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March 26, 2005


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I'm wondering if the, I-don't-care-just-give-me-a-very-large-tax-break, gang understands just how dangerous their far-right crazies are taking this country. Two people arrested, one for breaking into a Florida gun shop to obtain a gun to shoot Michael Shavio and a gentleman in Carolina places a $200,000 bounty on Michael's head and a $50,000 one on the judge. How the Miami Hearld states that Jed Bush was sending his goon squad to save Terri and was only stopped by the sheriff officers who stated that they would not allow that to happen without the judge's approval. You could toss in the nutty three CNN, MSNBC and FOX who are allowing some of the most outrageous statements I have ever head from both the so-called guests and their own talking heads. Statements that are outright criminial and to some people a trigger for actions that we will all live to regret. By "all" I mean the rest of us. This country is close to going over the edge and it will not be a pretty sight. But Bush is back at the ranch, hiding I guess, and Delay is, who knows where. They have stirred the pot without the slightest idea what they were stirring. For sure the possibilities are endless but few are acceptable.


Thanks, Hal. I know that some folks find invocations of fascism to be overstated (if not illegitimate) but Bush and the goon squads, as well as the more extreme elements of the prolife (doublespeak redoubled!) plus the open corruption of DeLay and extreme media--it seems very, very 1931 to me. So, yes, I think they are stirring the pot--and you are also right to say that there are only a few outcomes of all this that are not horrible.

We could hope that the appropriate medical groups would censure Frist...that would be a step...


Make no mistake: Terri Schiavo’s situation is tragic. I wish it had never happened to her. I cannot imagine what her husband and family are going through. And though I do not wish for further destabilizing of our tri-partitite government, I do think I can understand why the Schindler’s and others from the religious fringe would question the justice of an able authority refusing to intervene in the suffering of the incapacitated, as they do when they plead with the Governor and President to intervene. But by this logic the onus would be ultimately on God. I do not think that is what the riotous American Taliban mean to infer, but that is what they must embrace if they are to demean the motives of the powers above them not acting in a way in which they would prefer.

So, no Jodi, I do not think you are overstating the case when you make note of the rising fascism in this country. I say let’s call these wing-nut warmongers what they are. Operating out of a medieval mindset and still holding to bronze-age superstitions that paints the Creator as a monster appeased only by blood, these Christians are running our country into a civil war, are seeking to impose their view of morality, and will not be satisfied with anything else than anarchy.

If Canada wasn't so cold, I'd move.


LJ---then I have no excuse for not moving since I'm only like 20 miles south of Canada!

Anyway, my brother said, speaking sarcastically, how many more messages does God have to send them? Every judge has said no, you'd think they'd get His point. His answer is no, no, no....

so, we are moving, seemingly inexorably, into an ever more extreme, violent, fascist society. the crazies storm hospices while millions phone in to choose the next pop star (I'm thinking of that show American something or other that has the judges and singers and stuff like that). what do we do?

Kate Marie

Why do you immediately discard the content of Patrick Buchanan's statement and jump to an analysis of the structure of his statement? Why does the content not matter? Is it because you don't agree with Buchanan that the state-sanctioned killing of Terri Schiavo or "Terri Shiavo" is a manifestation of fascism, or am I misreading your position on the Terri Schiavo case? The tactic seems a bit disingenuous to me, since it refuses to take account of the notion that Patrick Buchanan is essentially calling YOU (and any who support the "right-wing" government's removal of the feeding tube) a Nazi. Why is the structure of Buchanan's statement the only interesting thing about it? A lot of things get elided in that formulation, don't they?


That one thing is interesting to me about a statement (like its structure) in no way implies that that is the only (or even the most) interesting thing to say about a statement--especially in the context of a blog post. To me the structure was interesting because the Republicans are in power.

On the content front, I studied in Germany. My German friends did not support any form of euthanasia or physician assisted suicided precisely because of the Nazi past. So, I've been quite conflicted about it in the past and in fact have told everyone that I wanted to be kept alive no matter what. The Schiavo matter has made me think differently about this, though, because it is so sad and horrifying. My concern with the case has been with its relation to governance, constitutional separation of powers (as in the relation of congress and the courts and in governor Bush's threat to use police force). Additionally, I have nothing but antipathy for a politics that claims to support life even as it cuts programs necessary for the survival of the country's poor (not to mention its complicity in the deaths of millions around the globe).

Kate Marie

"To me the structure was interesting because the Republicans are in power."

-- But many of the Republicans in power are trying to get the feeding tube reconnected. THEY aren't the people Buchanan was talking about when he made the analogy to Nazism. For that reason, it seems to me, the form of his statement is inextricably related to its content. Your attempt to extricate it thus seemed a bit facile.

"Additionally, I have nothing but antipathy for a politics that claims to support life even as it cuts programs necessary for the survival of the country's poor (not to mention its complicity in the deaths of millions around the globe)."

-- That's a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand, isn't it? Are you claiming that anyone who opposes the state-sanctioned killing of Terri Schiavo must, for consistency's sake, support government funding of various programs for the poor (who will, apparently, not "survive" in the absence of such programs)? Does that argument work the other way around? If you support "life" by supporting funding for the poor must you support "life" by condemning the state-sanctioned killing of Terri Schiavo?

Who are the millions of dead that you refer to? Are you referring to deaths that have occurred only during the Bush administration? Are all presidential administrations, in your view, "right-wing"? And are you suggesting that "right-wing" politicians and idealogues are alone complicit in those deaths?


I had in mind people dying of AIDs because of inadequate medical care, people dying from malnutrition because of inadequate food and water, people dying because of ecological disasters, the collateral deaths from the civil wars in Northern Africa, and, not surprisingly, the dead in Iraq. I was thinking of the Bush administration, but the Clinton administration was not much better. Although American presidents may have been better than others, I actually can't think of one that I am comfortable defending in this arena.

I use the term right wing in this discussion because of the way the Schiavo case has been mobilized.

I don't think support for say, national health insurance, social security, prenatal care, head start, food stamps, and various sorts of poverty programs points in one direction or the other with regard to the medical care of a specific individual. Generally, I don't construe my support for these social programs in terms of a culture of life or something like that. I think of it in terms of something like social solidarity.

Kate Marie

Maybe you'd support democracy promotion then?

This is from an article by Max Boot: "Anyone seduced by these arguments [that economic development must precede democratic development] would do well to peruse two important studies conducted by scholars with impeccable liberal credentials. The first is a new book called "The Democracy Advantage," written by Joseph Siegle, a former humanitarian aid worker; Michael Weinstein, a former New York Times editorial writer; and Morton Halperin, a former staff member of the ACLU and the Clinton administration who now works for George Soros' Open Society Institute. They're hardly neocons, yet in a synopsis of their book published in Foreign Affairs they make a powerful case for democracy promotion.

Siegle, Weinstein and Halperin puncture the myth that democracy works only in rich nations. In fact, many poor countries have freely elected governments (think India, Poland and Brazil) while some rich ones (think Saudi Arabia and Singapore) do not. Far from economic development being necessary for democracy, they argue that democracy promotes economic development. Free countries grow faster than their more repressive neighbors. They also perform better on social measures such as life expectancy, literacy rates, clean drinking water and healthcare. And they are less prone to armed conflict.

Skeptics of democracy cite a few cases of impressive economic performance by authoritarian regimes such as South Korea and Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s. But more common are dysfunctional kleptocracies like Congo, Syria and North Korea. According to Siegle, Weinstein and Halperin, autocracies are prone to wild swings in economic and political performance. Democracies, with greater openness and accountability, generally produce more consistent results. They note that "the 87 largest refugee crises over the past 20 years originated in autocracies," and they cite Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's observation that "no democracy with a free press has ever experienced a major famine."

Since you suggest that we are complicit in all the tragedies that you mentioned, what SHOULD the U.S. do to alleviate the suffering you allude to? What should we do about the civil wars in North Africa? What should we do about Darfur? What should we have done about Rwanda?

And I must add that your admission that you were thinking of the Bush administration when you mentioned the millions of deaths that "right-wing" Americans are complicit in suggests that you hold the U.S. accountable for almost every death (not of natural causes) that has occurred in the world in the last five years -- minus the 11,000 who died in a Paris heat wave, I assume, . . .

Norman Geras has an article in an upcoming issue of Dissent magazine about the troubling reductionism of the "leftist" or progressive movements. I'd be interested to read your response to Geras's article. It is available online, I think -- I'll find and address and post it here.

Kate Marie

Here's the address:


No permalink, so you have to check the Table of Contents for his article.


I do hold the US--myself included since I vote--accountable: we consume the majority of the world's resources and are responsible for the bulk of the world's pollution. Do I have an answer to all the world's problems? No. For a start, though, I would ban the sales of arms and munitions, end third world debt, tax financial transactions, sign the Kyoto accords...

I'll read the Geras article but probably won't get to it till Friday (or, unfortunately, later since I have to travel to Boston this weekend).

George W.

Reading this post at the U Chicago blog
(and the whole Terri thing in general) actually made me reconsider my position on "Law". I think before it was a sort if "ignore it and just do psychoanalysis untill it will go away", and so I disregarded writers like Agambien as talking at length about something, but not something ultimately practical to understanding and helping the world. I guess I just felt that Law was not "real", it just was a social creation that we attributed a lot of importance too, and for a theorist to run away with that, and talk about "states of exception" and "bare life" was just silly. Which is not to say that I did not see the importance of knowing and understanding law (like as a feminist), but I opposed what I saw as the attributing of this trancedental/"living" quality to it.

And...well, thats wrong, as seemingly Law is there to stay, along with the superego, and needs to be approached seriously as yet another aspect of the collective human that will have to be dealt with and taken seriously when fixing stuff.

Actually this is probably that Zizek and Law paper finally sinking into my head, as I think I really liked it, but disregarded its actual message by running away with that fascist discussion. So I guess I have something to thank Terri and the GOP for. And I dont know if he reads this blog, but let this also be my grudging apology to Paul, as I should have taken his work much more seriously.

On the bright side...I now have yet another thing that I can slam Marxism for being ignorant on.


Thanks, George, I'll tell him. Something else here: Paul emphasizes the plurality of law, the mulitiplicity of its forms and instantiations. There is more than constitutional law (symbolic law, laws of kinship, religious laws, obscene nightly law, etc). Differently put, respect for the Law, or the deliverance Law provides, doesn't attach the subject to a specific form of law, just to Law as such.

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