Friday, March 25, 2005

The rattlesnakes are starting to commit suicide

Maybe my predictions about the marriage between right wing interest groups and the Republican leadership was premature.

Atrios says Jeb!'s in a jam.

Jeb!, DeLay, Frist, and W might yet find out that the bill for all those "values" votes in the Fall is coming due.

Atrios commenter says "pass the popcorn". I'll have mine with butter, please.

The Republican Money Machine and Race

I came across this post from last year by the Gadflyer. It's a good read.

Basically, the few black conservative interest groups are, shall we say, pretty multicultural. And funded by a rather unusual group of racial healers.

Here's the money quote:

If you believe that the most pressing problems facing the African-American community today are the minimum wage, too many regulations on energy companies and too many people trying to get kids to quit smoking, then maybe you should join the black conservative movement yourself. You don't have to be black, or even know anyone who is.

Who's Using Who?

This post over at Seeing the Forest is reflective of some commentary in the leftist blogosphere questioning whether the Republicans really intended to "save" Terri Schiavo's life and whether the ambivalence suggests that Republicans have again cynically used Christian groups for their own purposes without yielding them anything of substance. And consequently, whether the Christian Right groups are finally going to recognize they're being used and rebel in some fashion. A slightly different form of this argument was posed by Thomas Frank in this past summer's sleeper book hit, What's The Matter With Kansas?

In WTMWK? Frank makes the provocative point that not only are conservative Republicans betraying the material interests of many of their lower class conservative supporters, their so-called culture war has also been a complete bust. So are conservative voters and interest groups being betrayed by their Republican sponsors?

My simple answer to this question is that both groups--the Republican leadership and the various cultural warrior interest groups--are using each other. The genuine interest of both groups in actually changing anything, whether it be the abortion laws or TV programs or whatever, is I think highly suspect. The over-reaching in the Schiavo case--one woman in a permanent vegatative state for 15 years who courts have found had expressed the desire, and thus has the legal right, to die peacefully, is a case in point. The imbalance in committment and coverage by the various anti-abortion groups to the Schiavo case seems to indicate to me that their true interest is in causing strife, not in generating universal change (witness the relative lack of attention by these groups to the Texas medical futility cases).

Further, as I suggested in a post earlier this week, the flagship anti-abortion group (National Right To Life Committee) has corporate interests that transcend or align themselves with their purported social aims. And in many cases, these groups have both a narrow political agenda, and a broader interest in electing Republicans to office. The NRTLC piece on the increase in abortions since Bush took office is reflective of this value.

Will there be some conservatives exasperated with the Republicans over these failures and manipulations? Sure. But the essential intellectual and financial infrastructure won't change much, regardless of what Republicans do or don't do, or whether or not they're perceived as merely using the conservative base. The conservative base is using them, too.

America Under Seige: Day 5

It has been 5 days since I kindly emailed the kind folks at the National Right To Life Committee (NRTLC) asking them to explain their support for Texas legislation that allows hospitals to pull the plug on patients even over family's objections. One patient, a six month old child, recently died when his life support was ended, although the mother pleaded with the hospital to maintain her child's life support. The legislation approving the child's death was made law under then Governor, now President George W. Bush.

The NRTLC has neither responded to my email, nor made evident on their organization's website, the basis for their conflicting positions and imbalance in their devotion and coverage of the respective cases.

America is under seige. You can help. E-mail or call the NRTLC headquarters and ask them to respond to my email message (see my post containing the full message) or to update their web page to reflect their organization's position and justification.

Or if you want, you can just send me money. Rest assured it will be used to further the cause of Texas patients, their families, and liberal bloggers--like me--the world over.

Don't wait. Time is of the essence. Together, we can confront the mammoth corporate beast that is the NRTLC and thwart their maniacal ambitions and twisted political agenda.

Sweet Thomas Jefferson, I Can't Stand Robert Ehrlich

First, he whines about the newspaper coverage.

Then he whines that Democrats don't respect him.

Then he's caught harboring an aide who likes to be known as the Prince of Darkness and is a well known hitman in the world of slime politics, because he got caught floating rumors about one of Governor Ehrlich's potential 2006 rivals, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Now, and perhaps to deflect attention from said aide, he's whining that some state worker is trying to blackmail him.

What an obnoxious lout. Will vote for a potted plant if it runs against Ehrlich in 2006.

Marriage Under Attack

Here is my internets crush, DC Media Girl, highlighting the first in what is certain to be a disturbingly long list of marriages that right-wing pundits declare as unfit.

The silver lining to grotesque spectacles like the Schiavo story, or impeachment, or the Elian case, is that they throw a spotlight on some of the more extreme elements of the GOP, who are happy to gravitate towards the banks of microphones and spout off. So what have we learned? That not only do the wingnuts advocate mob rule and reject sound medical opinion, they’re also in favor of deciding whose marriage is worth preserving. Bill Bennett confessed as much on HANNITY AND COLMES:

Colmes asked Bennett about DeLays comment dismissing the importance of Michael Schiavo’s wishes which seems to contradict the conservative ideal of preserving marriage. "I don’t care what her husband says! " Delay said on the Senate floor.

Bennett quickly jumped to Delay’s defense proclaiming his respect for him adding,"We don’t care about preserving marriages like that. That’s not a good marriage."

Drinking Liberally

As promised, I went to last night's Drinking Liberally, DC chapter, in the hopes of intruding upon the George Soros syndicate that Tom DeLay was ranting about. As it turned out, the Soros syndicate was not meeting there, but nonetheless, I did get to enjoy some good conversation with the great Alt Hippo, and to see--but not meet--Big Media Matt Yglesias (I sadly had to leave early for another engagement). Also got to hear and ask questions of Steve Clemons from the Washington Note. Clemons is a sort of foreign policy specialist for the lack of another definition and he had some very enlightening things to say, not only about UN ambassador nominee Bolton, but also about the apparent friction or rivalry between Cheney and Rice. Very interesting stuff and kudos to the Drinking Liberally organizers for making these events happen and lining up such great speakers. In past weeks, the charming Rox Populi was on hand and in two weeks, Amy Sullivan from the Washington Monthly is scheduled to be there. So be there or be square. Get ye to the DL link and sign up for the list-serve.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Legal Issues as to Schiavo

The initial court summary that found in favor of Michael Schiavo's request to end life support for Terri is here.

A longer discussion of the issues by someone knowledgeable on the Florida courts is here.

Thanks again to Lindsay Beyerstein for the link.

I Unravel the Schiavo Mystery

If you're like me, you may be at least a little confused by the babble of rhetoric related to the Schiavo case, and additionally baffled by the legalities of the case, which seem to get a surprising low level of attention in most of the media and web accounts that substitute instead, emotive pleas and accusations. Well, fear not. I, Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, with the help of other masters of the internets, am here to clarify the case for you.

As readers of this humble blog know, I've been perplexed about the inordinate attention given to the Schiavo case in contrast to the sparsity of attention given to what seem to me to be similar cases in Texas where the plug was pulled without anybody from The Family Research Council or Focus on the Family batting an eye. An even though the National Right to Life Committee has not seen fit to respond to my email (give 'em a break--they've been busy) I think I have sorted out the distinctions between the cases, again, based on helpful analysis from other sources, such as Lean Left, Mark Kleiman, and Lindsay Beyerstein.

So without further ado, here goes.

The primary issue at stake in the Schiavo case is the right to die. Terri Schiavo's medical condition is secondary, at least as far as her parent's supporters and "religious" conservatives in Congress are concerned. This is important because the cases in Texas are about medical futility. And we've seen that the so-called right to life groups don't object to pulling the plug based on medical futility. They helped write the Texas law that explicitly allows hospitals to do so, even when families object. Consequently, despite what many of them are saying, the supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents are not primarily and perhaps not even remotely concerned about "starving" Terri by removing the feeding tube or the physical or emotional duress the withdrawing of such medical support might produce. The Texas law the right supported allows this and makes little difference whether the patient is in a permanent vegitative state or is merely terminal or whatever. Removing life support--and feeding tubes are that--may produce extreme discomfort in the patient regardless of whether they live in Texas or Florida. The essential matter is the right to die, which the "prolife" crowd objects to. And here I think we can see an incongruence between the agendas of Terri's parents and those of their "supporters". The former just want their daughter to remain alive in whatever state, while the latter objects to Terri's right to die, as determined by the Florida courts.

