stewart speaks

Since I rarely watch TV news, I've been only vaguely aware that the US mainstream media has taken a break from the Michael Jackson trial and MarthaWatch to go all-feeding-tube, all the time. And I vowed to myself that there'd be no mention of this bizarre fiasco in wmtc.

After ALPF sent this very good story on how a similar case couldn't happen in Canada, I wavered a bit: "The so-called religious right doesn't have anything like that influence in Canada. Overwhelmingly, people of all religions -- and none -- accept that life should not always be prolonged."

Love that so-called! And the mention of people of no religion. Imagine that. But still, I couldn't quite bring myself to break my Vow Of Feeding-Tube Silence.

Finally, Jon Stewart decided for me. Here, lovingly transcribed by yours truly, is Stewart's recent Daily Show take on the whole sickening, hypocritical mess. I only wish I could transcribe Stewart's brilliant delivery. You can watch it here (choose "Congressional Meddle" and "Schiavo Controversy") or read it below.



Congressional Meddle

But of course our top story tonight, as everyone knows, Congress got together over the weekend to discuss an urgent matter.

[Voice of congressperson] The measure of a nation's commitment to the sanctity of life is reflected in its laws and to the extent those laws honor and defend its most vulnerable citizens...

[Stewart] Oh my god, we're getting universal health care!!!

Or... not.

Actually the health care Congress is talking about is not so universal. In fact it only concerns Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose tragic case is at the center of a right-to-die battle between her husband, her family, and of course... her United States Congress.

[Faces and voices of various Congresspeople: "This new federal law will help Terri... What about Terri... Praying for Terri... Terri didn't use a living will... Terri... Terri... Terri... Terri is alive...]

[Stewart] Wow, they called her Terri. Imagine what they'd call her if they'd ever... met her. Or knew her. Or seen her in person.

Monday morning Congress passed an order to bring Ms Schiavo's case before a Federal judge, who they hope will order her feeding tube be reconnected. So if you were wondering just how sick you had to be before Congress acted to improve your health care...

That whole diabetes and asthma thing your kid has? [bleep] 'em.

Now. Leading the charge, Senate majority leader Dr. Bill Frist, who offered his learned medical judgment.

[Frist: I wanted to know a little bit more about the case itself, so I've had the opportunity to review the initial tapes that were made. It doesn't look like that she is in persistent vegetative state.]

So your professional medical opinion, after watching, uhhh, a couple of video tapes, you feel she's not in a vegetative state at all, in fact, just needs, maybe, better lighting.

We kid, of course, about Senator Frist's medical expertise. He has in the past shown himself expert with diagnostic medicine.

[Clip of Frist being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos, in which Frist will not confirm or deny that he believes the HIV virus can be transmitted through tears or sweat.]

That's the guy making life-or-death medical decisions on behalf of the country. You know, I'd cry, but I'd have to put a condom on my face.

So Congress passed a legislation. Unfortunately it can't become a law unless the President signs it, and the President's on vacation in Crawford, and even a tsunami wouldn't drag him away from his ranch, so there's no way that he's com--[footage of W getting off plane] WHAAAA? It's a miracle!!

For the first time ever, President Bush cut his vacation short, to fly back to Washington to sign the emergency legislation. It's consistent with the President's strong believe in the culture of life.

[Clip from news conference: "I think it's also important to note that President Bush, when he was Governor Bush, in 1999, signed a Texas law that was just used a few days ago, to allow a hospital to withdraw -- over the parents' objections -- the life support of a six-month old boy."]

[Stewart] To be fair, that law does make a patient's inability to pay part of the decision. [whispers] Will you excuse me? [Turns aside, opens mouth and howls. Screen goes to "please stand by" cartoon and generic standby music plays for several seconds. Stewart returns.] Cable's back!


Next Stewart goes to "Senior Ethicist" Stephen Colbert. Their bit in part:

[Stewart]...It seems like the Schiavo case is above all a family matter, and a tragic one. The courts have ruled consistently in Mr Schiavo's favor, but now Congress has chosen to get directly involved. Is this a new precedent about the government's role in individuals' lives?

[Colbert] Absolutely, Jon. Like all Republicans, this Congress believes the government should get more involved in the lives of individuals. They want to think outside the Beltway, roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They're tired of Washington gridlock, getting nothing done for everybody. So instead, they're going to try to get one thing done, for somebody.

Stewart asks how it would be possible, in a country this size, for Congress to take on people's problems on a case-by-case basis.

