Your Daily Dose Of Reality...Starts Now! Voice Of The Majority is a Progressive-Leftist blog covering National and Austin Texas/Travis County politics. WE MUST WORK TOGETHER AND TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK! This Blog Is Protected By The First Amendment........Well, at least for now it is.

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    Location: Austin, Texas, United States

    Joshua Angell, also known as Josh Angell (born June 3, 1979), is an outspoken Liberal activist who has run a news blog since 2004, entitled "Voice Of The Majority" Angell, a frequent caller to radio shows such as Lynn Samuels, is often outspoken on what he calls "the lies of the Bush Crime Family". Known locally in Austin, Texas to appear at rallies and anti-war demonstrations, Angell is self described as "The most famous gay activist in Austin that everybody knows OF but nobody KNOWS".

    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Meet Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the man Republicans have chosen as their Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.
    Tom DeLay is at the center of a bewildering array of investigations into corruption, abuse of power, and ethics violations.
    As the courts and committees investigate DeLay's misdeeds and hand down indictments, keeping track of all the scandals can be a full-time job. So we thought it would helpful to offer folks a quick and easy guide:
    People need to get to know Tom DeLay. He personifies the kind of government we're getting from Republicans -- corrupt, power-hungry, and out of touch.
    They also need to know that his Republican colleagues in the House have been complicit in his pattern of sleaze. They even changed the ethics rules to protect him, and packed the Ethics Committee with a bunch of DeLay cronies for good measure.
    Spread the Word

    The Texas Observer has just published what will stand as the definitive article on the Texas 2002 election scandal.
    Featuring screen shots of multiple emails, brochures, checks, and memos written by staffers and consultants for the Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, the article makes a damning case that TRMPAC violated Texas election law in 2002. The evidence presented in the article also closely ties House GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay to the scandal.
    Maloney also relates in his e-mails that he will be delivering "2 checks from Reliant" to "TD" (Tom DeLay). The circumstances under which DeLay sealed the Reliant deal earned him a rebuke from the U.S. House ethics committee in 2004. In early June 2002, DeLay held a two-day golf tournament at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. The cost of attending the event was a corporate contribution of $25,000 to $50,000. Five energy companies were invited by Maloney to attend: El Paso Corp., Mirant, Reliant Energy, Westar Energy, and Williams Companies. (DeLay's dealings with Westar would earn a separate rebuke from the committee.) The golfing took place just before a House-Senate conference on an omnibus energy bill. (It's understandable why, four months later, Maloney would complain about Reliant's tardiness.) The Homestead event was supposed to benefit equally TRMPAC and DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), according to an e-mail from an ARMPAC staffer to TRMPAC's accountant.
    The Majority Leader has insisted that there was no relationship between the solicited money and any actions to influence the legislative process in Congress. Furthermore, DeLay has claimedÑwhile lashing out at Travis County District Attorney Ronnie EarleÑthat he had no more than an advisory role in TRMPAC. Still, it's not hard to see why the Williams Company might be confused about where to send the check and who was in charge.
    We're proud to share the Observer's top-notch reporting with our membership. Please click here to read the full story:

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Austin City Council elections are non-partisan and while the Travis County Democratic Party does not endorse candidates in City Council elections, many area Democratic clubs do.
    The endorsements to date are:

    Capital Area Progressive Democrats
    Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
    Place 3, Margot Clarke
    Place 4, Betty Dunkerley

    Huston-Tillotson Young Democrats Coalition
    Place 1, Andrew Bucknall
    HTYD's will not be making endorsements in either Place 3 or Place 4.

    North by North West Democrats
    Place 1, No Endorsement
    Place 3, No Endorsement
    Place 4, Betty Dunkerley
    South Austin Democrats
    Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
    Place 3, Margot Clarke
    Place 4, Betty Dunkerley

    Texas Environmental Democrats
    Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
    Place 3, No Endorsement
    Place 4, Betty Dunkerley

    Travis County Democratic Women
    Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
    Place 3, Dual endorsement: Margot Clarke & Jennifer Kim
    Place 4, Betty Dunkerley



    Remember This As You Fight The Rise Of The Bush- Nazi Right:

    "In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me." - Martin Niemoeller, Berlin Lutheran pastor arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp in 1938; the Allied forces freed him seven years later.

    African Bishop Refuses AIDS Money from 'Pro-Gay' Diocese
    By Ross von Metzke
    An African bishop has announced that he will not accept more than $350,000 of funding to help AIDS victims in his area because it comes from an American diocese that supported the election of a gay bishop two years ago. Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, the Bishop of South Rwenzori in Uganda, has rejected the money from the US diocese of Central Pennsylvania because its clergy and bishop, Michael Creighton, endorsed the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. In a statement released to an American conservative Episcopalian website but not to the US diocese, Bishop Nzerebende announced: "South Rwenzori diocese upholds the Holy Scriptures as true word of God... Of course this will affect some of our programs. This includes our AIDS program and [the money] they have been sending for... orphans' education. "We pray and believe that our God who created and controls silver and gold in the world will provide for the needs of His people. Halleluiah! Amen." Religious workers in Africa had asked the Pennsylvania diocese to provide $352,941 for the AIDS program and a small amount to help orphans with education fees. It sends doctors and nurses and helps to support a Christian foundation caring for more than 100 AIDS patients. Homosexuality remains a crime punishable by life imprisonment in Uganda, where government and religious leaders have taken one of the hardest lines against the gay issue, which threatens to split Anglicanism. The US and Canadian churches were asked at a meeting of Anglican archbishops in Northern Ireland last month not to attend international gatherings for the next three years or until they repented their liberal line on homosexuality. Although several African churches have declared themselves out of communion with the North Americans, they have mostly continued to quietly accept cash for church projects. The US Episcopal church has insisted that it does not attach strings to its donations.

