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Wesley J. Smith: Case of Rom Houben Should Prompt Renewed Look at Terri Schiavo's Death
Life News ^ | 12/24/09 | Wesley J. Smith

Posted on 12/26/2009 6:22:59 PM PST by wagglebee

LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His most recent book is the Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World. This opinion column originally appeared in the Church Report.

Terri Schiavo continues to prick our collective conscience, our sensitivity to the way she died -- deprived of all food and water, even the balm of ice chips for nearly two weeks -- as raw today as on the day she drew her last breath five years ago next March.

Usually, the trauma remains just beneath the surface. But every once in a while events conspire to bring it all back to the fore. Take, for example, the intense international focus paid to Rom Houben. In 1983, Houben suffered catastrophic head injuries in an automobile accident. He was brought to the hospital unconscious. Doctors eventually concluded that his case was hopeless, that he was in a persistent vegetative state.

The PVS diagnosis meant that on the day Terri died, most bioethicists would have also approved Rom being dehydrated to death. He is no longer a “person,” they might have said., Why prolong a useless life?

Indeed, removing food and water from the profoundly cognitively impaired, has, over the last twenty years, been legalized in all fifty states and declared by bioethicists and judges to be fully ethical, indeed, just a matter of “death with dignity.” This, even though repeated studies have shown that about 40% of PVS diagnoses are mistaken.

One of those misdiagnoses, it turned out, was of Rom Houben.

Unlike Terri, he is alive today and—literally—telling his tale because he didn't have a spouse dedicated to making sure he died, nor a judge refusing his family’s every entreaty to try new brain tests. Indeed, his family eventually prevailed upon internationally renowned physician Dr. Steven Laureys to perform a PET scan of Rom’s brain—not available at the time of the initial diagnosis—which revealed startlingly that his brain activity was near normal.

Further studies revealed that Rom Houbens was actually fully awake and aware but unable to communicate, a condition known as the “locked-in state,”

Therapy commenced and soon Rom was communicating in a rudimentary way by answering yes or no questions with the movement of a foot. Patiently over three years, his abilities improved. Rom now communicates with the help of a speech therapist—who moves his finger over a computer keyboard, allowing him to contract his finger to type each letter.

He is now telling his story of years of terrible frustration and loneliness during the 23 years he was isolated by his inability to communicate—and then great joy of reconnecting with the world, an event he calls his “second birth.”

The news about Rom’s marked improvement has been surprisingly controversial. Some critics have groused that his interactivity is actually a “facilitated communication” scam, in which the actual communicator is the therapist rather than the patient. But that seems unlikely.

Dr. Laureys is internationally renowned, and in an interview in the New Scientist, he denied participating in such a subterfuge. A story in the Associated Press provided details casting doubt on the facilitated communication criticism:

One of the checks Laureys applied to verify Houben was really communicating was to send the speech therapist away before showing his patient different objects. When the aide came back and Houben was asked to say what he saw, that same hand held by the aide punched in the right information, he said.

Meanwhile, as people marveled at Rom’s turn in fortune, Terri Schiavo quickly became the subtext of the story. While no one contended she was also locked-in (her autopsy stated that the condition of her brain was consistent with either PVS or minimal consciousness), activists on both sides of the ethical debate over dehydrating patients weighed in about how to best care (or not care) for such patients.

Noted bioethicist, Art Caplan, who strongly backed Michael Schaivo’s quest to end his wife’s life, assured people that it is proper to remove sustenance from the profoundly impaired whether or not they are actually unconscious.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, argued that patients such as Rom should be considered for euthanasia: “Rather than offering a compelling reason to keep such patients alive,” Appel wrote, “the horrors of enduring such a petrified existence may offer a compelling reason to let them die.”

In contrast, the Calgary Herald spoke just as strongly when it editorialized, “The lesson from Houben's case--and reinforced, sadly, too late by Schiavo's case-- is that if doctors and courts must err, it should always be on the side of life, and on the assumption that despite all outward appearances, the "I" is "indeed there."

Others in the media also made the Schiavo connection. Time, for example, reported that Schiavo-type “legal fights are likely to become more common as classifications of brain-injury severity are revised.” ABC reported that Terri Schiavo’s family “felt heartbreak and vindication” about the story.

So Terri Schiavo remains very much with us. Polls show that most people believe that her dehydration was just and proper because she was so impaired. But perhaps our inner voice, the part of us that never lies, sees it differently. Perhaps the reason Terri Schiavo comes so quickly to mind whenever we hear stories about “miraculous” awakenings, is that we remain profoundly disturbed by what we did to her, haunted it would seem, by her beautifully smiling face.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: euthanasia; moralabsolutes; prolife; romhouben; terri; terridailies; terrischiavo; whiterose
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So Terri Schiavo remains very much with us. Polls show that most people believe that her dehydration was just and proper because she was so impaired. But perhaps our inner voice, the part of us that never lies, sees it differently. Perhaps the reason Terri Schiavo comes so quickly to mind whenever we hear stories about “miraculous” awakenings, is that we remain profoundly disturbed by what we did to her, haunted it would seem, by her beautifully smiling face.

We should be haunted, because her murder is just a glimpse of what will come under Obamacare.

1 posted on 12/26/2009 6:22:59 PM PST by wagglebee
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To: cgk; Coleus; cpforlife.org; narses; Salvation; 8mmMauser

Pro-Life Ping


2 posted on 12/26/2009 6:24:17 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 185JHP; 230FMJ; 69ConvertibleFirebird; Albion Wilde; Aleighanne; Alexander Rubin; ...
Moral Absolutes Ping!

Freepmail wagglebee or DirtyHarryY2K to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.

FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]


3 posted on 12/26/2009 6:24:56 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
New Terri Dailies Theme...
 
Wesley J. Smith has written a fantastic piece about Terri.


4 posted on 12/26/2009 6:27:08 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee
Her end was nothing but murder, pure and simple. It's coming to us all now with the decisions about who will be given care coming from nameless bureaucrats. Satan is dancing with delight over the passage of this bill - Reid, Pelosi and Obama are nothing more than his mouthpieces, and the rest of the Democrat Party is in lockstep with them.

Lamh Foistenach Abu!
5 posted on 12/26/2009 6:33:27 PM PST by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines, RVN 1969. St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle!)
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To: wagglebee
What ultimately killed murdered Terri Schiavo was Jeb Bush's inability to take a moral stand as Governor of Florida. Cowardice killed Terri.
6 posted on 12/26/2009 6:33:41 PM PST by MHGinTN (Obots, believing they cannot be deceived, it is impossible to convince them when they are deceived.)
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To: MHGinTN

And Florida’s current governor (and senate candidate) Charlie Crist is also culpable in Terri’s murder.


7 posted on 12/26/2009 6:35:07 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

The Terry Schiavo story was the first time that I began to realize that there is something terribly, terribly wrong going on in this country.

We are supposed to defend and help those who cannot help themselves, not murder them by starvation and dehydration. This woman was made to suffer.

I hope that anyone that was personally involved in what was done to her burns in Hell for eternity, because that is what they deserve.


8 posted on 12/26/2009 6:36:18 PM PST by chris37
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To: wagglebee
Terri Schiavo isn't the story we have to be worried about.

Anne Frank is the story we have to be worried about.

9 posted on 12/26/2009 6:37:35 PM PST by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: wagglebee

MengeleCare that Congress intends to be their Final Solution for enemies of their State.


10 posted on 12/26/2009 6:38:36 PM PST by ExTexasRedhead (Clean the RAT/RINO Sewer in 2010 and 2012)
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To: wagglebee
her autopsy stated that the condition of her brain was consistent with either PVS or minimal consciousness

This isn't true. Such a determination can only be made on a living brain. And the doctor that did the autopsy stated as much. What he did say was that there was damage. I still get steamed by writers that misstate what was said.

Polls show that most people believe that her dehydration was just and proper

Because they weren't told the truth.

11 posted on 12/26/2009 6:39:31 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee

The thing that gets me is she had a feeding tube because she would silently aspirate food into her lungs if she ate by mouth...so the husband finally decided (because she was not ‘with it’) to cut the tube and let her starve to death?

Man, wouldn’t it be better to let the girl eat and die at least hydrated and feeling full?


12 posted on 12/26/2009 6:40:06 PM PST by Beowulf9
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To: DJ MacWoW

I no longer have the link to Terri’s autopsy report. However, I think the author (Wesley J. Smith) was referring to the report that Mikey Schiavo had written, Wesley Smith is very close to the Schindlers and was definitely on Terri’s side.


13 posted on 12/26/2009 6:43:09 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

I still get teed off. You understand.


14 posted on 12/26/2009 6:45:14 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: Beowulf9

They don’t know if she’d aspirate because the judge ordered that no one was to feed her by mouth. Her brother and sister were caught feeding her and barred from visiting again.


15 posted on 12/26/2009 6:46:47 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: DJ MacWoW

I do too. But I get the maddest at the supposedly conservative FReepers who say that we should just forget about Terri and “move on”.


16 posted on 12/26/2009 6:46:51 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

Can’t move on. Won’t either. :-)


17 posted on 12/26/2009 6:48:33 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: DJ MacWoW

I’ve told more than a few pro-death FReepers that when innocent people are no longer subject to state-supported murder I will quit talking about it.


18 posted on 12/26/2009 6:50:55 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

Unfortunately those become very heated discussions. For them, it’s about money. For us, it’s about the right to live.


19 posted on 12/26/2009 6:52:53 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee

When we allowed the State of Florida to kill an innocent woman by dehydrating her to death, it marked a turning point in our nation. We now see that Terri was just the beginning. Seniors and people with disabilities are the next targets. Anyone who doesn’t meet the left’s guidelines for a productive life will be on the list.


20 posted on 12/26/2009 6:54:26 PM PST by FR_addict (www.conservativesinactionusa.com)
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To: wagglebee
When we allowed the State of Florida to kill an innocent woman by dehydrating her to death, it marked a turning point in our nation. We now see that Terri was just the beginning. Seniors and people with disabilities are the next targets. Anyone who doesn't meet the left’s guidelines for a productive life will be on the list.
21 posted on 12/26/2009 6:55:50 PM PST by FR_addict (www.conservativesinactionusa.com)
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To: DJ MacWoW

Terri became a fairly wealthy woman due when her suit for medical negligence was settled. Unfortunately, her estranged, adulterous and very possibly abusive “husband” spent all of her money murdering her.

Many of America’s current fiscal problems (looming Social Security insolvency) are a result of the demographic imbalance created by abortion. Killing an entire generation will have negative consequences when programs for older generations are dependent on normal population growth.


22 posted on 12/26/2009 6:57:55 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: FR_addict; wagglebee; BykrBayb
Bykrbayb used to post that we were becoming like nazi Germany. She was told she was a nut case. That was one of teh nicer things that were said. She posted a pic of a man in a wheelchair.

Have you still got the graphic, Bayb?

23 posted on 12/26/2009 7:00:46 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: FR_addict
When we allowed the State of Florida to kill an innocent woman by dehydrating her to death, it marked a turning point in our nation. We now see that Terri was just the beginning.

I think that a lot of the polling done during Terri's murder was to gauge public reaction to for future murders. As far as a "turning point", it's worth noting that very little has gone the GOP's way since Terri was murdered.

24 posted on 12/26/2009 7:01:01 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

Yup. He loved him some Teri when he thought there would be a big pay off. It wasn’t as much as he’d hoped. But when he got it, the death dance began. I remember.


25 posted on 12/26/2009 7:02:49 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee
Can't move on either - I'll be in that position eventually, unless I die suddenly - when will they decide to stop my nutrition and medication? It's just a question of dollars and cents to the nameless bureaucrats and apparatchiks who will be passing on who gets and who does not get care.

Lamh Foistenach Abu!
26 posted on 12/26/2009 7:02:56 PM PST by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines, RVN 1969. St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle!)
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To: DJ MacWoW; BykrBayb; FR_addict
Bykrbayb used to post that we were becoming like nazi Germany. She was told she was a nut case. That was one of teh nicer things that were said. She posted a pic of a man in a wheelchair.

Have you still got the graphic, Bayb?

Here it is:

This person suffering from hereditary defects
costs the people 60,000 Reichmarks during his lifetime.
People, that is your money. Read ‘New People’.

27 posted on 12/26/2009 7:03:48 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

One of the things that I hold against Jeb Bush. The coward.


28 posted on 12/26/2009 7:04:28 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: DJ MacWoW

The day Terri died I realized that we had been duped by the ENTIRE Bush family.


29 posted on 12/26/2009 7:05:42 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee; BykrBayb

What Bayb said was true. Nobody is denying it now.


30 posted on 12/26/2009 7:05:45 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee

Sadly, that’s true.


31 posted on 12/26/2009 7:06:43 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: DJ MacWoW; BykrBayb
What Bayb said was true. Nobody is denying it now.

Yep, the same people who said we were crazy for talking about the slippery slope are now just as scared as the rest of us.

32 posted on 12/26/2009 7:08:17 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

It’s a shame it had to come to this before others saw the truth.


33 posted on 12/26/2009 7:10:01 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: DJ MacWoW

It’s the exact same thing that happened in Germany after Hitler came to power; however, unlike Zero, Hitler kept his evil agenda a secret from the public.


34 posted on 12/26/2009 7:11:49 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee
Obeyme isn't as smart as Hitler. And he thinks everyone thinks he's wonderful. He truly has issues and his ego is apparent.

I have to go. Stuff to do before bed.

Goodnight friend!

35 posted on 12/26/2009 7:15:31 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee

“Move on.” Not me! Not ever.


36 posted on 12/26/2009 7:23:29 PM PST by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (STOP the Tyrananny State.)
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To: DJ MacWoW

I’m going to bed soon, the past couple days have worn me out!


37 posted on 12/26/2009 7:25:13 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

Look, Terry Shiavo’s murderers just want the power of life and death and they don’t care about these arguments. The only thing that will protect the sanctity of life in the future is power. That power can come by the ballot. but when a majority are against life, it must come by force or it won’t come because it is too easy for most to just let the murderers go about their business. At every level when votes went against Terry’s life, those who could have stood in the way meekly stepped aside and that was a disgrace. Votes for murder are not to be respected.


38 posted on 12/26/2009 7:30:19 PM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (IN A SMALL TENT WE JUST STAND CLOSER! * IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: DJ MacWoW; FR_addict; wagglebee

To clarify, I didn’t say we were becoming like the Nazis. But whenever someone paraphrased the Nazi talking points, I posted the Nazi version of what they were saying. At one point, I kept a list handy, with several Nazi speeches, propaganda posters, etc. For a while, every day, I could count on somebody to state the English equivalent of the Nazi euthanasia propaganda. Eventually it dwindled to just an occasional post in favor of Nazi eugenics, and almost always along the lines of that poster, which Wagglebee has been kind enough to post for us.

There used to be a small but vocal group who called for a system here that followed the Nazi T4 euthanasia program almost exactly. They only exception was their proposed plan called for the approval of fewer doctors than the Nazi T4 program. So I used to post a description of the T4 system in response to their proposal.


39 posted on 12/26/2009 7:33:06 PM PST by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: wagglebee

I hear that. :-)


40 posted on 12/26/2009 7:39:27 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: BykrBayb

It’s been awhile. My memory isn’t the best. And those memories are awful.


41 posted on 12/26/2009 7:41:17 PM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: wagglebee

You are absolutely right.


42 posted on 12/26/2009 7:43:08 PM PST by surfer
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To: wagglebee
We should be haunted, because her murder is just a glimpse of what will come under Obamacare.

The people who literally 'pulled the plug' are not haunted. And yes, agree; we have much to fear given Obamacare - an 'oxymoron'- if there ever was one.

43 posted on 12/26/2009 7:59:49 PM PST by cricket ('Don't bow for me Obama ' (America's 'sorry' President)http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=tCAffMSW)
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To: DJ MacWoW

I think your memory is pretty accurate about that. I just wanted to clarify that one point.

I will say now that I see us sliding closer and closer to the Nazis we once fought against. We still have a ways to go, but we’re moving exponentially faster in that direction.


44 posted on 12/26/2009 8:03:29 PM PST by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: wagglebee

Thanks for the ping!


45 posted on 12/26/2009 8:57:11 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

To: ConorMacNessa

We are fighting Powers and Principalities.

But they’ve been around a long time - as in at least since the beginning of time as we know it - and they’ve been fighting us (humans generally and the US and Israel in particular) for as long as we have existed.

Can we stand up to Powers and Prinicpalities? Nope. Not alone. Only God can.

So, if we stand with God, we will prevail. If we (continue as a nation to) try to stand on our own, we will fail.

It’s really pretty straight forward...


47 posted on 12/26/2009 10:39:00 PM PST by piytar (Ammo is hard to find! Bought some lately? Please share where at www.ammo-finder.com)
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To: DJ MacWoW
"One of the things that I hold against Jeb Bush. The coward."

Bush wasn't a coward, he was complicit. HE signed into law that it was ok to remove feeding tubes from PVS patients; that's why they "diagnosed" Terri as "PVS". Charlie Crist was also complicit as he NEVER made any effort to investigate the matter.

48 posted on 12/26/2009 11:34:22 PM PST by jackibutterfly
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To: jackibutterfly

Yes. They played people.


49 posted on 12/27/2009 5:15:48 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: jackibutterfly; DJ MacWoW

Bush had the power and obligation to rescue Terri. He vowed to do so. He chickened out. When I see, hear, or think of the word “coward,” Jeb Bush comes to mind.


50 posted on 12/27/2009 5:41:15 AM PST by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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