Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More on the Schiavo "talking points memo"

Just read this and draw your own conclusions. The guys at Powerline are reeling in another big catch. And I don’t think it’s a boot or a tire.

Update: Read this too, as well as this and this.

Discussions - 25 Comments

Don’t know much about this, but I’m wondering if the coalition mentioned could take a look at who hit their website from a Senate computer (or others), and who copied the language... This may be quite revealing.

This will be a test of the post-election clout of the "right blogosphere." Yes, they played a key role in exposing the Dan Rather/CBS fraud. But Kerry still came within 60,000 votes of winning the election.

Can the public be educated about this latest apparent example of liberal Establishment fraud? And if so, will it matter politically?

If it turns out that this memo is fraudulent, I think it could be quite important. My friends of the religious Right are much invested in the Schiavo tragedy (surprisingly invested). Such antics are enough to mobilize them even more than they are...not good for the Dems in 2006 (if the memo IS a fraud, that is).

The memo probably is fraudulent. I think the politicians are getting involved because they really do care about Terri’s life. But I wonder why they chose Terri, rather than little 6-month old Sun Hudson, the Texas boy who was, within the last ten days, disconnected from his life support AGAINST HIS PARENTS’ WISHES. Sun’s case doesn’t require us to choose between two competing parties in a complex scenario that requires us to guess what people are thinking and feeling (such as the husband legally endowed as Terri’s guardian claiming to act to fulfill Terri’s wishes, but with possibly questionable motivations VS. Terri’s parents, who may or may not be misinterpreting some of Terri’s movements as conscious activity); it appears much more clear-cut: an infant boy removed from life support against his parent’s wishes, with the courts and hospitals acting against those wishes. I can’t see how the mother’s motivations here could possibly be less than purely perfect maternal motivations. Additionally, the Hudson case seems to be precedent-setting, as it "marks the first time a hospital has been allowed by a U.S. judge to discontinue an infant’s life-sustaining care against a parent’s wishes, according to bioethical experts." Also, the time period that Hudson was on life support makes the case more compelling (would you hold out more hope for someone who was on life support for 6 months, or someone who was on for over 15 years?). Here’s what Sun’s mother said: "This hospital was considered a miracle hospital. When it came to my son, they gave up in six months .... They made a terrible mistake." Lastly, she claimed that "...he was actually moving around. He was conscious." Certainly Bush and Congress could have mustered the will to make a miracle happen for this woman.

But then I saw THIS article and now I have some idea why his case wasn’t made top priority. Here’s a hint - in the eyes of far too many conservative Republicans he was, at best, a future gangsta rapper or welfare recipient, and at worst, a future Brian Nichols.

Mr. Bramah: I think (and, for the sake of mankind, hope) that you read more into race, and not enough into the type of life-saving proceedure. Ethicists and courts both treat feeding tubes and respirators differently. Respirators are generally categorized as extraordinary procedures (and even those who would argue that feeding and hydration tubes are extraordinary consider machines that actually breath for you to be different in kind). The idea as I understand it (I make no warrant here) is that you really are performing a vital function of the body for the body by using a respirator to replace the lungs, whereas in the case of a feeding tube you are circumventing a problem with swallowing and permitting the body to perform its function of absorbing nutrients. While I am not aware of all the considerations that were at play, I will agree, however, that it is very troubling that the hospital made the decision over the objection of the parents.

Oh, come on now, Mr. Alt - one could just as easily say:

" really are performing a vital function of the body for the body by using a feeding tube to replace the body’s ability to swallow, whereas in the case of a respirator you are circumventing a problem with breathing and permitting the body to perform its function of oxygenating blood." Last time I checked, a person needed to both breathe AND eat & drink to live.

Yeah, it sure is "troubling" about Sun Hudson in Texas. Why is the liberally-biased media - don’t those liberal journalists just eat up stories about racial discrimination?? - not making much of the Hudson case, I wonder? Why are conservative blogs, like this one, and their contributors not making a stink about the Hudson situation, instead of the Schiavo case?
I’ve barely heard/read a peep about the Hudson case from conservatives, including you, Mr. Alt.

I guess its cause we’re all closet Nazis, Ashland Voter and Martin Bramah. Dag Gunnit - you caught us. After all, we conservatives are omniscient, and we do have eyes and ears in every hospital in the country. We just git to a-rubbin our hands in villainous glee when folks with more melanin than us get unplugged. I’m a-gonna head on down to Possum Holler with the boys to burn me some crosses now. Mebbe ol’ Bobby Gene Alt will be there with me, too, lessen’ his pick-em-up truck is still up on blocks. Course if he is busy selectively ignoring right-to-life issues due to his deep seated, all consuming, and (until your blinding insight) well-concealed racial animus, I guess I’ll have to ketch him later. Of course you might not have been accusing all us conservatives of being bigots, in which case our lil’ ol secret is safe. Whew.

One reason for the greater sense of urgency surrounding the Schiavo case might be that Terri Schiavo is still alive, whereas Sun Hudson is not. Both cases are very disturbing, and I think both FL and TX need to take a hard look at revising their laws. FTR, I learned about the Hudson case from NRO, one of those conservative blogs that’s supposedly "not making a stink" about it.

PJC said "One reason for the greater sense of urgency surrounding the Schiavo case might be that Terri Schiavo is still alive, whereas Sun Hudson is not." Yes, of course it’s true that Sun Hudson is now dead, but I think Bramah’s (rhetorical) question was really why WASN’T (past tense) Sun Hudson a big cause for conservatives BEFORE he was unhooked. I looked for articles on National Review Online (do they have a search function on their site? If so, I missed its location) and Wall Street Journal, but came up with nothing. Plenty of Hudson INSTITUTE items, but nothing about Sun. If there was any substantive coverage of the Sun Hudson case by a conservative source, I’d like to see it.

There is other pertinent information that folks should consider regarding the Schiavo case. According to the 2003 report commissioned by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and written by Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health and medicine at the University of South Florida, Schiavo took his wife to California in 1990 for experimental treatment and himself received specialized training as a nurse to assist in her care. Wolfson dismissed accusations that Michael Schiavo abused Terri, writing, “the evidence is incontrovertible that he gave his heart and soul to her treatment and care.”

Wolfson’s report addresses the charges of financial motivation as well, finding no grounds for them, and reporting there was “no evidence in the record of the trust administration documents of any mismanagement of Theresa’s estate, and the records on this matter are excellently maintained.”

Strange, I don’t recall any Nazi accusations being lobbed, "wm". And Nazis mixed with the stereotypical misspellings and cultural icons of Foxworthy-"inspired" portrayals of "white trash," "redneck" "hillbillies" is....well, just ODD.

Yeah and whatever you do -- do not -- I repeat do not listen to papists like Fr. Paris, S.J.: "Here’s the question I ask of these right-to-lifers, including Vatican bishops: as we enter into Holy Week and we proclaim that death is not triumphant and that with the power of resurrection and the glory of Easter we have the triumph of Christ over death, what are they talking about by presenting death as an unmitigated evil? It doesn’t fit Christian context. Richard McCormick, who was the great Catholic moral theologian of the last 25 years, wrote a brilliant article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1974 called “To Save or Let Die.” He said there are two great heresies in our age (and heresy is a strong word in theology—these are false doctrines). One is that life is an absolute good and the other is that death is an absolute evil. We believe that life was created and is a good, but a limited good. Therefore the obligation to sustain it is a limited one. The parameters that mark off those limits are your capacities to function as a human." Hmm, for some reason - your site reminds me of the Damnation of Theron Ware


The Wolfson report is tantalizingly vague about why Greer sided with Michael Schiavo and overturned the first Guardian Ad Litem report (the Pearse finding) on the grounds of bias. One wonders why Wolfson avoids discussing the substance of that dispute.

The Wolfson Report also reinforces my disquiet about this case because it makes clear how low the FL evidentiary standard is: To have a person starved to death has taken nothing more than hearsay accounts of stray remarks (mysteriously remembered 7 years and more after the fact) from a party whom a court-appointed Guardian ad litem found to have conflict-of-interest problems.

Yes, of course it’s true that Sun Hudson is now dead, but I think Bramah’s (rhetorical) question was really why WASN’T (past tense) Sun Hudson a big cause for conservatives BEFORE he was unhooked. I looked for articles on National Review Online (do they have a search function on their site? If so, I missed its location) and Wall Street Journal, but came up with nothing. Plenty of Hudson INSTITUTE items, but nothing about Sun. If there was any substantive coverage of the Sun Hudson case by a conservative source, I’d like to see it.

