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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Culture of Life?

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/27/05 08:41, Edited: 04/01/05 05:59

by David Mindeman

A culture of life. That is what we are told we have here. At least according to the politicians in charge. But if you examine this culture, you begin to wonder whose lives they are talking about?

Terry Schaivo has been marginally alive. The religious outcry at the removal of her feeding tube was loud and indignant. One has to wonder how God's will is served here. What life she has, can only be described at artificial. If her life had been allowed to run its natural course she would have left us 15 years ago. But extraordinary means were used to keep her alive. It happens all the time, but the extra measures have to be stopped at some point and the progression of life or death has to resume. Does the culture of life mean we have to confine Terry Schaivo to her bed ridden prison indefinitely? That question has to be decided by someone -- but politicians and media are not the decision makers I would choose.

In the midst of this public intrusion to a private matter, another disturbing thing happened. An Indian boy hit the breaking point, took his own life and the lives of 9 others. Our President was too busy tying up the courts with appeals to acknowledge this tragedy until 4 days had passed. His "culture of life" isn't curious about why this happened. It seems that tragedy on an Indian reservation doesn't have the same significance.

Soon, Congress will be discussing stem cell research and the "culture of life" phrases will come out again. Again, this "culture" will be looking to save life and again, it is an artificial life they seek to save. Embryos that can never develop without human intervention. Embryos that can only be classified marginally as life, because human beings brought them into existence by scientific processes. God's will? It is hard to fathom stretching it that far. And if you do still believe God has a hand in this, then whose to say God didn't intend for these embryos to be used for research? This "culture" would rather see these cells discarded or frozen indefinitely, rather than used to seek solutions to disease states that really do attack the culture of life, in a very real sense.

We may want a "culture of life" to guide us, but it cannot be found in the divisive agendas of politics. And it can't be found only in scientific facts. Each person's heart has the only answer that matters to him or her. Terry Schaivo's fate shouldn't be in the hands of the courts or Congress. The Red Lake tribe won't find answers or help from the media. And stem cell research can't be answered simply by black and white religious philosophies.

No, the culture of life is not a political buzzword.... it is a private conversation with your inner voice. You can share what you learn but you can't impose it on another. Each voice may be different but it is the only one you can listen to.

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Judge Rules on Schiavo Case

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/22/05 11:45, Edited: 04/01/05 06:04

by Jay H. Steele

District Judge James D. Whittemore has denied the parents of Terri Schiavo a temporary restraining order that would allowed them to have a feeding tube reinstated. For the moment the Constitution triumphs shameless politics. Appeals up the federal court chain are likely, but the result will likely be the same. The Supreme Court has already declined to get involved twice.

This case is a family tragedy and a political travesty. It is sad to see a family torn apart by conflict over what constitutes being "alive" and over who has the authority to make end-of-life decisions. If nothing else, it ought to prompt everyone to make sure they have the legal documents in place about end-of-life directives, and that everyone in the family knows what they are and where they are.

But a family tragedy has been shamelessly exploited by the Religious Right for political gain. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ought to have his license to practice medicine either suspended or revoked. To say that he is speaking as a physician, as he did, and say that after watching an hour of video-tape he could make a diagnosis about Terri Schiavo's medical condition was a blatant breach of ethics. He has never examined her personally, he is not a neurologist, he has absolutely no business speaking as a medical expert. It was shameless political pandering.

Meanwhile Tom Delay must have been thanking his lucky stars for this opportunity to divert the American public's gaze away from his growing ethical quagmire. He jumped on the chance remind his rightwing followers that he might be dirty, but he can still deliver the goods.

George Bush has never before interrupted a vacation to come back to Washington. No international situation, no national tragedy, no bill moving through Congress has ever been important enough to keep him from chopping wood in Crawford. But this bill, to save one person, to trash the long legal process that the family has gone through, this bill brings him back.

Finally, let us not forget that Kline and Kennedy voted to pass this terrible bill. And, unfortunately, so did Dayton.

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EPA Hides Data on Mercury

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/21/05 10:07

by Jay H. Steele

While we are on the subject of Republican dishonesty, today's Washington Post reports that when the EPA issued its revised rules on Mercury emissions last week, it failed to mention the findings of a study it commissioned on the health-effects of limiting mercury polution from power plants. The EPA ruled that stricter emissions would have a huge negative effect on business, but no appreciable positive impact on public health.

This was in direct conflict with the Harvard study that was commissioned by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist, and peer reviewed for scientific accuracy. The Harvard study estimated health benefits 100 times more than what the EPA claimed in its ruling.

Pardon my shrillness, but the Harvard Study was scientific. In the Bush Administration that means it can safely be ignored.

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