Sunday, March 20, 2005

American Politics in the Year 2005

The Terri Chiavo case. We all eat, drink and sleep it, if we watch the so-called liberal media. We see pictures of distraught wingnuts crying over her impending death and we hear this astonishing piece of news: The Congress is going to sign a bill for just Terri Chiavo, a bill which will overrule the legal branch of the government and spit in the face of states' rights. Moreover:

President Bush said he will return early from his ranch in Crawford, Tex., to sign the bill, which would allow a federal court to review the case.

President Bush wouldn't leave his beloved ranch when the tsunami killed countless people but he will leave for the sake of one named person who has been brain-damaged for fifteen years.

The Republicans are not alone in this desire to wreck the Constitution by making the legislative branch take over the judicial one. Our very own wingnut in Democrats' clothing, one Harry Reid, has given this statement:

"I am pleased Senator Frist and I were able to pass the bill that protects the life of Terri Schiavo by allowing her parents to go to federal court.

If the House Republicans refuse to pass our bipartisan bill, they bear responsibility for the consequences."

So now we are bipartisan in our push to retire the Constitution of the United States of America. Gee, thanks, Harry.

Politicians know what sells, of course. Most Americans react emotionally to this stuff and the Democratic party doesn't want to be the party of death, even if the cost is the downfall of all democracy in this country.

Atrios quotes an article that goes and on about the boring legal implications of the case with not a single quote about grieving parents or horrible husbands, but I'm going to give you a snippet, anyway. Because it is important:

QUESTION: What does that concept do the regular give and take between the court systems, the idea of comity and cooperation between judges?

ANSWER: It destroys it. But that's the whole point of this Congressional action. Not liking a particular result in a case that has been litigated fully and completely by a court with competent jurisdiction, Congress now has said that the game must be re-done with new rules that heavily favor one side over the other. The implications of this move are astonishing. Just think about it. Anytime Congress doesn't like the result in a particular case, it could swoop in and call a "do-over," which is essentially what this legislation represents. And this from a Congress that has for a decade or so tried to keep all sorts of citizens-- including disabled employees-- out of federal court. If this law is declared valid, no decision in any state court in the country will be immune from Congressional second-guessing. It would throw out of whack the entire concept of separation of powers. The constitutional law expert Tribe calls it "trial by legislation" and he is right.

There you have the problem with this recent administration stunt. The real reason for it is that it's feeding time for the religious fundamentalist section of the party. They are not going to get a ban on gay marriages but they need to get something to keep them coming to the voting booths in 2006, and this is the payback for all their prayers. Besides, it promotes the anti-abortion goals of the wingnuts: if all this effort is made for the sake of someone who is severely brain-damaged and will never get better (except by miracle) then how can there be abortions at all?

Of course, the voting booths will be in the hands of Republican friends and there will be no paper trail so in some ways the Republicans don't need to worry. But it's always a good idea to make sure that the pre-election surveys show a lot of disgruntled wingnuts supporting Bush and his culture of life.