Thursday, March 24, 2005

DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD. But how well? NPR had something boring on this morning, so I flipped over to Don Imus, who was defending himself against this Wall Street Journal report on the Imus Ranch, in New Mexico.

According to the article, by Robert Frank, the ranch - a charity for children with cancer - spends an extraordinary amount of money given how few kids actually stay there. Imus's personal use of the ranch and tax-accounting practices have come under scrutiny as well.

Imus defended himself by saying he's been out in the open with this, and that he'd be happy to sit down and answer questions from New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer without a lawyer and without preconditions.

I don't know what to make of this. As the Journal story makes clear, Imus has done a lot of good. But the story bears watching.

DISABILITY AND LIFE. John B. Kelly has some thoughts on the Terri Schiavo case from a disability-rights perspective. It's smart and worth reading, though he seems to be stuck where I was a few days ago, not realizing that people who claim to have interacted with Schiavo are almost certainly lying to advance their own agendas.

The courts have ruled that she made her wishes known years ago, and those wishes are finally being carried out. The US Supreme Court has now refused to intervene. Next: Judge George Greer has to fend off Florida governor Jeb Bush.

NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. Why Michael Jackson's trial can't hold a bloody glove to O.J. Simpson's.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Imus sells a lot of books for his guests. Reportedly, he puts the arm on those guests for "contributions" to the ranch. Dunno whether the WSJ mentioned that.

James Mattoon Scott said...

Imus sort of sets himself up as lightning rod... WSJ genuine press organ of GOP, so expect something - not from Spitzer.

Terri Schiavo case truly reflects poorly on US elected officials. Playing as continued decline of US around the world.

Rice got earful from Chinese who want more income from the US debt they hold - and they'll get it!

John Farrell said...

The courts have ruled that she made her wishes known years ago, and those wishes are finally being carried out.

True, Dan.

And yet...

You were right before.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

If you have provided any reasons or support for your claims that everyone who says Terry Schiavo is cabable of some level of response and purposeful interaction is blatantly lying, I missed it?

As I said in more detail in my reply to your post of March 22nd, the fact that people disagree on the definition of a vegetative state and differ in their observations and interpretation of Terri's actions cannot in itself prove that anyone is lying. You've made some very strong accusations without backing them up.

I am having a hard time seeing how you made this huge leap in opinion from believing that Terri's family and friends are telling the truth (at least as they see it) to believing that all these people (and there are many of them) are blatantly lying for their own purposes.

Both sides have biases, agendas, and sources that can be discredited for one reason or another. Can you explain why you are suddenly assuming that the side which supports Terri's parents and caregivers is purposely and blatantly lying, and the other side is not?

Anonymous said...

One of the many questions the WSJ didn't pose with regard to Imus: How does a guy that by any objective standard is a failure given the ratings he delivers,have such a vibrant career?
According to the numbers nobody listens to the guy,yet he bills big $$ for WFAN and has the MSNBC s'cast. He has everybody conned.
But, I can't believe he is so arrogant that he doesn't consider the likelyhood of tax audits given the high profile of his "ranch."

Anonymous said...

Re Imus: I used to watch him on MSNBC. If his primary goal was/is to help sick kids, I guarantee he's smart enough to figure out a way that doesn't cost $3000/kid/night and limit the kids he can help to 100 per year. All that money! I used to watch him raise the money, I'd see the visuals of the place and wonder when or if anybody was EVER going to challenge him. He's right, he's been out front with it. But nobody has said Boo.
Even the DA is tiptoeing around him, reassuring everyone that it's not a real investigation, etc..

Leslie

Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant to add: I'd like to see how the property ownership is configured. What happens to all the acreage and the buildings should the trust or nonprofit whatever it is cease operations. I'm wondering if he owns it and it's leased in some way to the charity.

Leslie

Anonymous said...

Imus is an evil genius,famous for being famous. Recovering addict and alcoholic who is THAT judgemental? Can't believe it took WSJ so long to break this. This guy is pond scum.

Anonymous said...

If his ego was any bigger, he could NEVER pry off that hat.Now Imus wants WSJ to "make this right" and has enlisted David Boies, Hamilton Jordan, Rudy Giuliani and any other sympathetic/powerful figure he can PR-surf on. Methinks he doth protest too much. WSJ is as good as any paper in America in keeping editorial slant, (admittedly right), off the news pages. This is in no way political. Ad hominems about Dow Jones profitability, hauling out the kids as props today, it took me a moment to notice the deja vu. Andy Griffith as "Lonesome Rhodes" in the 1957 Elia Kazan flick, "A Face in the Crowd". Egomaniac destroys himself in a media Gotterdamerung. Imus doesn't know it yet, but he has finally succeeded, (albeit inadvertently), at being entertaining.

island_earth said...

purple_kangaroo_Angela, you're missing the point. While there are some very disreputable people attaching themselves like remoras to this case (Nobel prize nominees, anyone?), it comes down to a legal, right-to-die issue. The courts have established, time and time again, that her wishes are known, and her husband has the right under Florida law to carry out those wishes. Feeding tubes have long been established in the law to be a life-support mechanism, and can therefore be pulled if life-support is not wanted by the patient or her legal representative (i.e., her husband).

While there has been a lot of shameful grandstanding and probably outright lying on many peoples' parts (Bill Frist has been such a lying sleaze in particular), none of it matters as far as letting this case end. Her wishes are known, her husband is legally entitled to carry them out... end of story. Short of suggesting (as Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan have, among others) armed insurrection, that's how it goes for the rest of Terri Schiavo's life.

Anonymous said...

Underscoring Island Earth, we must remember that the fanatics opposing Terri Schiavo's wishes to die with dignity don't believe Terri or anyone else should have that right.

Since they can't dispute she told the three people on three separate occasions that she would want to die with dignity, they are attempting to manufacture a phony "controversy" about her present condition, which is PVT beyond all doubt.

Making false claims that Schiavo is lucid and proffering bogus Nobel Laureates goes far beyond any "biases." It's utterly shameful that the GOP Congress and George Bush were party to this attempted hoax.

Oh yeah, and Religious Right groups are now using Terri Schiavo for their own fundraising.

Nelson, Roslindale

Anonymous said...

NPR had something boring "this morning"? That's the understatement of the decade.

Anonymous said...

A good place to read the facts in the case is The University of Miami Ethics Programs Schiavo Page. Links to the various guardian reports are in the timeline.

Some interesting points found there. Before their estrangement from Michael, the Schindlers encouraged him to date, and he brought women he was seeing to meet him. Terri's parents stated that they would fight having their daughter's feeding tube removed, even if they knew that that was what she would want done.

Having read the court papers REALLY makes you scream at the TV when watching the news reports.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

My point exactly . . . this is not an issue of the removal of life support. If it were, than attempting to give her food and water by mouth wouldn't be a problem, but Michael Shiavo and Judge Greer have made sure there's a court order forbidding that.

Giving a terminal patient who can't take food and water ice chips to moisten their mouth is a basic comfort measure given in respite care for terminally ill people who can't take food and water. The fact that people are being threatened with or given jail for attempting to carry out such basic comfort measures for a dying person belies the claim that this is an issue of removing artificial life support. The only possible reason for denying such care is either the fear that it would slightly prolong her life or an unwillingness to give her a standard comfort measure--I hope the former.

It's an issue of either killing someone who is not deemed worthy to live or of assisted suicide, depending on how you look at it. Let's start calling it what it is.

As for statements that Terri may have made many years ago regarding what she would wish if she were profoundly disabled, she did also make some statements to the opposite effect--but these were disregarded because she was probably about 12 at the time.

The problem with statements like that (with the possible exception of a living will which someone felt strongly enough to put into writing and have notarized) is that NONE of us really know what we would want or do in a given situation.

Most people who think they would never want to live in a profoundly disabled state, once they are in that state find that it is after all bearable and they do wish to continue living--even if they adamantly claimed before, in their fear of the unknown and what the handicapped community calls "the horror of disability", that they would never want to live in such a situation.

If all the people who claimed that they would "never, never get married--no matter what. Blech! I'd rather die," were held to those statements and not allowed to marry on the basis of them, that would be ridiculous. In most situations we don't hold people to statements they made guessing what they would want or do in a certain situation they have never experienced and can't imagine--we shake our heads, smile, and say, "Oh, wait until you fall in love. Wait until you've experienced the situation. You'll probably change your mind."

In Terri's case, there is no certain way to tell (unless she really is communicating presently about it) whether she would wish to live in her present situation or not. We can't know what she's thinking, feeling, or experiencing.

So it comes down to whether Michael and Judge Greer have the right to kill her or not. Incidentally, if they are going to kill her why not allow her basic comfort measures or just give her a lethal injection? That would seem much more humane and honest.

island_earth said...

So it comes down to whether Michael and Judge Greer have the right to kill her or not. Incidentally, if they are going to kill her why not allow her basic comfort measures or just give her a lethal injection? That would seem much more humane and honest.

First of all, they're not killing anyone... they're allowing her to die as she indicated she wanted to a number of witnesses (as found in court cases that examined it). You can demean that finding by saying it's based on statements she "made many years ago," but the last freakin' time she spoke was many years ago. She hasn't had a chance to change her mind since then (mainly because her mind isn't there to change).

Second of all, there's no need to give her "basic comfort measures" because she's not feeling a damn thing. She's not conscious, can't you understand that?

Third of all, the same people who are fighting to try to keep Terri Schiavo on life support for the next century have also fought to keep it illegal to help dying patients go more easily, either through assisted suicide (in the case where the patient is conscious) or as an act of mercy.

As for the people who have been arrested for trying to give her water, SHE CAN'T SWALLOW. I suppose you think those people should have been allowed to give it to her, so she could choke to death, thus ending her misery?

Anonymous said...

The Boston media story of the year breaks today - $7 million in painful cuts at the Boston Herald - and not a peep from Dan. And this is called "Media Log???" Can't wait for the next Schiavo update...not!

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Island_Earth, I don't think you understand the definition of a persistent vegetative state. Her brain stem (which responds to pain at a deep level) is intact and people in a persistent vegetative state can indeed feel pain. Check out some of the articles on PVS I linked to in my earlier post under Dan's March 22nd entry. People in a PVS can feel deep pain and some can even swallow food. Pain tests on Terri have showed that she does indeed respond to pain. The debate is not whether she responds to pain or not, but whether this response is reflexive or intelligent.

As for being able to swallow, she very likely can. Her parents and nurses say she can. The guardian appointed by the court, if you have read those documents, recommended that she be given new swallowing tests and that there would be benefit to reassessing that issue in the current situation. The only reason this was not done was that both parties would not agree to abide by the results of such tests.

Terri can certainly swallow her own saliva, and ice chips are used with people who cannot swallow anything more than their own saliva. They would not choke her. Ask anyone who has cared for a terminal patient. When my grandfather was dying of cancer and could no longer swallow, and food would have gone into his lungs and killed him, we gave him ice chips to moisten his mouth without choking him.

Whether food and water would choke her or not has NOT been proven, AGAINST the recommendation of the court-appointed evaluator of this issue. The tests that were done in the early 1990's were barium tests, not tests with small amounts of food and water. I've had a barium test myself, and I know from experience that, although it does show more accurately in pictures how the throat and digestive system are functioning, barium is MUCH harder to swallow (and tastes a lot worse) than food or water.

And, if she is dying anyway, what harm would there be in someone carefully trying to see whether she can swallow food and water or not? The worst that could happen would be that she would inhale some of it and get pneumonia, which almost certainly wouldn't kill her any faster than starvation and dehydration, or that she would choke, which would be a much quicker death anyway.

As for whether Terri is conscious or not, how can you claim that with certainty when she has been denied all tests that measure brain activity? The only tests done on her brain have measured the physical structure, not consciousness or electrical activity. PVS patients in general are considered by many experts to be conscious on at least some level, some more than others.

The truth is that we don't know how much awareness or feeling she has. Assuming she doesn't feel anything when she DOES appear to respond to stimulus in many situations, and when it has been shown conclusively that PVS-diagnosed people CAN feel pain, is quite a leap.

Witholding food and water in order to "allow someone to die" is something that would never be allowed in the case of a dumb animal, yet it is allowed here.

I would like to see the laws changed so that the basic witholding of elemental food and water for someone who is able to digest it on their own is not considered part of "artificial life support" since many people who are fully fucntioning in other ways need this type of support. As it is, a person with no other diability than that they can't swallow well could possibly be "allowed to die" by witholding food and water.

As the law is written now, people like Joni Erickson Tada, who is fully functioning in the brain department but can't feed herself because she is a quadriplegic, could be considered to be on "life support" and food could be witheld merely because she isn't able to lift the spoon to her own mouth. That disturbs me.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Again, many of you are claiming categorically that everyone who claims Terri is responsive to her environment--nurses, doctors, family and friends--are all blatantly and purposely lying. Again, you have not shown a shred of evidence (other than that some other people's opinions and admittedly biased observations disagree) to support these claims. If you're going to claim someone is knowingly, purposely, and blatantly lying, prove it. As it is, it's simply your opinion that all these people are lying. You have not convinced me that they are. And, if they are telling the truth, it does change the issue completely.

Mark Congdon said...

Angela,

The final paragraph of your comment at 5:47pm was not quite accurate. You wrote:

As the law is written now, people like Joni Erickson Tada, who is fully functioning in the brain department but can't feed herself because she is a quadriplegic, could be considered to be on "life support" and food could be witheld merely because she isn't able to lift the spoon to her own mouth.

Actually, you should have said that people like Ms. Tada could opt themselves to have food witheld. Since Ms. Tada can communicate her wishes, the decision would certainly not be made on her behalf by anyone else.

Should a paraplegic be allowed to opt out of basic (by current standards) medical care, and thereby commit suicide? That is a difficult question, though my inclination would be no.

Anyway, I just thought I'd mention what sounded to me like an incorrect statement that somebody could impose the removal-of-medical-care decision on Ms. Tada.

Mark

Dan Kennedy said...

The poster who thinks budget cuts at the Herald is the biggest media story of the year (really!) might want to remind himself that I had the story back on Feb. 25:

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/04495076.asp

Just scroll down a bit.

The only thing that happened yesterday was that Purcell put a price tag on it. No details, another meeting scheduled for April 4, negotiations with the unions still to take place ... still awake?

Anonymous said...

Right on, DK. Reality is that idealogues on left and right side of the aisle seize on any chance to diss Herald and Globe, respectively. Both are flawed but way ahead of the product in single-paper towns, (surf over to a few if you don't believe me). Even Globe & Herald are incapable of providing a valuable resource like Media Log, (if they could have, they would have). I think real question is: If NYT does manage to bury Herald by giving away Metro's, will Globe editors then opine about how much they are helping us?

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Here are a few things I'll bet you didn't know (more if you follow the link):

*Dr. Ronald Cranford (who examined Terri for 45 minutes before arriving at his conclusions that Terri had PVS and her feeding tubes should be removed), widely seen as the most influential (and the most respected by Greer) of the 5 doctors in the case, and a board-certified neurologist who specializes in PVS, is a known right to die activist who has published articles saying that both alzheimers and PVS patients are not human and have no constitutional rights, and that their food and water should be withheld. Cranford is a member of the board of directors of the Choice in Dying Society, which promotes doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and has been a featured speaker for the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society. He actively promotes euthanizing both Alzheimers and PVS patients.

http://swdesertrat.blogspot.com/2005/03/michael-schiavos-star-witness-dr.html and http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151273,00.html

Even Doctor Cranford says that it's possible Terri could be fed by mouth. But then again, he advocates witholding even spoon-feeding from Alzehimers and PVS patients.

Maybe that's why Michael and Judge Greer deemed it necessary to put in place a court order forbidding anyone from giving Terri food and water by mouth, and arrest anyone who does so.

* Michael Schiavo's lawyer Felos and other members of his law firm were large contributors to Judge Greer's campaign. Richard La Belle, member of the board of directors for the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities--the name may be familiar to you because it is the one that refused to investigate charges of abuse against Terri. Other contributors include "James Hellickson, assistant state attorney from the office of Bernie McCabe, state attorney of Pasco/Pinellas Counties who has stonewalled any investigation of alleged criminal wrongdoing in the Schiavo case including the DCF investigation," and Everett Rice, "a 20-year personal friend of Greer," who as sheriff "quashed attempts by the Schindler family and others to open an investigation into the Terri Schiavo case."

* Judge Greer, George Felos, and one of the physicians who gave evidence in court that Terri has PVS, as well as several other people involved in the case, have connections to the hospice board which is responsible for Terri's care.

* Terri's stay at the hospice was arranged by Schiavo's self-described "right-to-die attorney" George Felos, who is accused of using this particular facility "as part of an "exit protocol" designed to advance Felos' self-perceived messianic mission of "helping" incapacitated people to die by categorizing them as "terminal," warehousing them, and depriving them of therapy and rehabilitation services." http://hyscience.typepad.com/hyscience/2005/02/the_hapless_mis.html

* Several nurses who have cared for Terri have filed affadavits and given sworn testimony that Terri's condition has been repeatedly and purposely misrepresented as worse than it is, and that any positive comments they made in her chart were expunged.

* There are written medical records and affadavits from various medical personel that Terri can speak at least 5-10 words and has done so repeatedly and in context.

* Terri's CT scans were completely normal until more than a month after her first admittance to the hospital after collapsing. She has never had an MRI or other tests needed to determine the true extent of her brain activity or lack thereof, because Michael and Judge Greer will not allow them. Her last CT scan was in 1996 and shows a brain with a shunt in it (which there is no medical record of in Terri's case) and much of the cerebral cortex still intact. Medical experts generally agree that a CT scan is not sufficient to diagnose the extent of brain damage or activity, and cannot be used in the absence of tests like PET and MRI scans to diagnose PVS.

Anonymous said...

As long as you allow comments, I wish you'd post topics on disparate subjects in their own notes--it's really annoying to have to try to separate Imus comments from Sciavo comments from...

It only takes a couple of extra keystrokes for a decnet presentation of information. 21st-century, and all that?

Anonymous said...

Not to make light of a serious and depressing subject but there is a "Univ. of Miami ETHICS Program"? Now, THAT'S funny....

Anonymous said...

Not to make light of a serious and depressing subject but there is a "Univ. of Miami ETHICS Program"? Now, THAT'S funny....

Anonymous said...

Not to make light of a serious and depressing subject but there is a "Univ. of Miami ETHICS Program"? Now, THAT'S funny....