Ahhh, another spring, another baseball season. The Colorado Rockies are mired in last place and all is right with the world. Without a doubt Coors field has become the Siberia of Major League Baseball. And Todd Helton is baseball’s Andrei Sakharov.
The Rockies haven’t finished over .500 since 2000 and haven’t been within ten games of a playoff birth since ’96. All the while Todd Helton has racked up a gaudy .338 average, 252 HR’s, 845 RBI’s, a .613 slugging percentage, and has won three Gold Glove Awards. In ’04 Helton became just the third player ever to hit at least .315, 25 HR’s, and 95 RBI’s in seven consecutive years. The only others to ever accomplish this were Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. All this from Peyton Manning’s under study at Tennessee.
Now I realize the thin air of Coors Canaveral inflates batting numbers by up to ten percent but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that Helton has been the best 1B in the game for the last seven years. Even if you project his stats for sea-level type production he would still have a career .304 BA, 227 HR’s, and 761 RBI’s. Not to mention the three Gold Gloves.
Helton is also one of the classiest athletes in sports. The bogus steroid accusations aside, Helton has been gracious towards the fans and the media. He has a number of charitable causes and has won numerous humanitarian awards in both Colorado and his native Tennessee.
The five-time All Star is the corner stone of an otherwise floundering franchise. The Rockies have all the direction of a cork in a bath tub. What was once a proud team with one of the steadiest fan bases in the league has turned into one of the worst franchises in professional sports as its only bone fide star wallows away in the gulag that is Coors Field. It really is a shame that one of the top five ball parks in the majors now houses the Mile High version of the Bad News Bears. And one of the true ambassadors of the game is doing his penance in baseball’s Purgatory.
Such was the plight of Andrei Sakharov. The Soviet dissident was exiled in Gorky for seven years before he was allowed to travel freely throughout the former Soviet Union. In 1975 Sakharov won the Nobel Peace Prize for his untiring struggle for human rights in one of the most oppressive regimes in recorded history.
In this respect Helton and Sakharov are kindred spirits. Both were stuck in no win environments and both struggled for their cause. Sakharov fought for freedom. Helton fights for hits, wins, and hopefully that World Series ring he so richly deserves.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Ahhh, another spring, another baseball season. The Colorado Rockies are mired in last place and all is right with the world. Without a doubt Coors field has become the Siberia of Major League Baseball. And Todd Helton is baseball’s Andrei Sakharov.
Posted by Shrubbery at 9:38 PM
Saturday, April 16, 2005
The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is opening separate outlets in Hawaii and Mexico. While the construction of yet more Wal-Mart stores is hardly news these days what makes these two unique is the location. On Wednesday, October 13 another Wal-Mart opened in Honolulu amidst protests from dozens of locals. The retail giant has apparently built its newest and largest Hawaiian outlet on a burial plot containing forty unfortunate deceased souls. As a gesture of good will and incredible perversity Wal-Mart exhumed the bodies and is storing them in refrigerated trailers waiting for permission from the Hawaiian State Government to re-inter the remains on site. Can anyone say ewwwwwww? In an equally creepy and violative move Wal-Mart intends to open another super-store just feet from one of ancient Mexico’s largest and most sacred ruins in Teotihuacán, a major archeological site outside Mexico City. Predictably the opening of the newest Mexico based Wal-Mart has drawn the ire of local activists bent on putting a halt to construction of the store. In fact a small pre-Hispanic altar was found buried at the construction site. Plans call for preserving the small structure under Plexiglas in what will be the store's parking lot
Ah yes, I can just envision a Wal-Mart in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery or Fort Logan National Cemetery where my grandfather lies in rest. Imagine my grandmother’s glee as Sam Walton hands her the urn containing her dead husband’s ashes and says, “It’s in the name of progress ma’am.” Picture if you will running into Casper-the-not-so-friendly-and-quite-frankly-pissed-off-ghost as you rummage through the house wares department. Casper says, “Boy if only they had Tupper-ware when I died I wouldn’t be in this mess.” Ah the rapture that would ensue as you fight denizens of the undead for a copy of Shrek 2. Have they not seen Poltergeist? Craig T. Nelson’s house was built on top of a graveyard and got sucked into oblivion only after imprisoning little Carol Ann in a freakin’ television.
