Archives November 2008

SCORE ONE FOR DEATH WITH DIGNITY

 

 

On a summer afternoon in Portland, Oregon, 68 year-old Margaret Sutherland kissed her five grown children one by one, listened to her son read the 23rd Psalm, gazed out the window toward the Williamette River a final time then hoisted a glass of water to help her swallow ten, 100 milligram capsules of Seconal. Within five minutes, she was unconscious. In fifteen minutes, she was dead…as she wished.

Cancer had already claimed one of her lungs and eaten her ribs. She had lost control of her bowels and coughed blood constantly. The pain was so intense, she could hardly walk.

Doomed to two, three or four more months of suffering before arriving at death, she also considered the hardships being imposed upon her loved ones. Sutherland decided to take advantage of Oregon’s Death With Dignity law, received confirmation of her doom from two doctors and asked for the needed prescription to end her life. When the day arrived, she put on a dress, a little make-up and said her last goodbyes to friends and family. Love abounded, suffering ended. Everyone was at peace, including Mrs. Sutherland.

How can anyone argue with that?

Obscured amid major political issues this year was the outcome of a controversial referendum put to Washington State voters on November 4th. Following the lead of Oregon, Washingtonians overwhelmingly approved a Death With Dignity Act by a vote of 59% to 41%, thereby giving rights to the terminally ill to end their suffering, and the suffering of loved ones.

Safeguards against abuse are built in to the new law which is very similar to Oregon, providing that:

* Patient must be of sound mind.

* Must be a resident of that state, over the age of eighteen.

* Patient must be declared terminally ill by two independent physicians, and have less than six months to live.

* Patients are prescribed lethal medication which can be taken at their choice of time and place. Patients can elect to decline using the medication.

* Patient must provide a written request to physicians, signed in the presence of two witnesses.

* Physicians must inform the patient of alternatives, including hospice care and pain management.

In the ten years since it went into effect in Oregon, there has been no evidence or reports that the law has been abused or applied frivolously. Between 1997 and 2007, 341 death-bound citizens of Oregon have opted for physician assisted suicide. Another one-hundred received prescriptions, but elected not to use them.

I see nothing wrong in this.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the senior population over 75 will rise from 18 million to 31 million in twenty years. Florida is home to the largest per capita population of elderly citizens. With that, comes the inevitability of terminal sickness and suffering among thousands, making this state ripe for such a law. It’s time that Florida and other states consider a referendum, a la Oregon and Washington giving terminal patients who face irreversible suffering, a choice.

America is supposed to be a compassionate society. What are we waiting for?

When we euthanize pets that suffer from agonizing and incurable disease, we call that the “Humane” thing to do. Yet, in forty-eight of our states, helping our human counterparts to alleviate suffering is called “Inhumane,” even when the patient is the most willing party.

We are a nation who champions the rights of people, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But we do not champion the rights of those who suffer. Instead, society makes the rules which require sufferers to take medicine, go to pain management, hang on until nature take it’s course, no matter the agony.

Should I learn that I have a terminal illness, doomed to nightmarish torture and agony, I don’t want pills, psychological counseling or preaching. If Florida hasn’t come of age, I’m moving to Oregon or Washington. I’ll do it, not only for myself, but for the people I love so they don’t have to watch my decline any longer than necessary, and to help save the mounting medical costs.

The pursuit of happiness also includes the right to death with dignity, much in the manner of Margaret Sutherland. Washington and Oregon got it right.

 

 

MOVIE CRITIQUES 2

 

Here’s an amateur’s critique of some recent movies.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS

 

This is one of those movies that will probably die at the box office. It’s not a thriller. No action to speak of. No major stars. Not even one “F” word. No wonder it’s doomed to be a flop.

Yet, it is one of the best movies of the year. That is if you appreciate great acting, a gripping story-line, and an historical perspective of the Nazi era from another viewpoint. Not since Life Is Beautiful have I been so taken in.

If you only enjoy movies that are light and lively, skip this one. You will have to be ready for a deep and powerful drama set in wartime Germany, as witnessed through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy named Bruno. The boy is the son of a commandant at a concentration camp whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence has unexpected consequences. While the movie moves slowly in places, you never lose contact with the struggle of this child all the way to an unpredictable ending. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is one of those rare movies that you still talk about the next day over breakfast.

Give this one a 9 ½

 
PRIDE AND GLORY

 

 

 

If you are an addict to the “F” word, and you enjoy herky-jerky, flashpoint camera work, with constant ( I mean constant) close-ups, you’ll enjoy this film. It is a powerful story about corruption in the NYPD, complete with good guys/bad guys, and very little in the way of surprises because it’s a worn-out plot. Yet, it is well acted by such luminaries as Colin Farrell, Ed Norton and Jon Voight. It may have received better ratings had it been directed by someone like Eastwood, Spielberg or Scorsese…all of whom would have eased up on the photographic eyestrain and stuck more to the story.

