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[John] Cole On Schiavo

Let me highly recommend this post from conservative blogger John Cole on the radicalism of the anti-Schiavo forces. On one level, this is all "merely" a disgusting spectacle, but on another level it really does seem to be the leading edge of a kind of grossly hysterical lawlessness that we've seen pop up now and again from this corner of the American right. It's worth recalling that while it's been a long time now since over-the-top anti-abortion rhetoric has inspired acts of terrorist violence, it hasn't been all that long either. The extent to which basically decent people motivated by sincere religious convictions have been willing to act as fellow travelers for the massive factual misrepresentations of DeLay, Frist, et. al. in this matter has been distressing, as has the willingness of such people to brush little details like the law aside as "mere legalisms" or whatever.

March 24, 2005 | Permalink


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Maybe it's about time the Democratic Party rediscovers itself as the party standing up for the separation of church and state. It's funny, the Democratic Party of the 19th century and the Democratic Party of today are almost polar opposites. From white supremacist, small government states rights extremists to believers in affirmative action, an engaged Federal government and a strong and secure welfare state. Yet, the one link that ties the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Grover Cleveland to the party of today is belief in the separation of church and state. In the 19th century it was the Democrats who stood up to Whig and Know Nothing Protestant extremism, the temperance movement and sabbatarian laws. The Democrats should learn from the one positive strand that unites the party over the entire course of existence and stop what Chris Shays rightly calls "The party of theocracy".

Posted by: Elrod | Mar 24, 2005 12:13:58 PM

"The extent to which basically decent people motivated by sincere religious convictions"

Ahem. It's my experience that the type of person who gets caught up in that sort of thing...well, they're not all decent people. It has nothing to do with the religion, it's just that they're the type of people that has basically control-freak ambitions. It's just that the particular flavour of fundimentalist convictions tends to meet their sociopathic personal beliefs.

As to the parents in this particular case..without getting distasteful, let me just say that their words, actions and attitudes send up huge red flags in my mind. It's the type of behaviour I've seen before, and it's not a good thing. It's not pain. It's malice.

Posted by: Karmakin | Mar 24, 2005 12:15:57 PM

Grossly hysterical lawlessness is exactly the way to put it. We have seen time and again that the people now in charge of two branches of the federal government, and nearly dominant in the third, regard existing laws and customs as mere inconveniences. My fear is that the foundations of our polity are being weakened in ways that will be very hard to undo even when the Democrats return to power. Will a future Democratic leadership in the House, for example, carefully dismantle the insidious rule changes that DeLay & Co. have instituted, or will "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" prevail? The 2006 and 2008 elections certainly are crucial to preserving some semblance of the America we love and aspire to realize (as was, alas, the 2004 election).

Posted by: John | Mar 24, 2005 12:17:05 PM

William Bennett is now arguing in NRO that Jeb Bush should ignore the legal rulings and send in the troops to forcibly reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube.

Posted by: Don P | Mar 24, 2005 12:21:02 PM

The left snub their noses at the Evangelicals at their electoral peril!

Posted by: Al | Mar 24, 2005 12:24:13 PM

William Bennett is now arguing in NRO that Jeb Bush should ignore the legal rulings and send in the troops ...

Pat Buchanan was on Scabrous Country last night arguing that President Bush should send in the National Guard.

It has nothing to do with the religion, it's just that they're the type of people that has basically control-freak ambitions.

Exactly. One of the historical social objectives of religion in Old Europe (or more specifically "official" or established religion) was as an instrument of "crowd control." One of the many great things about America is our founders' wisdom in establishing a system of government "of the people by the people" rather than government by an authoritarian few who claim the mantle of divine authority. Unfortunately from time to time we must protect our system from those who try to fulfill their atavistic need to dominate others by abusing religion as an excuse or instrument to resurrect (no pun intended) the crowd control component of religion.

Posted by: tomf | Mar 24, 2005 12:37:01 PM

"The extent to which basically decent people motivated by sincere religious convictions have been willing to act as fellow travelers."
The Vatican.

Posted by: John Isbell | Mar 24, 2005 12:38:17 PM

Apropos of this, Richard Cohen is surprisingly good on the Democrats today.

