Saturday, March 26, 2005


More on Grover Nordquist's Poll-Driven "Values"

The issue of when to sever someone's life support can be discussed - but to push the full power of the Federal Government into a private family decision because you think it will poll well shows such complete lack of morals, ethics, scruples and judgement as to boggle the mind - especially when spearheaded by a party claiming to be "values-driven."

Viewed in this light, Tom DeLay's characterization of Terri Schaivo's husband Michael as a murderer was made not only with "reckless disregard for the truth" but were also deliberate lies spoken with malice for the purpose of deflecting attention from Mr. DeLay's moral and ethical bankruptcy. How dare Mr. DeLay claim the other ethics charges made against him are mere "partisan attacks" when his complete lack of ethics was so vividly displayed in his recent actions? Possibly because of Mr. DeLay's complete contempt for our collective intelligence and memory?

The Republican "ethics-free" club's membership isn't limited to Tom DeLay, either. The rest of the Republican noise machine tried to blame the courts for this sorry affair. Congress specifically considered and rejected putting an automatic "temporary restraining order" in the "Passion of the Terri" law. Under black letter law, this made it inappropriate for a federal court to issue an injunction unless Terri's parents could show "substantial liklihood of success" at a subsequent trial. It seems obvious Bill Frist and his minions deliberately and maliciously designed this legislation to create false hope for Terri's parents and use the court's application of existing law as an excuse for Senator Frist to initiate the "nuclear option" of eliminating judicial nominee filibusters.

Meanwhile - the Republicans have opened Pandora's box at a national level. What happens when the radical right-to-lifers demand legislation mandating life support as a constitutional right? The insurance industry doesn't want to pay for it, and public funding requires higher taxes, bigger government and possibly the dreaded "socialized health care." Rationing a "civil right" based upon "ability to pay" opens the dreaded "class warfare" issue.

Which special,interest group will the Republicans sell out? I guess it depends upon moral issues - like the polling numbers and the campaign donation levels forming Grover Nordquist's "values."


"Values" = Polling Numbers???

Noted humanitarian Grover Nordquist confirms the Republican "Passion of the Terri" play was all about cynically exploiting a family's pain for short-term political gain:
"Advocates of using federal power to keep this woman alive need to seriously study the polling data that's come out on this," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has been talking to both social and economic conservatives about the fallout. "I think that a lot of conservative leaders assumed there was broader support for saying that they wanted to have the federal government save this woman's life."
Source: Washington Post Schiavo Case Tests Priorities Of GOP march 25, 2005 (Emphasis added.)
There really are two sides to the overall public policy issue of when to cut life support. However, all sides should properly condemn the Republican party's cynical abuse of the Schiavo/Schindler family's grief for mere political gain.

My values may not be yours - your values may not be mine. We can hopefully talk about that. However, there is no talking with someone whose much-touted "values" depend upon the polling data. They must be crushed like the cockroaches they are.

Thanks to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for the link to the Washington Post Article

Friday, March 25, 2005


Friday Jon Carroll

Jon notes:
You may remember that the Bush administration has been issuing a lot of promotional videos lately (VNRs, they're called) touting the wonders of the administration's Social Security "reforms," the amazing effectiveness of its war on drugs, and the drug provisions in the new Medicare law and how they really helped a lot of folks. There were, of course, no competing views offered, and the tapes did not reveal that they were produced by the government.
No, what actually makes me irritable is all the TV stations that ran these things without any identification at all. The government does what the government does; the news business is supposed to be better than that. The news business is supposed to believe that it has a duty to its audience. It's suppose to draw lines in the sand.

And yet here comes a propaganda film, and here's a news director saying, "Well, gosh, due to cutbacks, we have one reporter and we share a camera with the wedding-video place across the street, so let's fill 2 1/2 minutes with this slick prepackaged bit of blather." Couldn't the weather person just vamp a little?
Full column HERE (Emphasis added)

So many conservatively-biased media outlets - so few ethics...