Where is their common decency? Is Wal-Mart so strapped for real estate that they’ve resorted to unearthing graves en mass? When will the madness stop?
Since Wal-Mart has seen fit to desecrate the sacred ruins in Mexico I fully expect to see another super-store at the foot of Khufu’s Pyramid in Egypt or perhaps atop the Acropolis so we can buy gardening tools as we visit the Parthenon. I’m sure the Pharos will appreciate the convenience of being able to purchase pharmaceuticals and frozen waffles in the same place. Wait Khufu; don’t forget that motor oil you so desperately need as you spend eternity fighting for a decent parking spot. Teotihuacán was so named by the Aztecs as “The Place Where Men Become Gods”. Now they’re going to have to name it “The Place Where Men Become Shopping Cart Attendants”.
This sordid little venture is almost too macabre for words. Wal-Mart truly is the evil empire.
Posted by Shrubbery at 10:21 PM
As we Democrats lick our wounds after Tuesday, November 2, 2004, I’ve come up with solutions to some of the most divisive issues of our time. Enjoy!
Flag burning-make the American flag out of non-flammable material. Flag burners will find all efforts to torch the Stars & Stripes utterly futile. Perhaps they should coat the flag in asbestos.
Abortion-medical science should come up with a way to genetically graft armor onto the human fetus. The unborn will be impervious to all physical damage.
Gay marriage-outlaw the institution of marriage. This antiquated ceremony is largely symbolic. Besides, who wants to watch crazy aunt Marge dance to the chicken polka?
The war in Iraq-outlaw bullets world wide. Guns aren’t nearly as effective without projectiles speeding out the barrel at a thousand feet per second.
Terrorism-let’s have a giant house party in Cabo San Lucas. It’s clear that guys like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi haven’t gotten laid or drunk in a long time. Maybe if they hook up they’ll be more willing to just chill. I bet Paris Hilton would be willing to “entertain”.
Death penalty-put all those on death row in a tiny hamlet in rural Kansas and let visiting extra terrestrials anally probe them to their alien heart’s delight. Put it on Pay-Per-View and make a fortune that would go to buying Hostess out of bankruptcy so they’ll make more Twinkies.
Euthanasia-simple, allow old people into Asia too. Get it? Oh, I’m so damn clever.
The economy-make Monopoly money legal tender. Not only will the sales of this nation’s most popular board game sky rocket the average American will suddenly have zero debt and enough pocket cash to buy a Hummer. I’m sitting on close to fifty grand in my closet as we speak. And a 60” plasma screen TV will look sweet on my wall.
Education-one sure way to save money is teach sex-ed and driver training in the same car.
Taxes-abolish all taxes and let the government raise money by holding a bake sale where they can peddle their pastries for five thousand Monopoly bucks a pop and a chance to throw a softball at the politician-of-your-choice dunking tank. A successful throw would drop the poor guys/gals into a vat of raw sewage. They’ll be fine. After all, s**t floats.
Immigration-fill the Rio Grande with fifteen-foot long crocodiles. Anyone who makes it across deserves citizenship. For the Arizona-California border, lay a mile wide patch of land mines and mark them. But put the markers in the wrong spot. Then space cameras every quarter mile and record the hilarity. As for the Canadian border, who cares, they’re basically America Light anyway.
You see, there are easy solutions to incredibly contentious issues if you just think hard enough.
Posted by Shrubbery at 10:08 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
This from the Associated Press…
MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) -- Although Wisconsin residents have voiced their
support for a plan to legalize wild cat hunting, some legislators and cat lovers
say they will continue their fight.
The proposal would allow licensed hunters to kill free-roaming cats,
including any domestic cat that isn't under the owner's direct control or any
cat without a collar, just like skunks or gophers -- something the Humane
Society of the United States has described as cruel and archaic.
Outdoor enthusiasts approved the proposal 6,830 to 5,201 at Monday's
spring hearings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a citizens' advisory
The results, released Tuesday by the state, get forwarded to the
Natural Resources Board for its consideration. Ultimately, though, any measure
would have to be passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Doyle.
Two state senators -- Scott Fitzgerald and Neil Kedzie -- are promising
they'll do everything they can to keep the plan from becoming law.
Kedzie, who chairs the Natural Resources and Transportation Committee,
called the issue "a distraction from the main tasks we have at hand."
"I don't see a whole lot of momentum for it," Kedzie said. "It's not
the responsibility of the DNR to regulate cats."
Fitzgerald, co-chairman of the Legislature's powerful Joint Finance
Committee, said he will "work against any proposed legislation to legalize the
shooting of feral cats."
At least two other upper Midwestern states, South Dakota and Minnesota,
allow wild cats to be shot -- and have for decades…
This is the best news I’ve heard in months! Any policy that would speed up the eradication of those disgusting and evil creatures I’m all for.
So in the spirit of the hunt I’ve got an idea that will take this a step further.
Recently the Brits outlawed the time honored tradition of the fox hunt and the last such ritualistic gathering took place several weeks ago. So now there are literally thousands of fox hunting enthusiasts in Britain who are being deprived of what was once a right of passage.
A friend of mine has a huge parcel of land in southern Wisconsin. It is a large tract in the heart of farm country complete with rolling hills, dense forest, ponds, the whole smack.
My idea was to open up the land, for a fee of course, and have organized cat hunts complete with horses, bugles & beagles, or beagles & bugles, guns, hounds, and whatever else that is required. Then, you build a hotel reminiscent of an old English farm house where the intrepid cat hunters can stay and drink. After all, they’re British and they’re going to drink. You also set up a travel agency and charge those limeys an exorbitant price for the privilege of flying them “across the pond” so they can dress up in their fancy clothes, stupid boots, and equally stupid hats and shoot cats to their British heart’s delight.
Here’s where the real money starts flowing in. Since the Brits are notorious for the pomposity and their equally horrid dental hygiene you use these two facets of their personalities to your advantage. You decorate the hotel with pictures of beautiful people with immaculate teeth. Also, you only make channels available on the TV’s in the rooms that feature the same beautiful people with the same beautiful teeth. So the BBC or any other British network is unavailable. This plays upon the classic British arrogance. To take advantage of this sudden impulse for good teeth you set up an orthodontic and dental practice at the hotel. The Brits, in their continuing quest to demonstrate their eternal superiority, will almost assuredly flock en masse to dentist’s chair and will presumably also seek orthodontic care as the average British smile features teeth that look like an off white picket fence built by Stevie Wonder. And since proper orthodontic care requires monthly check ups and adjustments for two years think of the money to be made. Monthly checks require monthly trips here to the US, which requires use of our travel agency, which could parlay into monthly cat hunts, which leads to fewer cats. This plan is beautiful in its simplicity.
Now personally I think those fox hunting outfits look like the wardrobe for La Cage aux Folles but who am I to judge. I also think the practice of riding down a small, four legged animal while riding on a large, four legged animal capable of speeds in excess of 40mph a bit unsporting but, once again, who am I to judge. I’m strictly in this for the money and to hasten the demise of an animal that’s better off being made into a cheap coat than peeing outside my deck and making my shrubs smell like a landfill.
I’m sitting on a gold mine. I just know it.
Posted by Shrubbery at 10:33 AM
Monday, April 11, 2005
This from the Associated Press…
WASHINGTON (AP) - The No. 3 Republican in the Senate said Sunday that embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay needs to answer questions about his ethics and "let the people then judge for themselves."