    Jesus is her homeboy: How religion shapes right-wing politics
    Topic: The Religious Right Heartlanders convert others to live daily by 'the word of God'
    By Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe
    MASON, Ohio -- Michael and MarCee Wilkerson bow their heads and pray before every meal, even when they are surrounded by strangers at Skyline Chili. Their older daughter, Brittany, 13, listens to Christian-accented rap, hip-hop, and R&B. And Brooke, 9, is fond of wearing a T-shirt that proclaims, "Jesus is my Homeboy."A middle-class family in a Cincinnati suburb, the Wilkersons are evangelical Christians for whom a literal interpretation of the Bible is a blueprint for living. Religious beliefs also guide their politics in this staunchly Republican region, which helped President Bush carry Ohio and the national election.To them, the president is "a godly man" and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts is not.Such thinking is prompting many Democrats to rethink the party's message on religion and abortion, and how to reach out to voters for whom religion plays a critical, determining role. But in the Wilkersons' four-bedroom home, nestled between a creek and a cul-de-sac, a political conversion seems unlikely at best.The Wilkersons oppose abortion and stem-cell research, consider homosexuality a sin, and regard same-sex marriage as the work of activist judges who cater to a dangerous fringe group. The future holds either heaven or hell, and the only way to paradise is to accept Jesus Christ. In their reading of Scripture, even a saintly non-Christian such as Gandhi has been doomed to eternal torment."This is the word of God," Michael Wilkerson says, brandishing the New International Version of the Bible. "There's only one way, and it's through Jesus."MarCee and Michael are committed to converting others by example, the approach preached at Hope Free Evangelical Church, where the stereotype of Bible-thumping fundamentalists has been rejected in favor of a gentler model that promotes the transforming power of a Christian life played out 24-seven.The Wilkersons' religious beliefs allow little room for shortcuts or compromise, but they do not try to insulate their daughters completely from pop culture. Brittany watches MTV and has a poster of the pop star Usher on her door. Michael and MarCee say they trust her judgment. In the end, the parents say, their teachings on morality will guide her behavior.In church attendance and politics, the Wilkersons have plenty of like-minded company. At Hope Church, an 1,800-member congregation puts it among the largest of 19 churches in Mason. And here, in one of the state's fastest-growing cities, "pretty much everyone's a Republican," says City Manager Scot Lahrmer. "This is the heartland, and it's a very conservative area."Bush held his largest Ohio campaign rally in neighboring West Chester in October, attracting an estimated 55,000 people. The president's message of a morality guided government resonated with the affluent suburbanites here, who, like the Wilkersons, are apt to drive BMWs and Nissan Maximas. The president outpolled Kerry in Warren County, which includes Mason, 72 percent to 28 percent."Being conservative adds to the quality of life. It's viewed as being profamily and family friendly. This is a kid heaven," Lahrmer says of a city where the median household income is $81,000.And heaven, in its glorious biblical sense, is very much on the minds of the Wilkersons.'Let your life shine'In the Wilkersons' pantheon of priorities, it is "family, church, and everything else after that," said Michael, 44.During a five-day stretch at the beginning of this month, Michael and MarCee, 41, sang in the choir of Hope Church; Brittany attended Sunday services and a later breakout session for middle school students; and Brooke seemed as comfortable watching choir rehearsal as she is on the parallel bars in gymnastics practice.Outside church, the family holds Bible readings several times a week. Michael makes the major decisions at home. In the family room, the Disney channel plays. On a table are books about Jesus. In the bathroom was a book, "A Call for Freedom: Words of Inspiration from America's Presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush."The bond between Michael and MarCee, who met at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, is palpably deep as they approach their 20th wedding anniversary in July. Even if they did have marital problems, divorce "is not an option," says MarCee, who defends the Bible's instruction that wives submit to their husbands for direction and guidance.Michael, who grew up in a strict evangelical home in Melbourne, Fla., is a senior sales representative for a wood-flooring distributor. MarCee teaches second grade in public school, a secular environment that she calls a "mission field" where she can quietly advertise the virtues of a Christian life through example.Like her husband, MarCee does not speak about her religious principles unless asked. As a result, in a public school system where evolution is taught, MarCee keeps many spiritual convictions to herself instead of initiating discussions with co-workers and pupils."We emphasize: Let your life shine rather than speaking with words," says Hope Church's senior pastor, Michael Moriarty, whose religious journey began in earnest after a near-fatal bar fight during college. "If people want to know what makes us tick, it will come very naturally out of our life. We don't hit them over the head with a Bible."For the Wilkersons, that life means shunning alcohol except once or twice a year, when Michael and MarCee allow themselves a glass of wine or a pina colada while on vacation. "I've never had a beer in my life," says Michael, who played three sports in high school and is a fitness fanatic.The Wilkersons do not smoke. They also do not frequent nightspots, although they will dance on rare occasions when they socialize with church friends. They donate 10 to 20 percent of their combined income of $120,000 to Hope Church.A night out often means a stop at Skyline Chili, where they order Cincinnati's signature fast food two or three times a week as they hustle to and from soccer, gymnastics, or basketball practice. One recent evening, sitting in the no-smoking section, Michael thanks God for the food and asks for blessings on the other families in the restaurant.After a soft "Amen," Michael and MarCee quiz Brittany, a good student, about her seventh-grade day. One question, floated between sips of sweet tea with lemon, concerns Brittany's performance on a recent science test and how she handled a question on evolution.On the test, Brittany says, she answered that the gradual evolution of human beings from other species is a possibility, although she and her family believe that the human race began with God's creation of Adam and Eve."I almost wanted to say it's not true," Brittany says of Darwin's theory, later at the house. "That's so much crap. Who makes it up?""It's a myth," answers her father, who did not question or rebuke Brittany for using a vulgar word."I think He could do it in seven days," MarCee says of the Genesis timetable for creation.Right choicesThe Wilkerson girls have been sent to public school, instead of one of two Christian schools nearby, because their parents want them exposed to the secular world, other religions, and other races. In this way, MarCee says, she and Michael can use real-life situations to teach their girls before they leave home for college. Despite that choice of public schooling, the Wilkersons do not want their girls to form serious relationships with non-Christian boys."If it were a Jewish boy or a Muslim boy . . .we'd just have to let them know we don't approve," MarCee says. Concerning interracial dating, MarCee pauses before saying, "I want to be open to that. My point is: Is he a good kid, a good person, and respects her? But number one, does he have Christ as the head of his life. That's the most important in her life."Brittany's musical taste tends to Christian flavors -- "Christian rap, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues," she says. Although Brittany is allowed to attend middle-school dances, she has asked her parents not to chaperone her. So far, so good, though Michael says he will not hesitate to chaperone if he gets concerned about inappropriate music or socializing."I could if I want to, and I will if I have to," Michael says with a smile.Her parents strictly monitor Brittany's dress, and tight or provocative clothing is not allowed. On one of Brittany's favorite T-shirts is a question on the front, in dark and garish colors: "If you died today, where would you go?" On the back: "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. . . .It's the burning question.""I like to see what people say when they read it," Brittany says.The decor in Brittany's bedroom looks like any teenager's, particularly one as sports-minded as this teenager. Posters of Mia Hamm, the pioneering US women's soccer star, nearly paper one wall. Above her headboard is a picture of Ricky Williams, the former Miami Dolphins running back who struggled with drug use. High on her door is a photograph of Usher, a hip-hop singer whom Michael termed "kind of OK, so we watch that."Dominating the door, however, is a large campaign poster that boldly proclaims Brittany's support for "Bush, Cheney '04."Brittany's television tastes include ESPN, the all-sports station; the pop-music channel MTV, particularly its show "Pimp My Ride"; and BET, a black entertainment option. Her father listens to the conversation with a reporter, unsure what exactly MTV is. In any event, Michael says, he trusts Brittany to make the right choices and does not routinely monitor her viewing. Nothing racy is allowed on the television, although MarCee professes a liking for the crime-show "CSI."She and Michael monitor Brittany's instant-messaging contacts on the computer they bought her for Christmas.R-rated movies also are forbidden. Even when her friends try to persuade her to watch an R-rated movie without her parents' knowledge, Brittany says, she refuses."I never will watch them -- ever. I hate them," Brittany says. "I feel kind of happy," she says. "I feel I'm doing the right thing."Strong convictionsDoing the right thing is easy, Michael says, because he has lived the Christian life since his earliest days. His family attended church three times a week, and "Lawrence Welk" was the TV favorite."Christianity is lived out every hour of every day. I have no hidden agenda," Michael says. Thumbing through a Bible, he adds, "I don't know why people hate this story so much."To him, the media and entertainment industry have for decades caricatured devout Christians as narrow-minded, judgmental bumpkins. In the Wilkersons' view, Hollywood is out of touch with the mainstream, instead of the reverse."Those people don't have a clue," Michael says, shaking his head in disgust.Politics is not a consuming topic in this household, but the election did give Michael and MarCee a feel-good sense that their values are shared by an increasing number of people. "I think Christians just sat back for years, thinking that you're not supposed to talk about politics and religion," MarCee says."There was a point where you thought, 'Why even vote?' " adds Michael, though the couple have never missed a presidential election. "I just think our country was based on Christian values. There are moral absolutes, things it was based on, that I think should be here."Those things include prayer in school, the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance, and a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. To the Wilkersons, Bush appears to take his religion seriously and apply its principles to his personal life. Kerry, they say, seemed to schedule his church attendance for political benefit."I just couldn't trust him," MarCee says.On the subject of gays, the Wilkersons say they oppose discrimination, but their view of marriage is a divinely-sanctioned biblical one, limited to a man and a woman for the purpose of creating a family. Michael turns to St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, 6:9-11, which reads in part in the New International version: "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." He interprets the Scripture to mean gays cannot be admitted to heaven."I don't hate anyone who's a homosexual," Michael says. "But do I hate what they do? Yes."On abortion, the Wilkersons are adamant: "A life is a life," MarCee says, and to her, life begins at conception. The only possible exception for abortion, MarCee says, is when the life of the mother is in jeopardy -- not for rape, and not for incest.These convictions extend to embryonic stem-cell research, which both parents regard as the destruction of potential life. MarCee has multiple sclerosis that has numbed part of her left side and arm."To me," she says, "I would much rather have multiple sclerosis than to take the life of a possible child to have a cure."Like many evangelical congregations, Hope Church is nondenominational. Its members include former mainstream Protestants as well as one-time Catholics "who now are Christians," Michael says. "The Catholic religion? I'm not too sure that Jesus is a big, integral part of that."The Sunday services at Hope are an energetic mix of music and teaching, in which "contemporary" Christian songs in gospel and rhythm-and-blues styles are complemented by Moriarty's sermon. Two morning services are followed by sessions that focus on smaller groups such as high-school students, "empty nesters," and single adults.Michael and MarCee sing at both services, attend a prayer session for the choir, and then join church friends for lunch after socializing in the lobby. Embraces, handshakes, and warm conversations are everywhere. But what binds Hope's congregants together, according to the Wilkersons and the church pastors, is a belief in the divinity and saving grace of Jesus Christ."Basically, it comes down to there's only one God," Michael says. "You have to come to that conclusion: There's one way to that God, and that's through Jesus."Unfortunately, Wilkerson said sadly, the "harsh reality" of the Bible precludes salvation for non-Christians.When asked if that means Gandhi, a Hindu who reached across religious lines, was denied entry to heaven, Wilkerson dropped his head and nodded.In the end, two cars, a pickup, a nice home, good jobs, and a comfortable life in the American heartland are all temporary amenities to the Wilkersons and the other churchgoers who fill Hope's sanctuary with song and prayer each Sunday. They have their eyes on the hereafter.Until then, the Wilkersons say, their journey is one worth emulating."If you want the country to be better, you would want to take a model of a husband and wife and a family who wants to do the right thing," Michael says. "You would think that would be the model the country would want to go after."If you want to call us do-gooders, so be it."
    Reprinted from The Boston Globe

