Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 191)

March 28, 2005
Cultists Of Life Edition

Before we get started this week I want to make a very important point. The right-wing have been trying extremely hard to turn the Terri Schiavo case into a wedge issue between Republicans and Democrats. See, according to the conservative fringe, we Democrats are apparently all in favor of dancing on Terri Schiavo's grave. The reality, of course, is that Democrats - in fact, the vast majority of Americans - want to leave these very personal, emotional decisions to the affected families. If the family can't decide, then the courts should be involved. And once the court has determined the proper course of action according to the laws of the land, that's that. Unfortunately the Republicans have done everything in their power to make sure that Terri Schiavo won't die with dignity. Jeb Bush (1) got the ball rolling and the Cultists Of Life (2) went haywire. George W. Bush (3,4) and Tom DeLay (5) demonstrated their egregious hypocrisy. And Feckless Conservative Pundits (6) along with The Rest Of The Nutjobs (8) desperately tried to stoke the flames of partisanship. Don't forget the key...

1Jeb Bush pandering pandering pandering pandering
No one has been more concerned about Terri Schiavo - I'm sorry, I mean no one has been more concerned about turning the tragic case of Terri Schiavo into a political three-ring circus - than Jeb Bush. He first stepped in in 2003 and has recently questioned her diagnosis, accused her hospice of neglect, and last week, in a blatant political ploy, sent state agents to take her into custody. The agents were turned back by local police who refused to let them in without a court order, but hopefully Jeb's little stunt means that the Cultists of Life won't get too mad at him, eh? So let's see, in a case where a husband has every legal right to make an impossibly difficult and emotionally wrenching life-or-death decision on behalf of his wife, along comes some politician to turn the whole thing into a farce for his own gain, and try to use the power of government to take over the situation. You know, this whole thing has really demonstrated how stupid the ideas of "the rule of law" and "separation of powers" are. Don't worry though - after this case I'm sure the Republicans are going to do their absolute best to get rid of the concept of checks and balances once and for all. And when that's out of the way, well - goodbye United States of America, hello United Kingdom of Bushland!

2Cultists Of Life religious nut religious nut religious nut hypocrisy
Let's be clear - there's a BIG difference between real Christians and these right-wing crackpots. How strongly do some of these freaks believe in "life?" So strongly that they're willing to, uh, kill for it. Take Hal Turner, the hate-radio host who earlier in the week wrote on his website, "I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death. I further advocate the killing of anyone who interferes with such rescue." (To be fair, after finding out that Terri Schiavo was born Jewish, Turner wrote, "seeing as racial jews are the lowest form of scum in the history of this planet ... maybe starving Terri to death isn't too bad a thing at all." Yes, he actually said that.) Then there was Michael W. Mitchell, who last week tried to steal a gun from a firearms store so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo." Some weren't willing to take such drastic action, preferring instead to get others to do their dirty work for them. Step forward Richard Alan Meywes, who was arrested last week after offering a $250,000 reward to anyone who killed Terri's husband Michael (he also offered an extra $50,000 to anyone who knocked off one of the judges involved in the case). Clearly Meywes's offer had some takers - according to the Las Vegas Sun, "Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer has been under the protection of armed guards, and friends say his family also is protected." In case anyone was wondering, Greer is a Republican and a conservative Christian - although it should be noted that his church kicked him out last week. You know, somehow I don't think Jesus would approve of all this.

3George W. Bush hypocrisy hypocrisy hypocrisy
George W. Bush egged on the Cultists last week when he told supporters that "[Terri Schiavo's case] is a complex case with serious issues but, in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is always wise to err on the side of life." This, of course, marks the first time ever that George W. Bush has erred on the side of life. Oh, he's erred all right, but not on the side of life. For example, did he err on the side of life in the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the convicted murder turned born-again Christian who begged for clemency? Nope - in an interview with Tucker Carlson back in 1999, Bush mocked the death row inmate and impersonated her, pretending to cry and whining "please don't kill me." Did he err on the side of life when he executed 152 people - including the mentally ill - during his governorship of Texas? That's more people than any other governor in the recent history of the United States. Did he err on the side of life when he invaded Iraq, killing thousands of Iraqi civilians? Let's face it, when it comes to erring on the side of life, Our Great Leader's track record leaves a little something to be desired.

