Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Who decides whether Terri Schiavo lives?

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore, the federal judge appointed by congress to determine whether Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old brain-damaged woman who has been in an unconscious state since 1990, should have her feeding tube reinserted, said today that he would not order the tube be reinserted.

This story has been one of the leading headlines across both the blogosphere and network media outlets. I’ve been trying to figure it out, and I’m not exactly sure where I stand.

Schiavo is currently in what is described as a permanent vegetative state by neurologists. “No one has ever come back from such a condition, according to the American Academy of Neurology,” the MSNBC story reads.

However, she is alive, and the feeding tube is the only artificial process used to keep her that way. She is able to breathe on her own, from what I understand.

Therefore, removing the feeding tube to “let her die” is literally starving her to death. Not exactly the painless “just letting her go” process some are making it out to be.

National Review Online’s editors say that the case demonstrates that existing safeguards against “assisting suicides” of those who do not want assisted suicide are insufficient, since, they write, the evidence that Schiavo would have wanted to be deprived of food and water if unconscious is “sketchy at best.”

Does anyone have the right to make this determination? There is certainly an element in me that understands the desire to remove the tube – if I were in the same state, I’m certain I’d hope that someone would do that for me. But who could rightly make that determination?

Would it be my spouse, who had legal guardianship, but remarried and had children by someone else in the interim? Would it be my parents, who might disagree with my legal guardian? Would it be Congress, the president, or a U.S. District Court judge?

When it comes down to it, I don’t think any of them have a say in the matter. In fact, not even I would, really. I don’t think the state should subsidize or support suicide, nor should it be left to the state to decide who “wants” to let themselves die.

But this is certainly a tough case.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

BRAC - Could it hit Knox?

My editor stopped by the sports desk today and gave me a present: "Everything You Know Is Wrong." He’s in the process of moving, and, as a newspaper editor of some tenure, has amassed what I can only guess is a huge library. He said more is on the way. Thanks!

A hot-button topic in military communities these days is the Base Realignment and Closure program (BRAC), which was instituted in the 1990s and aims to consolidate military assets – necessarily resulting in shutting some down.

Bases have significant impact on the surrounding community, not the least of which is financial. Federal dollars pour into the paychecks of the servicemembers and civilians who work there, and are in turn eagerly spent.

This article just appeared in the News-Enterprise: Study projects life after BRAC.Apparently, a federally-funded study is going on to examine what the impact on surrounding communities would be if Fort Knox were to, say, shut completely down (like Fort Dix, New Jersey, for example).

But here’s the official line:

Officials say that's not cause for alarm, insisting the study is entirely separate from the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure and in no way hints that Fort Knox could be on a list of closing installations.

Maybe... but the signs are ominous at best. Fort Knox Garrison is out of money and talks are underway to get the Fort Knox schools absorbed into the Hardin County district. Not exactly the kind of things that bespeak a flourishing installation.

There are other telltale signs, as well - last year, one of the big stories was the institution of the Warrior Transition Course, a program to retrain former servicemembers from other branches, or Army soldiers with a significant break in service, and enter them into the active-duty Army.

While the course is still running here, there won’t be many more cycles at Fort Knox. WTC is moving to Fort Bliss, Texas, in the near future.Rumors have a tendency to build their own momentum, but unfortunately, the Department of Defense has forbidden base commanders, public affairs shops, and any other representatives from commenting on BRAC.

So nothing on the subject will appear in tenant publications, and, I suppose, no constructive comments will appear in interviews for articles in independent civilian publications.Down the memory hole, as they say.

Now it’s time for the OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER:

The views expressed on this website do not necessarily represent the positions held by the United States government, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Installation Management Agency, the Fort Knox Garrison, the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office, the Turret, or anyone else other than the author, who is a lower-enlisted soldier and ergo has no access to the Truth.


Cue up some more Toby Keith.