    Schiavo and Republicanism
    A Battle for the Soul of Conservatism
    by Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times of London.
    It was impossible to look at the images of Terri Schiavo starving slowly to death in a Florida hospice without grief. And it has become impossible in America these days to look at such a tragic set of circumstances without succumbing to hysteria. Washington last week was, quite simply, in a state of fever. Those of us who have long worried that unleashing religious fundamentalism into the bloodstream of American politics would lead to disaster can only feel that our fears have now come true. Here are the relevant facts. Fifteen years ago, one Terri Schiavo suffered a heart stoppage caused by bulimia. Her brain was temporarily starved of oxygen and scans showed that her cerebral cortex had stopped functioning. A CAT scan shows that her brain has since shrunk massively. Her electroencephalogram reading was and is completely flat - she has no brain waves. She is not brain-dead. But she has no ability to think, feel, or communicate. She can breathe on her own; and random eye movements can give the impression of some kind of awareness. She is kept alive by a feeding tube. In the first years that she was in this horrifying state, her husband, Michael, did all he could to find treatment, went from hospital to hospital trying new therapies. According to the Miami Herald, which has covered the case more thoroughly than any other outlet, "each rehabilitation facility treated her with aggressive physical, recreational, speech and language therapy, moving her arms and legs, trying to rouse her with scents. But according to court filings, Terri was not responsive to neurological or swallowing tests." Terri was even sent to California to have experimental platinum electrodes inplanted to get her brain going again. Michael slept next to her for five weeks. At the time, he and Terri's parents were united in doing all they could for what was left of his wife.But eventually, the husband acquiesced to near-universal medical opinion and came to terms with the fact that his wife would never revive. He said that when she was cogniscent, she had once told him she didn't want to be kept alive artificially for an indefinite period of time. You can see why. From the Miami Herald again: "She suffered from bile stones and kidney stones, according to court papers, and had to have her gallbladder removed. She has 'drop foot,' where her foot twists downward, and the ensuing pressure resulted in the amputation of her left little toe. She frequently developed urinary tract infections, diarrhea and vaginitis. Several cysts were removed from her neck. Several times, her feeding tube got infected." The sight of a human being in such a state of complete disintegration became too much for Michael Schiavo to bear. So he decided that it would be more compassionate to let her die with dignity.Her parents, for understandable reasons, differed and fought Michael in the Florida courts. The litigation has gone on for many painful years. The parents, who had at first encouraged Michael to date other women, then used his second relationship (he subsequently dated another woman and had two children with her) as a weapon against him in the courts. But court after court acknowledged the overwhelming medical data and the fact that Terri's legal guardian was her husband. Court case after court case moved Terri inexorably toward death. But then the political religious right heard of what was going on, took up the case, and cast it as an example of what the Pope has called the "culture of death." They used Nazi analogies. They demonized Michael Schiavo. They described those who defended the rights of the husband as, in Peggy Noonan's words last week, "half in love with death." They saw an opportunity to highlight their principled defense of human life. Their clout was such that they got the Florida legislature to pass a bill to protect Terri, a law that was subsequently over-ruled by the Florida courts. Last weekend, they got the federal Congress back in emergency Sunday session and got a law designed to delay the process of death pending new federal court challenges. President Bush rushed back to D.C. to sign the bill in the middle of the night. You want proof that the religious right runs the Republican party? What more do you need? Federal courts then examined the long course of the case and came to the conclusion that Florida's courts had acted carefully, within the law and that there was no legal case to intervene. The parents then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which again refused to hear the case. As the esteemed conservative, William F. Buckley, noted, "There was never a more industrious inquiry, than in the Schiavo case, into the matter of rights formal and inchoate."I don't know what I'd do in such a case. The nearest I have come to it was watching one of my best friends die of AIDS and have his family and friends refuse to resuscitate him after his heart stopped beating. It was what he wanted. I stood by, helpless in the face of the inexplicable. But I also recognized that this kind of wrenching decision can only be made either by the person herself or by family or spouse or legally-appointed guardian. The idea that the government should have the final say, and that the government could be swayed by powerful political lobbies trying to make headway in the culture wars, strikes me as grossly inappropriate. If limited government means anything, it means leaving decisions like this as close to the person as possible. And if the American principle of federalism means anything, it means that the local state's courts are the only relevant instruments to deal with such a tragedy. But that, alas, is not what American Republicanism now is. It has two powerful impulses - a religious drive that puts theological certitude before any prudential or legal reasoning and a growing contempt for an independent judiciary. That's how it came to pass that the Congress of the United States involved itself in a matter way beyond its purview. That's how governor Jeb Bush of Florida last week tried to take state custody of Schiavo and void her husband's rights. And that's how a leading conservative activist, Bill Bennett, could write last Thursday in the conservative magazine National Review, that governor Jeb Bush should simply over-rule the courts, break the law and send armed guards to insert the feeding tube by force. "It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means," Bennett argued. This attack on the very basis of American constitutional liberty in the name of religion is what is usually called theocracy.Will there be political repercussions from this? Polling shows large majorities disagree with the idea that the federal government should get involved. Bush himself, who said last week that "it is wise to always err on the side of life," didn't seem so concerned when he signed countless death warrants as governor of Texas, with the most cursory of legal reviews. He also signed a Texas law that gave surviving next of kin complete discretion to remove life-support from a terminally ill patient in the absence of a living will. Last week, an eight-year-old boy died after his tube was removed in Texas because his parents could no longer afford treatment, but the religious right seemed uninterested. As commander in chief, Bush has presided over the criminal homicides of 26 inmates in U.S. military care, after removing by executive memo the usual bans on cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Culture of life? But these ironies are balanced by something else. The Republican party is engaged in a fascinating debate about what it is about, what it believes, what it is. The survival of what is left of Terri Schiavo is for some people a genuine matter of moral principle. That position should be respected. But it should also be subject to the rule of law. For others, the Schiavo case is a first battle to win over the religious right primary voters who will determine the next Republican nominee. The Republican leadership is gambling that the intensity of their religious base will outweigh the more general public's disdain for this exercise in government over-reach. The broader public, they calculate, will forget. The zealots will always remember. And if Schiavo dies, they will have a martyr as well. And they will figuratively prop her up as a symbol in the campaigns to come.

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Plug-pulling hypocrite: In 1988, Tom DeLay let his comatose father die
    Posted on Sunday, March 27 @ 09:36:50
    Family of the lawmaker involved in the Schiavo case decided in '88 to let his comatose father die.
    Posted on Sunday, March 27 @ 09:36:50
    By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Sam Howe Verhovek, Los Angeles Times
    CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy that unfolded in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal — without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the debate raging outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman — Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.Then, freshly reelected to a third term in the House, the 41-year-old DeLay waited, all but helpless, for the verdict of doctors.Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die."There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance.""The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview."The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's press aide.There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will.This previously unpublished account of the majority leader's personal brush with life-ending decisions was assembled from court files, medical records and interviews with family members.--------------It was a pleasant late afternoon in the Hill Country of Texas on Nov. 17, 1988.At Charles and Maxine DeLay's home, set on a limestone bluff of cedars and live oaks, it also was a moment of triumph. Charles and his brother, Jerry DeLay, two avid tinkerers, had just finished work on a new backyard tram — an elevator-like device that would carry family and friends down a 200-foot slope to the blue-green waters of Canyon Lake.The two men called for their wives to hop aboard. Charles pushed the button and the maiden run began. Within seconds, a horrific screeching noise echoed across the still lake — "a sickening sound," said a neighbor. The tram was in trouble.Maxine, seated up front in the four-passenger trolley, said her husband repeatedly tried to engage the emergency brake, but the rail car kept picking up speed. Halfway down the bank, it was free-wheeling, according to accident investigators.Moments later, it jumped the track and slammed into a tree, scattering passengers and debris in all directions."It was awful, just awful," recalled Karl Braddick, now 86, the DeLays' neighbor at the time. "I came running over, and it was a terrible sight."He called for emergency help. Rescue workers had trouble bringing the injured victims up the steep terrain. Jerry's wife, JoAnne, suffered broken bones and a shattered elbow. Charles, who had been thrown head-first into a tree, was in grave condition."He was all but gone," said Braddick, gesturing at the spot of the accident as he offered a visitor a ride down to the lake in his own tram. "He would have been better off if he'd died right there and then."But Charles DeLay hung on. In the ambulance on his way to a hospital in New Braunfels 15 miles away, he tried to speak."He wasn't making any sense; it was mainly just cuss words," recalled Maxine with a faint, fond smile.Four hours later, he was airlifted by helicopter to the Brooke Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston. Admission records show he arrived with multiple injuries, including broken ribs and a brain hemorrhage.Tom DeLay flew to his father's bedside, where, along with his two brothers and a sister, they joined their mother. In the weeks that followed, the congressman made repeated trips back from Washington, his family said. Maxine seldom left her husband's side."Mama stayed at the hospital with him all the time. Oh, it was terrible for everyone," said Alvina "Vi" Skogen, a former sister-in-law of the congressman. Neighbor Braddick visited the hospital and said it seemed very clear to everyone that there was little prospect of recovery."He had no consciousness that I could see," Braddick said. "He did a bit of moaning and groaning, I guess, but you could see there was no way he was coming back."Maxine DeLay agreed that she was never aware of any consciousness on her husband's part during the long days of her bedside vigil — with one possible exception."Whenever Randy walked into the room, his heart, his pulse rate, would go up a little bit," she said of their son, Randall, the congressman's younger brother, who lives near Houston.Doctors conducted a series of tests, including scans of his head, face, neck and abdomen. They checked for lung damage and performed a tracheostomy to assist his breathing. But they could not prevent steady deterioration.Then, infections complicated the senior DeLay's fight for life. Finally, his organs began to fail. His family and physicians confronted the dreaded choice so many other Americans have faced: to make heroic efforts or to let the end come."Daddy did not want to be a vegetable," said Skogen, one of his daughters-in-law at the time. "There was no decision for the family to make. He made it for them."The preliminary decision to withhold dialysis and other treatments fell to Maxine along with Randall and her daughter Tena — and "Tom went along." He raised no objection, said the congressman's mother.Family members said they prayed.Jerry DeLay "felt terribly about the accident" that injured his brother, said his wife, JoAnne. "He prayed that, if [Charles] couldn't have quality of life, that God would take him — and that is exactly what he did."Charles Ray DeLay died at 3:17 a.m., according to his death certificate, 27 days after plummeting down the hillside.--------------The family then turned to lawyers.In 1990, the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that the family said had failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control.The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages. Lawyers for the companies denied the allegations and countersued the surviving designer of the tram system, Jerry DeLay.The case thrust Rep. DeLay into unfamiliar territory — the front page of a civil complaint as a plaintiff. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.The DeLay case moved slowly through the Texas judicial system, accumulating more than 500 pages of motions, affidavits and disclosures over nearly three years. Among the affidavits was one filed by the congressman, but family members said he had little direct involvement in the lawsuit, leaving that to his brother Randall, an attorney.Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American businesses from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."Last September, he expressed less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants.Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum, said to be about $250,000, according to sources familiar with the out-of-court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said his aides.Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers.The 1996 bill was vetoed by President Clinton, who said he objected to the DeLay-backed measure because it "tilts against American families and would deprive them of the ability to recover fully when they are injured by a defective product."--------------After her husband's death, Maxine DeLay scrapped the mangled tram at the bottom of the hill and sold the family's lake house.Today, she lives alone in a Houston senior citizen residence. Like much of the country, she is following news developments in the Schiavo case and her son's prominent role.She acknowledged questions comparing her family's decision in 1988 to the Schiavo conflict with a slight smile. "It's certainly interesting, isn't it?"She had a new hairdo for Easter and puffed on a cigarette outside her assisted-living residence as she sat back comparing the cases.Like her son, she believed there might be hope for Terri Schiavo's recovery. That's what made her family's experience different, she said. Charles had no hope."There was no chance he was ever coming back," she said.*Verhovek reported from Canyon Lake, Texas; Roche reported from Washington. Also contributing to this report were Times researchers Lianne Hart in San Antonio and Nona Yates in Los Angeles.Copyright 2005 Los Angeles TimesReprinted from The Los Angeles Times:,0,5710023.story

