L. Neil Smith's
Number 312, March 27, 2005

"The sooner the better"

The Living Corpse
by James J Odle

Special to TLE

Does the entire Republican Party suffer from severe potassium imbalance?

"A persistent vegetative state (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as "brain-death") sometimes follows a coma. Individuals in such a state have lost their thinking abilities and awareness of their surroundings, but retain non-cognitive function and normal sleep patterns. Even though those in a persistent vegetative state lose their higher brain functions, other key functions such as breathing and circulation remain relatively intact. Spontaneous movements may occur, and the eyes may open in response to external stimuli. They may even occasionally grimace, cry, or laugh. Although individuals in a persistent vegetative state may appear somewhat normal, they do not speak and they are unable to respond to commands....

What is the prognosis?

The outcome for coma and persistent vegetative state depends on the cause, severity, and site of neurological damage. Individuals may emerge from coma with a combination of physical, intellectual, and psychological difficulties that need special attention. Recovery usually occurs gradually, with some acquiring more and more ability to respond. Some individuals never progress beyond very basic responses, but many recover full awareness. Individuals recovering from coma require close medical supervision. A coma rarely lasts more than 2 to 4 weeks. Some patients may regain a degree of awareness after persistent vegetative state. Others may remain in that state for years or even decades. The most common cause of death for someone in a persistent vegetative state is infection, such as pneumonia." [1]

Note: Judge George W. Greer, Presiding Judge over the Theresa Schiavo case, ruled in 2000,

"Turning to the medical issues of the case, the court finds beyond all doubt that Theresa Marie Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state ... per the specific testimony of Dr. James Barnhill and corroborated by Dr. Vincent Gambon. The medical evidence before this court conclusively establishes that she has no hope of ever regaining consciousness and therefore capacity, and that without the feeding tube she will die in seven to fourteen days. The unrebutted medical testimony before this court is that such death would be painless. The film offered into evidence by Respondents does nothing to change these medical opinions which are supported by the CAT scans in evidence... But the overwhelming credible evidence is that Terri Schiavo has been totally unresponsive since lapsing into the coma almost ten years ago, that her movements are reflexive and predicated on brain stem activity alone, that she suffers from severe structural brain damage and to a large extent her brain has been replaced by spinal fluid, that with the exception of one witness whom the court finds to be so biased as , lack credibility, her movements are occasional and totally consistent with the testimony of the expert medical witnesses. The testimony of Dr. Barnhill establishes that Terri Schiavo's reflex actions such as breathing and movement shows merely that her brain stem and spinal cord are intact... the unrebutted evidence remains that Terri Schiavo remains in a persistent vegetative state. Dr. Barnhill earlier drew the distinction between comas which are catatonic in nature (no brain damage) and those caused by structural brain damage as in this case..." [2]

My translation: Theresa Schiavo is permanently brain dead.

When it comes to the two major political parties, I normally consider myself to be an equal opportunity politician despiser. I never thought I would see the day when I would long for the return of the Clinton Administration.

Just when I thought things couldn't become any slimier, disgusting and revolting, the Republican Party manages to find new depths of insanity and depravity to stoop to. Is there no bottom to this particular abyss?

Listening to conservative babble radio and observing the circus surrounding Schiavo case in Washington, one can not help but wonder which Republican talk show host or party member, pundit or politician will come out on top in the 'World's Biggest Asshole' contest.

For the first contender for this dubious honor we have Denver based KOA's Sean Rima calling Michael Schiavo "a piece of crap" for 'adultery' and 'spouse abandonment' for taking up with another woman. Let's see now. Michael was told that his wife was PERMANENTLY BRAIN DEAD and that there was NOTHING that the medical profession could do for her, so he chose to get on with his life. Michael Shiavo is NOT an adulterer. He is effectively a widower. He has been trying to send wife to her final rest for years. Any decent husband in the same situation would do the same.

Next up, we have two contenders Lars Larson and Michael Gallagher who argue that removing the feeding tube from a woman who is PERMANENTLY BRAIN DEAD is tantamount to murder.

Sorry, fellas, The PERMANENTLY BRAIN DEAD can't be murdered. It's a logical impossibility.

Exactly which part of the phrase 'persistent vegetative state' don't these people understand? Which part of the court appointed doctors medical testimony defy Conservative comprehension?

Next we have a column [3] by Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan which simply reeks with insanity. Here's a few samples:

"I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people."

It's not 'emotionalism'. It's cool, clear headed logic based on knowledge of the FACTS. Facts which were determined in a court of law. All of the emotion seems to be coming from people like Peggy Noonan.

"Why are they so committed to this woman's death? They seem to have fallen half in love with death."

Horse pucky. It's because when an individual has been declared brain dead and beyond the reach of modern medicine, by highly trained board certified professionals, it's time to close the curtain on that individual's tragic life. No one is 'in love' with death.

