Heaven and Earth
Thoughts on Baseball, Art, and Other Altered States

Tobacco Road
Tom Rogers and the Philip Morris Tollway

Coyote Waits
Native American folklore says that Coyote will outlive us all and be the last survivor on earth

Hallucination Engine Revisited
The Psycho-dynamic Obsolescence of General Motors

search engine by freefind


Engaging the National Gag Reflex: Lou Dubose on Tom DeLay Terri Schiavo
Dear Fellow American,

The left-wing, pro-death Democrats in Congress who voted to murder Terry Schiavo are now preparing for an all-out attack against your right to life. As I write this letter, congressional liberals are gearing up for a hateful campaign of vicious lies in an attempt to drive me out of office. That’s why I’m writing today to ask for your support. Please take a moment to write a check for 5, 10, 15 thousand dollars, whatever you can reasonably afford, to the Tom DeLay campaign. Your generous contribution will help ensure my return to Congress as House Majority leader and bolster my spirits to lead America in the fight against evil . . . or something like that.

“Mike, you just wrote DeLay’s next direct mail piece,” Lou Dubose tells my friend Mike Kaspar. Dubose, the long-time Texas reporter and co-author of the book The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress is discussing the life and times of DeLay (the ex-bug exterminator and current Congressman from Texas) on Weekly Signals, a KUCI radio show I host with Mike.

Dubose, who was editor at The Texas Observer and political editor at The Austin Chronicle, is fired-up. He’s been following DeLay for 20 years and is still appalled at the House majority leader's gall.

"DeLay will go to his base — that 20 percent of hard right Christian radicals,” Dubose says. "He will say, ‘since I stood up for Terry Schiavo, the godless Democrats are coming after me.’ It gives him a layer of protection against the coming indictments.”

DeLay, who many regard as the second most powerful man in Washington, may need the extra cover.

“DeLay and his friends have stolen 17 elections in Texas,” Dubose says. “They couldn’t redistrict the state’s US Congressional districts the way they wanted to without capturing the Texas House from the Democrats. In order to do that, they had to win 13 seats. Tom DeLay’s PAC advised, worked for, and raised money to make the redistricting happen. When it was over, they won 17 seats. Of the $1.5 million the PAC spent on that election, $750,000 of it was corporate money. It’s against the law in Texas to spend corporate money on elections. Ronnie Earle, the DA in Austin, has indicted three of Delay’s fundraisers. We’re waiting to see if the other boot drops and he indicts Tom DeLay.”

As Dubose speaks, I continue to compose our fantasy fundraising letter — Ronnie Earle, the vindictive partisan crackpot district attorney, will stop at nothing to drag my good reputation through the mud. He is out to punish me for defending your right to life. Please write a check today.

“DeLay and his operatives will not stop,” Dubose says. “There will be another Terry Schiavo case that they can hold up and exploit for their own political advantage — whether it has to do with right to death or with abortion .

Can DeLay’s base be that gullible?

“I was out in the northwest in Washington State recently — which is to me Olympia, Seattle and 180 miles of Alabama in between — listening to Christian hate radio. They drove the Schiavo story as it developed early on. What we have is a national electronic plebiscite in which the Christian right gets on the radio and commands their audience to call their members of Congress. Tom DeLay recognizes this. He spoke to a conservative group and said 'God has sent us Terry Schiavo.' God sent Tom DeLay Terry Schiavo to save him from himself.”

How’s that?

“The Schiavo case is like George Bush’s 911 moment.”

Terry Schiavo is to DeLay as 911 is to Bush? Explain . . .

“Bush’s popularity was sinking before 911. The week before the Schiavo story broke there were six headlines about “Hot Tub Tommy” in the Washington Post, the only good one read “Tom DeLay Treated for Irregular Heartbeat.” Every other one was about a his scandals. Then here comes Terry Schiavo. DeLay ghoulishly latches on to this suffering woman and leads the charge. He all but accuses her husband of murder. He uses the most inflammatory language to fire up his radical base.”

DeLay's game plan culminated when Republicans in Congress pushed through legislation in an attempt at prolonging the brain-damaged woman's life by allowing the case to be reviewed by federal courts. Soon afterward however, a CBS poll showed that 82 percent of the public believed that Congress and the President should stay out of the matter. With numbers like that, what's a little slithering snake like DeLay to do?

“He cut her loose," Dubose says. "It was a crude moment of political opportunism — about as crude as we’ve seen. It will be even crueler when we see how DeLay uses Schiavo in his fundraising pleas to his core constituency.

What happened to DeLay the week of the poll?

"I'll tell you this: He’s wasn’t at Schiavo’s bedside. He wasn’t in Florida. My bet is that Tom DeLay was playing golf in Sugar Land — if the wind wasn’t too bad.”

I ask Dubose about the recent Los Angeles Times article that detailed the death of DeLay’s father Charlie, a hard-drinking alcoholic who suffered brain damage in a tram accident in 1988. Charlie had designed and built the tram himself. For the trial run he put his brother–in-law, sister and his wife Maxine in the car and said ‘let’s give it a run.’ It ran off the tracks. Everyone was injured. Charlie’s injuries were so severe doctors told his family he’d be a vegetable.

“The family made a decision to end all extraordinary measures to prolong Charlie’s life,” Dubose says. “They ended his life support and he died. Incredibly, the DeLay family filed a lawsuit against a company that made the bearings that Charlie had used on the tram. That’s precisely the sort of frivolous litigation that Tom DeLay holds up and waves on the floor of the House when he tries to deny plaintiffs of legitimate causes of actions against corporations. The DeLay family got a quarter of a million dollar settlement out of this lawsuit even though the company did not build the tram with which Charlie DeLay tragically ended his own life. Unfortunately the company supplied a part for a machine to a man who was a jackleg engineer.

“Charlie DeLay was guilty of reckless endangerment of his family. The real plaintiff in that lawsuit should have been Maxine DeLay suing her dying husband.”

I think the Charlie DeLay saga will be tough to work in to our make-believe fundraising letter, so I ask Dubose if there’s anything positive to take out of the ghoulish situation of Tom DeLay and the ghost of Terri Schiavo.

“In the 50s, there was that extraordinary moment in American history when Joseph Welsh stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy and said that famous line "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" That moment isn’t quite here yet, but the DeLay/Schiavo relationship seems to brings us pretty close to it.

“This is the first thing in ten years that I’ve seen that’s engaged the national gag reflex. I’m sorry that this is another rant from Texas, but I’ve lived with these people for thirty years. These people have no sense of dignity, at long last."

At long last my fundraising letter is coming to a close:

My fellow Americans, we are at a crossroads in our nation’s history. As our great president once said, “it is always wise to err on the side of life.” As a man who has no sense of decency, I have no idea what 'to err' means. But I do know this: This campaign needs your help. Please give generously.

— Nathan Callahan, March 31, 2005


© NathanCallahan.com / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved