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March 27, 2005 - Three Odd Events

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Bob Patterson reports this – “Hugh Hewitt seems just about ready to fire (lynch?) Juan Cole because of his new post for Tuesday March 22, 2005, which is titled "The Schiavo Case and the Islamization of the Republican Party."


The Juan Cole item is here - and I read it that morning.  CNN mentioned it in the mid-day blog review on the show “Inside Politics.”  The Cole item didn't say anything that new, did it?  It's pretty obvious.


Key excerpts –


The cynical use by the US Republican Party of the Terri Schiavo case repeats, whether deliberately or accidentally, the tactics of Muslim fundamentalists and theocrats in places like Egypt and Pakistan. These tactics involve a disturbing tendency to make private, intimate decisions matters of public interest and then to bring the courts and the legislature to bear on them. President George W. Bush and Republican congressional leaders like Tom Delay have taken us one step closer to theocracy on the Muslim Brotherhood model.

The Muslim fundamentalists use a provision of Islamic law called "bringing to account" (hisba). As Al-Ahram weekly notes, "Hisba signifies a case filed by an individual on behalf of society when the plaintiff feels that great harm has been done to religion." Hisba is a medieval idea that had all be lapsed when the fundamentalists brought it back in the 1970s and 1980s.

In this practice, any individual can use the courts to intervene in the private lives of others. …


Yeah?  So what else is new?


And after discussion of two cases in Egypt we get this –


One of the most objectionable features of this fundamentalist tactic is that persons without standing can interfere in private affairs. Perfect strangers can file a case about your marriage, because they represent themselves as defending a public interest (the upholding of religion and morality).

Terri Schiavo's husband is her legal guardian. Her parents have not succeeded in challenging this status of his. As long as he is the guardian, the decision on removing the feeding tubes is between him and their physicians. Her parents have not succeeded in having this responsibility moved from him to them. Even under legislation George W. Bush signed in 1999 while governor of Texas, the spouse and the physician can make this decision.

In passing a special law to allow the case to be kicked to a Federal judge after the state courts had all ruled in favor of the husband, Congress probably shot itself in the foot once again. The law is not a respecter of persons, so the Federal judge will likely rule as the state ones did.


Should the government be in the business of upholding religion and morality? 


See this from Mark Kleiman, a professor of Public Policy at UCAL -    


Terri Schiavo's parents have been arguing that she would not have wanted to be taken off life support, and that taking her off support would be "murder."


But the New York Times reports today a truly extraordinary argument made by her attorney:


The lawyer, David Gibbs, also said Ms. Schiavo's religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic were being infringed because Pope John Paul II has deemed it unacceptable for Catholics to refuse food and water.


"We are now in a position where a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her eternal soul," Mr. Gibbs said.


Ummm ... I can't say I'm completely current on my Catholic theology but the last time I checked sin was something you did, not something that someone else did to you. So the court can't order her to "jeopardize her eternal soul" unless it is ordering the carrying-out of her own (sinful) wish. But of course, if terminating life support is shown to have been her wish, that puts an end to the case, since her wishes are controlling.


Or does Mr. Gibbs really want to argue that, because Terri Schiavo was a Catholic, the court should force her to comply with the Magisterium?


No, I didn't think so.


Cole comments that, in other words, the United States Congress acted in part on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.  Maybe so.


Curious.  Cole is the world famous expert in Islamic Studies – a tenured professor at the University of Michigan who often testifies before congress.


Hugh Hewitt


The hard left in this country has lost all sense of proportion and decency when it stoops to such analogies, and it is a certain sign that Moore's Disease [referring to Michael Moore] runs deep in the fever swamp.  I am also convinced that we have to move away from tenure at public universities towards lengthy contracts, reviewed at regular intervals of, say, 5, 7, and then 10 years so as to assure that taxpayers are not obliged to support incompetent ideologues who promote personal political agendas that are so extreme as to produce guffaws rather than outrage from their targets.


And so on….





The bigger controversy, mentioned on CNN also, on the Inside Politics show, was David Brooks' column in the NY Times.  He laid into the Republicans - big time.  The major conservative apologist is off the reservation today.  He didn’t even say, even once, that the Democrats are just as bad.  He didn’t mention any Democrats.  Oh my!


Something is up.


The column is titled “Masters of Sleaze” of all things.


See this


Brooks's column denouncing Republican corruption is devastating: much more effective, and basically much nastier, than anything from Left Blogistan, or from Paul Krugman, for that matter. He really hates the people he calls "sleazo-cons," and he really has the goods on them.


He names names: Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, two DeLay staffers. And he cites facts: about Indian gaming, Microsoft, and Mobutu Sese Seko.

Truly, a brilliant piece of work.


But why did he write it?


Some off-the-top-of-my-head hypotheses:


         His relentless partisan hackery was starting to marginalize him, and he thought he needed a cred transfusion. (The most obvious reading.)


         He's a moderate Republican at heart, and has decided that now is a good time to make a fight for the soul of the party. (But he must know that's hopeless, with the White House firmly in the grip of the people Brooks calls "sleazo-cons.") ddd


         He's terrified that the stench coming out of Republican Washington is so awful that the voters might start to notice, and he's hoping to get a purge started and finished in time for the 2006 elections. (See comment under #2 above. Anyway, Brooks must know that cover-ups work, while clean-ups just tell the voters there was something to clean up.)


         He's finally had enough. (Maybe the cynicism of the Schiavo travesty just pushed him over the edge.)


Whatever the cause, this is really and truly doubleplusungood news for the Republicans. Brooks knows where the bodies are buried, and has sources who will tell him where the bodies are about to be buried.


One more reason for the Democrats to make corruption in Washington their keynote for 2006 and 2008.





The end of the world in Los Angeles?  We’ve had steady rain all afternoon – and we just broke the 34.84 inches season record of 1889-1890 and we’re closing in on the all time record (1883-1884).  We need to hit 38.18 inches by June 30 for that.  No problem.  And this?  “A minor earthquake occurred at 00:07:06 (UTC) on Wednesday, March 23, 2005.  The magnitude 3.4 event has been located in Santa Monica Bay, California. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 11 km ( 7 miles).” 


Odd times, these….



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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