Death of a Brain-Damaged Iraqi Scientist

Another example of Republican efforts to preserve life whenever possible:
Iraq scientist jail death inquiry
The US army has opened an investigation into the death of an Iraqi scientist who died in US custody.
The US death certificate cited "brain stem compression" as the cause of death, the UK's Guardian newspaper said after seeing the document, but gave no further explanation.

The Iraqi doctor who carried out the post- mortem examination for Mr Izmerly's family told the Los Angeles Times: "It was definitely a blunt trauma injury". He added that a likely cause was a blow to the head or a fall from a height.
He was taken into US custody in April 2003 and held by the military for nine months in an unknown location.
Source: BBC March 25, 2005. (Emphasis in original)

I realize it would be rude to inquire whether this Iraqi scientist was tortured to death in a futile quest for non-existant WMDs - but shouldn't we investigate whether his death was due to having a feeding tube withdrawn after he suffered the brain damage? Surely such ardent "right-to-life" advocates as Bill Frist and Tom DeLay will immediately campaign for such an investigation...


Sanctity of Life (Except for Native Americans?)

You'd think someone as concerned with human life as Mr. Bush would immediately speak out on the latest tragic school shooting. You would, of course, be wrong:
Native Americans Criticize Bush's Silence
Response to School Shooting Is Contrasted With President's Intervention in Schiavo Case
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A06

MINNEAPOLIS, March 24 -- Native Americans across the country -- including tribal leaders, academics and rank-and-file tribe members -- voiced anger and frustration Thursday that President Bush has responded to the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history with silence.

Three days after 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed nine members of his Red Lake tribe before taking his own life, grief-stricken American Indians complained that the White House has offered little in the way of sympathy for the tribe situated in the uppermost region of Minnesota.

The reaction to Bush's silence was particularly bitter given his high-profile, late-night intervention on behalf of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman caught in a legal battle over whether her feeding tube should be reinserted.

"The fact that Bush preempted his vacation to say something about Ms. Schiavo and here you have 10 native people gunned down and he can't take time to speak is very telling," said David Wilkins, interim chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe.
Source: Washington Post.

Far be it from me to say Mr. Bush exhibits a racist attitude. However, Bush didn't move from his ranch when the tsunami hit Asia, did nothing to save the life of a poor black infant whose life support was withdrawn in Texas, offers no words of condolence to brown-skinned Native Americans - and makes a emergency photo-op trip back to Washington simply to sign a bill to force-feed a brain-dead white woman.

I expect this demonstrates Bush's pandering to his radical-right base more than possible racism. I doubt he cares anything about Ms. Schiavo's tragic circumstances, either - he's just cynically pandering to his radical right base. What this does show is that Mr. Bush has no compassion - he just acts the part when and if Karl Rove tells him to.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Meanwhile, Back on the Iraq Torture Front

In a development undoubtedly surprising to the 51% of Americans that weren't paying attention, it seems more and more likely the Abu Ghraib guards really were following (illegal) orders. It also appears the top US General in Iraq was fully informed about "ghost prisoners.":
Army Documents Shed Light on CIA 'Ghosting'
Systematic Concealment Of Detainees Is Found
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A15

Senior defense officials have described the CIA practice of hiding unregistered detainees at Abu Ghraib prison as ad hoc and unauthorized, but a review of Army documents shows that the agency's "ghosting" program was systematic and known to three senior intelligence officials in Iraq.

Army and Pentagon investigations have acknowledged a limited amount of ghosting, but more than a dozen documents and investigative statements obtained by The Washington Post show that unregistered CIA detainees were brought to Abu Ghraib several times a week in late 2003, and that they were hidden in a special row of cells. Military police soldiers came up with a rough system to keep track of such detainees with single-digit identification numbers, while others were dropped off unnamed, unannounced and unaccounted for.

The documents show that the highest-ranking general in Iraq at the time acknowledged that his top intelligence officer was aware the CIA was using Abu Ghraib's cells, a policy the general abruptly stopped when questions arose...
Source: Washington Post (Emphasis added.)

