a couple of weeks now, and, frankly, it is every bit as repugnant as necrophilia, which, in fact, it is.

SEE how a reputable physician and scientist is smeared by a couple of talking face nobodies so they can CONTINUE to hump the corpse of a functionally dead woman.

If the language offends you: good, you're not entirely desensitized. But you'd damned well better be EXPONENTIALLY more offended at the circus I'm commenting on. There ARE no polite words to describe this obscenity.

Oh yeah, here's a Bible verse for yas:
"A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.'" (Matthew 7:18-23. Revised Standard Version)

"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:18-23 King James Version)
(NOTE: Although the latter has that 'Wrath of God' quality so sorely needed here, contrary to popular belief, not a SINGLE personage in the Bible spoke Shakespearian nor King James English, FYI)

*******
Neurologist Cranford confronted Scarborough, MSNBC daytime anchor:
"[Y]ou're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?"

On the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough interviewed Dr. Ronald Cranford, one of the two neurologists selected by Michael Schiavo to examine Terri Schiavo pursuant to an October 2001 appellate court mandate. As part of that duty, Cranford "reviewed her medical records and personally conducted a neurological examination of Mrs. Schiavo," according to the June 2003 Florida appeals court review of that hearing.

Following is the transcript of the interview:

SCARBOROUGH: Now, the question on everybody's mind tonight is this: How is Terri Schiavo doing? You know, it's been 10 days. She is starting her 11th day now without food and water. Let's go back to Pinellas Park [Florida], where Lisa Daniels [MSNBC daytime anchor] is standing by -- Lisa.

DANIELS: Well, Joe, at this point, we are going to delve into the medical aspect of the story. I want to bring in Dr. Ronald Cranford. He's a neurologist at Hennepin Medical Center in Minneapolis. And, Doctor, before we continue, I want our viewers to understand what your role was in the legal case. I understand that Michael Schiavo and his team asked you to examine his wife. Is that correct?

CRANFORD: Yes. Yes, they did.

DANIELS: And from my understanding, I just want to be accurate, you examined Terri Schiavo for about 45 minutes. Is that right?

CRANFORD: I think 42 minutes, but 45 is fine, sure.

DANIELS: All right. Well, we want to be accurate here. What was your conclusion at the end of --

[crosstalk]

CRANFORD: Wait a minute. You are not accurate on a lot of things here. You're saying a lot of -- she's not starving to death. Do you understand that? She is dehydrating to death.

DANIELS: Well, why do you say that? Tell us how you came to that conclusion?

[crosstalk]

CRANFORD: Can I tell you why? Because I have done this 25 to 50 times. I don't know how many times Joe has done it, but I've done it 25 to 50 times in similar situations. And they die within 10 to 14 days.

Nancy Cruzan did not die in six days [as guest Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition suggested earlier in the program]. She died in 11 days, 11.5 hours. And Terri Schiavo will die within 10 to 14 days. And they are dying of dehydration, not starvation. And that's just a lie. And Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

DANIELS: Well --

CRANFORD: I have been at the bedside of these patients. I know what they die from. I've seen them die. And this is all bogus. It's all just a bunch of crap that you are saying. It's totally wrong.

DANIELS: Well, with all due respect, Doctor, it sounds like you think that you know what you are talking about, so let's ask you about that.

CRANFORD: Sure.

DANIELS: Are you 100 percent correct in your opinion that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Do you agree with that?

CRANFORD: I am 105 percent sure she is in a vegetative state. And the autopsy will show severe irreversible brain damage to the higher centers, yes.

DANIELS: Why are you so sure, Doctor?

CRANFORD: Because I examined her. The court-appointed guardian examined her. Four neurologists at the hospital where she was has said she's carried a diagnosis of vegetative state for 12 years. Every neurologist that examined her, except for Dr. [William] Hammesfahr [a neurologist selected by Terri Schiavo's parents], who is a charlatan, has said she is in vegetative state. That's what the court found. Just because you don't like --

[crosstalk]

DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer to that? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait a second.

[crosstalk]

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, if I can interrupt here.

CRANFORD: Go ahead. Joe, interrupt me.

SCARBOROUGH: Why don't you go ahead and tell the rest of the story there? Why don't you tell us that the radiologist that looked at the two CAT scans said she showed improvement in 2002 over 1996? You know, you seem so sure of yourself. The Associated Press reported yesterday --

CRANFORD: Joe, the judge didn't believe him.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. You're so sure of yourself -- respond to this. AP had a report yesterday. They said seven doctors have looked at her. Four said she was in persistent vegetative state. You were one of them, hired by Michael Schiavo to do that. There were three others that looked at her that disagreed. How can you be so absolutely sure that everybody that agrees with you is 100 percent accurate and everybody on the other side is a charlatan?

CRANFORD: Joe, Judge -- Judge [George W.] Greer disallowed, didn't believe what [Dr. William] Maxfield [a doctor selected by Terri Schiavo's parents] said. You got your numbers wrong. There were eight neurologists saw her. Seven of the eight said she was in a vegetative state. Only one said she wasn't.

SCARBOROUGH: I am quoting an Associated Press report from yesterday.

CRANFORD: Joe, you've got to get your facts straight.

SCARBOROUGH: I have got my facts straight.

CRANFORD: Get your facts straight. You've got your facts way off.

SCARBOROUGH: Why don't we talk about -- hold on a second.

CRANFORD: Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH: You talked about a 1996 scan.

CRANFORD: No, 2002, 2002.

SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about it. A radiologist told the court that the 2002 scan actually showed improvement over the 1996 scan. Is that inaccurate? Did the AP report that wrong?

CRANFORD: Absolutely. Maxfield said it was improved. And Judge Greer didn't buy it because the others said it wasn't improved. It was probably worse than it was before.

SCARBOROUGH: Is he a charlatan also?

CRANFORD: Yes. Maxfield is an HBO [hyperbaric oxygen], vasodilator -- look it up, Joe. See what vasodilator does. See what hyperbaric oxygen, see in these cases, and you tell me they are not charlatans. Just because you don't agree with me -- I don't call everybody a charlatan. I'm not calling [Dr. Richard] Cheshire [who has argued that Terri Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state] a charlatan. I think he's a reputable neurologist. I think he examined her, he interviewed her. So, just because I disagree, I don't call them charlatans. But you have got your facts so far off that it's unbelievable, Joe. You don't have any idea what you are talking about. You've never been at the bedside of these patients. And this will come out in the next three to five years about this condition and starvation.

SCARBOROUGH: You were there 42 minutes, Doctor.

CRANFORD: Yes, I was.

SCARBOROUGH: You are only one doctor that's been there. And somehow, in your 42 minutes of observing her, you have all the answers and everybody that disagrees is dead wrong, I guess.

CRANFORD: No, that's just a -- you know what? You've gotta see what Judge Greer said. You've gotta see what the appeals court said. If you read that, Joe, you will understand why the judge decided the way he did.

SCARBOROUGH: All right.

CRANFORD: He didn't believe Hammesfahr. He didn't believe Maxfield. And it's not starvation. And Nancy Cruzan did not die in six days. She died in 11 days and 11.5 hours, 11 days and 11.5 hours.

SCARBOROUGH: All right.

CRANFORD: OK?

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Doctor.

CRANFORD: My pleasure.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what? This is the disappointing thing. You try to have a conversation. You try to talk about what is going on. And I found this as an attorney, too. I have been attorneys for plaintiffs. I have been attorneys for defendants. And what I always find out is, there are certain doctors -- I am not claiming that this doctor is a charlatan. I don't know his body of work. I am not claiming that he is a hired gun.

But too many doctors out there can be bought off by attorneys on either side. And then they come out, instead of telling you the facts, you get into debate like you are talking to an attorney. It is very, very disappointing.

I want to apologize to Lisa for interrupting her, but the thing is, Lisa was getting attacked because of what I said. I think that is unfair.

Posted to the web on Tuesday March 29, 2005 at 4:58 PM EST

*******
There you go: You now have the information that you need to assess whether this is a bunch of monkeys throwing feces at a man of science, or a secular humanist in League with the Devil satanically murdering the VFKAT.

You be the judge. (After all, every other fucking idiot is doing it.)

Lawdie.
(and no, you're not a "fucking idiot." I was referring to Scarborough, Hannity, Rush, et al.)
.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, or
Will you Stop with Goddam Public Service Commercials already?


IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
. -- Ambrose Bierce


I have never trusted self-righteousness.

I said that a couple of days ago, and it bears illumination.

What does self-righteousness say? It says, "I know what the truth is, and I know it better than you."

The first part has always bugged me. I always understood perfectly well what Socrates meant when he said, "All I know it that I know nothing." I have met some of the most brilliant people on the planet, in the arts, in science, in literature, believe it or not, and I have always found that the more profound the genius, the greater the natural humility, the innate knowledge, having assayed the elephant, that they would never comprehend its sheer size.

I have always found that the more that I knew about any given subject, the less sure I was about what I actually knew about it. On the other hand, it's always seemed to me that the more ignorant a person is regarding a subject, the more certain that they are about it.

Case in Point, necrophile (and Great Asshole of Our Time) Sean Hannity has been riding Terri Shiavo doggie-style for a week, now, broadcasting from Florida, across the street from the hospice wherein the Schindler Family has been having their regular Rorschach epiphanies about how "communicative" she is, and how she's "fighting for life."

Hey, jack: I saw the fucking CAT scan, OK? She doesn't HAVE a fucking cerebral cortex, so if she's "disabled" and "fighting" then I'm the Easter Bunny -- what color would you like your eggs?

(I've perhaps noted that the woman's EEGs have been flat for fifteen years, but then we're dealing with them what thinks that Jehovah-God created the Earth in Six Daze, and that Dinosaurs are actually "Jesus Pigs.")

That's a fact, jack. (Here's a damned PICTURE, if you don't believe me. Those dark areas that contain all the higher brain functions? They are liquid, kiddies. Her brains have literally turned to mush.)

We were noting that the truly accomplished tend to be humbled by their comprehension of how vast knowledge is and how relatively little of it they actually possess. Think of Albert Einstein, for instance.

Or do you believe that you're up to playing in his league?

On the other hand, the world is filled with petty, vain imbeciles who think that they know it all, and will gleefully tell YOU all about it, if they happen to corner you because you didn't plan ahead regarding a quick exit.

Hannity have I listened to, because the poor "progressive radio" in my town has been utterly screwed up now by a pompous monkey, who decided to hire a bunch of twits and do local "progressive" radio and shift all the shows around, and shitcan or move around my favorite talk show hosts. (But that's a screed for another day).

So I listened last Friday, and learned, in twenty minutes that Michael Shaivo is a wife abuser, was injecting his wife with insulin to try and kill her after her vegatative state, broke her bones, wants to cover it up, and even (gasp) by implication MAY WELL HAVE actually caused her collapse and heart stoppage (I kid you not) by some kind of blunt trauma to the brain. They didn't ACTUALLY come out and say that last, but it was clearly implied.

The Right Wing Echo Machine has kicked into high gear, and, as they said of the Spartans, they have a wolf by the ears. If they let go, the wolf will turn around and rip their guts out. You could even see it today, as yet another Right Wing Preacher grandstanded on the steps of the Supreme Court (for reasons that remain obscure, since it was Congress they were screeching at). The preacher shrieked that IF CONGRESS did not ENFORCE THE SUBPOENAS (calling the Vegetable known as Terri to "testify" before Congress) THEN the Republicans in Congress were PLAYING POLITICS WITH HER LIFE!!!!

(Uh ... DUH!)

So, today Hannity is saying: "There's been a RUSH TO JUDGMENT in this case."

Fifteen years? 19 trials? Expert medical testimony, science and all the rest? Rush to judgment? She has only 20% of her brain mass remaining. The rest is liquid (spinal fluid)

Hannity sez: "There are conflicting accounts."

(Uh ... DUH!)

Er, isn't that what the COURTS are there to decide? And haven't we accepted that basic principle for, oh, since the dawn of Civilization in the Mediterranean? Once a case was tried before a Court, whether it be jury, judge or king, that was THAT.

But, hell, since we're cornholing the Constitution on this one, we might as well grease up Hannity's arguments and let him slip them between Lady Liberty's firm buttocks.

Freedom? You GO girl!

(No, I mean it: you GO, as in GO AWAY! We're spreading "freedom" and "democracy" remember?)

Astonishing.

I actually saw the founder of Judicial Watch ("Because no one is above the Law") make the mistake of appearing on MSNBC ("All Terri, ALL the Time! -- except when we're doing the Michael Jackson trial, of course). Larry sat there and said that Jeb Bush had the power, nay, the RIGHT and DUTY to whisk in there and kidnap the Vegetable Formerly Known As Terri (hereinafter, VFKAT). Why? Because he didn't agree with all those judges. Not the Florida courts. Not the appeals courts. Not the Supreme Courts, Florida OR U.S.

You got that?

If you disagree with the courts, as founder of "Judicial Watch" you expect the "King" to step in and "do the right thing." This is a government of men, not of laws. And Larry's stance utterly belies the Judicial Watch motto. Don't ever THINK of giving them any money -- they are clearly dangerous crackpots.

"Nobody's above the law." But, if he disagrees, then toss 'em ALL out. Hannity is much the same as he bumps and bangs between Liberty's firm cheeks. "There are conflicting stories," quoth he, trying the Case of VFKAT in the Court of Hannity. (They don't call him "Heil Hannity" for nothing, babies.)

The sad fucking fact is that the true scientists here, the real doctors here can't be 100% certain, because science wisely denys 100% certitude.

This plays entirely into the hands of the Jesus-As-Yoda Crowd. (You know, their Jesus is a puppet, manipulated to produce the dialogue that THEY want him to speak, to validate THEIR certitude.) They are ALWAYS certain. They have THE book. They KNOW IT ALL!

