Friday, April 29, 2005

An American Heresy

Albert Gore gave a speech on Wednesday night at the Hyatt Regency in Washington D.C.

It’s a measure of corporate, right-wing America’s control of the mass media that a speech by a former vice-president and guy who was robbed of the presidency merits no attention.

But we’ve got the Internet now, and we’ve got the highway scribe who promises to keep an eye on this most excellent of men. To hear (or read) Gore’s speech on the (r)epublican effort to do away with the filibuster is to wax nostalgiac over the intellect we might have had in our leader instead of the boob(y) prize we ended up with.

the scribe does not know who Gore was addressing in the hall, but the fact of the matter is his comments were directed at five or six (r)epublican senators with functioning brains who must decide whether to buck the brown shirts who discipline their party.

We here at highwayscribery hope they were listening.

Gore, unfortunately, must always use the manner in which he lost the presidency so as to assert his relevance, and he shouldn’t have to. But he pointed out that once the Supreme Court delivered its boner decision in Bush v. Gore, however much he disagreed with it, the veep pulled the plug on his bid for the presidency.

The reason, he said on Wednesday, is because we are a nation of laws, not of men and that the rule of law depends upon “the respect of each generation of Americans has for the integrity” of the nation’s legal process.

You can guess where our good man Gore was going with this: the current generation of (r)epublicans simply has no respect for the rule of law, only a lust for power.

Gore spent a lot of time discussing the deliberative nature of the Senate, as our founding fathers designed it, and why the confirmation of judges, who are supposed to be independent, were entrusted to a somber, respectful institution of members with longer terms and therefore insulated somewhat from the heated political passions of the moment.

He quoted Alexander Hamilton in article #78 of the Federalist Papers: “The independence of judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and rights of individuals from the effects of those ill-humors which the arts of designing men...have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community.”

He cited James Madison’s introduction to the Bill of Rights: “Independent tribunals of justice will consider themselves guardians of these impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislature or executive.”

He drew upon these sacred democratic sources to sway those presently seeking to rewrite the hallowed laws of an institution Mr. Gore both served in as a senator from Tennessee, and presided over as vice president.

Then he got to the meat of the matter, quoting Tom Delay who wants to “de-fund” the courts and said “Judges need to be intimidated.”

He recalled the worlds of the Senator from Texas who seemed to be saying the murder of a federal judge in Atlanta, and the killings of another’s family in Chicago could be attributed to “judges making political decisions.”

He quoted Ann Coulter who said, “liberals should be politically intimidated.” the scribe would not have wasted his breath on so unserious a thinker. We have the dolts at “Time” to do that.

But here’s Al on his own. “The spokesman for the [(r)]epublicann chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said: ‘There does seem to be this misunderstanding out there that our system was created with a completely independent judiciary.’ Misunderstanding?”

He said these dangerous statements, and others akin to them, are “reflecting an even more broadly held belief system of grassroots extremist organizations that have made the destruction of judicial independence the centerpiece of their political agenda.”

He’s talking about the Christian right and its current stranglehold on politics in this country.

“It is not accident,” Gore roared, “that this assault on the integrity of our constitutional design has been fueled by a small group claiming special knowledge of God’s will in American politics. (the scribe's favorite line) They even claim that those of us who disagree with their point of view are waging war against ‘people of faith’. How dare they?”

And more good stuff by a guy who writes his own material: “This aggressive new strain of right-wing zealotry is actually a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place.”

In other words, people were fleeing people like he’s just quoted by coming to America.

“Unfortunately the virulent faction now committed to changing the basic nature of democracy now wields enough political power within the (r)epublican party to have a major influence over who secures the (r)epublican nomination in the 2008 election. It appears painfully obvious that some of those who have their eyes on that [(r)epublican presidential] nomination are falling all over themselves to curry favor with this faction.”

He’s talking, of course, about Senate majority leader, Dr. Death, Bill Frist.

“They are the ones demanding the destructive constitutional confrontation now pending in the Senate. They are the ones willfully forcing the Senate leadership to drive democracy to the precipice that now lies before us.

“Most people of faith I know in both parties have been getting a bellyful of this extremist push to cloak their political agenda in religiosity and mix up their version of religion with their version of right-wing politics and force it on everyone else.

“They should learn that religious faith is a precious freedom and not a tool to divide and conquer.

“I think it is truly important to expose the fundamental flaw in the arguments of these zealots. The unifying theme now being pushed by this coalition is actually an American heresy – a highly developed political philosophy that is fundamentally at odds with the founding principles of the United States of America.”

It is a stark commentary on the state of affairs in this country that Gore felt obligated to deliver a fifth grade civics lesson to the country (or that part of it that even listens anymore).

“We began as a nation with a clear formulation of the basic relationship between God, our rights as individuals, the government we created to secure those rights, and the prerequisites for any power exercised by our government.

“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,’ our founders declared, ‘that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights...’

“But while our rights come from God, as our founders added, ‘governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.’

“Any who seek to wield the powers of government without the consent of the people, act unjustly.”

And that goes for a president and party who are perfectly happy governing for half the country (that’s the scribe interjecting).

Gore then went on to quote, in a literary manner must unsaleable in this country, folks and people and things that happened which highlighted the importance of governing democratically and how the senate, with its tradition of unlimited debate (read: filibuster), are part of the whole majestic set-up.

Then he pointed out how the plan to get rid of the filibuster is justified by some “crisis” or other in the judiciary.

He noted how that crisis, like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or the fiscal peril of Social Security is, well...bullshit (only he didn’t use that exact term).

Gore read off some very damning figures that illustrated the much larger numbers of rejections his colleague Bill Clinton suffered in trying to leave the imprint of an eight-year Democratic reign upon the judiciary.

By the time he was done, Gore left it plainly clear there is no crisis in the federal judiciary. In fact, the number of vacancies, 47, is lower than it’s been in years.

“This fight,” he asserted, “is not about responding to a crisis. It is about the desire of the administration and Senate leadership to stifle debate in order to get what they want, when they want it. What is involved here, is a power grab – pure and simple.”

Gore went on to enumerate exactly who wants that power: “Right-wing religious extremists and exceptionally greedy economic special interests.” The mere seven judges that Democrats refuse to permit a life on the federal bench reflect those radical interests’ desires, he said

“The proposal from the Senate majority leader to abolish the right of unlimited debate is a poison pill for America’s democracy. It is the stalking horse for a dangerous American heresy that would substitute persuasion on the merits with bullying and an effort at partisan domination.”

Call Bill Frist up (we’ll get you the number in a second).

Tell him you’ve heard what Al Gore has to say and that if he’s truly a “conservative” then he should protect institutional traditions that have served us well for 230 years rather than destroy them.

Dr. Death: (202) 224-3344.

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