    From Capitol Hill Blue
    The Rant
    The mad dog of Congress

    Of the many bottom-feeding scum suckers who roam the halls of Congress, none is more despicable than House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
    But DeLay, whose morality can't even be measured with a micrometer, outdid himself this week when he - of all people - tried to drag both God and morals into the circus he and his political party have made of the Terri Schiavo tragedy. "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America," the scandal-scarred Texas congressman told a meeting of the Family Research Council. "Americans would be so barbaric as to pull a feeding tube out of a person that is lucid and starve them to death for two weeks." DeLay, of course, is pandering to the rabid religious right - the holy rollers who have infected our government like cancer. He is also trying to divert attention from his mounting legal and ethical problems and pending indictments back in Texas for fraud and money laundering. " This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," added DeLay.. Got a news flash for Tommy boy. The attacks on him have nothing to do withTerri Schiavo. People are after DeLay because he's dirty, a charlatan for sale to the highest bidder, a Congressman who trades his vote for free vacations for his family. Honest people think DeLay's a thief, a cheat and a con man. That's why those who believe we should have honest elected officials want him sent to some hellhole prison in Texas where he can become a bitch to some lifer named Bubba. Then Bubba can do to DeLay what he and his cronies have been doing to the country for too long now. Tom DeLay's attempts to turn the Schiavo tragedy into a political opportunity are typical of what's wrong with this country. No action is too low for these lowlifes who have infiltrated our government like a swarm of flesh-devouring locusts. A few years getting bung-holed by some ape in a prison shower is not punishment enough for these traitors to America, these bastards and bitches who sold out their country for political power and put the nation's future on the auction block for sale to any special interest group with a big political action committee. George W. Bush and the Constitution-be-damned morons in the White House and Congress claim they don't like activist judges who rewrite law but when it suits their own purpose they rush into session and pass a lame-brained law that attempts to find an activist judge who will rewrite law to serve their own political interests. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist openly admit they tried to force the federal courts to ignore the law in theSchiavo case and now act pissed when the judges put the law above the illegal attempts by Congress. But what else can you expect? DeLay's fellow Republicans know he's dirty and admit it privately but publicly they rally around him because he's one of their own. The brain-dead lemmings who follow the party of the pachyderm and keep electing these crooks to office are just as culpable when it comes to high crimes against America. There's an old saying that when you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. And there's a lot of itch powder being passed around the Republican Party these days.

    Saturday, March 26, 2005


    G. Knaupe- Running for Austin City Council

    Small Business Group Endorses Gregg Knaupe for Austin City Council
    The Austin Small Business Group officially endorsed Gregg Knaupe for Austin City Council, Place Three. The Small Business Group is a consortium of small businesses committed to maintaining and improving Austin’s commitment to homegrown local commerce. The association reviewed every candidate in the race. Since the start of his campaign for City Council, Gregg Knaupe has emphasized his commitment to small business development. His plan to foster more small businesses, which account for 60% of employment in Austin, includes: - Creation of a small business ombudsperson program to help small business owners navigate the permitting process. - Working with the state legislature to dedicate a percentage of the Texas Enterprise Fund to small businesses to encourage entrepreneurialism. - Development of a small business issue web site where small business owners can find information from the city in an organized, helpful and efficient way. - Assembling a stakeholder committee to survey the permitting and licensing process once per year and make recommendations for improvements. “I am honored to be endorsed by the Small Business Group. I believe this endorsement reflects the deep and broad support for my campaign from all parts of Austin,” said Gregg Knaupe, “Locally owned business support our community and diversify our economy.” Knaupe has previously been endorsed by the Austin Police Association, Austin-Travis County EMS Employees Association, Austin Central Labor Council, Austin Building Owners and Managers Association, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and the St. Edwards University Democrats.

    "Because so many important financial rights and responsibilities—like federal income tax and Social Security benefits—are federal protections based on marital status, same-sex couples are significantly harmed by our exclusion from marriage,"said Anne Stanback, President of Love Makes a Family of Connecticut.

    "Same-sex couples pay more in taxes and get fewer protections and benefits in return," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "These injustices aren't hypothetical. They are being inflicted right now on hard-working, tax paying Connecticut couples, often at times of family tragedy and loss."

    "Religious leaders from across the spectrum of faith are saying that same-gender-loving couples have the God-given right to live lives of love and mutual respect. I can say that equal marriage rights will be of immeasurable benefit to building the stability and security of our whole community," said Reverend John Selders, Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT.

    As millions of married couples are signing and sending off their tax returns prior to the April 15 tax day deadline, a groundbreaking report released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and Love Makes a Family of Connecticut reveals that same-sex couples face widespread economic disparities and hardships because they are denied equal marriage rights. The report takes situations commonly faced by Connecticut couples and compares the economic benefits afforded to married opposite-sex couples to those available to same-sex couples. Two same-sex couples residing in Connecticut are profiled to show the real-life costs to them and their children of not being able to marry.
    Economic Benefits of Marriage under Federal and Connecticut Law is the first comprehensive analysis of the disparities same-sex couples in Connecticut face in federal and state income tax, Social Security benefits, gift tax, estate tax, worker's compensation, and line of duty death benefits. It was authored by Terence R. Dougherty, an attorney with Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP, a prestigious 168-lawyer firm based in New York City. The firm was ranked #1 in the nation for the pro bono contributions of lawyers in 2002.
    One of the couples profiled in the report, Stephen Rinaldi and Andre Kreft, both in their early 50s, earn a total of about $75,000 per year and pay $2,689 (25%) more each year in state and federal income taxes than a married couple earning the same amount because they cannot file a joint return. The analysis also found that if Stephen, a Connecticut state employee, died as a result of an injury at work, his spouse by marriage would receive $2,862 per month ($34,344 per year) in workers' compensation benefits. However, because Stephen and Andre cannot marry, Andre would receive nothing.
    The study takes this analysis one step further by estimating the aggregate lifetime economic detriment felt by same-sex couples because they are unable to marry. For example, the total economic liability to Stephen and Andre—aggregated over their expected lifetimes and including lost income taxes, Social Security spousal and survivor benefits—will be at least $212,176, not counting the absent investment returns on potentially saved taxed dollars. If Stephen died with a $2 million estate that was subsequently transferred to Andre, the estate tax liability Andre would have to pay would raise the aggregate lifetime economic detriment for the couple up to $751,101. If they were married, they would face none of these liabilities.
    Lawrence B. and Daniel R., an additional real-world couple in Connecticut profiled in the study, have been together for 22 years and are raising three adopted children. Lawrence is the main breadwinner, and Daniel is a stay-at-home father who currently has no income and therefore may be ineligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits. Under federal law, a married spouse is entitled to receive up to half the amount of his or her spouse's Social Security retirement benefits. However, because they cannot marry, upon retirement age Lawrence and Daniel's combined monthly Social Security retirement benefit will be $1,030 less per month ($12,360 less per year) than it would be if they were able to legally marry. Additionally, if they were legally married, and Lawrence died before reaching retirement age, Daniel's Social Security survivor benefit would be $1,952 per month or $23,424 per year. However, because they can not marry, Daniel would receive nothing.
    Given the passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, which allows the federal government to withhold recognition of same-sex marriages performed in any state, in the short run same-sex marriages in Connecticut would not be recognized by federal bureaucracies. However, many believe DOMA to be unconstitutional, and it is possible that in the future DOMA will be struck down or repealed. It is also possible that a President and Congress more supportive of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will afford these federal protections to married same-sex couples. While same-sex couples in Connecticut would not be able to immediately access those federal protections, if they are allowed to marry they have the potential to access these protections in the future. However, if same-sex couples are only allowed to form civil unions, under the current legal framework they will never be able to access any federal benefits or protections.
    "Andre and I always knew that marriage discrimination was harmful to us and other same-sex couples in Connecticut," said Stephen Rinaldi, who along with his partner Andre Kreft is profiled in the study, "But we never realized that we were losing thousands of dollars per year and hundreds of thousands over our lifetime simply because we are gay and can not legally marry. This kind of discrimination at the hands of our own government is shameful and needs to end."
    To download a free copy of the full report, go to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force publications library at