Sounds like some grunts got railroaded to protect some Big Brass posterior. No wonder Rumsfeld and the gang don't like the idea of a world court for human rights abuses... they see themselves as probable defendants before a court where George "Duh-Bill-Ewe" Bush can't issue them pardons...


The Administration That Cried "Hidden WMD Labs"

Remember the boy who cried wolf? Due to past Bush Administration lies, we can only guess whether or not there really is a wolf this time.

Iran - Present Time:

PARIS (Reuters) - An Iranian exile accused Tehran on Thursday of secretly purifying uranium for use in nuclear weapons at a recently-constructed underground facility at a military complex called Parchin. "Iran has completed an underground tunnel-like facility in Parchin, which is now engaged in laser enrichment," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, an Iranian exile who has reported accurately in the past about hidden atomic facilities in Iran.

"This underground site is camouflaged and built in an area of Parchin that deals with the chemical industry," he told Reuters by telephone from Washington, citing "well-placed sources inside the Iranian regime."
Source: Reuters Iranian Exile Says Uranium Enriched at Secret Site March 24, 2005.

Iraq - Not So Long Ago:

For example, many newspapers published extensive interviews with Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a civil engineer who, with the I.N.C.’s help, fled Iraq in 2001, and subsequently claimed that he had visited twenty hidden facilities that he believed were built for the production of biological and chemical weapons. ... The U.N. teams that returned to Iraq last winter were unable to verify any of al-Haideri’s claims...
Source: Seymour Hersch The New Yorker SELECTIVE INTELLIGENCE May 5, 2003.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Republican Party of Lincoln now a Theocracy Party

Looks like the GOP's rush to overturn an issue fully litigated in state courts is driving a wedge in the unholy alliance between the KK-Kristians and the "states rights" contingent - which includes the business community:
"This is a clash between the social conservatives and the process conservatives, and I would count myself a process conservative," said David Davenport of the Hoover Institute, a conservative research organization. "When a case like this has been heard by 19 judges in six courts and it's been appealed to the Supreme Court three times, the process has worked - even if it hasn't given the result that the social conservatives want. For Congress to step in really is a violation of federalism."

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing," said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill. "This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility."

"This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy," Mr. Shays said. "There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."
Source: New York Times G.O.P. Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention
March 23, 2005 (Emphasis added)

If Bush and his buddies keep this up, Bush's "political capital surplus" is going to become a deficit faster than the Clinton Surplus became the Bush Deficit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Judicial Nominee Haynes Involved in Gitmo Torture

According to the Washington Post, Carl Levin released information showing the government redacted (blacked-out) comments having no relation to security concerns - but much to do with covering up facts the Bush Administration will find embarassing:

Justice Redacted Memo on Detainees
FBI Criticism Of Interrogations Was Deleted
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A03

U.S. law enforcement agents working at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluded that controversial interrogation practices used there by the Defense Department produced intelligence information that was "suspect at best," an FBI agent told a superior in a memo in May last year.

But the Justice Department, which reviewed the memo for national security secrets before releasing it to a civil liberties group in December, redacted the FBI agent's conclusion. It also withheld a statement by the memo's author that Justice Department criminal division officials were so concerned about the military interrogation practices that they took their complaints to the office of the Pentagon's chief attorney, William J. Haynes II, whom President Bush has nominated to become a federal appellate judge.

The revelations in the memo, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) generally amplify previously disclosed FBI concerns that military interrogators at the island prison were using coercive interrogation methods that could compromise any evidence of terrorist activities they obtained.
Source: Washington Post Justice Redacted Memo on Detainees (Emphasis added.)

William J. Haynes II is one of the "unreasonably rejected" judicial nominees Mr. Bush is trying to shove down our collective throats:
Among the most controversial nominees are... William J. Haynes II, who served as Pentagon general counsel when controversial detainee policies were set that allowed enemy combatants to be held indefinitely without charges and access to counsel. He was again nominated for the 4th Circuit.
Source: Washington Post Bush Tries Luck Again With Judicial Nominees
Feb 15, 2005

Gee, I wonder what action William Haynes took on these reports of ongoing torture - and what else the Bush Administration doesn't want us to know about this "highly qualified nominee."


Republicans Condemn Court for Following Law

When Tom DeLay and his buddies passed the "Pander to the Right Wing Extremists" law regarding the late Ms. Schiavo, they forgot to change long-established Federal law regarding preliminary injunctions. The standard test for getting such injunctions is to show a "substantial likelihood of success" at trial.

Applying this test to Ms. Schiavo's case, the judge noted Ms. Schiavo's parents had already litigated the matter for many years, and that it was unlikely they would succeed at trial. He therefore properly denied a preliminary injunction but did not throw the case out.

Of course, the matter will soon be moot without an injunction. If the feeding tube is not removed, Ms. Schiavo's body will follow her brain into death. The so-dramatically obtained new trial mandated by the Congressional abuse of federalism principles will be moot.

Several environmental lawsuits seeking preliminary injunctions against construction projects threatening habitat have been "mooted" in this manner. The judge denies the injunction, the developer destroys the habitat in question, and the case is dismissed as moot.

If this were a case filed to stop ANWR drilling, Republicans would cheer the courts for even-handed application of the law. In this case, however, they are condemning "judicial activists" for applying the law in a politically biased manner.

The real problem here is that Republicans are undermining our respect for the judicial system through their policy of "government by men, not laws." They apparently feel democracy is like jobs - the more you export to other countries, the less remains for US citizens...

Monday, March 21, 2005


It Isn't Murder If They're Poor

In Texas, doctors can pull the plug on folks like Ms. Schiavo as soon as their money runs out - and George W. apparently signed it into law (Health&Safety Code 166.046.) I guess Tom DeLay only considers this "murder" if the family relies on Medicare for paying their medical bills. Here's the relevant part of the Texas "futile care" law:
(e)If the patient or the person responsible for the health
care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining
treatment that the attending physician has decided and the review
process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment
, the patient shall
be given available life-sustaining treatment pending transfer
under Subsection (d). The patient is responsible for any costs
incurred in transferring the patient to another facility. The
physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide
life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written
decision required under Subsection (b) is provided to the patient
or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the
patient unless ordered to do so under Subsection (g).
See Texas Health and Safety Code Section 166.046(e) (Emphasis added.)
The State of Texas website has a place where you can download Texas Health and Safety Code Section 166.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Millions for Schiavo, Not One Cent For Medicare

I find it surprising more people aren't contrasting Congress' concern with the Schiavo case while ignoring cases where the Government tries to pull life support from folks that despirately fight to keep it. The key difference: Congress refuses to put its money where its mouth is. Atrios notes that Blogger Mark Kleiman has more:
Sun Hudson, a six-month-old boy with a fatal congenital disease, died Thursday after a Texas hospital, over his mother's objections, withdrew his feeding tube. The child was apparently certain to die, but was conscious. The hospital simply decided that it had better things to do than keeping the child alive, and the Texas courts upheld that decision after the penniless mother failed, during the 10-day window provided for by Texas law, to find another institution willing to take the child .

Where, I would ask, is the outrage? In particular, where is the outrage from those like Tom DeLay, who referred to the withdrawal of Terry Schiavo's life support as "murder"? If it's appropriate to Federalize the Schiavo case, what about the people being terminated simply because their cases are hopeless and their bank accounts empty?

Sun Hudson is dead, but 68-year-old Spiro Nikolouzos is still alive, thanks to an emergency appeals court order issued yesterday. However, his life support could be cut off at any moment. A nursing home is willing to take him if his family can show that he will be covered by Medicaid after his Medicare runs out. Otherwise, the hospital gets to pull the plug.
Full Post Here

Let's all write our congresscritters and ask for an Amendment to this idiot "Schiavo Bill" mandating medicare funding for Spiro Nikolouzos. I can't wait for Tom DeLay to get up in front of the cameras and talk about how "murder" is OK if it keeps taxes low...

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