The reason why the rhetorical question fails is that conservative journals, by and large, do not break stories; rather they comment on stories that have already been broken in the mainstream media. The question as to why Terri Schiavo has received so much attention, and Sun Hudson so little, ought properly be posed to the mainstream media, not to National Review and the contributors to No Left Turns.

Oh, please, Mr. Moser - this very blog has been crawling all over the idea that the Internet is redefining how news is created and developed, and Mr. Knippenberg has readers all on the edge of their seats about the Powerline blog - regarding the possibly fabricated Congressional Schiavo memo: "The guys at Powerline are reeling in another big catch." Has Powerline given the Sun Hudson case (which WAS covered in the Houston Chronicle) even one tenth the attention as the Schiavo memo (let alone Schiavo herself)? Well, the Wall Street Journal and NRO HAVE taken up comparing Michael Schiavo & co. to Nazi practitioners of "euthanasia.", but little or no coverage of Sun. What I don’t understand is, if I need to ask this question of the mainstream media, just how liberally biased can they be? Considering the racial issue, the fact that Bush (isn’t the MSM always out to get him??) signed the law by which the child was unhooked, and the fact that the mother was also the legal guardian in the Hudson case seem to make it really ripe for any liberal media muckrakers trying to stir up trouble. And even if blogs such as NLT AREN’T breaking the Sun Hudson story, they COULD be PUSHING it. But so far, it’s at least 4 or 5 blog postings about Schiavo, and zilch about the black baby unplugged against her mother’s wishes.

Ashland Voter: You failed to distinguish my primary point, which is that courts, ethicists, even the Catholic Church tends to treat respirators as more invasive than feeding tubes. You may argue that they are the same, but you are in the minority even among those who address the issue with what Frank Rich derides as religious fervor. I would also second the sentiments of wm and Moser, insofar as my failure to have heard about the case before your mention is largely a function of the msm. Even your stories were from an essentially local publication. If the story had made the nationals, I’m reasonably sure you would have read more than you would have liked from Conservative pundits.

A boy who, according to all the news (which is admittedly limited) I have seen, had no chance of ever living except through the mechinations of the respirator. According to the Houston Chronicle, whose belated, after-the-fact article you seem to be citing to,

"Sun was born with a fatal form of dwarfism characterized by short arms, short legs and lungs too tiny to sustain his body, doctors said. Nearly all babies born with the incurable condition, often diagnosed in utero, die shortly after birth."

There doesn’t seem to have been any factual dispute about Hudson’s chances for a long-term recovery. Shiavo, by contrast, is the subject of great controversy, especially in light of the fact that the state court never required an MRI or a PET scan, both of which are standard procedure when determining whether someone is in a persistently vegitative state. At least three of her medical providers filed affidavits stating that that (1) she could recover (to some degree) through the proper therapies, and (2) she has been denied those therapies by her husband, who repeatedly asked medical staff such questions as "when is that bitch gonna die?"

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the difference between these cases, and is had nothing to do with race. The fact that you think otherwise says much more about you than it does about the media or NLT.

"If the story had made the nationals, I’m reasonably sure you would have read more than you would have liked from Conservative pundits."

It was an Associated Press story. CNN picked up the story on the 15th; interesting that the CNN story has no picture of Sun or her mother, but at the bottom of the page that the story is on (at least as of this moment), we see, yet again, that picture of Terri & her mom, from that very carefully edited videotape. Also, isn’t Tom Delay from Houston? The Chronicle picked up the story - surely Delay must have known about Sun Hudson??

Of course, Sun had no chance; had he remained on the respirator, he might have just grown beyond the capacity of his lungs - probably not a pleasant thing.

Terri’s brain has primarily disintegrated to spinal fluid. I’d love to see any of Bush’s dissenting neurologist quacks demonstrate that there’s any electrical activity in her brain. You can’t re-grow a brain.
The odds of Terri recovering or "coming out of it", even before withdrawal of the feeding tube, were, to put it charitably, about the same as O.J. actually looking for the killer of Nicole.