"What does Terri Schiavo's life symbolize to them? What does the idea that she might continue to live suggest to them?"

Excuse me, Terri Schiavo has no 'life.' Life requires more that a pumping heart and expanding lungs. It requires some actual cognition. All of which are PERMANENTLY BEYOND Terri's capabilities without artificial assistance. The cognition part is permanently beyond Terri's capabilities even with artificial assistance.

"I do not understand their certainty."

We arrive at our certainly by listening to the judges who in turn listened to years of court room testimony—some of which was provided by both court appointed guardians as well as five court appointed board certified physicians, four of which were specialists in neurology—and who has also examined the physical evidence which includes CAT scans.

"I don't "know" that any degree of progress or healing is possible for Terri Schiavo; I only hope they are. We can't know, but we can "err on the side of life." How do the pro-death forces "know" there is no possibility of progress, healing, miracles? They seem to think they know."

All of these possibilities were considered throughout the many years this case has been in the courts and by many layers of the judiciary. Read through the time line of the events as well as the supporting documents. [4]

"They seem to love the phrases they bandy about: "vegetative state," "brain dead," "liquefied cortex.""

There's no 'love' of the situation going on here. The "vegetative state," "brain dead," "liquefied cortex." are the natural conclusions one comes to after examining the CAT scan, reading through the court rulings which are partially based on medical testimony and observing Theresa 'in action!'

Peggy Noonan's column is a perfect example of what any aspiring political commentator should never do! Her column is high on emotional arguments and political philosophy without any apparent awareness or comprehension of the facts. The amazing thing is that she is paid to turn out this kind of crap.

To everyone fighting to keep this 'living corpse' alive, I know you 'think' you are doing her some great personal favor by fighting for her. Actually you are treating her and Michael with disrespect.

For Christ sake, we have more real compassion for dogs and murderers!

Then, of course, we have all the political hacks and politicians scurrying around filing court motion after court motion, passing insane last minute laws trying to keep the remains of Theresa Schiavo 'alive' all on some sort of 'sanctity of life' pretext.

In case it still isn't crystal clear, when an individual is PERMANENTLY BRAIN DEAD there is no life left to get sanctimonious about!

Actually, what they're doing is trying to win few more votes from the Right to Lifers. They've lost mine.

I have a couple of questions for of the Right to Lifers. Where were you when the first Bush Administration's employees were busy murdering people at Ruby Ridge for no good reason? Where were you when the Clinton Administration did the same to the Branch Davidians at Waco? How come no self-proclaimed "Constitution respecting conservative Pro-Lifer"—I ask with disgust—ever called for the impeachment and prosecution of these two goons for their manifest failure to perform their affirmative legal duties during both tragedies? Where was you're vaunted "respect for life" then?

You know, while these assholes are wasting our time and money with their 'baseball players on steroids' nonsense and their 'Theresa Schiavo' nonsense, pulling their "Wag the Dog" stunts, they have been successfully avoiding doing something useful and potentially life affirming.

For example, they could go to George Bush [5], give him a sharp slap across the face and say something like:

"Wake up! Smell the coffee. You're pissing off everyone on the planet! Stop allowing the Neocons to do you're thinking for you! Grow a brain! Iran and Syria are not threats! Stop provoking people and giving them an incentive to acquire nuclear weapons! Stop appointing morons such as Michael Bolton [6] and Paul Wolfowitz to public office. Foreign nations aren't buying our debt! The dollar won't be the world's base currency much longer! Inflation is going through the roof!"

Or they could impeach Bush and prosecute him and the Neocons as the war criminals they plainly are.

Or they could put an end to public schools doping up their victims with Prozac or Ritalin.

Or they could try to rein in some of their spending!

Or they could try to get something resembling control over their pathetic lust for power.

They could also repeal the 'Patriot Act' and disband TSA both of which would be far better for America than this crap!

Theresa Schiavo's brain is dead.

Time to allow the rest of the body to follow.


1. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/coma/coma.htm

2. In Re: The Guardianship of Theresa Marie Shiavo, Incapacitated; In The Circuit Court for Pinellas County, Florida, Probate Division, File No. 90-2908GD-003

3. In Love With Death: The bizarre passion of the pull-the-tube people, By Peggy Noonan, New York Times, March 24, 2005; http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/PEGGY NOONAN

4. http://www.miami.edu/ethics2/schiavo/timeline.htm There is also a link to download Judge Greer's February 11, 2000 ruling from here.

5. I won't dignify this moron with the word 'President.' That would imply that I have respect for him.

6. http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0320-25.htm

James J. Odle is a splendid fellow who, unlike the vast majority of so-called 'public servants' has a real job in the private sector performing real work, which a real employer voluntarily pays him to perform. He is also a Life Member of Gun Owners of America.


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