Which brings us to point two. What have been the legal determinations of the Florida courts (and the federal courts which had previously declined to intervene in the case) so far? The courts' findings have been two-fold. One, that Terri's right to die, as communicated to her husband Michael Schiavo and other friends was that in cases of medical futility, she did not want to remain on life support. Two, neurological examinations have indicated that Terri Schiavo is in a PVS, and cat scans have revealed flat, or no brain activity.

So the appropriate legal challenges for Terri Schiavo's parents are to 1) challenge the finding of Terri's desire to die if her condition was one of medical futility, and since she did not have a written will, and since allegations have been made as to Michael Schiavo's motives, Terri's parents remain suspicious on this point, and failing that, to 2) challenge the court's finding of medical futility on which Terri's alleged desire to be taken of life support is conditioned.

The problem for Terri's parents is that the courts, state and federal, have issued legal findings that declare that 1) Terri Schiavo did express a desire to be taken off life support in the event of such an occurence, and that 2) Terri Schiavo is in a PVS and her case is thus medically futile.

Now, if we go by what many of Terri's parents' friends and advisors say, there are substantial questions about both of these points: that being taken off life support really was Terri's wish, and that her case is medically futile.

But again what the courts have consistently found is that Terri both wanted to be removed from life support in case of medical futility and that in fact, her condition is a medically futile one.

This is why the case is where it is today. Now, the courts could be wrong. Liberals of all people should be willing to admit that, and sympathize with those who question the courts' rulings in some cases. But the problem is, for the "prolife" crowd, that the weight of evidence supports the courts' conclusions.

As Lindsay Beyerstein has pointed out, the basis for a legal challenge in the case stems from the State of Florida's violation of Terri's equal rights or due process. Neither has been demonstrated to have occured. Consequently, the federal courts have refused to overturn the decisions of the lower courts.

In sum, it is necessary to recognize what the so-called "right to life" groups want here. They don't object to pulling the plug or "starving" patients if the case is medically futile. They do object to a person's right to die. And in their battle against removing Terri's feeding tube, they are in essence objecting to the court's finding of her right to die. To undermine the courts' decisions, the "right" is trying to whip up emotion against Michael Schiavo and the courts as to the finding of Terri's right to die, and against the medical neurologists whose finding of medical futility is driving the right to die finding.

Post-Script: And as I've mentioned previously, the bizarre thing about all this is that the cases in which an institutional hiearchy (i.e. a hospital) is determining that someone's life support should be cut off even over the family's objections (i.e. The Texas cases) get a free pass from the so-called "prolife" forces, but a case in which there is evidence and in which a trial has been conducted, where witnesses are called and examined, and where a decision has been rendered, that the patient herself didn't want to stay on life support, it is this case that the so-called "prolife" groups are adamantly opposing. They don't care when institutions order the removal of feeding tubes but they do object when an individual has been found to have wanted their own life support removed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

National Right To Life Committee Another Corporate Interests Front Group

Desiring of seeing whether the NRTLC cares about life outside of abortion I perused their website.

Basically their two main concerns are abortion and euthanasia, although there was an entry for Medicare, which I opened eagerly, hoping to see something about prescription drugs perhaps, or something about making sure that seniors are ensured proper access to providers or are not overcharged when the provider fees are considerably greater than the Medicare allowance. Nah.

All the NRTLC cares about with Medicare is making sure there are no "price controls" and no "rationing" in Medicare. In case you don't know, "price controls" and "rationing" are industry propaganda buzz-words used to fear monger the public into protecting the industry's profits.