And we call that self-righteousness. It is a comforting rationalization: me right (with Jesus or God or Allah to back me up) and YOU wrong (dumb science and reason that never knows absolute truth). Hah! And it is so universally seductive that self-righteousness is damned near universal as well.

In fact, I probably sound self-righteous right now, but what the hell, nobody's reading this, so I am free to say whatever the heck I please. But I am increasingly astonished at my woeful lack of knowledge, although I have not yet achieved Socrates' state. I still think I know a few things.

But self-righteousness is more an emotional crutch for the intellectually timid; for those without the conviction of their own observation and knowledge, and the air is thick with the stench of it.

And because self-righteousness is what's killing us right now, and I'd like to take a moment to say "fuck you" to a whole lot of unacknowledged assholes, without whom the Great Assholes of our Age wouldn't be the Mighty Impressive Southernmost Sphincters that they've become.

Let's start with the Woodstock Generation.

They came of age without having experienced the Depression or World War II. They never felt real want, nor did they ever feel, for a moment, that they might LOSE all in a worldwide conflagration. Sure, they were scared of nuclear annihilation, but that was always an abstract fear. You can't truly fear that which you have never experienced or heard of.

When the counter-culture went up against the "Establishment" there was talk of revolution everywhere, talk of changing the world, etc. etc. And I think that the ideas were probably good ones, but they became infected with a sickening self-righteousness. What we're going through now is Spiro's "Silent Majority" getting even with all them snotty hippie punks.

Because the Woodstock Generation took over the culture, and would brook no opposition. Racism was wrong, therefore we would legislate it out of existence. Sexism was wrong, therefore it would become illegal. Marriage was a trap, so one in three children would be born out of wedlock. And so on and so forth, and scooby doobie doo wah. Different strokes for different folks, as long as the strokes were correct, and everyone was diverse in the same manner.

And the non-believers seethed.

We outlawed cigarettes. We returned to our war on drugs, on sex, on alcohol. We were a bunch of moral prigs, but ours was an "enlightened" priggishness, that corrected anyone who used the pronoun "him" the suffix "man" or did not keep up with the Politically Correct term of ethnicity of the moment.

I remember sitting at a table with a dull man in Kansas City. His mznager was an asshole. His manager was also black. So he started in with "that nigger" this and "that nigger" that.

Had I been PC without thought, I'd have simply told him that what he was saying was unacceptable, etc. But I understood what he couldn't articulate: that his manager got away with being an asshole BECAUSE he was black. He played the race card any time that he was questioned, and this enraged the dull man in Kansas City that I was talking to.

I said: "The problem isn't that he's black. The problem is that he's an asshole, isn't it?"

And the dull man got a look of glowing comprehension on his face. He'd been articulating his anger, his rage at the injustice that self-righteousness was visiting on him in the only way he knew how.

Well, a lot of injustice was done to decent people by unthinking, PC self-righteousness. And they were looking for articulation of that honest and correct rage. When Rush Limbaugh began articulating their anger in his hate-filled terms, they didn't pay attention to the wrong-headedness of his words, but to the fact that finally someone was articulating their rage.

And so, they became self-righteous in THEIR own way.

What truly bothers me is that the "liberal" side of the equation is truly clueless as to WHAT it is that the "right-wing" side of the equation is enraged at. Just as the "right wing" side is utterly at sea as to what the "liberals" are angry about.

But neither side tolerates, nor is reason and science part of their lexicon: because it is only about self-righteousness, and neither science, reason, nor tolerance admits certitude, and certitude is the coin of the realm in this blighted age, in this self-damned country.

I don't know if you've noticed, but while we've been too busy being angry at anyone who doesn't think the way that we do (and the most infuriating part of it is, left and right, the PATRONIZING manner in which both sides "forgive" their opponents for being as brain-dead as the VFKAT is right now.) The left patronizingly is infuriatingly blissful and tree-hugging, and the right is infuriatingly Jesus loves you, and "I'll pray for you."

"I'll pray for you" is the single most smug, arrogant, hubristic form of self-righteousness in the whole, vile septic tank of discourse that the USA has become.

Speaking of which, here, gauge THIS statement for sheer hubris, from Bush's Saturday (before Easter) Radio Address: "In this season of renewal, we remember that hope leads us closer to truth, and that in the end, even death, itself, will be defeated."

(First, he was going to defeat all terrorism. Now, he's going after Death. Does ANYbody out there actually take this insane bullshit SERIOUSLY?)

But I've always walked the middle path: first with the Greek golden mean, and later the middle path of Buddhism. So, let me say to the self-righteousness of both Left and Right:

FUCK YOU!

There. I feel much better.
.
hart williams
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