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3/18/2005

 

question for you libs re. terry schiavo



i must admit that i have surprised myself by, to the best of my recollection your honor, never having printed a single word regarding the terry schiavo case. i haven't been around to post much lately, but the issue is important enough that i should have made the time.

for those of you unfamiliar with terry's situation, in 1990 she suffered a heart attack brought on by a potassium deficiency that had been improperly diagnosed. the heart attack left her severely brain damaged and she's been in what doctors describe as a "persistent vegetative state" ever since. terry was awarded a malpractice settlement which has been eaten up by medical bills and failed attempts at rehabilitation. although there is no living will or written expression of intent of any kind, terry's husband, michael schiavo, believes that she would not have wished to continue living this way and asked the courts to order her feeding tube removed, essentially allowing her to starve. in 2003, he got a florida judge to go along with him, but a last-minute bill was passed by the florida legislature empowering governor jeb bush to order the tube back in, thus prompting a second wave of legal battles.

that brings us up to the present, where the second wave of legal battles would have seen its resolution with terry's tube being removed this very day were it not for senator mike enzi (r, wy), who has subpoenaed schiavo to appear before his committee. as matt drudge reports, this action "triggers legal or statutory protections for the witness...nothing can be done to cause harm or death to this individual."

now that you've got the basics, i invite you to take a look at the link to terry's website i included above if you haven't done so already. specifically, i want you to scroll down to the video section and watch the footage of this "vegetable."

her mother walks to her bed side and terry's face lights up like a christmas tree. she smiles. her mother asks her how her cold is and she attempts to groan out a response. a doctor asks terry to follow a balloon with her eyes, and she tracks it as he waves it side to side. and perhaps most disconcerting of all, when she's given an oral swab, she frowns and turns away in clear displeasure.

are you getting this, libs? this woman is conscious. she's sentient. she has emotional responses and she feels pain. critics of the video have said that of the four hours (illegal) footage her parents brought from terry's bedside, only these few moments have been cherry-picked to give the impression of consciousness.

well, maybe so, but for those few moments, she sure as hell looks conscious to me. let's be perfectly clear here: terry schiavo is not brain dead. she's brain damaged and not so severely that she can't enjoy what to all appearances are at least a few moments of consciousness a day. we barely understand consciousness in a normal, healthy person. how can anyone say what's happening to terry? how can anyone be so sure that they feel justified in ending her life?

they can't. no one can. it's a philsophical impossibility and any doctor or lawyer or husband who claims otherwise is lying. they can look at the charts and study the data but, at the end of the day, no one can know for certain what is or is not happening inside the mind of terry schiavo. so because they're not sure, they're going to kill her--and that in spite of the fact that we don't have any indication of how terry herself might have felt about the matter beforehand.

i'm sorry, but i can't look into this woman's smiling, conscious face and say she's a vegetable. i can't see her scowl at a swabbing and then pretend that it isn't going to hurt like hell as she spends a week or so dying of dehydration--that's a gruesome, barbaric death that the ACLU wouldn't countenance for an instant if it were osama bin laden, let alone an innocent woman. oh, and speaking of the ACLU, where do they stand in all of this? firmly on the side of terry. yep, you heard right. by ordering her feeding tube back in again, they say, jeb bush violated terry's "constitutional right to privacy." ah, privacy. where would euthanasia be without it?

so here's my question, libs. why aren't you standing up for terry schiavo? why do you and the ACLU want her dead while conservatives are doing everything in their power to defend her constitutional right to life.

if terry schiavo was a murderer who slaughtered her husband and drown her children and was awaiting a peaceful lethal injection instead of an innocent woman awaiting the grim prospect of a torturous, week-long execution, you'd be holding candle-light vigils with tim robins and susan sarandon leading the way. as a "pro-lifer" i'm frequently criticized by abortion ghouls as a walking contradiction on account of my contemporaneous support of capital punishment, yet here we have leftists who'll crusade as far as the day is long on behalf of convicted cop killers or child murdering moms and stand idly by and watch--or actively assist in--the death of an innocent woman. in the name of God, how can you accept this?

