Think different.


What do you think of my new coffee table? To be sure, it’s not a table yet. I had tax paperwork to sort out Sunday and Alan deserved a little liberty, so he headed over to the Royal Oak antique flea market. Looking for a table. He came home with, well, you can see what he came home with.

“It’s a drum,” I said. No. It’s a coffee table. It was a drum — a nice drum, looks like maybe mahogany — but now it’s a table. In transition, so to speak. The plan is to get a piece of glass custom-cut for the top, put some sort of foot deal on the bottom, and — what’s the word? Oh yeah, “repurpose” it.

The moral of this story is either that Alan has a better eye for the unusual than even those queer guys, or else that it was an idea that didn’t quite work. “I got $60 bucks in it, what the hell,” was Alan’s take on it. Sounds about right.

Not to change the subject too abruptly, but from the beginning, the Terry Schiavo case has baffled and confused me. No one seems to be telling the whole truth — the people who want to remove her feeding tube, who describe her as comatose or brain-dead (when she’s clearly neither) and hardly mention her husband’s new girlfriend and two children (which seems at least worthy of consideration) and who behave as though dehydrating to death is a passing no worse than, oh, Nelson Rockefeller’s.

Then there’s the other side, which seems to have lost its senses, too. Let’s start with Peggy Noonan, who really should keep the liquor cabinet locked until after deadline: She looks like one of those coma cases that wind up in the news because the patient, for no clear reason, snaps to and returns to life and says, “Is it 1983? Is there still McDonald’s? Can I have a burger?” How about those who do everything from hinting to stating outright that Michael Schiavo was abusive before his wife’s heart stopped, and now he just wants to finish the job, 15 years later.

I feel fortunate to have found Abstract Appeal, a Florida-based law blog that’s been following the case closely and, I’m relieved to say, has no particular ax to grind. If you want a clear-eyed overview of the case, I recommend it highly.

That said, there is something horrifying about the idea of the goddamn U.S. Congress getting involved in this. If you’ve ever had to make end-of-life decisions, this has to be your worst nightmare, the idea of having Tom Freakin’ DeLay pushing his nose into your private business, accompanied by Bill Frist and the rest of the GOP. To think that these people, when they aren’t shamelessly pandering to the religious right, pay lip service to the idea of getting government out of people’s lives is almost enough to make your head explode. Shameless hypocrisy? That barely begins to cover it, and I’m standing here as a person who isn’t at all comfortable with the idea of feeding-tube disconnection.

Here’s a tiny clue, from the WashPost: An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.

“This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue,” said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. “This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.”

I notice the barking nitwit who used to be my congressman was in the papers Saturday, talking about the steroids-in-baseball hearing. Here’s a guy who ran on all the usual issues, c. 1994 — term limits, government out of private business, etc. Today he’s comfortable with the idea of running a professional sports league: �These star players need to stand up and say this has gone far enough,� he said. �They have a very brief time to fix this, or we�re going to.�

Let me just wrap it up this way: If my brain ever ends up looking like this, feel free to pull all plugs and tubes, nuke me with morphine and let me go on down the drain. And Alan’s free to take all my clothes out of the closet and find someone else to warm up my side of the bed. Hey — life goes on.

Posted at 9:02 pm in Uncategorized |

20 responses to “Think different.”

  1. Mindy said on March 21, 2005 at 7:09 am

    I have the octagon version of that rug. Put a book on your new coffee table when it’s finished. Howzabout Bang the Drum Slowly.

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  2. John said on March 21, 2005 at 8:01 am

    and now for the rest of the story….

    Nelson’s lover and her friend cleaned up the room, got his clothes on him and had him sitting in a living room chair before the ambulance/cops arrived. What they couldn’t do, was release his “personal inflation” device so he was stiff even before rigor set in. To hide his condition, they propped up a newspaper in his lap. When the cops arrived, they assessed the situation and got the young lady in the backrooom and asked for the truth. She, of course, claimed igorance but once the detective pointed out the shoes were on the wrong feet, the newspaper was upside down, and Nelson had a “Rockefeller” in his shorts, she came clean.

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  3. Randy said on March 21, 2005 at 9:46 am

    That chair (or couch maybe?) behind your new coffee table is a match for the couch in my basement. Where di you get it? How old is it?

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  4. vince said on March 21, 2005 at 9:49 am

    I think you’ve got a table to beat the band!

    (This from a guy with a Mexican door for a dining room table.)

    Now if Alan covers it with wet animal skin instead of glass and starts communing with his inner percusionist, I’d get worried.

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  5. Nance said on March 21, 2005 at 9:50 am

    It’s a chair from Ethan Allen, c. 1992. Our first expensive piece of furniture purchased as a couple. As for the rug, it’s a placeholder for now. It used to be in my office, but now we’re under-rugged and over-floored, so it’s in the living room.

    I guess we’ll have to find one that works with the drum.

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  6. Connie said on March 21, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Ditto for me Nancy, unplug me please. As for GOP involvement, what happened to sanctity of marriage? As they interfere with a husband’s decision.

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  7. colleen said on March 21, 2005 at 10:10 am

    The whole Schiavo thing prompted me to get a living will signed. Unplug me for sure.

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  8. Lance said on March 21, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Connie, if we pretend this isn’t the crassest most disgusting act of political opportunism I can remember, that Jeb Bush didn’t get involved to have an issue to rally his right wing troops when he ran for re-election as governor, that Tom Delay isn’t using Schavio to try to save his own skin, and if we clap our hands to show that we believe in fairies too, then this is a debate over euthenasia, and if you believe that’s wrong, then the husband is not exercising his rights but simply putting his wife down like a dog.

    Terri Schavio is dead. But the people who refuse to believe she is aren’t being mean, cruel, or vicious. They’re being sentimental and far too hopeful. They’re putting their trust in angels and miracles instead of science and medicine. They don’t understand that the signs of “life” in her body aren’t signs that she can come out of it; they’re signs that she has come out of it. This is as far out of it as she will ever get. But I can understand why her parents don’t want to accept this.

    Nance says that her parents have offered to take over the care and expense, so what I don’t understand is why the husband refuses to let them.

    If he believes Terri’s dead then it shouldn’t matter to him much if her body’s in the ground or in a bed at her parents’ house.

    If there isn’t an ulterior, shady reason for his refusal, then the only thing that makes sense is that he believes his wife is still inside that body and he wants to release her. That’s closer to reasonable than believing she will recover, but not that much closer.

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  9. Nance said on March 21, 2005 at 10:50 am

    The husband’s refusal to take the money (not that there’s much left) and the divorce and run says more to me than anything else. He’s being her husband. It’s entirely posiible he’s doing her wishes. Certainly his new relationship raises an eyebrow, but we forget this happened, what? Fifteen years ago? He gave up after eight; that seems more than reasonable.

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  10. Lance said on March 21, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Digby at Hullabaloo reminding people that this is just disgusting political theater and that Republicans have no trouble pulling the plug when the families can’t pay! Even when the person on life support is a baby!

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  11. juan said on March 21, 2005 at 11:21 am

    And THIS, folks, is why I am a Libertarian and not a Republican.

    As if things weren’t bad enough for that family, I am so dismayed at the political grandstanding.

    You have two carefully considered positions from two factions of Terri’s family that both love her and want the best for her. The LAST thing EITHER of them need is for the government to meddle.

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  12. ts said on March 21, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    Jonah Goldberg writes:

    “I do think conservative Republicans are at a minimum inconsistent in their sudden love of the fourteenth amendment and an activist federal government. But liberals are no less inconsistent in their sudden love of states’ rights on such issues. The difference is that Republicans are embracing a principle they’ve spent some time upholding — a culture of life — while Democrats are spending most of their time whining about the “hypocrisy” of their opponents. I would respect the Democrats more if they had the courage to argue that Terri should die. That is their position.”

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  13. 4dbirds said on March 21, 2005 at 1:41 pm

    As the wife and mother of drummers, I’ve had drums in my living room for 25 years. I think they make a great decor.

    Here’s my problem with this and it doesn’t really have to do with pulling the tube on Terri, more on who gets to make the decision. Her husband, at least I feel, has abandoned her. He did so when he created another family with the girlfriend/common-law wife’. Just because he didn’t divorce Terri legally, it seems he certainly divorced her in spirit. He started another family. Nance, I agree 8 years is a long time to wait but wedding vows are for forever. The husband should have divorced her and I wonder why he didn’t.

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  14. Dorothy said on March 21, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Yes, what 4dbirds said. (Except for the part about the drums. No drummers in my family)

    I did read the Abstract Appeal summary and I’m very glad I did. Cleared up a lot of questions I had. I was astonished to read this poor woman has been in this state for 15 years. But the government has no busines getting involved. I just had some minor surgery last week and I, too, have no living will. I’m going to get one ASAP. My driver’s license states I’m an organ donor. Do any states have a Living Will designation on their driver’s licenses? Anyone?

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  15. joodyb said on March 21, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Poor Terri Schiavo; so much for privacy and dignity. Relegated to the same news level as steroids in baseball. All-too successful subterfuge for what we really ought to be getting: New and dirtier dirt on DeLay every single GD day, and we’re supposed to care more about a tragedy that is none of our (or Congress’) business. And Jacko. and Mark McGwire.

    Who was it said Iraq wasn’t gonna cost us anything cause of all that oil? Wasn’t that Wolfowitz? Clearly a man qualified to run the World Bank. Boys and men, dying and maimed daily. And where’d that $8 billion Congress approved for the war all go, anyway?

    The only good idea MSP has ever had? While we’re spending it all, we might as well throw some at space exploration: that’s the only place left to go. (MSP = My Sisters’ President)

    Has anyone else read “The Plot Against America”?

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  16. Danny said on March 21, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    I think that Terri should be allowed to live and that the husband should move on (the rest of the way). Her blood relatives love her and want to take care of her.

    I agree with those who think Congrees should keep out of this. The Republicans deserve some trashing here, but I heard that the Senate vote was unanimous and I think there are still a few Dems in the Senate.

    Man, I see that John Delorean is dead at 80. I didn’t know he was responsible for the GTO and the Vega. How incongruous!

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  17. Nance said on March 21, 2005 at 4:56 pm

    Judy, I read “The Plot Against America.” Good stuff.

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  18. brian stouder said on March 21, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    “If there isn’t an ulterior, shady reason for his refusal, then the only thing that makes sense is that he believes his wife is still inside that body and he wants to release her.”

    THAT sounds “sentimental and far too hopeful”, and like “trust in angels and miracles instead of science and medicine” if ANYTHING does!!

    The husband NEVER argued that she wanted to be “unplugged” when he successfully sued for millions of dollars – the better to take care of her for the rest of her life.

    I cannot disagree with the general disgust that this issue has landed in congress, but (there HAD to be a “but”!) if we are going to simply allow this ersatz husband to order her death by starvation – then Dr Kervorkian most certainly should be revisited. Why was he convicted?

    Certainly, ending a life with injections, and having the whole process completed in an hour is affords more “quality of life” than a painful week or two of dehydration and starvation?

    and where are the (hypocritical) Women’s Rights

    groups? Why in hell should a wandering “husband” get to decide to end the life of his wife (or if you insist – on what’s left of his wife)

    If the congressional follies can serve any good purpose, then maybe a general debate on these “hard case” issues can be had, and our society can determine how to go forward.

    and thanks for the link Nance – good stuff

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  19. alex said on March 21, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    Hypocritical women’s rights groups, Brian? You’re showboating here as badly as Congress. For shame.

    As a gay man, I couldn’t make such a decision for my partner, nor vice versa. I have no rights as a husband and the GOP wants to see to it that I never do. And, no, I’d opt for euthanasia if I were in Terri Schiavo’s shoes. Er, bed.

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  20. joodyb said on March 21, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    Nancy: I think the prose is a tad condescending, and I’ve never been a fan. But I was compelled to read and keep reading. Is it because I have the same sense as little Philip, that I’m seeing things I thought impossible to see in this country?

    However shrill, it’s a fantastic premise. I keep wondering how it got published in this day. It’s a good thing I just got around to it now; if I’d read it during the election or even the holidays, I might have eaten rat poison.

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