[Colbert] Jon, you've got 435 congressmen, 100 senators, one Commander-in-Chief -- you get a van! You roam the country solving people's problems. It'll be just like Queer Eye -- only they'll hate gay people.

Bob Garber of Flint Michigan needs a kidney? Well, Bob Garber, you're gonna get that kidney, thanks to the Bob Gardner Gets A Kidney Act of 2005.

[Stewart]... Haven't the courts already...

[Colbert] The courts, Jon? The problem with the courts is sometimes they make decisions we don't like. Then you have to take action. Not to do so would violate Congress' Constitutional right to have neither checks - nor balances.

[Stewart] Actually I think it's supposed to be that Congress is checked and balanced.

[Colbert] I don't think so, Jon. That would be a violation of their separation - and powers.

[Pause] [Stewart] That's separation of powers...

[Colbert] Look, we can speak semantics all night long...

[Stewart] All this strengthening of power seems to go against the Republicans very core principles...

[Colbert] Jon, there are principles for every occasion. It's true that Republicans used to argue very much against state's rights - but that was when they didn't control the Federal government... Now they do. So... there's that.


Thank you, Jon Stewart, for your voice of sanity.


Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Actually, the whole Schiavo is a political godsend for the Republicans. If I want to think "Roveian", then the best possible scenario would be if she dies "because of activist judges". Then Bush would then have the excuse to push laws that would make the Patriot Act seem practically liberal, and redefine the constitution to remove the remaining check (the judiciary) on the political system.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Also, in the useless but interesting facts department, did you know the Pentagon's annual 400 million budget is 3 times the size of Canada's entire 135 billion U.S. federal budget?

Notably we're ten times smaller, but if things scaled linearly we'd still spend less than half of the U.S. budget.

laura k said...

It's very, very difficult to redefine the Constitution. If it weren't, we'd have tons of new amendments by now, such as making it a criminal act to burn the American flag (a perennial attempt, but the Supreme Court has ruled that as symbolic speech).

So rather than redefine it, they simple disregard it.

But FWIW, all polls show that the huge majority of Americans are against this Congressional interference in a private family matter. They're spending their political capital with the religious right, but they're not winning any other friends.

I don't understand the budget stuff. Can you run that by me again?

Crabbi said...

Oh, how I love Jon Stewart! L-girl, I wasn't going to comment on the Schiavo case either, but I, too, broke my silence (and linked to this post).

I think the right may have gone too far this time. The ethically-challenged Tom DeLay is pandering to his unholy base and the public sees through it.

Al S. E. said...

Your move up here to Canada, L-Girl, is looking more and more like a sensible option every day. I watch almost no TV, but I can't help coming across pictures of the remains of Terri Schiavo on the Internet. Right now, watching America is like watching a cross between "Night of the Living Dead" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." One feels like grabbing these people by the collar and yelling at them "Terri Schiavo, whoever she may have been, died fifteen years ago. What they keep at that hospital is just a zombie. And if you believe in a God, what you are doing is an abomination to him."

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Let me put it this way.

The combined expenses of every level of government (federal, provincial, municipal) in Canada for 2004 was 464 billion Canadian, which works out to 348 billion U.S.

The Pentagon's expenses for 2004 was 400.1 billion U.S.

In other words, your country spent more on defence than our country spent on everything from sewers to healthcare.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Or you could say that the U.S. could dump the military, buy Canada, and actually spend 50 billion less than they do today.

laura k said...

Ouch. And still, with all that spending, they "have to" (ahem) cut veterans' benefits, nickel-and-dime families of the wounded, and have run out of prosthetics for the thousands of new amputees created in Iraq.

"Your move up here to Canada, L-Girl, is looking more and more like a sensible option every day."

Al, I couldn't agree more. Good call, those two movies. If only these maniacs cared half as much about the living.

sleepybomb said...

the insurgent religious right is trying to push the repubs into morphing and becoming all they fight against, bigger input into citizens lives, interference into state rights, and all the other cozy things we love the gop for.
but i think the constitution is safe for now, (tho, that gun thingy needs tweaking)
this is gonna backfire and scorch a lot of repubs later on.
is it not an obvious bait and switch? delay and frist are cookin their own butts. more than 2/3s of the country have a prob with these guys takin a politically moral stand on a personal issue.
how many of these fools would like to be in this predicamant?
i just wish the poor thing peace, and god forbid my mother should talk for me! i need to post my death will for all to see. . .
unplug me!

sleepybomb said...

oh yeah, and the daily show does rock!

laura k said...

dear unplug me, excellent point! signed, put a pillow over my head and hold tight...