4George W. Bush hypocrisy hypocrisy hypocrisy
Mind you, the examples given above are just cases in which Bush has had a direct hand in killing people. There are plenty of other times when he didn't consider it particularly important to "err on the side of life." For example, in 1999 Bush signed a Texas law "which allows a person's next of kin to make decisions regarding life support for patients whose conditions have been judged hopeless by a physician and a hospital's bioethics committee," according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Why, that sounds awfully similar to the Florida law he's now vehemently opposing. He also signed a law allowing hospitals to pull the plug on patients - against their family's wishes - if they can't afford to pay the medical bills. Another gold star for the culture of life. Bush has also slashed funding for soldiers coming back from Iraq with traumatic brain injuries. Err on the side of life my ass. Why, Our Great Leader rushed back from vacation to sign the "Save Terri" bill, but just last week waited four whole days before offering any condolences to the families and friends of victims of the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history. Guess he was too busy figuring out how to wring more political juice out of the Schiavo family.

5Tom DeLay hypocrisy hypocrisy hypocrisy
We noted last week that a GOP memo was recently passed around the Senate instructing Republicans to play the Terri Schiavo case for all it's worth. The memo said that the "pro-life base will be excited" and that it is a "great political issue - this is a tough issue for Democrats." In the House, Majority Leader Tom DeLay called the memo "disgusting" and said "If anyone on my staff put them out they would be immediately dismissed." Oh really? Funny then that after he condemned those comments it was revealed that he had already made some startlingly similar ones to a closed-door meeting of the Family Research Council. DeLay said, "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America." If you're wondering what's going on in America, it's: "Attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others." So Tom DeLay thinks that God sent Terri Schiavo for him to use as a political weapon, eh? I wonder if he'll be firing himself any time soon...

Incidentally, does anybody know what happened when Tom DeLay's own father was in a similar situation to Terri Schiavo 17 years ago? We'll give you a clue... the outcome didn't involve DeLay standing on the floor of the House and denouncing the idea of allowing his father to die with dignity as an "act of barbarism."

6 Feckless Conservative Pundits excessive spin excessive spin pandering
When you're talking about feckless conservative pundits, the first person that comes to mind is of course Sean Hannity. Hannity has been leading the conservative media charge to reframe Terri Schiavo's case, morphing it from a private matter between Schiavo's family and the Florida state courts into a case of God-fearing Republicans vs. the Democratic Death Machine. In order to achieve this disgraceful goal, the conservative media has approved a two-pronged attack. First, conservatives argue that liberals are actually cheering for the death of Terri Schiavo, which is obviously complete nonsense. Liberals - in fact, the vast majority of Americans - believe that this is a private family matter and the federal government should just butt out. Second, conservatives have been attempting to spread the meme that, despite fifteen years of medical and ethical opinion to the contrary, Terri Schiavo might not actually be in a vegetative state. In our previous list we noted that Dr. Bill Frist had put forth this very opinion on the floor of the Senate - and last week the feckless conservative pundits went full bore with the idea. During an episode of Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity referred to his studio guest - a neurologist who believes that Schiavo could be rehabilitated - as a "Nobel Prize nominated" doctor. Just one problem - he wasn't. In fact, he was actually disciplined by the Florida Board of Medicine in 2003. Not that those little facts stopped Hannity - he referred to the doctor as "Nobel Prize nominated" eight times during the show. Joe Scarborough picked up the theme on his show, referring to the "Nobel Prize nominated" doctor four times. A Fox News anchor even got in on the act. You know, this is all bit strange. I seem to recall a bunch of people at CBS being fired recently for failing to check their facts thoroughly. Oh well, I guess that sort of thing doesn't apply to the conservative media elite. (One last quick note to Joe Scarborough: if you really give a shit about Terri Schiavo, you should probably learn to spell her name correctly. PS. You spelled Al Franken's name wrong too.)

7CNN lying partisanship
Despite the fact that most people were just sitting on the sidelines watching the GOP kick itself in the balls, it wasn't just feckless pundits who were trying to turn this story into some kind of Republican vs. Democrat freak-fest - mainstream media outlets were desperate to get in on the act too. CNN tried especially hard, even going so far as to produce some dubious graphics indicating that compared to Republicans and Independents, Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor of removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube:

Would you look at that graph! Why, those heartless Democrats are clearly "out of the mainstream" on this one! Except, if you take a closer look at the graph, you'll notice that it doesn't start at zero and stop at 100; it starts at 53 and stops at 63. This is a classic example of how to "lie with statistics" - that is, to doctor a graph to make it produce an emotional, visual result. Thanks to Media Matters, here's what the graph should look like:

Wow... that doesn't have quite the same impact, does it? In fact, if you take into consideration that the margin of error in the poll is 7 percentage points, the results are pretty similar. Now take another look at the CNN poll above. Liberal media my ass.

8The Rest Of The Nutjobs religious nut hypocrisy pandering excessive spin flip-flopping
Of course, all the conservative nutjobs were crawling out of the woodwork last week in an attempt to grab a piece of the Terri Schiavo pie. From Pat Boone, who suggested that Schiavo's condition was induced when her husband attempted to murder her, to Alan Keyes and Larry Klayman, who said that as governor, Jeb Bush could "pardon Terri Schiavo from the death sentence that has been unduly placed upon her by the court system." WTF? Teeing off on the rule of law, Jerry Falwell said "Just because there is a judge somewhere in the world who would give an estranged husband like that the time of day tells you how bad the court system is" (I guess Falwell missed the story about Terri's parents encouraging her husband to get on with his life after she became incapacitated). Elsewhere, Randall Terry got his two cents in - that's Randall Terry of Operation Rescue fame, the group that allegedly instigated the assassination of doctors and the bombing of family planning clinics. Culture of life, indeed. Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan was trying so hard to turn this into a battle of "us vs. them" that she resorted to taking quotes out of context from an Internet message board - actually, our Internet message board. Now that's what I call journalism!

And now, a short break from the list. During the month of March the spotlight has been well and truly shone upon the radical conservative cult currently running the country, and their supporters. In fact, the political landscape has changed remarkably in a very short space of time. So let's take a look a what the far right believed just a few weeks ago, and what they believe now:


We are STRONGLY OPPOSED to activist judges!

We demand activist judges.


Let's nuke Iraq! Let's execute minors!
Poor people don't deserve health care!
Seniors can go to Canada if they need drugs!

We must err on the side of life.
(And kill anyone who disagrees.)


Damn lawyers are RUINING AMERICA!

I understand that this case has been
heard twenty-two times already, but surely
they'll change their minds this time.


Shameless Democrats are always playing politics!

"God has brought us Terri Schiavo."
"The pro-life base will be excited."
"This is a great political issue."


A marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN and
nothing should come between that!

I don't think Terri's husband should make
this decision. Jeb Bush should do it for him.


Don't you Dummycrats know that
this is a nation of LAWS?!

Stupid laws.


We should take the federal government
and drown it in a bathtub!

It warms my heart when the federal government
intrudes upon a private family matter.


You stupid America-hating
LIEberals should go back to Russia!

Damn, I've run out of toilet paper.
Wait, this old rag should do the trick.

9John McCain and USA Next covering your ass flip-flopping excessive spin
Moving on now... While fellow conservatives are fast abandoning the sinking ship of Bush's Social Security "reform," (see Idiots 190) John McCain is standing proudly on the poop deck. Last week McCain and Bush tried to strike a "can't we all get along" tone as it became increasingly evident that the AARP have been doing quite a good job protecting its membership. "I want to say to our friends in the AARP, and they are my friends, come to the table with us," McCain groveled. "We not only have an obligation to seniors, but we have an obligation to future generations." Right, right. And spending trillions of dollars on the destruction of Social Security is going to do the trick, hmm? Turns out though that John McCain's conciliatory language doesn't exactly gel with the Bush Gang's second flank - that is, the good people at USA Next - who have previously accused the AARP of supporting gay marriage while not supporting the troops (see Idiots 188), and are now accusing the AARP's "multi-million dollar spin machine" of favoring cuts in Social Security benefits. Except, um, George W. Bush's plan involves cutting Social Security benefits. And USA Next is a multi-million dollar spin machine. That's all it is. No other purpose whatsoever. Methinks there's maybe a little "projection" going on here.

10More Cultists religious nut religious nut religious nut dumb
And finally... it was announced last week that - hooray! - science museums will be showing the science documentary Volcanoes of the Deep after all! At least, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will be - other locations are still to be determined. But why on earth wouldn't a science museum show a science documentary? Well, because the IMAX film in question contains... evolution content. Specifically, it discusses the possibility that life may have begun around the deep-sea vent system. The film was originally in jeopardy because, obviously, there are people living in this country who will protest a science museum for showing a documentary about science for crying out loud. Science museums censoring content based on the complaints of a few people who believe the earth is only six thousand years old? Has it really come to this? I'm afraid it has, folks... I'm afraid it has. Even Scientific American magazine has given up - well, not really, but the sarcastic editorial in this month's issue pretty much sums up the current state of fundamentalist zealotry in America. Check it out. See you next week!

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