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A Call to Action

November 28, 2004

The problem with our glorious Constitutional system of checks and balances is that when one side rigs the ENTIRE system (judges appointing Presidents, gerrymandering Congressmen needing only 40% to win a majority, Members of Congress not being allowed to read bills, debate legislation, or investigate Presidential actions, the President lying to Congress, Congress failing to obey its own rules, all three branches conducting secret proceedings, increasing one-party control of the media), there literally is no way out absent a true landslide victory for the opposition party or massive civil disobedience of the kind that happened in the 1960’s or is happening now in Ukraine. The system is broken. We are seeing the Constitution start to fail us as One-Party Rule begins to consolidate itself. And it is scary. George Orwell was right, just 20 years too soon.

The comments of a conservative contributor to this blog persuaded me that the Democrats must step up action aggressively. The blogger found it extremely difficult to believe Kerry’s concession if there was a chance Kerry could win. He suggests that “EVERY Democratic US House of Representative and Senator” would cause government gridlock if that were the case.
And his question is powerful and applies even more to Gore in 2000 than Kerry today. “If the election was unfair,” we may ask “why didn’t every Democratic House and Senate member call for gridlock?” It’s an apt question. Why not, indeed?
That was exactly my point in 2000 when I, and thousands of others who followed my lead, called for the complete filibuster of ALL Bush judges until we could have a President selected by WE THE PEOPLE rather than five lawless Supreme Court judges.
But the Democrats rejected my aggressive position and decided to accept the lawless, undemocratic Supreme Court ruling “for the good of the country.”
But see? The conservative blogger is unwittingly teaching us something here. The right-wing attacks when there is nothing there (Swift Boats) and takes stuff wildly out of proportion (“Rather-Gate”) while Democrats, working for the good of the country, swallow a lawless coup d’etat.
We can’t do this anymore. If we cave in, the right-wing and middle America will respect us LESS and destroy us MORE. They are uncompromising in victory or defeat. We must be the same.
The right-wing that controls our Government did not respect Kerry’s positive campaigning or positive convention. The right-wing does not respect Democratic attempts to bring this country together. The right-wing did not respect Gore’s (or Kerry’s) concessions even though Gore won the election and Kerry has chances to win (albeit very small). Gore and Kerry thought they were falling on their sword for their country, in the hopes that it would bring our country together. But NO right-wing Presidential candidate would have done this, not since Nixon (who would be considered uber-liberal today).
The right-wing ONLY respects us when we aggressively defend our rights and principles. They only listen in the slightest when we create gridlock, cause a media uproar, and/or take to the streets. If we try to compromise, the Republicans will not only completely ignore us and trash our principles, they will even roll over their own moderates.
They will not stop until we have a nation that transfers practically all wealth from the poor and middle class to massive corporations and require us all to live by strict fundamentalist law as defined by Jerry Falwell. Massive debt. Massive censorship. Few, if any, student loans. No more Social Security. No more separation of Church and State. No more “equal protection under the law.” Little liberty to criticize the government. Little knowledge of what happens in government at all, as the government meets in secret and the media is converted to yes-men.
I guess the goal is to make us all pledge allegiance to an unburnable flag of the United States of America, and to the un-criticizable dictatorship for which it would stand: two unequal nations under Falwell’s God, divisible into those with power and those with none, with no more liberty or justice for anyone (except those that bribe the Government).
The only way to stop the right-wing juggernaut is massive, aggressive, hard-hitting gridlock. That’s why Nancy Pelosi’s demand that Members of Congress be allowed to READ bills before voting on them and her refusal to accept a unanimous vote until the Republicans accede to her demand is so important.
We need to push Pelosi to go farther. Democrats in Congress SHOULD OBSTRUCT EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF LEGISLATION TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE (including a complete shut-down of the government) until the Republicans agree to end martial law and OBEY CONGRESSIONAL RULES ALLOWING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TIME TO READ AND DEBATE BILLS BEFORE VOTING ON THEM.
It’s a simple demand, it’s a basic principle, and I’m confident that the American People will rally behind it, even if it means not increasing the debt ceiling and shutting down the Government. The Democrats need to do this now. And you can encourage them to do so with your phone calls.
Gridlock is our only answer. The Republican blogger has unwittingly convinced me of this, and he should convince you of it as well. This Government does not respect compromise. It only respects power. And we must fight the power with power.

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  • Mark Levine November 30, 2004 4:40 pm

