Monday, March 28, 2005

"Dad, I Want To Be A Physicist." "What Do They Grow, Son?" "... They Don't Grow Anything." "Then What Good Are They?"

A lot of you already know about the anti-science movement, in particular how it's pitted teachers in Pennsylvania against the superstitious parents of their students. But there's a quote in this particular story I find both delightful and terrifying.
... [P]astor and parent Ray Mummert, 54, explained their point.


"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

Dude's admitting he's part of the unintelligent, uneducated segment of the culture. And, being unintelligent and uneducated, he apparently doesn't realize he's doing so. Or else he's revelling in it.

That's what we're up against, gang. The proudly stupid.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Nice, Doctor - While I'm Down Here Trying To Save This Man's Life, You're Up There Making Fart Jokes

Ohhh, I could go off on a rant about this for fucking hours:
Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.
The basic rules of doctoring say "First, do no harm". They don't say, "First, determine if the patient lives up to what you say is your moral code".

They -- the Republican scumbags pushing this -- are trying to deny treatment to gays. This much is blatant. But it goes way the hell beyond that. Moral, ethical, or religious grounds means that if you think someone is a slut because she's a single mom, or a criminal because they've been to prison and paid their debt to society but people don't really change do they, or a Catholic or a Muslim or a Baptist when you're a Protestant or a Jew or an agnostic... it would be legal for them to deny you medical treatment.

This is fucking evil.

Here's the site to contact Michigan state legislators. Give 'em the business.

Friday, March 25, 2005

At This Point, I Would Just Like To Say That What This Committee Is Doing In Theory Is Highly Commendable -- However, In Practice, It Sucks

Just in case you ever thought Ralph Nader was on your side... well, this oughta scotch that:
Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, author of the award winning book "Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America" call upon the Florida Courts, Governor Jeb Bush and concerned citizens to take any legal action available to let Terri Schiavo live.

"A profound injustice is being inflicted on Terri Schiavo," Nader and Smith asserted today. "Worse, this slow death by dehydration is being imposed upon her under the color of law, in proceedings in which every benefit of the doubt-and there are many doubts in this case-has been given to her death, rather than her continued life."

Among the many injustices in this case, Nader and Smith point to the following:

The courts not only are refusing her tube feeding, but have ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. "This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, it has ordered her to be made dead," Nader and Smith assert.

The medical and rehabilitation experts are split on whether Terri is in a persistent vegetative state or whether Terri can be improved with therapy. There is only one way to know for sure- permit the therapy. That is the only way to resolve all doubts.

The court is imposing process over justice. After the first trial in this case, much evidence has been produced that should allow for a new trial-which was the point of the hasty federal legislation. If this were a death penalty case, this evidence would demand reconsideration. Yet, an innocent disabled woman is receiving less justice.

The federal and state governments are spending billions on what we are told will become miracle medical cures for people with all sorts of degenerative conditions, including brain damage. If this is so, why not permit Terri's parents and siblings who want to care for her do so in the hope that such cures are discovered?

Benefits of doubts should be given to life, not hastened death. This case is rife with doubt. Justice demands that Terri be permitted to live.

From the fuckin' top:

This is a private matter. It is not the business of anyone except Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers.

Numerous doctors have examined Terri Schiavo. She cannot and will not "get better". She is brain-dead. There is no "better" to get. She cannot grow back her cerebral cortex.

Because of the dispute between her husband and her parents, this case has been taken to numerous state courts, all of whom have ruled that Terri Schiavo should be removed from life support and allowed to die. There are no doubts in the case, except those false doubts spurred on by those with political agendas.

She is not in agony. Nor is she swallowing her own saliva -- she can't swallow. And, frankly, that's one hell of a place to set the bar for "life".

This isn't a last-minute desperation ploy. This woman's case has been in the courts for fifteen years. Rather than receiving "less justice" than a death-penalty case, Ms. Schiavo's barely-functioning physical form is dragged in front of judges over and over again.

They've tried therapy. They've tried everything medical science has. They cannot do anything because the woman's brain has been destroyed.

And Ralph Nader, who has virtually negated his own deserved reputation as a crusading consumer advocate, is now reduced to a novelty act. He comes out every four years to tell us all how we all suck, and our two parties are exactly the same. He has no actual plans, mind you, and no way (and certainly no persuasion skills) to get anything done if he's elected, but, dammit, you should elect him because he's right. Oh, and after getting spanked publicly for being an asshole, he doesn't come out for or against anything for months -- not the Social Security debacle, not the ongoing war in Iraq, not the faltering economy, not increases in mercury levels, not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, nothing. But he does say that Jeb Bush should violate the separation of powers and override numerous state (and now federal) court orders.

Oh, and, Ralph? Fifteen years is not "hastened death". That is drawn-out to the point of hideousness. May you and your family never have to see someone linger fifteen days.

Let Terri go. And, Ralph, just go.

Many thanks to commenter Ba'al at Atrios for the original link.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

You Want To Talk To God? Let's Go See Him Together. I've Got Nothing Better To Do

Was it really just a few months ago that the entire right wing, smug with their victory in the presidential election, was telling 49% of the country that its morals were screwed up, and it had better toe the line along with the good and noble people in this country who worshipped the correct God 'n' stuff?

Well, this morning, we've got three indicators that perhaps that tactic was a touch premature.

First, there are the national polls regarding the Terri Schiavo case, commissioned by ABC, CBS, USA Today/CNN/Gallup, you name it. A majority of Americans agree with Ms. Schiavo's husband Michael, and would, in the same situation as Ms. Schiavo, want their feeding tube pulled. The majority of Democrats is larger than the majority of Republicans... but they're both majorities.

Second, the Federal judge empowered by the odious Terri Schiavo Law ("For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo") refused to order her feeding tube to be put back in, saying the matter had been handled adequately in the state courts. (As it turns out, the law is likely unconstitutional on several grounds, not the least of which are it's a bill of attainder [thanks to commenter jslove for reminding me] and that it was passed with three Senators in the chamber, hardly a quorum.) It's going to go back to appeal, of course, but it never should've got this far to begin with.

Third, on a somewhat unrelated matter, one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Moral Right, and someone I've savaged on this blog several times, David Brooks, is in full covering-his-party's-ass mode:

Only a genius like [Jack] Abramoff could make money lobbying against an Indian tribe's casino and then turn around and make money defending that tribe against himself. Only a giant like Abramoff would have the guts to use one tribe's casino money to finance a Focus on the Family crusade against gambling in order to shut down a rival tribe's casino.

Only an artist like Abramoff could suggest to a tribe that it pay him by taking out life insurance policies on its eldest members. Then when the elders dropped off they could funnel the insurance money through a private school and into his pockets.


Yet it's important to remember this: A genius like Abramoff doesn't spring fully formed on his own. Just as Michelangelo emerged in the ferment of Renaissance Italy, so did Abramoff emerge from his own circle of creativity and encouragement.

Back in 1995, when Republicans took over Congress, a new cadre of daring and original thinkers arose. These bold innovators had a key insight: that you no longer had to choose between being an activist and a lobbyist. You could be both. You could harness the power of K Street to promote the goals of Goldwater, Reagan and Gingrich. And best of all, you could get rich while doing it!


Soon the creative revolutionaries were blending the high-toned forms of the think tank with the low-toned scams of the buckraker....

Ralph Reed, meanwhile, smashed the tired old categories that used to separate social conservatives from corporate consultants. Reed signed on with Channel One, Verizon, Enron and Microsoft to shore up the moral foundations of our great nation. Reed so strongly opposes gambling as a matter of principle that he bravely accepted $4 million through Abramoff from casino-rich Indian tribes to gin up a grass-roots campaign.

As time went by, the spectacular devolution of morals accelerated. Many of the young innovators were behaving like people who, having read Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative," embraced the conservative part while discarding the conscience part.


It took a village. The sleazo-cons thought they could take over K Street to advance their agenda. As it transpired, K Street took over them.

A few of the facts are wrong; a few of the dates are wrong. He didn't mention that Abramoff is closely tied to Tom DeLay's current troubles. But most of it is right. And for Brooks, who usually cloaks his shameless partisanship with a smarmy paternalism, to come right out and blast several major Republican spokesmen and fundraisers is astonishing.

All of which leads to what might be a problem for the Republican Party as it is now: Most people seem to think that piously intoning your upright moral standing isn't as important as actually doing good works and taking care of people. Claiming the high road is not as important as walking it. And, possibly, those in power might have overstepped their bounds, and in a way that shows their vile, power-hungry true selves.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Anybody Ever Tell You You Look Dead?

Ah, the joy of our new, "moral" America. Especially regarding the Terry Schiavo case.

First things first: If you don't have a Living Will, now would be the time to get one. Here's a good generic form from the Michigan Bar Association.

Second: How dare our esteemed lawmakers do this.

How dare Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill "HIV is transmitted through sweat" Frist, and the rest of Congress pull this shit. How dare George W. Bush sign this mockery of a "law".

On how many grounds is it completely wrong? Let's start the count, shall we?
A woman who should have died fifteen years ago has become a political football for the sanctimonious. The final fatuity is from Terry Schiavo's own mother, who actually said "Please don't use my daughter's suffering for your own personal agenda" in reference to her own efforts to get the United States Congress to pass legislation keeping in the feeding tube.

Lady, I truly am sorry, and I feel terrible for you and your family. But if your daughter is suffering, do you really believe she would like to be kept suffering?

Monday, March 14, 2005

"What Is It?" "I Don't Know -- Whatever It Is, It's Warm"

Today begins the first annual National Sunshine Week. A very simple idea: openness and accountability in government, something which has been sorely lacking in the Bush administration and which has been filtering down to state and local governments as well.

The governments are supposed to be our employees. Let's start making them responsible to us.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I Have Come Here To Chew Bubble Gum And Kick Ass... And I'm All Out Of Bubble Gum

Steve Gilliard gets it exactly right.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

And Why Are You Receiving Phone Calls From J. Edgar Hoover?

I am so bloody pissed right now, it makes my head hurt. And it might not even be justified... but I think it is.

Got a phone call. Caller ID said "Minnesota call". Not having any idea who might be calling me from Minnesota but fearing a solicitation of some type, I picked up the phone.

It's the Michigan Democratic Party.

Who contracts their phone work to Minnesota.

Quite frankly, I hung up on the Minnesota call, and then called the Michigan Dems. Nice young woman answers. I asked to speak to someone regarding telephone fund raising. She said that would be Jodi, who wasn't there right now. Explained why I would not leave a voice message, because I didn't want to melt their equipment. She said that, until yesterday when someone else called about the same thing, no one had ever complained about the Michigan Dems farming the fundraising out of state.

I asked why it was farmed out of state.

She said, from her understanding, the Minnesota company was the only telemarketer that was union.

I told her that wasn't good enough. I can be a little more direct here; that isn't fucking good enough.

The party leadership still understands nothing. No. Thing.

We need jobs here. We need grassroots movements here. Why should I volunteer to help the Michigan Democratic Party when they can't be bothered to employ people in Michigan?

And don't give me that "union" crap. Start a telemarketing program here and unionize it if you need to. Or say fuck the unions and just do what you're supposed to do anyway. The carefully-managed appearance of propriety is almost as offensive as acting like a robber baron, y'know? Do what's right first, and then you won't have to worry about it or explain it later.

Obviously, I have nothing against Minnesota or Minnesotans. I have nothing against the telemarketing firm they hired that I don't have against all telemarketing firms.

But we have lost so many jobs in Michigan that I'm not even bothering to look for one that'll pay the bills anymore -- I'm trying, with some success, to make it on my music -- and now I find out that my ostensible political leaders are sending jobs to Minnesota!?

You jokers prove you can do one thing for Michigan. Then maybe I'll listen to you.

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