The Week in Review

Jeff Alworth

The week of March 21 will be remembered as the week Congress made a federal case of Terri Schiavo's right to die.  The stage was set over the weekend as Congress met to attempt to subvert the will of a Florida court, which ruled Schiavo's husband had the right to remove her feeding tube.  Sensing the opportunity to make metaphor out of law, august leaders, those keepers of life like Tom DeLay, swung into action to demonstrate for anyone willing to watch that they were the good guys.  Democrats, knowing that when the SS Evangelical pulls into port, it's time to get on board, got on board by voting for the legislation or staying home.  President Bush, who couldn't be bothered to make a public statement following the Asian Tsunami (he claimed he didn't want to score political points on someone else's grief), rocketed to Washington from his vacation in Crawford to sign the law.  The dye [die, see below] was cast, and metaphor did arise from this extraordinary action--but not exactly the metaphor the Republicans expected. 

With confidence and sanctimony coursing through their veins, Republicans took to Fox News on Monday to trumpet their decency.  Anyone who opposed them (by "anyone," they plainly meant "Democrats") must surely be purveyors of a "culture of death."  In their little echo chambers of blue statism, certain ner'-do-wells like the New York Times nattered on that "the new law tramples on the principle that this is 'a nation of laws, not of men,'" but who was listening?  One pocket in the culture of death was also active on Monday.  In the state Senate, Democrats pushed through a bill that requires insurance companies to give mental health treatment the same status as regular medical treatment.  Also on the culture of death scorecard: Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. 

Preening Republicans took two on the jaw on Tuesday.  First came the Florida court decision refusing to entertain Congress' ham-handed weekned intervention in the Schiavo case.  ABC also released a shocking poll, which revealed that two-thirds of Americans thought the weekend congressional action was wrong, and an even larger majority felt that GOP leaders had been motivated not by compassion for Terri Schiavo, but politics.  Also on Tuesday, the Army announced it will now allow Americans in their late thirties to enlist, which ought to really shore up the recruitment problem.

Wednesday, Portland Mayor Tom Potter made a fairly shocking suggestion: the Joint Terrorism Task Force might just work if he and the Police Chief got the secret FBI clearances federal task force officers have.  Either the mayor was born yesterday, or he was giving the FBI a diplomatic finger on the whole JTTF thing.  In Salem, House Republicans put forth a "bold, new" agenda to stimulate the economy and create new jobs.  It included radical new proposals like capital gains tax cuts, further giveaways to developers, further exemptions to the inheritance tax.  Well hell, why not?  It's worked so well over the last four years ....

On the Schiavo front, more judges rejected more appeals.

For Republicans, Thursday had the look of chicken roost day.  First the US Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency appeal from Terri Schiavo's parents.  Then a CBS poll came out that proved the Republicans right about one thing--the earlier ABC poll was way off base.  Turns out 82% think Congress was wrong to intervene, and three-quarters felt it was merely a political stunt.  Four days earlier, the GOP gleefully made their case: one party in America is bereft of morals and unable to look our for the interest of Americans.  But it wasn't until Thursday that they learned which party it was.

On Friday, a final judge rejected a final appeal in the Schiavo case, and Terri's parents called it quits.  One article on Friday reported that the legal bills racked up by Schiavo's parents were being picked up by a consortium of right-wing foundations and donors.  Former Portland school board and 2002 gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton announced he might consider running in 2006.  And finally, the Oregon legislature is considering a bill that would raise Oregon emission standards to match California's.  Almost no one noticed anything happening on Friday, however--thanks to the despicable shenangans we'd seen that week, the only thing we were watching was NCAA basketball.

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    So which day was it that FOX News had on tv psychic John Edwards to talk about Terri Shiavo's condition?

    Those who didn't know this happened should see John Stewart's reaction (Quicktime movie).

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    Oh, to steal a page from Heather's, here's your lunchtime poll for the day:

    Will this March of 2005 one day be remembered as the moment President Bush's GOP finally jumped the shark?

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    I watched a surreal McLaughlin Group on Friday in which the consensus was no. Essentially, analysts there argued that if Americans haven't hated Bush by now, it's hard to see how they'll ever hate him. But news analysis now seems 100% divorced from facts, events, and reality. Jon Stewart is the only guy in America making sense, and he's a fake news guy.

    Wake me up after the revolution.

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    I don't know, Jeff. If things do change, I'd expect it not to be gradual. I think people tend to hang on to their positions while the evidence piles up but then that last straw comes along and things change rapidly. The pundits are always the last ones to get it.

    I don't know that it will happen but I don't think you can assume it won't just because it doesn't seem to be happening yet.

  • tunesmith (unverified)

    Meanwhile, it sucked up all the oxygen from other things, like - the House about to pass a horrid bankruptcy bill - HR. 685 - that Darlene Hooley is a cosponsor of! I'm surprised that Blue Oregon hasn't commented on this at all. Hooley is one of only six Democratic cosponsors of this bill, and she should be ashamed of supporting this dog. There needs to be a more public call out for her to unsponsor the bill and vote no. Also, Wu signed a letter asking for fast consideration of the bill, presumably so he could vote yes. There's widespread bipartisan opposition to this bill and there's no excuse for supporting it.

    In the meantime, another poor "predatory lending" bill full of loopholes is making its way through the house, and Hooley is cosponsoring that one as well, when there is a far better Democratic alternative bill that she should be cosponsoring instead. I didn't know much about Hooley before these two bills and I don't have much reason to respect her at this point. People in her district need to call her and ask what the hell the deal is. This is the last week before the bankruptcy bill comes up for final vote in the House.

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    I fear that the McLoughlinites may be right, if only because there needs to be an equal shift of favoritism for the Democrats for there to be any real effect. People may think the GOP was wrong on this one, and I agree there is real potential for a building sense that the GOP has been hijacked by people who want entry into our personal lives...but the Democrats are not gaining support by being quiet (or by voting for the Schiavo bill, a truly stupid thing to have done). They gave the Republicans hanging rope by staying mostly out of the way of DeLay and Frist, but there is little to suggest that they are earning any kind of props for this. Perhaps they are waiting until Schiavo dies before slamming the right for getting involved; I hope that's their plan, and not a continued fear of standing up for anything, lest it turn out to be the wrong thing.

    BTW Jeff, pet peeve time: the thing that gets cast is a die, not dye. It refers to a mold in which hot metal is poured (or cast), and for which a fixed shape is quickly attainted as the liquid hardens. Alternately it is suggested that it refers to one die (singular of dice) being tossed--once cast, you can't change the outcome--but my research indicates that the former explanation is a closer fit.

  • Anthony (unverified)

    Regular readers of Jeff Allworth's posts may want to note that PBS is broadcasting a profile of Emma Goldman tonight as part of its "The American Experience" series. It airs on OPB (channel 10) at 9:00 p.m.

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    Okay, a number of you are noting that I used the wrong spelling on "dye is cast." Should read: die is cast.

    From Bryan Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (indispensible): "Julius Caeser's the die is cast (i.e., one of the pair of dice is thrown) is sometimes mistakenly thought to mean that a machinist's cutting or stamping device has been cast in the foundry."

    My dim sense at the time of writing: "cast" was some technical term used by dyers; once dye is applied to fabric, it is set and unchangeable. I stand much corrected.

    And as to Anthony's comment, I used to blog under the moniker Emma Goldman. Wonderful someone recalls this. That's a repeat AE and interesting. Emma rocks still.

  • iggi (unverified)

    i laughed so hard at that John Stewart clip, i almost puked...

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