    I understand your distinction. For you, “true” religion is religion that serves God and man in peace, and “false” religion does not. And that’s a fair and honorable and beautiful distinction for you to have. But it’s yours: it’s subjective. Maybe it’s a semantic distinction, but I think you’re definining a “good” religion versus a “bad” one, rather than a “true” vs. “false” one.
    The Christians in the Crusades certainly believed themselves to be “true” Christians as they marched off to the Holy Land slaughtering innocent Muslims and Jews on their journey. There were only two official Churches at the time (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) and the Pope avidly supported and directed the Christian soldiers. Slaveowners considered themselves good Christians, as did Nazi death camp guards. Rare was the priest or minister who withheld holy sacrament from these latter merciless killers.
    In Saudi Arabia today, a multitude of Muslim clerics teach a pernicious brand of “Wahabi’ism” that you Gordon would term “false Islam.” And yet, it is taught widely and funded with hundreds of billions of dollars. In May 2003, Osama Bin Laden even received a “fatwa,” an official legal religious treatise by a Muslim cleric citing Koranic law and justifying the use of nuclear(!) weapons against Americans.
    The Israelites in the Bible, we are told, slaughtered native populations, as they entered the Promised Land. And the fundamentalist Jewish killer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin certainly believed his murder was justified by Jewish law.
    Who are we to say that these people were not acting according to the dictates of their religion? When adherents to a particular religious sect hold particular ideas or take actions that they believe to be justified by their religion, I do not judge them to be “true” or “false.” I accept that they are “truly” following their religion as they see it. Then I look at their acts without a religious lens and see the acts themselves as bad acts. As a human, I would not presume to judge what is right according to a particular religious teaching (with the possible exception of my own religion), but I can judge what is humane.
    I could argue that anti-gay persecution, for example, is un-Christian, but then I’d be drawn into complex questions of Christian and Biblical law about which I am unequipped to comment. I’d rather make the case that many Christians (both individuals and denominations) support anti-gay persecution; many other Christians, lay and ministry, support complete equality for gay people under the law; and still other Christians — likely the majority — are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. And all believe they are acting according to their fundamental Christian beliefs. So our argument goes in circles.
    I’d like to get away from the offensive question of who’s a “better Christian” and get to the far more interesting question for policy-makers: which policy is right and just under the law.
    And in making THAT argument, it seems to me, no citation to religious texts is justified since there is no religious text which all Americans find holy. We are left with logic and the Constitution of the United States.
    Generally (and not referring to Gordon or Tommy or anyone in particular), I think your religious belief is a proper reference to determine YOUR OWN actions but is not a proper reference to determine ANOTHER’S actions. When you cite YOUR purely religious beliefs (rather than logic or humanity), to condemn someone ELSE’s actions of a different religion, I have a problem. And when you seek to enact your religious preferences into law which people of another religion must follow, then there may be a difference of degree, but you are no better in kind than the Taliban.
    I oppose theocracy. Let’s base law on logic and humanity rather than the dictates of a particular religion. Let’s not argue over what is “true” Christianity or Islam. Let’s argue over what is “true” humanity. And we might even find more agreement that way.
    I know you agree with this Gordon, and I suspect (but don’t know for sure) that Tommy does as well.
    [In sum, Gordon, I agree with what you say in spirit, even though I quibble with the language you used.]

  • Tommy Peterson November 30, 2004 4:39 pm

    Hi Mark,
    Are we going to shatter the record books? I see that the issue that even Senator Kennedy himself mentioned concerning the 1996 legislation of holding certain religious organizations liable has been removed in the 2003 proposed bill for the Employment Nondiscrimination.
    But given that I am usually pretty thorough I would request that the bill remove the part that states “whether sexuality is real or perceived” before I would support it. That statement doesn’t even make sense. Either it protects gays or not.
    Also, my point that you evaded earlier was that the legislation was raised in 1996, not 2003. I made no mistake in reading the “correct” legislation. So for anyone who became a Congressional attorney circa 2000 as stated in a particular USA Today article could not have possibly have written the real legislation. But if this person had written the 2003 legislation, an attempt to revive the bill by removing specific clauses that I pointed out in comments that were attacked as ignorant because I had not read the legislation, the person should have, in being fair and not “misleading,” acknowledged that, right? Since this is the situation, the person should have correctly said, “I revised the legislation so that it corrected previous impositions to certain religious organizations when it was first drafted in 1995/96.” Would you agree, Mark?
    Also, if a person had attended the Supreme Court trial that ended in the abolition of the sodomy laws that now allow two gay men or women to be together sexually, without legal ramifications, then I would think that that person would have not made statements in response to my comments that gays can be together by saying that sodomy laws DO not prevent gay sexual union, right? This person would have instead said “Tommy, you are correct. I attended the hearing that struck these down and that is one area where gays have gained ground.” Correct me here if I am wrong, Mark.
    I don’t mean to be nasty and confrontational. As a matter of fact, I was avoiding that earlier. But to be attacked as purposely lying and twisting facts causes me to respond with frankness, while still practicing enough self-restraint from being as nasty as my attacker.
    These are the examples that I referred to earlier and that still prevent honest discussion as instead of admitting to them they were explained away as “Tommy doesn’t care WHAT is right because he is too busy caring WHO is right.”

  • Tommy Peterson November 30, 2004 3:46 pm

    I have always stood upon principles, not popular opinion.

  • Nathan November 30, 2004 3:28 pm

    I’d still like to hear your answer to my question.
    Do you feel that civil liberties should ever be mandated by a vote of the population? Or do you believe there are some rights that should be granted regardless of what the majority feel?
    For example, if the population voted 75% to deny african americans the right of a trial by jury, would you say that’s they way it should be?

  • Dr. Freud November 30, 2004 3:17 pm

    Mark and Tommy, let me try to clarify, a true religion seeks God (Or Love)–a belief that goes away from Love (Or God)is not true religion
    True Muslims seek God (Love)–false Muslims seek a manifestation of hate that they falsely label God or God’s Will
    Lest we get lost in abstracts–and the ubiquitous nature of Love–let’s draw the line at murder and say that’s not love–a good, self-delusioned, murdering Muslim, I would contend, is not a true Muslim