Sen. Rick Santorum's comments seem to reflect the nervousness among congressional Republicans about the fallout from the increased scrutiny into DeLay's way of doing business.
DeLay, R-Texas, has been dogged in recent months by reports of possible ethics violations. There have been questions about his overseas travel, campaign payments to family members and his connections to lobbyists who are under investigation.
"I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves," said Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference…
A senior Democratic senator, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, had this advice for the Republicans who control both the House and Senate: "Be careful about how closely you embrace Mr. DeLay."
Dodd cited the new rules for the ethics committee that House Republicans rammed through in the wake of DeLay's difficulties. Those rules require a bipartisan vote before an investigation can be launched. DeLay's office also helped mount a counterattack last fall against Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., who was the ethics committee chairman when it came down against DeLay.
"Unfortunately, in his particular case, there's a process that he's tried to change so they could actually reach a determination as to whether or not he's innocent or guilty of the things he's been charged with," Dodd said. "But this is not going to go away."...
After reading this story I did a little extra research and found some interesting stuff. This from http://www.tylwythteg.com/enemies/tom.html
A list of some of DeLay’s indiscretions:
1. Promised a role in drafting legislation to a corporate donor
2. Tried to coerce a Congressman for a vote on Medicare
3. Allegedly used corporate money given to his PAC to finance Texas campaigns in violation of state law
4. Used Homeland Security resources in a dispute with Democrats in Texas
5. Diverted funds from a children's charity for lavish celebrations at the Republican convention
6. Threatened retaliation against interest groups that don't support Republicans
7. Stacked the House Ethics committee with representatives who have contributed to his legal defense fund
8. Accepted trips from corporations and later helped kill legislation they opposed
9. Accepted trips from the lobbyist for a foreign government in violation of House rules
10. Crippled the effectiveness of the House Ethics Committee by purging members who had rebuked him
11. Pushed for a rules change for the House Ethics process that paralyzed the panel
12. Sought a rule change that would have no longer "required leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted"
13. Paid family members more than $500,000 out of campaign contributions
All this on top of the fact DeLay has been admonished by the House Ethics Committee more than anyone in Congress. In addition, three of DeLay’s closest associates are under criminal indictment and Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle has not ruled out an eventual criminal proceeding against the House’s number two Republican. Some of DeLay’s supporters have claimed that the Texas criminal probes are politically motivated. But if you look at Earle’s record you’ll find that of the fifteen politicians Earle has gone after, twelve were Democrats. The icing on the cake came when DeLay led a gross display of political grandstanding when he was the Congressional point man on the legislation that attempted to force the federal judiciary into overturning twelve years of state litigation in the now infamous Terri Schiavo case. His reaction after the fact was both alarming and disgusting. DeLay declared the judges in the Schiavo case “will answer for their behavior”. DeLay changes the rules so he can avoid sanction, he continually bullies his opponents, he bribes and coerces his way around Washington, and he packs the committee he’s answerable to with his buddies.
When all is said and done I’m confident in the fact that DeLay will be found to be one of the most corrupt politicians this country has ever seen. Be afraid if this man runs for President. Be very afraid.
Posted by Shrubbery at 12:03 PM
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Here is a compilation of the most underrated movies ever.
History of the World
Brotherhood of the Wolf
The Devil’s Advocate
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Interview with a Vampire
Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead
A Perfect World
Life as a House
A Clockwork Orange
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
American History X
I'll talk about my favorites on the list over the next few days. Feel free to add any hidden gems of your own.
Posted by Shrubbery at 8:46 PM
Friday, April 08, 2005
As the drum beats signaling the passing of time and as the wind whips at 40mph outside my deck the unmistakable hallmark of spring is upon us.
Monday, April 4 marked the first full slate of games in Major League Baseball’s 2005 campaign. The crack of the bat, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs, and the tall cold beer in hand have for over one hundred years ushered in the dawning of spring and all the rights of passage that accompany the change of seasons.
The 2004 season was like none we’ve ever experienced. The Red Sox purged of the Curse of the Bambino. Barry Bonds is within breathing distance of the most glorified record in sports. That is if he ever plays again. Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson are in their 40’s and are still the best pitchers in baseball. Ichiro Suzuki broke the record for hits in a season last year.
Optimism blooms in the nation’s ball parks in early April as baseball fans hope it is going to be another magical summer.
Yet a cloud looms over the national pastime. The steroids scandal now threatens to unravel and destroy whatever credibility and fan support baseball has regained since the work stoppage in ’94.
And the powers that be sit like so many Nero’s on their golden thrones while Rome continues to burn. Bud Selig, Donald Fehr, et al are mere empty shirts as the sport I loved as a kid continues its dysfunctional march towards the abyss and the oblivion that is sure to follow.
The recently OK’d steroids policy is largely a joke and akin to putting a Band-Aid on an abdominal gun-shot wound. What more does baseball need? How many Jason Giambi’s have to come forward? How many more Ken Camaniti’s have to die? Yes, 30 minor leaguers have been busted along with a major league bench warmer but until the likes of Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, or Jason Giambi are caught, suspended, and perhaps kicked out of baseball, the current policy will remain a toothless, hollow piece of regulation.
I remember playing baseball in high school and during practice in ’87 trying to recreate the infamous Mets’ ninth inning comeback in game 6 of the ’86 World Series. I was Mookie Wilson diving out of the way of a wild pitch. Mike was Bill Buckner letting a little roller pass between the wickets behind first base and Charlie had the envious part of Ray Knight dancing to pay dirt as the rest of the Mets mobbed him at home plate.
That’s the baseball I remember. Grown men playing a kids game and providing me with one of my most cherished memories from childhood. And that’s the game that was stolen from me. And for that I will never forgive them.
Posted by Shrubbery at 1:09 PM
This from the Washington Post, April 7, 2005:
The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night. Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.
Martinez, the GOP's Senate point man on the issue, said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."
Martinez, a freshman who was secretary of housing and urban development for most of President Bush’s first term, said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, officials gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.
Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.
The mystery of the memo's origin had roiled the Capitol, with Republicans accusing Democrats of concocting the document as a dirty trick, and Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to duck responsibility for exploiting the dying days of an incapacitated woman.
Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall...
So, looks like the infamous memo is authentic after all. I expected as much. All the caterwauling by the conservative Bush apologists is coming back to bite them in the ass. How poetic and how fitting that the Senator is denying culpability in the matter even though his own legal counsel wrote the thing and Martinez himself personally handed it to Harkin. But I’m sure the Bushistas will continue their lock step support of what appears to be a disintegrating party.
They look like so many captains dutifully going down with the ship all the while rearranging deck chairs. Glub glub glub.
Posted by Shrubbery at 12:12 PM
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Ladies and gentlemen, in an effort to expand minds and plant seeds of wisdom in the fertile ground of America’s consciousness I bring you a new daily feature featuring pearls of wisdom from around the world.
And now…deep thoughts
Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly.
-- Batman Costume warning label
Well, I used to look like this when I was young and now I still do.
-- Yogi Berra, baseball catcher, manager
Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours. -- Yogi Berra, baseball catcher, manager
I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions --but I don't always agree with them.
-- George Bush, US President
Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points they almost always win.
-- Doug Collins, basketball commentator
Not only is he ambidextrous, but he can throw with either hand.
-- Duffy Daugherty , football coach and sports analyst
Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.
-- Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina
The only reason we're 7-0 is because we've won all seven of our games.
-- David Garcia, baseball team manager
Here lies Jan Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble Cutter. This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and a specimen of his work. Monuments of this same style are two hundred and fifty dollars.
-- Gravestone Inscription
We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?
-- Lee Iacocca
Passive activity income does not include the following: Income for an activity that is not a passive activity.
-- IRS form 8583, Passive Activity Loss Limitation
You will find it a distinct help if you know and look as if you know what you are doing.
-- IRS Training Manual for tax auditors
Please provide the date of your death.
-- from an IRS letter
The people don't take baths and they don't speak English. No golf courses, no room service. Who needs it?
-- Jim McMahon, NFL football quarterback, on Europe
All you have to do is go down to the bottom of your swimming pool and hold your breath.
-- David Miller, US DOE spokesperson, on protecting yourself from nuclear radiation
I was provided with additional input that was radically different from the truth. I assisted in furthering that version.
-- Colonel Oliver North, from his Iran-Contra testimony
Was it you or your brother who was killed in the war?
-- Reverand William Spooner, of Oxford, England (for whom the 'Spoonerism' is named)
We are not without accomplishment. We have managed to distribute poverty equally.
-- Nguyen Co Thatch, Vietnamese foreign minister
I'm the consul for information, but I don't have any information.
-- Ofra Ben Yaacoe, Israeli Consul, Chicago
Posted by Shrubbery at 10:05 AM
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Pope John Paul II died on Saturday, March 2, 2005 and the world mourns.
Though I’m not a Catholic I held the Pope with the deepest respect. Even though I disagreed with many of his positions I admired the man as being an uncompromising champion of children’s rights and for his influence in bringing down the Iron Curtain in the late 80’s. His influence was undeniable as was his feisty spirit and his unfathomable dignity in the face of deteriorating health.
The third longest-serving pope in history John Paul II died as he lived, with dignity and grace. He urged his millions of followers "do not weep". Even as he battled Parkinson's disease John Paul II inspired the world with his fortitude and charm.
In 1993 the pope visited Denver for World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful flocked to the mile high city to see their revered leader. One of the things that struck me about the Pope was one day when he was walking through Red Rocks Amphitheater Park. The park had been sealed off and security barriers were in place at every entrance. As the Pope went on one of his customary morning walks he saw some of his followers behind a security barrier. Against the advice of his security detail he walked over to the people to talk and shake hands and speak with them. This is how the man led his life. The Pope was unflinching, unconventional, yet ever his own man and a true servant of God.
John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history. In 26 years he traveled over 1,000,000 miles and nominated over three fourths of the world's living bishops. Prior to the reign of John Paul II popes generally led solitary lives. But John Paul II changed that. He was easily the most accessible pope of the 20th century. He delivered sermons to over 14 million people and held audience with hundreds of world leaders whom he gave undivided attention. In 1994 he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year. John Paul II became an ordained priest in 1946 and devoted the last 58 years of his life to the Catholic Church. In that time he became teacher, philosopher, and icon to the world's one billion practicing Catholics.
John Paul II should be respected for his accomplishments and admired for his class. As the world weeps for one of its true earthly titans let us all raise our glasses in salute to the life of our greatest elder statesman. Good bye Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. You will be sorely missed.
Posted by Shrubbery at 3:50 PM
Now that the Terri Schiavo case has reached its conclusion and every pundit alive has chimed in and used this tale in a disgustingly exploitative fashion yours truly shall now ad his two cents worth.
First a disclaimer: I sincerely hope that Terri Schiavo did not suffer and I’m sure she is now in a far better place. So, for reasons of simplicity I will not comment on the particulars of Terri’s struggle as I don’t now nor will I ever know what her wishes truly were.
This tragic set of circumstances was perhaps the most divisive news event of the last twenty years. The war in Iraq, White Water, and the Iran-Contra affair were all sensational and disruptive but the fervor generated by these episodes pales in comparison to the contemptuous feelings and bitterness that the Schiavo case engendered in the American psyche. There was no middle ground, no room for compromise, and no fence sitting. As the case was dragged through the mud on television, radio, and in print both sides, Michael Schiavo versus the Schindlers, demonstrated cold ruthlessness and ill will until literally minutes before Terri Schiavo ultimately passed away.
Lost in this public spectacle were the very real legal implications of the actors in this sensationalistic, real-life soap opera. From Jeb Bush and his brother President George to Judge Greer and the Florida State legislature to Congress and the Supreme Court the decisions reached in this matter could and may yet still have consequences that will reverberate through the Halls of Justice for years to come.
At the root of the issue is the relationship between husband and wife and the legal protections therein. It has been widely held and is a basic canon of family law in nearly every jurisdiction that in the unfortunate instance when one spouse is incapacitated the other spouse shall have custodial control over legal and medical decisions in their spouse’s stead. This legal tenet is the genesis of the gigantic shit storm that developed in the Schiavo case.
Over twelve years of litigation the Schiavo matter was heard at every level of the Florida state court system, including the Florida State Supreme Court. At every step along the way the Florida courts refused to remove Michael Schiavo’s custodial rights. In order to do so the courts would have had to found the state laws governing spousal protections improper or that Michael’s marriage to Terri was void. And since the marriage in question didn’t involve bigamy, incest, a minor, fraud, or duress, the marriage could not have been invalidated. Michael Schiavo’s infidelity after his wife passed into a persistent vegetative state would not have been actionable absent a desire by Terri to dissolve the marriage. So, in order to contradict Michael Schiavo’s desire to pull the now infamous feeding tube the Florida courts would have had to invalidate the state laws regarding spousal relationships.
The federal judiciary was also unwilling to set aside the Florida marriage laws. Both the 11th Circuit Court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to even hear the case after a federal District Court upheld the state court actions. Federal judicial review of this case was only made possible by an ill-conceived law enacted by Congress that was literally a one-time-only proposition specific to only the Schiavo matter. The law passed by Congress effectively handcuffed the federal judge who heard the case by stating that review of the matter would be de novo. In essence, Congress told the judge to ignore all state findings in this case. Not only was this a constitutionally dubious act by Congress it was also incredibly unfair to the judge in that his findings could have obliterated twelve years of Florida court proceedings and called into question the validity of basic spousal protections.
The irony of this whole sordid display is that many of the same people who have railed against judicial activism in the past were clamoring for federal judicial intervention, a clear case of blatant judicial activism. Any federal interference in the Schiavo case would have reversed decades of expensive litigation and undermined Florida’s autonomy in rendering its own decisions in family law matters. Republican Tom Delay has been a lightning rod throughout this whole thing and his outrage is fundamentally hypocritical as he has been one of the most vocal critics of the so-called activist judges. Yet Delay and his counterparts in Congress mandated that which they held to be such a pernicious influence. They ordered federal judicial interference in a state action. Thankfully the federal courts refused to bow to Congressional pressure.
Another irony is that Congress’ actions almost ensured that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube would not be reinserted. By using the federal judiciary as a political tool Congress underestimated the strength of its position. Federal judges don’t like being handed political hot potatoes and usually respond in kind. It was easy for Congress to make their pronouncements from high in their collective ivory towers while making the judiciary their patsies in this case of tug o’ war. Congress gets painted as the nights in shining armor riding to the rescue of a poor damsel in distress while the federal district court judge, the 11the Circuit, and the SCOTUS are so many black clad tyrannical despots bent on Terri Schiavo’s death.
This type of disingenuous political grandstanding has been played out time and time again. Congress has repeatedly thrown the judiciary to the wolves in an attempt to glorify themselves while they eagerly wait for there black-robed arch rivals to be torn to pieces in the court of public opinion. And they‘ve done a damn good job of it too. In an instance where the courts have steadfastly upheld the law they are still being vilified for their alleged activism. Admittedly the courts have almost routinely undermined democratically enacted laws but this time they attempted to stay out of the fray yet they are still maligned by the very conservatives who have belittled them for taking too prominent a role in legislative action.
This, my friends, is the very definition of hypocrisy. This, my friends, is also a case of a faith of convenience. And a faith of convenience is a hollow faith.
Posted by Shrubbery at 1:10 PM