Terri Schiavo "Necro-Porn"



April 15, 2005

Terri Schiavo "Necro-Porn"

"Between Terri Schiavo and the pope, we've feasted on decomposing bodies for almost a solid month now. The carefully edited, three-year-old video loops of Ms. Schiavo may have been worthless as medical evidence but as necro-porn their ubiquity rivaled that of TV's top entertainment franchise, the all-forensics-all-the-time 'CSI.'" - Associate Editor Frank Rich, April 10.



George W. Bush, "Fortunate Son"?

"Nonetheless, [Bush campaign strategist Mark] McKinnon said that Mr. Bush had not gone so far as to include on his playlist 'Fortunate Son,' the angry anti-Vietnam war song about who has to go to war that [John] Fogerty sang when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival. ('I ain't no senator's son....Some folks are born silver spoon in hand.') As the son of a two-term congressman and a United States Senate candidate, Mr. Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam." - Elisabeth Bumiller's April 11 "White House Letter" on the songs on Bush's iPod.



More "Independent Analysts" Who Agree With Democrats

"Most of all, Democrats and some independent analysts say, the Congressional intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo has highlighted the extent of Republican power, the ambition of the party's social conservatives and the party's willingness to challenge the judiciary." - From an April 11 story by Robin Toner and Carl Hulse.



"He's a Liberal" = Demonization?

"Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts. Mr. Finkelstein, 59, who has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure that the couple had the same benefits available to married heterosexual couples." - Political reporter Adam Nagourney, April 9.



"Growing Lines at Soup Kitchens" as GOP Pushes Tax Cuts

"The 1,130 soup kitchen guests, as they're respectfully called, began gathering outside the church doors an hour early, curling around the corner in a long line to await a free main meal - their safety-net highlight in another day of being down and out, part of the working poor, or surviving somewhere in between.The sight of masses of Americans gratefully chowing down on free food is indeed a show, an amazingly discreet one that is classified not as outright hunger but as 'food insecurity' by government specialists who are busy measuring the growing lines at soup kitchens and food pantries across the nation. There were 25.5 million supplicants regularly lining up in 2002; they were joined by 1.1 million more the next year. And even more arrive as unemployment and other government programs run out. Much as the diners at Holy Apostles peered ahead to see what was being dished up at the steam tables, soup kitchen administrators across the country are currently eying governments' trilevel budget season and wincing at all the politicians' economizing vows. They know that 'budget tightening' eventually means longer lines outside their doors." - Editorial board member and former NYT White House correspondent Francis X. Clines, April 9.



"Advocates for Women's Health" vs. "Religious Conservatives"

"Plan B, manufactured by Barr Laboratories, was approved for use by prescription in June 1999. Consisting of two pills, it is intended to be taken in the 72 hours after unprotected sex, either when regular contraception fails or is skipped. But advocates for women's health say selling it by prescription hampers its usefulness, because it is difficult for women to see their doctors quickly enough to get a prescription. Opponents of the pill, including religious conservatives, have said it will encourage sexual promiscuity. But in December 2003, two committees of expert advisers to the food and drug agency, meeting jointly, voted 23 to 4 to recommend over-the-counter sales. The agency typically follows the advice of its expert advisers, but the decision has been delayed on several occasions." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg, April 7.



Welcome "Context" From a Devout Pope-Hater

"But some programs have ventured to present John Paul II as, first and foremost, a Catholic, and one, furthermore, with grave reservations about American life. On Saturday, ABC's perceptive special, 'John Paul II, Legacy of a Pope,' featured an interview with James Carroll, a writer and onetime Catholic priest. While Americans have understandably found an anti-Communist ally in the pope during the cold war, Mr. Carroll suggested, they have sometimes failed to recognize that opposing totalitarianism does not always mean championing democracy or a free market. Mr. Carroll said, 'John Paul II has faithfully tried to preserve this medieval, absolutist notion of pope-centered Catholicism with everything going out from the Vatican.' This authoritarianism, Mr. Carroll said, has had dire consequences for Catholics in the United States, where criminal activity in the priesthood might have been brought to light earlier had the church not been so determined to close ranks. This rigorous assessment was striking amid the pomp, the sketchy biographies, and the make-news of other television coverage. And while Mr. Carroll's arguments need not supersede the tributes to the pope, they do provide context." - Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan, April 5.

Reality Check:

Heffernan leaves out that Carroll is a left-wing writer who described the late pope as a "disaster" who "disgraced the Church" and had become "the chief subjugator of women."



Byrd = Zeus

"The crowd swooned like schoolgirls catching their first glimpse of the Beatles, and the senator seemed to relish every minute. But political analysts say getting the rock-star reception from the MoveOn set could backfire for Mr. Byrd in West Virginia, where President Bush won last November's election by 13 percentage points. At home, Mr. Byrd is sometimes called 'the prince of pork,' for the millions of dollars in federal aid he has brought back for public works projects, many of which bear his name.With his white hair, his polished wooden cane and hands that shake from what aides say is a benign tremor, Mr. Byrd cuts a seemingly frail figure in the Capitol, and some wonder if he would be up for a grueling campaign. His wife of nearly 68 years, Erma, has been ill, and he said she is very much on his mind. Yet as he sat in his chandeliered Capitol office last week, his cane resting by his side, Mr. Byrd seemed energized, casting thunderbolts like Zeus from the mountaintop." - From Sheryl Gay Stolberg's profile of the ex-Klansman Sen. Robert Byrd, April 3.



Hitting the Pope's "Highly Conservative Doctrinal Views"

"There were voices of discord, many of them in America, as critics of the pope's highly conservative doctrinal views reiterated their displeasure over his stances on homosexuality, gay marriage, priestly celibacy, artificial contraception, the role of women in church life and other issues, including what some characterized as an inadequate response to the priest-pedophile scandals that engulfed the American church in recent years. But for most Americans, it was a day to remember, not to criticize." - Robert McFadden, April 3.



Pope a "Divisive, Polarizing Figure"

"He was in one sense steadfastly determined to repair rifts and build bridges. But he was also a divisive, polarizing figure, adamantly wedded to traditional church teachings and politically conservative positions on many social issues. He resisted and rejected calls from progressive Catholics for the ordination of women and for an end to the vow of celibacy for priests. Many of those progressives cited his refusal to budge as one reason that more and more Catholics drifted away from church attendance, and as one explanation for the church's diminished influence in Western Europe and the United States. But what some Catholics saw as intransigence, others saw as principled, passionate and eloquent idealism." - Frank Bruni, April 3.



That "Polarizing" Pope

"In the last few weeks before his death, he deteriorated to the point where he seemed, as his spokesman once said, to be 'a soul pulling a body' - an example, his supporters said, of the dignity of old age and the value of suffering. Some critics said it was a symbol of a papacy in need of rejuvenation.Among liberal Catholics, he was criticized for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception, as well as the ordination of women and married men.But he defied easy definition: For all his conservatism on social and theological issues, he was decidedly forward looking - too much so even for some cardinals - on the delicate question of other religions.He was a most public man: traveling, bear-hugging, chatting and preaching the value of love with a warmth that belied his often-doctrinaire positions on church issues." - Ian Fisher, April 3.



The "Ultraconservative" Cardinal"

"At the moment of Pope John Paul II's death on Saturday, the power structure that governed the Roman Catholic hierarchy for the past 26 years fell away, and an ultraconservative 78-year-old Spanish cardinal temporarily became the leading decision maker in Catholicism." - Elaine Sciolino on Eduardo Martnez Somalo becoming camerlengo, or chamberlain, of the Vatican, April 4.