    Letter From Lloyd Doggett Regarding Tom Delay
    March 23, 2005
    Mr. Joshua P. Angell
    **** Heritage Village Drive Austin, Texas 78724
    Dear Joshua:
    Thank you for your communication regarding the ethics charges against House Republican Leader Tom DeLay with the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct. I appreciate your input and share your concerns on this important matter.
    As a long-time supporter of government openness and accountability, I oppose any weakening of the Ethics process. You are probably already aware that the committee has admonished DeLay more than once. In addition, the House Republicans changed their caucus rules to allow indicted Members to remain in leadership positions. Apparently, rules just don't apply to Republicans. This latest scheme signals the dangers that lie ahead in a Congress where Tom DeLay wields even more power for his extreme agenda. He has repeatedly demonstrated that his interests lie not with Texas working families, but with the special-interest contributors providing fuel for his extremist political machine.To better ensure that your priorities are my priorities, it is important that I hear from you and that you have the opportunity to receive updates about developments in Washington. Toward this end, I have started "Lloyd's List." By filling out my "Lloyd's List" webform at, you can choose to receive periodic updates regarding issues that concern you. By signing up for "Lloyd's List," you are authorizing me to send regular e-mail updates from my office to your e-mail account. Help me work for you by signing up today.Please keep me advised of any federal matters with which I may be of assistance.
    Llyod Doggett

    Fudging the facts on Bush's end-of-life record
    The Bush White House values nothing more than consistency. Other politicians can flip this way and flop that way, but George W. Bush never errs, never wavers and always stays the course -- or at least that's what the administration would have you believe.
    How else can we explain Scott McClellan's deceitful spin on the Texas futile care statute then-Gov. George W. Bush signed into law in 1999? As we noted yesterday, the 1999 measure allowed hospitals in Texas to pull the plug on patients when further care would be futile -- regardless of the desires of the patient or his family. Asked yesterday whether Bush's signature on that bill conflicted with his role in the Terri Schiavo case, McClellan snapped back: "That's absolutely incorrect. The legislation he signed is consistent with his views. You know, this is a complex case and I don't think such uninformed accusations offer any constructive ways to address this matter."
    In Bush's defense, the bill he signed in 1999 was friendlier to the "pro-life" interests than a version he had vetoed previously. In the 1999 iteration of the legislation, doctors seeking to cease futile life-support measures have to get the approval of a hospital ethics committee, give the patient's family 10 days of notice and help the family, if the family so desires, to find another medical facility that would continue the life support the doctors wished to end. Presumably, that's what McClellan meant when he said yesterday that the 1999 law "provided new protections for patients."
    But when McClellan said the 1999 legislation "was there to help ensure that actions were being taken that were in accordance with the wishes of the patient or the patient's family," he crossed the line from fact to fantasy. The law provides some safeguards to patients and their families, but it ultimately leaves the life-or-death decision in the hands of the medical community. Wanda Hudson learned about that first hand last week, when -- over her objections but in compliance with the 1999 law -- doctors removed a breathing tube from her six-month-old baby. The child died a few minutes later.
    -- Tim Grieve

    Thursday, March 24, 2005



    Why The Right Is Wrong About Schiavo
    Don't they realize that Bush signed a bill authorizing health-care providers to pull the plug if the patient can't pay?!!!


    The notion of letting the health-care providers decide, after doing a careful biopsy of the patient's wallet, strikes me as pretty damned outrageous. And it seems to me that the Right-to-Lifers ought to agree, though apparently anti-abortion groups had no problem with it when Gov. George W. Bush signed the Texas Futile Care Law.

    Schiavo, Hudson, and Nikolouzos

    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. [Or perhaps not: see third update below.] 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.
    The Texas cases contrast with the Schiavo case in two ways:
    1. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but isn't terminal. The two Texas patients were terminal but not vegetative. [Or perhaps they were in fact vegetative: see third update below.] It seems to me that the distinction between a patient who is aware and a patient who isn't aware is the morally relevant one, while the disctinction between a death that is sure to occur soon and a death that is sure to occur eventually is morally irrelevant. (Try pleading as a defense to a murder charge that the victim had a terminal ailment.)
    2. Terry Schiavo's husband has decided that she would have wanted to die, and the courts have upheld his view against the view of her parents. The mother of Sun Hudson wanted her child to live, and the wife and children of Spiro Nikolouzos want him to live. So while the Schiavo case is an intra-family dispute, the two Texas cases pit the families against health-care institutions motivated at least in part by financial considerations.
    I'm not a fan of futile care, and my sense -- based on what limited facts I can glean from the media -- is that if the decision were mine I would have wanted to pull the plug in all three cases. (Certainly, if I'm ever in Spiro Nikolouzos's condition I hope someone puts me out of it quickly.) But it doesn't seem to me that my view, or your view, or the hospital's view, or the judge's view, should be controlling here.
    In a country rich enough so that giving expensive medical care to someone doesn't mean starving someone else, the decision about whether to prolong life, I would assert, properly belongs first to the person whose life is involved. If that person is unable to decide and communicate that decision, and has left no explicit directive, then the decision ought to be made by someone likely to choose what the person whose life is at stake would have chosen.
    (The law that makes the spouse, rather than the parents, the default decision-maker seems to me a reasonable one, and I'm not sure I see a good argument for favoring whichever surrogate chooses survival. I don't pretend to know the facts of the Schiavo case well enough to judge whether, in that particular instance, there was reason to think that the parents would have been the better choice, but surely there's a strong case for a having a clear rule about which relatives get to decide rather than making a case-by-case adjudication.)
    But the notion of letting the health-care providers decide, after doing a careful biopsy of the patient's wallet, strikes me as pretty damned outrageous. And it seems to me that the Right-to-Lifers ought to agree, though apparently anti-abortion groups had no problem with it when Gov. George W. Bush signed the Texas Futile Care Law.
    No doubt an argument of some sort could be made for the Texas law, based on some combination of cost and the possibility that an impersonal institution will sometimes avoid mistaks that an emotionally-involved relative would make, and I have no reason to doubt the good faith of those who make that argument.
    What I can't figure out is how someone could be genuinely outraged about the Schiavo case but not about the Hudson and Nikolouzos cases. Perhaps Mr. Bush, who says he thinks there should be a "presumption in favor of life," can explain that to us.
    1. Thanks to Atrios, the Hudson and Nikolouzos cases are now all over the left blogosphere, but so far the "real" media continue to ignore them. This will be an interesting case of whether blogging can force a story into the larger discourse. In the absence of a partisan divide, I'd bet against it.
    2. Matt Yglesias and Barbara O'Brien of Mahablog make a point I'd missed: voting for the Schiavo bill and voting at the same time for Medicaid cuts -- which, under laws like the Texas law, means that people will have their plugs pulled not because their families want them to die sooner but because their health-care providers don't want to run up a bill for unpaid care -- is pretty damned outrageous.
    [Hat tip, twice, to Kevin Drum.]
    3. Query: Is there a copy of the outrageous Senate Republican talking points around somewhere? I've seen references and quotes, but no link to the full text. For some reason, this doesn't seem to have become part of the main narrative.
    Second update: Spiro Nikolouzos's family found another facility willing to take him, so he is no longer threatened with having life support withdrawn. But the family plans to fight for changes in the law. Hat tip: HealthLawProf.
    Sun Hudson, at last report, was still dead.
    Third update: Kevin Keith at Lean Left has a long and thoughtful defense of "futile care" laws, and a critique of the analysis here, based in part on what seems to be a more accurate account of the facts. It appears that Sun Hudson was, and Spiro Nilolouzos is, persistently vegetative. That reinforces my conviction that pulling the plug is the right thing to do, but it doesn't much weaken my belief that the call should be made by the families, not by the health-care providers.
    Thanks to a reader, I've finally managed to make sense out the distinction being made by the save-Terri forces between her case and the Texas cases. She is able to breathe on her own, but can't swallow and therefore needs to be fed through a tube. Lots of people, and some of the major religious traditions, regard assisted breathing, but not tube-feeding, as extraordinary measures, so that taking away her feeding tube counts as killing while taking away Sun Hudson's breathing tube didn't. That distinction seems utterly arbitrary to me, but I suppose it might seem valid to someone else, who could then have at least a subjective good-faith reason to want to keep Schiavo alive while allowing Hudson and Nikolouzos to die.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Republican Grandstanding

    Let's use the momentum that uses OUR tax dollars to counter their lies and hypocrisy!

    Terri Schiavo "compassion" and sanctity of life
    Social SecurityThe Republicans are forcing our hand by raising and sustaining momentum on these 2 items and we should use their grandstanding to make our point! Let's create volume to the media and to Congress on these matters!
    Best of all, let's complain loudly to the GAO (Government Accountability Office).

    1. Terri Schiavo "compassion" and sanctity of life:
    We need to document the hypocrisy and infamy of using this poor woman and her family as a political pawn and try to get them to stop. There are so many ways to try to embarrass them and make the point. You can just choose one or a few points and write an opinion letter urging (or taunting or threatening) the media to prove they are not as biased as they seem and to point out the hypocrisy of this movement by Bush and the Republican party.
    While governor from 1995 to 2000, Bush did not push for the sanctity of life. IIn 2000, the state set a U.S. record with 40 executions, including that of Gary Graham, whose guilt was hotly contested and became an international controversy.
    Bush and his self-proclaimed moral compassionate Republican party, have pursued a mean-spirited merciless massive destruction of services and protections for the poor, the sick, the needy, the disabled, the injured of this country by slashing numerous programs that provide a safety net of basics for the less fortunate.
    The party that has trumpeted its devotion to reducing the size and interference of federal government and has claimed to defend states' rights and the sanctity of marriage has suddenly broken its platform and party slogans to overstep the rule of law to pursue this transgression, this trampling over states' rights, state law, state courts, and the sanctity of marriage using majority and mob rule to create an emergency law applicable to 1 person! This after 15 years and countless hearings and legal procedures already done for this case. Where were they for 15 years ? This battle has happened before. There are thousands of other cases like it and have been for years. And get this! The Senate passed the bill Sunday afternoon by "unanimous consent", with only three senators present! Are you afraid yet?
    The thuggish behavior of the Republicans is being used daily to force toxic legislation through Congress and now is being exercised to interfere in a private family decision. This behavior includes trying and re-trying the same case as many times as it takes, until they get their way, legal or not. What these unethical people are doing is shopping around for an activist partisan judge who will rule their way. This is a travesty of rule of law.
    It happens that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are both potential candidates for a future Republican presidential nomination and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's numerous ethics travesties have come to light and put him in a bad light and this could be his ticket to improve his image with some voters.
    DELAY VOTED TO SLASH FUNDING THAT PAID FOR SCHIAVO'S CARE: At every opportunity, Tom DeLay has sanctimoniously proclaimed his concern for the well-being of Terri Schiavo, saying he is only trying to ensure she has the chance
    "we all deserve." Schiavo's medications are paid for by Medicaid. Just last week, DeLay marshaled a budget resolution through the House of Representatives that would cut funding for Medicaid by at least $15 billion, threatening the quality of care for people like Terri Schiavo. Because the Senate voted to restore the funding, DeLay is threatening to hold up the entire budget process if he doesn't get his way.
    According to polls, the public is OVERWHELMINGLY opposed to congressional meddling.
    Again, please compose a nice letter using some of this information and send it to all national press and national TV news shows and to your local TV and local newspapers and to your Senators and your Representative. Ask the media to stop running the 4-year-old video of the poor lady.
    If we all do this during the rest of March and into April, maybe we can force a crack of truth through the mass media.

    Grandstanding and hypocrisy about Terri Schiavo and the sanctity of life: Congress oversteps its bounds Husband's lawyer denounces congressional 'thuggery',3566,151093,00.html
    Morality mixes with Politics,0,5500726.story?coll=la-home-headlines illegal law the "bill" Federal Judge Refuses to Order Feeding Tube Reinserted Bush's Texas Law at Odds with "Sanctity of Life",2933,151112,00.html Judge rejects appeal discussions on hypocrisy Instapoll at bottom right of this page

    Use these contacts to tell the GAO (Government Accountability Office) that Congress is overstepping its boundaries and that you demand that they stop! ALSO DEMAND that Congress be sanctioned in the strongest terms for over-stepping their boundaries in the Schiavo case!!! They should not be allowed to set a precedent to overstep their boundaries! Governor Jeb Bush should also stop interfering with Florida state law!
    These contacts are to report fraud, waste and abuse by the government:

    e-mail: ,
    fax: FraudNet at 202-512-3086,
    write: GAO FraudNET, 441 G Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20548

    Here are links to national and local media.

    GOP/RNC activity page- has great links to local newspapers, and to representatives. Just input your zipcode to get to the lists and their email addresses:

    DNC Alert the Media page allows you to send the same letter to 5 media outlets at a time- both local and national

    Other ways to reach your representatives: 1-202-224-3121

    2. Social Security- President Bush and Republicans are so committed to "fix" Social Security, that they are using up our taxpayer money on propaganda and grandstanding across the country to force this issue. All remedies such as private accounts, cutting benefits, raising the payroll tax rate, postponing retirement- have all been turned down by one party or the other and would probably be political suicide. However, the one remedy that has not gotten immediately turned down is changing the cap! This is the one solution that will win. We should remove the one roadblock that has artificially stopped the tax at the arbitrary cap of $90,000 annual income. People making more than this cap have been artificially spared from getting taxed on their earnings above this cap. Bush can still obtain a "victory" by creating add-on optional personal accounts for investment outside of the Social Security system and thus achieve "ownership" he wants so badly. And we can win by pushing a solution that will make Social Security stronger.

    Let's all bombard the media and our representatives over the rest of March and into April with the message REMOVE THE CAP! I suggest that we each compose a nice letter with some talking points and then push the mantra REMOVE THE CAP. Send this opinion letter to all national press and national TV news shows and to your local TV and local newspapers and to your Senators and your Representative.

    Social Security and illegal waste of taxpayer money on propaganda links to articles: Some Barred From Bush's townmeetings
    Social Security Administration Dept Propaganda
    "Shaken by raucous protests at open 'town hall'-style meetings last month, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio and other GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to hold lower-profile events this time."
    "This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, 'there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable,' says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference." [USA Today, 03/17/05] AARP on Social Security

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005


    On March 16, 2005, a group of 21 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee moved to block a Congressional investigation into how male escort Jeff "Bulldog" Gannon gained daily access to the White House for two years under a false name.Why did they suppress evidence that would show who helped a gay prostitute evade Secret Service background checks and gain compromising access to the President of the United States? Why are these 21 Republicans so desperate to keep "Bulldog's" secrets? Shouldn't they be answering some questions about why they don't want any questions asked?Here are 21 posters (one tailored for each Republican) asking people to ask these questions. They include their office numbers and the numbers of major news organizations.We need to have these widely distributed -- not only in their districts; this must become a national issue.
    Click here to view, copy, post & distribute:

    Get ready for the Republican anti-Social Security blitz.
    A couple of weeks ago a right-wing front group called "USA Next" made national news when it started its anti-Social Security campaign with a bigoted, hateful ad. Immediately, tens of thousands of DFA grassroots supporters created a backlash so strong that USA Next spent the next few weeks licking its wounds.
    But now they're back. USA Next is set to go on the air with its political hate speech in the next two weeks. Please act now -- petition media outlets to keep bigotry and distortions off the air:
    Remember -- the USA Next ads come from the same Republican operatives who unleashed the swift boat attacks.
    And USA Next isn't the only player -- it is just one of dozens of entities that funnel money from corporations and right-wing billionaires into our political process. They have pledged to spend whatever it takes to dismantle Social Security.
    Their latest project: producing distorted polls to generate news coverage and "evidence" of support for their privatization agenda. It's part of a coordinated effort by corporate interests and conservative ideologues to wage a multi-front war on Social Security.
    Fox News, of course, featured the results of the biased poll. But so did other news outlets -- and they need to be put on notice that they will be held accountable for airing USA Next's distortions. Join the call for accountability now:
    Conservative ideologues have been plotting the takedown of Social Security for a generation. And while we have done a good job getting the truth out so far, we can't rest.
    The fight to save Social Security isn't over -- it has barely begun.
    Tom Hughes, Executive Director Democracy for America

    Monday, March 21, 2005



    Answering Bush's big myths about Iraq

    Myth # 1 The United States has the right to wage preemptive war against Iraq
    Pre-emptive war is war of aggression. Under international law, a pre-emptive war may be justified as an act of self-defense only where there exists a genuine and imminent threat of physical attack. Bush's preemptive war against Iraq doesn't even purport to preempt a physical attack. It purports to pre-empt a threat that is neither issued nor posed. Iraq is not issuing threats of attack against the United States. It is only the United States that threatens war. There has been no evidence that Iraq is capable of an attack on the U.S., let alone possessing the intention of carrying out such an attack.

    Myth # 2 The UN Security Council can law-fully authorize preemptive war
    The United Nations Security Council cannot authorize a potentially nuclear U.S. first strike and war of aggression that violates the U.N. Charter, international law, and the law prohibiting war crimes, crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity. The U.N. Charter --which creates the Security Council and which grants the Council its authority-- requires the Security Council to act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations." (Article 24). The U.N. Charter requires international disputes or situations that might lead to a breach of peace to be resolved by peaceful means. (Article 1 and Chapter VI) In other words, a nation may not wage war based on the claim that it seeks to prevent war. A nation may use force unilaterally in self defense only "if an armed attack occurs" against it. (Article 51)

    Myth # 3 The United States Congress can lawfully authorize preemptive war against Iraq
    Article VI of the U.S. Constitution establishes that ratified treaties, such as the U.N. Charter, are the "supreme law of the land." The U.N. Charter has been ratified by the United States, and the Congress may not take actions --including wars of aggression-- in violation of the Charter. Wars of aggression, and even the making of the threat of a war of aggression, violates the international humanitarian law to which all nations are bound. Neither Congress nor the President has the right to engage the U.S. in a war of aggression and any vote of endorsement, far from legalizing or legitimizing global war plans, serves only as ratification of war crimes.

    Myth # 4 The U.S. government intends to liberate the Iraqi people
    The October 11, 2002, New York Times revealed the true plans of the United States: "The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said today." In the initial phase, Iraq would be governed by an American military commander perhaps Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of the United States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates who would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan after its surrender in 1945. ( U.S. has a plan to occupy Iraq, officials report ) The true intention of the U.S. government is to recolonize Iraq. Prior to the 1960s, U.S. corporations made 50 percent of their foreign profits from investments in oil from this region. The Bush administration wants Iraq to denationalize its oil wealth 10% of the world's supply. This war is an attempt to reconquer Iraq and all of its natural resources. The Bush administration wants to reshuffle the deck in the Middle East and undo all of the achievements of the national liberation movements from the last sixty years. They want to eliminate independence for all countries in the region and assert their domination and control --not in the interest of the vast majority of people-- but for access to oil.Myth

    # 5 Iraq is a military threat to the world
    There is no record to support this claim. During the Gulf War of 1991, while the United States bombed Iraq with a barrage that included 110,000 sorties, Iraq did not destroy even one U.S. tank or plane. Desert Storm destroyed, according to UN weapons inspectors, 80% of Iraq's weaponry. As part of the inspections that followed, 90% of Iraq's remaining military capability was destroyed. Iraq has been paying indemnities to Kuwait and US oil corporations since 1991, and has not had the financial capacity to build another arsenal. In addition, there has not been a threat by Iraq of any kind against any other country.Myth

    # 6 Iraq threw out the weapons inspectors
    Iraq did not tell the inspectors to leave. The weapons inspectors withdrew in December 1998 because the United States told them to pull out so that the U.S. could launch a bombing campaign on Baghdad. The next day, on December 16, the U.S. unleashed Operation Desert Fox, which included dropping 1,100 bombs and Cruise missiles on Iraq. After the bombing campaign, a Washington Post report confirmed the assertions of Iraq that the inspections were intelligence-gathering exercises conducted on the orders of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon used the information collected from the so-called inspections to set up coordinates for its bombing operations. After this revelation, the Iraqi government quite understandably did not let the inspectors back in.Myth

    # 7 Sanctions are a kinder, gentler way to deal with Iraq
    The plan for sanctions on Iraq came from the Pentagon, not the department of health and human services. It was a central part of the Pentagon's war strategy against the Iraqi people. Sanctions have been more devastating than the Gulf War itself. "UNICEF confirms that five to six thousand Iraqi children are dying un-necessarily every month due to the impact of the sanctions, and that figure is probably modest," Denis Halliday told a Congressional hearing in October 1998. Halliday, who had just resigned his post as UN Assistant Secretary General and head of the UN humanitarian mission in Iraq, spoke of the "tragic incompatibility of sanctions with the UN charter and the Convention on Human Rights."Myth

    # 8 The UN allows U.S. and U.K. planes to bomb the "No Fly Zones"
    The United States agreed to a cease-fire with Iraq in February 1991. The no-flight zones over two-thirds of Iraq were imposed by the U.S., Britain and France 18 months after the Gulf War. The United Nations has never sanctioned the no-flight zones. France has since condemned them. The so-called no-flight zones are in violation of international law. Iraq has every right under international law and all known laws in the world to defend itself in these U.S.-declared no-flight zones. According to Article 51 of the UN Charter, Iraq has the right of self-defense in all of its country, including these "no-flight zones."Myth

    # 9 The people support a war on Iraq
    Not even opinion polls support this phony assertion. The polls confirm that there is wide opposition to a war. Normally there is wide support for a president who is about to launch a war. Instead, Congressional offices report overwhelming constituent opposition to a unilateral war on Iraq. Worldwide, the opposition is even bigger. While British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a vocal acolyte of Bush, few in Britain support a war on Iraq. Already, a march against war of 400,000 was held in London. Similar demonstrations have been held in Rome and Madrid. The general sentiment in Europe was summed up by the Greek Development Minister who said, "We are totally opposed to any military conflict ... even if there is a UN Resolution." Around the world, the sentiment is no different. New Zealand's government opposes the war. No country in the Middle East supports a war on Iraq. Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all oppose a war. As do France, Russia and China.

    Myth # 10 War will be good for the economy
    It already costs U.S. taxpayers $50 billion per year to keep U.S. armed forces in the Persian Gulf. The estimated $200 billion for a war on Iraq will come straight out of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and welfare. The average working-class taxpayer will foot the bill. The upper classes have already had their taxes greatly reduced so that they pay only a small part of the bill.

    Myth # 11 This war will be quick and painless
    War is rarely quick, never painless. A new war will be neither. There are 4.8 million people in Baghdad facing an invasion by the most modern and lethally equipped military in the world. Iraq is a nation of 22 million people. They will bear the brunt of the pain and the deaths of any war.Myth

    # 12 Gulf War Syndrome is a myth
    The Veterans Benefits Administration Office noted that 36% of Desert Storm vets have filed claims for service-related disabilities. A primary reason is because the U.S. used Depleted Uranium. In July 1990,"The US Army Armaments Munitions and Chemical Command admitted DU posed long-term risks to natives and combat veterans. ... Low doses have been linked to cancer." Gulf War vets have a 500% greater incidence of Lou Gehrig's disease than the general population. Desert Storm female vets have a 300% greater incidence of bearing children with birth defects. For male vets the figure is 200%.

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