i implore each of you to visit terry's website, which i'll link once again, and take a look at those videos before you sentence her to death within your own hearts. if this woman only has a few moments of what you and i would think of as life a day, and if those moments are filled with happiness and family and love, then who are any of us to say that that's not a life worth living? no one, not the ACLU, the courts, or michael schiavo himself, has the right to make that call.

locdog asks you to at least check it out




3/17/2005

 

locdog movie review: super size me



i love mcdonalds. i really do. it's one of my many concessions to crass american consumerism. the pizza hut lunch buffet? dig it. a biggie-sized frosty and cup of chili to go? i'm there. big mac, large fry, and a coke? word. mcdonalds, and most of fast food in general, is cheap, filling, and tastes good. have you ever had one of those mcgriddle things? imagine two hockey pucks made out of french toast squirted full of syrup like a piece of freshen-up with the traditional mcsausage/egg/cheese combo wedged betwixt the two. bitchin.

tragically, my love has ever been unrequited. my freshman year of college i gained twenty pounds subsisting almost exclusively on whoppers and pizza hut. i flew too close to the sun...but, as with all my broken hearts, i was left stronger and wiser in the end.

nowadays i don't have fast food of any variety but once every few months. i literally cannot remember the last time i ate at mcdonalds, although i'm sure i enjoyed my meal and went to sleep that night with a clear conscience. moderation in all things.

it was with some trepidation then that i flipped on super size me, rookie documentarian morgan spurlock's assault on mcdonalds and the obesity epidemic. super size me has become something of a minor pop cultural phenomenon, so i was aware of the basics. some guy eats nothing but mcdonalds for a month and documents his physical and mental decline. how, exactly is that supposed to hold my interest over the course of a 100 minute running time? combine that with a predictably blame-corporate-america approach (as my scouts had informed me) and there seemed little point in finding out.

well, relax. super size me is nothing if not engrossing. take a genuinely funny and likeable protagonist and cram him full of mcmeat, toss in a vegan girlfriend (yes, vegan), add some clever computer graphics and nifty artwork, and slather on vivid, orgy-worthy vomitorium footage and equally unsettling stomach stapling surgery shots and you probably won't even notice the litany of doctors, lawyers, nutritionists, and sundry ubiquitous experts. tastes so good, you forget the fiber!

as mentioned, the film follows spurlock as he eats nothing but mcdonalds food for one month. why would he do this, you ask? because in a recent law suit, a judge ruled that plaintiffs who were attempting to sue mcdonalds for obesity-related health problems failed to show that it was mcdonalds food that had really done them in. (spurlock does not mention that that was only part of the ruling, that the judge also found that, regardless of how bad mcdonalds food was, no one could stuff themselves full of it and not reasonably expect health problems. more on personal responsibility later.)

but it's not quite as simple as just eating a lot of mcdonalds. there are rules. first, of course, spurlock will eat nothing but mickey d's. second, he must have everything on the menu at least once. third, he will only super size when asked...which, not surprisingly, is more or less always. now, doesn't that sound to you, a "reasonable observer" as our courts might say, like a fairly suicidal endeavor?

hold that thought.

aiding spurlock in his journey are three doctors and one nutritionist who subject him to a battery of physical tests throughout the experiment. at the beginning of the film, they predict little more than modest weight gain and perhaps a mild spike in cholesterol, but by the end, they're begging him to stop destroying his body before it's too late.

watching spurlock's morph from the picture of health into a diseased slob, however, is one of the least unsettling aspects of super size me. watching him puke up a double quarter pounder with cheese on day three--complete with close-ups--ranks pretty high on my list. and honestly, who hasn't felt like retching their guts out after mcgorging? still, did i really need to see it? the other shock-value moment, where spurlock shows someone having their stomach stapled, had a similar effect. perhaps these scenes managed to chisel through the shroud of apathy surrounding your typical unimaginative 15 year old, but they just sickened me--and, no, that's not "just the point." the point is that they repelled and alienated and whacked chunks of cred from a surprisingly credible report like the cheap, tawdry stunts they were.

those glaring errors aside, spurlock does a pretty good job. the film's piece de resistance is, of course, him turning from marlon brando into marlon brando. what happens physically, mentally, and, according to his too-much-information earth mother sweetheart, sexually. he puts on 25 pounds. his liver starts looking like a piece of foie gras. his cholesterol shoots up over 100 points. he finds it difficult to concentrate. he becomes depressed. in fact, the only time he brightens at all is when he's eating.

there's more to super size me than that, the best parts, really, have little to do with spurlock. the film should be mandatory viewing for every parent and teen for its treatment of kids and food alone. not just mcdonalds, but the junk food culture in general. public schools catered by food preparation corporations who serve up greasy fries, pepsi, pizza, and other distillations of sugar and fat while supposedly providing yeah-right healthy alternatives (here kid, you can have a slice of double-cheese and pepperoni and a bag of doritos, or this nice apple), schools for troubled kids who behave like little princes since the menu has been switched to wholesome fare...he makes a compelling case for seriously evaluating just what we're putting in our kids, and just what it's doing to them.

but does he succeed where it counts? his central purpose is to pin culpability on mcdonalds for the obesity epidemic ala tobacco settlements. does he pull it off?

no, but not due to any failings as a film maker. i doubt orson welles (no stranger to junk food he) could have made me see the light. eating nothing but mcdonalds for a month is silly, which is the thought you've hopefully been holding through these last few paragraphs. everyone knows that there's a reasonable amount of fast food we should limit ourselves to. and while a big deal is made throughout the film of the difficulty of obtaining mcdonalds nutritional information (although it's on their website, half the homes in america still don't have internet access, spurlock whines--and, i suppose they don't have libraries or malls or airports or any of the other bajillion locations you can find web access these days if it's all that bloody important to them?) no one with half a brain could believe that mcdonalds is good for them. either on account of the name being synonymous with junk food, or on account of the painfully self-evident side effects it's abuse yields in us all.

and abuse is the key word here. used sensibly, mcdonalds food is a harmless treat. abuse it, and it's fatal. well duh. in defense of his argument, spurlock advises those who would say "yeah, but no one eats mcdonalds every day for a month" that, yes, something like a quarter of their customers do just that, dining at mcdonalds several times a week. spurlock contends that since mcdonalds attempts to hook customers when they are young (just like tobacco) and keep them coming back as much as possible with clever ads and market research (just like tobacco) and by essentially manipulating the fat and sugar content of their product to make it as yummy as possible (just like tobacco) that they are therefore quite responsible for these so-called "heavy users" (that's mcdonalds' actual term) and the health problems they incur.

which, pardon me, is lunacy. sorry, tubby, but if you're eating at mcdonalds 6 or 7 times a week and you come down with a case of diabetes, you've got no one to blame but yourself. i don't give a damn how rare mcdonalds nutritional tables are, there isn't a 300 pounder alive who doesn't at some level understand that his or her behavior is self-destructive. i do feel bad for the kids, but that's the parent's fault, not ray kroc's.

tobacco is inherently addictive. food is not. that's not to say that people can't become addicted to food--i'm certain that over the filming of super size me spurlock himself did--but you can't do that without sustained periods of completely unreasonable usage to begin with. and even if i were to stipulate that mcdonalds does everything within their power to get you to purchase their product as often as you can (and if i were a business exec pouring billions--yes, billions--into advertising, i'd want that too) it's still your responsibility as a consumer to know better. how hard is that when all you need to know to see through the hype is as obvious as that mcbrick you get in your stomach after eating their food or that first step on the scale? those who get fooled want to be fooled, those who get addicted hooked themselves.

still, super size me is an enjoyable film, one that's important in spite of its occasionally childish tactics and flawed premise. and i'm not defending the mcdonalds corporation for basically profiting off of an epidemic, by the way. but will spurlock get me to join in with him on any class action suits? not hardly.

locdog is going to sue al gore for his internet addiction