Saturday, February 20, 2016

John Ellis Bush

Astonishing how little weight former Florida governor John Ellis Bush ended up having in the 2016 Republican Primary season.  Most, myself included, thought his ordination preordained.

Astonishing also how few appearances he had in the pages of The Militant, outside the Schiavo case:


....The retreat by these forces came after protests across Florida defending affirmative action programs--actions that involved tens of thousands. The demonstrations were organized by civil rights organizations, unions, and other groups, and targeted Gov. John Ellis Bush's "One Florida" initiative. Some 4,000 turned out at a February 3 hearing in Miami, 2,000 students marched February 8 in Tallahassee, and a March 7 statewide march drew thousands of unionists, farmers, students and others in Tallahassee.

Bush issued this executive order in November 1999, with the goal of eliminating affirmative action in public college admissions and state contracts.

The move by Connerly's group came only days after the state legislature passed portions of the governor's anti-affirmative action plan. In the wake of the public protests, Bush had scaled back some parts of his original proposal, and spokesman Justin Sayfie expressed the governor's satisfaction that Connerly's "initiative is not going to be on the ballot because he [Bush] believed it would be divisive for the state." Connerly in turn charged that Bush's plan didn't go nearly far enough in dismantling affirmative action. "It's like a 39-cent hamburger," he said, "Big bun, no pickle, no lettuce, no tomato, teeny-weeny patty."

Connerly called off his campaign claiming a lack of time to collect 500,000 signatures by the August deadline. The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in March but has not yet ruled on whether the petition was legal. Connerly stated that he and his allies will try another petition drive in 2002. 

The Militant - June 12, 2000 -- Florida initiative against affirmative action is dropped



....In 2000, Judge George Greer of Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court in Florida ruled that Schiavo’s feeding tube could be removed after concurring with the doctors’ opinion that she was in an irreversible vegetative state and hearing convincing testimony at a trial that she had expressed the view before her accident that she would not have wanted to live that way. Since then, her feeding tube has been withdrawn twice and in both cases the decisions were reversed.

State lawmakers in Florida hastily passed “Terri's Law” in October 2003 after Schiavo’s feeding tube had been removed for six days. The measure allowed governor John Ellis Bush to order it to be reinserted.

The Florida Supreme Court subsequently declared “Terri’s Law” unconstitutional. In its ruling the court said that “if the Legislature with the assent of the Governor can do what was attempted here, the judicial branch would be subordinated to the final directives of the other branches. Also subordinated would be the rights of individuals, including the well established privacy right to self-determination.”

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the state court’s decision.

On February 25 of this year, Judge Greer ruled that the feeding tube should be withdrawn on March 18. 

Medical diagnosis debated in Congress

As the deadline for the feeding tube’s removal neared, the two houses of Congress began debating bills designed to allow the case to be heard in federal court in order to override the state court decision and Michael Schiavo’s rights as his wife’s legal guardian. On March 21, the House passed the bill on a 203-58 vote after calling lawmakers back Sunday for an emergency session. The measured received considerable bipartisan support: 156 Republicans and 47 Democrats voted in favor, 5 Republicans and 53 Democrats against. In the debate House Speaker Dennis Hastert and others rejected the description of the brain-damaged woman as persisting in a “vegetative” state. ”She laughs, she cries and she smiles with those around her,” Hastert asserted.

Highly edited videotape showing Schiavo’s various reflexive responses was presented by politicians as medical “evidence” that she had cognitive ability. Florida congressman David Weldon, a doctor for 16 years, presented his diagnosis without ever examining the patient, claiming that Schiavo was “not in a persistent vegetative state.” Another physician, Congressman Joseph Schwarz, followed suit, claiming “she does have some cognitive ability.”

The California Medical Association at its annual session, in which 1,000 delegates set policy for the 35,000 physicians throughout the state, passed an emergency resolution March 21 in response to the law. It voiced the group’s “outrage at Congress’ interference with medical decisions.” 

Right-wing campaign

Rightist forces have organized to demand state intervention in the case. Many of the groups that claim they are defending Terri Schiavo’s life are also vocal opponents of a woman’s right to choose abortion. Bush, in his March 17 statement on the case, included a demagogic appeal to these rightists. “It should be our goal as a nation to build a culture of life, where all Americans are valued,” he said, using language that clearly evoked the anti-abortion movement.

Outside the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri Schiavo is receiving care, about 35 protesters gathered March 19 carrying signs saying, “Judge Greer: Florida’s Hitler,” “Michael Schiavo: Which Wife do You Want Dead?” and “Michael: Give Terri Back to Her Parents!”

In the latest public opinion poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, 87 percent said they would not want to be kept alive if they were in Schiavo’s condition. On the question on who should have the final say over life support in this situation, 65 percent said the spouse and 25 percent the parents.

The Militant - April 4, 2005 -- Schiavo case: Most oppose gov’t intrusion into right to privacy




In August 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered all federal prosecutors to stop filing charges that carry mandatory sentences against nonviolent drug offenders. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at reducing prison time and sealing juveniles’ criminal records. Other bipartisan initiatives are also pending in Congress.

Hillary Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, said in December that “we have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, expected to seek the Republican nomination, is among some 70 leading conservatives who have signed the Right on Crime initiative, calling for reform.

In recent years 17 states have started programs aimed at bringing down the number of prisoners, and figures have begun to decline. 

The Militant - April 20, 2015 -- Supreme Court justices: ‘Prison system is broken’

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