Posted by: alkali | Mar 24, 2005 12:41:10 PM

My buddy Crispin (eyeofthestorm.blogs.com) points out that you would have to be crazy to say you wouldn't compromise on separation of powers or states rights in order to save a persons (peoples) lives. Considering the largest perpetrators of crimes against humanity have been conducted by states, I would agree that you are crazy.

It's a shame this case has lost all specificity and turned into a symbolic clash of bizarre ideologies.

Posted by: adam s | Mar 24, 2005 12:45:36 PM

Jeb Bush should have sent in troops to prevent William Bennett from wasting his virtue money on that nasty gambling habit.

The money should have been seized and provided to patients like Terry Schiavo and their parents and more immediate families. Plus to those have been turned away from hospitals and who later developed fatal conditions as a result. Lots more too.

Murder is abroad in the land.

Electoral peril? Bigger stuff is coming for the real murderers in America.

Posted by: John Thullen | Mar 24, 2005 12:45:58 PM

Um, "anti-Schiavo forces"? You mean the people who want her to stay alive?

Hey, I agree, they're crazy and wrong, but that's not a fair label to give them.

Posted by: Ryan | Mar 24, 2005 12:48:52 PM

On one level, this is all "merely" a disgusting spectacle, but on another level it really does seem to be the leading edge of a kind of grossly hysterical lawlessness that we've seen pop up now and again from this corner of the American right.

Good. More, please. I want millions of Americans to fear the intervention of Randall Terry and his fright-wig. I want John Cole to fear that Tom DeLay will grandstand on his own personal tragedies, god forbid any such thing occur. Particularly because it's people like Cole who opened the door for them. It's your party, mate, and you'll cry whether you want to or not.

Posted by: ahem | Mar 24, 2005 12:59:50 PM

Who wants to bet that after she finally dies the parents will file some kind of wrongful death lawsuit. Then we'll all get to sit back and listen to the deafening silence from our "tort reform" friends on the right. Vegetables, the gift that keeps on giving.

Posted by: gswift | Mar 24, 2005 1:18:13 PM

All married people, and all people who expect to be married, who must anticipate that they too may be called upon one day to fulfill their marital vows and make these dread decisions over the care of their spouses, should view with terror the emerging spectacle of hysteria, governmental overreach and fanaticism. Now you must know that not only will the "culture of life" jihadists stop at nothing to interpose themselves legally between you and your beloved spouse, and prevent you from keeping your promises and exercising your best judgment about your spouse's wishes, they will also not hesitate to villify you in the public square, and indulge in outrageous and malignant slander against your reputation.

The "culture of life" jihadists have been empowered by the weak-kneed pandering of those Democrats who have been been working since the election to undermine the party's traditional, principled stands on issues of life and death, self-determination and religious liberty. It now appears that, on this issue at least, the country as a whole is to the "left" even of the cowardly Democrats.

In the name of the sanctity of the marital bond, it is time to turn back the tide against these dangerous theocrats.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Mar 24, 2005 1:26:56 PM

Damn, Ryan beat me to it. To lable the people who are trying to keep her alive "anti-Schiavo" is totally inappropriate. Maybe "anti-Michael-Schiavo" or "anti-starving-Schiavo"...

Posted by: right | Mar 24, 2005 1:27:32 PM

When are you all going to wake up? Across the non crazy blogs of democrat sorts, there is this embarrassed superiority about dealing with the Schiavo attack to take control of government.

This is the real war. It is not going away. It is more primitive than religion. People who don't even know what hegemony is, want hegemony for their beliefs, which, are based on ignorance, and require rejection of skeptical inquiry.

And yet. There is this let's chat in refined tones when there is a war on, with no on standing up to the attackers. There is a reason that Mr. Bush has State power. His opposition.

Drum is above it. Kos is above, and endorsing those who say the Democrats should have stayed away from the issue. And here, same tune.

One sad conclusion is that there is something right in the right wing nut critiques of "liberals." To see a blatent attempt to use State Power in violation of Constitution and tradition, and find it a minor issue, a circus, a clown show, well, the right is right about liberals. They have some other agenda evidently and aren't trustworthy in a fight.

Posted by: razor | Mar 24, 2005 1:40:23 PM

Razor is on the mark.

While I view the Schiavo spectacle as a clown show, I believe it is like those horror movies wherein the clown is the murderer.

I want requests for "bills of attainder" flooding the U.S. Congress for all in America who go without heathcare, all of the homeless, all of the underpaid, all of the underfed, all of the Iraqi civilians murdered by our foreign policy...
shut the place down for good.

Tax me and I will destroy your government.
Deny me medical care and I will destroy your government. I want both. God has made me a Republican for these purposes.

Posted by: John Thullen | Mar 24, 2005 2:11:56 PM

Remember, these "basically decent people" are accusing Michael Schiavo of strangling his wife for money. "Basically decent people" do not bear false witness.

Posted by: dogfacegeorge | Mar 24, 2005 2:12:40 PM

Further to razor, here is the complete floor speech of Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) on the Schiavo bill, which may be found at 151 Cong. Rec. H1721 (March 20, 2005):

Mr. CAPUANO. Mr. Speaker, you have heard all the legal arguments, all the moral arguments. We see these things differently, and I understand that. I am here to speak for myself.

I have a living will that I wrote years ago, and I will check it myself as many Americans will. The bottom line is, I do not want you interfering with my wife and me. Leave us alone. Let us make our own decisions. It is not up to you. That has always been the way it has been in this country, and that is the way it should be.

For 6 years I have been hearing how the nuclear family is all we care about. Now we do not. Stay out of my family. If you can do it here, you can do it to me. You can do it to every one of my constituents.

Leave us alone. Let my nuclear family make my decisions and my wife's decisions without your input.

(wrings hands) But what if he offends somebody? Oh, it's so very distressing.

Posted by: alkali | Mar 24, 2005 2:14:06 PM


Fuck that. Keep this nuttery front and center. Liberals get dismissed as paranoid when we warn how the religious freaks are taking over the Republicans. This time they overreached. They've pissed off a lot of people, and are sowing dissention in their own party. For God's sakes, we've got Derb over at the Corner saying what a nut Hannity is on this. Hard to worry about a war when the other side loses every battle. Now they've got Jeb threatning to use DCFS. Fantastic. Every crazy escalation just horrifies the public all the more. '06 campaings should exploit the public disgust with this and the Patriot Act to firmly drive a wedge into the Republicans.

Posted by: gswift | Mar 24, 2005 2:25:32 PM

"Basically decent people" do not bear false witness.

The problem is that both Terri's friend who testified she was planning to leave him, and the nurse who spoke about Michael Schiavo's wishing she would die quicker, seem very credible, and neither one appears to have any financial interest in the case. A week ago, I thought this was a right-to-die case. Now I look at it as a spousal abuse case

Posted by: sf | Mar 24, 2005 2:26:50 PM

If the right has learned one thing, it's that emotional issues with a religious dimension will motivate voters. Think of the anti-abortion movement in the 1990s and how that got rightwing politicians elected.

Posted by: David | Mar 24, 2005 2:31:18 PM

I repeat, Razor is correct. It's war.

As Mr. Capuano pleads "Leave us alone" to combat the feint by the religious guerillas, Grover Norquist is just now coming over the hill with massive troops in a flanking maneuver.

We are witnessing a massive battle to murder the Federal Government.

Posted by: John Thullen | Mar 24, 2005 2:53:38 PM

It's a highly publicized war in which they lose at every turn, and witth every loss they attempt yet another crazy "flanking maneuver" that makes a vast majority of the public despise them even more. This is a godsend. This is the stuff that helps us take back seats.

Posted by: gswift | Mar 24, 2005 3:00:02 PM

Oh. So the Democrat strategy to take back seats is to do nothing. Let the republicans commit suicide. Do nothing. Watch. When they viciously attack others and mock government and change attitudes, do nothing, watch.

Great strategy in 02. Cleland did great. Great strategy in 04 with shithead Schrum. Wait long enough, and the republican nuts will no longer run things. Brilliant. That is a platform I can get behind.

So exactly what is the agenda that has to remain secret until the Republicans commit suicide and the Democrats can take over? Why is it anyone should ever vote for a pussy democrat?

Posted by: razor | Mar 24, 2005 3:22:16 PM

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