Thursday, March 31, 2005


During the years that Reagan had Alzheimer's, did any conservative ever question his diagnosis? Did anyone on the right say that the diagnosis might be wrong, even though it presumably had been affirmed by a number of experts, or that it might not have been made in good faith? And why don't I recall any right-winger questioning the irreversibility of the disease? Why didn't the people who think Terri Schiavo could have made a miraculous recovery, a recovery impossible to explain by the laws of medicine, believe the same thing about Reagan?

I recall that a little while back it was noted that fights over brain-damaged patients only seem to take place in the case of young women. And I'm also thinking about Peggy Noonan's notorious Elian column. Noonan said Reagan would have believed that Elian was the beneficiary of a God-given miracle in the form of a rescue by dolphins -- and Reagan would have believed it because "he was a man."

Is that it? Did the right-wingers not look to the skies for a miracle to save Reagan's brain because "he was a man," and miracles happen only to nubile women and little children?


UPDATE: Some good points are made in the comments. (Scroll past Mark the Troll and my futile attempt to reason with him.)
CNN says the Pope has been given last rites.

Sorry if this is tasteless, but if you want to make money right now and you have no shame, you might want to get to work designing commemorative items that pair the Pope and Terri Schiavo.

I would feel awful saying that, but I am 100% certain that such items will be widely available in this country if the Pope doesn't pull through, and that they'll be snapped up very, very quickly.

They'll probably look something like this:

though probably with a bit more religio-patriotic schmaltz, like this:

Mark my words.
Was her last thought "I thirst"?

--Ken Masugi at the Claremont Institue blog The Remedy

What, in 1990?

Sorry to be harsh, but presumably well-educated conservatives' "principled" refusal to accept the facts about the way Terri Schiavo was existing for fifteen years is regressive and dangerous.
By the way, do you think it's just a coincidence that -- just as the Schindler family's last court challenges were rejected and it became clear that soon Terri Schiavo would die and demons du jour Michael Schiavo and Judge Greer would soon leave the stage -- The New York Sun ran an editorial entitled "Hillary's Hyperbole" and Peggy Noonan published a column entitled "Riding the Waves: Why Hillary will be hard to beat"?

Gotta keep those GOP voters' checkbooks open, right? You don't want to let a moment go by without a Goldstein.
So now that Terri Schiavo has passed away, do you suppose all those believers in a "culture of life" who are gathered in Florida -- especially the Catholics, and also the ones who may have been passing around this column by Nat Hentoff -- will turn their attention to urging commutation for the 368 people on Florida's death row?

Nope, me either.
Rest in peace, Terri Schiavo.
I've been talking about Priests for Life lately, and I see from the L.A. Times that the head of the organization, Father Frank Pavone, has a new gig:

New Order of Catholic Priests Is Forming to Fight Abortions

AMARILLO, Texas -- The Roman Catholic Church plans to establish its first religious society devoted exclusively to fighting euthanasia and abortion, church leaders said this week.

The male-only Missionaries of the Gospel of Life -- founded by the Rev. Frank Pavone, an outspoken opponent of abortion rights -- will be housed in a vacant Catholic high school and dormitory on the grounds of the Diocese of Amarillo.

The order will have a decidedly political bent, and will be active rather than contemplative, Pavone said.

Priests will be trained to conduct voter-registration drives, use the media to get out their anti-abortion message and lobby lawmakers to restrict abortion rights. They also will learn to lead demonstrations outside offices where abortions and family-planning services are provided....

So this is a nakedly political organization; just about the only thing these folks are going to do besides push for changes to the law is stand outside abortion clinics and try to shame or intimidate people.

Yet the Times can't quite figure out whether the new group should still be deemed a charity for tax purposes:

According to the Internal Revenue Service, churches risk losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse or oppose political candidates. But they can adopt political positions and, to a limited degree, lobby to influence legislation....

Got that? "To a limited degree." Here's what the IRS says:

To be tax-exempt as an organization described in IRC Section 501(c)(3) of the Code, an organization ... may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates.

Priests for Life blithely states on its Web site that "all donations are tax-deductible." Yet elsewhere on the site there's this:

On this page you will find periodic updates on pieces of legislation which we are making a special effort to promote, as well as guidance on how to take action....

Current Legislation:

Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (S. 51, H.R. 4420)
Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748) also know as the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 8)
Human Cloning Research Prohibition Act (H.R. 222)
Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (H.R. 235)
The RU-486 Suspension and Review Act (Holly's Law) ( S. 511, H.R. 1079)
The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act (S. 539, H.R. 1151)

Take Action!...

Gee, that doesn't like an organization that "attempt[s] to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities," does it now?

Oh, and Frank Pavone gave invocations at both a rally for religious conservatives organized by the GOP before the 2004 convention and a subsequent "Christian Inaugural Eve Gala" that was also addressed by Karl Rove. And past online poll questions at the Priests for Life site include:

It is the view of many that the Democratic Party, because of its stated support for abortion as a fundamental human right and for gay and lesbian families, can no longer be morally supported by Christians. Do you agree with that view?


Should a priest, who has not received specific instructions one way or the other from his bishop on this matter, refuse to give Communion to pro-abortion Senator John Kerry?

Nope, nothing political going on here, right? And I'm sure the same will be true for this new organization.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Online poll at the Web site of Priests for Life (scroll down):

Should the United States Congress exercise veto power over Supreme Court decisions?


No results posted yet.

I'm not quite sure how to interpret today's Giuliani news. The story in today's New York Times suggests that he's kissing the rings of Texas Republicans because that's how you get to the White House in the twenty-first century:

Rudolph W. Giuliani's empire is expanding with a high-profile new venture: Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, is becoming a partner in a politically connected Texas law firm and will open its Manhattan office in May.

The Houston law firm, Bracewell & Patterson, employs several prominent Republicans and former members of the Bush administration and has a roster of oil, gas and banking clients that once included Enron.

... Mr. Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor, noted on Tuesday that he was not restarting his legal career at the expense of a future return to politics.

"At some point I'll probably want to run again but I don't know," Mr. Giuliani said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where he was taping an appearance on the "Tonight Show" for NBC.

...In recent years the firm has expanded its Washington presence, increasing its lobbying portfolio and also moving into homeland security issues....

The firm has added several other prominent Republicans and former Bush administration officials, including Marc Racicot, who was chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign in 2004 and a Republican National Committee chairman, and Lisa Jaeger, a former top adviser and acting general counsel of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. [Pat] Oxford [Bracewell's managing partner] said he began talks with Mr. Giuliani last fall after being introduced by Roy W. Bailey, a founding partner of Mr. Giuliani's consulting firm and a Texan who once served as finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party....

But this Houston Chronicle story makes it seem like a corporate merger -- or a partnership enabling a crime family to muscle in on new territory:

"He will give us just the profile we need," said Pat Oxford, Bracewell's managing partner. He said Giuliani will show the firm's lawyers "how it is to play in the bigs."

A bit more from the Chronicle:

Giuliani conceded ... that he felt a bond with Oxford because of the managing partner's close ties with Bush. Oxford raised more than $100,000 for Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and was chairman of his Houston-area campaign for governor in 1998.

When he was governor, Bush appointed Oxford a regent of the University of Texas System, where he also served as a member of its investment management company, known as UTIMCO....

The decision to hire Giuliani was greeted enthusiastically by one of the firm's clients, Rich Kinder, the chairman of Kinder Morgan Inc.

"I think he would be an excellent rainmaker," said Kinder, whose wife Nancy was a major Bush fund-raiser.

The first chairman of UTIMCO was Tom Hicks. Hicks is the guy who made George W. Bush a rich man by buying out his stake in the Texas Rangers baseball team. Paul Krugman wrote about all this in 2002:

The University of Texas, though a state institution, has a large endowment. As governor, Mr. Bush changed the rules governing that endowment ... government officials no longer had to tell the public what they were doing with public money, or allow an independent performance assessment. Then Mr. Bush "privatized" (his term) $9 billion in university assets, transferring them to a nonprofit corporation known as Utimco that could make investment decisions behind closed doors.

In effect, the money was put under the control of Utimco's chairman: Tom Hicks. Under his direction, at least $450 million was invested in private funds managed by Mr. Hicks's business associates and major Republican Party donors. The managers of such funds earn big fees. Due to Mr. Bush's change in the rules, these investments were hidden from public view; an employee of Utimco who alerted university auditors was summarily fired. Even now, it's hard to find out how these investments turned out, though they seem to have done quite badly.

Eventually Mr. Hicks's investment style created a public furor, and he did not seek to retain his position at Utimco when his term expired in 1999.

A site called UT Watch thinks the management of UTIMCO is still a bit questionable. It notes, for instance, that Pat Oxford owns 5,000-10,000 shares of Kinder Morgan Inc. stock while UTIMCO, of which he is a regent, has approximately 1,000,000 shares of Kinder Morgan Energy. And, as the Chronicle story notes, Oxford's law firm has Kinder Morgan as a client.

One hand washes the other. And now this crowd's man in New York is Saint Rudy.


UPDATE: In comments, Skimble points me to this 2004 post from his blog, which describes a birthday party thrown for Bush the Elder by Rich Kinder (of Kinder Morgan) and his wife, Nancy; Rich Kinder gave more money to Shrub than anyone else in 2000. Oh, and he used to be an Enron exec (though he seems to have left before things got really ugly).

And note, in Skimble's post, who else was a guest at the party.

Hey, we've only been in Iraq for 48 months -- surely you didn't think that was enough time for Rummy's military to figure out how to protect our troops properly, did you?

The Rev. Gary Blaine says he respected his son's decision to join the Army National Guard, but he never expected to pay for his son's military equipment.

Mr. Blaine is pastor of Toledo's First Unitarian Universalist Church, which is trying to raise money to provide his son with better body armor than that provided by the military before he is deployed to Afghanistan in June....

Mr. Blaine said though transportation units like the one to which his son will be attached are frequently attacked, the Army won't provide Christopher with the body armor he needs to protect him from a bullet. "The Army will only give my son Level 3 body armor, which will only stop shrapnel but not a bullet," the pastor said.

He said his son's military supervisor advised members of the unit to go out and buy their own Level 4 body armor, which is what other military families and personnel have recommended....

"It makes me feel very angry that we cannot afford to buy the necessary equipment for our troops," said Maureen Casile, a member of the church's board of trustees....

--Toledo Blade

(Link via Democrtatic Underground.)
Congratulations, Schiavo crazies -- you are now to the right of the New York Post:

The time has come to let Terri Schiavo die with dignity - and in peace.

The battle over her fate was mostly a noble one, and always a heart-rending one, but it has turned into a circus.

Nothing anyone can do will alter the outcome now. The arrests will make no difference; yesterday's high-profile arrival of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's stretch limousine will change nothing; Randall Terry's publicity-mongering is pointless....

...Congress, to its discredit, added endgame drama to the debate. So did President Bush; it was not his finest hour.

It was always the courts -- state and federal -- that should have had the final word in this dramatic tragedy.

And the courts have spoken -- in Florida and at the federal level -- on the merits of the case, and on the law....

There are 71 patients at Woodside Hospice, including Terri Schiavo. And there are countless thousands around the country making painfully difficult life-and-death decisions.

all deserve peace in their final hours — they all deserve respect....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Overheard in New York:

"If Terri Schiavo's head was filled with oil Dubya would drill into her skull himself."
Sharia, U.S.A.:

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- A former sheriff's dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina's law against cohabitation....

The lawsuit seeks to abolish the nearly 200-year-old -- and rarely enforced -- law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law....

Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn't want to marry; Hobbs quit last May rather than be fired.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs' employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn't send out deputies to enforce the law....


Under the law, it's a misdemeanor for a couple to "lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabitate together." The law dates to 1805, but the state actually went to the trouble to rewrite it in 1995.

Incidentally, it was reported in 2001 that a U.S. magistrate in Charlotte, Carl Horn,

habitually asks defendants, regardless of why they are before him, if their living arrangements violate the state's no-cohabitation law. If so, he refuses to release them unless they agree to marry, move or get their partner to relocate.

(Horn is on the board of directors of the Charlotte Pregnancy Care Center, which is clearly a "crisis pregnancy" operation designed to dissuade women from having abortions. Surprised?)

(AP story via DU.)

Jennifer Johnson, barefoot and in her pajamas, ran to her grandfather's bedside once a hospice worker said his death was moments away. She got there -- one minute too late. Johnson said the chaos outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is dying kept her from saying goodbye.

When Johnson arrived, a police officer demanded identification; she had none. And after a hospice employee cleared her, another officer halted her for a search with a metal detector.

The delays lasted three to four minutes -- the last of her grandfather's life.

... Johnson, 24, said her 73-year-old grandfather, Thomas Bone, was restricted from moving freely around the hospice grounds during his final days. He died just hours after Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed and protests intensified.

"They've taken away hospice's greatest quality, that it is peaceful and serene and quiet and calming -- and it's not fair," Johnson said.


(I assume Johnson is the woman mentioned in the last paragraph of this Washington Post article.)

Remember Iraq? That country we invaded a couple of years ago?

It seems as if everyone in America has more or less forgotten about it (except for, y'know, the hundreds of thousands of people who are either risking death there or waiting back home for a loved one to return home safe), but in the meantime the Iraqis are trying to put together a government.

And, apparently, not doing a bang-up job of it:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 29 - The second meeting of the new Iraqi constitutional assembly descended into a series of contentious exchanges today, as some members accused others of hijacking the political process and betraying the Iraqi people by failing to form a government.

Prominent politicians also said in interviews that the delay in forming a government could force the assembly to take an extra half-year to write the permanent constitution, pushing the deadline for a first draft well beyond the original target date of Aug. 15. That means the delay could significantly throw off the timetable for the establishment of a full-term democratically elected government....

That's from a story that went up on the New York Times site today. But meanwhile, there's just so much love in Iraq. This is from an article in Sunday's Washington Post about Jalaledin Saghir, a highly influential Shiite preacher/politician whose get-out-the-vote campaign in January is said to have really boosted Shiite turnout:

In contrast to the public statements of the Supreme Council, with their emphasis on reconciliation with and inclusion of disenchanted Sunnis, Saghir is brusque with his followers....

Insurgents? They are dismissed as Hussein loyalists disguised as holy warriors -- "Baathists wearing beards and turbans," he calls them in one sermon.

... He ridicules the doctrine of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the most influential Sunni Muslim group, as "Saddam Hussein's Islam." And purges lie ahead, he warns, for Iraq's outgoing interim government, which he calls tainted by "the dirty faces of the Baathists.".

"The killers of today," he says in another sermon, "are the same killers as yesterday."

National reconciliation? "With whom?" he has asked in more than one talk. "With those criminals who have shed the blood of our people in Hilla, Karbala, Najaf and every other place in Iraq?"

And this is from Sunday's Boston Globe:

For the first time, Sunni Muslim sheiks are publicly exhorting followers to strike with force against ethnic Kurds and Shi'ites, an escalation in rhetoric that could exacerbate the communal violence that already is shaking Iraq's ethnic communities.

''The Americans aren't the problem; we're living under an occupation of Kurds and Shi'ites," Sattar Abdulhalik Adburahman, a Sunni leader from the northern city of Kirkuk, told a gathering of tribal leaders last week, to deafening applause. ''It's time to fight back."

Such calls for violence are being voiced against the backdrop of an alarming rise in tit-for-tat ethnic and sectarian killings.

According to several Iraqi leaders, Shi'ite death squads routinely kill Sunnis suspected of ties to the Ba'ath Party or insurgency. Bands of Sunnis target Shi'ites in retaliation, Sunni political leaders like Adnan Pachachi said, suggesting that significant organizations, rather than small splintered cells of vigilantes, are driving the killing.

...''In hot areas, our dignity is humiliated every day," Sheik Amash Awad al-Obeidi, leader of 17,000 tribesmen in Ramadi, told the Sunni gathering, exhorting his fellow chiefs to concentrate on action, not endless political meetings. ''We are sinking in blood. Enough words."

And in Basra, as I've noted a couple of times already, followers of Moqtada al-Sadr recently beat students who were engaging in such moral outrages as picnicking with members of the opposite sex and listening to music, while the local authorities said they were helpless to intervene without the backing of a central government. (More on this story here, from today's Washington Post.)

Kidnappings? Did I mention the rash of kidnappings?

I keep thinking that -- to use the terms Woody Allen used in Annie Hall -- Iraq has gone from the horrible to the miserable. And could turn horrible again at any moment.

Was it worth it?
Gary McCullough's name makes The New York Times -- the paper notes that the spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents has brokered a deal to sell a list of the families' financial backers to a conservative direct-mail firm, not even waiting for Schiavo to die -- but there's no mention of McCullough's background as an anti-abortion activist who engaged in criminal trespass and who also was a friend and spokesman for the murder of a doctor who performed abortions, and the defender of another. As I mentioned on Friday, the details are at this link-rich post at World O'Crap. Here's a sample:

P.O. Box 2243, Pensacola, FL 32513-2243
Paul J. Hill, Director

Telephone Number Prior to Jury Selection - (904) 478-0800
Press Number during Jury Selection and Trial - (904) 474-5285
Media Consultant - Gary McCullough; Publicist - Jerry McGlothlin

We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.

We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him.


Pity the Times can't be bothered to look into this.

UPDATE: More at this World O'Crap update, which notes, among other things, that Alan Keyes is a McCullough client.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Here's a story the "save Terri" crowd wants to tell you:

CLEARWATER, FL., March 14, 2005 ( - On Saturday a rally of over three-hundred of Terri Schiavo's most die-hard supporters heard the first-hand account of the sufferings and remarkable recovery of Kate Adamson. Struck down in 1995 at the age of thirty-three by a rare double brainstem stroke, Kate, then a mother of two young girls, was completely paralyzed; she was unable even to blink her eyes. Like Terri Schiavo, the medical staff treating her questioned the merit of continuing granting Kate the most basic human right of food and water.

Terri Schiavo, although not nearly as severely disabled as Adamson once appeared to be, is slotted to have her feeding tube removed at 1:00 pm this Friday. Similarly, Kate Adamson's feeding tube was at one point removed for a full eight days before being reinserted due to the intervention of her husband (also a competent lawyer)....

Here's Adamson's Web site, where she directly compares herself to Terri Schiavo.

Here's a list of media outlets that have given Adamson a platform to make this comparison. Last week it was Larry King Live and Hannity & Colmes.

There's just one tiny problem. Here's what actually happened to Adamson in the immediate aftermath of her stroke, as described in Caregiver magazine (emphasis mine):

Her seven weeks in the ICU were terrifying and devastating. Kate experienced severe headaches and double vision, but couldn't tell anyone. She couldn't swallow, had a feeding tube surgically placed in her stomach, a tracheotomy to breathe and several IVs. Because she couldn't cough, Kate needed painful suction treatments every 20 minutes to extract fluids from her lungs. "I could hear what people were saying to me but, in the beginning, no one knew if I understood because they didn't know how much brain damage I had," she says. She was trapped in her own body, unable to move or communicate.

When her family realized she could blink voluntarily, she was able to communicate with an alphabet board. "At the end of six weeks in ICU, I blinked to my doctor, was I going to die, because I just couldn't do it anymore," she says....

Transferring to Daniel Freeman Rehabilitation Hospital was a turning point for Kate. Her neurologist, Dr. David Alexander, remarked after his assessment that he thought rehabilitation would work. "I needed to hear that and I hung on to those words," Kate says....

Here's the comparable narrative for Terri Schiavo, as it appears in the 2003 report by Dr. Jay Wolfson, whom Jeb Bush appointed to review the case (again, emphasis mine):

Theresa spent two and a half months as an inpatient at Humana Northside Hospital, eventually emerging from her coma state, but not recovering consciousness. On 12 May 1990, following extensive testing, therapy and observation, she was discharged to the College Park skilled care and rehabilitation facility. Forty-nine days later, she was transferred again to Bayfront Hospital for additional, aggressive rehabilitation efforts. In September of 1990, she was brought home, but following only three weeks, she was returned to the College Park facility because the "family was overwhelmed by Terry's care needs."

...The clinical records within the massive case file indicate that Theresa was not responsive to neurological and swallowing tests. She received regular and intense physical, occupational and speech therapies.

...In late Autumn of 1990, following months of therapy and testing, formal diagnoses of persistent vegetative state with no evidence of improvement, Michael took Theresa to California, where she received an experimental thalamic stimulator implant in her brain. Michael remained in California caring for Theresa during a period of several months and returned to Florida with her in January of 1991. Theresa was transferred to the Mediplex Rehabilitation Center in Brandon, where she received 24 hour skilled care, physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapies.

Despite aggressive therapies, physician and other clinical assessments consistently revealed no functional abilities, only reflexive, rather than cognitive movements, random eye opening, no communication system and little change cognitively or functionally.

On 19 July 1991 Theresa was transferred to the Sable Palms skilled care facility. Periodic neurological exams, regular and aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapy continued through 1994.

Got it? Adamson was communicating via eyeblink within less than two months, then responded to rehabilitation. Schiavo never manifested any signs of cognition and didn't respond to approximately three years of very aggressive therapy (nor has she shown cognition in the decade since).

Do people who hear Adamson speak know this? Does Adamson know this? Does the LifeSiteNews "journalist" who says Schiavo is "not nearly as severely disabled as Adamson once appeared to be" know this? Did Jeb Bush know this a couple of weeks ago when he asked Adamson to "join in the fight to save Terri Schiavo"? Does Larry King know this?
Personal Savings Plans Likely to Offer Workers More Risk than Reward, Says S&P Report

Even with mandated personal accounts a part of any social security reform package, average workers are likely to have difficulty saving enough capital to enjoy comfortable retirements, according to research recently published by Standard & Poor's. The article, entitled "Can People Save Enough?," is part of a special report on social security, corporate pension plans, and retirement savings that will appear in CreditWeek, Standard & Poor's weekly magazine on credit issues on March 30, 2005.

On average, personal accounts may be attractive, the report notes, if investments are profitable and risks become rewards. But because risks are borne by individuals and will not be shared, the results for many investors will be disappointing and will likely produce negative consequences.

...David Blitzer, author of the report and Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, ... drew these conclusions by looking at two simulation models using key investment data from 1945-2004....

According to one simulation model, an individual making $40,000 a year following a typical investment strategy could end up with more than a million dollars or nothing at all. A more aggressive investor could end up with more than $6 million or nothing. Given the risks in the market, not all aggressive savers will retire with ease.; also see this short item from MarketWatch

Standard & Poor's? What a bunch of stinkin' commies.

On the street where Terri Schiavo's hospice is located:

Near one end of 102nd Avenue is Triple O Auto, where Scotty Jackson, a single father raising two sons, has grown used to being cussed at and ridiculed by people clutching Bibles and waving signs.

... Triple O stands for On Our Own, and there are times when Jackson struggles to pay his bills and is forced to work on a Sunday — upsetting one protester, who heckled him about working on the day of rest.

This is why I'm sick of hearing about the Bush base and its "values." This guy is doing what he has to do to take care of his family; some Christians do object to working on the sabbath, but an awful lot of Christians would say he's doing a morally good thing. Yet our idiot press and the Democratic Party think (or thought until the polls came in) that everything any conservative says about "values" is (a) a belief shared by all "values" voters and (b) a belief we'd all share if some of us weren't horrible disgusting secular hedonist coastal Brie-eaters.

Oh, and the article also describes how the protests are affecting other hospice patients and their families:

None of the men and women venture out anymore to sit in the manicured garden, taking in the fresh air and listening to music as they live out their last days. And their loved ones can’t visit without going through checkpoints, security clearances and a macabre death vigil: the women with black lips and faux blood dripping down their faces, the guy with the bullhorn warning about damnation, the signs that demonize Terri Schiavo’s husband as a murderer and an adulterer, the man cradling the skeleton.

Charming. And, of course, as that article and this one note, kids at the school next door to the hospice have been forced to relocate.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'm still catching up after a mostly news-free weekend, but I did want to share this with you. I saw it in the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, New York; it's by Jeremiah Horrigan. It wasn't written as a response to Peggy Noonan's vile column on Terri Schiavo this week, but it serves as the best rebuke to that column I can find, because it's written in her language, the language of believers.

I'll give you the whole thing, because it's hard to get through the paper's registration screen. Apologies for the lack of cynicism and snark:

My last prayer and testament

Recent tragic events have made it seem necessary to publicly declare my last wishes, should I be rendered incapable of discussing them when it is my turn to die.

Let my last wish be cast in the form of a prayer. Call it my last prayer and testament, and let it be directed in gratitude to He who gave me life and to those who have shared the gift of life with me – be they family, friend or presumptive foe.

On the occasion of my near-death, should I be rendered incapable of speech, of song, of story-telling and story-hearing, should I no longer be able to enjoy good friends, good wine, foods that are not good for me as well as foods that are, should I be robbed of sight, unable to move or to stumble my way through a bad joke or laugh at another's, should I, in other words, be suddenly and irrevocably removed from the world I share with every other living thing, please, Lord, grant me peace. Let my enforced and inescapable silence, my stillness, whatever its cause, not be confused, however lovingly, with living.

Deliver me, Lord, from the machinery that can prolong existence without promise or hope. Deliver me from the deadly purity of the hospital room, the lifeless bleep of the heart monitor, the loss of sunshine, wind and snow.

Protect me, Lord, from every other form of mechanistic invasion, from court order to news conference.

Please comfort my wife and children, who may wrongly imagine that their lives must – or should – stop in deference to my artificial continuance in the world we could no longer share. Grant them peace and courage, Lord.

Please grant my wife the strength to remember my wishes and act accordingly. And grant that my mother, brothers and sisters remember that I placed my life and fate in her hands the day I married her, and let them not put those vows asunder, even in the name of their unquestioned and unending love.

Please don't allow my delayed passing to become a public spectacle, the occasion for political posturing, displays of misplaced emotion, televised news updates.

Protect my loved ones, I pray, from impressionable strangers who, with every good intention, would presume to speak for me. Or for You. Keep them from the street outside my family's home. Let them realize that one day they will die, and that they, like me, deserve to be remembered not as a symbol but as a person.

Protect my family and friends from my professional colleagues. As you know so well, Lord, we messengers are too frequently blind to the shades of life's colors.

Protect my loved ones most especially from those of your elect, whether secular or religious, men and women who would make a crusade of my suffering. Give them pause, O Lord, when they declare their love of life. Before they make a spectacle of me, let them ask themselves if their love of life extends to all men and women whose lives they judge expendable in the name of abstract principle or political expediency.

Let them invoke the unqualified Mosaic law against killing of any sort, yes, Lord, as well as the Christian obligation to love one's neighbor. Give them the strength we expect of leaders to apply those sacred laws to all before they declare themselves righteous in Your sight or the sight of their constituencies.

This I humbly ask of You, the only One who knows the hearts of men. Amen.

I'm an atheist, but I'll add "Amen" to that.

Friday, March 25, 2005

So, Priests for Life? The group that says the Terri Schiavo case "must mark the beginning of a new era of civil disobedience and conscientious objection, with simultaneous, determined efforts to curb the authority of the courts and restore government to the people through their elected representatives"?

For what it's worth, one of the members is Father Paul Scalia -- son of Antonin.

More on the organization here.


Alas, I'm going to have houseguests this weekend -- I'll probably miss the commando raid, or whatever it is that's going to happen in Florida. But I'll try to check in on Sunday night.

Might as well try to destroy everything, right?

A new television ad designed to propel a grass-roots anti-U.N. movement slams the international body and charges Secretary-General Kofi Annan coddles terrorists and tyrants.

The new ad, "U.N. Photo Album," was produced by the group leading the effort to "Get the U.N. out of the U.S.," Move America Forward, and is expected to begin running on national cable news networks during the first week of April. It can be seen online at the group's website....

--World Net Daily

(Move America Forward was founded by Californians who'd worked in the Gray Davis recall campaign; its purpose at its founding was to try to persuade theater owners not to show Fahrenheit 9/11. Walt Disney Pictures later teamed up with Move America Forward to sponsor the showing of America's Heart & Soul, a documentary meant to counter F9/11. The ad is here.)

Last Saturday I posted an excerpt from a New York Times story about students in Iraq who were beaten at a picnic by Islamist militiamen -- apparently for the "crime" of wearing Western-style clothes and jeans. Well, according to The Times of London, it appears that two of the students were beaten to death:

"There were dozens of them, armed with guns, and they poured into the park," Ali al-Azawi, 21, the engineering student who had organised the gathering in Basra, said.

"They started shouting at us that we were immoral, that we were meeting boys and girls together and playing music and that this was against Islam.

"They began shooting in the air and people screamed. Then, with one order, they began beating us with their sticks and rifle butts." Two students were said to have been killed.

But everyone knows Iraq is determined not to become a theocracy. Surely the authorities will see to it that justice is done.


Police were guarding the picnic in the park, as is customary at any large public gathering, but allowed the armed men in without any resistance....

After escaping with two students, Ali reached a police station and asked for help. "What do you expect me to do about it?" a uniformed officer asked....

When the students tried to organise demonstrations, they were broken up by the Mehdi Army. Later the university was surrounded by militiamen, who distributed leaflets threatening to mortar the campus if they did not call off the protests....

Colonel Kareem al-Zeidy, Basra’s police chief, pleaded helplessness. "What can I do? There is no government, no one to give us authority,” he said. “The political parties are the most powerful force in Basra right now."

And here's an aspect of the story that seems straight out of The Handmaid's Tale:

One [armed man] brought a video camera to record the sinful spectacle of the picnic, footage of which was later released to the public as a warning to others.

It showed images of one girl struggling as a gunman ripped her blouse off, leaving her half-naked. "We will send these pictures to your parents so they can see how you were dancing naked with men," a gunman told her.... Fellow students say that the girl later committed suicide.

Good Lord.

Will Iraq become an Islamist state? It seems that, right now, part of it already is one.

(Via This Is Rumor Control and the American Street.)
So, er, I wonder when someone in the mainstream press is going to do a story on the fact that Gary McCullough, the media coordinator for Terri Schiavo's parents, has deep ties to the ultraviolent wing of the anti-abortion movement.

Go to that second link and just keep reading. McCullough has called one abortion provider's murderer a "hero" and was a friend and media spokesman for another such murderer. He has a few arrests to his record, too, for anti-abortion intimidation. And now he's at the forefront of the fight to force Terri Schiavo's feeding tube back in.
You know who else is standing with the Bushes and Tom DeLay and Randall Terry in the Terri Schiavo case?

Ralph Nader.

Isn't it nice to see he's standing up for junk science and against the legal rights of her husband/legal guardian:

...The medical and rehabilitation experts are split on whether Terri is in a persistent vegetative state or whether Terri can be improved with therapy. There is only one way to know for sure- permit the therapy. That is the only way to resolve all doubts.

...The federal and state governments are spending billions on what we are told will become miracle medical cures for people with all sorts of degenerative conditions, including brain damage. If this is so, why not permit Terri's parents and siblings who want to care for her do so in the hope that such cures are discovered?...

That's from a press release issued by Nader and Wesley J. Smith.

Smith, who once wrote a book with Nader, is a bioethicist affiliated with the Discovery Institute, a group that's prominent in the drive to muscle evolution aside in American schools to make way for "intelligent design." Smith also writes for The Weekly Standard and National Review; his articles include "A 'Dr. Death' Runs for President: Howard Dean Advocates Kevorkian-Syle Medicine."

Thanks again, Ralph. Way to stick up for progressive causes.

(Press release link via Democratic Underground.)

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Glenn has posted a statement from the American Council of Science and Health denoncing as "junk science" any assertion that challenges the diagnosis that Terri Schiavo is PVS and attacking Dr. William Chesire. The statement mischaracterizes Chesire's affidavit, which did not provide a "new diagnosis" at all, but rather concluded that "there was reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS."

--Hugh Hewitt at

Based on the evidence, I believe that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there is a greater likelihood that Terri is in a minimally conscious state than in a persistent vegetative state.

--page 6 of the affidavit by Dr. William Cheshire, which Hewitt says does "not provide a 'new diagnosis' at all"
Right-wing pundit Debra J. Saunders, writing about the Terri Schiavo case in the San Francisco Chronicle:

...spare me the rhetoric about Republicans being hypocrites on states' rights -- fresh from the mouths of Democrats who don't want to let Alaskans drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, who don't want states to determine their own gun-control laws and couldn't wait for the feds to storm the home of the Miami family of Elian Gonzalez.

Wow, I learned a lot from that.

* I learned that it's Alaskans who want to drill in ANWR. All by themselves! With no involvement by multinational oil companies! Gosh, I had no idea it was so grassroots. And I learned that it's none of my business what's done with a national wildlife refuge established by the Eisenhower administration, expanded a generation later by an act of Congress, and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

* On Elian, I learned that issues of immigration devolved to the states while I wasn't looking, sometime during the last five years. The Immigration and Nationalization Service? Utterly irrelevant! And the members of Congress who wanted to give Elian permanent U.S. residency? They were, er, um ... well, they were doing Good, so it was OK for them to try to use the national government to resolve this 100% states'-rights issue!

* And on gun control, I learned that I want the federal government to overturn all local ordinances, so New York gun policy can be entirely determined by Texans. I had no idea I wanted that. Typical liberal!
I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. What is driving their engagement? ...

Why are they so committed to this woman's death?

They seem to have fallen half in love with death.

...Terri Schiavo may well die. No good will come of it. Those who are half in love with death will only become more red-fanged and ravenous.

And those who are still learning--our children--oh, what terrible lessons they're learning. What terrible stories are shaping them. They're witnessing the Schiavo drama on television and hearing it on radio. They are seeing a society--their society, their people--on the verge of famously accepting, even embracing, the idea that a damaged life is a throwaway life.

...When a society comes to believe that human life is not
inherently worth living, it is a slippery slope to the gas chamber. You wind up on a low road that twists past Columbine and leads toward Auschwitz. Today that road runs through Pinellas Park, Fla.

--Peggy Noonan today

As to those in the World Trade Center . . . Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break.... To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in -- and in many cases excelling at -- it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.

--Ward Churchill on the 9/11 attacks

I see no essential difference between these two statements.

With her column today, Peggy Noonan has entered the ranks who should be shunned when they walk down the street. She declares today that the vast majority of Americans are Nazis-in-development. That's beyond the pale.

State records show Bush re-election concerns played part in FEMA aid

As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on President Bush and suggested that his re-election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show.

Two weeks later, a Florida official summarizing the hurricane response wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handing out housing assistance "to everyone who needs it without asking for much information of any kind."

... politics was foremost on the mind of FEMA consultant Glenn Garcelon, who wrote a three-page memo titled "Hurricane Frances -- Thoughts and Suggestions," on Sept. 2.

...Garcelon, a former FEMA employee, recommended that "top-level people from FEMA and the White House need to develop a communication strategy and an agreed-upon set of themes and communications objectives."

"Communication consultants from the President's re-election campaign should be brought in," he wrote....

Weeks after it was written, the memo made its way to Gov. [Jeb] Bush's chief of staff, Denver Stutler, who forwarded it to the governor Sept. 30....

FEMA has been under scrutiny since the
Sun-Sentinel first reported in October that the agency was awarding millions of dollars in disaster funds to residents of Miami-Dade County, even though the county did not experience hurricane conditions.

In a Sept. 13 memo to Gov. Bush and other top state officials, Orlando J. Cabrera, executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. and a member of the governor's Hurricane Housing Work Group, wrote after a meeting with FEMA that the agency was allocating short-term rental assistance to "everyone who needs it, without asking for much information of any kind."...

Even state officials were surprised at how quickly money flowed to Florida.

The day after Hurricane Charley hit the west coast, the state's labor chief, Susan Pareigis, asked for a federal grant for unemployment assistance for storm victims.

Four days later, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao "was down personally" to award the money, Pareigis wrote in an Aug. 24 e-mail to the governor. "Please express our sincere thank you for such an instantaneous response."

The governor forwarded her e-mail to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in less than 10 minutes.

"Please tell the President and your team how grateful we are," Gov. Bush wrote. "The response has been awesome from FEMA and other departments."

--South Florida Sun-Sentinel yesterday

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

GOP adviser died of overdose

Republican media adviser R. Gregory Stevens, who was found dead in the Beverly Hills, Calif., home of actress Carrie Fisher on Feb. 26, died of an overdose of cocaine and the painkiller OxyContin, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

...Mr. Stevens, 42, was an associate with the powerhouse Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers....

Mr. Stevens ... served as the head of the Bush-Cheney Entertainment Task Force for President Bush's recent inaugural. Barbour Griffith & Rogers, one of the co-founders of which was chairman of the Republican National Committee, held a memorial service for Mr. Stevens earlier this month....

--Washington Times

Barbour Griffith & Rogers is a lobbying firm that has as one of its clients the trade group PhRMA -- the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. For whatever that's worth. And, of course, the Barbour in Barbour Griffith & Rogers is Haley Barbour, who resigned as president of the firm to become governor of Mississippi.
Update 4:52 p.m.: The Florida Senate rejected a bill today to keep Terri Schiavo alive as the brain-damaged woman's parents were running out of options to have her feeding tube reinserted.

--Associated Press/Orlando Sentinel

But it's far from over. From another Orlando Sentinel story:

TALLAHASSEE -- Even as the state Senate debated a measure aimed at keeping Terri Schiavo alive, Gov. Jeb Bush said today his social services agency may step in to have her feeding tube reinstated.

In an extraordinary move, Bush said the Department of Children and Families has filed a legal motion alleging "30 detailed allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation" that have occurred during Schiavo's stay at a Pinellas Park hospice....

Along with the petition alleging abuse, the Bush administration has filed with the Pinellas Circuit Judge George W. Greer an affidavit from Jacksonville neurologist William Polk Cheshire, Jr., who concluded from examining videotape of Schiavo that the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman may not be in a persistent vegetative state.

Instead, "It is likely she is in a state of minimal consciousness," Bush said. "This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action."

An affidavit based on the frigging videotape! Hasn't Judge Greer watched the whole videotape -- not just the few seconds cherry-picked by the family to show to fellow right-to-lifers?

DCF Secretary Lucy Hadi said that under state law the agency is authorized to intervene and have Schiavo's sustenance restored even without a court order. She said the agency would make that decision before the end of today.

And here's my favorite part -- Jeb actually had the unmitigated gall to say this:

"I'm doing everything within my power to make sure that Terri is afforded at least the same rights that criminals convicted of heinous crimes take for granted," Bush said.

"If a prisoner comes forward with new DNA evidence 20 years after his conviction that suggests his innocence, there is no doubt the courts in our state and all across the country, for that matter, will immediately review their case. We should do no less for Terri Schiavo," Bush said.

Here's the reality in Bush's own state:

Under the law, passed in 2001 and sponsored by Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, anyone convicted of a crime has two years after a sentence becomes final to ask a judge to review DNA testing of physical evidence.

And in 2003, when the first criminals faced a deadline under the law, this was the response:

Villalobos says he's open to weighing the request for a time extension, but Gov. Jeb Bush is not considering such a move, said Jill Bratina, a spokeswoman for the governor.

There isn't a circle of hell low enough for Jeb.

(UPDATE: Link fixed.)
World O'Crap has been looking at right-wing opinion and finds that Christian conservatives will blame Jeb Bush (and, to a lesser extent, his brother) if Terri Schiavo dies:

Gov. Bush, put a stop to this travesty right now, for the sake of all that our nation stands for, in the interest of meriting God's merciful protection of our country in the years ahead.

If you "allow" Terri to die, you will indeed be her chief executioner.

That's one of a number of quotes from several sources S.Z. assembles. Go read -- it's amazing. Jeb is the man a lot of them plan to blame.

This means (as if it wasn't obvious) that even if the Supreme Court refuses to intervene, this won't be over -- Jeb has to save her or his base will turn on him and his career really could be at risk. He'll start by playing hardball with the Florida Senate -- which voted 21-16 on Friday not to intervene. But if that fails, I don't think we can rule out the possibility that he'll use force to keep her alive.

And that would be a watershed -- that might do what a million op-eds and a billion blog posts couldn't: persuade Americans that the far right is out of control.

If force is used to "save" Terri Schiavo, the public reaction won't be like what we saw regarding Waco or Elian. In each of those situations, the use of force was on behalf of policies Americans supported (for Waco, see footnote 2 here; for Elian, see this). We know what the polls are in this case. This will be seen as force directed not at religious crazies or the likes of the feckless, meddlesome "Miami relatives," but at the kind of sickbed virtually all of us worry about being in or standing beside. Americans can easily imagine being Terri or Michael Schiavo. Americans agree with Michael Schiavo's judgment. Thuggery against him will make a lot of Americans think:

They could do that to me. And they would, wouldn't they?
I never posted the text of that memo that described the Terri Schiavo case as "a great political issue." ABC has had it up for a couple of days here. And now the Raw Story has reproduced the document itself, here. Not much in it beyond what's been reported, really.

However, right-wingers are just desperate to turn this into another "Rathergate"; see this post and this one at Power Line. They really want to prove the document is a hoax -- but they're defining "hoax" rather narrowly:

...the content of the memo is highly suspicious. Why would anyone mix political strategy points--the ones the Democrats want to talk about--with talking points for Senatorial argument? A competent staffer preparing a talking points memo wouldn't do that, but a Democratic dirty trickster would.

Does this prove the memo is a fraud? Not at all. It is possible that somewhere in the House or Senate there is a Republican staffer dumb enough to have produced and circulated it....

But it doesn't have to have originated in a congressional office to be an authentic strategy document and a telling glimpse into the vile thinking behind this crusade. Look, here's the reality: Zealots within the national Republican Party control the party, and zealots outside the official party structure have a disproportionate influence over those in the party who run it. Maybe the boys at Power Line see a wall of separation, but I don't. Recall the lead from this New York Times story that ran yesterday:

When a judge set last Friday as the deadline for removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, Ken Connor, a Florida trial lawyer and prominent Christian conservative who represented Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida on this issue, decided to appeal to a higher power, Congress.

He turned to an old acquaintance, Representative Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican and doctor, in a long-shot effort to persuade Congress to intervene. Convicted murderers have more chances to appeal to the federal courts than patients who are incapacitated, Mr. Connor argued.

"Don't we want to accord the same protections to the handicapped and disabled that we do to death row inmates?" he asked.

That was three weeks ago. The plans hatched by Mr. Connor and Dr. Weldon eventually snowballed into Congress's marathon weekend session...

Their success was the culmination of a two-year campaign by social conservatives who had been building support for the cause, along with the diligent efforts of Ms. Schiavo's parents and brother. Senator Mel Martinez, a newly elected Republican of Florida who is Mr. Connor's former college roommate, also played an influential role....

Ken Connor is now a D.C. lawyer and used to head the Family Research Council and Florida Right to Life.

The right-wing attempt to pick the document apart has borne some fruit. Commenter #35 at that Raw Story link notes that some of the text of the memo matches the text of this page at the Web site of the Traditional Values Coalition. To the commenter, this strongly suggests that the thing is a work of Democratic fraud.

Er, hold on a second. The Traditional Values Coalition page is a list of talking points for the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005. And, gosh, what's this? Why, it's a March 8 press release, also at the TVC Web site, announcing the introduction of the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005 ... by Senator Mel Martinez and Congressman Dave Weldon!

Does a vague wisp of smoke emanate from a gun in one of these men's offices? Or from the office of the well-connected D.C. lawyer Ken Connor? Or from the TVC itself? And if so, do you think the Power Liners can smell it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


OLYMPIA - A Holocaust survivor who endured Nazi medical experiments is demanding an apology from state lawmakers who compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi atrocities.

"I was just very much hurt," Fred Taucher, 72, said Tuesday. "You don't know how it hit me. It's beyond my comprehension. Usually I do not get this emotional." ...

Taucher was captured by Nazis when he was 12.... in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, he told how Nazi scientists plunged him into baths of ice water and then baths of boiling water, burning his skin....

[Rep. Joyce] McDonald [R-Puyallup] said she believes embryonic stem cell research kills human lives, and she will not apologize for her comments.

In her floor speech, McDonald referred to "experiments that were done by the Third Reich" as a warning about embryonic stem cell research.

"I think they're making more of it than they need to," she said about the complaints raised Tuesday....

Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, said in his floor speech that Nazi Germany's policy was "in order to perfect humanity it was necessary to selectively destroy humanity. And the medical experiments at Auschwitz were carried out for that explicit purpose."

Anderson did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday, but last Friday he told reporters he saw no reason to apologize....

--KOMO TV, Seattle


Ben Johnson in David Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine, 2/28/05:

...a sea-change is taking place in the Arab world: democracy is becoming reality for the first time in history – and all this progress came about because of the determination of President George W. Bush and over the most vicious objections of the American Left.
The most recent dividends of the Bush Doctrine became evident on Saturday, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak demanded the 1971 (socialist) constitution be amended to allow multiparty elections for the first time....

AP today:

Egyptian Opposition Leader Charged With Forgery, Ordered to Stand Trial

The only man who has dared to challenge Hosni Mubarak for the presidency was charged Tuesday with forging signatures to win approval for his party - an escalation in the government's confrontation with the most prominent figure in Egypt's fledgling reform movement.

...Prosecutors accused Nour of forging signatures required for the registration application of his Al-Ghad - or "Tomorrow" - party. The 40-year-old politician denies the charges, saying they are an attempt to wreck him politically.

...If he is convicted, Nour would lose his right to run for office and could face a prison term of up to 15 years - though the right would be restored if he successfully appealed any guilty verdict. No date for a trial has been set, and the process of trials and appeals could take years....
On cue, as Atrios notes, here's Rick Santorum calling Judge Whittemore's ruling "judicial tyranny." Hate to say I told you so.

Yesterday I mentioned the Elian case as a precedent for Republicans suffering no consequences despite being very much on the wrong side of public opinion (while Democrats, or at least Al Gore, did suffer even though the public disagreed with the Republicans). I could have also mentioned the Clinton impeachment (losing a few GOP seats in '98 was more than made up for by Gore's inability to coast into the White House on peace and prosperity) or no-brainer gun issues like the assault-weapons ban and closing the gun-show loophole. In each case the public has been on the side of the Democrats, but no harm has come to the GOP.

That's why, alas, I don't think the Republicans are overreaching. We've seen this movie before: Republicans rant, Democrats divide (with a few Dems timidly objecting), and the status quo doesn't change.

On Friday, as the leaders of both chambers scrambled to try to stop the removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, turned his attention to social conservatives gathered at a Washington hotel and described what he viewed as the intertwined struggle to save Ms. Schiavo, expand the conservative movement and defend himself against accusations of ethical lapses.

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. A recording of the event was provided by the advocacy organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.

--New York Times

Monday, March 21, 2005


Church cuts ties to food pantry because of Catholics

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A church has withdrawn its support for a food pantry serving the needy because the pantry works with Roman Catholics.

Central Church of God explained its decision in a letter March 1 from minister of evangelism Shannon Burton to Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte.

"As a Christian church, we feel it is our responsibility to follow closely the (principles) and commands of Scripture," the letter said.

"To do this best, we feel we should abstain from any ministry that partners with or promotes Catholicism, or for that matter, any other denomination promoting a works-based salvation."

Loaves & Fishes isn't the only ministry with which the large church has cut ties, and Catholics have not been the only reason they've given.

The Rev. Tony Marciano, executive director of Charlotte Rescue Mission, said Burton told him the church could no longer support the agency after it allowed three Muslim students from UNC Charlotte to help serve a meal....

Full story here, from last Saturday's Durham Herald-Sun. And there's a longer story here.

Ah, but since then the the pastor's had a change of heart!

The pastor of Central Church of God says the huge Charlotte church will continue supporting two ministries it had decided to quit helping because of the presence of Catholics.

"I'm apologizing," the Rev. Loran Livingston said at the second of two Palm Sunday services. "I'm telling all the people for the hurt, 'I'm sorry.' As long as we can, we're going to help until the Lord tells us to redirect our wealth."...

Though not completely:

But Livingston said the church would no longer support Charlotte Rescue Mission, citing in part the involvement of three Muslim students who helped serve a meal there.

Hey, you gotta have some standards, right? WWJD?

(First link via Democratic Underground.)
So the federal judge hearing the Schiavo case is a Clinton appointee.

That's good. It may mean he'll make a sensible decision.

But this is a win either way for DeLay and his thugs. If the judge forces the feeding tube back in, that's a big win -- but if he doesn't, that gives the thugs a chance (as I've said) to point to this case forever as an example of "judicial tyranny." This will be another Waco for the far right -- and now the thugs can also blame it on an "out-of-control" federal judiciary (which segues nicely into the crusade to lard the federal courts with right-wing extremists).


UPDATE: Yeah, I've seen the ABC poll showing massive opposition to congressional intervention. I worry that it may not matter. This reminds me of Elian -- the Republicans were on the wrong side of public opinion, but come Election Day the only voters who remembered were voters in Florida wanting to punish the Clinton administration. The next election cycle is off-year. Who'll vote? Motivated voters. If the past is any indication, there'll be a lot more people voting in '06 to get back at "activist" Judge Greer than to get back at Tom DeLay. And the same goes for the mobilization of public opinion in any future battle over judicial nominees.

We saw this weekend how fast the one-party government in Washington can move to try to keep a woman with no higher-order brain functions alive for several more decades. Alas, the government's concern for the lives of healthy, fully functional soldiers in Iraq has been a bit less robust -- it's still going to take several more months (actually, it's taken two and a half years) to get each of the troops a sophisticated, high-tech piece of lifesaving equipment, the lack of which has led a number of them to bleed to death.

A tourniquet.

Here's the original story from the Baltimore Sun (link; if that doesn't work, try this):

Since at least a month before the war in Iraq began, medical experts in the Army and other services have called on the Pentagon to equip every American soldier in the war zone with a modern tourniquet. The simple first-aid tool - a more sophisticated version of the cloth-and-stick device used by armies for centuries - could all but eliminate deaths caused by blood loss from extremity wounds, the most common cause of preventable death in combat, they argue. The cost would not likely exceed $2 million, or about two-thousandths of a percent of the $82 billion proposed for the war this year.

Yet many of the nation's soldiers - tens of thousands, some doctors and Army medical officials estimate - continue to enter battle without tourniquets. And some bleed to death from battlefield injuries that would not be life-threatening if a proper tourniquet were available, according to more than a dozen military doctors and medics who spoke to The Sun on the condition they not be identified....

Even though the Army has approved a new soldier first-aid kit that would include a tourniquet and manufacturers say they are ready to produce as many as 100,000 tourniquets a month, the Pentagon has not placed an order....

Many of the Army's Reserve and National Guard units, maintenance and supply soldiers, and infantry soldiers ... don't have modern tourniquets. The Army has never added any type of tourniquet to its standard equipment list for soldiers, and the Pentagon has never dedicated money to buy them. Squads of 10 or more soldiers sometimes go into battle without a single tourniquet among them, The Sun has found. Many soldiers don't even carry the $2.05 cravat bandage, which the military has used as an improvised tourniquet for hundreds of years....

And this isn't a trivial issue:

One photograph circulating among Army doctors shows an unidentified soldier with a tourniquet on his leg fashioned from a bungee cord. According to a doctor who showed the picture to The Sun, the improvised tourniquet failed, and the soldier bled to death....

A Sun update late last week (try this to get it) informs us that the situation is being remedied. That means instantly, right?

"We anticipate theaterwide distribution beginning in mid-April, with completion in three or four months, by July or August," said Cynthia Vaughan, a spokeswoman for the Army surgeon general.

So what went wrong?

One obstacle was that the military wanted first to develop new training manuals and a pouch for carrying the tourniquet, a process expected to take months.

Let's see: Military doctors have been talking about this since 2003, there've been 1500+ deaths and a lot more injuries, and the the training manuals and pouch are still in the planning stages?

I guess they weren't planning to finish this process until the third or fourth Bush invasion of a Middle Eastern country.
On NPR this morning, I heard Congressman John Lewis of Georgia denouncing the Schiavo bill. John Lewis! This John Lewis.

You have a hero of the civil rights era on one side and, as a party, you don't have the guts to put him up against Tom DeLay?

What the hell is wrong with the Democrats?


Even a few Republicans get it, at least outside of Washington -- these Florida state legislators, for instance:

Terri Schiavo's parents couldn't get their own legislators to vote this time around for a bill that would keep their daughter hooked to a feeding tube.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, and Rep. Everett Rice, R-Treasure Island, count Bob and Mary Schindler among their constituents. And yet both lawmakers voted Thursday to defeat proposals [in the Florida legislature] that would block the withholding of food and water from patients in a persistent vegetative state....

Jones and Rice were among a surprisingly large number of Tampa Bay-area Republicans who broke party ranks and voted against the bill. The group included the woman who is second-in-command in the House, Rep. Leslie Waters, R-Seminole, the speaker pro tempore.

Most said they were philosophically opposed to involving government in issues they felt should be handled privately by families....

Rep. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, said he also felt remorse after voting for Terri's Law in 2003.

"I think this was a family matter," Dean said. "I voted for it last year but after reflection, I had to vote against it."

That's from the St. Petersburg Times. The story goes on to tell us something about the letters and e-mails the legislators are getting:

While nearly every lawmaker was deluged with e-mails from national organizations begging them to save Schiavo's life, local correspondents were more likely to ask them to stay out of the matter.

For example, of the 300 e-mails Rice received Wednesday, about 215 were from out of state and all asked him to vote for the bill. Of the 29 definitely from Rice's district, all but six asked him to vote against the bill. The origin of the remainder could not be determined.

Rep. David Russell, R-Spring Hill, who also voted against the bill, said the local letters were dramatically different from two years ago.

"It is almost a 180-degree turnaround," Russell said. "I received a number of communications from my constituents, many of them conservative Republicans, asking that we not intervene. And I listen to my constituents."

The message is getting through to these Republicans. Why can't the whipped-dog Democrats in Washington hear it?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

OK -- why did this happen?

It happened, in part, because Democrats -- as is so often the case -- were caught flat-flooted. And why was that? Why did no one in the Democratic Party grasp the fact that right-wingers have rallied around Terri Schiavo, and thus the case was ripe for self-righteous GOP moralizing?

I knew. You know when I did my first post about Terri Schiavo? 2003. Why did I know about her case? Because I pay attention to the hardcore Republican base. I'm a regular lurker at Free Republic and I know that's where you can pick up the danger signals. For that matter, I knew the Swift Boat liars were coming a couple of months before their first ad went on the air. It's not rocket science. I knew from FR and Lucianne.

Why the hell does it seem that no one in the Democratic Party does what I do? Why didn't anyone see this coming? Why were no Democrats prepared for this possibility?

Did any Democrat even know the facts of the case before this week? How many Democrats know, even now, that this is hardly an unprecedented case, that Terri Schiavo can't possibly recover, that she won't suffer agony as she dies? Republicans know all the Christian conservative Schiavo talking points. Has any Democrat in D.C. ever even looked at the exhaustive Terri Schiavo information page at Matt Conigliaro's Abstract Appeal to learn the truth about the case?

When Terri Schiavo became Congress's priority #1, Democrats -- as usual -- buckled under pressure. They've just thrown up their hands. From yesterday's New York Times we learned that

For Democrats still struggling in the wake of their defeat in the November elections, the case offered a way to portray their newfound willingness to move to the center on such issues.

From an AP story today we learn that, with regard to the GOP bill to transfer control of the case to federal courts,

The Democratic whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said his office was informing members of the vote and not discouraging them from returning to the capital. But he said the party was not counting votes and was telling members to vote their conscience on the issue.

Translation: The Republicans are probably right on this one. As is so often the case, they'll say we're evil if we don't vote with them, and, well, they're right, I guess. After all, they have values. We don't.

Democrats remind me of a woman I used to see doing standup comedy back in the '80s. She talked about an ex-boyfriend and said they had one thing in common:

"We both loved him and hated me."

That's the Democratic Party in relation to the GOP: They both love the GOP and hate the Democrats.

I don't want Democratic resistance to be limited to this:

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., spoke of "the manifestation of a constitutional crisis" where Congress, for ideological reasons, was ignoring the separations of power written into the Constitution.

I want someone to say flat out that what Republicans are doing is morally wrong. It stomps on spousal rights and the due process of law. It's hypocrisy given that other parents and guardians are seeing their relatives pulled off life support against their wishes. The grandstanding turns Terri Schiavo into a political football.

An awful lot of ordinary Americans get this. A lot of them would rally to a Democrat who wasn't full of self-hatred, who would say that the Republican position is not the moral position.

But that will never happen.

Shortly after the '04 election, an essay made the rounds that described all Democrats as battered wives. I don't agree -- the Democrats I know don't act like victims who tie themselves in knots to please (Republican) abusers.

But that's because I don't know any Democrats who are officeholders or staffers in the Beltway. When I look at those Democrats, I have to say: Yeah, you're living in an abusive marriage. You've got to stop letting yourself get hit, and you've got to save yourself, for crissakes.
And anyone who hasn't yet caught up with the cases of Sun Hudson and Spiro Nikolouzos should go here. Hudson and Nikolouzos are patients in Texas (a six-month-old boy and a 67-year-old man, respectively) whose families have sought to keep them on life support, but the families' wishes have been thwarted because hospitals in that state have the legal right to overrule families. (Sun Hudson, the six-month-old, has since died.)

Let me be cold-blooded: If Democrats played the game like Republicans, a delegation of Dem politicians would fly down to Texas and literally try to make a federal case of these denials of care.

(Link via Sisyphus Shrugged.)
In case you haven't seen this, here's more on the Schiavo memo, from The Washington Post:

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."

Yeah, that's just how Jesus would have put it.
Captain Flightsuit -- to the rescue!

Congressional leaders reached a compromise Saturday on legislation to force the case of Terri Schiavo into federal court....

The White House announced late Saturday that President Bush, who was vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., would make an unscheduled return on Sunday to Washington, where he would remain until early Monday in anticipation of signing the measure....

[White House press secretary Scott] McClellan said that a bill could be flown to Crawford for the president's signature, but that a woman's life was at stake and Mr. Bush did not want to waste a moment....

--New York Times

Got that? He has to fly from Crawford to Washington because flying the bill from Washington to Crawford would take too long.

Yeah, that makes sense, right?

Christ, the mainstream press will swallow any swill this administration dishes out, won't it?


UPDATE: Or quite possibly the point of this stunt is obvious, and I'm just missing it -- see comment #1.
Why have congressional Republicans been working the Terri Schiavo case so hard when polls show that most of America would support the removal her feeding tube? Yesterday's New York Times tried to answer that -- but missed an obvious reason.

The Times story mentioned pressure from religious conservatives, sincere concern about Schiavo's fate on the part of "Mr DeLay and other lawmakers" (yeah, right), and an eagerness on DeLay's part to change the subject from his fund-raising scandals.

But here's what the Times missed: the fact that this is part of a larger right-wing argument, namely that we are suffering from "judicial tyranny."

Note that it was just this week that the Senate Judiciary Committee dealt with the first of Bush's resubmitted judicial nominees, setting the stage for a possible exercise of the filibuster-quashing "nuclear option" in the full Senate. Note also that the top-selling right-wing book at this moment (#6 on the New York Times bestseller list as I write this) is Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America. Note that the The Empire Journal, a right-wing site that's taken up the Schiavo case, is selling STOP JUDICIAL TYRANNY magnets, suitable for the back of your SUV.

And there's a larger implicit message beyond that: "unelected judges" who impose "judicial tyranny" are doing just what leftists/liberals/Democrats always do -- they're unilaterally imposing their perverse will on America, in defiance of common decency and common sense.

That's the overarching message that wins elections for the GOP. Whether it's tenured-radical professors forcing our babies to espouse America-hatred in college classrooms or John Kerry calling for a "global test" on fighting terrorism or the ACLU requiring department-store clerks not to say "Merry Christmas," the evidence is overwhelming: People on the left have freakish notions and we force everyone to yield to them. (Yes, of course, every example I've given is a distortion of the truth. But large swaths of the public believe all of them are literally true.)

No, I don't know why our side can't paint DeLay and Florida Republicans and the religious right as the ones wearing the jackboots in this case. But that's the way it usually goes, isn't it?


I wrote that yesterday -- and after I wrote it, as if on cue, I discovered that a gentleman named Horace Cooper had written an op-ed for UPI making the precise "judicial tyranny" argument I was talking about.

So far the op-ed isn't widely circulated, but I think it's representative of right-wing thinking. Cooper says that George Greer, the Florida judge overseeing the case, has acted

as judge, jury, and executioner


more like the grim reaper than a neutral arbitrator upholding the law....

Cooper thinks Greer should be impeached, but

Unfortunately judges and their "amen choir" in the media and academia have successfully limited the use and frequency of this power. As a result, brazen acts of judicial usurpation go unabated as judge after judge plays the legal version of "Que es mas macho?" pursuing ever more extremist counter-culture agendas that would never pass in an open democratic public process.

There it is, in two sentences -- the whole argument, with nearly all the usual suspects rounded up.

(Cooper, by the way, has written for GOPUSA, former stomping grounds of Jeff Gannon, as well as for the "respectable" National Review Online.)