Let’s face it Ashland voter, the story did not get the press that the Terri story did, and that is not the fault of the blogs--that’s the fault of the MSM. Even if it did get limited mention on CNN or AP (which I’m guessing you had to search for), very few have seen it, and you hold the blogger to a standard that you don’t seem to hold the MSM to.

As for why they aren’t covering it now, you still haven’t offered any defense of the fact that removing virtually all experts agree that using a respirator is more severe and can be withheld without the significant moral questions that withholding food and water causes. You need to say more than that in both cases the patient will die. That happens when all kinds of extraordinary medical procedures are withheld. If you’re going to call the whole world a bunch of racists, the least you can do is to show why you are more enlightened than the courts, the ethicists, and even pro-life religious leaders on this issue.

Finally, why aren’t there more blogs on NLT on this? Best as I can tell because most of the posts I have seen respond to current articles. If the issue was a significant public debate like Schiavo, they would talk about it. The only one I can see who is counting by race is Ashland Voter.

This is beginning to feel like piling on, but it’s a point I haven’t seen anyone else make directly:

Another glaring and coverage-relevant difference between the Hudson and Schiavo cases is that the former never went beyond the walls of the hospita: The hospital ethics panel decided to pull the plug, the parents objected but couldn’t find another facility w/ the requisite equipment and expertise to take their son, and so the hospital got its way.

It was all over pretty fast. The Schiavo case, by contrast, has been protracted b/c the Schindlers got a chance to present their side of the story beyond the doors of a hospice, nursing home, or hospital, and have done so with determination.

I daresay that had the Hudson case spawned years of litigation it would be famous too, but as I understand the Houston Chronicle report, the poor child could not have lived long even with a respirator, whereas Terri breathes on her own and suffers from no terminal illness or condition other than husband-demanded, court-ordered starvation.

We haven’t heard anything new about this yet. I take it that Powerline hasn’t proven anything yet - not that this will stop anyone at NLT from assuming it to be some leftist conspiracy. Funny, also, how the substance of the memo and the attendant behavior of the Republicans has been essentially ignored. It may well be a fake memo, but the behavior of the Republicans makes it entirely believable that the substance of the memo is indeed what motivates them.

The title of this article by Powerline’s John Hinderaker is a fair characterization of D North’s position: "Fake but Accurate."

But the Republicans seem to have taken a political beating on this issue. Wouldn’t "mere politicians" seeking political advantage be running away from it as fast as they can?

With the nearly-constant referencing to Powerline here, I gotta wonder what the point of NLT is. Maybe people should just read Powerline, and skip NLT altogether.

D North:

So how would the purported GOP strategy memo explain the behavior of Tom Harkin, Barbara Mikulski, and Ralph Nader? All of them are on record as having called for a fresh review of the facts in Terri’s case before letting any court empower hubby (the common-law bigamist) to pull the tube.

Hey Ashland Voter

Please do.

Mr. Knippenberg & Co.,

As you can see from this article - no less of a trustworthy source than Fox News itself; hurry before they pull down the webpage!;) - it appears that the memo was not "fake but accurate," but rather it was "REAL and accurate." It came from the office of Republican Senator Mel Martinez. Looks like the Woodward & Bernstein wannabes (or wait, maybe they wouldn’t LIKE that comparison anyway!) at Powerline were just engaged in wishful thinking. From the article:

"Martinez, in his statement, said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had asked for background information on the bill ordering a federal court to review the Schiavo case.

He said he pulled a one-page document from his coat pocket and handed to Harkin. "Unbeknownst to me ... I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo."

"Unbeknownst"?? So, either way, this is pretty bad. Either he has much too little involvement in what his staff produces to sway and influence his fellow senators, and is casually handing out memos/talking points that he disagrees with, OR he is simply lying, and he knew full well what the memo said.

So, again, seeing that the content of the memo encapsulated and basically reflected the motivations, goals and demonstrated behavior of conservative Republicans spearheading this entire Schiavo exploitation, the back-pedaling (The aide is a rogue zealot!) among Republicans - and their willingness to sacrifice one of their own who dared to openly declare what they were really doing - is really just pathetic.

I think it would be appropriate to see a follow-up on this from you, Mr. Knippenberg, and from Powerline, but I’m not holding my breath.

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