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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Judge Rules on Schiavo Case

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/22/05 11:45, Edited: 04/01/05 06:04

by Jay H. Steele

District Judge James D. Whittemore has denied the parents of Terri Schiavo a temporary restraining order that would allowed them to have a feeding tube reinstated. For the moment the Constitution triumphs shameless politics. Appeals up the federal court chain are likely, but the result will likely be the same. The Supreme Court has already declined to get involved twice.

This case is a family tragedy and a political travesty. It is sad to see a family torn apart by conflict over what constitutes being "alive" and over who has the authority to make end-of-life decisions. If nothing else, it ought to prompt everyone to make sure they have the legal documents in place about end-of-life directives, and that everyone in the family knows what they are and where they are.

But a family tragedy has been shamelessly exploited by the Religious Right for political gain. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ought to have his license to practice medicine either suspended or revoked. To say that he is speaking as a physician, as he did, and say that after watching an hour of video-tape he could make a diagnosis about Terri Schiavo's medical condition was a blatant breach of ethics. He has never examined her personally, he is not a neurologist, he has absolutely no business speaking as a medical expert. It was shameless political pandering.

Meanwhile Tom Delay must have been thanking his lucky stars for this opportunity to divert the American public's gaze away from his growing ethical quagmire. He jumped on the chance remind his rightwing followers that he might be dirty, but he can still deliver the goods.

George Bush has never before interrupted a vacation to come back to Washington. No international situation, no national tragedy, no bill moving through Congress has ever been important enough to keep him from chopping wood in Crawford. But this bill, to save one person, to trash the long legal process that the family has gone through, this bill brings him back.

Finally, let us not forget that Kline and Kennedy voted to pass this terrible bill. And, unfortunately, so did Dayton.

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EPA Hides Data on Mercury

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/21/05 10:07

by Jay H. Steele

While we are on the subject of Republican dishonesty, today's Washington Post reports that when the EPA issued its revised rules on Mercury emissions last week, it failed to mention the findings of a study it commissioned on the health-effects of limiting mercury polution from power plants. The EPA ruled that stricter emissions would have a huge negative effect on business, but no appreciable positive impact on public health.

This was in direct conflict with the Harvard study that was commissioned by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist, and peer reviewed for scientific accuracy. The Harvard study estimated health benefits 100 times more than what the EPA claimed in its ruling.

Pardon my shrillness, but the Harvard Study was scientific. In the Bush Administration that means it can safely be ignored.

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Supporting Democracy in Asia - NOT

Posted: 03/20/05 06:13, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Jay H. Steele

Larry Pressler, former Republican Senator from South Dakota, has a good editorial in the New York Times today about the President's supposed belief in the spread of democracy around the world. Why is it, Pressler wonders, that we are so cozy with Pakistan, which is run by a dictator, and so cool in our relations with India, which is the largest democratic state in the world?

Pressler notes that although Pakistan is an "ally" in the President's war on terror, it is an autocratic state with a history of torture and selling nuclear technology around the world. India, on the other hand, has a thriving Muslim minority with protected rights, a history of tolerance, a free press, a democratically elected government, and a strong trade relationship with the United States.

Yet on her recent visit to the region, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice paid lip service to the spread of democracy in Pakistan and then moved forward a plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan, weapons that have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do with Pakistan's long-standing feud with India.

Why the cozy relationship with a brutal dictator? Pressler thinks it is because key decision-making about allies lies in the hands of our military-industrial complex, which actually prefers dealing with dictators:

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press.


If this quote about the power of the military-industrial complex to influence foreign policy decision-making was coming from a liberal, conservatives would be talking about wacky conspiracy theorists. Pressler was on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee for almost 20 years; he is not liberal and it is no conspiracy theory.

We need perpetual war and we need brutal dictators to feed the beast that is the military industrial complex. Bush is giving them just what they want.

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