An additional item of interest on the NRTLC webpage is a rebuttal to a study that showed abortions declining in the 1990's but increasing since W took office. The NRTLC didn't like the implication of this. And the NRTLC authors have a point. The decline in abortions was greatest from 1990-1995 and the original Stassen article was incorrect about two of the states he had claimed saw increases since 2000, meaning that of the 16 states he gathered information for, eight saw increases and eight either remained the same or declined in abortion incidence. So the relation between politics and abortion is more muddled than the original Stassen piece would make it seem. Fair enough. But the rebuttal piece is pretty snarky, considering that the linkage between the political balance of power and abortion incidence is murky at best. Why get all huffy about this? If I was affiliated with the NRTLC or a similar organization I might be concerned about any demonstrated lack of connection between the election of supposedly anti-abortion politicians and the incidence of abortion. Or I would be if my interest was in seeing the number of abortions reduced. However, if all I was interested in was overturning the abortion rights law or propping up the Republican Party, then I might be eager to rebut any claim that the number of abortions wasn't effected by the election of anti-abortion candidates.

So despite it's label, the NRTLC isn't concerned about life as much as it is in supporting the Republican Party and conservative reactionary politics. As such it joins a long list of such dubious entries as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in presenting itself as a lamb but whose politics is that of a dragon.*

*a reference to Revelation 13.

Next Meeting Tomorrow Night, 6:00 sharp

Tom DeLay unplugged:

And so it’s bigger than any one of us, and we have to do everything that is in our power to save Terri Schiavo and anybody else that may be in this kind of position.

And let me just finish with this: This is exactly the issue that’s going on in America. That attacks against the conservative movement, against me, and against many others.

The point is, it’s, the other side has figured out how to win and defeat the conservative movement. And that is to go after people, personally charge them with frivolous charges, and link that up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then, and then get the national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only and that’s to destroy the conservative movement. It’s to destroy conservative leaders and it’s, uh, not just in elected office but leading. I mean Ed Feulner, today at the Heritage Foundation, was under attack in the National Journal. I mean they, they, this is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in, and, and you need to look at this and what’s going on and participate in fighting back.

Don’t, you know, the one way they stopped churches from getting into politics was Lyndon Johnson, who passed a law that said you couldn’t get in politics or you’re going to lose your tax exempt status because they were all opposed to him when he was running for president. That law we’re trying to repeal; it’s very difficult to do that. But the point is, is when they can knock out a leader then no other leader will step forward for awhile because they don’t want to go through the same thing. When, if they go after and get a pastor then other pastors shrink from what they should be doing. It forces Christians back into the church and that’s what’s going on in America: “The world is too bad. I’m going to go get inside this building and I’m not going to play in the world.” Uh, that’s not what Christ asked us to do. And, and so this, they understand that it is a political maneuver, and, and they are, uh, going to try to destroy the conservative movement and we have to fight back.

So, please, this afternoon, each and every one of you, if you know a senator give him a call. Tell him, they’ll say, “Our bill can pass in the House.” Tell him, “That’s fine. Your bill’s okay but the House bill is better and, uh, I want the House bill.” Particularly if you know Democrats, uh, don’t let them get off the hook, um, by hiding behind one House and the other is adjourned. We can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass. So I appreciate what you’re doing. God bless you and thank you for the Family Research Council.

I don't know about you, by I'm pretty damned pissed I haven't been invited to any of these syndicate meetings. Maybe they're going on at the local Drinking Liberally. I'll go tomorrow and see.

Among The Unborn and The Undead

Lawyers, Guns and Money has more on the links between Terry Schiavo's "supporters" and the religion-abortion nexus being used by the religious-right to increase support for their cause. It's interesting to see that some conservatives aren't buying it.

But also of interest is this post from Balkinization that LGM links to, regarding what will happen when Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Against my will and better judgement I tuned into Larry King Live! last night and saw The Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren on. Now, I have a copy of The Purpose Driven Life and have read from it. I think it's a good book and I generally like Warren and I believe in the message of his book and his broader ministry. He's a good man usually willing to go against traditional orthodoxy to reach people, and for that, he has my gratitude.

But of course, and unfortunately, Warren was asked to weigh in on the Schiavo controversy. And of course, and unfortunately, he merely parroted the lines being recited by her parents and supporters: Terry's alive, she can talk, respond, feel, etc and that attempts to disconnect her feeding tube were actions worthy of the worst of Nazism, etc.

