Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We'll all wait for the apologies--UPDATED 6.16.05

Virginity, scoundrels and earthquakes; and what would honorable men do?
June 15, 2005

images Of course, an apology can be expected at any time—Right. An autopsy on Terry Schiavo has affirmed the diagnosis that she suffered from irreversible brain damage and no treatment would have made a difference. She really was as bad off as the experts said she was and as the wretched politicians and ideologists denied she was. Moreover, the coroner’s report said there was no evidence her husband, Michael, or anyone else, had abused her. During the fevered debate over her treatment, the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States, pried themselves into her hospital room and the wingnuts tried everything including defamation of her husband—alleging he strangled her into her condition. Her parents insisted she was treatable, and the reactionary right produced “experts,” almost none of whom had come anywhere near her, to bolster their claims. All untrue. She died of dehydration after her feeding tube was removed. Now, of course, we can expect apologies from the folks at Fox News and the right wing for being wrong and slanderous. Sure.

The autopsy results, which showed among other things that half her brain was gone and she had no cerebral functioning at all (part of what was missing was the part that handles vision--she was effectively blind) has had a fascinating effect. Cable news channels were full of supporters of the Schiavo family who simply chose to ignore it. Pressed by reporters like Aaron Brown on CNN, their eyes glazed over. One kept referring to her as "disabled"'; Brown kept pointing out that word didn't seem to cover someone with half a brain missing.

Real experts added that the autopsy didn't really add any information; we already knew this from the MRIs.

The politicians were having a swell time defending themselves, usually by lying or refusing to answer. There were some honorable exceptions: Florida's Republican Sen. Mel Martinez had the balls to say he was rethinking his position. The ethically disabled Tom DeLay, who said during the fight over her care: "Ms. Schiavo's condition, I believe, has been misrepresented by the media. Terri Schiavo is not brain dead; she talks and she laughs, and she expresses happiness and discomfort." Now it turns out none of that was true so DeLay's spokespeople declined to comment.

The worst, however, is Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist, spokespeople angrily denied the cardiologist made any diagnosis after seeing a tape of Ms. Schiavo. Here is what he said on March 17, on the Senate floor: "To be able to make a diagnosis of persistent vegetative state--which is not brain dead; it is not a coma; it is a specific diagnosis and typically takes multiple examinations over a period of time because you are looking for responsiveness--I have looked at the video footage. Based on the footage provided to me, which is part of the facts of the case, she does respond." No, she didn't.

A spokesman now acknowledges that the autopsy does add facts to the situation, which wouldn't have been necessary had the man, now pandering to the wingnuts for a presidential nomination, had kept his mouth shut. He, above anyone else in Congress, knows better.

Honorable men would have apologized. As E.J. Dionne Jr., writes in the WashPost, people are entitled to their own opinions. What they are not entitled to are their own facts. Real men hold themselves accountable.

If I were Michael Schiavo, my lawyer would be preparing defamation suits against a large number of people and the news media that gave them a microphone and camera even after they defamed him. I'd be a rich, if sadder man.

images Virginity is a bubble in the froth of life; one prick and it’s gone—It's also a political issue. The conservative Heritage Foundation issued a report that contradicts earlier surveys claiming that young people who take a public oath of chastity had the same amount of sexually transmitted diseases and engaged in as many dangerous sexual activities as those who do not. The foundation used the exact same data but different methodology than the earlier studies. The earlier work, including one published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, said that the teens who took the pledge often didn’t live up to their promises and suffered from the same disease rates as those who did not, which of course upset conservatives. The Heritage study has not been published in a peer journal and won’t in its present form [actually, it is only a news release], a researcher said. But others immediately challenged the foundation’s methodology and said it was lacking the statistical analysis to support its conclusions. What is really important is that studies made by think tanks, and that means all of them, liberal and conservatives, should all be taken with a grain of salt. To quote another anonymous sage: “Losing your faith is a lot like losing your virginity; you don’t realize how irritating it was until it’s gone.”

images Would you excuse me while I run like hell?—A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rumbled through the ocean southwest of Crescent City in northernmost California, triggering a tsunami warning and the evacuation of some of the coastal areas. Sensitized to what happened in Asia in December, the authorities took action they probably would not have taken in November. The quake struck at 7:50 p.m., and 24 minutes later, the town’s tsunami alarms went off, warning the 7,542 residents to get out of town. Most of them did, heading north into Oregon, escorted by local police. By 9 p.m., it was obvious there would be no tsunami and the all-clear was sounded. Folks took it seriously; in 1964, the great quake in Alaska created a tsunami that killed 11 people in Crescent City.

Politically incorrect drug wins a battle, not the war--The FDA has posted a staff review of the drug BiDil, which data show works for blacks with heart failure, but doesn't do much for anyone else. The FDA said it works. The posting comes despite controversy, mostly from scientists upset at the notion that race actually has some biological meaning, which of course, most physicians, will tell you it has. It is the first step in final approval, and if it comes, it will be the first drug approved for a specific race.

No comments: