How the Private Became Political

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Another reminder (assuming we needed one) about who is really in charge.

CRAWFORD, Texas — Frenetic negotiations among congressional leaders, a special weekend session and a hastily arranged trip back to Washington by the president in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case elevated a tragic personal issue into an extraordinary political drama.

But at bottom, the flurry of activity reflected an everyday fact of political life: When a powerful constituency cares passionately about something, all politicians — whether Republicans or Democrats — yearn to respond.

In this instance, the constituency was evangelical Christian conservatives. They played a pivotal role in reelecting President Bush and swelling GOP majorities in both houses of Congress in November, and they have become a voting bloc as essential to the GOP's new dominance as labor unions and minorities once were to the Democratic Party.

And the pressure on Bush and Republican congressional leaders to respond in the Schiavo case was all the greater because, during the first three months of the president's second term, social conservatives had become increasingly unhappy with what they saw as neglect of their concerns, such as banning same-sex marriage, in favor of issues pushed by corporations: changing bankruptcy laws, curbing medical malpractice awards and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

"Our issues aren't on the front burner every day, but when they are on the front burner it's on high," said Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition. "This proves that Terri Schiavo was a front-burner issue."

The very fact that the case of one woman in Florida and the family quarrel over her fate have reached the halls of Congress and captured the attention of the president reflects the power of the evangelical base in setting an agenda, said Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Assn. of Evangelicals. The Schiavo case, he said, showed that social conservatives were as consumed with the end of life as they were with life in the womb — and that the politicians were following their lead.

Republicans' desire to respond to the Schiavo case in a highly visible way was underscored Saturday night when the White House unexpectedly announced that Bush, vacationing at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, would fly back to Washington to sign the emergency legislation aiding Schiavo's parents in their effort to keep her alive.

...

On Friday, the pressure on congressional Republicans escalated sharply when a state judge ordered the feeding tube removed and a federal judge ruled that Schiavo's parents had no legal standing in the federal court system.

The legislation that is expected to win emergency approval over the weekend would give the parents standing in federal court, though it would not compel a federal judge to take up the case.

As a backdrop to the dramatic weekend deliberations were the political implications for several key players who could not afford to ignore the desires of the party base.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is considered a candidate for his party's presidential nomination in 2008. Frist, a physician, pushed his support for action to the point of declaring — on the basis of television footage — that he thought Schiavo might recover.

Gov. Bush, who has said he would not run for president in 2008, is still considered a potential contender and has won accolades from evangelical leaders for his role in the case. He discussed the matter with his brother on Friday, and the president's decision to move aggressively could further solidify the governor's position with the party's religious base.

For House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the case offered an opportunity to placate a key constituency and divert attention from his continuing ethics problems. DeLay had been avoiding attention much of last week but moved to the forefront of televised appearances Friday and Saturday.

He heralded the negotiations that led to a bipartisan agreement to let the special legislation come before the House and Senate on an emergency basis. And he took the opportunity to personally take on Schiavo's husband.

But the overriding reason for the flurry of activity — activity that could have little practical effect unless the federal courts agree to intervene — was the now-established importance of the voters who were demanding action.

Schiavo's case first entered the political arena in 2003, when Gov. Bush, besieged by petitions and e-mails from antiabortion activists, helped push through a state law to prevent doctors from removing Schiavo's feeding tube. The law was overturned.

When other legal options seemed to run out — and the Friday deadline for removing the feeding tube approached — the governor contacted the state's new Republican senator, Mel Martinez, to push the matter with Congress.

Social conservatives began lobbying the issue in Washington, but some exploded in anger late Friday when the House and Senate failed to reach an immediate agreement and seemed prepared to let the matter drop rather than disrupt their plans for the fast-approaching Easter recess. The message, as some conservatives saw it, was that GOP leaders were more interested in their personal political goals than the moral imperative of saving Schiavo's life.

"There are a lot of folks who helped create Republican majorities that were pretty disgusted with what went down, and the inescapable reality was that while they were dithering the tube got pulled," said Kenneth L. Connor, former president of the conservative Family Research Council and the lawyer who represented Gov. Bush in his efforts to keep Schiavo alive.

"That could have been avoided. The people who created this majority are interested in product, not process."

The maneuvering was followed over the weekend by President Bush in Texas.

The president considered addressing the case for the first time on Friday, when, by coincidence, he visited Florida at the same time doctors were removing the feeding tube, said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who spoke briefly about the case with the president aboard Air Force One.

"The answer was not to do it, since the situation was so fluid with the House and the Senate and the legal proceedings," Feeney said.

Feeney, who backs the measure, said the matter carries some political risk for Republicans but that televised images in the coming days of a dehydrated and starving Schiavo might spark "an epiphany for a lot of Americans who are undecided or not paying attention to these issues."

Evangelical leader Cizik predicted that the Schiavo case would be among the first of many to present similar issues.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-politics20mar20,1,6641318.story
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
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All the christian kids that were laughed at in school are having the last laugh now as they bully their way to power at all levels of the US political body.

All the hand-wringing in the world is not going to stop them either.
 

redeye be

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
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sad,

this has been all over the news here in belgium this weekend.

Our euthanasia law is a good thing, although not perfect. Things like this are not possible (any more).
It makes me sick that they are using this to profilate themselves.
 

themadchemist

macrumors 68030
Jan 31, 2003
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Chi Town
Blue Velvet said:
All the christian kids that were laughed at in school are having the last laugh now as they bully their way to power at all levels of the US political body.

All the hand-wringing in the world is not going to stop them either.
A good chunk of the folks pulling the strings now are the ones who were dumping the nerds in trash cans 40 years ago...

This isn't revenge of the nerds, it's re-revenge of the bullies on a global scale.
 

IJ Reilly

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This is one of the most cynical abuses of federal power I have ever witnessed. To make matters worse, the political opposition has hardly been heard from at all. I suppose they must think they've been outflanked on a compassion issue, when just the opposite is true. The argument against this is clear, obvious and compelling, but few seem have the guts required to make it.
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
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toronto
the article said:
Frist, a physician, pushed his support for action to the point of declaring — on the basis of television footage — that he thought Schiavo might recover.
good god, how friggin' irresponsible is that?
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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This is absolutely disgusting: violating the wishes of a helpless person in order to score political points. How sick. :mad:

FWIW, shortly after the GOP took these actions, ABC News' poll showed the public was against the action 89%-8%. Among "evangelical voters", the percentages were almost as high. This is a very unpopular move, and I hope it comes back to bite them in the ***.
 

IJ Reilly

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zimv20 said:
good god, how friggin' irresponsible is that?
I suppose we can count ourselves fortunate that Frist is practicing medicine in the Senate instead of on real, live patients.

Oh, but it gets worse (doesn't it always?). The newsbite flew past me pretty quickly on TV the other evening, but I'm pretty sure it was Tom DeLay who was getting some face time intoning about how unplugging a persistently vegetative person from life support "had never happened before."

Yeah, right. Only like hundreds of times a year.
 

IJ Reilly

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The family's troubles have devolved into a bitter public battle, with some conservative Republicans, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and right-to-life organizations taking up the Schindlers' cause.

ABC News obtained talking points circulated among Senate Republicans explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them, that it is an important moral issue and the "pro-life base will be excited," and that it is a "great political issue -- this is a tough issue for Democrats."

When asked about these talking points on "Good Morning America," DeLay said, "I don't know where those talking points come from, and I think they're disgusting."
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/print?id=595905
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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you know, there is much I might comment on, from the use of "activist" courts by the GOP when it suits them, to the manipulation of procedure to a certain end (makes their stance on filibusters a tad ironic)...but one thing that struck me is not particularily political. Namely:

In a case like this, with a woman in a vegetative state, is there no more humane way to go than merely unhooking the feeding tube and letting her starve to death? I mean, she may not actually suffer from this, but it struck me as being much more humane to give her a quick end. i apologize if I am not understanding something here. I might advocate a lethal injection or some such end.
 

zimv20

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blackfox said:
i apologize if I am not understanding something here. I might advocate a lethal injection or some such end.
i agree it's more humane. but it's also illegal in 49 states (iirc).
 

IJ Reilly

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Why, or how? Why, because they're beholden to the evangelical right wing. How, because they can. These are the only rationales required anymore.
 

vwcruisn

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May 7, 2003
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its utterly disgusting how low people will stoop over politics.

my mother passed away a few years back and insisted she not be kept alive on any sort of life support system. i cant even imagine how i would feel right now if they were making a pawn out of her like they are ms. shiavo.

my good thoughts go out to her husband, he must be one strong man to continue this fight as long as he has.
 

Ugg

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Apr 7, 2003
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blackfox said:
you know, there is much I might comment on, from the use of "activist" courts by the GOP when it suits them, to the manipulation of procedure to a certain end (makes their stance on filibusters a tad ironic)...but one thing that struck me is not particularily political. Namely:

In a case like this, with a woman in a vegetative state, is there no more humane way to go than merely unhooking the feeding tube and letting her starve to death? I mean, she may not actually suffer from this, but it struck me as being much more humane to give her a quick end. i apologize if I am not understanding something here. I might advocate a lethal injection or some such end.
Ah, the old, "drugs must be better" approach. I remember reading during the Oregon debate on assisted suicide that hospice nurses said that in their opinion, starvation was a much more peaceful way to go. Seeing death as often as they do I tend to believe them. NPR did a special on the Oregon Law and one of the things they made clear is that drugs, if they're not administered correctly and even sometimes if they are can fail and leave the patient in a worse state. For people in comas or those like Terri Schiavo, death by starvation is a much more humane way to go, IMO.
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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Ugg said:
Ah, the old, "drugs must be better" approach. I remember reading during the Oregon debate on assisted suicide that hospice nurses said that in their opinion, starvation was a much more peaceful way to go. Seeing death as often as they do I tend to believe them. NPR did a special on the Oregon Law and one of the things they made clear is that drugs, if they're not administered correctly and even sometimes if they are can fail and leave the patient in a worse state. For people in comas or those like Terri Schiavo, death by starvation is a much more humane way to go, IMO.

In a word: Bull****.

I've assisted in the euthanasia of more critters than I'd care to think about. It's quick, painless and clean. An experienced Euthanasia Tech can do it right every time provided the subject in question has good veins.

There's a split second when the subject tastes the drugs and swallows once... that's it.

I've also seen more critters starving to death than I'd care to think about. I assure you it's excruciating, debilitating and cruel.
 

Desertrat

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Jul 4, 2003
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No substantiation, and I'm not a doctor: A supposed-doctor was interviewed and commented that if the comatose patient is dying by starvation, the only effort that need be made is to keep the lips and mouth from drying. Supposedly this is the only discomfort which would be felt. Me? I dunno.

The whole deal ain't Congress' bidness.

'Rat
 

MrMacMan

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Jul 4, 2001
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I'm so glad the dems barely put up a fight.

58 against was it?

sad sad showing.

'Last edited by Rower_CPU : Today at 12:20 PM. Reason: no need to yell'
yea.
I disagree with your reasoning.
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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Sometimes other people say it so much better than I could...

Link

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the "family", the congress and the church against this woman's husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo's right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism.

This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn't the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.
The polls are not in the GOP's favor. They are not 'in the mainstream' on this issue. It's all about appeasing the religious right for putting legislative priority toward the corporate interests after religious conservatives delivered George W. Bush unto the White House.
 

Desertrat

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Jul 4, 2003
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"The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism."

Well, I dunno about "right wing". Lotsa issues, I'm off to the right of Attila the Hun but this ain't one of'em. I just really, really don't have a lot of use for Bible thumpers.

It's just sensationalism. It sells advertising. Just like Scott Peterson and Whatsit Molester and their trials. But isn't that the whole problem? "It sells advertising" because that's what people actually watch.

I've probably learned more about the Schiavo deal right here than from all the previous "news". My attitude? It's not my effing bidness, that's what. Just like it ain't Congress' bidness or the Bible Belt's bidness.

I'm not much given to name calling, but I just hope when that crowd gets home, their mommas come from beneath the porch to bite them. May they discover the joys of self-seduction.

Nighty-bye,

'Rat
 

Thomas Veil

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Judge Won't Order Schiavo Tube Reinsertion

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A federal judge on Tuesday refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, denying an emergency request from the brain-damaged woman's parents.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Whittemore comes after feverish action by President Bush and Congress on legislation allowing her contentious case to be reviewed by federal courts. The judge said the 41-year-old woman's parents had not established a "substantial likelihood of success'' at trial on the merits of their arguments.

Rex Sparklin, an attorney with the law firm representing Terri Schiavo's parents, said lawyers were immediately appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to "save Terri's life.''
Well, it ain't over yet, but that's a good sign. Lets hope the appeals court has the same common sense.

Link
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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Desertrat said:
"The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism."

Well, I dunno about "right wing". Lotsa issues, I'm off to the right of Attila the Hun but this ain't one of'em. I just really, really don't have a lot of use for Bible thumpers.
Hmm... So if I say that I'm pretty left on a lot of issues, but have little use for the gun-control thumpers, that I can then claim that gun-control thumbers ergo aren't liberals? Or that they don't represent a large portion of the left? Come on... This is all coming from right-wing sensationalism.

It's just sensationalism. It sells advertising. Just like Scott Peterson and Whatsit Molester and their trials. But isn't that the whole problem? "It sells advertising" because that's what people actually watch.
It's a subset of sensationalism for sure. The question you have to ask yourself is 'Would this firestorm of political activity from the leaders of Congress AND the President himself be occuring if the religious right wasn't feeling slighted by the corporate right that's running the show in DC right now?'

Would you have the President woken up at 1AM if it wasn't for a national emergency or a big constituent's need?

Are Frist and Delay driving this for political gain?

I've probably learned more about the Schiavo deal right here than from all the previous "news". My attitude? It's not my effing bidness, that's what. Just like it ain't Congress' bidness or the Bible Belt's bidness.

I'm not much given to name calling, but I just hope when that crowd gets home, their mommas come from beneath the porch to bite them. May they discover the joys of self-seduction.

Nighty-bye,

'Rat
And you call ME a statist, yet you vote for these guys. These guys make me look like a libertarian. :p
 

IJ Reilly

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This just in:

Michael Savage (on his web site):

The radical Democratic left is an army of soulless ghouls. Being of the living dead, they live in a world of death and try to impose it on we the living. Witness who led the charge: a radical homosexual, Barney Frank. A radical abortion Mafiosa, Barbara Boxer. What is difficult for we the living to comprehend is the reason they can engage in such anti-life abominations is because they have no souls. They have said that the tears of Terri Schiavo are mechanical. They have said that her smile is reflexive. They can rip an emerging child from the womb, murder it, and call this a compassionate act. Like Mengele -- the doctor of death from the Nazi concentration camps -- the radical, soulless Democrats keep referring to "the doctors," as if a medical degree guaranteed humanity. Therefore, choose life. God bless George W. Bush.
Pat Buchanan (on Joe Scarborough):

BUCHANAN: Joe, this is not a single family's life. A woman has been sentenced to death not because she committed a grave crime, but because she is severely brain-damaged. And she's been sentenced to death by dehydration and starvation, an innocent person.

When the German doctors committed those crimes in the 1930s, even before World War II, they were put on trial for crimes against humanity.

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: Pat, are you comparing Terri Schiavo's husband to a Nazi?

BUCHANAN: I'm comparing that judge's decision to a crime against humanity. I'm saying that her husband, who did not use all those funds to take care of her, that her husband, who used the money to see if she could be put to death, that her husband, who married someone else or is living with someone else and has two kids, is not really a husband anymore.