I’m no prude by any stretch, but when the “F” word is used two and three times in every sentence, for no reason, the dialogue morphs into Chinese water torture…you stop listening to the rest of the dialogue. I was a cop thirty years. We all did our share of cursing, but I never remember the constant drone of “F” over and over.

Good acting, good story, coulda been a good picture…but it’s not.

Score it 4 ½

 
CHANGELING

 

 

 

Will probably be in the mix during the race for Oscar statuettes. At 78 years of age, Clint Eastwood is an inspiration, and a message that growing older is no excuse for growing less productive.

Say what you will about Angelina Jolie and all tabloid frenzy about her good looks, her kids, and her men, she emerges as a great actress in this picture and I suspect will be among the nominees for best actress.

Based on a true story, she plays the mother of a missing 9 year-old child in 1920s Los Angeles when the police act more as her adversary than her supporters. Corrupt cops and an egomaniacal police chief force Jolie into untenable situations, including an insane asylum, as she hunts for her kid. John Malkovich, one of today’s greats, plays the radio-talk show pastor who is eager to help Jolie and challenges the cops.

Directed by Eastwood, who is finding himself in the company of greats as a director, this picture is a sad but wonderfully told story that is sure to be noticed by the Academy Awards.

Give it a 9.

 
FIREPROOF

 

 

 

If you are a devout fundamentalist Christian, you will love this movie. If you are a person who does not fancy being evangelized, you will not love this movie.

Heroic fireman, played by Kirk Cameron, experiences marital difficulties. She complains about his lack of attention to home and her, he defends himself saying she doesn’t respect him. The marriage is on the rocks until he consults with his father, a born-again Christian who ultimately convinces his son to give his life to Jesus and God, and to stay the course. He resists at first, then succumbs to religion, and of course, God prevails and they all make up and live happily ever after.

Other than the male lead (Cameron) all the actors are amateur volunteers from the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Cameron’s father is poorly played by an elder gentleman named Harris Malcom, who acts and sounds more like a country preacher than the father of a city fireman. There is no information to be found on Mr. Malcom.

This is a great film for folks who revel in religious retreats and think that all domestic problems can be resolved through divine intervention. For me, who has had my share of domestic intranquility and who knows many others with the similar history, it didn’t ring true. Far from it. And, when the unexpected proselytizing emerged, I felt deceived and duped into having bought movie tickets only to be sermonized.

A couple fire rescue scenes were well done, a saving “grace” for the movie from being a flat Zero.

For Fundamentalist Christians this would probably rate a 9. For non-fundamentalists, it would rate a 3.

 

 

 

CONGRATS TO THE WINNER

 

 

The fat lady has sung. The two-year political marathon is finally over. No other nation on earth takes nearly two years of campaigning to elect a leader. Not even close.

The media won’t know what to do with themselves with all that dead air time, without a national candidate to bolster, harangue, adore or excoriate.

Barack Obama, to his credit, was brilliant. Then again, brilliance is his strongest asset. Congratulations are certainly in order. Despite differences in thought and opinion, we must all try to gel together in support of our new president, as we do with all new presidents.

I have made no secret of my fears of an Obama presidency. I’ve made some readers angry, even visceral, by writing these blogs trying to share vital information about a candidate that I felt might do great harm if elected. I thought it important that people know these things, and not turn a blind eye, clouded by eloquent oratory and a liberal yearning to see the first minority in the White House. My suspicions come honestly, not only from an enormous well of information out there from other writers and investigators, but from detailed research.

Cops are always on guard for deciphering deceit. They are the ultimate cynics. That’s why cops rely on evidence to make a judgement. That’s why cops gather intelligence information on people based on who they associate with. For me, it’s still in the blood.

I recently had a good friend tell me, that he hoped I was wrong about Barack Obama. I told him, “I hope I am wrong too. I hope I’m very wrong.” That being said, the president-elect now has four years to prove himself, and prove all the naysayers — like me — wrong.

If that be the case, I will be the first to own up. I hope that happens. No one will be happier than me.

I have a new book being released this month “Criminal Injustice In America.” Much of my time will be devoted to marketing, thus my blogs will have to take a rest for a while. Thanks for all your heartfelt responses over this past year, whether in agreement or not, they are appreciated. I only ask that people be respectful, not only to me, but to each other.

More about my new book on my web site:

www.marshallfrank.com