This is why I've come to the painful conclusion that ministers of the Gospel should refrain from entering into political debates, particularly when they don't understand all the issues involved (and this goes for liberal preachers and liberal causes, too).

Now, the obvious counter to this is, well, what about cases in which the government is behaving as the Nazis did, rounding up people for extermination, launching unwise wars, etc?

My answer would be that when the government begins to indiscriminately arrest and confine people and launch wars, then there is a basis for the church to respond. But in the case of Terry Schiavo, and the abortion-culture wars, there is no orchestrated or mandated government activity occuring. In the case of Terry Schiavo and the millions of women that seek to terminate a pregnancy and in the cases of individuals of terminal health who want to the right to die peacefully, it is not the government that is collectively or forceably taking action. It is merely allowing individual action to take place.

It is peculiar that it is precisely this set of arrangements that the so-called religious-right and the dubiously entitled right-to-life groups are so vehemantly against.

On the other hand, instances of where it is the government or an institution that is taking life, such as is the case with the death penalty and in the case of the Texas law allowing hospitals to disconnect feeding tubes and other life support mechanisms, are left unaddressed by the forces of the conservative right.

However, it is this second level of cases that I think presents the most alarming cases of governmental or institutional abuse versus the individual. But about these, conservative groups have no complaint at all. What about wrong-ful executions? Where is the National Right to Life Committee on this? We know they have occured and can occur without adequate protections. But these many religious conservatives seemed unconcerned about.

So the risk for church involvement seems to me to rest along two main points. One, most issues are complex enough that they cannot be easily summarized or remedied from the pulpit. Unless the government or an institution is acting against the interests of an individual, the church should allow the government and its representatives to do their job. Just as pastors are trained for their profession, lawyers, policy analysts, and educators are trained for theirs. Before you weigh in on an issue, make sure you have a good grasp of the conflicting sides of the story before passing judgement.

The second point is that far too often, church involvement because of its ignorance, is set up to be duped by alliances that don't have the church's true interests at heart. Such is the case, I would argue, with many of the anti-abortion groups that rely on religious support but in actuality, attend to only a narrow range of issues and don't embrace the concern for the whole life that the church and its Teacher and Lord, Jesus Christ, advocates.

Before pontificating on the fate of Terry Schiavo I would hope that in the future Warren, and other evangelical leaders will be willing to ask similar questions of bankruptcy "reform", tort "reform", Medicare and Medicaid "reform" and other initiatives that stand to have a much wider inpact on life than the removal of a feeding tube from one individual.

But preferably, I'd like to see church leaders take the position towards public issues as that taken by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step groups: "AA has no opinion on outside issues and seeks no controversy." To do otherwise is to impinge upon the church's primary task--preaching the gospel and changing individual hearts and minds, which alone will produce a more fair, just and peaceful society.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More Fun with Contradictions

Yet another braniac has weighed in on the "distinction" between the Texas law signed by then Governor now President Bush allowing hospitals to pull the plug on terminal or incapacitated patients against family wishes and the bill passed by Congress and signed by the President essentially kicking the decision on Terri Schiavo's feeding tube upstairs to the federal courts.

His name is Tom Mayo and he's an associate prof of law at SMU who it so happens, helped write the 1999 Texas legislation. Here's the money quote:

"It's not really a conflict, because the (Texas) law addresses different types of disputes, meaning the dispute between decision-maker and physician," he said. "The Schiavo case is a disagreement among family members."

So there you have it friends. When the dispute is between the physicians (and the hospital) and the patient's guardian or family, then the physicians-hospitals win, the plug gets pulled, and the patient dies. No get out of jail free card, no special visits from Randall Terry and the National Right to Life Committee, and no special pleading from Peggy Noonan, Cal Thomas, or Tom Delay.

The case in Florida, on the other hand, is much, much different. It's a dispute between family members. When the dispute is between family members, than the "sanctity of life" is paramount, and the family member that wants continued medical care ended is a murderer.

Got it?

Schiavo-Texas Medical Futility Cases Roundup

Lean Left has a thorough discussion of the issues here. The thrust of Lean Left's take is that there is more to the basis of these medical futility cases than can be adequately determined through emotion and the medical awareness of families and supporters for any particular case.

Mark Kleiman accedes these points but goes on to mention that:

Thanks to a reader, I've finally managed to make sense out a distinction that might be made by those who are outraged about Schiavo but silent about the Texas cases. They can't breathe without assistance; she is able to breathe on her own, but can't swallow and therefore needs to be fed through a tube.

Some of the major religious traditions regard assisted breathing, but not tube-feeding, as an "extraordinary" measure, so that taking away her feeding tube counts as killing while taking away Sun Hudson's breathing tube didn't.

That distinction seems utterly arbitrary to me. In particular, it doesn't distinguish between a "terminal" and a "non-terminal" case in any meaningful sense; in each instance, it might be possible to maintain the heartbeat and brainstem indefinitely.

Still, it might seem valid to someone else, who could then have at least a subjective good-faith reason to want to keep Schiavo alive while not minding the removal of life support from Hudson and Nikolouzos. (I'd still argue that awareness is morally relevant to the question of ending care, while the specific function that needs assistance and the life expectancy of the patient are irrelevant, but your mileage may vary.)

Nonetheless, if the distinction among the cases is so fine-grained, it's hard to credit the sincerity of people who throw around terms such as "murder" and "Dachau" when talking about Schiavo but make no objection to the Texas law, especially since the Texas law specifically lists "artificial nutrition and hydration" as among the services that can be discontinued.

Moreover, the law allows for (even if in the Hudson and and Nikolouzos cases it did not actually involve) the termination of life-sustaining treatment for patients with "irreversible" conditions (i.e., conditions from which they will not recover and which leave them unable to care for themselves) even if their higher brain functions are completely normal. Indeed, the law contemplates that a fully competent patient may be served by his health-care provider with a 10-day notice to find another provider or have his plug pulled; it even provides that the patient has the right to attend the committee meeting at which his fate is to be decided. (Sec. 166.046) And the law provides no substantive guidance other than the provider's decision that the requested life-sustaining care would be "inappropriate."

So, if I read the Texas law correctly, it would allow for Terri Schiavo's feedling tube to be disconnected if her health care provider so decided, and if her family couldn't find another provider willing to take the case, even if her higher brain functions were entirely normal (rather than, as appears to be the case, entirely absent), even if she were awake and asking to be allowed to live.

So, I repeat, where's the outrage? If you think Terri Schiavo is being murdered, you think that George W. Bush signed a bill allowing murder in 1999, and that bill is still on the books. Perhaps Mr. Bush flew to the wrong capital on Sunday; some people in Austin seem to need instruction about the "presumption in favor of life."

Last night's cable TV "news" coverage included a Keith Olberman interview with the political reporter from the Dallas Morning News who inexplicably argued that Bush's position was "consistent" when he both agree to the 1999 Texas legislation allowing hospitals to pull the plug over patient's families' objections but at the same time rushing back to DC to sign into law the Terri Schiavo bill in order to err on the side of "life". Unfortunately, Olberman, reliable as he usually is, let the Dallas reporter off the hook by not challenging his conclusion.

Surprisingly, of all people, Larry King referred to the Texas statutes on his show and in interviewing Michael Schiavo, indicated that one of the reasons hospitals could use to deny continued treatment was the "ability to pay".

Although I lean towards Kleiman's view here, you should read the analysis from Lean Left as well.

Post Script: And, oh yeah, Bush's press guy, Mark McClellan, yesterday, LIED about what the Texas law did. But you probably knew that already.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I Admit My Error

I have two words for you today, but since I can't put those in blog print, I'll go with two other words: ability to pay. OK. Technically those are three words, but you get my point.

In an earlier post today I referred to a law in Texas, signed by then governor George W. Bush allowing hospitals to pull the life support plug on indigent patients. I suggested that this was an example of rank hypocrisy of the highest order when compared to Republican and Christian-conservative advocacy of maintaining Terri Schiavo's feeding tube on the basis of the respect for the "sanctity of life" although her husband and legal guardian, backed by years of trying to help her get well, and with the backing of medical evidence, wants it removed. The Left Coaster goes even further to suggest that the law in Texas may have racial implications. So as Mark Kleiman wonders, where's the outrage over this Texas law? What gives? Why do Republicans support the Texas law, that has already resulted in at least one death, but get all up in arms about Terri Schiavo? Isn't this law in Texas the most cruel, inhumane piece of garbage legislation to ever walk the face of this earth?

But now I have to offer my sincerest apologies. It now turns out that the Texas law isn't really all that.

According to K.J. Lopez, who writes for the National Review's "Corner", a right-wing blog, here is how the Texas law really works:

During the debate tonight, Democrats in the House have said that the president is inconsistent on Terri Schiavo because when he was governor of Texas he signed a bill that was recently used in a terrible case in Texas to deny lifesaving treatment to a baby against the child’s family’s wishes. But according to a source familiar with what went down in Texas, the then-governor signed into law something better than what Texas hospitals were already doing. There were not enough votes in the Texas legislature to require life-saving treatment to patients, which is what the governor would have preferred….

Wow. The Texas law really is OK, because although it commits murder, it really is a much better piece of law than what was there before. I'm really glad she said that. I'm glad she made the parameters of the Texas law plain for all of us to see, so that we can distinguish between it, and the Florida-Schiavo case. Because if she hadn't, I would have continued to believe that the Republican Party and its Christian Coalition-Randall Terry supporters laying seige to the Florida hospice and threatening Michael Schiavo were trying to pull the wool over our eyes in having us be concerned about the case of one woman in Florida that is enabling Focus on the Family and the National Right to Life Committee to fill their organizations' treasuries and giving Republican members of Congress something to scream about all the while ignoring the plight of other, equally at risk families elsewhere in the nation.

I Write to the National Right to Life Committee

I'm aware of how diligently you've been following theTerri Schiavo case in Florida, but why did your organization support the law in Texas that allows hospitals to "pull the plug" on patients on life support even when their family disagrees? Is not the same sanctity of life at stake with Terri Schiavo the same as that of patients in Texas, including Sun Hudson, the six month old baby that died when his life support ended despite his families wishes?

Here is the link to an article that indicates your organization's support for the Texas legislation.

And here is the link to the story of Sun Hudson.


More Republican Hypocrisy

Although Republicans have led the charge to maintain Terri Shiavo's life-support-giving feeding tube in the face of the conflict between Terri's husband and parents, if you click here, and here, you will read how Republicans in Bush's Texas have conspired to ensure that in other cases that have not received the same media attention, feeding tubes and other measures of life support can be removed by hospital beaucracies even over the objections of parents and family members.

An opposition party in Congress might recognize the incongruence between these circumstances in Texas and the Shiavo case in Florida and suggest that in the interest of valuing the sanctity of life, a law having universal application be passed that protected not just Shiavo, but the families of Nikolouzos, Sun Hudson, and any others facing life-support conflicts, whether with faceless bureaucracies or with other family members.

And of course, we wouldn't want the issue of monetary payment or insurance coverage to determine whether the mechanism of life support was removed, now would we? Digby says:

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

These cases, and these issues are inter-related. If the sanctity of life is of utmost value--and I certainly argue that it is--then we must agree to do all in our power to protect it from whatever forces threaten it. An opposition party would not let the ruling majority wring it's hands and grandstand over the fate of one individual from one state while passing social-Darwinian legislation that negated the value and sanctity of life in every other case.

UPDATE: Perhaps anticipating that the inhumane, always-support-the-rights-of-corporations- over-the-rights-of-individuals law in Texas might make for bad press in the Shiavo case, there has been a change of heart in the Nikolouzos case in Texas.

Liberals shouldn't be decrying the attention paid to Shiavo. If we're lucky, it will present a great opportunity to push for laws that favor the interests and lives of vulnerable individuals rather than the corporate moneyed interests conservatives typically favor.

UPDATE II: It turns out that the National Right to Life (and here is an oxymoron if there ever was one) supported the Texas legislation allowing hospitals to pull the plug on terminal patients who couldn't pay up. I'll leave you alone for a few moments to consider the implications of this further hypocrisy and cruelty.

UPDATE III: Here is a cartoon you might enjoy, which captures the hypocrisy involved. Thanks to Pandagon for the link.