Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The vast right-wing punctuation conspiracy to score points on a "great political issue" 

The Hindrocket over at PowerLine is trying to grease up for another memogate concerning the alleged Republican memo dubbing the Terri Schiavo tragedy a "great political issue". He's got the memo. Took him a while to figure out the talking points were about the Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act (S. 539, not S.529 as the memo says) and not the more recently passed legislation allowing the case to be reopened. But he's thinking a "Democratic dirty trickster" might be behind it. Seems he doesn't know google or the use of apostrophes very well. Maybe both.

The last three points of the alleged memo coincide word for word with talking points released along side a March 8 Traditional Values Coalition Press Release concerning the Act which is the subject of the memo.

Now follow, paying attention to the red words and punctuation - looking at another talking point in the alleged memo:

The bill is very limited and defines custody as "those parties authorized or directed by a court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment."

Traditional Values press release:

Persons having custody are defined as "those parties authorized or directed by a court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment."

Text of the actual Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act of 2005, S.539, introduced to the Senate on March 7.

In a habeas corpus proceeding under this section the person having custody shall be deemed to encompass those parties authorized or directed by the court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment, and there shall be no requirement to produce at the hearing the body of the incapacitated person.

That's the pudding is that someone is in some kind of cahoots. Here's more proof of some flavor of pudding. The Traditional Values Coalition and alleged memo call the Act,

S. 539, The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act of 2005

The actual - and correctly punctuated - title of the bill,

S. 539, The Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act of 2005

Hope you're hungry for more pudding. Read the first sentence of a press release by Rep. Dave Weldon,

Washington, Mar 8 - On Tuesday, March 8, U.S. Representative Dave Weldon, M.D. (FL-15) introduced H.R. 1151, the "Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act."

The feast doesn't stop there. Let's look at Mel Marinez' press release,

March 8th, 2005 - Washington - U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) today announced he has introduced 'The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act of 2005' to ensure disabled individuals like Terri Schiavo would have the same legal due process as convicted felons given the death penalty.

The bill was introduced to the Senate on March 7th with the correct punctuation (or at least showed up on the Libray of Congress website punctuated correctly), and also exhibits the correct punctuation as introduced to the House on March 8th. So all this may mean is that the Traditional Values Coalition copied and pasted from Weldon or Martinez' press release. (dunno, is that Sen. Martinez' preferred way to punctuate the possessive form of his name? "Martinez'?" Martinez's is correct too. I just prefer the apostrophe after my last name instead of an extra "s".)

Maybe they all incorrectly punctuate in the same way and the "the" turned into an "a" in two different documents. But here's where is gets creepy.

The same punctuation error is on the The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation website in a March 3 press release announcing the legislation Dave Weldon would introduce. They link to the "proposed legislation", last updated on their website March 10th - with the punctuation error in the text of the legislation. The National Right to Life Committee also posts a copy of Weldon's proposed legislation - most recently last updated March 4th - again with the same incorrect punctuation - three days before it was introduced by Martinez in the Senate.

Comparing the text of the legislation posted by The NRLC before it was actually introduced to Congress,

March 4 (Friday) NRLC version March 7 (Monday) Senate version
This Act shall be known and may be cited as "The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act of 2005." This Act may be cited as the 'Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act of 2005'.
Section 1. Short title. SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
(all section titles differ in capitalization)
Under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ... Under the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States ...
Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment empowers Congress "to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions" of the Amendment. Section 5 of the 14th amendment empowers Congress 'to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions' of the amendment
Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 21 (2004); City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 519-20 (1997). Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 124 S. Ct. 1978, 1986 (2004) quoting City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 520 (1997).
'§2256. Extension of habeas protections to certain persons subject to court orders.

(a) For the purposes of this chapter, an incapacitated person shall be deemed to be in custody under sentence of a court established by Congress, or deemed to be in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State Court, as the case may be, when an order of such a court authorizes or directs the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain the person's life. In a habeas proceeding under this section the person having custody shall be deemed to encompass those parties authorized or directed by the court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment, and there shall be no requirement to produce at the hearing the body of the incapacitated person. As used in this section, the term 'incapacitated person' means an individual who is presently incapable of making relevant decisions concerning the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of food, fluids or medical treatment under applicable state law.
'Sec. 2256. Extension of habeas protections to certain persons subject to court orders

'(a) For the purposes of this chapter, an incapacitated person shall be deemed to be in custody under sentence of a court established by Congress, or deemed to be in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, as the case may be, when an order of such a court authorizes or directs the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain the person's life. In a habeas corpus proceeding under this section the person having custody shall be deemed to encompass those parties authorized or directed by the court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment, and there shall be no requirement to produce at the hearing the body of the incapacitated person.
(The NRLC version and the Senate version both have the definition of "incapacitated person" later in the bill, the NRLC version has it repeated as indicated in the red)

So what's going on here? Was I in the dark? Was it an open secret the the NRLC or maybe the Schinler's lawyer wrote legislation to aid a case - and Congress tidied up their proposed law and introduced it? And this is in America? Maybe Sen. Martinez or Weldon gave their legislation to the NRLC for a look over and the NRLC posted the wrong version. Who knows. But then the case is lost and Congress makes yet another law so the case can be reopened? Who wrote that law? Did it get the stamp of approval from the NRLC fist?

Another explanation for all this could be that the typists for The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, the Traditional Values Coalition, NRLC, Mel Martinez, and Dave Weldon all are confused on the rules of apostrophe usage. And the the NRLC people are really good but imprecise remote viewers. Whatever it is, whoever is hatching things, it seems they're all trying to spring the same mis-punctuated plan on everyone else at the same time.

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