Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"Having Said That...."

Wow. I was sitting here working with CNN on in the background and heard some amazing stuff today.

The first amazing thing was when I heard a report on George Bush talking to US Troops in Germany. He said, "Some of you soldiers might have seen me before, I was the guy serving the turkey."

Bush was, of course, referring to his suprise spur of the moment trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving Day (which was planned weeks in advance in order to upstage Hillary Clinton's visit at the same time).

I hope some of those soldiers who remember him also remember that the turkey he was serving was a plastic one and his visit actually caused the soldiers to have to wait up to three hours before they were served their tv dinner style real turkey dinners. A unintentional, yet perfect, metaphor for the whole damned war. Plastic, fake, and surrounded by lies and publicity spin to bolster nationalistic pride in our new imperialism. And Bush seems to actually believe it. In his mind, it was a real turkey, and you can't convince him he is wrong about that -- or anything else.

But no. That wouldn't be the whopper of the day. Later in the afternoon I saw coverage of Bush speaking yesterday to reporters after talking to EU leaders. What he said made the audience at the European Union's headquarters literally laugh out loud. Asked about the US and our plans to invade Iran he said to reporters:

""This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table."

Wow. That's our fearless leader! Ain't ya proud, America?

We speak with one resolute clear voice...while saying opposite things. Any questions?

PS: If you'd like your very own plastic President holding a plastic turkey, you can get your Turkey Dinner George Bush doll from Talking Presidents.


Bush's turkey in Iraq images was for show, not for eating, by Mike Allen, The Washington Post, December 04, 2003

Bush's turkey raises questions, BBC News, 5 December, 2003

Bush and Schroeder bury Iraq hatchet, Reuters, Wed Feb 23, 2005

Bush: Iran attack 'ridiculous', News 24, 23/02/2005

Smiles Belie Fault Lines, by Dan Froomkin,, Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Death and Taxes and Terri Schiavo

They say death and taxes are inevitable, but if you're a Republican Evangelical Christian, you're probably not convinced. Just like Jesus Would, they're doing everything in their worldly power to legislate away the inevitable.

Yesterday the national "liberal" news media reported that Terri Schiavo had received a "stay" and a "reprieve" of a judge's order to remove her feeding tube in order to legally let her die.

The use of the word "stay" and "reprieve" were no accident, as the pro-life forces are framing the death that would result from feeding tube removal as an execution when they are polite, murder by liberal pro-death activist courts when they are impolite.

Terri Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years with no hope for recovery. I know her family and thousands of other people have a different opinion, but that is the opinion of the court. We are bound by that decision in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the countrary. The court has also consistently upheld lower court rulings that Terri Schiavo had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, although it is true that she left no written directive to that effect.

The courts have decided, we are bound by an implied social contract to abide by those decisions. It is indisputable that Terri's husband is the legal guardian of his wife, and therefore legally empowered to make medical decisions for her. Still, her parents continue to stoke pro-life interests in an "11th hour" effort to thwart her husband's wishes to let her die. They claim that, because Terri is a Catholic, euthanizing her would run contrary to her religious beliefs. Even the Pope has weighed in on the issue.

Perhaps most significantly, Governor Jeb Bush interceded on the behalf of Terri's parents in a way that was ruled unconstitutional. He rushed through an emergency law allowing him to order the tube's reinsertion five days after it was legally removed, and then sent men with guns to her death bed, removed her and had surgery performed against her will. The courts said the law, written at the governor's behest to apply to the Schiavo case and named "Terri's Law", improperly let the legislature and governor override the court system.

Terri's parents have created a foundation ( to raise money for their legal battle and advocate for the brain injured and pro-life efforts. The organization was recently fined for not filing the paperwork to solicit funds and are unclear about their book keeping practices. Gifts are not tax deductible.

The "charity" claims they have never had more than $40,000 in their coffers, but they have already spent more than $300,000 on legal fees and costs in the past three years.

For all I know, the conservative websites are right when they allege that Schiavo's husband really did try to kill her by strangling her because she spent $80 getting her hair done. Maybe there was a pattern of domestic abuse in that marriage, and maybe when she allegedly asked for a divorce he decided he would rather kill her and then botched the job.


None of those allegations, however, have been proven in the courts. They've had 15 years to make that case, and it hasn't stuck. Also, the accusation he is trying to kill her for the malpractice money ($1 million) seems absurd when the Terri Schiavo Foundation's own website says there is only $50,000 of it left after all the medical care and legal expenses. They give this figure not to dispute Michael Schiavo's motivation for wanting his wife dead but rather as proof that they are not mounting their case for financial gain.

The family has now engaged antiabortion activist and evangelista Randall Terry to whip up public opinion on their behalf by organizing pro-life related protests. He isn't above using Terri Schiavo's plight to further his own agenda. To that end he's gone on record saying things like the following:

"I am convinced that most of the country is disgusted with arrogant Judges ramming their godless agenda down our throats; I have seen the anger of good and decent Americans who are fed up with Courts acting like dictators and tyrants. This is one battle in which all of us can stand against judicial tyrants. We can set an example that ignites a wave of resistance to other acts of judicial tyranny." (emphasis not added.)

Because Michael Schiavo now lives (in sin) with his girlfriend and their children, Randall Terry is also pushing for legislation that will remove a spouse from guardianship if he or she lives with someone else. He also is pushing Governor Bush to use the Florida State Department of Children and Families to take over guardianship of Terri Schiavo from her husband.

I'm the first to admit that the American Legal System isn't perfect, but it is the best we (and the world) have. Shouting about judicial activism and judicial tyranny are just code words for efforts to undermine the essential checks and balances which set this great nation apart from any other.

Which is more dangerous to our nation? Judges who are liberal in their interpretation of constitutional law seeking to expand the protections afforded by that document or politicians who are increasingly able to impose from outside the judicial system conservative agendas?

I wish I understood how the party that claims they want a smaller government with less centralized federal authority are constantly seeking to expand that authority, concentrate it in an increasingly powerful President, and place ever more control of our liberty in the hands of pro-business and fundamentalist religious organizations. It all sounds like a textbook definition of fascism to me.

No matter how you look at the Terri Schiavo case, it is a tragedy for everyone involved. I just don't want to compound the tragedy by allowing it to erode and destroy the laws of this country and the judicial process by which we are protected. The law is the law, and there are legal ways to change the law if you find it no longer serves the public good.

Perhaps a better legacy for Terri Schiavo would be using all this political power of the radical right to push for legislation that would allow you to state your wishes regarding prolonging life by extraordinary means when you get your driver's license.

They could say that the absence of such an indication would cause you to default to not taking extraordinary means, since not bothering to check a box on your driver's license is hardly an extraordinary effort. If you can't make even that effort to preserve your life, why should a doctor make an extraordinary effort at substantial financial cost and legal risk on your behalf?

Common sense legislation like that would keep this issue, and the real people involved, from ever being used as a political football again.

I wanted to address the assisted suicide issue in Oregon, but that will have to wait for another post. Dealing with this one has left me completely drained....but like everyone else I will be watching with anxiety as the 5:00 deadline approaches.

Obviously this case has profound implications ranging far beyond the life of one woman who is unable to prove what her final wishes might be.

Florida Judge Issues Stay in Terri Schiavo Case, Bloomberg February 22, 2005

State fines Terri Schiavo charity for failing to register
, by Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press

UPDATE: Judge Greer has extended the stay for another 48 hours.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Well, I guess now Bush knows how Monica felt

I keep hearing all day about how pissed off Bush must be about the betrayal of a friend, to whom he was speaking in confidence, who recorded, and then released, audio tapes of those conversations.

Gosh, he's right. It doesn't matter if the guy who did it was doing it in states where it was legal to do. It was just flat out wrong to tape a conversation without someone else knowing it and then use that tape for an unauthorized purpose.

Sure, the Department of Homeland Security can do that, but not a private citizen.

Though, if it hadn't been for Linda Tripp's illegal recordings of her conversations with friend Monica Lewinsky about that stained dress Monica was keeping in her hope chest, Bill Clinton might not have been dogged so much that Gore couldn't win the 2000 election with all the cards stacked in his favor.

It's just a thought.

Bush can be upset about the betrayal of Doug Wead all he wants, but exactly the same kind of betrayal helped him get in the White House in the first place.

The thing that is most alarming to me is that Bush says something on the tapes I've been worried about since the beginning of his presidency. That he thinks John Ashcroft would make a great Supreme Court Justice.

John Ashcroft, he confided, would be a "very good Supreme Court pick" or "fabulous" vice president.

Who gives a shit if he talks about smoking dope on the tape, he's also stating that he was thinking about John Ashcroft before he even got elected President the first time!


That should scare the bejeezus out of you people, especially since the position Ashcroft is likely to get is Chief Justice! Come, on, American Liberal Media! Please start being the powerful threat the right continues to accuse you of being.

Please? Pretty, pretty please?

If "drug-mania" forces you to pay attention to the President and his remark about smoking pot, which was:

"I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions," he said, according to the Times. "You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."

...then maybe what we should talk about is that the President wants our children to know that if you have done something bad, don't fucking admit it no matter what. Never answer a direct question about it if it might be embarrassing, and if you ever do need to defend that decision, saying that you are trying to protect children is all the justification you need.

Well, Bob Novak, you're right, one thing you can say about Bush is he is consistent.

How about the other lessons this guy is teaching our kids? That if you think someone is going to hurt you, even if you don't have proof, hurt them first. If you don't have the proof you need to hurt someone, invent it. Claim the benefits of lying and hurting people outweigh any restraint.

I don't know about you, but I don't want this guy babysitting any of my underage relatives.

Pay attention people, the world is being pulled out from under your feet.

Secret tapes recorded Bush's pre-White House thinking, By David D. Kirkpatrick The New York Times

Friday, February 11, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day, Virginia

It's almost Valentine's Day. As holidays go, this one is hard on a lot of people. There are almost as many suicides on Valentine's Day as there are on Christmas Day.

Sure, I know there are a lot of happy couples out there, and for the happy couples this holiday isn't hard. But they weren't born couples, and by God, they became couples after going through the Hell that is the singles dating scene.

It takes a lot of hard work to get from single to couple.

First you have to find someone to love. Then, after watching them a while (but not long enough to get slapped with a restraining order) you can decide if declaring your love is worth the risk of rejection and heartbreak, social ostracization, the unending laughter of the object of your affection, their friends, your friends, your family, and complete strangers everywhere you turn.

It is only after you have done the work of fantasizing what success would be like, that you can bring yourself to take the chance. You think about how the hand of your secret beloved would feel held in yours. The touch of their lips and the taste of their breath played out so often in your mind that your heart can't stand the gulf between reality and fantasy. You gotta know or you gotta die. That's your aching, agonizing world.

So, like a second grader with a crush, you figure out some way to do the adult equivalent of sending a note that reads, "I love you. Do you love me?" With two boxes below, one labeled yes, the other...Well, you know.

And you risk everything...Or at least it feels like you're risking everything...You know in your heart there is a 10% chance of joy, and a 45% chance each of either being killed or feeling like you wished you were dead...And you walk up to that special someone and lay it all out there for them to decide your fate.

Yes, those people out there who will happily exchange candy and cards and gifts and kisses went through all that once upon a time, and now each bite of chocolate contains a silent wish to never have to go through it again.

But the rest of us, we're either shattered or preparing to be shattered.

Valentine's day is torture for us, and so we hole up in our houses, or bars, or anonymous chat rooms where if we are rejected we can't see the face of the destroyer of our dreams...Or we can shamelessly flirt and mutually pretend with each other that our Valentine's Day conquest is both real and tangible...But we know the truth.

Probably a lot of you think that this was a holiday invented by Hallmark to sell greeting cards. Probably some of you think it is a Catholic holiday because the real name is St. Valentine's Day.

St. Valentine was a real person, a martyr, who was put to death by a king who wanted to make war but was running out of soldiers. The king thought that no one wanted to go to war anymore because they were too happy at home with their lovers and wives, so he outlawed marriage.

Valentine married people in secret. People his government said couldn't be married. For that he was put to death.

This week our lawmakers down in Richmond worked very hard to rewrite the state Constitution. The House voted 78-18 to ban one man expressing his love for another man, or one woman expressing her love for another woman with a public vow of lifetime monogamy and calling it marriage.

So, of course, my thoughts go to the original St. Valentine. It isn't so hard to imagine a modern version secretly conducting illegal marriages and being martyred for the cause of love.

Because at the end of the day, it isn't gay marriage these lawmakers are so opposed to, is it?

They're opposed to gay love....As if that love were a love different from any other....

The History of Valentine's Day Begins with a Tragedy, by Shante Davis

Virginia House approves gay 'marriage' ban, by Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES