Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Culture Wars End Today

The three ring media circus over a corpse that remains technically functional, yet who's human spirit departed her earthly bonds so long ago, continues in earnest today. As I type this blog entry, both houses of congress are poised to bastardize the limits of legislative (and perhaps moral) authority as it attempts to deal with the Schiavo case.

This whole situation has gone well beyond extraordinary. The country is going to hell in a handbasket. The planet is going to hell in a handbasket. Hundreds of thousands of functional people will die around the world today from war, state sponsored genocide, starvation, AIDS, spousal abuse, execution, gang violence, narco terrorism, and many other social causes, yet the U.S. congress would never, in a million legislative days (the measurement of time in Washington, DC), consider meeting in emergency session to deal with those issues. Never. Yet they meet today to deal with the moral question of a brain dead woman being allowed to depart this mortal coil with some modicum of decency.

The Schiavo case has gone well beyond the realm of the sublime and absurd, and entered the venue of the ghoulish. But you know what? America is getting what the majority voted for, just like ANWR. Bitch, whine, and moan all you want, but there's not a goddamn thing you or I can do about it. Progressives do not have the media reach. We do not have the high profile pitchmen (and women) who are willing to put everything on the line and pull out all the stops to wake up a nearly completely comatose America. DOCTOR Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader, makes a bullshit eighth-hand medical diagnosis for the media, and the TASS-US stenos dutifully lap it up. DOCTOR Howard Dean, newly elected chairman of the DNC, says nothing publicly.

The hypocrisy is, indeed, stunning. Liz at Blondesense comments this morning:

Bush is changing his plans this weekend to rush to sign emergency legislation that might save Terry Schiavo's life if he can get federal judges to rule on this case. This from a man who had no problem signing a law to allow hospitals to pull life support from patients whose bennies had run out, were probably less sick than Schiavo and of course were of the brown skinned persuasion. This from the culture of life man who signed more execution orders than any other governor. This from the man who started a goddamned war in Iraq dragging young men and women from America to fight for his whimsy, get killed or mutilated and then shaft them...

The most absurd thing is that this is no longer about Terri Schiavo. You know it and I know it. It's about unbridled abuse of power. It's one of the final shots in the culture war for the collective soul of America.

And we lost.

Don't just take my word for it, either. Here's a learned legal opinion:

...Look, there is no other way to put it: this is the most blatant and egregious power-grab by one branch over another in my lifetime. Congress is intruding so far into the power of the judiciary, on behalf of a single family, that it is breathtaking.

Update, 3:30PM - The Corpse Reanimation and Tent Revival Faith Healing Act of 2005 failed make it past the House on a voice vote. Democrats are forcing the GOP to go on record. There's little doubt that this legislation will pass and be forwarded to the Senate for quick action, but not today. Dennis Hastert has signaled that he'll call another vote as early as 12:01AM Monday - if he can get enough congressional representatives (218 votes and two-thirds of the House) back to Washington from their Easter recess.

Update, 4:30PM - The Washington Post has published an excerpt from a memo that was circulated among GOP Senators:

...An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.

"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats...

Can we now dispense with the myth that the GOP faux outrage over this issue actually has anything at all to do with Terri Schiavo? Thank you.

Update, 10:45AM, 3.21.05 - Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings commits the definitive last words on the Schiavo case to the blogosphere.